Children have the opportunity to make a cultural shift. When a young person discovers new foods, they set patterns of eating and behaviour that will shape the way their culture relates to the land and to native foods. Here is a moment for humanity to make a lasting difference. Any dependency on imported foods can be surpassed. The young family can build a rich understanding and respect for the natural world.
“Perhaps there is no greater thing we can do for our children than to ensure they receive their birthright, a love and understanding of nature and a knowledge of their place in it.” Janet Millington
Children – Nature and Nurture
By working with nature and not against her, the potential is greater. For example: one of Australia’s first huge mining towns, Broken Hill, has now become one of the biggest solar generation towns. All it took was an attitude shift.
Young people have heaps of attitude! We can work with their inventive nature as well as nurturing their love of nature. At the recent Illawarra Greenflicks event, we gave out our permaculture fortune tellers to get young people thinking positive about the things that they can do for a better future.
The Crossingputs sustainability into action for young people to protect and enhance the natural environment. We do this by involving young people in permaculture, landcare and habitat survey on journeys with us. These journeys can include hiking, canoeing and mountain biking.
Pioneering Outdoor Classrooms: CAROLYN NUTTALL and JANET MILLINGTON wrote their book to promote connecting with nature in young school children. “Permaculture is about all aspects of human interaction with the environment. For many reasons, including the reduction of open space and the issues relating to the safety of children and the advances in computers, those afternoons of running free with nature have all but ceased for most children today.”
Roman Shapla, a graduate of ours has been developing a Children’s Permaculture Design Course. Anything that is taught to adults can be introduced to children. We just need to allow more time and flexibility in the delivery.
Another graduate of ours helped build a highly school permaculture garden in an industrial heartland, Cringilla Primary School has engaged, empowered, informed and active green children.
Start Small and Be Effective
One of the permaculture principles taught by Bill Mollison is to start small and be successful. This gives positive feedback, experience and energy to reach for more. Young people yearn for a better environment. The first steps are to:
build awareness of their foot-print,
give young people easy ways to reduce their impact
For one week only we are offering special rates with our hybrid learning systems. Permaculture Sydney are soon having a winter Permaculture Design Course offering a unique hands-on permaculture learning experience. This one-off sale gives you choice as well as a great discount.
Refresherrates for people who want to refresh their permaculture design course training. You need to show your old certificate at time of registration. Get a whopping 33% off when you enroll as a refresher student. Get a new perspective and become a leader with some of the hands-on activities and enjoy contributing your experience and former knowledge to this dynamic group.
NEW Pay-As-You-Go Option
Perhaps you can only get a few days off work? Perhaps you can’t afford to do the full course? Here is a brilliant way to get your PDC started. You can join us for a day, a few days or the first week. We offer you the opportunity to finish your course later in a hands-on course or online with PermacultureVisions. We will give you advanced standing and credit towards the next course. This enables you to continue the course at your own pace within 2 years.
This special rate allows you to participate for just $180 per day. This amazing rate includes morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea. You can decide how many days you can spend on the course and we give you standing and credit on the next course.
Learn how to grow food. Find the difference between organic gardening and permaculture living. Design to use natural energy in your living and workplaces. Build community. Get a good grounding in permaculture with a combination of theory and on-site learning. Get the lifestyle your really want by doing a course to build your planning and design skills.
Are you bursting to do something positive to help stem climate change? This course is for those who are ready for an empowered, permaculture lifestyle and want to get the skills to make that happen.
“What permaculturists are doing is (some of) the most important activity that any group is doing on the planet. We don’t know what the details of a truly sustainable future are going to be like, but we need options. We need people experimenting in all kinds of ways and permaculturists are one of the critical groups that are doing that”. ~Dr. David Suzuki, Geneticist, Renowned Environmentalist and Broadcaster
This twelve-day intensive retreat covers everything from exploring the relationship between our health and soil health to finding social strategies – it’s a course filled with permaculture concepts, knowledge, techniques and practice. The overall goal is always to build a better future for all.
How To Create A Better Future
Turn Your Dreams Into Functional Designs.
The first step in enriching our lives is to take stock of what we have left. The planet will survive, but mankind’s habitat is challenged. So, What do we really want and what do we need? What people need is pretty simple (yet surprisingly delicate). How can we determine if it’s gone or going?
What Do YOU Really Wish For?
