Growing Inclusivity: practical strategies for making permaculture teaching more accessible

Growing Inclusivity: practical strategies for making permaculture teaching more accessible

Debbi Long, Naomi Amber, Toad Dell and Guy Ritani

Written by Naomi Amber

Heading Image by Woz Bone taken at APC2023

The following article is an excerpt taken from panel presentation Australian Permaculture Convergence, April 2023

Permaculture and its teachings have always been set in non-formal, alternative and community level environments. This is critical to ensuring permaculture knowledge is available to all. The practice of understanding diversity and inclusion must be continuously revisited as society evolves around us. Promoting inclusivity and diversity in education for the neurodivergent learner presented, by Naomi Amber

Everyone is different, there are no two people who are exactly the same in absolutely every way. Even identical twins have differences. Just as everyone has unique fingerprints, no one has exactly the same brain. There is diversity at every level in every aspect of human life. Understanding the diversity within students and knowing how they learn is essential for a teacher to create learning environments that promote success.
So, what is neurodiversity?

  • Neurodiversity refers to the variation of brain, or cognitive, functioning in people. Everyone has a unique brain and therefore different skills, abilities and needs.
  • Within this scope of difference, or spectrum, lies people who are considered neurotypical, or having brain functioning that is considered as typical or common within the population.
  • Neurodivergence refers to people who have a brain that diverges, or is significantly different to, that which is considered typical or common. These differences can present in social preferences, ways of learning, ways of communicating and ways of perceiving the environment. 

Let’s look at everyone here in this room. We are a group of people who are neurologically diverse. Within our group there are people who are considered neurotypical and others who are neurodivergent. Examples of neurodivergent people include people who have Austism, Epilepsy, or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). However, it is important to note that we need to be careful when using these ‘labels’, as not all people who are neurodivergent have been formally diagnosed and each person can present or not present with a wide range of characteristics within each neurodivergent classification.
As a teacher, I believe it is more important to focus on what students need to be successful in learning, rather than focusing on labels and then making assumptions on what their challenges may or may not be. For example, instead of saying that Johnny has ADHD and lacks focus in class, we can say Johnny requires a stand-up desk to help focus on tasks in class. However, in a school setting, diagnosis and labels are required for access to funding from the government.

Ways we can support neurodiversity in learning include:

  1. Maintain a holistically safe classroom by addressing psychological, physical, emotional, social, ethical, and academic needs
  2. Present lessons in small chunks, also known as task analysis
  3. Vary your teaching strategies
  4. Know your student’s strengths and challenges
  5. Set goals for success for ALL students

These teaching practices are effective for both neurotypical and neurodivergent learners and should be incorporated in every lesson of every unit of every course.
An issue we face as educators is that not all people know whether they are neurotypical, neurodivergent or have any challenges for learning. Unless diagnosed, people can be unaware of where they lie on the ‘spectrum’. However, if you ask people how they feel they best learn, most would be able to tell you. This is why I believe it is best practice not to focus on a ‘label’, but rather on identifying the needs of a person.
For example, it was only last year that I was formally diagnosed with ADHD. Prior to the diagnosis, I knew that I had certain challenges when learning or working and had figured out strategies I needed to implement to improve my success within a learning or workspace. The formal diagnosis just gave me access to other tools that I had previously not been able to. An inclusive classroom should include lessons that inherently cater for neurodiversity and neurodivergence. This can be done by using a wide range of varied strategies and techniques embedded in every unit program of the course being delivered.
As a teacher it is necessary to research and stay up to date with strategies that cater for diversity in the classroom. These strategies can address features such as the physical layout of the classroom, the furniture available, timing of lesson and activities, types of activities, resource development and presentation, and modes of delivery of content. For example, where possible it can be helpful to make course delivery available online, as well as in person. It enables students to access your course who have challenges such as social anxiety, living remote, lack of transport, family or work commitments. It also creates the opportunity to include other features that can be added to improve accessibility using varied technologies.

“Social inclusion is the process of improving the terms on which individuals and groups take part in society—improving the ability, opportunity, and dignity of those disadvantaged on the basis of their identity.” (World Bank, 2017)

Even the World Bank recognises Inclusivity as important!
Permaculture’s ethics of People Care and Fair Share align with social inclusion. We suggest that it’s the responsibility of those of us who teach in this space to proactively ensure that we are being as inclusive as possible.

The Permaculture Edge

The Permaculture Edge

Written and Photography by Rosemary Morrow
Sundry thoughts about the cutting edge, or the unrecognised edges of permaculture.

