The story so far

Tamara left Bunyip in April 2009 seeking what she needed to know for her permaculture future. She spent 9 months at her Aunt Catherine's farm in Arid South Australia, then 9 months at Bill and Lisa Mollison's farm in Tasmania. Now she's off on more adventures starting Moonrise School of Permaculture and teaching Permaculture Design Courses in the beautiful Dandenong Ranges near Melbourne. Ducky is there for the journey...

Monday, January 28, 2013

Taj and Tamara's first Permaculture Design Certificate has started!

Hi Everyone!

I am mega excited to tell you that teaching has started on Taj and my first ever joint Permaculture Design Certificate!!! We are doing a weekly Wednesday evening PDC!

Taj and I started the course on the 16th of January, with everyone sitting outside on rugs I gleaned from  hard rubbish! We are teaching from our amazing home in Belgrave, where we are settling into after moving here late last year. We had shade for the most part on this warm evening as we introduced ourselves using Robin Clayfied's process called "Symbol of Passion".

We put out all our textas, pencils and pastels and each person has a piece of (recycled) paper and writes their name, has a symbol that represents them and pictures or words of what we are passionate about. Then we tell the group about what we've drawn. I love this process, I find it an awesome way to cut to the essence of someone - and it helps us teachers know the interests, backgrounds and learning styles of our students. It is also an opportunity to see if people shy or outgoing and adjust our teaching methods accordingly. This group is very musical - we might have some permaculture songs coming out of this lot!

It is also very diverse with two young women who have just left year 12 through to a woman in her fifties who visited one of permaculture's best example of urban food growing throughout Cuba last year (see the documentary "The Power of Community"). We have one young man, who studied horticulture with Pete the Permie (read this as permaculture!) and is a great asset to the class. Others in the class have been involved with sustainability (real sustainability not the greenwash crap) for many years and are active in their community. I can tell it's going to be a great 6 months.

After our introductions - Ducky met everyone too - we shared a meal around our huge dining table. Everyone brought food to share, some homegrown, some wildcrafted, some organic, some conventional, some from the biodynamic store in Kallista, some from the supermarket. I mention this because some people asked me if it was alright if they could bring food from a shop as they were worried it would be frowned upon. Our reply was - look, no one can live up to the expectations of what the permaculture life "should" be. We can do our best under our circumstances and ease up on the judgement of ourselves and others. This is part of the fourth ethic of permaculture the Gaiacraft team use: Transition Ethic (more on this later).

Dinner was fabulous, so much wonderful food and a buzz of conversation. Taj's basil pesto was a standout for me! I pay attention to how people are engaging with each other and the subject matter at break times to gauge how they are going with the learning, and possible changes needed with teaching style or processes. I love it when people are so enraptured with their discussions that it is hard to get them to come back to a structured class (until I have to ask them three times!!!!).

The next topic was

"What is permaculture"

We used a simple brainstorm - Taj leading the session with me being the scribe - we used the "popcorn" method (again thanks to Robin Clayfield) of having turns to speak - often easier than going around in a circle (it depends on the topic and group). Once everyone had a go Taj and I gave a few quotes and examples of what permaculture is: we use our own sources and the worksheet "Defining Permaculture" from the Gaiacraft workbook. I like to define permaculture as a way of thinking and designing our lives, communities, homes and food growing systems in an ecosystemic way - everything is connected and we find ways to make our problems our solutions.

See the entire workbook at this link - it is awesome!!!
All of our students get one of these is soft cover as part of their course fee!

It is a great joy teaching with Taj again, we sit next to each other, bouncing off each other and giving the other the support to hold space for creative facilitation of learning. I missed Taj so much while she was away in Europe, and when we taught together again I remembered why - we totally rock!

So - thoroughly enjoying ourselves we launched into

Permaculture Ethics:

Care of the Earth
Care of People
Limit our consumption and share the surplus
And the fourth ethic the Gaiacraft team use - Transition. The quote below is taken from the gaiacraft  workbook:

Often people feel overwhelmed by the ethical implications of permaculture or the idea that they must make radical changes all at once. This ethic helps people transition into a permaculture consciousness and dissolves the judgemental attitude that can come along with some permaculture perspectives, making people feel more comfortable to learn about permaculture without being judged or overwhelmed. 
To introduce these ethics we used the Gaiacraft Permaculture Principles deck - a wonderful resource for teachers. Have a look at them on my facebook photos page:

These cards have several levels. First is the ethics, second is the principles, third is strategies and fourth is techniques. Passing around only the four ethics cards Taj and I introduced them and facilitated a short discussion on each one. Then we passed each ethic card around and people made a statement about how they could use that ethic in their lives. It was a pretty inspiring exercise - I was a bit teary hearing how people were going to start living by these ethics straight away, and a great way to move from thought to action.

The night ended on this wonderful high note and I came away feeling totally inspired that I've made teaching permaculture a central part of my life and livelihood. I am so lucky to have found what I am on the earth to do, and even luckier to be able to live it.

In the words of Bill Mollison: "The harder I work, the luckier I get!" It's been a long and difficult road these last few years but I am finally feeling it is all coming to fruition and my dreams of being a permaculture are coming true! Thanks for sharing my journey!

More on topics and methods of week 2 soon!

You can download the cards or get them printed to order at:

For more Gaiacraft awesomeness go to:

Taj and Tamara's weekly Saturday PDC starts February 16th

Our second Permaculture Design Course of 2013 is running weekly on Saturdays from our home in Belgrave. This course will allow people with weekends off to spend the whole day learning with us.

This course starts on Saturday February 16th. It then runs until May. The days start at 10am and we finish at 5pm. We have a shared lunch and shared morning afternoon tea (this keeps the price down for everyone).

This course will have awesome guest teachers - our past teachers include Seila Hierk, Angelo Eliades, Pepo Dib, Mystee Unwin, Michelle Jones, and Ed Adamthwaite. Ducky will also be bringing his unique brand of teaching!

We are extremely excited to share our new home and garden with our students, where we teach the full 72hr Internationally recognized Permaculture Design Certificate. We are still in the early days of the design and implementation of our permaculture dreams on this one-acre site. We have zone 1 and 2 gardens underway - with lots of design challenges. Join us and help us create our dream!

There are other PDCs coming up, including a parent's PDC - and we take requests!!! Our practical courses will also start soon!

$600 waged
$400 concession
$300 for second person (friend, partner, family)
We offer payment plans if you can't pay everything up front.
Our PDCs are reasonably because we believe that permaculture education should be accessible to all. Its part of our commitment to Fair Share.

Please contact:

All my profits from this course will go towards payment for the 9 day intensive Forest Garden course at Milkwood with Dave Jacke! I can barely contain my excitement!!! Watch out Melbourne, I am going to come back DANGEROUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  1. I love your site! You will be in our prayers and thoughts! Nice and informative post
    on this topic thanks for sharing with us.Thank you
    epoxy coatings
    glue removal
    floor levelling
    Polished concrete sydney
    concrete repairs
    concrete coatings

  2. I can see that you are putting a lot of time and effort into your site and
    detailed articles! I am deeply in love with every single piece of information you post here

    Kenneth Cole Watches
    DKNY Watches
    Ted Baker Watches
    Guess Watches
    Michael Kors Watches
    Ben Sherman Watches
    Henleys Watches

  3. I definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post."