Permaculture Design Course

Permaculture Design Course

Experience Permaculture course (PDC course) in Australia at Noosa Forest Retreat, a 160 acre holistic permaculture community & education centre in the United Nations accredited Biosphere of Noosa Hinterland, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia. Learn from a team of 6 experienced Cutting Edge permaculture teachers and specialist presenters, led by community teachers, Ian Trew (Bachelor Psychology & Health Science) &amp.

You will benefit from our collective community experience, inspiration & valuable knowledge. Individual attention after class and post course to offer you best Permaculture course & ongoing journey possible.

Specialist presenters on Urban Permaculture, Syntropic Farming, Governance & Community, Fungi, Mindfulness Training, Natural Movement, Food Preservation, Cell Grazing, Holistic Management & more.

Live on and enjoy a grass-roots developing Australian Permaculture community in the beautiful subtropical Noosa Hinterland, Sunshine Coast, Queensland.

Noosa Forest Retreat community and education center is a living example of a small group working together to develop sustainable, nutritious permaculture food systems in a shared natural environment.

Noosa Forest Retreat Community is being developed to nourish mind, body and soul while looking after the greater body of the earth. Learn to design and implement sustainable systems for yourself & others.

At the Permaculture Design Certificate Course you will gain valuable skills in complete holisitic habitat design, how to evaluate the soil, grow nutrient rich food, life changing bio-hacks to achieve peak health & vitality and much, much more.

Our residential Permaculture course will gently guide you through the life changing Permaculture journey, providing all the support and encouragement you need. You will obtain the overall knowledge, confidence and skills to offer a range of permaculture, farm & garden services and consultations.

You will also obtain permaculture design skills and professional network contacts to save thousands of dollars creating and implementing detailed healthy sustainable property designs for your self, family and friends.

You will be able to make an income offering permaculture design, implementation & maintenance services to others as a business.

If you are interested in integrated natural health, community development/living and personal development, then the Noosa Forest Retreat PDC is for you.

Inspiring, supporting and empowering you to help make the world a better healthier place for all beings!

Home Grown Retreat: An Introduction to Permaculture

Home Grown Retreat: An Introduction to Permaculture

A delicious weekend in the country where you will learn the skills you need to easily begin growing your own edible garden at home.​

Get your hands in the dirt, breathe in fresh country air, enjoy farm-to-table organic dining and relax in luxury accomodation amongst the rolling hills of the beautiful Southern Highlands.

Explore a more sustainable and regenerative way of life with Farmer Pete and local Permaculture guru, Jill Cockram. Learn about gut health with nutritionist Shannon Rosie and how to pickle, preserve and ferment with Chef Eilish.

Mining the Archive: The Permaculture Academy

Mining the archive

Our permaculture past revealed through stories from Permaculture International Journal.
In this article from edition 72, September-November 1999 of Permaculture International Journal, Lisa Mollison (1) and Kathy Jack outline the idea of furthering permaculture education with a Permaculture Academy.
Authors: Lisa Mollison, Kathy Jack.
Mining the archive series editor: Russ Grayson.

Towards an integrated education

MANY PERMACULTURISTS can relate to the frustrating experience of dying to obtain an integrated education. Some have pursued an education in costly institutions which foster specialised and disconnected courses of study, others have taken prolific workshops and many have read books and conducted extensive independent research. While this has led to many interesting adventures and creative pursuits among permaculturists, most can see the usefulness of having our own school.
In 1985/86, Bill Mollison visited fellow academic Bob Macoskey at Slippery Rock University, Pennsylvania. Both lamented their dissatisfaction with the status quo of current education. In their experience as university professors, university systems were not producing people who were of use in society. Only two percent of graduates work in the field of their degree. What could be created which would be of use to the needs and realities of the world? From these discussions the philosophical foundation of a Permaculture Academy emerged.

