2017-18 PA Directors and support teams

Meet the directors and support teams

Meet the newly elected directors of Permaculture Australia elected at the May 2017 Annual General Meeting:

  • Virginia Solomon — Chair — VIC
  • Eric Smith — TAS
  • Kym Blechynden — Secretary & Permafund team liaison — TAS
  • Dylan Graves — Communication team liaison — QLD
  • Robyn Francis — Membership team liaison — NSW
  • Ronnie Martin — Treasurer — QLD
  • Steve Burns — Fundraising & support team liaison — VIC

Virginia Solomon (Chair) — Victoria VirginiaSolomon

Virginia has been involved with Permaculture since the early 1990s. Since 2003 she has been working with many others on the development of Accredited Permaculture Training (APT) and she comes to the Board at a time when APT is coming of age. She has worked as a teacher of Permaculture Design Courses (PDC), and of most levels of APT including 5 years of Certificate I to Year 9's at Eltham College and another 4 delivering Diploma there. She has managed and facilitated many courses and programs over the years and has been involved in the course writing of APT at each of the 5-yearly reviews, culminating last year in the endorsement of 66 unique permaculture units as part of the Agriculture, Horticulture and Conservation & Land Management (AHC) Training Package. Virginia is a founding member of the Permaculture Educators' Guild and a passionate advocate for quality education in permaculture in all its forms.

She has served on the Board once before, has been President of Permaculture Melbourne (now Permaculture Victoria) and Convened Australiasian Permaculture Convergence 8 (APC8) in 2005. She has worked with others, notably Robin Clayfield, in the training of teachers for APT and she brings to the Board her skills in strategic planning and facilitation.

Virginia recently retired in order to focus on mentoring and supporting others, and to enjoy her grandson and her garden. She lives in NE Melbourne (Eltham) with her husband, has 3 grown up children and a grandson, and has a large, productive garden and a rambling friendly house where visitors and guests are always welcome. She is a patchworker, a cheesemaker, an eco-dying enthusiast, a shoemaker (only for herself) and a dressmaker.

Robyn Francis (Membership team liaison) — Northern NSW RobynFrancis

Robyn is known internationally as a permaculture pioneer, educator and designer. She was a founding director of Permaculture International Ltd in 1987 and since then has spent periods on and off the board and been an active member of various PIL-PA committees.   Robyn established Djanbung Gardens in 1994 as a purpose-designed permaculture education centre and demonstration farm in Nimbin, northern NSW, where she is also active in the local community in food security and bioregional development initiatives. With a team of local permaculture teachers she established Permaculture College Australia Inc to provide APT, PDCs, professional development for permaculturists and community education programs.  In 2002 she was part of the team that created the Accredited Permaculture Training (APT) and since then has continued to contribute to APT as a committee member and trainer.

Robyn is passionate about all aspects of permaculture, from big-picture to practical details, and especially in supporting the growth and acceptance of permaculture in the wider community. Robyn continues to teach and mentor permaculture projects locally and overseas and to empower the next generation of permaculture practitioners.

For more information: www.permaculture.com.au

Kym Blechynden (Secretary & Permafund team liaison) — Tasmania

Kym has worked in public health, nutrition & food security in Australia and international settings for nearly two decades in conflict, development and emergency settings with government, INGO’s, Red Cross and the United Nations.

Countries of work include Syria, Jordan, Turkey, Chad, South Sudan, Pakistan, Philippines, Bangladesh, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Nepal, Malaysia, Maldives, Indonesia, Fiji, Afghanistan and many more. She has worked on a number of large scale emergencies including the Pakistan flood response, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, the Nepal earthquake(s) response, and in refugee/IDP camps on the border and within Syria during the conflict.

When not overseas, she is co-coordinator of Permablitz Tasmania, Vice President of Permaculture Tasmania and has been involved in local food movements such as Tassievore Local Food Challenge, teaching Intro to Permaculture courses & a PDC, and in addition to her University qualifications has completed a PDC, Permaculture Teacher training, and (soon to complete) Certificate IV Permaculture.

Prior to returning to the Red Cross full time, she held a Lecturer position at the University of Tasmania, teaching and coordinating units in public health, food security and international nutrition. Kym currently divides her time between the West Tamar region in Northern Tasmania and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia as the Regional Emergency Health Coordinator for the International Federation of the Red Cross/Red Crescent, leading the emergency health & nutrition portfolio for 38 countries in the Asia Pacific region.

Eric Smith — Tasmania

Eric's interest in Permaculture spans more than 2 decades since completing a Certificate of Horticulture in 1995 at TAFE Tasmania. Working as a Landscape gardener and designer in Tasmania, Queensland and Victoria for more than 15 years, Eric specialised in edible garden designs prior to formally completing a Diploma of Permaculture in 2016 at the Riverina Institute of TAFE.

