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...

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Starting a permaculture school - the idea grows

Hi Everyone!

I had a fabulous time at the Sustainable Living Festival (SLF) at the weekend! I promoted Taj's and my upcoming Permaculture Design Course (PDC) and talked to loads of people about the school idea. The support for the school was very positive, with a bit of natural apprehension around it competing with other projects and teachers.

My aim is for "Cooperation not competition" (a David Holmgren permaculture principle) and I don't want the school to teach stuff other teachers have blazed the way for. We will have a PDC but that will be a continuation of the one Taj and I already teach.

Its still very early days yet, and as I said to many folk at SLF the structure and even name of the school is not known yet. I have many people to talk to about these things, and I've had some great ideas on these things already. What I am clear about is that the school will work next to other permaculture organisations rather than under them, I know myself very well and I do much better in a committee of one.

I had my NEIS induction on Monday and apart from getting drowsy during the language and maths literacy tests it went really well. I have a study buddy - my housemate Sarah - we got the train together to Box Hill encouraged each other during the day.

I have the distinct feeling that I'm not that comfortable being a learner anymore but I hope to get over that during the 6 week course! Good news is that I found some acorns under the Holm Oak street trees in Box hill. When I had a taste they were edible as is - no processing!!! I'll be going back there with a rake and some bags as more ripen!!!

The actual course of Cert III in Microbusiness management starts on Monday at the CAE in the city. That means an hour train ride to snooze or read and getting on at Belgrave means we will always get a seat!
We've already planned rejuvenating things like patting the horses that take people on cart rides from Swanston St and having our lunch next to the yarra, on the grass below the princess bridge. As long as we have some nature I think we'll be fine with the hustle and bustle of the city and indoor classes.

So - with the dates of the course I have to start the business within 13 weeks starting on Monday. About weeks 8 - 10 we hand in our business plan and get signed onto NEIS - which falls at the start of May. I was hoping it would be around then because International Permaculture Day is Sunday 4th May and my birthday is Thursday the 1st May. It is also just after new moon, a good time to start new endeavors.

I'm planning a series of workshops and celebratory meals over the May 1st weekend and have contacted some great teachers to get the ball rolling. I still need some women teachers, I want a 50/50 balance gender balance at all times. After that its a continuous banquet of workshops on a range of awesome topics like sawmilling and fencing, edible weeds and animal system design and care.

Dates to put in the diary!!! 

Thursday May 1st Launch day!!
Ultra-fast Composting 
workshop with Tamara Griffiths 
10:00 til 13:00 with optional post workshop visits to the compost for turning and observation
Upwey $50, Book with Tamara -

Friday May 2nd 
Dealing with slugs and snails Permaculture-style 
workshop with Tamara and Ducky
18:00 til 21:00 for practical slug and snail reduction techniques 
Upwey $50, Book with Tamara -

Saturday May 3rd - day off!

Sunday May 4th International Permaculture Day! 
Join us at Aaron Shipperlee's awesome portable GEODOME tent in Upwey for FREE activities and Upwey forest garden project planting and mulching from 9am til 2pm. Bring a plant or bale of straw! 
Permaculture Dinner at Magpie Cafe in the afternoon (TBA)

Autumn wildfoods workshop 
workshop with Taj aka The Permapixie - Belgrave $60 
For more info or to book with Taj - 

Here's a cut and paste document of the subjects I want to teach at the school. Are you someone who can teach these topics? Get in touch! Are you someone who would like to participate in these workshops? Get in touch!

Permaculture education facility – as yet unnamed
Tamara Griffiths

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 hoping to undertake 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 

Courses are to start before land purchase and building at public and private sites and facilities. Many of these topics are covered in the Accredited Permaculture Training (APT) curriculum, particularly Cert IV, and I'd like people to be able to apply for Recognition of prior learning (RPL) if they wish to work towards certification.

·      These are all are paying courses with the offering of scholarships in each course.
·      Bringing the best people in Victoria, Australia and the world to teach these courses. 
·      I want to empower the new generation of permaculture teachers (like myself) to have a go, hone their skills and get their awesomeness out there! The school will be a place of encouragement and mentorship for all who want to start teaching.