We all need clean air, clean water, clean soil, genetic material. Most of us also desire freedom, a sense of purpose, connection with nature and connection with others.
A permaculture course gives us skills to measure, interact, design and protect what we have and enrich that which needs.
Permaculture topics as taught by Bill Mollison. We ensure the Designers Manual is fully covered as the main curriculum
an abundance of extra resources and topics to support the main curriculum and provide variable perspectives of the main topics
specialist expertise and knowledge (drawing on the strengths of trainers) with a range of experienced quality trainers to cover topics of the Permaculture Design Certificate in which they have
theory and practice of permaculture with a range of delivery styles and methods throughout the course including small group work, one to one work, lecture style sessions and whole group discussions
A real life, whole design process from interviewing the client, formulating the brief, gathering data for the site, developing a design and finally presenting the design
specialist and specific design exercises as well as total design exercises
a swag of essential designers skills and knowledge
Our courses are a bit longer than others – so we can ensure we make it the best possible experience for you. PSI honors the two-week intensive Permaculture Design Certificate course format traditionally designed by Bill Mollison. We believe our format produces the best possible outcomes and learning experience for participants as it was designed to do.
Permaculture Sydney Institute aims to provide the participants with both the skills and the confidence to start “doing it” themselves. We guarantee participants will be able to go home and do what they have learned in the course. Permaculture Sydney Institute is committed to quality education, quality outcomes and quality of life for each participant. Follow up contact and support for graduates is also provided after the course.
Once completed the Permaculture Design Certificate participants will
Have a through understanding of Permaculture and its theory, ethics, principles and techniques and why it is critical in obtaining a truly sustainable society
Know how to design and create a permaculture system in both town or country settings
Have acquired the skills and confidence to proceed on their own garden design and construction (with some help of their Permaculture group and friends)
Be familiar with the design process from client interview to presentation of design
Have professional options for Permaculture including ones own Pc business
Have acquired some practical design skills required for construction e.g.: map & landscape reading, marking contours and making swales and other criteria.
Your Investment Permaculture Sydney Institute is able to offer course participants a flexible fee scale depending what type of accommodation you choose and your personal situation. Remember, the venue is a beautiful country retreat so whatever accommodation type you choose you will be doing the most important course of your life in a fantastic setting. You couldn’t ask for more.
Walking and being outdoor changes the brain. Students can become more creative, more observant and less stressed. There are many benefits for the students and the educators to step outside.
Sadly, teachers have a lot of administrative pressures. They have to ensure that they address the many areas of the curriculum. We can support teachers by offering them studies that explain which part of the curriculum the outdoor activities meet. Being outdoors boosts our physical and mental health.
Health, Movement & Exploration
Connecting children with nature reduces their stress. It also increases the chance of nature being less stressed by human impact. Connections with nature enable a child to understand how nature works and builds empathy for others and their respect for the natural environment on which their lives depend.
Nature-based activities can enrich the learning program. We can even go one step further and design an amazing garden class-room.
The process of re-discovering and developing nature-based games can be a lesson in history and creativity. What did children play with before plastic toys became abundant? This is a wonderful opportunity to build imagination. Encourage the children be part of this re-discovery.
Activities include weather observations, seed-raising, ‘mini-beasts’ or ‘micro-creature’ measurements and mapping of their web-of-life, drawing and classification (worms, insects). Science experiments about pH, cooking and cultural discussions about food, hygiene and disease, microscopic adventures about fungi and bacteria, research into origins of medicinal plants and much more.
In the garden children can use tall sticks (ie. banana stems, sugarcane, sunflowers, artichokes, sage) as structural material to build tipis, towers or sculptures. The garden classroom can be a great resource for learning about aboriginal houses or traditional home structures, building and shelters. Whether you build a full-size replica or models, the children learn how to use genuine natural resources like poles and natural rope.
Weaving with edible plant material (especially from strong vines like kiwi-fruit and passion-fruit) is a meditative and mathematical activity. Food plants provide healthy, low allergy weaving and building materials.
Storytelling and Story writing
The range of light levels within a garden allows children to find their ideal light level to suit their reading, writing and working. Storytelling in an open space can be difficult in the city if there is a lot of environment noise, or it can become a theatrical challenge. The garden classroom can designed to amplify the production. Outdoors, the story-teller has an excuse to dramatise the text in order to be heard.
