Talking Permaculture With Joe Polaischer of Rainbow Valley Farm - Part 2

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A less persistent person might have been put off by Joe's brusque tone on the phone when I rang to ask him for an interview. "I am always being asked for interviews" and "I am very busy" and then came his comment that 'sustainability' is just the new "buzz word". Ouch! This wariness of journalists turning up on his doorstep all of a sudden is understandable when you realise Joe has been working devotedly on Rainbow Valley Farm for nearly 20 years and on many other sustainability projects around the world for years before that. Joe is a pioneer and it is clear to many of us that society in general has been slow to heed the advice and warnings that people like him have been giving for years. The most amazing thing to me is that in the face of constant adversity there are people like Joe who carry on regardless because they a truly passionate about what they believe in. Joe is clearly frustrated by many issues that are pervasive in our western societies. "The dishonesty in consumption" and "the denial culture" are what he sees as a comprehensive disengagement from our environment. Closest to his own cause is the disintegration of family farms which have been constantly under cut by industrial farming. He says it is almost impossible for farmers to survive in New Zealand if they don't export their produce. However while Joe might once have been a lone voice more and more people are now joining the chorus. As he says the ethics of Permaculture are really about the community not the individual. "Care of the earth, care of the people, and share the surplus." Thankfully the community are beginning to listen. He is pleased by the success of Matakana's local farmer's market, which he helped to set up and where he and Trish sell their fresh produce every Saturday. The recent changes in the Matakana area in terms of attitudes towards sustainability cannot be underestimated. Matakana is clearly at the forefront of New Zealand's environmental movement and it is undeniable that Rainbow Valley Farm has played a big role in the move towards a greener community.


Towards the end of our talk Joe asked me once again about TreeHugger what its mission is. When I explained that our aim is to bring sustainability into the mainstream; to make available as much information as possible to as many people as possible he seemed more interested, this was after the earlier comment of "I never turn on the computer". He agrees that communication and networking are a vital part of helping to make the necessary changes for a sustainable future. While he may not share our enthusiasm for working online Joe is a generous sharer of his time and information as I can testify not only for myself, but also for the steady stream of people that walked into the kitchen throughout the afternoon. He made all his articles, writings and extensive library available, he answered questions, gave advice, suggested books, recommended documentaries, suitable materials, local architects. Through all his teaching and writing Joe Polaischer is tirelessly imparting the vast amount of knowledge he has built up over his lifetime to educate, inform and inspire people to a more sustainable way of life.