No. 1. Decolonising designs for Zone 1 kitchen gardens
Spending time with refugees in sub-standard crowded housing in camps woke me up to the idea that the classic design for Zone 1 – the kitchen garden – was not going to work here. The traditional Zone 1, with the lemon tree and circular path, was excellent for those who had land and resources but couldn’t be considered the ‘gold standard’ for kitchen gardens. Most of the world’s people did not have this possibility. Was permaculture too elite to apply globally?
We, permaculturists, had already accepted that people in high density housing would probably have their kitchen garden some distance way – say at Community gardens, or, on a roof top.
However the thought that they could pack in good quality food in windows, roofs, hang from barrier fences was not a thought in most permaculture minds.
So did that mean that permaculture had nothing to offer where large numbers of people did not have land and access to resources?
We at P4R – Permaculture for Refugees realised that Kitchen Gardens, Zone 1 in these places was an essential need and also possible but they wouldn’t look like the traditional Zone 1. We developed kitchen gardens that looked like the photo below where every and any space grows food whether on the ground, in a ditch of dirty water or on a roof.

And Wall Gardens – Zone 1 – like the newly planted one which within a few weeks would be prolific with kitchen vegetables. And we established that permaculture design for Kitchen Gardens was possible in tiny spaces and vertical spaces.

But that raised the question of First Nations ‘kitchen gardens’?
From South East Asia I knew that most kitchen foods grew and were harvested on trees in forests and weren’t planted as annuals in beds. This is necessary where monsoon floods, torrid temperatures and pests destroy the conventional plants and beds. I knew that the people of Tenganan went to the forrest when the fruits and vegetables were ready and harvested them in place in their microclimates and ecosystems.
However what about Australia, for example, and the First Nation’s agriculture? From my years in the Kimberleys and Alice Springs many years ago, and some reading, I realised that Kitchen Gardens are those created by ‘enrichment’ planting. Which means establishing plants where the
microclimates are most suitable. For example, along river beds which tribes and clans would visit in drought or perhaps ceremony, many seeds would be planted and later visited and harvested appropriately.
This required detailed knowledge of a plant in its ecosystem and increasing its number in place not modifying an ecosystem to suit a plant as it done with ‘colonial’ planting. The Australian attempts at bush tucker gardens tend to follow the colonial model.
However close observation of plants and place reveals what flourishes. With implementing this design, harvesting means visiting the ppropriate microclimate which may be slightly inconvenient but also an opportunity for a rich engagement with Nature.
When appraising the Planetary Health Initiative site in Katoomba; a place with many microclimates, there was discussion was about bush gardens design which tended to favour the ‘colonial’ placing vegetation together for easy harvesting and sometimes in ‘guilds’ but not logical and traditional enrichment planting in the appropriate microclimates.
This would establish best practice for other bush tucker’ gardens. Such a planting design is more likely to endure and survive, droughts, floods, and fires because plants are in their natural ‘guilds’ and also good for disaster planning. It would also be a valuable model for other First
Nations people in the region to restore their traditional practices.

By visiting and harvesting food where it grows best in microclimates, and the plants are mainly perennial, we again become food gathers in the sense of the past.  It’s likely to be very rewarding.

Your comments and responses are welcome.

For the Earth,
Rowe Morrow

Mushrooming hope in Nakivale

Mushrooming hope in Nakivale

Jessica Perini

Jessica Perini –  from the Permaculture Australia education team –  is combining local and refugee learners in a new model of online learning. She hopes to create long-distance connections, funding for refugee projects, and lasting memories and opportunities for all.

Elijah and I have been friends for a while now.

Together we do yoga sessions over Zoom, even though he’s in Nakivale, among the largest refugee camps in the world, and even though his internet is … well, rubbish … But we laugh over tree pose, and the constant internet dropouts. Laughter is the ultimate remedy.

Having worked with refugees remotely since COVID, I’ve come to understand that connection is among the most important things for people like Elijah.

I know this because around 4 pm Sydney time I am inundated with messages that tell me East Africa is waking up. ‘Hey Jess, how you going?’ ‘Hi big sis.’ ‘Hi Mum.’ Followed by copious photos of mulching, worms, and food forests flourishing. Mostly from refugees in settlements in Uganda, and Kenya. My group, Permaculture Partners, has built these connections since the pandemic through numerous workshops. Generally covering the topics most requested by refugees. (Maggot farming being one of the most popular – go figure!)

 This is just my observation as an outsider, but having contact with the outside world seems to sustain these refugees. And when it comes to permaculture, this also means hope.

What does all this have to do with mushrooms?

A few months ago, I was running a training session for Elijah’s group (Biogreen) on the three most important soil properties – physical, chemical, and biological. Their main question (apart from ‘What do you mean “chemicals”? Aren’t chemicals bad?’ – translating English to Swahili is fraught!) was ‘When can we learn about mushrooms?’

A 15-minute discussion on soils quickly turned into a one-and-a-half-hour Q and A about the best types of mushrooms, whether refugee farmers would be able to grow them, how quickly they grew and how much they’d have to spend to get the business going. From these people who had little experience with mushroom farming, the fascination was palpable.

Many conversations ensued. Elijah went on a mission to the nearest big local town, Mbarara, 42 kilometres away. I’d found trainers there, but the cost was many thousands of dollars, so we looked at alternatives.