The garden classroom is a fresh and ever-evolving space full of material for story writing. Children can explore new ways to tell a story or better grasp old poetry, the importance of traditional story-telling, the tribal ‘sense of place’, the dreamtimeand ancient maps.
But the man from Snowy River let the pony have his head,
And he swung his stockwhip round and gave a cheer,
And he raced him down the mountain like a torrent down its bed,
While the others stood and watched in very fear. [Banjo Paterson]
How Can We Design a Garden-Classroom
Apply Fundamental Permaculture Design Principles
Permaculture principles are a valuable tool to apply to learning and can guide our design of a productive learning space. There are various permaculture principles but here we can examine two of the fundamental permaculture principles:
1. Every element provides many functions
2. Every function is met by many elements.
For example: a simple letter-box/mail-box is an element. It collects the mail, displays a house number, is a guidepost in heavy weather. It can also support a vine or can be, albeit unwittingly, an insect or arachnid home. One of these functions (the less desirable one) of ‘housing insects’ can be supported by various other elements i.e. hollow trees, bee boxes or the neighbours letter-boxes :>
1. Every Element provides many Functions
2. Every Function is met by many Elements
Permaculture Principles in the Learning Space:
Every Element in the learning space
provides many Functions
One of the elements in an outdoor space is a shade-tree. This shade tree can provide many other functions: wind and rain protection, leaf litter for mulch, poles, habitat for wildlife, a structure to hang a swing or decorative artworks, a play space.
Every Function in the learning space met by many Elements.
The function – shade, can be supported by many other elements. We can use deciduous trees, domes, tipis frames with woven vines , suspended shade material (recycled sheets can be used), sun hats and/or umbrellas. Children may enjoy painting and erecting old sheets or drop-cloths as an art project to add colour to the space. Poles can be gathered from fallen or pruned branches of nearby trees. Using recycled materials and resources from nature builds empowerment and problem solving.
Ideally, the process of design consults the school staff, the community and the children. The design needs to be able to adapt to the changing community needs. Consulting the stakeholders helps us define the elements desired. Work with the shape of the land and do a full permaculture design with the confidence of knowing that compost resources will be abundant if the children deposit their food scraps and the garden. Maintenance workers can provide some weaving material as well as mulching material such as grass clippings.
The school garden may be one the few green spaces in a city. Many of the residents near the school welcome the opportunity to participate in growing food, creating a beautiful gardens with the children and increasing habitat for birds and native bees.
Encourage the community to find ways to safely integrate adult participation. Perhaps the adults are active in a separate area at a separate time to the children. Hopefully there will be times when the whole community can come together to plant trees or tend the garden or celebrate the harvest.
“Now, you’re talking!”
There are some food plants that get adults truly motivated. These include such as coffee bean and green-tea bushes, native foods (bush tucker and survival foods), culinary flowers and spices. If you are lucky to have immigrants living in your area, invite them to share their stories about food and spices and how it is traditionally grown and used.
“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. … There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”
— Rachel Carson, Silent Spring
A lot of people wonder how to compare new technologies that come on the scene promising a greener world, healthier life or better waste management.
Below is an Evaluation Table that we developed with our students Morgan Stephens, Tessha Mearing, and Penny Cross (Tessha and Penny are now graduates). You can apply this comparison tool to any product you are considering purchasing.
Evaluation Tool to Compare Similar Technologies
Field of interest
Weight How important you feel this feature is.
Points scored can be positive or negative but not zero.
Subtotal for that feature = Weight multiplied by points scored.
Is this a Procreative (+ve points) or a Degenerative (-ve points) Investment? Or parts there-of? (see chapter on Community Recycling to define investment types)
Will the money spent on the purchase encourage the supplier or manufacturer to investment in better technologies? (Yes = +ve points)
Is the place of manufacture local? Reduce score for significant transportation, size and weight of freight.
Is the supplier local and have they been in the industry long?
Is there a way to modify and existing technology by adding a new module?
Limitations of User
List any restrictions eg. Some users/sites have restricted solar, wind, land ownership, local government by-laws, legal constraints, cultural expectations.
Purchase or parts cost in cash $
Purchase labour you must spend on installing and learning to operate this
(work out your labour cost in $)
Ethical cost – What is the cost to the environment and the workers and families who live in the mining and factories localities?
