Rosemary Morrow


Rosemary Morrow

I’m not sure why Rosemary Morrow isn’t better known, her life story would make an incredibly watchable Netflix drama.

For the past 40 years Rowe Morrow (that’s her above in red) has been teaching Permaculture to tens of thousands of people in shattered communities across the world’s warzones and disaster areas.

Perhaps the lack of recognition is because Rowe Morrow works with refugees and mainly women.

Perhaps it’s because she’s more concerned with human transformations rather than sexy YouTube-able landscape transformations.

Or perhaps it’s because she just doesn’t care for the fuss that comes with  notoriety

Anyway I hope you’re paying attention Nicole, Cate and Naomi  – Rosemary Morrow is a genuine Australian hero.

Rowe Morrow began her working life as agricultural scientist – after working with farmers in Africa she realised the conventional agricultural practices she was helping promote weren’t working.

Morrow’s search for an alternative brought her into contact with the newly emerging Permaculture movement.

Her  reaction was decidedly underwhelming – as a scientist she thought Permaculture’s magpie-like collection of solutions was way too woo-woo for her evidence-based sensibilities.

However, there must have been something, a kernel of possibility, that got her signed up on a permaculture design course.

And this was where Rowe Morrow would begin to assemble a set of principles, ethics and strategies she would share with farmers and villagers in Vietnam, Cambodia, Uganda, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Kurdistan, East Timor, Solomon Islands and post-GFC Spain, Greece and Portugal over the next four decades.

With its focus on  built and farmed systems Morrow has always felt Permaculture left social design out of the equation.  Again and again she saw that people in crisis needed to repair their smashed social infrastructures before they could rebuild agricultural and local economic infrastructures.

In  her 1993 book The Earth User’s Guide to Permaculture – one of the five main sections covered Social Design which touched on community and bioregional organisation where she even addressed Permaculture for the office, shop and factory.

(Interestingly David Holmgren’s recently released Retrosuburbia is full of suggestions and techniques focussing on helping people get on with each other.)

After forty years in the field Morrow says Permaculture is still the only coherent design system she has come across that actually helps humans live in harmony with natural systems.

Rowe Morrow is teaching a two day Permaculture course focusing on Social Design at CERES on December 8th & 9th  – get in there before she gets famous.

CERES Fair Wood – what Pete’s been doing

In June we hired Pete Smyth to launch CERES Fair Wood !

Four months later from a rough business outline Pete has built a for-real-actual-trading social enterprise….

Anyway here is the text from a few of Pete’s Instagram posts to let you know what he’s been up to…..

“Our first lot of flooring has come in. It is from farm grown shining gum and blue gum. The farmer planted them near Taggety about 24 years ago. These packs are about renovation size and don’t have a buyer yet.”

“We have salvaged Elm milled for us by Amber Creek Sawmill. This is turning out really nicely. At the moment being milled to flooring and stair treads. Talk to us if you have a project this would suit.”

“This afternoon’s fun is racking out some Elm to air dry. Only a little bit here, you’d get about one nice table out of it, but it’s nice stuff. Smells like horse wee when it’s green like this though.”

“Mountain Ash for furniture timber from Rowan Reid of @bambra_agroforestry_farm has been dropped off.  We now have a pack in stock.”

“Machined up some shiplap cladding samples yesterday. I’m really impressed with Macrocarpa Cypress, I reckon it’s a bit of a under-rated. Stable, easy to work and much more durable than Radiata. Makes the workshop smell nice too.”

“Sugar Gum fence rails and Sugar Gum battens from trees harvested in wind breaks that are to be regrown have arrived. 40×40 mixed lengths available.”

If all this agroforestry talk is getting you excited send Pete an email  –

Have a great week



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