Knowing of his love and knowledge of mushrooms, I asked Nick Ritar of Milkwood if he would volunteer to teach a two-hour introductory session online. 

Having worked with Milkwood on and off since I did their Permaculture Design Certificate in 2010, and having completed their excellent Home Mushroom Cultivation Course, I was delighted when they said they’d help. The workshop was set for 1 June.

The model I’ve developed over the years is simple. Put on two-hour training for local Australian audiences and refugees in camps concurrently; charge the locals, and the refugees attend for free. The locals finance materials for the refugees. Everyone gets to mingle and connect. People grow more food. Beautiful connections are made.

As we sold tickets to the June 1 event, I sent the funds to Elijah. Mushroom supplies were hard to come by in Mbarara, so he had to go further afield – to the capital of Uganda, Kampala. This involved numerous buses and boda bodas (motorbike taxis with whole families precariously perched on them, and, sometimes, astounding amounts of furniture).*     

Working his way through the markets and squares, Elijah found the materials he needed. Grain spawn, alcohol for cleaning, gloves, gypsum … all the bits and pieces he would be hard-pressed to find in the refugee camp.

Together we workshopped a few ideas and adapted them.

Finding clean water and materials to burn in a refugee camp can be challenging. Boiling water was going to be a problem. So we explored steeping the substrate in cold water overnight.

For a time we couldn’t locate hydrated lime, so we considered using wood ash to raise the water’s pH. Although it doesn’t have all the same properties and functions as hydrated lime, it was a good alternative – provided Elijah’s group could get the pH to around 12 or 13.

They just needed pH strips … Another hurdle! We needed low-tech solutions. Think, think! Red cabbage water! Did they have red cabbage? Yes! A workshop for another day.

When the June 1 workshop rolled around, Elijah and his team had found everything they needed; it had been a Herculean feat. But we still had the dodgy internet to contend with.

The various refugee groups would be gathered – around 15 people per group – projecting the computer screen onto their walls, and we had no way of knowing whether the internet would hold up. If it rained, or if someone sneezed strangely … goodbye workshop. We met a few days pre-workshop to run through the process. Worst case scenario, Elijah could show them all the materials and play back the recorded session later.

On June 1, the refugees and locals came online to hear Nick speak. The participants from Uganda were thrown off the call by their weak connections, so we stumbled around for solutions. I considered WhatsApping, beaming my screen to them through two platforms. But eventually, the internet picked up, and most people hopped back in.

Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the session, and we were so thankful for Nick’s help and guidance. He answered a barrage of questions and has continued helping us over the last month.

Since then, Elijah and I have been growing our mushrooms in tandem. Mine have bloomed, but Biogreen’s first attempt has been patchy, the Nakivale team struggling with conditions in the camp. The heat, combined with the tin roof of the mushroom growing house, is not ideal. The new plan is to purpose-build a structure, with a leafy roof to mitigate the extreme heat. Maybe low-tech air con. More workshopping to come.

As the mushrooms reach the fruiting stage, the team will also have to contend with theft due to starvation. In a similar situation in Kakuma camp, my refugee friends have had to create a separate garden, with strong fences and 24-hour guards to protect their harvests.

Fair share is well and good when you’re not starving. But when you’re surrounded by a mounting refugee population, and your United Nations Food Program rations have gone down to a paltry $5 a month, or 1.5 kilos of flour, who can blame anyone for stealing food?

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the problems faced by refugee communities like Elijah’s. I’ve sat on this story for almost a month, trying to think of the perfect way forward.

But yesterday, I saw a photo of Elijah. As much as he smiles and jokes, his limbs all twisted into Eagle pose, and rushes about on these crazy quests, and tries to grow mushrooms in non-ideal conditions, he’s still skinny as.

Still disconnected from the bounties we enjoy here. Still struggling.

We can’t wait for the perfect answer to these big issues. Nor can we stumble at all the hurdles.

Elijah and his team have started a second batch of mushrooms, learning from their issues the first time around.

And we’re pressing ahead with small solutions. We have $100 left from the workshop sales, which is enough for transport, food, and 3-days of business and mushroom-growing training for Elijah in Kampala. After that, he’ll be equipped to teach his Nakivale group and the villagers beyond.

They’ll still need close and ongoing support from someone who’s not 11,000 kilometres away. 

In the last month, we’ve met several people who are growing mushrooms not far from Nakivale. Some are even preparing their own spawn, despite the limitations of an African setting. A few have very kindly offered to come to Nakivale and help the farmers establish a mushroom-growing enterprise. We just need to set the farmers up with a few basics and they’ll be on their way.

So the plan is: get Elijah to Kampala. When he comes back, at some stage ask a kind individual or group with experience to come and help them get set up. Create a secure building, well suited to mushroom growing. Buy some materials. Milkwood has very kindly offered scholarships in its online mushroom-growing course – ongoing education is key. 

