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Do you teach permaculture in Australia and want to offer a great benefit to your graduating students? We are excited to offer an easy sign up system for new permaculture graduates from PDC’s and Certificate permaculture courses in just a few steps.
What? Let us know the dates you’d like students to be able to sign up and we’ll generate a special voucher code for them to use for their membership sign up. We’ll then send you the invoice for their one year PA membership (@$40/student). Easy! (more…)
In February 2019 Permafund team member, Jed Walker, travelled to South East Bangladesh, to join Rowe Morrow and Ruth Harvey for their second PDC (the first was for local residents). Quaker Service Australia, working with the Bangladesh Association for Sustainable Development (BASD), financially supported the courses. Jed joined the course at Camp 19 in Cox’s Bazaar refugee camp, hastily built in the jungle where elephants recently roamed.
BASD, longtime advocates of permaculture in Bangladesh, provided generous and comprehensive hospitality, logistics, camp liaison and translation services for the Australian visitors.
Driven from Myanmar and fleeing for their lives into Bangladesh about 1 million Muslim Rohingya have found themselves living in limbo in Cox’s Bazaar, now one of the largest refugee camps in the world.
Signs of resilience are evident everywhere
Before fleeing Myanmar, the Rohingya were farming, living in villages or ethnic ghettos (internment camps) in the towns. The Bangladeshi government have welcomed the refugees, but the arrangement is temporary. There are still reports of violence occurring for those who try to return to Myanmar.
The bamboo and tarp classroom was located on the edge of the camp, overlooking rice paddies and brick works belching smoke. Among the 21 PDC trainees about half were young men plus some young women, older women and male farmers.
During the course Ruth, Jed & Rowe were also mentoring BASD staff to teach the course themselves and thence train the Rohingya students to teach other camp residents. The plan is for 15 of the class graduates to educate a further 100 families in permaculture.
“The class went well as the Bangladesh dialect in the nearby Chittagong region is similar to the Rohingya language. This helped a lot with translation. All students were remarkably positive considering their recent past.” said Jed.
At one stage the oldest man sang a lament about the loss of his land and people. Jed felt the older people had a sadness over them while the younger ones were as bright and cheery as elsewhere, maybe more so.
The teaching team heavily contextualised the course toward local conditions and knowledge. Working among very experienced farmers and forest dwellers the teachers stopped counting when their list of uses of various trees exceeded 50 (most groups run out at around 20).
Some students did a design for the teaching site which already included gardens and a food forest but also bare ground with no topsoil and little water management. Other students did a plan for about a hectare of the camp itself. There is really no room for on the ground gardening around the average camp hut so the strategies for growing food included making gardens in whatever was at hand – sacks, pots, boxes, water bottles or whatever plus hanging gardens were made from coconuts, gourds and plastic bottles filled with plants to hang from eaves.
Gardening in containers and bottle hangers
Jed had brought a bag of mung beans and introduced the idea of eating fresh bean sprouts. The adults were sceptical at first but followed the lead of their adventurous children.
Pumpkin vines were grown on roofs to also give shade. Average maximum temperatures there are within 3 degrees of 30 Celsius all year, with very high humidity in summer.
Coconut hanging garden
The housing was Incredibly dense as it’s for a million people in few square kilometres. More than 120,000 babies had been added to the camp’s population in the past year, Jed was told.
Huts made with plastic & bamboo lattices
“Despite the challenging conditions in the camps with overcrowding and scarce resources, residents in the camps maintain their houses and shops with pride and signs of resilience are evident everywhere” said Jed.
Most huts are plastic with a lattice of bamboo, vulnerable in monsoon rains and cyclone conditions. There are no gutters, so catching rainwater is not practical. The groundwater, delivered by hand pumps, contains iron at toxic levels.
Hand pumps for water
The course included disaster management with cyclones being the main concern reported by the group. They were reluctant to even speak of the circumstances surrounding their flight from Myanmar. “The students enjoyed having something else to think about and asked the old man to stop singing his sad songs” said Jed.
Despite the bleak conditions in the camp the PDC class itself lifted the spirits, with students soaking up the knowledge and making plans for every nook and cranny of the camp. Camp 19 has 50,000 people and there are plans being hatched to exponentially peer-educate every one of them.
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CERES are excited to host some powerhouses of Permaculture in Spring 2018. Robin Clayfield will be visiting over two days in November to share her skills and experience in facilitation and group dynamics. Robin has pioneered social Permaculture and dynamic decision-making around the world and brings her passion for creating deep change through effective, dynamic group work and co-operation between groups. More info and to book: Social Permaculture and Dynamic Group Decision Making Rosemary Morrow is one of Permaculture’s pioneering women. For almost 40 years Morrow has worked extensively with farmers and villagers in Africa, Central and South East Asia, and Eastern Europe. She has especially dedicated much work to the people of war-torn nations such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Bosnia and Afghanistan. This two-day workshop on 8th & 9th of December focuses more on personal and group skills than growing plants, however the natural environment is always considered: Challenges & New Frontiers in Permaculture
Besides lots of other short courses in between, CERES’ 26th Permaculture Design Course starts on Wed 6th Feb 2019. The course is a mix of classroom presentations, workshops, design exercises, practical exercises and visits to properties to see Permaculture in action as well as a catered weekend away. The course content and approaches to teaching and learning is directed by a group of leading PDC teachers and practitioners. This 100 hour course is delivered by a range of professional, practicing permaculturists including David Holmgren, Joel Meadows, Kat Lavers, Donna Livermore, Peta Christensen and Earthcare Permaculture’s Graeme George. Payment plans can be arranged. More info and to book your: Permaculture Design Course
Robyn Francis celebrated the teaching of her 150th Permaculture Design Course (PDC) that happened on July 7-21, 2018 at Djanbung Gardens in Nimbin. Permaculture Australia would like to add its congratulations.
Robyn has taught 150 PDCs in 15 different countries, plus as many advanced courses in diverse areas of professional permaculture practices including Teacher Training; Community Facilitation; Ecovillage Design; Sustainable Aid and Development; Social Permaculture; Design for Food Security, and Year-round Food Production. She was one of the key instigators of the Accredited Permaculture Training and has spent 11 years providing full-time accredited vocational training in Permaculture Certificates III, IV and the Diploma of Permaculture. Now thousands of her graduates are doing important work in all continents and climates. Robyn was mentored by Bill Mollison and co-taught with him in the 1980’s.
Robyn has been on the Board of Permaculture Australia for many years and contributed countless hours of her time to the organisation. Thank you!
Here is a video describing Robyn’s work and some thoughts about permaculture: