The impact of doing a Permaculture Design Course

Meet Lauren and Oberon Carter (and their three ace little people) who live in Hobart, Tasmania. Oberon is an ecologist who works in conservation, currently working with Tasmanian threatened species. He’s spent time looking at climate change and Tasmanian landscapes and working with landowners. Lauren comes from a design background and runs an online shop called Spiral Garden, selling ethical toys, gifts and homewares – plus she home educates their three children (which is a full-time job in itself). They’ve each completed a Permaculture Design Course (PDC) – Lauren with Milkwood and Oberon with us at Good Life. Today we’re talking to them about permaculture and specifically how completing a PDC has impacted their lives…
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What knowledge did you have on permaculture before you did your PDC?

(Lauren) Before doing our PDCs, we had fairly limited knowledge of what Permaculture was. Oberon’s background in ecology meant he had a deep understanding of natural processes and my practical experience and long-held interest in gardening and sustainable living meant much of it made sense to us when we finally got around to doing our PDCs. We’d been reading the Designers Manual (By Bill Mollison) and talking about doing a PDC since seeing David Holmgren talk in a tent in Daylesford when we were 20 years old (around 15-20 years ago)!
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How did the PDC inform your life choices – personally and professionally?

(Lauren) I had a real A-ha! moment when I did my PDC. We’d been unschooling our children for several years and found that many of the principles and ethics were aligned with how we were raising our kids. It felt like everything fell into place. And I thought I was just there for gardening!
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We began working with my permaculture design for our home and our children were intrigued so I started passing information on to them. Then Oberon decided to do his PDC and had a similar A-ha! moment. We began working with permaculture as a holistic framework for homeschooling our kids and that evolved into the Seedlings Permaculture program. This is an online course we offer that focuses on permaculture for families, bringing permaculture into people’s homes around the world.
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In the meantime, we’ve also been very slowly implementing our design plan for our home and, more recently, focussing on the principle “Produce No Waste”. Our home is now waste-free and we’ve written another e-course, Zero Waste Families, to share that process with other families. Our retail business is now based around permaculture principles and we’re volunteering our time to local groups such as Zero Waste Tasmania and Permaculture Tasmania.
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What would you say to someone who’s thinking about doing a PDC but not sure if it’ll be useful or relevant to them?

(Lauren) Something neither of us expected was the incredible group environment at a PDC and the experience of sharing two weeks with a group of passionate and interesting people from all walks of life. One of us is an extrovert and the other a complete introvert and we both found lots of inspiration and ease within the group setting.
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Without the concentrated effort of the work and conversation at the PDC, we’d most likely still be fumbling along, reading bits here and there. To really understand what permaculture’s all about, a PDC is an absolute must.
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How do you think permaculture can help be the solution to some of our global challenges?

(Oberon) The ethics and principles that underpin the permaculture design system were developed in the context of an increasing awareness of climate change and global development.  With this in mind, permaculture really speaks to the heart of what is needed to solve many of our global challenges – caring more for nature, for each other, and sharing that which is surplus to our needs.
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These ethics appear so simple and straightforward, and yet the behaviour of many modern societies appears contrary to them. I think big in-roads can be made if shifts are made towards more localised and closed-loop food systems, with a culture of sharing within better-connected local communities, whilst challenging the consumptive norms of today. It ain’t gonna be easy, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try! Global challenges aren’t answered in a single paragraph, but I think permaculture concepts would be a beneficial conversation starter when discussing any global problem.
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How is permaculture being part of your solution to living a good life?

(Oberon) I feel that living by the ethics and principles of permaculture (or at least, being mindful of them when we aren’t quite living by them!) helps us to feel more a part of nature, rather than apart from it. It sounds cliche, but to me, this is what living the good life is about – feeling more connected to the earth and to each other.
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But even more than FEELING connected, permaculture has taught us how to ACT in ways that are less harmful to the environment and each other. It’s more than feeling a certain way, its about doing a certain way.
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Getting your hands in the earth, to eventually harvest your own food, to make use of what is nearby, to maintain the good stuff (e.g. biodiversity, healthy soils, water and air) whilst nourishing ourselves. To observe the big picture as well as the small, and find what works for you and your surrounds. A way of life that is founded in good science and practical logic, but which is flexible enough for us to change habits and adapt as the world changes around us!
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  • You can read more about Oberon and Lauren’s journey in zero waste here
  • Our next Permaculture Design Course in this summer running from January 21 – February 3 in Southern Tasmania – it’s shaping up to be more than special.
  • All photos are taken by Oberon and Lauren.

2 Responses to “The impact of doing a Permaculture Design Course”

  1. Angela Leahy

    Is a PDC going to be held in the north of the state at any stage?

    Reply
    • Hannah Moloney

      Hi Angela, We just held one in Penguin this past Summer (and the year before). We’ve decided to hold this PDC in southern Tas this summer so our garden doesn’t suffer so much and for the sake of our little daughter who sleeps *a lot* better at home. :-). So no plans at the moment, but stay in touch – or come south!

      Reply

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