Environmental cost of full production and of components including embedded energy.
Is the embedded energy able to be reused later?
Moving parts = wear and tear. How many moving parts are there and how important are they?
Modular parts – are the parts able to be replaced, are they common and easily available? Or does a large component require replacement?
Estimate life span of the technology with maintenance
Is this technology fit for your future needs?
Ease of maintenance, does it require a specialist trade to be maintained?
Running labour cost
How much time is required to run this technology? e.g. Per day or per km or per kilowatt
Can a child or elderly person operate this technology safely?
Would the user gain educational experience from use of this technology?
Pollutants (smoke, compaction, other)
Visual (eye-sore or work of art?)
Space required that other things could have eg. Storage or land space has a cost.
Is the system or device relocatable?
By Products. These can be
useful (+ve) or harmful (-ve)
Accumulation of by-product.
volume of product is also a factor in determination of usefulness.
Ease of management of by product required? Is specialist knowledge required? Do users need to be trained and educated?
How much time is required to manage the by-products?
Can the by-product be sold or reduce costs elsewhere?
Can the technology cause a catastrophe?
Is there risk of damage to other things?
Can the technology or device cause an injury to someone else? e.g. Some cars are safer for pedestrians than others.
2nd law of Thermodynamics – how much energy is lost during running?
What happens to potential energy when the system is not running.
Plastic lasts forever. The older it gets the more dangerous it gets. Plastic slowly breaks down, it is very hard to repair (requiring very toxic glues and specialist equipment). Plastic has slowly replaced traditional materials such as metal and wood. Also, our dependance on plastic has eroded cultural skills in the use of natural materials. Few people now can mend their clothes or shoes, make a water vessel or fix a simple basket. Refuse to buy plastic and search biodegradable alternative. Or simply live with less.
Recently a lot of research has been invested in trying to find ways to break the plastic back into useful carbon molecules. There are now some known nylon-eating bacteria and the guts of creatures such as mealworms and waxworms have shown to increase effectiveness. But this does not give us cause to keep using plastic, we have mountains of plastic waste to try to clean up first.
Lets keep focusing on alternatives to plastic. Here is a great mind-map about why and how to go plastic-free.
It is great to have an ideal, to strive for a better, safer, healthier and equitable world. What comes next? A way to implement that Ideal – Permaculture is about designing a better lifestyle for everyone.
Climate change means there will be more freak weather events and more sudden stresses. Some events, such as heatwaves are slow enough to give us a chance to be prepared and act. Sadly, a lot of people don’t know what to do when they and their animals suffer. Don’t wait for the heat wave to arrive, there is plenty we can do in preparation.
Here are some easy tips:
Give your animals self determination in times of stress. Fencing offers security from predators and enables us to manage the animals and plants but fencing can also limit a creature’s choices in difficult times when they really may need to find alternative habit. Leave the gates open in a heat wave, or heavy rain and risk of flood.
Check there is a range of habitat choices including high ground, marshy ground (you can use a sunken dish or fill a pond with earth, water and plants, fresh-water ponds, water-dishes, grasses, shrubs, trees, shade and patches of full sunlight with fresh air (to help kill fungi). Keep trees, shrubbery, nooks and elevated structures within the enclosure to enable you animals to find refuge during floods or to hiding during a heatwave, fire or predator attack.
Create shade. In a heatwave there are many things you can do to make life more comfortable for animals in the heat. You can get immediate shade by using hessian sacks which you can get from free from many retailers such as coffee grinding outlets, take-away shops or wholesale fruit and vegetable suppliers.
Use a natural cooling system based on heat transfer which occurs during evaporation of water. You can hang wet sacks on the walls of their enclosure and have the tail end of the sacks soaking in a trough of water. The water will be drawn slowly up the sack and dry off in the heat. This makes the surrounding area much cooler. This works most effectively in dry climates. In the tropics, this system would not be as effective as designing the space to catch breezes and funnel them for best use.
If the enclosure has a metal roof, hose this down and then cover it securely with cardboard, hessian, old carpet or woven matting. Add a ventilation device at the rooftop peak to allow hot air to escape or simply cut a hole in the top of the wall to let the heat out. Domestic farm animals are creatures of habit and will return to a roost when they are exhausted and ill even if it will kill them so check that the roost is ventilated.