“At the moment, very few permaculture teachers in Australia hold the qualifications to teach all accredited permaculture qualifications and only a few registered training organisations are offering the courses. We are experiencing a marked increase in interest in studying permaculture in the accredited system though and should do everything we can to accommodate these future students.“
Are you interested in teaching accredited permaculture training? Martina Hoeppner holds a Diploma in Permaculture and a Certificate IV in Training & Assessment and teaches PDCs and Certificate III in Permaculture in Perth, Western Australia. She provides a great summary of accredited permaculture teaching below.
What is accredited permaculture training?
Accredited training for permaculture is fast gaining popularity in Australia, especially here in Western Australia. There are five levels of accredited permaculture training available. Certificates I and II are mainly taught at secondary education settings in the vocational education program. Over the last few years we have seen a decrease in students choosing to study horticulture and an increase in the uptake of alternative qualifications like permaculture. Western Australia currently has five schools teaching Certificate I and three offering Certificate II, with more teachers training to start their programs in 2022. Certificates III and IV as well as Diploma in Permaculture are taught directly through registered training organisations (RTOs), either face-to-face or online.
Currently six RTOs are offering permaculture qualifications in Australia. Skills Strategies International in Western Australia is the only one offering all levels of accredited permaculture qualifications. Permaculture Australia is aiming to increase this number. We project a considerable growth in interest from students, but one of obstacles to more accredited training is a shortage of qualified teachers.
So, how do you become a teacher for accredited permaculture training?
In short, every teacher needs to hold at least the qualification they would like to teach plus a generic Certificate IV in Training and Assessment. For Certificates I and II, a PDC is equivalent and sufficient to having done the qualification. Teachers wanting to teach either of these certificates in their school are required to do a PDC and have a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment. While it is not required, it is advisable to do a Demonstrator Skill Set in Permaculture. As PDCs are not standardised or quality-monitored, the accredited skill set consisting of four units ensures a greater understanding of permaculture ethics, principles and practices. The skill set also familiarises the trainer with the accredited system of teaching and assessing. For Certificates III and above, the trainer must hold the same qualification, either through studying it or through Recognised Prior Learning (RPL).
Many permaculture teachers see the requirement to hold a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment as the biggest hurdle to becoming a teacher in the accredited training programs. Many RTOs offer this training in various forms. Whether full-time intense short courses, part-time or online training, there is a course to suit most learners. Certificates IV in Training and Assessment are not permaculture specific and every trainer in the accredited system needs to hold this qualification. The qualification teaches delivering training and assessing students fairly, with a big focus on teaching and assessing students with language, literacy or numeracy problems. While a big hurdle indeed, once a trainer holds this qualification, they can teach any other accredited unit or qualification they hold within the TAFE and VET sector.
At the moment, very few permaculture teachers in Australia hold the qualifications to teach all accredited permaculture qualifications and only a few registered training organisations are offering the courses. We are experiencing a marked increase in interest in studying permaculture in the accredited system though and should do everything we can to accommodate these future students.
Where can I study accredited permaculture training?
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about the accredited permaculture education as a student or potential Registered Training Organisation interested in adding the qualification.
“I’m a country girl at heart, enjoying the wide-open spaces around me. I love being creative and am always trying to learn new things and educate myself on different topics. I’m currently working through my Diploma in Permaculture. I’m a dreamer and an optimist trying to see the positive side of life. “
This week we share a story from PA Professional member Stephanie Cutmore, from Indara Farms located in Meckering , Western Australia. Stephanie has completed a Permaculture Design Course and Accredited Permaculture Training (Certificate III and currently finishing Certificate IV) with Candlelight Farm Permaculture and Permaculture Educators Alliance. She is now completing her Diploma in Permaculture and setting up a permaculture business.
“As soon as I had my first baby, I had this sudden urge that I wanted to be back on a rural property. Wanting the freedom and outside connection that I wasn’t getting from being crammed into an estate in town. We were also becoming more and more aware of our food system and the challenges that it may face in the future. It didn’t stop me from starting right there in town to grow the odd fruit tree and seedlings before the time came to move further out into the country where I would have the space, I needed to really create a classroom and learn hands-on how to grow food for our family.”
