Permaculture Design Course (PDC) Modular Format

Permaculture Design Course (PDC) Modular Format

Follow your passion and immerse yourself in this Modular Permaculture Design Course held in the Beautiful Byron Shire. In this hands-on course you will discover how Permaculture principles can develop resilient systems, contributing to environmental, social and personal well-being. Through gaining a clear understanding of these principles you will be able to apply them to your everyday life and surroundings – from a small home garden to commercial production.

You will learn how to design, build and maintain abundantly productive food gardens within sustainable human settlements and be shown how to work with an appreciation and understanding of nature’s patterns and cycles. There is an additional focus upon practical activities in the garden including no-dig gardening, seed saving, plant propagation, food forestry, Hugelkultur, tree maintenance, animal care, composting and more…

The course takes place over 14 days held as individual short modules on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout the year. The foundational 72 hour International Permaculture Design Course (PDC) curriculum is covered – plus loads of hands on experience and field trips. This modular course is designed to support flexible, part time learning with the opportunity to complete all the modules within a 4 – 12 month period depending on your availability to attend each one*. Upon completion of all 14 modules you will graduate with a Permaculture Design Certificate. The PDC course is held twice a year. The modules can be enroled in seperately but to take advantage of price savings, enrol in the PDC rather than in each individual module.

2020 course dates are:

Fri 28th Feb – Permaculture Ethics, Principles And Patterns with Bunya Halasz
Sat 29th Feb – Plant Propagation And Seed Saving with Bunya Halasz
Sun 1st March – Introduction To Permaculture Design with James Nash
Fri 27th March – Soils – Organic Management with Joey Venables
Sat 28th March – Trees And Perennial Crops – Creating Food Forests with Bunya Halasz
Sun 29th March – Vegetables – Integrated Organic Production with Bunya Halasz
Fri 1st May – Water Systems For The Home And Landscape with James Nash
Sat 2nd May – Settlements – Sustainable Housing And Appropriate Technology with James Nash
Sun 3rd May – Animal-Integrated Production Systems with Sharon Gibson
Fri 29th May – Community Design And Social Permaculture with Erin Young
Sat 30th May – Group Design Project with James Nash
Sun 31st May – Individual Design Workshop with James Nash
Sat 13th June – Ecology – Weeds, Pests And Diseases In The Garden with Joey Venables
Sun 14th June – Design Project Presentations, Locavore Feast And Celebration with Bunya Halasz and James Nash

The course will incorporate field trips to the award winning Mullumbimby Community Garden, Urban Food Forests, Intensive Permaculture Production Systems, Bush Permaculture gardens and Natural Forest Ecosystems.

The teaching team, led by Bunya Halasz, have a diverse, complimentary and deep range of experience and skills.
Other Tutors Include: Sharon Gibson, James Nash, Erin Young and Joey Venables

This course offers a great introduction to permaculture and is suitable for anyone concerned with the environmental and social challenges around them who wants to help develop positive solutions. It would also benefit students interested in studying Permaculture Certificate III or IV with Byron Community College in the future.

AHC42116 – Certificate IV in Permaculture

AHC42116 – Certificate IV in Permaculture

Grow your permaculture know-how into a richly rewarding career and immerse yourself in sustainable living and organic farming practices, right in the green heart of Northern NSW.

This course is designed to expand your permaculture knowledge and skills to acquire the resilience to adapt to a rapidly changing world. At the end of this course you will be qualified to work as a project supervisor and designer for permaculture design projects. Your new found expertise will also open the door to other wide ranging career paths such as working in community development locally and internationally, aid projects, integrated food production or design for sustainable living. The program balances theory, practical, structured and self-directed learning with assessments throughout the course designed to navigate your progress.

The course will kick-off with half day college orientation (Wed), followed by a 3-day (Thurs-Sat) intensive course conducted at Djanbung Gardens, Nimbin, as a residential immersion experience. From week 2 the course will be held on Thursdays and Fridays at the Mullumbimby campus.