An ‘academy which attempts to unify knowledge and action towards a life enhancing goal’, a centre of ‘free enquiry’ with no fixed location…

Building an Academy

In 1993, Bill published The Foundation Year-Book of the Permaculture Academy (FYB), summarising the intention, form, development strategies and operations of the Permaculture Academy. Bill sought to build ‘An academy whose purpose is to pursue the goal of excellence in the integrated design sciences’. An ‘academy which attempts to unify knowledge and action towards a life enhancing goal’, a centre of ‘free enquiry’ with no fixed location.
In the FYB, Bill gave shape to an academy that will be accessible to anyone and will issue globally recognised degrees. Permaculture Design Course (PDC) graduates with postgraduate degrees may register as regional vice-chancellors. Vice-chancellors may appoint regional supervisors to work with students or serve as supervisors themselves. Supervisors must hold the level of degree that the student is working towards.
Fields of study include:

  • education
  • architecture and building
  • site design
  • media
  • community services
  • finances and business
  • technical development
  • resource development and research.

The supervisors and vice-chancellors oversee the academic process. A Diploma in Permaculture is required for admission to the Academy. All students register with the Academy registrar.
In 1995, Bill commissioned Inger Myer of Texas, a PDC graduate with a law degree, to research the establishment of the Permaculture Academy. Her extensive research included the incorporation, licensing and accreditation processes of other non-traditional schools in the US.
In 1996 the Permaculture Academy was incorporated as a 501 (c)(3) non profit tax exempt corporation in the state of New Mexico. As a 501(c)(3) the Academy can apply for grants and receive donations. The Academy is currently on the path of becoming licensed and accredited.


Being an accredited school means our degrees will be recognised by other educational institutions as valid. To become accredited, the Academy must first become licensed by:

  1. Clearly defining the bachelors, masters and doctorate programs, which are approved by the High Commissioner of Education.
  2. Establishing an Institutional Advisory Committee to review the programs and standards of the Academy; and
  3. Being operational. This means having an office, a full time administrator, a curriculum and employed teachers.

Currently, the directors of the Academy are working to meet these standards.
Lisa Mollison has been a managing director of the Permaculture Institute since January 1997.
The Foundation Year Book (FYB) is available from Tagari Publications for $6 plus postage and handling. The last article on the Academy was Published in P1J 47, June 1993.
(1) Lisa Mollison was the wife of Bill Mollison.

1985: Permaculture aid

The Lost Stories

Remembering Bill in print — the legacy of Bill Mollison from the pages of the Permaculture International Journal
The Lost Stories are Bill Mollison’s articles published in the print magazine originally named Permaculture, then International Permaculture Journal and finally the Permaculture International Journal that was published between 1978 and 2000.
All stories and other content © Permaculture Australia unless otherwise noted……….

Permaculture aid

1985. Edition 22, November

SEVERAL PEOPLE HAVE WRITTEN indicating support for a third-world Trust-in-Aid to teach permaculture courses in areas where people need help. Some have sent sums of from $100 to $1000 to go into such a trust, and we have established the account. We do not as yet have tax deductibility but have instructed our lawyer to try to get this for us, if necessary by changes to our trust document.
Some people have indicated that they will be approaching orqanisations like Live Aid to assist, and we would be grateful for any independent initiatives to any such non-governmental organisations or even government organisations for grants towards our Trust-in-Aid.

The characteristics of successful projects

We have been giving this subject considerable thought and have discovered that very few third-world projects work. Those that do seem to have these characteristics:

  • they arise from projects that are seen to be important by local people; while there is no reason not to lay out a smorgasbord of possibilities, the choices of priorities and possibilities must be left to the people on the ground
  • local people know what time they have to spare and what skills can be developed.

Once some priorities are defined:

  • the approach that works is practical-educational — actual ground projects formed as teaching projects but solving a specific problem or set of problems and developing local skills
  • assistance may then be required as back-up; materials, plants and seed or information supplies to support local initiatives
  • all of this works only if people get direct return for effort and if we do not perpetuate dependency and exploitation; this is the critical impediment to aid where large landlords or corrupt bureaucracies benefit from aid (most cases funded by foreign banks or governments)
  • any project should have the potential to make its own way, either as savings, sales or a teaching centre, and preferably all of these approaches.