Eric was President of the North West Environment Centre Inc. (NWEC) at the time of hosting Australiasian Permaculture Convergence 12 (APC12), he has experience in administrating and Coordinating Local Community Currency (LETS) programs and comes to the Board with experience in Business management, Permaculture Design, Social Media management and Website Design. He has a keen interest in Urban Permaculture Design.

Eric has 2 (almost) adult children 16 and 18. At home he enjoys creating edible garden systems with his (soon to be) wife, Michelle and spending time with his step sons.

Ronni Martin (Treasurer)— Queensland

Ronni Martin has been involved in Permaculture since completing her PDC in 1984. She founded Edible Landscapes Nursery and Food Forest Nursery in Brisbane as well as designing many suburban permaculture's. Ronni currently works as the Education and Support Team Manager at Northey Street City Farm. Ronni previously worked in community campaigning and fundraising for Oxfam Australia, as well as various community development positions with small NGO's.  

She has been involved in, and served on the Boards of, community economic development initiatives such as an enterprise incubator, a housing co-operative and an ethical investment fund. She is especially interested in organisational development - creating well-functioning structures to support the growth of permaculture and sustainable development.

Steve Burns (Fundraising and supporter team liaison) — Victoria

Steve owns and operates Chestnut Farm on the NE edge of Ballarat. This 8 acre permaculture property features a large vegetable garden, fruit trees, orchard and berry production.

Steve teaches on the Ballarat Permaculture Group PDC, runs specialist skills workshops (e.g. grafting) and gives talks for other groups like The Diggers Club. Steve has run workshops or presented at permaculture conferences in the USA, UK, and Europe. He manages the Ballarat Farmers Market on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month.

Dylan Graves (Communication team liaison) — Queensland

Dylan has been fully immersed in Permaculture since 2011 and has implemented systems in the Tropics and Cool Temperate. He tries to keep up to date with Permaculture worldwide as an avid listener of podcasts, collector of videos, reader of related books, and peruser of other online resources. The practical experience at Sugarloaf in implementing systems on the ground - growing soil & food, building, animal systems, water, solar, etc. keeps him busy most days.

Dylan is a Permaculture educator and committed sharer of Permaculture in action through articles, video, blog, presentations, social media, etc. He is motivated to back the Permaculture movement in any way possible. Passionate about the Permaculture Ethics and Principles and localising Permaculture whenever possible, he is the founder and organiser of Stanthorpe Permaculture Group since 2014.

For more information: sugarloafpermaculture.net/


Communications team

The Permaculture Australia Communications Team produces communications and media products and assists other PA teams with their communications. The production, editing and design of media releases, publications, submissions, reports, PA email distribution, the regular PA eNews, stories and material for the PA blog and maintaining the PA website and social media are the tasks carried out by the PA Communications team.

The tasks for 2017/18 are to maintain PA’s online media, to produce a minimum of four eNews, liaise with the media and to produce submissions, media releases, stories and content for the PA website and promotional materials when needed.

Team members include:

  • Eric Smith
  • Ian Lillington
  • Christine Carroll — Permafund liaison
  • Russ Grayson — media liaison and journalist support
  • Fiona Campbell — website, online and design support
  • Dylan Graves — Board of Directors liaison

Accredited Permaculture Training (APT) Working Group

Members of PA's Accredited Permaculture Training team include:

  • Terry Avery
  • Sue Brunskill
  • Chris Carroll
  • Keri Chiveralls
  • Bronwyn Elliott
  • Robyn Francis
  • Pamela Gurner-Hall
  • Beck Lowe
  • Ross Mars
  • Lorna Pettifer
  • Taj Scicluna — Convenor
  • Virginia Solomon — Board of Directors liaison

Contact: [email protected]

Membership team

This team has been setup to support members and encourage membership from the wider permaculture community around Australia. This team also looks after the administration side of memberships.

Members of PA's Membership Team include:

  • Dylan Graves
  • Christine Carroll
  • Boyd Attewell — accountant
  • Fiona Campbell  — website support
  • Robyn Francis - Board of Directors liaison

Contact: [email protected]

Permafund team

The Permafund (Permaculture International Public Fund) is managed by a dedicated committee of Permaculture Australia member volunteers from around the country. The teams main function is to manage the grants process and promote Permafund to the wider permaculture community and beyond.

Team members include:

  • John Champagne
  • Bruce Zell
  • John McKenzie
  • Chris Carroll
  • Alexia Martinez
  • Jed Walker
  • Ronnie Martin — Board of Directors liaison
  • Kym Blechynden

Contact: [email protected]


Team members include:

  • Dylan Graves
  • Christine Carroll
  • Steve Burns — Board of Directors liaison


Team members include:

  • Boyd Attewell — Accountant
  • Ronni Martin — Treasurer, Board of Directors liaison

If you would like to volunteer with Permaculture Australia, please email: [email protected]