Two days into the new grow, Elijah texts me: ‘I have good news.’ I’m on a call with someone else, so I can’t answer. ‘I have good news!’ That exclamation is a good amount of energy from Elijah. I have to check-in. When I get him on a video call, his eyes are shining. The second batch of mushrooms is growing! I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so happy.

We’d like to give our heartfelt thanks to Nick and Kirsten from Milkwood for giving us their time, knowledge and patience as we work our way through this process. We’d also like to thank everyone who came along on 1 June and donated to this wonderful venture, and the countless individuals who help conduct workshops, and give their time and experience free of charge to help refugees in these camps. A big shout out to BioGreen and all the groups that attended on the day. Individuals such as Elijah volunteer for such groups purely for the benefit of their communities, and we are inspired by their persistence, grace in the face of extreme difficulty, and big smiles when things go well.

If you’d like to help us set up a group of 25 farmers with a secure building and enough spawn to get them cracking in mushroom growing you can donate here

 *Photo of boda boda used with permission courtesy of Elizabeth Fekonia, from her June 2023 permaculture workshop tour of Kenya and Uganda. Thanks to Elijah and BioGreen for the workshop photos.

APC23 – in photo!

APC23 – in photo!

Permaculture South Australia hosted an incredible three-day event celebrating permaculture, sustainability and urban food movements from across Australia. Featuring inspiring keynote speakers, workshops, stalls, hands-on activities and more, it was a weekend of learning, connecting and sharing. Held at the beautiful Mount Barker Waldorf School, at Yaktunga / Mount Barker in South Australia’s Adelaide Hills and with the autumn sun shining, it was an APC for the memory books.

22nd to the 24th April, 2023

With special thanks to the incredible team at Permaculture South Australia and all their amazing volunteers, who put in months (years even!) of energy, hard work and passion to create a wonderful event that will be celebrated for years!

Click on the photos to make them larger and save your favorites!

A review of Permaculture Australia – the AGM that wasn’t…

A review of Permaculture Australia – the AGM that wasn’t…

When the last minute cancellation of the Permaculture Australia AGM was announced by the board, a quick decision was made to not lose the opportunity for a gathering of great minds in creating a vision of the future.

Graciously facilitated by Meg McGowan, the 40 plus in the room and 10 online were given the following framing

Human organisations in the dominant culture have traditionally been dendritic (top down). Permaculture Australia also adopted this model but by default it is not the only pattern. If we are to redesign the organisation we need good questions.

What do indigenous patterns teach us?

What would nature do?

If Permaculture was a forest, what role would Permaculture Australia play in that ecosystem, perhaps it would be the soil, sun and rain creating the environment that supports the healthy growth of permaculture?

Perhaps it would be the mycelium,connecting the various life forms that rely upon it for connection. But what about animals, birds and insects?

No clear answers emerge because organisational design is a wicked problem. 

We know the current pattern no longer serves us and we do not yet know what the new pattern will look like, so we need to establish a clear collective vision and join together in heading in that direction. 

Fortunately we have joint stewardship of a powerful model for redesign – permaculture.

Set alongside client interviews, visioning planning, implementing, learning and then proceeding around and around the design spiral – learn – dream – plan – do – repeat 

We will not find answers today but we might evolve great questions 

What does the Earth need?

How might we contribute to that?

How might we design in a capacity to evolve and adapt?

And how do we incorporate the ethics and principles of permaculture not as a design overlay but as a base map.

Activation Question

It’s 5 years from now and Permaculture Australia is the world’s best example of permaculture ethics and principles? What does this look like?

In the interest of keeping as true to the discussion as possible, the dot points below are grouped in their working groups. They may not read clearly and smoothly as they are a bit of a visioning, mind dump process.  Points have just been cleared up for content and clarity.