What aid volunteers need

Our teaching courses are good initiators of such an approach but must be followed by support of a group in-country. ‘Self-help training for long-term development’ sums it up.
Aid volunteers need to be very practical and skilled, able to give training at certificate level in any one area. Enthusiasm is not enough, and in fact an inexperienced enthusiast creates more problems for everybody.
Other points to watch are:

  • that individuals are not selected for help; this causes a host of local problems and leaves the community situation unaffected; thus, aid should be to local groups, preferably as aid in training and in business
  • aid should never be charity, which is dependency-generating, but should be invested in basic change (independence and self-help assistance); injustice is the root cause of poverty
  • there should be no strings or requirements on aid, no ‘thanks’ required nor reports to be given; donors need to trust local people once a good group has been selected
  • prestige projects and paid administrators are often unsupportable locally
  • a joint project may very well work; for example, a trade exchange where profits are split; there is no charity involved here, just some initial investment and work on both sides
  • it is a good idea to work with an already-established aid group made up of nationals and locals; their achievements are easy to see and many cultural impediments can be avoided.

Levels of aid

There are probably three to four levels of aid, each suited to a different set of conditions.
Aid in disaster: (plague, famine, flood, earthquake). This does seem to be a suitable area for government-to-government aid although most studies reveal that very fast action to help people help themselves is the only effective course. It would seem sensible to have funds set aside annually to mobilise within days, not to slowly react over a period of some months by which time an aid programme has become a refugee programme, longterm and basically insoluble.
Training aid: for ‘normally bad’ conditions, the training of in-country designers for self-help and long-term change. This is where ourselves and many agencies believe we can most effectively operate, but even this sort of aid is ineffectual if we ignore, or fail to develop strategies for, basic justice and honesty in the government of the country. There is no apolitical aid.
Joint projects aid: this seems the least contentious. It involves setting up a small industry, enterprise or cooperative project, selling locally and on a world basis and sharing profits with the disadvantaged group. Carefully planned, this seems straightforward. The main ethic to observe is that what is exported or sold doesn’t impoverish the area. Information and seed are good examples, or manufactures from imported raw materials. Publishing is a possible area.
Local enterprise aid: is effective if soundly assessed for social, ethical, and environmental impacts. Such fields as food preservation, domestic water purification and crop storage are undoubtedly effective fields, as is autonomous energy supply using biogas. Training and funding local people to supply or improve on existing systems is usually effective and creates little harm, whereas expanding cattle herds and supplying large institutions or centralised systems does have profound social effects favouring an already-privileged class (landowners), as does ‘miracle crops’, large irrigation systems and large technology centres. Even large biogas systems disfavour households.
Aiding change in land tenure to give people land, or to legal systems to allow or facilitate community self-help is a key strategy, unrelated to technology or crops but permitting any changes to benefit people.
Aid to individuals is ineffective and creates a new privileged class. Aid to existing effective groups is ideal.

How we intend to proceed

As our plan is to spend only the interest from monies donated to the fund. We may have to wait a few years while funds are accumulating.
As stated before, we intend to deposit royalty payments from the next permaculture book into the Fund, and so we hope that within three years we would have a tidy sum (if all goes well with book sales!). In the meantime, we will be researching effective aid programmes already in place. It would be pointless and expensive to go looking for projects when there are so many that already exist, concentrating on those that offer educational programmes.
There are many nongovernmental organisations to contact, ranging from Community Aid Abroad to World Neighbours, and we will eventually be able to narrow the list to those with whom a mutually beneficial relationship can develop.
Over the next few years, many of our trainee consultants will be gaining experience and some have already had overseas work.
Although initially we from Australia or the US may be the first teachers, we hope eventually to fund Asians, Mexicans, Africans etc to teach both in-country and across borders. We will be collating information on skilled and experienced people over the next two years.
We are grateful to those who have already donated to this Fund and hope that more people will follow suit.

Bill Mollison, Permaculture Institute.

