What actually happens on a Permaculture Design Course?

Aug 4, 2014

Well, lots of things – both planned and spontaneous and all good. Being a design course, we focus on design and creating designers out of all the students we work with – that’s our key focus and priority. To support good design we integrate practical activities and site visits throughout the course… But at the end of the day we focus on design. Here’s a snapshot of our current part-time Permaculture Design Course which we’re half way through, and loving.

The students have just completed their first ‘practice run’ design projects, here’s a look at a couple of them in process and completed.

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Todd working hard on a group design task

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The group design task provides students the opportunity to apply the theory they’ve learned in the first half of the course and gets them ready for their second design task where they can refine their learnings and create magic.

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And a couple of close ups of the finished result, we are so impressed with the quality of our students work in applying the permaculture ethics and principles onto real landscapes in their first design project. So impressed. We’re really looking forward to their second solo design task, where we know great things will happen.

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Our current course is a part-time one so students have been finding ways to work together on their group designs (which they’ve just presented) in between our weekends together. One group created a blog where they stored their information and added to it as their design progressed. The final version of their design and associated support documents aren’t all uploaded yet – however it’s a great indication into what a design consists of, you can have a look here.

When we’re not inside focusing on design theory, you’ll find us outside learning practical skills that support good design and implementation…. Like aerobics – everyone knows you need aerobics in your life as a permaculture designer, duh.

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 Aerobics… To  keep the body and brain warm in Tassie’s chilly winter

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Other practical activities we’ve been exploring include propagation of which there are many, many types. These are basic and powerful techniques which will save you big bucks and see you collecting cuttings and seeds everywhere you go.

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We’ve taught both low-tech (A-frame and the bunyip level above) and high-tech (laser level)  methods in finding and marking out contour lines. Here you can see Caroline and Nysha learning the ways of the bunyip level, aka the water level. Where ever possible we make sure we teach a range of options for what tools and methods you can use so that even if you’re working with a tiny budget you can get the job done.

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Soil testing! Knowing simple techniques to test and analyse your soil means that you can get to know a new site quick smart and determine how you might approach the land. Above you can see support teacher, Nick Towle, teaching students the jar test, while below the trusty pH soil test provides an indication of where your soil’s at. In addition to these two, the ribbon test is another technique we play around with.

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When we can’t physically take you to the types of landscapes we’d like to show you, we make them instead. Below David Holmgren (yep, that’s right David Holmgren) talks students through keyline water management theory and systems.

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We also take students out and about to show them real life permaculture sites in development and other great people who are seriously rocking it in terms of creating productive landscapes and viable, meaningful livelihoods. This is so important as it shows theory in action and also provides a reality check into the amount of work, time and commitment involved to establish and maintain productive, healthy systems.

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Good Life’s homestead. While checking out our chook house, we realised our chickens are back on the lay after a long winter hiatus – huzzah! That paddock in the background is actually our neighbour’s property.

IMG_0243 Paulette Whitney and her family’s farm – Provenance Growers. Paulette took us on an edible weeds tour throughout her market garden, where she also cultivates more traditional greens, herbs and vegetables.

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IMG_0241Getting acquainted with new tastes, some of our students have a nibble on a range of edible, nutritious ‘weeds’
IMG_0199And then there’s Suzi’s market garden in urban South Hobart. Suzi is a force of nature and a bloody good gardener with a particular focus on soil health… as all good gardeners tend to have.  Suzi practices what she calls forest floor gardening – we like it so much we did a little write up about it which you can read here.

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  Suzi also has 5 incredibly friendly goats (one which is pregnant with twins – oh the cuteness) and chickens which we couldn’t pull the students away from. Those sheep in the background are on the neighbour’s land.

Other unplanned things that happen on a Permaculture Design Course are usually the divine, golden moments that warm your heart and make memories you’ll never forget. Like the one below, where our students presented us with a compost cake while visiting our home to celebrate Good Life’s first birthday.  As far as we’re concerned, this is the most beautiful, incredibly awesome present we could have every hoped for!

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The compost cake in all its glory. It’s moment’s like these that I remember I have one darn fine life.

We run Permaculture Design Courses regularly throughout the year, both part-time (as the one above it) and 2 week intensives. You can see what’s coming up here, sign up to our newsletter and like us on facebook to make sure you hear about them first.

*Your blogger is Hannah Moloney, co-director of Good Life Permaculture and lover of all things fun and garden-esk.

**Thanks to Tamas Oszvald (again) for a lot of these photos

 

 

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