WA leads the way with accredited permaculture education

WA leads the way with accredited permaculture education

” Registered training organisations are desperately needed in other states and territories in Australia to offer these important qualifications. Permaculture has been identified as an important skill for the future, so we cannot risk losing the option of accredited training in this area.” Martina Hoeppner

This week’s guest post is by PA professional member Martina Hoeppner, based in Western Australia. Martina holds a Diploma in Permaculture and a Certificate IV in Training & Assessment, and teaches PDCs and the Certificate III in Permaculture in Perth. Martina is the current Co-Convenor of Permaculture West and a member of the PA Education team.

The classic way to start a permaculture education is to attend a Permaculture Design Course (PDC). Australia has many wonderful PDCs, and in my opinion these courses are still the best way to start your permaculture learning. In Western Australia, PDCs are currently offered by three providers – including PA members Permaculture Educators Alliance in Perth. The breadth of topics covered over the 72 hour course provides an introduction to many areas of permaculture, and may leave many wanting more information in different areas. While PDC graduates may completed additional self directed study, seek advice via the internet and social media, and learn by trial and error in design implementation, there are other study options. Accredited permaculture training provides additional content linked to competencies and assessed tasks, which is especially useful if you want to convince future employers of your skills.

If you are looking for accredited permaculture training in Australia, Western Australia (WA) is the place to be! This is not surprising, as much of the accredited curriculum was developed by WA permaculture elder Ross Mars (pictured), who is campaigning for the further rollout of accredited courses into high schools and training organisations. From Certificate I to Diploma in Permaculture, every accredited qualification on scope in Australia is offered in WA. Excitingly, student enrolments numbers in these courses are also on the rise.

In 2021, eight high schools are offering permaculture in their VET (vocational education training) programs in WA. Five of these teach Certificate I Permaculture to students with special needs, and a further three offer the Certificate II Permaculture to non-academic mainstream students in Year 11 and 12. More teachers are currently studying the Permaculture Demonstrator Skill Set, to be qualified to commence permaculture teaching in their high schools in 2022.

“Out of school, the number of students in the accredited courses have steadily grown over the last two years. Enrolments of Certificate III Permaculture students in Perth have nearly doubled in the last year, with a record 19 students now studying in 2021. Certificate IV, currently an online qualification, has five students enrolled and the Diploma course has started with a record nine students this week (the start of 2021).

At South Regional TAFE, where the Certificate III Permaculture is offered in Albany, enrolment numbers have also increased. In fact, the Permaculture and Conservation and Ecosystem Management courses are getting more enrolments than ever, while enrolments for conventional Horticulture are dropping. Our last update from Albany counted 14 enrolments for the full-time Certificate III Permaculture course commencing at the start of 2021, plus a weekend course will also commence. A second teaching location in Denmark, WA will start to offer further permaculture courses from 2022.

“Unfortunately, accredited courses are few and far between in Australia, as many training organisations and employers don’t fully understand what permaculture is and what skills Permaculturists have to offer, which is many. The development in Western Australia is very heartening to see and Registered Training Organisations are desperately needed in other states to offer these important qualifications. Permaculture has been identified as an important skill for the future, so we cannot risk losing the option of accredited training in this area.”

More information

If you are an RTO (Registered Training Organisation) interested in finding out more about the accredited permaculture training and how to commence adding this to your scope, please contact hello@permacultureaustralia.org.au

Ross Mars is a permaculture teacher, designer, author and consultant. He founded Candlelight Farm, a permaculture demonstration site and training center in Western Australia. In addition, Ross developed and introduced the new Accredited Permaculture courses in WA, delivering the Certificate III, IV and Diploma in Permaculture, as well as developing the Certificate I and II Permaculture for schools and community groups. For more details go to Candlelight Farm

Martina and Ross are Professional members of Permaculture Australia, the national member based organisation in Australia. Sign up as a member here today to join hundreds of members across Australia advocating for permaculture solutions.

Permafund Patron awarded the Order of Australia medal

Permafund Patron awarded the Order of Australia medal

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We are thrilled to announce that Rosemary (Rowe) Morrow has been awarded an Order of Australia medal (OAM) on 26th January 2021 for service to permaculture.

Permaculture is probably the world’s greatest people’s movement while being embraced from every place and people. This award celebrates this movement. It is perhaps Australia’s greatest export.” Rowe Morrow

For almost 40 years Rowe has worked extensively with communities in Africa, Central and South East Asia and Eastern Europe, including conflict zones and those experiencing the serious effects of climate change.

“This is wonderful news for Rowe to be acknowledged for her many decades of permaculture work around the world and especially with refugees and communities recovering from war. Rowe did her PDC with me in 1987, what an inspiration,” Robyn Francis, Permaculture Elder & Educator

Rowe has been recognized as a permaculture pioneer, was a previous Permaculture Australia Board Director, and is one of the Permafund patrons.

“Rowe has made such a huge contribution to permaculture in Australia and internationally – as an educator, author, teacher, mentor and international permaculture projects – including as our Permafund patron. The award is a great acknowledgement for the work she’s done and continues to do with communities across the globe”, Kym Blechynden, Permaculture Australia.

When not working overseas, Rowe is based in Katoomba, NSW and is an active member and co-founder of Permaculture for Refugees (pictured below) and Permaculture Blue Mountains. She is also passionate about making teaching sustainable and encourage others to succeed her as teachers. Her books include the Earth User’s Guide to Permaculture and the Earth User’s Guide to Teaching Permaculture.

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More information:

PA’s Permafund provides small grants to community permaculture groups across Australia and internationally. Since 2012 we have provided 54 grants in 16 countries. Donations over $2 are tax deductible in Australia. Find out more including how to donate here.

Permaculture 4 Refugees South East Asia is a network of permaculture aid workers in Australia, Bangladesh, Malaysia and the Philippines, including members of PA’s Permafund. We work in partnership with local NGO’s to support permaculture training and resource development in displacement and crowded urban settings.

WA leads the way with accredited permaculture education

A handy ‘where to study permaculture’ guide

We get *lots* of requests from community members asking where to study permaculture. It’s a great way to learn new skills and live more sustainably. And after the year that was 2020, we think permaculture skills are even more important than ever!

We’ve collated this handy ‘where to’ guide’ to help you kickstart your permaculture studies and/or fulfil that new years resolution of studying permaculture and making a difference.

Accredited Permaculture Training.

Accredited training is nationally recognised and includes a Certificate I-IV and Diploma in Permaculture offered by a Registered Training Organisations (RTO’s) in Australia. Further information can be found here. These courses may be online or face to face (or both) and in some states/territories the state government may offer subsidies or scholarships. The following RTO’s are registered to offer the accredited permaculture training:

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Permaculture Design Course (PDC)

The Permaculture Design Course is a (minimum) 72 hour course in permaculture. Course offerings may be face to face in a two week block, spread over weekends or weekdays, held online or both. If the organisation listed below has an * next to their name, they also provide a generous discount for Permaculture Australia members.

If you are interested in an online PDC you may like to check out:

The following PA members offer a ‘face to face’ or mixed delivery PDC

New South Wales

Queensland

Tasmania

Victoria

Western Australia

There are also a great variety of short courses on permaculture and related topics being offered across Australia by our members including:

So what are you waiting for? Get in touch with one of the above organisations and start your permaculture study journey today.

More information:

The above list includes courses from our Permaculture Australia professional and organisation members. To add your business to the list, you can sign up as a member here today. You’ll be joining hundreds of members from across Australia and the globe helping us to advocate for permaculture solutions, education and action.

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to confirm the information above is correct. Please contact the course providers directly with any queries. To access your PA member discount please log into the PA website and then click on ‘member benefits’.

Permaculture Stories: Callie Brennan

Permaculture Stories: Callie Brennan

PA member and former PA Board member Dr Cally Brennan is a permaculture designer and educator based in Canberra, and founded Canberra Permaculture Design. Prior to working in permaculture, Cally held roles in academia and in the public sector, working in energy and climate policy. She is also the designer of one of the PA limited edition T shirts with the slogan ‘Permaculture. Do you dig it.’

Cally spoke to PA volunteer Julia about why permaculture came at the right time in her life, and how her past experiences have shaped her understanding of it.

How did permaculture come along, and how was it shaped by your background working in academia and climate policy?

I have always had an interest in sustainability and I have always loved gardening. My grandfather was involved in the Dig for Victory campaign in the UK, we had some lovely holidays visiting his garden. This first sparked my interest in gardening. I have worked in academia, mostly from realising that it was fun to educate people, and like many people in the world, you disconnect your degree from what you want to do in life. So, I tried a range of things until I settled on permaculture. I studied ethnomusicology, a mixture of music and anthropology that explores how people use music to express their cultural identity. I was also lucky enough to do some fieldwork in Malaysia and Singapore. Predictably, there were not many jobs in this area! So, it was on speck that I decided to join the public service.