The zoom recording is available if you would like to view it please contact

These are the responses from the group work

  • Million dollar charitable organisation
  • All Permaculture organisations in Australia being members of PA
  • Public liability insurance for members of PA to run tours etc at their site
  • Register of sites around Australia – similar to what the UK has done
  • Peak body of research that is communicated to the World
  • PA is recognised as a leader of land restoration and climate action and recovery and emergency response
  • Permaculture units are core in a variety of diverse qualifications
  • Permaculture is taught in 90% of schools
  • PA funds international permaculture projects being a philanthropic organisation
  • PA has a strong marketing and PR campaign group to get the message out to the rest of the World,  Australia and into the Mainstream
  • Active permaculture media that documents all the wonderful things we are doing around Australia
  • It has a position as the peak body within Australia and other industries and is consulted and our voice is included in national matters and decisions that affect all of us
  • It is known as a functional organisation that attracted the best and broad talents within the Permaculture community
  • It’s a driver in offering formative permaculture education and that the educators are accredited using peer review model to help set standards within permaculture teaching and training and helps maintain those standards
  • Recognise and interact with indigenous communities and learn from them and work together
  • Sociocracy
  • PA building connections – collaboration  with state permaculture organisations in a meaningful way
  • Lobbying for planet and for people 
  • Professional partnerships with other sustainable organisations and also great relationships with international bodies
  • A PA that is inclusive – so actively and meaningfully supporting inclusivity projects 
  • Having a first nations advisory team 
  • Actively promoting diversity
  • Permaculture translation support for people applying for grants and funding but also for educational materials
  • And standing against white supremacy actively
  • Education  – helping people to get the certificate 4 training and assessment by running it as a national body a couple of times of year
  • Being a hub for information so that is Youtube – ebooks, educational resources
  • Helping with professional development
  • PA is very well organised so that it doesn’t burn through people. It adds to people’s livelihoods and adds to the fun in their daily lives
  • It uses sociocracy  and that leads to an inclusivity and empowerment of people and transparency
  • Scrum mentioned as another way to organise ourselves in groups
  • Strong marketing PR group -paid, which ensures PA is relevant
  • An active Permaculture media
  • PA has a position as a peak body, is consulted and has a voice in important matters.
  • It is known as a functional organisation that attracts effective and best talent 
  • PA has a strong presence 
  • PA is a driver and offers formative permaculture education.
  • PDC educators accreditation using a peer review model
  • Recognize and integrate with indigenous community
  • PA delivers effective communication 
  • Giving out $500,000 of micro grants annually
  • Fund projects around the globe and in Australia 
  • Implement school gardens across the country
  • Upside down pyramid  – at the top local permaculture groups – connected to the regional – PA at the bottom
  • Being a voice on global and national issues and handing out solutions from our wealth of knowledge within the movement
  • Write the solutions and slip them on the desk in Canberra and let them grab it and take it forward 
  • Stand with other groups and voices
  • Coordinate permaculture education – teaching permaculture training that doesn’t have to go through a separate university – university of permaculture
  • Effective communication between the smaller groups and the larger groups 
  • Connecting the smaller groups up via membership 
  • Free membership if you are member of your local organisation you are automatically a member of PA
  • A heart group doing the nurturing the well being of the whole
  • Enabling not controlling 
  • Inclusive
  • Filled with opportunities and really well funded
  • Place specific and connected with first nations cultures
  • First nations advisory team
  • Connected through the biosphere regions and connected with state and national organisations
  • Permies want to join
  • Representative
  • Regenerative and supportive
  • People are proud to belong to it 
  • Everyone has a voice
  • Resources rich in information that is widely shared with everyone and highly accessible
  • Cost not being a barrier as well
  • How to be well funded though – have to work that through
  • Organisational structure made up of circles and links interconnected and decentralised
  • But also well connected outside the permie community
  • Being able to engage in lobbying role in local state and national government as well as the education sector and business sector but that nodes are still relatively autonomous
  • Structures in place that help build and are represented by past present and emerging leaders through meetings like we have right now – but maybe other structures similar as well
  • And that we have diverse representation that is really inclusive
  • Elder recognition and allowing space for exhalation for our elders and
  • Succession planning 
  • Terms of PA board 2 years or 3 and 3 that swap so that there is not a full change over
  • Fair representation for youth 
  • Structures where there are interlinked in groups
  • Sociocracy
  • Talk about things like the taurus where pressure in the change is welcomed as a pathway toward flourishing 
  • figure of 8 infinity symbol to do with the ecological succession modelling because theories of change we need to welcome as well  as well as theories of solidity
  • Fairness – farmers market funding young farmers as a model that PA could use to fund
  • Resource to new people to run courses and make scholarship through Permafund to help get those things up and running
  • Needs based – organisation supports each of the directors of PA  checks in on where it meets their needs to be there and how it can so they don’t burn out so easy
  • And what are the needs of PA directors and board so that they get care as well
  • Peak body 
  • Political influence and an advisory role
  • Representation of not only the states but also by Bio regions 
  • Overlays and connecting in many different ways
  • Education from School through to university and research beyond that
  • Peer reviewed journal / magazines
  • Not top down
  • Indigenous voices connections and leadership 
  • Have moved past the white fragility stage
  • At our core we are a safe place and our ethics of care are paramount in everything we do
  • Not aligned with narrow philosophical beliefs 
  • We have an international presence
  • Website is an amazing online resource that is like our organisation, it is inviting and inspirational and respected 
  • Not like a one stop permaculture warehouse but more of a social forest ecosystem where you can go for a walk in the forest and come out with something that you need and you might not know that you needed
  • The body for Permaculture Australia, being involved in Politics
  • Representing all of Australia at a governmental level 
  • Advocacy role to represent our views to decision makers, from refugees to agriculture implementation would require ramping up communication, 
  • Increased visibility of PA
  • Permaculture is a grassroots effort from the soil to the top of the atmosphere, a peak body would have to keep this in mind to be sure to be heard
  • PA could collects points of communication from the whole country, from grassroots people
  • PA could have a larger role as a hub in regards to all states
  • Connection between states, has been some discussion over the years to look at joint memberships as an example
  • Committee associations to connect with PA board
  • Growth, reason to be a member. Accreditation, how to make people aware of events in their area
  • Discounted books and online workshops and in person lectures
  • Education at a tertiary level could be our approach to keep younger generations engaged
  • Permaculture Australia is the peak body that represents all Permaculture groups at a federal and state level, integrated in education at all levels including tertiary education. PA connects with all state and territory community organisations to build deeper connections for our aims. Our biggest opportunity will remain in the future generations that we leave this earth to by assisting them to use our knowledge through the challenges we face through climate change.
  • PA is a peak body that embodies the space, operating as a beacon and is very aware of what it does do and what it doesn’t do
  • It has a lot more members and the reason it has a lot more members is because it offers great value to its members – in the form of insurance, resources, particularly for new people entering the permie world. Pathways so that goes to training, mentorship
  • research – international as well, looking at what other organisations around the world offer
  • Courses
  • Advocacy
  • Global ecological design – basemap of australia working with indigenous people to do a base map of australia 
  • Trusted form of leadership
  • With a stronger focus on fair share the sense is that we need more assistance from PA in that area and a non competitive model of economics
  • Diversity – one person in the group wanted centralisation others want decentralisation
  • Offering multiple levels of access
  • PA also provides fantastic support to local groups to begin and lots of resources to begin local permaculture groups if they don’t have one locally
Introducing the nominees for the 2023/2024 board