“We grow food to take back some power and find sovereignty from the industrial food system, which I believe can be quite damaging to our environment and our health. We also grow food as a family activity to get the kids outside and inspiring them to eat more fresh vegetables & fruits. We live in a remote rural area where the supermarket is a 60km round trip and where it is hard to still buy organic fresh produce. Nothing beats being able to walk outside and pick something fresh for dinner, its our kind of take-away food. I like to know that we are helping to reduce our food miles and that the produce I grow hasn’t been sprayed or treated with any chemicals.”
“Our farmhouse sits on a block of 110acres (44ha). The raised vegetable garden is approx. 1011sqft or 94sqm & we also have a rotational grazing chicken system set up where we can grow food in-ground. We do have an Old Orchard and other area, as well as an old orchard and planned expansion area. I love buying Heirloom Varieties of Vegetables & fruit seeds, learning their stories and knowing these seeds have been passed down generations is just so inspiring. I get the chance to grow fruits & vegetables that I may have never tasted before or seen as they aren’t made to be shipped long distances and store well for the supermarket stand. We also have plans to create a “Drylands” permaculture Food forest which will include Fruit & Nut trees, Berries and Australian Native Bush foods.”
Obtain a yield, Produce no waste & Use and value diversity
“We like to leave mother nature to tell us what our soils require looking to the weeds for signs of what they are doing and what may be missing from the soils. We don’t like to disturb the soil & practice a no-dig method. We move livestock regularly and keep our soil covered as much as possible. We don’t spray any chemicals and encourage predators to the pests to live in the garden, realizing that this may take some years to build up a more even playing field. We are building a worm farm and compost bays to add natural fertilisers back to the soil. We also add back any scraps to our soils feeding the worms. The chickens manure gets composted and spread around as necessary. We have also experimented with Chop & Drop Crops & Using Native Wattles as well. We are continuing our self-education on the intricacy of soils all the time by observation and research. I currently have a number of plants such as Silver beet, Radicchio, Corn & Zucchini I’m letting go to seed. You always get an abundance when you save your own so sharing them with family and friends feels empowering.”
“Where we live our average annual rainfall is between 250mls- 350mls annually so the lack of rain can make gardening in summer tough with the extreme heat and strong winds. Trying to grow vegetables that we have become accustomed to eating in a semi-arid climate where they may not want to grow. Unfortunately, we also have some introduced pests such as parrots & rabbits that are very damaging to the native environment and will destroy a lot of our plants before they even have a chance to bare fruit. The biggest rewards are hands-down seeing the kids become acquainted with growing food and seeing how tiny seeds can grow into their favourite vegetables & fruits. Knowing that what ever they choose to eat from the garden is like eating Medicine, reducing our food miles and knowing exactly how that food was grown.”
“No one knows everything there is about growing food, it’s a constant learning curve. Making mistakes is a part of the process and nothing beats harvesting something you can eat that you grew yourself! The next most empowering thing you can do is saving those seeds.”
“I am a Permaculture Australia Member & an admin on a local “Permie” group on Facebook which we are in the process of organizing garden visits and a book club. We share information and cuttings and seeds when we can. I have completed formal education in Permaculture and continue to study. I share this journey and everything I am learning along the way, on my Instagram and have recently started Vlogging on YouTube to help inspire and share our knowledge with others who are trying to grow their own food. I have been able to share excess seeds & produce with family and other locals often being on the receiving end of their fruit gluts creating a community around local food. I don’t know where this journey will lead as I continue on this path, however I have big far-reaching dreams for the future. No body arrives at a destination without a long journey.”
Stephanie is a professional member of Permaculture Australia, the national permaculture member organisation. You can find out more and sign up as a member today here.
You can follow the journey of Indara Farms via their Instagram and You Tube channel for heaps of great inspiration and ideas for growing food, implementing permaculture ethics & principles, and building community in a semi arid climate zone.
Stephanie has completed the Accredited Permaculture Training(Certificate III and Certificate IV Permaculture) and is currently completed a Diploma in Permaculture. Find out more about the Accredited Permaculture Training offerings in your area, including online options here and here.
This interview was first published with the Humans Who Grow Food Social media group, with words and photos provided by Stephanie Cutmore, Indara Farms.
” 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 memberMartina 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.”
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 email@example.com
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
So what are you waiting for? Get in touch with one of the above organisations and start your permaculture study journey today.
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’.
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!!
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.