College: organized group of professional people

Sarcophagus_of_the_brother_MAN_Napoli_Inv6603_n01college |ˈkälij|

An organized group of professional people with particular aims, duties, and privileges : [in names ] the electoral college.

ORIGIN late Middle English : from Old French, from Latin collegium ‘partnership, association,’ from collega ‘partner in office,’ from col– ‘together with’ + legare ‘depute.’

elementsIn the context of the Permaculture College of Europe, the word college means a group of professional permaculture teachers, working cooperatively to promote professional development and assisting the community of permaculture teachers to improve and excel in the field of teaching and learning permanent innovation and development on the human scale and according to the permaculture ethics of earth care, people care and fair share (setting limits to population and consumption and regenerating the earth).

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

Davie Phillip

Davie The name of your business:

Web page link:

Contact info: davie [at]



What is your Livelihood? Your role?
It’s a difficult question to answer, I have many roles and many streams of livelihood. As a portofolio worker, engaging in many fields, I haven’t been employed for twenty years but has always earned a small income enough to cover my expenses. For example, I run the Community Resilience Programme, where we are working with areas such as Schools for Resilience. I also curate 25 NGOs and 200 people in a festival called “The Electric Picnic”, held every year in Ireland. My main work is in designing and facilitating, and also deliviering and designing trainning. In the village where I am active, Cloughjordan, I’m part of running We Create which is a collaborative place where we work with all kinds of groups. This has been made possible after working for 15 years with establishing our community. It is only the 5th year we’re living here, now we are 53 households and we have permission for 100 or so more. Even if I am a founder of the project, I do not earn enough now to live in the village. Continue reading “Davie Phillip”

Rakesh (Rootsman Rak)

Rakesh2The name of your business: Ecological Designs

Web page link:

Contact: through webpage



What is your Livelihood? Your role?
My main focus has been as a designer, facilitator and teacher. I facilitate Permaculture design and ecology, getting more and more involved in the social Permaculture to enhance my own capacity in this area. I’m very good at understanding complex systems and simplifying them, which comes from my background in IT consultancy. I was working with fault tolerant UNIX systems: designing computers that never ever crash. By designing in redundancy and ensuring no single points of failure I can guarantee when components die, the system keeps on running.

Continue reading “Rakesh (Rootsman Rak)”

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

The Permaculture College of Europe

by Steve Hart, July 2014

PCofE logoThe idea of The Permaculture College of Europe was born from discussions of objectivity  from the first series of EPT Conferences. It was recognised as a value in developing a facility that could function to serve the key future developments of Permaculture Education throughout Europe. This is but one tool in the structural tool box and as an excellent outcome to evolve the tremendous efforts created from the EPT series.  Continue reading “The Permaculture College of Europe”

Federation or Foundation, Society or Cooperative?

Europe pointilizedBy Steve Hart, July 2014

At EPT 6 in Denmark there was a strong feeling among many that a “Federation” become the vehicle to support future needs, strategies and developments desired to flow on from the EPT energy.

My personal discussions of such structures has been a response to views commented on over the past four years about the collapse in Permaculture through lowering standards and the values and needs of support and service structures in order to maintain and develop the standards and performances throughout the whole pallet of Permaculture. My essay “Permaculture’s Collapse Dance” introduces this observation.

Continue reading “Federation or Foundation, Society or Cooperative?”

Via Permacultura

PLAN_ShellThe “Permaculture Learning Action Network” (PLAN) is a lean startup approach to building a sustainable network for sharing knowledge, working from available resources, developing them and growing from there.

To address the issue of travel, one of its core principles is that nodes in the network need to be at a distance that can be easily covered on foot or by bicycle (20 – 80 km radius). Each node will provide accommodations, food and other essential needs in return for some work and a good story. Continue reading “Via Permacultura”

European Permaculture Federation

Navigation, our group that focuses on strategy and how we relate to the outside world, hosted a couple of sessions exploring the future direction for the EPT. Throughout the Learning Partnership we discussed the possibility of a network of European Permaculture Associations and teachers, and at the meeting in Denmark a conversation cafe was held to look at what a network could do and what the next steps would be to progress it.

Some of ideas for the purpose of a network included the need to maintain a platform to ensure good communication between us and to foster the quality and standards of Permaculture education in Europe. Facilitating the sharing of job opportunities in Europe, coordinating the European LAND projects and offering peer support to teachers were also identified as important functions of a future network.

The next steps identified were to explore the possibility of the the European Permaculture Council hosting an alliance or federation of European Permaculture Associations and for the EPT to present and launch the idea at the European Permaculture Convergence in July 2014.

Read the article “Federation or Foundation” by Steve Hart here.



Founded: 2009, sole trader, converting to co-operative association limited

Members: 1

Aims and Objectives: school for education professionals in sustainable development (e.g.: permaculture teachers, but also cleaners, cooks, administrators, developers and researchers; EQF 4-8 vocational to PhD level)

Target Groups: age 17+ with ambition to work in sustainable development education

Work Focus: training teachers; developing innovative education Continue reading “Aardwerk”

Needs and Yields Analysis on Educational Structures

Needs and Yields Analysis – How could a system be even better?