Introducing the nominees for the 2023/2024 board

To read more about our fantasic nominees, simply click on the arrows under their names.

The Permaculture Australia Annual General Meeting (AGM) to be held on Sunday 28th May 2023, 4pm AEST via Zoom.

Online voting will OPEN at 7am Friday 26th May and will close when the 2022 board roles are declared vacant by the Returning Officer – Item 8 on the Agenda


For more detailed information about the AGM – CLICK HERE

Toad Dell – Renominating

Permaculture background

Co-founder of PermaQueer and Permaculture educator

What would you/they bring to PA and the board? Skills, knowledge, experience etc

A focus on uplifting the diverse forms permaculture is practiced and also the diverse people practicing it. I’m deeply passionate about social permaculture and designing social systems and processes that move in equitable ways towards a just, regenerative future. Currently I’m sitting on the board and hoping to continue the work I’ve started.

Qualifications (Permaculture Design Course
(PDC) certificate or VET Permaculture Cert III or higher)


Linda Woodrow

Permaculture background

Linda is an Permaculture icon in Australia and internationally. Her 1996 book “The Permaculture Home Garden” introduced Permaculture to innumerable homes, and her recent novel “470” has offered an extraordinarily prescient analysis of the impacts of climate change. Her blog, the Witches Kitchen, reflects her decades of experience as a fully engaged, practicing permie:

What would you/they bring to PA and the board? Skills, knowledge, experience etc

Linda’s decades of experience in the Permaculture movement in Australia means she brings a deep historical perspective to the board. Her 40 years of living ethically and sustainably, her experience of teaching Permaculture in the VET system, her wise and gentle approach to the world all enhance her capacity to provide guidance and direction to Permaculture Australia. Her engagement, ,through her writing, with recent and current crises (climate change; pandemic) demonstrate Linda’s capacity to offer clarity and vision to PA’s mission for the future.

Linda has had forty years experience as a company director in an intentional community, including several terms as secretary and as treasurer. She is well experienced in the legal, accountability, and ethical aspects of governance, and has developed and run a course on “Good Meetings” for community organisations.

Linda also has experience in overseas aid, as part of the Green Team in Cuba during the Special Period.

Qualifications (Permaculture Design Course
(PDC) certificate or VET Permaculture Cert III or higher)


Diploma TAE, and  Master of Arts (Humanities & Media)

Naomi Amber

Permaculture background

Raised on a self-sustainable farm and continue to live according to permaculture principles. Taught permaculture in secondary schools. Currently on the Permaculture Australia Education Team.

What would you/they bring to PA and the board? Skills, knowledge, experience etc

In addition to above answer, I have been on committees in the past, including holding the role of secretary. I have excellent organisational, communication and IT skills.

Qualifications (Permaculture Design Course
(PDC) certificate or VET Permaculture Cert III or higher)

PDC – Limestone Permaculture (2021)
Permaculture Teacher Training – Blue Mountains Permaculture Institute (2022)
Also have an Honours Degree in Forestry and a Diploma of Education.

Greta Carroll

Permaculture background

I have lived and worked on Permaculture farms since 2017, started running courses with Permaculture for Refugees and Permaculture College Australia in 2019. Board member for PA in 2020. Currently still teaching PDCs and TOTs in Australia and Internationally.

What would you/they bring to PA and the board? Skills, knowledge, experience etc

I bring prior knowledge of PA, having previously sat on the board as Board Member and Permafund Liason. I believe I have good communication skills and a desire to see PA develop into a responsive, inclusive, leadership body for the Permaculture Community.