You Will Learn:

Organic soil improvement
Planning and implementing permaculture works
Harvest and storage systems
Management of permaculture seed banks
Approaches to sustainable community and bioregional development programs
Costing a project


Three day intensive permaculture fundamentals at Djanbung Gardens at beginning of course, followed by

Thursdays and Fridays 9am to 3.30pm
No classes over school holidays

This course is Austudy Approved.

Smart and Skilled funded places may be available for this qualifications – please call the college for more information on 02 6684 3374

RTO NO:90013

AHC33816 – Certificate III in Permaculture

AHC33816 – Certificate III in Permaculture

Are you interested in learning permaculture skills to help make lives, homes and communities more sustainable? We offer the opportunity to immerse yourself in sustainable living in the Byron Shire, the green heart of the North Coast. Make like-minded friends in this highly practical course as you gain experience and confidence to transition your life and the lives of others towards a better future.

You will learn and be inspired by natural ecosystems, holistic philosophy integrating organic farming, animal systems, natural building, food preservation, systems thinking, community development and more. This course is the ‘trade equivalent’ qualification that prepares you to operate in a skilled and independent manner developing and operating permaculture systems.

The course will combine time in the classroom and out onsite at our purpose designed 1-acre permaculture site located at Mullumbimby Community Gardens (MCG) for hands-on experience.
During the course, you will be required to participate in weekly or fortnightly practical work at the MCG. Maintenance tasks include chicken care, watering seedlings and beds, turning compost and maintaining paths.

Byron Region Community College is a registered training organisation offering this course with the support of Mullumbimby Community Gardens (MCG) and Permaculture Australia.

You Will Learn:

Permaculture Principles and ethics
Integrated plant and animal systems
Seed saving and propagation
Establishment of urban permaculture systems
Planning and design of food forests and orchards
Building and installation of permaculture structures
Crop planning, maintenance, harvesting and cooking
Installation and maintenance of permaculture water systems
Plant, pest and disease management
Landscape and map interpretation
Soil health and soil types

Career and Employment Opportunities Include:

Urban and rural property design and implementation supervision
Permaculture and environmental information services
Development and management of sustainable land-use systems
Environmental management and community development programs
Education and training in permaculture and environmental management
Facilitation and coordination services
Eco-tourism enterprises and operations


Tuesdays and Wednesdays 9am to 3.30pm
No classes over school holidays

This course is Austudy Approved.

Smart and Skilled funded places may be available for this qualifications – please call the college for more information on 02 6684 3374

RTO NO:90013

Experience the best teacher in the garden

This article was written some years ago for PIE — Permaculture Information Exchange — the journal of Permaculture Melbourne.
WHEN ‘Woz the PIE baker’ asked me to write something about experiential capital a few years ago, I was stumped. So I looked it up online and then, over coffee and a leftover honey cake I had an idea. Why not write it by telling a story of something that happened?
That story starts with my partner, Fiona Campbell’s Forest Gardening courses. Fiona is Randwick City Council’s sustainability educator and she uses the Forest Gardening and Organic Gardening courses to build the forest garden area of the Permaculture Interpretive Garden, a combined city park/edible landscape/education garden. Out of this courses, participants go away with take-home skills sufficient to get them started in their home or community garden.
Kim was one of the students of the latest Forest Gardening course and, like many, when she started she knew little. She had, however, completed Fiona’s Organic Gardening course and this gave her some basic knowledge. Forest Gardening is intended to be a follow-on from that course.

Participants including artist Linda Cairnes (left) and Permafund’s Virginia Littlejohn (centre) add compost to a young citrus tree in the forest gardening course at Randwick Sustainability Hub.