I came to Canberra in 2006 as a graduate and then found myself in an analytical role in economic research. It didn’t quite fit with my moral side however, as I was coming to conclusions that I fundamentally disagreed with. I ended up working in energy efficiency and climate policy. Working directly on the ground in dealing with climate change policy was a lot! I found that there was a lot of politics involved in climate policy, on both sides. The urgency of the issue was such that I didn’t want to spend the next few years writing and working on things that were basically there to pretend things were on track when they were not. I felt I could make a bigger impact doing other things with my life. So that’s where permaculture came in. I had learned about permaculture when we had first moved to Australia in about 1994. I first remember visiting a garden in Freemantle, WA which had a lot of tyres in its designs. So my conception of permaculture around then was lots of straw mulch and old tyres! It wasn’t until I joined Permablitz ACT in 2009, that I learnt what permaculture was really about. I met a horticulturalist in the group who knew a lot about plants. He had the ability to make you feel like you could try anything, and that it was good to try new things and to not feel constrained by tradition. My conception of permaculture changed to something that was exciting and different and new. I did a PDC with John champagne and Phil Gould back in 2011 and that was the usual brain-popping experience when I realised it was just about common sense. What struck me was how good it would feel to be doing something on an individual level that was regenerative and helpful. I could do both important civic participation through protesting and doing a small thing in regenerative permaculture. Permaculture was an area where I could learn about how nature worked.

I later set up Canberra Permaculture design, because I could design, draw well, and use my interest in sustainability. I built a client base and some confidence. I’m now rushed off my feet with people who want to find out more about permaculture, which is great! For a while, it was a good balance to be working on the big picture stuff (but no direct connection with people) to actually legislate on building standards or energy plans, and then the small picture stuff of doing something with my own life and my own garden.

Wow! So you’ve done so many different things, how do they overlap? Where do you see parallels between permaculture and energy policy?

Having worked in energy policy, it’s amazing to know how much permaculture is about energy, and energy efficiency is fundamental to permaculture design. Permaculture is about capturing energy in your house and your garden. It’s nice to see this linked: the more I learned about energy from work, the more I deeply understood the workings of permaculture.

That’s really fascinating, and it’s great to see how all the varied experiences in your life have combined together to help you understand all of these different processes, and your background seems to have influenced significantly your perception and understanding of permaculture! I was particularly struck when you were speaking about your days in Permablitz ACT, where the horticulturalist in the group had this “can do” attitude about trying new things and seeing what worked. Has that philosophy influenced the way you approach permaculture design in your garden, home and life, and new clients who may not be familiar with permaculture?

The experimental side of my permaculture practice is reserved for what we do in our garden! I make the mistakes on behalf of other people so I can share what I have learned. The most effective design incorporates water into its heart. Canberra is a semi-arid climate normally (though this year it’s quite moist), and last year was terribly dry. I’m now very aware of passive water harvesting. I experiment with these designs in our garden, and then I suggest ideas on water harvesting. I generally build my designs about passive water harvesting: everything is about water here. There’s a lot of opportunities though to capture water: it’s very often wasted in residential properties.

What are some of your most effective passive water harvesting techniques you’ve found on your own properties?

French drains and swales are two of the most effective designs and are at the right scale for a residential property. In ours, we’ve used drainage channels through our driveway, so we’ve diverted water from our driveway and directed into a small swale around a raised bed. It has worked really well I love it!!

Anything you’re listening to that’s inspiring you at the moment?

What are your New Year’s permaculture resolutions? Anything on the horizon?

Balance is what I need to work on. I need to work out how to balance my business and the important service that I provide with everything else in my life. We’re still establishing this garden, and haven’t run workshops this year. We had a massive hailstorm that hit us in late January of this year that smashed everything up, and along with the poor air quality and smoke in January and COVID later on, we couldn’t run any in person workshops outside. We’re at the moment now doing a lot of infrastructure work: putting in a chicken coop and a greenhouse. I’m trying to find a balance between doing designs for other people and getting onto the things that I have to do now: putting in the greenhouse, getting the beans in and all of those big and small tasks that come up all the time. I need to make sure I have more time for us: my family and myself as well. It’s easy to run yourself ragged because people want help and you can help them!!

More information:

Dr Cally Brennan is a professional member of Permaculture Australia, the national member-based organisation in Australia. Sign up as a member here today to join hundreds of members across Australia like Cally advocating for permaculture solutions.

This article aligns with the permaculture ethics (Earth Care, People Care, Fair Share) and permaculture principles including Produce No Waste, Catch & Store Energy, Integrate rather than segregate and Use Edges and Value the Marginal. Find out more about the permaculture principles and ethics here.

Cally is wearing one of the Permaculture Australia T shirts, featuring her design ‘Permaculture: Do you Dig it’. These limited edition T shirts can be purchased here.

Permaculture stories: Janene Price on permaculture’s popularity

Permaculture stories: Janene Price on permaculture’s popularity

PA member, educator and permaculture design consultant Janene Price chatted to PA volunteer Julia about the lessons she’s learnt from lockdown, how we can effectively inspire people to take up the cause of permaculture and its popularity under the new normal (plus some design tips for public gardens who get pesky visitors!).