A quick and very resourceful method in permaculture design is the “Needs-Yields Analysis” (or input-output analysis or elements-interactions analysis). It allows to get an idea of what is needed for a system to work and how it could grow even richer. By analyzing the needs and yields of different elements, the imagination of the system designer can really get boosted. If you want to create sustainable structures in your country, this article is for you! Continue reading “Needs and Yields Analysis on Educational Structures”

Diploma System in Sweden


All subject to successful completion of the 72 hour Permaculture Design Course; qualifying period can be prior to the course provided it is permaculture-related.

Site design
10 designs recorded on paper (or justification of larger projects).

Site development
At least 3 years involvement, but can be just one site. Process of attaining sustainability for the site should have started. Documentation preferred.

Teaching of 10 design courses (or equivalent in workshops, lectures, etc.); at least 50% of the teaching on these courses; at least 5 design courses. Written evaluation from participants for each course preferred, essential for one course. Curricula also to be submitted.

Continue reading “Diploma System in Sweden”

Update – How have the Permaculture Educational Structures changed in Sweden in the years 2012 – 2014?

Interview with Klara Hansson,Permakultur Sverige, July 2014 by Gaye Amus

The interest in permaculture  in Sweden has been on the rise for a few years now, but I couldn’t link it straight to the EPT partnership. However, the partnership and the network created has allowed for more international teachers to come to Sweden, simply because there are now a lot more personal links established. For example, I have invited Peter Cow from the UK to come to Gothenburg to host a PDC with me. We have also identified a need for a better updated webpage,, where all the courses offered in Sweden are visible, and this is now working a lot better. In a way, the EPT has boosted a restructuring within the Swedish board and we are now working more efficiently.

The Swedish organisation is strongly linked to the Danish and Norwegian ones, and in between us we are now working on updating our diploma pathways and our diploma system as a whole. We are growing quite fast and there is a need to accomodate more persons within the process of becoming a Diploma holder. Seeing and learning about how other countries have organised themselves has really helped us speed up succession in this work. Now we can pick and choose the formats we find smart and integrate them into the Nordic set up.

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”

Communication is key

How stay in touch – and how to spread the word? Two questions that kept us busy.

Internal communication in-between meetings

In such a large Partnership, whose actors are spread out across Europe, how to organise communication in between personal meetings is a crucial question.

Being part of a global sustainability movement, there were some ethical concerns whether to use (and thus support) free services from big global corporations (like Google). We did test some other options but decided to stay with:

  • Google Drive – document editing and sharing with different levels of access and editing
  • Google Groups – multiple mailing groups for project workgroups (using delivery settings depending on the level of involvement) and for the whole EPT-Partnership
  • Google Forms – for surveys on a variety of topics
  • Doodle – finding optimal meeting times
  • Skype – regular online meetings in between physical meetings


The EPT is designed to support permaculture teaching across Europe so we kept access to Partnership documents and mailing groups open. Anyone could follow simple instructions of Welcome document to join and follow the Partnership activities.

Continue reading “Communication is key”

Facilitation for smooth group work

Facilitating our process

The Process-team both ensured a good flow of the meetings, using a number of techniques, and enabled newcomers to facilitation to learn, practice and improve their skills.

Some of the facilitation techniques we used are listed here:

Circle Work

The first session of each EPT meeting started in circle, this allowed us to reconnect with each other and to focus our attention on the topics set for discussion. The purpose of working in circle is to create a level playing field, one in which every person is equal to all others.

Open Space Technology

Using the Open Space approach participants create an agenda together around a question or topic. Participants put suggestions for conversations or workshops forward and a market place of options is created of topics to be discussed. Although a number of conversations take place at the same time participants are free to employ the “law of two feet” any time, which states that someone is not bound to any one session for its entirety. One may choose to leave and move to a different group to contribute as desired. Each session is written up and contributes to the overall documentation harvested.

World Café

A World Café consists of a number of rounds of questions. Participants are seated around tables with paper to write, doodle or draw on as they discuss the questions that has been posed on this table. Each round lasts for approximately 20 minutes and after the round participants move to different tables, with the exception of the table host, who leads the discussion and remains at the table for all rounds. The World Café methodology is a simple, effective, and flexible format for hosting large group dialogue.

Our Working Structure: Based on the VSM

Why we use the Viable Systems Model

Initially at the kick off meeting of the EPT in Germany (August 2012) the group found great difficulty in deciding how it would work and move forward with delivering the stated outcomes of the Learning Partnership. Davie Philip from Cultivate Ireland suggested using the Viable Systems Model (VSM), as a way to structure the work of the partnership.

The study of ecosystems and the way muscles, organs and the nervous system of the human organism interact, were the inspiration for the Viable Systems Model, which was originally developed by the English management cyberneticist, Stafford Beer. The VSM is used as a tool for diagnosing problems in social organisations, and to help to improve their functioning.

As both the Irish and UK partners had been using VSM in their own organisations and were familiar with the model, and as the other partners were interested in learning and applying a new approach to structure an organisation, we decided to host a workshop exploring how we as a Partnership could adopt this model to structure our work.

How we implemented the VSM

In the workshop the first step was to ask: “What are the operations that do the things that justify the existence of the Partnership?” The partners identified its “Primary Activities” or what we need to DO from the project application to Europe and set up working groups to focus on these outcomes. People then gathered in the areas that they wanted to work in and discussed the work that would need to be done in each activity, including identifying their “5 top tasks”.

Continue reading “Our Working Structure: Based on the VSM”