More Action on the North Eastern Front


 by Jillian Hovey

Permaculturalists from the North East of North America recently gathering for their 3rd Annual Retreat.  Our host, Omega Institute for Holistic Living, is located a two-hour (150km) train ride up the Hudson River from New York City.  For decades, this renovated summer camp has been a mecca for people seeking knowledge about alternative living.  Their educational programmes have grown to include permaculture, and the Omega Center for Sustainable Living hosts a month-long “Ecoliteracy Immersion Program” which includes at full PDC.

The 30 participants who came from Maine to Philadelphia had the pleasure of meeting in the world’s first “Living Building”, which treats the campus’ grey and black water with an Eco Machine designed by John Todd (a student of Buckminster Fuller).  The relatively informal meeting was organised by Open Space, and there were interesting sessions and a range of subjects from “business of permaculture”, through to colonialism and oppression, to Zone 00 care.
Continue reading “More Action on the North Eastern Front”

Permaculture Educators’ Course

Permaculture Educators’ Course participants October 2013

The Permaculture Educators’ Course (Permaculture Teachers’ Training) is held at Friland eco-village in Denmark by Andy Goldring.

It is an 8 day teacher training for permaculture educators. It takes you through learning and teaching theory, a lot of practice on microteach sessions, lots of games, fun, interaction, excursions and how to design and convene courses, how to create your own teacher pathway – and much more.

The timetable below allows you to see the context and flow of topics. Clicking on a topic will open the session plan for this topic in a separate window.  More resources to support the course are available below.

Permaculture Educators’ Course 2013 Timetable

The Scheme of Work for the course is available here.

Training Needs Assessment

Permaculture Course Convenors Guide

Community Building with Playback Theatre

Playback theatre (PT) is a tool to share personal stories that are performed by PT actors. Audience and stage are at the same level and the link between them is the conductor/facilitator who creates a safe/welcoming atmosphere and invites people to share their stories. Main goal of PT is building community but is can be used also with other aims (therapeutical, problem solving, arising conciousness about a particular issue and so forth). On “stage” there are always coloured scarfs and boxes to be used by actors as props and one or two musicians who, as actors, improvise during the performance of the story to complement the main feeling/atmosphere that the group wants to convey.

I think this is a good method in a permacultural frame to give life to people’s stories or feelings referred to their learning process, group experiences and so forth.

Founder of playback theatre explaining what it is in a TED talk

INTRODUCING PLAYBACK THEATRE – March 2014 :This pdf is a summary of what playback theatre is, main objectives and all the elements that are needed.

Continue reading “Community Building with Playback Theatre”

Permaculture Course Formats

During the third of the seven EPT meetings held at Quinta do Vale da Lama in Algarve, Portugal, teachers from all over Europe extensively discussed various course formats for teaching Permaculture to beginners:

There are also advanced training opportunities  for Permaculturalists (who have a PDC):

More about the formats above follow, including some pros and cons:

Introduction to Permaculture

Examples on this site of Introductions to Permaculture

Weeds or Wisdom? Latvian Eco-Health Farmers on the Road to Resilience

by Guntra A. Aistara, Central European University

July 4, 2014

Condensed summary of chapter published in Environmental
Anthropology Engaging Ecotopian Imaginaries: Bioregionalism, Permaculture, and Ecovillages for a Sustainable Future,
Berghahn Books, 2013.

On a tour of organic farms in Austria in 2006, one farmer proudly showed off her raised garden beds brimming with a diversity of herbs, medicinal plants and vegetables, explaining that these were permaculture beds, whereby plants reseeded themselves, grew where they “felt best,” and worked in ecological systems with neighboring plants. Some of the Latvian organic farmers on the tour were shocked and amused, however, by their first encounter with permaculture, and what they described as “farming amidst weeds.” “Well, in that case I have permaculture everywhere in my farm…” muttered one farmer. Another commented that it all depends on how you present things to visitors: “When you come visit me, and I explain to you that this is permakultūra…don’t criticize it, because it comes from Eiropa (Europe).” Others insisted that permaculture meant farming as wisely as nature does, and that we might learn from it. Continue reading “Weeds or Wisdom? Latvian Eco-Health Farmers on the Road to Resilience”

What is “microteaching”?

(…) Invented in the mid-1960s at Stanford University by Dr. Dwight W. Allen, micro-teaching has been used with success for several decades now, as a way to help teachers acquire new skills. (…)

Micro lessons are great opportunities to present sample “snapshots” of what/how you teach and to get some feedback from colleagues about how it was received. It’s a chance to try teaching strategies that the teacher may not use regularly. It’s a good, safe time to experiment with something new and get feedback on technique. (…)

For more information, go to

(excerpt from Wikipedia)

Strategies to Widen Participation : Survey Results

For this small survey, responses were given by only eight EPT partner countries (ES, GE, FR, BG, SLO, CZ, NL), whose educational activities are conducted in more than 17 countries in Europe and other parts of the world. Spain is exceptional in this case with reaching people in 4 continents through on-line teaching.

Educational activities are mostly focused on urban and suburban environments with rural context represented rarely. The activities mostly take form as a short workshop (e.g. 0,5-1 day long), public talks and PDC courses. Not so often as longer (e.g. 2 days long) permaculture courses, diploma pathways and other forms as property development, full vocational. Academic permaculture education school establishment, spreading of printed info, environmental awareness activities, FETAC students in Ireland etc.

The questionnaire asked each responder to describe the strategy they use in the specific country and to answer the questions: ‘Which target groups is this strategy designed for?’ and ‘Which groups of society this strategy does not reach?’ The summary of results shows that the most popular target groups are:

Continue reading “Strategies to Widen Participation : Survey Results”

Widening Participation

Permaculture education should be accessible to everyone, if we – Permaculture teachers – are aiming to steer the whole society to a new way of thinking and acting in the near future. Therefore it is a big question and a real challenge: “How to reach out to as many diverse groups of society as possible?”.