Qualifications (Permaculture Design Course
(PDC) certificate or VET Permaculture Cert III or higher)

PDC, Ian Trew 2017

John McKenzie

Permaculture background

* Supported many Permaculture initiatives and events in and around Melbourne including the start up of the Down’s community project in Frankston, an environment project, community garden and market garden.
* Member of Permaculture Victoria since 1990’s including terms on the committee
* Member of the Permafund Team. A founding member of the current Permafund team and proud of it’s 11 years of project grants and team solidarity. One of the three people on the team who are registered with the Federal Dept of the Environment as the ‘Responsible Persons“ for PA’s Deductible Gift Recipient Fund,
* Member of Permaculture Australia (PIL) since 2010 including terms on the Board.
* Many years working with NGO’s in the overseas aid sector. Supported many projects using Permacultural approaches.

What would you/they bring to PA and the board? Skills, knowledge, experience etc

I have experience of PA on the Board and with the Permafund team and I see substantial capacity for both PA and Permafund to grow..
I am nominated for the Board by Permaculture Victoria. They are keen to support PA to take the next steps in formation to adopt a governance structure that is representative of the many permaculture groups around Australia. They are keen to see PA grow in it’s capacity to be a voice promoting Permacultural responses to social and environmental issues.
I am seconded in the nomination by the Permafund Team. Permafund is a major productive team in PA and this year is seeking two seats out of the seven available. The Permafund team seeks two seats on the Board to complete the REO compliance repairs and to support the work of moving PA to stronger representative governance as a Peak Body. The Permafund nominees are myself as the hand seeking a final term and Felix Liebelt the new member seeking to step up to the role.

More specifically the work I hope to do if elected:
* Maintain PA’s DGR compliance
Last year I wrote a 10 page report on gaps in PA’s DGR compliance and how they could be fixed. These were issues that had emerged from PA’s constitution, accounts and annual reporting. We are 80% through the fixing and the remaining 20% is still to be done.

* Increased collaboration between PA teams, staff, volunteers and Board
More connection within PA’s operations and more open decision-making will improve risk management and better connection with the experience and knowledge of the volunteers, staff and teams.

* A governance structure for PA that provides representational connection with the many Permaculture groups around Australia.
I understand this is the final step needed in the formation of PA. It is a big idea and needs a working group to consider options on how it gets done. A working group open to delegates and submissions from the various groups around Australia.

Qualifications (Permaculture Design Course
(PDC) certificate or VET Permaculture Cert III or higher)

PDC with Vries Gravestein & Terry White, Latrobe Uni, Vic 1992
Advanced Permaculture Course with David Holmgren Hepburn 2010
BSc, Monash U 1976, Dip Ed Melbourne U 1989

Felix Leibelt

Permaculture Background

PDC with John Champagne of Brogo Permaculture Gardens 2017 and second PDC with Aaron Sorenson and Dan Deighton of Elemental Permaculture Port Kembla. 2022 Permaculture Teacher Training with Rosemary Morrow and Brenna Q. Supported living classroom projects in the illawarra and Shoalhaven. Supported Permaculture intro with John Champagne and Aaron Sorenson. Started a Permaculture design and landscaping business in 2017- to present(Geco Gardens ) .Member of the Permafund Team.  

What would you/they bring to PA and the board? Skills, knowledge, experience etc

I have experience in working with the Permafund team for nearly 2 years now and I see immense potential for both PA and Permafund to grow.
I am nominated for the Board by John Champagne. John is keen to encourage me to support PA to be representative of Permafund’s work and the next generation of Permaculture professionals and teachers stepping up in shaping the future for Permaculture Australia. My nomination is also seconded by the Permafund Team.   Permafund as a major productive team in PA and is seeking two seats on the 2022-3 Board out of the seven available.  I am the other nomination that Permafund makes, I am Felix Leibelt seeking to step up as Permafund Liaison Officer and learning the role on the board alongside very experienced John Mc Kenzie.
My aims for the year are : 

– Assisting Meg in the renewal of Permafund’s Online presence and sharing of the stories of the grant recipients and lessons learnt.
– Network with other Environmental Charities to help PA work towards being recognised as a valid voice in environmental and social issues in Australia and abroad.
– Limiting my workload on the board to being the Liaison person for the Permafund team, reporting back to the Permafund Committee and vice versa.

Qualifications (Permaculture Design Course
(PDC) certificate or VET Permaculture Cert III or higher)

2017 PDC Brogo Permaculture Gardens Brogo , 2017 PDC Elemental Permaculture Wollongong , 2022 Permaculture Teacher training Rowe morrow Wollongong

Charlie Mgee

Permaculture Background

Grew up in the 90’s flipping through the illustrations of Permaculture One and the Designer’s Manual on the kitchen table at our off-grid home in South-West WA, whilst surrounded by chickens, worm farms and a composting dunny.

