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, February 3, 2014

First Steps - Starting a Permaculture School!

Last year I made a decision to start a permaculture school... 

That was the easy part. We've just had the chinese new year of the wood horse and I feel inspired that it is time to start the dreaming and planning process.

  • How - what do I have to do to get the project started? I'm taking a NEIS course in late february hopefully, to learn about managing a business and get a year of support from the Australian government to do so. I'm still thinking up the next practical steps I need to take!
  • What - I've written a dream list - what I'd do if I had 10 million bucks fall out of the sky.
Not really sure what next but here is the dream list document!
What do you reckon? Anything to add?
Remember I am dreaming large to know where I'm going - implementation is likely to take many, many years! Enjoy!!!

Permaculture school – as yet unnamed

This year I am setting up a trust, school or institute based on the permaculture ethics:
Care of the earth, care of people, limit consumption and share the surplus. I am undertaking a NEIS (New Enterprise Incentive Scheme) to get the organisation started. I am passionate about teaching as many people as possible about practical ways to change the world and have truly sustainable food and shelter while building soil and biodiversity.

It will be a place where people can learn about:
Permaculture - Permanent agriculture and Permanent culture
Practical ways to achieve food security in Australia and the world
Our beautiful earth and how to save her

We will run a program on 3 weeks on, one week off – this is part of the people care ethic, so workers and myself do not get burned out.

The School

With property
·      It is hoped that with funding or profits from courses over time that the school can buy land and build demonstration and learning facilities. It needs to be close to public transport.

On site infrastructure to include
·      Education centre – ability to teach at least 2 classes at the same time
·      Kitchen classroom facilities
·      Course kitchen
·      Residential course facilities – various levels of accommodation
·      Teachers’ accommodation facilities
·      Our own forest garden – where people can participate in its came and harvest – community forest garden patches (instead of community garden plots).
o   Implementation will require many employed and volunteer hours.            
o   Employ 2 people full time to manage community access and care for the garden.
·      Large scale food growing
o   Grow as much food on the site as we can for use by the school
o   Home garden - 1 person full time
o   Market garden – CSA - Community supported agriculture (co-op) 
o   At least 2 or 3 people employed full time
·      Facility for seed saving collecting, storage and library
o   1 person employed part time
·      Animal systems
o   Rare breed Chooks, Ducks, Goats, Pigs, Cows
o   Polyface farming method demonstrations
o   3 people employed part time
·      Cafe and community kitchen
o   Coffee and local vegies, CSA distribution point
o   Community gathering space
o   Community food processing facilities
·      Large-scale composting and materials reuse
·      Cleaning of all grey water using reedbeds before it leaves the property
·      Broadscale murrnong farming with kangaroo grass and traditional aboriginal techniques of fire and kangaroo management


Courses to start before land purchase and building at public and private sites and facilities.
·      These are all are paying courses with the offering of scholarships in each course.
·      Bringing the best people in Australia and the world to teach these courses.
·      If possible we would become a Registered Training Organisation and run Accredited Permaculture Training APT
With or without property
·      Permaculture Design Course (72 hour internationally recognised course)
o   Taught intensively or also over months or a year
·      Introduction to Permaculture 2 day course
·      Design intensive course (post PDC)
·      Edible Forest Gardening
·      Coppice crop growing and use
·      Regenerative agriculture
·      Internships  
o   Coursework and practical experience with educators and supervisors present at all times
·      Earth Activism
·      Permaculture teacher training courses
o   For the Permaculture Designers Course
o   Teaching permaculture to – adults, teenagers, kids
o   Teaching permaculture in a school garden
·      Practical permaculture skills – courses vary from 1 day to 3 weeks in length
o   How to grow food – seasonally
o   Structures and building techniques for a sustainable future
o   Foraging for wild food - seasonally
o   Preserving the harvest – food processing, fermentation, nutrition
o   Sawmilling using a portable mill
o   Fencing for small and large scale properties
o   Keyline and large scale earthworks – land survey, swales, dam building, gabions, checkdams
o   Large-scale food growing
o   Composting
o   Super adobe - earthbag building construction – Cal Earth instructors
o   Sustainable cooling and heating
o   Appropriate technology
o   Understanding natural systems
o   Water and waterways, forests, seashores, native species, landscape, ecosystem knowledge
o   How to start community projects
o   Social permaculture
o   Growing food in public places
o   How to start a permaculture business
o   Basket making and practical home skills
o   Indigenous plants and how to use them
o   Remote community food security and sustainable habitation


None of these projects will make a profit and will need to be funded.
With or without property
·      Massive Edible Forest Garden project – public land in villages and suburbs to have community supported and harvested Edible Forest Gardens
o   2 people employed full time (to begin with) to coordinate working with councils etc and work with volunteers then more as it grows
o   Converting flowering trees into fruit trees – grafting classes
·      Fruit rescue – private trees with fruit that people can’t use – picked by volunteers and distributed
·      Public food: Foraging – oaks, chestnuts, and fungi with an ID expert available
·      School gardens – garden in all schools in Australia 
o   Preschool, primary, secondary
o   Network of teacher support – including volunteer support person
o   Funding to pay for a garden coordinator part time at each school
·      Remote and Aboriginal community food security
·      Ecosystem advocacy and forest protection at all scales
·      Other permaculture and food security projects that need support


  1. And you are just the person to do it, Tamara. Congratulations on committing to this big dream. I look forward to my chance to support it practically in some way as plans progress.

    It's a pretty long shot, I realise, but how about setting it up in the arid zone? All those "easy" environments are so very well catered for already ...

    All the best, and have FUN with this. xx

  2. yay! yes I agree with Kate - you can do it! And what about a place that is sitting empty or in need of repair - you will manifest it no problems....congrats on taking the next big step. xx

  3. Well done Tamara. The seed is planted.

  4. I am keen to follow your journey Tamara and agree with katepermazone that creating your school in an arid zone would be a worthwhile challenge. Our property in North Central Victoria alongside the Loddon river (search ecosustain on google maps) is an ideal location and I am looking for 'the right' people to establish a permaculture education facility here. If you are interested please email and tell us your ideas.

  5. I'm from Whyalla in arid SA and is a topic very dear to my heart. There are many things I'd like to have taught in arid lands (and I can just happen to attend) like limmonia, gabions, arid forest gardening (I have a friend forest gardening in Swan Hill) and more. Lets chat soon. If I forget please email me at