PA member Janene Price is a permaculture educator and consultant, whose business, Love to Grow, in Byron Bay helps people implement effective permaculture garden design. As well as private gardens, she works with public gardens, most notably at Harvest Newrybar, where she also runs permaculture and gardening workshops for the public.

Julia’s interview with Janene Price.

You can follow Janene though her social media on Instagram and Facebook. You can also check out her website Love to Grow.

Urban Revolution – Permaculture graduate stories

Urban Revolution – Permaculture graduate stories

“As more emphasis and urgency is placed on the need for sustainable living due to the Earth’s health, through societal norms, economic drivers and (hopefully) legislation, people will turn to learning from and employing those with permaculture skills.”

Jo Bussell’s permaculture journey started with two weekend permaculture introduction courses in 2010 and 2011.  In 2013 she completed a PDC in Fremantle with Sparkles, Harry Wykham and a range of presenters, followed by an Advanced PDC with Ross Mars and Graeme Bell in 2016. Only a year later, Jo opened Urban Revolution in Perth, WA. Martina from the PA Education team chats with Jo about the permaculture skills required for her retail employees & opening a permaculture store in Perth, WA.

Jo, you have the only permaculture ‘brick-and-mortar store’ in Perth. Tell us a little bit about the concept and how you got the idea to open this store.

Permaculture sparked (like for so many people) a passion in me to make my home food gardens efficient and mineral dense, followed by helping friends and family implement permaculture design elements into their gardens.  This moved onto paid permaculture design work. There was a need to recommend tools and soil inputs to have a successful food garden in Perth.  This morphed into working with Men’s Sheds to make plastic free gardening tools such as our first product, a seedling flat.  I then created an online store and went to markets offering the products, permaculture advice and design work. The bricks and mortar store came to fruition due to the number of products we were supplying and the need to take the business out of our home.

What are the goods and services available in your store?

The store offers garden, cleaning, homeware and personal care products that are made from materials that are compostable, plastic free or are better for the Earth. The gardening products are aimed at growing food along with a fabulous range of local, heirloom and open-pollinated veggie, herb and flower seeds. We assist and educate people individually on how to grow food, create soil and compost everyday organic waste.  We randomly present on various permaculture related subjects at community events and in schools. We also connect interested people with permaculture courses, teachers and designers.

I know your employees have done Permaculture Design Courses and at least one has done her Certificate III in Permaculture. Is permaculture knowledge something that is needed for the work at Urban Revolution?

Yes. Permaculture knowledge is key to assisting our customers with product use and our free advice on how to create soil, compost, grow food, and modify or add elements into an urban garden using permaculture design techniques. Skills I am looking for in particular are a holistic composting knowledge, soil creation specifically for growing vegetables, experience in growing various vegetables, herbs, fruit and flowers; companion planting, backyard chickens and integrated pest management knowledge.

Are you encouraging further permaculture studies for the people you work with and your customers?

Yes, absolutely.  Out of our six staff, three have Permaculture Design Certificates (PDCs) and two have completed further permaculture education – and we all would like to do more. The remaining three are growing food at home and are eco aware with other skill sets. They are learning about permaculture by just working in the store.  When possible, I hope they will all complete a PDC. In addition, our customers are consistently recommended to do a PDC at every appropriate opportunity!

There aren’t many permaculture jobs advertised at the moment. Do you think this will change?

Yes, I think it will change and gain momentum.  For example, why hire a mowing company to maintain your garden? Y ou can hire a permaculture-based gardening company to improve and manage your garden’s health, grow food, educate and provide garden design. As more emphasis and urgency is placed on the need for sustainable living due to the Earth’s health, through societal norms, economic drivers and (hopefully) legislation, people will turn to learning from and employing those with permaculture skills. Ultimately our business goal is to employ permaculturists to provide presentations and workshops to schools, businesses and especially in our communities.  At the moment this is a longer-term goal due to cash flow and providing an appropriate venue.

Additional information

Martina Hoeppner holds a Diploma in Permaculture and a Certificate IV in Training & Assessment, teaches PDCs and Certificate III in Permaculture in Perth and is the current Co-Convenor of Permaculture West. She contributes to Permaculture Australia’s Education Team and tries keep alive her own garden and three sons in her spare time. More information on the different types of permaculture education completed by both Martina and Jo can be found here.

Martina and Jo are Professional and Organisation members of Permaculture Australia, the national member based organisation in Australia. Sign up as a member here today to join hundreds of members across Australia advocating for permaculture solutions.

Urban Revolution Australia is anEco & Garden Store and Online Shop with household, personal and gardening products to make it easy to have a thriving garden, wasteless kitchen and greener lifestyle. There have a current vacancy to join their team which would suit someone with a permaculture background (a Permaculture Design Certificate would be highly regarded).