Obviously, different strategies should be used to reach such target groups as unemployed people or disabled persons. In order to investigate this issue in-depth and come up with solutions, the focus topic of the 6th EPT-meeting in Denmark was ”Widening Participation”.

We have acknowledged the question of how to reach out with Permaculture education beyond the “usual target groups” from the very beginning of the partnership, as a quote from the Rationale of the EPT-Partnership application form shows: ”The demographic profile of students on permaculture courses in western countries often has good age & gender diversity, but tends to be disproportionately middle class & white. There is a challenge to broaden participation so that courses attract a student body that more accurately reflects the social, ethnic and economic mix of Europe’s population and promote diversity within the permaculture community.” Therefore one of the EPT project’s objectives was: ”To promote cultural exchange, diversity and inclusion within the permaculture network and to exchange about how to widen participation in permaculture training.”

Approaching the issue

However, the scale and importance of the participation issue was pretty much unclear until now. The same applies to the range of strategies and already existing solutions within the Permaculture Teachers community. Therefore we conducted an initial survey to get a rough overview of the situation in different countries (EPT partnership countries). From the results of this survey (which can be found here) we developed the session, selecting strategies to be presented at the meeting and then discussed by the participants.

Working on the subject

The results of the survey were presented at the opening of the ”Widening Participation” session in Denmark. Afterwards, we conducted a session which was designed as an “Open Café:

There were seven parallel working groups, five of which started the work with a 10 minute case study that was presented by a representative from the specific country. Skype and Google Hangouts successfully allowed Spanish and Netherlandish representatives to join the working groups and share their expertise. Each of the working groups dived more into the case studies for additional 20 minutes with a group discussion and questions to the representative, which was followed by 50 minute long session during which the groups had to answer questions like: ‘How well does this strategy work?’, ‘What can be improved?’ and ‘Which target groups can you reach with this strategy?’. In this part of the session, the members of the working groups were allowed to switch groups in order to share ideas and contribute to other topics.

There were two groups working on the target groups ‘Refugees’ and ‘Disabled’ without case studies, whose main task was to brainstorm new strategies to reach the mentioned target groups.

At the end of the session each group had to prepare a 5 minute long presentation and to write an article summarizing the group’s work. These articles can be found under the links below.

Results of the exchange
How to move on?

Looking back at the results of ”Widening Participation” session we can say that we have not only reached the impact that was expected as a part of the EPT-Partnership: ”Permaculture teachers, institutions & course conveners will develop new approaches to widening participation in Permaculture education.” but also arrived at the conclusion that widening participation and reaching out to more groups of society is something we will have to focus on in the future.

That means, the discussions will continue, e.g. the “Suit & Tie” group keeps on exchanging and will start a professional Design Platform for an international team of PC-Designers.

We will also continue to upload articles on subjects that address the question of “Widening Participation”, like the following:

Program of the York Introduction to Permaculture Course

York Introduction to Permaculture Course
17-18 April 2004
Tutor: Andy Goldring

We will start promptly at 10am on both days, please try to arrive around 9.30 so we have time to settle in before we start. Bring food to share for lunch, magazines, books or other materials of interest, and warm clothes as we will be going for a walk on Saturday.


9.30 Arrivals, tea and settle in.
10.0 Opening circle – introductions, welcome, housekeeping, timetable, expectations.
10.30 Permaculture in a nutshell – overview and starting points.
11.0 Break
11.20 Ethics and principles (including a game and small group work)
1.0 Lunch
2.20 Observational walk – ‘everything is a gift’
3.0 Video – ‘In grave danger of falling food’
4.0 Questions and answers
4.30 Thinking piece for evening contemplation – ‘Me, my greatest asset’.
4.45 Closing round

Continue reading “Program of the York Introduction to Permaculture Course”

Design Course Exercise: What do I eat?

In this exercise, which can be used in a PDC, students try to identify and evaluate their involvement in and impact on food cycles. After evaluating the impacts, students are asked to implement an action plan to reduce the food consumption and sourcing from sustainable sources. The full description of the exercise can be dowloaded here..

Submitted by Andy Goldring

Permaculture Design Process – 10. Design presentation

by Aranya

The following pattern is a guide to what you might cover during your design.
Either follow this through as described, or use it as a basis for your own ideas.


Describe your site

  • Explain the context of your design, where it is located, size of site etc.
  • Show your base map and any overlays showing zones, sectors, desire lines etc.
  • Does the site have any significant slope?
  • How do microclimates vary across the site?
  • What is the soil like? Does it vary in content, depth, pH etc. across the site?
  • What flora and fauna is present on the site?
  • What about structures, tools and events?

Continue reading “Permaculture Design Process – 10. Design presentation”

Teaching Permaculture Across Age Groups

Photo: Mihail Kossev
Photo: Mihail Kossev

By Mihail Kossev 

Permaculture is a design science that is accessible to all. It does not matter whether you have never in your life stepped in a garden or if you have grown up on a fruit farm. There is always something a student will learn from a permaculture course. It is somewhat important to optimize your lesson plan to the skill level of your students, but it is essential that you tailor your workshop to a specific age group. It is common knowledge that you would teach something differently to a child as you would to an adult.

Many say that age is just a number and in many ways that is true. Everyone matures at a different pace. Just like in a polyculture garden, not all fruits ripen at once. I have been astonished by the intellectual complexity of some toddlers as well as the sheer stupidity of many adults. Nonetheless, there are common patterns of social and physical development in the human species that a permaculture teacher should have in mind when designing a course.

Continue reading “Teaching Permaculture Across Age Groups”