Permaculture People: Looby Macnamara

Maddy Harland
Tuesday, 1st August 2006

Meet Looby Macnamara - an inspiring businesswoman, mother and permaculturist...

Who are you?

Looby Macnamara. I am currently chair of the Permaculture Association (Britain). I run my own business – Spirals of Abundance – fairly trading gifts and organic cotton clothes from Nepal. I also teach permaculture and have a six year old daughter, Shanti. Hence, I lead a productive, interesting and busy life.

Where do you live?

I live in a town called Brynaman, on the edge of the Brecon Beacons in South Wales.

When and how did you discover permaculture?

I first came across permaculture in Brighton in 1996 when friends started talking about it and a friend's flourishing edible garden aroused my interest. It was not until a couple of years later, however, when I did my permaculture design course that I started to properly understand the different simplicities and complexities behind permaculture philosophy and techniques.

Why was it of significance?

How the course was taught was as significant to me as what was being taught. The creative teaching techniques opened up my mind to new possibilities and resourceful ways of thinking and broadened my horizons. "One's mind, once stretched by a new idea never regains its original dimensions," to quote Oliver Wendell Holmes. I have not looked back since.

How has it changed your life?

Permaculture has had a enormous influence on me. I did my course at a turning point in my life and since then permaculture has, to a large extent, provided me with the map that I wanted to follow. In all areas of my life I think about the ethics, principles and design – whether it is thinking of how to organise my kitchen or how to run my business – the principles have become more and more engrained within my consciousness, as a result I now use them almost intuitively.

When something isn't going quite as smoothly as I would like I try to reframe the situation and think about it in permaculture terms and how to use my energy efficiently to give the best long term solution. Most importantly, permaculture has given me the confidence to follow my own dreams and made me realise that good design will help them come to fruition. Permaculture has encouraged me to become more connected to nature, other people and myself.

What example of permaculture practice has made the biggest impact on you?

It is difficult to pick just one example out of the many inspirations that I have seen over the last decade. I am always enthused by people who are empowered enough to make conscious decisions about how to live their lives in as harmonious a way as possible. Perhaps, one example is The Himalayan Permaculture Group (HPG) which is doing fantastic work in Nepal because the techniques they offer are culturally appropriate and have immediate benefits. Consequently the ideas spread rapidly and can really start to enhance trad-itional farming practices and have a positive impact on the surrounding landscape. Closer to home, Ourganics and 5 Penny Farm in Dorset are run by friends who completely walk their talk. They are all dedicated to their land and creating right livelihoods through permaculture design. It is a pleasure to witness the growth of their projects

Looby Macnamara can be contacted by emailing: [email protected]