After completing my Cert III & Teacher Training with Robyn Francis in 2012, dove into co-teaching a couple of Intro to PC courses and a PDC in Fremantle, WA before embarking on a different kind of permaculture educational/advocacy journey with the inception of the ‘Permaculture Ukulele Project’ (which became the band, Formidable Vegetable).

Toured for 7 years, promoting permaculture ethics/principles and connecting people who had never heard the word before with local projects & courses in over 20 countries.

Moved to Melliodora Hepburn Permaculture in 2020 and assisted David & Su with marketing & promotion of the publishing business.

In 2021, moved to Peace St Permaculture Community in WA, where we trained in & implemented Sociocracy as a governance framework and currently working with community members on co-designing a permaculture hub for the Great Southern region.

What would you/they bring to PA and the board? Skills, knowledge, experience etc

Passionate about connecting people and ideas. Excited to work with younger permies on innovative, new pathways, while honouring the 40+ years of knowledge in the movement. Keen to do outreach and advocacy to increase the diversity & range of skills, backgrounds and experience in the permaculture movement.

Qualifications (Permaculture Design Course
(PDC) certificate or VET Permaculture Cert III or higher)

Cert III in Permaculture + Advanced Design & Teacher Training with Robyn Francis at Permaculture College Australia, Djanbung Gardens, NSW (2011), Teacher Training with Rosemary Morrow, Brenna Quinlan & Greta Carroll at Fair Harvest, WA (2022)


Permaculture background

PDC and 1/3 owner of a permaculture farm in Djab Wurrung / Woi Wurrung country

What would you/they bring to PA and the board? Skills, knowledge, experience etc

I could bore you by saying I’m a queer immigrant, a professional marketer, an IT engineer or something along those lines.
I didn’t know I would be nominating before coming to convergence.
This event has reminded me that when I think of permaculture, I think of energetic, colourful and empowered people changing the world, changing the conversations we’re having.
I think it’s paramount that PA mirrors that same passion and energy, looking at where to go next. I want to be part of that.

Qualifications (Permaculture Design Course
(PDC) certificate or VET Permaculture Cert III or higher)

PDC – Fall in love with the world while fixing it – Delldint Fleming – 2021

Graham King

Permaculture background

I have for decades followed an environmental ethical path. I had heard of permaculture decades ago, but only in the last 6 or 7 years have I actively engaged in practicing and acquiring permaculture detailed knowledge specifically.
I quickly came to realise “I have known this all along”.
I now teach permaculture PDC with my wife Meg McGowan, we are known as Permacoach.
I am currently the Treasurer and Public Officer for Permaculture Central Coast.

What would you/they bring to PA and the board? Skills, knowledge, experience etc

from conversations at the Convergence, it was my understanding that a new Treasurer is sought within the board. I have since come to know that there is currently a treasurer in Donna Morawiak, we have communicated and she seems keen to transfer that role.

In the case that Donna is indeed comfortable to hand over the role of treasurer, I have decided I will nominate to become a board member, specifically to execute that position.

Brief History.

I have had a 4 decade career in the Information Technology industry. Now retired.
My roles were broadly in the area of enterprise level computer operating systems management and security, particularly mainframe systems programming and midrange unix systems, and consequent data centre management.
for most of that time I was typically the team leader/manager for a small group of highly skilled systems specialists.
The latter part of my career comprised a decade in the Cybersecurity division of a global IT services provider. Amongst other roles, I managed a large operations team of security specialists for some years, providing cyber security services for a broad range of clients, including federal government departments and major corporations of the finance and primary resources industries.
For much of those 4 decades, I have been primarily responsible for the ongoing operation, security and reliability of large scale enterprise computer systems.

Appropriate Treasurer skills.
From 2010-2021 I was a volunteer bush fire fighter with my local NSW Rural Fire Service brigade.
I achieved the qualification of Crew Leader and consequently Deputy Captain within the brigade.
I took on many roles (secretary, president, IT guru) and for the 5 years to April 2021, I was treasurer for the brigade.
This required high level of scrutiny, reporting and Audit, and I am very familiar with the requirements of DGR.
The brigade operated with a consistent balance of $35K-40K, with an annual turnover of $8-10K.
I medically retired form the RFS in 2021.

Since Nov 2020, I have been the treasurer for Permaculture Central Coast. PCC operates with a balance of around $8K, and annual turnover of around $4-5K.

Other things.
I enjoy teaching Ethics to my local primary school.
I am an excellent bass guitarist, and compose.

I understand I need to seek nominations from other members.
My wife Meg McGowan is also a member, and I have included her details in this form for now. However I will ask publicly in any PA members will also nominate me, and forward their details to hello@PA.

If my nomination is acceptable, please advise and I will seek the nod from others.

Qualifications (Permaculture Design Course
(PDC) certificate or VET Permaculture Cert III or higher)

PDC (Holmgren 2019) and Advanced PDC (Permacoach/McGowan 2020)

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