Kim persisted through the six Saturday afternoons of the course, participating in discussions and small group activities inside the community centre to comprehend the intellectual part of forest garden design and maintenance, then joining the group in the garden. Here, she joined the other students in improving the sandy soil with the addition of compost and biochar. Seeds and seedlings were planted, watered and mulch added.
Then… nothing. A couple classes went by. When Kim and the other students visited the garden you could see the disappointment they felt at the lack of plant growth. It seemed their hopes for a flourishing garden were to be dashed… there were glum faces… all their soil preparation, watering and planting had been for nought. Their expressions betrayed their frustration.
The following week Kim burst into the classroom and she was excited. “Oh… the garden… the seedlings… they’re up!”. Last week’s disappointment had turned to elation. The seedlings had undergone a sudden growth spurt.
I saw Kim again about a month later. “That was a great course”, she told me. “I learned so much… learning about observation in the garden, how to consider sunshine and shade in thinking about where to plant seedlings, how to design for easy maintenance… then understanding what we were doing and going outside to do it”.
“And those sunflower seeds we planted in the swale… they’ve come up and they’ve grown so fast, but will the parrots get the seeds when the flowers form, I wonder?”.

Look > Think > Act

Kim has now set out on her own permaculture adventure around the country and what has inspired her to do this was the blending of intellectual learning, the ‘what’ — with practice in the garden, the ‘how’. It’s the blending of these things that makes up experiential capital and makes people more competent and confident in their own abilities. We can see experiential learning as making use of the Action Learning sequence of Look > Think > Act.
But… there’s one more thing that empowered Kim in her new abilities and that is an essential part of learning in gaining experiential capital, and it as this: all of her intellectual and practical learning was done in the good company of fellow students who shared their knowledge with each other, what some call ‘social learning’. And, it had that other essential quality of all experiential capital-building — fun.
Oh, yes, the sunflowers Kim and the others planted did flower and the parrots didn’t eat them.

Seeds: save your own, says Jane

Story by Russ Grayson, October 2015

At Randwick Sustainability Hub, the educational component of Randwick Community Centre,  Jane Mowbray’s seed saving workshop taught participants how to produce their own seed rather than rely on distant seed companies

inner west seed savers

Workshop leader, Jane Mowbray, of Inner West Seedsavers.

THREE HOURS is really too short a time to learn about seed saving, but what a packed three hours it was.
There was Jane Mowbray, horticultural educator, Inner West Seedsavers‘ originator, president of the Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network and retired teacher who still likes mathematics. There she was leading around 23 people through the intricacies of this unusual practice of saving the seeds of the plants we eat… our veges and herbs.
First, we checked out how plants are structured. That’s a rather clever piece of DNA-encoded bioengineering that grows specialised parts that work together to allow the plant to recreate itself plant after plant, generation after generation.
[pull_quote align=”center”]…bees are the mobile part of the garden that spread plants through fertilising them…[/pull_quote]
We all know about leaves — the solar arrays deployed by plants… the biochemical converters powered by photons streaming from the sun that convert carbon dioxide and water into biological energy and the oxidising gas known as oxygen. But what about the anthers, petals, styles and stigmas? Who knows what they do in this great dance of botanical life? Well, Jane does, and now all at the workshop does too.
Jane demonstrates winnowing — a process that separates the heavier seed from lighter chaff by gently blowing across the seed.

Jane demonstrates winnowing — a process that separates the heavier seed from lighter chaff by gently blowing across the seed.

Turns out some of these flowers are edible… and you don’t have to cook them. Nasturtium, borage and others were quickly named by the botanically savvy. Then there’s pollination which is a function of these flowers.
Permaculture co-inventor, Bill Mollison, used to say that birds were the mobile part of the forest. They spread seeds, expanding the forest and replanting it after disturbance. I can’t disagree with that, thought I would say that bees are the mobile part of the garden that spread plants through fertilising them and, at the same time, producing a runny, semi-liquid carbohydrate known as honey much beloved by that other forest-and city-wandering species, people like you and I.
Jane passed around some scented pelagonium flowers and some flowering herbs which were dutifully sniffed and explored by the workshop participants with the magnifying lenses issued.
[pull_quote align=”center”]…it’s amazing what you can grow from your spice cupboard…[/pull_quote]
“Fantastic to grow”, exclaimed Jane, holding up as twig of coriander, ” …though it can bolt to seed… I understand there is a non-bolting variety available now”.
Someone asked about sources of seeds. After mentioning seed companies selling non-hybrid seeds that will reproduce true to type she said that ” …it’s amazing what you can grow from your spice cupboard… don’t underestimate this source… anything that is a bit old and out of date you chuck it into your garden and maybe a quarter, maybe half will germinate”.
This is the book — the manual — when it comes to seed saving, says Jane. The Seed Savers Manual can be ordered from the Seed savers' Network at