1987: An ideal Nepalese village

The Lost Stories

Remembering Bill in print — the legacy of Bill Mollison from the pages of the Permaculture International Journal
The Lost Stories are Bill Mollison’s articles published in the print magazine originally named Permaculture, then International Permaculture Journal and finally the Permaculture International Journal that was published between 1978 and 2000.
All stories and other content © Permaculture Australia unless otherwise noted. ……….

An ideal Nepalese village

1987, Edition 26, Permaculture

…Bill Mollison

Published as an article in World Visions … and realities

DURING OUR FIELD WORK IN NEPAL we visited the small farm of MC Pereira, one of our permaculture graduates, in the rich subtropical Terai area.
Born in India, MC married a Nepalese girl, Uma, and moved to the Terai on two acres of family land in 1980. Over the last six years they have developed this land towards the ideal of sustainability, which has been largely achieved.
The property supports about five adults and produces all its own food and a market surplus. Some factors are as follows.


The essential fencing against wandering cattle is secure, with a walled garden of about 1/2 to 3/4 acre and a barbed wire fence on the remainder. Progress is being made on a living fence of the vigorous Euphorbia species that replace cactus in Nepal.


The key to growing is thick mulch on the perennial crops (ginger, pineapple) derived from leguminous trees as interplant, border trees and along access paths. Most of these are Leucaena but several other legumes are under trial for coppicing.
Some mulch is collected from the local rice husking mill nearby, particularly for the vegetable and small seedling beds.


In the extensive vegetable garden nutrients are derived from a programme of skilled composting (4-6 piles of 2-4 metres).
Here, plant wastes are layered with buffalo manure, with two central bamboo-formed vents until the first heat of decay is produced. The whole heap is then mud-plastered to prevent nitrogen escape (a sprinkle of phosphate helps with this) and the mud itself is sown to or seeded with grain.
When the pile is ready it is spread on the vegetable beds and a mulch of rice husks may later be added.
Seedlings are grown in compost for planting out.


Livestock is a milk buffalo and calf, and tree forage is now sufficient to support two more buffalo.
Weeds and forage grain are chopped to a coarse green chaff for feed, and the manures and urine go to a biogas digester. There is one milk goat and five to six cages of rabbits, all fed on grown forages, weeds, and vegetable scraps.
A pigeon loft is built above the milk sheds and hay and feed grains stored in the structure (all of local brick).
A chicken run will be added in future, and at present neighbours provide eggs and chickens.


The flush toilets go to the biogas plant which provides light and cooking gas for the establishment.
The tank is a buried dome type, and has a pond on top where frogs gather. This pond may be planted to kangkong in buckets after a suggestion by yours truly.
All biogas sludge goes to the gardens and crop systems.
Firewood is in excess supply and is sold periodically. Leucaena, neem tree (Azedarachta indica) are regularly coppiced for forage and fuel.
Fires for house heating are rarely lit, but small smokeless wood stoves for cooking are used. Biogas is regularly used, especially for tea (cha).

Planting materials

Seeds, seedlings, small trees, firewood, vegetables, mango, custard apple, ginger and pineapples are the main sales. All are sold locally from the farm or in local market.
A good daily journal of products and crops is kept.
Buffalo, goat, rabbits, bees and pigeons are housed in the compact farm area, although buffalo are also tethered by day (for vitamin D) on a straw area outdoors or on the roadside.


Water is partly from roof, mainly from a well via a manual force-lift pump. This suffices for garden watering and crops — rice in the monsoon, mustard for oils in the dry winter.
Dahl (grain legume) is a mix of pigeon pea (grown in crop and hedgerow) and lentil. Most curry spices are grown in the district.

A model form worth replicating

In general, this little farm is a model of the productive potential of a small area. The farm is a mine of highly detailed information and practical systems, and demonstrates an extremely high degree of self-reliance and nutrient cycling.
What such farms show, in real terms, is that what aid groups see as problems are solvable, there are solutions. What is now needed are strategies to replicate such examples. This means contributing modest finance, good teachers and real projects. Beyond doing it ourselves we need to set up projects to do it in many places and to educate people as to the possibilities.
MC and Uma have given us a lead and this small property is a bit of paradise surrounded by a sea of rice.