Our First Permaculture Design Course

We have just completed our first Permaculture Design Certificate course as facilitators.

9 of the 12 students upon completion

Fionn has taught on numerous PDCs before and Laura has also. We’ve even taught on the same PDC before, but never solely as Fionn and Laura Quinlan. This, for us, is a real milestone. Something we’re very proud of, though are still very much aware of the managing and tweaking that can and will be implemented to make our next course even better.

We began designing our course around 6 months ago. Utliising the SADIM methodology, along with broader permaculture design techniques we mapped out the desire lines of the course, stated intent, objective and desired outcomes. Some of our included intent/objectives included goals as lofty as “assisting in creation of new neurological pathways”, through to more humble objectives like, “creating a safe space”. Upon initial analysis it would seem that we either accomplished stated aims, or we certainly got very close. This was however a particularly spirited and diverse group of 12 individuals, whom without it is obvious to us that none of it would have been possible.

the crew in front of our wee plot

The course was held over two weeks at the pictresque Hare Krishna Community outside Murwillumbah in the Tweed shire.  The children joined us, tentatively introducing them as a part of our tribe and an integral part of our journey together. So with tingle of excitement for what was to come we, slightly noisily, introduced ourselves to our group of 12 budding permies.

A final design highlight (Nicole Fredman)

Throughout the course we were able to take a couple of short trips to see some of the finer points of permaculture in action. We paid a visit to Australia’s best established Syntropic Agriculture plot, run by Scott Hall and an on and off again team of willing helpers. We also invited the whole crew down to Djaning to see our ever evolving 21 acre plot, with an emphasis on closed loop systems, earth works, main frame and garden design. These trips and grand design schemes, coupled with regular morning contributions to our shared plot at Krishna village, run ins with local Syntropic marauder Thiago Barbosa, swims in the nearby river, and regular yoga sessions made for all round fun and informative two weeks.

Students planting seeds at Djaning

 

If you’re at all interested in ecology, community and self sufficiency or the environment more generally then pop along to our next course planned for 2019. See https://krishnavillage-retreat.com/ for more details.

The Long, Slow, Creative Hard Slog

“The long, slow, creative hard slog always wins out in the end.”

Contrary to how ‘floaty’ such a statement may seem there’s a great deal of evidence to support it. It’s evident in everything from entire societies being built on earth stewardship, see Amazonian societies creation of Terra Preta on otherwise relatively infertile tropical soil, to Van Gogh’s hard isolated life work which now occupies vast galleries created in his name, and the countless artists whom acknowledge his influence. I suppose we could analyse and attempt to interpret the rabbit hole that the last part of the above statement, ‘the end’, entails. Though this is far too open to interpretation and has overt metaphysical connotations. Therefore allow us to briefly examine the long, slow, creative, hard slog bit.

To begin with we must acknowledge the ninth Holmgren Permaculture principle; Small and Slow Solutions. As obvious as this principle may seem, within our current dominant paradigm applying such a thing within your daily routine is to run, or rather meander, directly against the conformity grain. Though the rewards are endless, in this life or the next, for ourselves and/or future generations. Be it in taking the time to study your local ecology which can reap untold benefits of higher yields, better return on your investments, be they in passive solar buildings or soil management, to embracing patience with yourself and others. The benefits of which seem unnecessary to state here.

Need we discuss the creative part? Yes. Perhaps we do. Djaning and all it entails has recently taken to realising itself as a Life as Art project. Which, for us, has untold benefits. To begin with, artists make mistakes, though instead of them being ‘mistakes’ as such, they can further become art. We recall a dear friend of ours smirking in wonderment whilst watching Jimmy Page playing another perfectly oulandish solo on Led Zepplin’s the Song Remains the Same film, and stating, “He hits bum notes, but then keeps hitting them! He’s making his initial errors intentional! And this makes them awesome!” We’d like to think we can do something similar, but on the land. (Duly noted, of course, that Jimmy is a master craftsman with decades of experience, and music is not geology. But I think you get what we’re trying to say).  We make mistakes, though so long as we don’t throw down our instruments and sob, we can learn from it, and if it’s in time and in tune with gaia’s guidance, it can become a hallmark.

More on the Life as Art concept in later posts. Now for the hard slog part… Hmmm. Yes that. Well, no matter the creative process we must work. Andy Warhol knew this and was known to have instilled Lou Reed with the ethic, even resulting in the song Work. For us we’ve often been caught singing the Temptations Just My Imagination chorus in relation to the thought of being able to create our dream, without the hard slog; it’s just our imagination. It’s therefore beneficial to look to others who have achieved, or are well on their way to achieving their ideal situation through diligent, applied labour and effort. Some that come to mind are our teachers, Geoff & Nadia Lawton at the Permaculture Research Institute, Robyn Francis at Djanbung Gardens or Ben Law, woodsman extraordinaire. Others are our friends and colleagues, like Merav and Janta at Karuna Insight Design. While others again are those that just wholly blow our mind, like Ernst Gotsch and his Syntropic Agriculture.

Clockwise from top left, Ernst Gotsch, Geoff & Nadia Lawton, Robyn Francis, Janta & Merav Wheelhouse, Ben Law.

Whatever or whoever it is, we feel we’re on the right track. That bendy, gravelly, wooded way with all it’s quirks, foibles and ‘perceived’ hiccups.

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