This is the book — the manual — when it comes to seed saving, says Jane.
The Seed Savers Manual can be ordered from the Seed savers’ Network at

Extracting seed the wet way

It turns out that seeds can be extracted wet or dry. It’s less an option for any old seeds than a process for particular seeds.
Tomatoes, for instance. Jane demonstrated how you can scoop the pulp containing the seeds from a tomato, put it into a jar and add a little water then let it stand for a few days. The frothy stuff that appears on top is nothing to be alarmed at, said Jane, that’s produced by fermentation and that’s a good thing. When the seeds separate from the gunk they are filtered out and laid until dry on a piece of tissue paper placed on a plate. They keep for maybe three years so there’s no need to rush out and plant them immediately.
Dry seed extraction is a lot easier, as people found when curcubit pods were passed around. You simply break the pods and out tumble the seeds.

Our seeds — how viable?

Jane recommends seed viability testing for schools and teaching children because it demonstrates that mathematics is an everyday part of our lives ” …rather than something we torture children with”.
The maths comes in when you test your stored seed to see how viable it is — what proportion of the seeds are likely to germinate and grow. This is important for seed you have stored for some years. It isn’t hard to do this and even the maths is manageable because most of us walk around with a mobile phone with a calculator app in it..
Here’s how:

  1. Take a plate… you know… from the kitchen.
  2. Layer several folds of tissue paper over the plate.
  3. Write the type of seed it is you want to test viability of, where the seeds came from and the date on a corner of the tissue paper; use a biro.
  4. Moisten the tissue paper — don’t flood it though.
  5. Count out a number of seeds, say 40 to 50 for small vegetable and herb seeds and spread them over the moistened tissue paper on the plate.
  6. Fold the tissue paper with the seeds over itself and place in a plastic bag.
  7. Set aside.
  8. After a few days carefully remove the tissue paper and plate from the plastic bag and make a count of the seeds that are germinating; you might do this every day or so for a week or more depending on the type of seed.
  9. Now, find your calculator app, key in the number germinated and the original number, find the percentage button and press it; now you have the percentage of the seeds that are likely to germinate were you to plant the seeds; practical maths.
  10. If it’s only a few you might be better emptying your seed container into your compost bin or tossing the seeds into the garden for the birds.
Seeds in germination testing.

Seeds in germination testing.

The biodiverse garden

[pull_quote align=”center”]…someone mentioned how cities were very biologically diverse places, with their extensive range of exotic flowers as well as natives and food species…[/pull_quote]
Lettuce, coriander, radish, borage — these are all flowering plants that attract bees and beneficial insects, said Jane, who recommended planting them in all gardens. They add to your garden’s biodiversity. On hearing this someone mentioned how cities were very biologically diverse places, with their extensive range of exotic flowers as well as natives and food species. That’s good news to bees and other insects, it turns out, as they aren’t all that fussed about where it is that the plants they visit come from.
In raising biodiversity Jane linked the microcosm of the home garden to the macrocosm of the biome, the suites of plants, animals and the geology that characterises a region, what we sometimes call the biogeology. It is made up of all those ecosystems we and our insect, animal and plant colleagues inhabit — the bush, the farms, the coasts, the cities. Making links like this contexts small initiatives and improvements, such as the plants we establish from our saved seeds, in their bigger contexts. Doing that is important because it shows that we can all do something that is positive and good.
Jane has led the seed saving workshop before and, as always, it is popular. I’m sure she’s destined to lead many more.

Recent workshops in the classroom-in-the-field:

Workshop introduces renovating the permaculture way
A new classroom for Randwick