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ducksStory by Georgina Warden, July 2014

I completed my PDC with Jeff Nugent in 2010. At the time I was completing Cert II and III Horticulture at SWIT. I had come from a marriage breakdown and moving with my daughters to Bunbury from the farm in Broomehill. I had since met a great man who gave me the encouragement and support to study. I was thriving on the learning at SWIT.

Being part of the group including Andrea Chapman to do the PDC at Jeff and Jill's place at Nannup was amazing. The whole process was enlightening like finding religion. I no longer felt like a square peg in a round hole. I did not feel confident enough to go on and teach PDCs myself and looked into further study through Permaculture Australia. This put me in contact with Dr Ross Mars.

making mudbricks

Making mudbricks

Candleight Farm journey

What a ride since then. For 3 years I have been to Candlelight Farm for monthly workshops while completing Cert III, IV and now Diploma. By the time of the next edition I will have my Diploma. The highest qualification I have achieved. Studying with Ross has been amazing in terms of what I learnt, who I have met and the places we have been to. It has also been frustrating as we are studying part time and a lot of the reports and research are done at home. The treks up and down the highway from Bunbury to Mundaring have also been a big commitment and have meant I have missed out on time with my FIFO husband Kent Henry. I have found it hard to stay on track a lot of the time due to family commitments, work, living with Ankylosing Spondylitis and my great ability to procrastinate.

What are other students interested in?

Having said that I would do it all over and again and have no regrets. I have found it interesting to see what classmates particular interest in Permaculture is. I'm passionate about teaching, animals and plants in an rural integrated system and the Ben Fallon style of farming. Others are passionate about Natural Buildings, medicinal benefits of plants or just living the life and being an example to their children and grandchildren.

The learnings

I'm still not sure if I understand how to survey after several lessons with Ross. Not his failure I'm just no good with maths and numbers. Loved learning how to weld, mix concrete, build rammed earth walls and make mud bricks. Ross has no problems with classes full of women giving him a hard time and expects to do exactly the same as the blokes. Love him for that. I loved and learnt so much with the Soil and water testing. The research into Bioregional Resources, Sustainable Technology and Climate Change impacts has been fascinating and given me an interest in further study and opened my eyes to different types of housing for our future property.

Georgina learning new skills

Georgina learning new skills

Working with clients

Working within the classes has been challenging at times as we are all different. Same to be said with working with the clients we have prepared reports for. I have loved working on the reports as the different properties and client's needs make you think outside the box and teach you not to impose your own ideas on their designs. The designs are not monuments to ourselves but to our Client's dream, hopes and wishes.

‘It's so simple its stupid'

My husband Kent had the ahah moment about Permaculture after a power point presentation of Jeff's and a wonder around the Bridgetown Camp School's Permaculture garden. Designed by Jeff way back when. Kent's comment was 'it's so simple its stupid'. We now love living as Permies and embrace the more recent definition Permanent Culture. We both come from Broadacre Farming backgrounds and are very dedicated to moving further out of town onto acreage now our girls have moved out of home. I have promised Kent no more animals on our suburban block. We have ducks, chooks, dogs, guinea pigs, goldfish and trout in our aquaponics system. We love scrounging the hardwaste collections for trampoline frames to make netting structures for our fruit trees. We love the challenge of working out how to make something from ‘junk'.

Where to now

I am slowly developing my business Peppaluci's Edible Landscapes which offers education, sesign, landscaping and maintenance services. There are plenty of opportunities around the Greater Bunbury area and plenty of passionate people wanting to learn more. I encourage anyone interested in Permaculture to continue their studies even if only for their own benefit.

Where to from here is now the big question. I want to continue studying and learning. I have looked at several options and still want to study with Ross. I will miss working with the wonderful women from our Diploma class. We joke he is going to be glad to see the back of us and that is why he won't teach us a degree haha. I love how Permaculture is mainstream not the hippy thing from the 70's.

Graduate-diploma-permaculture-WA-2014

Graduates from the first Diploma in Permaculture course in WA, with Ross in centre

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