·      Permaculture principles and design methods
·      Patterns and permaculture design
·      Permaculture Design Course (72 hour internationally recognised course)
o   Taught 2 week intensively or also over months or a year
·      Introduction to Permaculture 2 day course
·      Introduction to Permaculture Design 2 day course
·      Design intensive course (post PDC) 20 hours, 50 hours, 100 hours
·      Edible Forest Gardening
·      Keyline Design
·      Regenerative agriculture
·      Coppice crop design, growing and use

Earth Activism
·      One or two week course
·      Permaculture design principles and methods
·      Introduction to front line environmental activism, activists and sites such as Toolangi State Forest

Permaculture Teacher Training
·      For PDCs
·      Teaching Permaculture creatively (Robin Clayfield)
·      Teaching permaculture to – adults, teenagers, kids
·      Teaching permaculture in a school kitchen garden

Practical permaculture skills - courses vary from 1 day to 3 weeks in length
·      Food Growing
o   How to grow food – zone 1, zone 2, zone 3, seasonally
o   Forest Garden food growing
o   Foraging for wild food – seasonally
o   Acorns!
o   Edible weeds
o   Preserving the harvest – food processing, fermentation, nutrition
o   Large-scale food growing
o   Growing food in public places
o   Mushroom foraging
o   Mushroom culture
§  Shitake logs
§  Mushroom patches
§  Integrated mushroom and food
o   Broadscale murnong farming with kangaroo grass and traditional aboriginal techniques of fire and kangaroo management
·      Harvesting and storage
·      Food cooking and eating

Saving Biodiversity
·      Seed banks
·      Heritage fruits
·      Heritage vegetables
·      Rare breed animals
·      Endangered species in natural systems

·      Structures and building techniques for a sustainable future
·      Super adobe - earthbag building construction – Cal Earth instructors
·      Sustainable cooling and heating – home design
·      Energy and the home
·      Appropriate technology
·      Storage
·      Kachel ovens and Kang beds

Hard core rural permaculture skills!
·      Sawmilling using a portable mill
·      Fencing for small and large scale properties
·      Land survey and landscape mapping for rural properties
·      Keyline and earthworks
·      Large scale earthworks – swales, dam building, gabions, checkdams
·      Large scale Composting
·      Jean Paine hot water and methane
·      Regenerative Agriculture

Reclaiming traditional skills
·      Basket making and practical home skills
·      Scything
·      Blacksmithing
·      Herbal wisdom

·      Composting
·      1 week soil course
·      2 week soil course

·      Water cycle, rainfall variation planning for disaster
·      Permaculture systems for water

Understanding natural systems and Ecology
·      Nature awareness
·      Water and waterways
·      Forests
·      Seashores
·      Bioregions, EVCs and native species
·      Landscape
·      ecosystem knowledge
·      Indigenous plants and how to use them
·      Fungi
·      Fossils

Social permaculture
·      How to start community projects
·      How to start a community group
·      How to start a permaculture business
·      How to start a community or eco village

Aid work
·      Introduction to aid work
·      2 – 3 week aid work course

Aboriginal Australia
"Close the Gap" between Aboriginal and average Australian lifespan
·      Indigenous food knowledge 
·      Remote community food security and sustainable habitation

Climate strategies
·      Temperate permaculture design and strategies
·      Tropical permaculture design and strategies
·      Arid permaculture design and strategies

Animal systems and practice
·      Polyface farming theory and practice
·      Milking goats design and care
·      Pig design and care
·      Chooks design and care
·      Ducks design and care
·      Geese design and care
·      Sheep design and care
·      Dairy cow design and care
·      Beef cow design and care

Tree systems - more to come

Research and reporting - more to come

·      Coursework and practical experience with educators and supervisors present at all times, based around APT Cert IV subjects, which are practical and done in such a way that the candidate can apply for RPL.


  1. my idea to kick this off
    select a particular weekend in april
    invite and pay another teacher an agreed fee to help deliver a course suggest ($250+ accom etc)
    ask for 12-14 gung ho supporters to each pay $220 for which they will receive accommodation meals recreation and tuition at a picturesque permaculture farm in gippsland
    beginning on the friday 7.00pm through to sunday 11.00am
    your group will know the stage of development you are at, and will both assist you and learn from the weekend
    these people will be among the foundation members of your organisation
    you can test the water at facebook, or jump in the deep end and just do it, there is plenty of support for you to kickstart

  2. You. Are. Amazing. This school is the most gorgeous and full expression of you I could have imagined.
    Can't wait. So many classes I want to do!

  3. Are you going to do a Pozible/Kickstarter to raise startup funds?

  4. Best wishes with this light filled endeavour. I probably can't be of any help but if you think of anything just sing out and I will see what I can do.

    Kind Regards Belinda & Ash

  5. Well, it's really valuable information has been added in this post and when it comes to renovation or repair of a home or any other property the first important thing you need to go for surveying as it help you in further planning and budgeting about renovation or repair.