Permaculture Design Course - How was yours run?

Discussion in 'Jobs, projects, courses, training, WWOOFing, volun' started by Boab, Jun 7, 2006.

  1. ho-hum

    ho-hum New Member

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    Boab,

    You are correct to point out your frustrations.

    I ran an organisation [as president] which ran a permie course for about 8 'outsiders' we sold participation to and about 8 skillshare students and staff in about 89 or 90.

    Sadly, I was working full-time and running a camp cooks course at the same time. I certainly hovered around the permies at odd times.

    Some things I remember.

    Every morning was 'outside' and after lunch for a while they were all inside looking at systems etc and using teaching aids.

    The first morning they collected mulch/compost materials and made a massive compost heap with a view to using it 2 weeks later. The compost heap was built in FRONT of the building as the back was going to be used.... I can remember grinning at the time and thinking I liked that idea.


    2 huge garden beds were dug mulched and planted including one 'no-dig' garden, a mandela garden was set up, a herb garden was planted. All as part of the course. As best I can remember students were asked to source all sorts of things - manure, plant material etc. which was collected by the group from all over the place.

    The gardens were located by the students with the lecturer continually asking why here, what for, where is the water coming from, where is it going, what about that fence, tree, post, wall etc etc When it was decided that all factors considered one long garden across the middle of the back was good. The lecturer then started talking about zones, microclimates, edges etc. which were new concepts and again made the students think.

    Eventually half the lawn went to vegie gardens and half was kept as an open area.

    The course teacher was pragmatic enough to interrupt his lessons to bring the group to where I was and watch our lesson. I had asked a butcher to bring a hind quarter of beef around and cut it up for my group into a variety of pieces. The permie lecturer [ that afternoon] talked about permaculture animals and their uses. This included the usual plus rabbits, quail and kangaroo. I seem to think the lecturer was a vegetarian too.

    I cannot remember who the lecturer was or what it cost but I do know the participants included all sorts from a mentally handicapped guy to a millionaire. They all achieved and enjoyed.

    I can remember wondering where we were going to buy sprinklers and hoses etc as we were really broke. One of the town's rogues dropped off a couple of excellent sprinklers and stands. I thought it was generous of him. Some time later I noticed they were stamped with the local council's initials. After a phone call to them they were officially on loan to us with a stern warning on 'borrowing' things without people's permission.

    Those gardens went fine but we couldnt over-indulge as the site was an old fire station and only on loan till the government sold it.

    I know permaculture became a way of life for at least 6 of the participants [plus me].

    floot
     
  2. FREE Permaculture

    FREE Permaculture Junior Member

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    That's all very interesting floot, but what did you end up doing with the beef? did ya's have like a big bbq? was there champagne and topless blondes? :lol:
     
  3. Boab

    Boab Junior Member

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    Thank you for your continued replies. It is truly marvellous to see people getting a positive outcome from a PDC. I still don't see the logic in repeating courses, though. Practical experience reinforces learning particularly with the basics covered in the PDC I would have thought. Still, if you can negotiate something for free then that's great.

    Kathleen, I did not say I was having a bad experience all round. I know it's easy to lump everything into one but my comments are only about the course. I have had a very long association with farming and community groups, particularly this one, and there are some truly marvellous people about (and I must say, most of them don't run the courses). But in all honesty I have noticed some pretty nasty mongrel energy moving about for the past year or so but that's not something I wish to make further comment on.

    As for constructive feedback, I shall give you examples. I have made comments regarding the lack of cohesion in the classes. I received a nod and an 'okay' but that was about it. Another student mentioned as part of a feedback session how he/she did not feel that there was much substance to what was being taught and another student made a cheap remark to them that went uncorrected. This student left the course. Another ex-student I ran into stated that he/she 'voted for his/her feet' frustrated by the lack of service. And just recently another student whom I regarded very dearly decided to leave, disillusioned with the entire place. Two other students who have done more for the place in a short time than the majority of the long termers put together with their energy and knowledge and valuable insight are also considering leaving. So yes, feedback has been provided 'leaders' (I use that term for want of a better one) with details of our dissatisfaction and from what I gather it has been dismissed.

    Writing this down really weighs heavy on my heart. I started this thread to find out whether the PDC was any good but I am seeing that it's not the course so much but the people involved in it. I don't know which feels worse: realising this or realising that there is nothing I can do about it.
     
  4. permanut

    permanut Junior Member

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    Hey Boab, I hear you loud and clear I have similar dissapointed feelings.
    I think any PDC should be 50/50 of practical and theory.
    The teacher and students together as one group should breif the client, make a site assesment and collectively contribute to a design that is actually implemented in the real world.Of course systems need maintaining, the PDC tutor should have deigned for this. in order to give something back for the over inflated prices that they often charge. The course should be designed to follow ALL of the 12 principles, theoretically and practically.

    Students also should be able to observe actual working systems that are self sustaining. Not dilapidated crumbling,dirty disorganised ones. I would'nt dream of setting up a PDC unless I could deliver the above.
    I know alot of people that have done PDC's and all they seem to come away with is a few handouts, copied straight out the designers manual.

    I feel alot of PDC courses are energy sinks. To much talking not enough action. All that people energy and financial energy should be considered carefully in the course design. Anyone can just copy out of a book. Lets hopefully start seeing a bit more Permaculture Principles actually being considerd in the course itself.

    I have had good reports from people that have done PDC's with Robyn Francis, Geoff Lawton, Rick and Naomi Coleman and the other Robin at crystal waters. I will most prob. do one with one them at somepoint.
     
  5. RobWindt

    RobWindt Junior Member

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  6. christopher

    christopher Junior Member

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    Bazman,

    The teachers we had here, Tony and Penny, devoted most of one day to talk about natural building. They were both realy well informed, and their presentations were super interesting (and included slide shows in the evening that were fascinating).

    I think that a good teacher will expand on areas of interest, and Toby and Penny were great! They spent a lot of time between classes and field trips to farms talking with individual students (really first rate teachers, I have a lot of respect for both of them).

    Boab, you ask why take the course a second time.... Part of why people I know who have taken a second (or even third) PDC is leaving charged up, and a second course may expose you to things not taught at the first course, as well as giving you more time to go over the core curriculum.

    I have heard here that several people have taken two courses, tho I have not. I would, gladly, as I think it would be interesting, and part of that would be observing different teachers teaching method.

    Ben, hahahahahaah! You very, very wicked!

    C
     
  7. Richard on Maui

    Richard on Maui Junior Member

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    Boab, it seems like you are particularly disstisfied with your experience of the PDC at the community farm in Brisbane that you have attended? Can I suggest that you would do well to write a letter to the organisers of the course explaining how you felt? It may encourage them to lift their game or make them realise that perhaps they aren't the gurus they wannabe.
    Also, you could send the same letter to the Permaculture Institute

    THE PERMACULTURE INSTITUTE
    31 Rulla Road
    SISTERS CREEK 7325
    TASMANIA
    AUSTRALIA

    Ph: 61 (0)3 6445 0945
    Fax: 61 (0)3 6445 0944

    For Book Sales: [email protected]
    For general adminstration: [email protected]
    For Permaculture Insitute: [email protected]
    Our office is normally attended on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays
    from 9.00 am until 4.30 pm Australian Eastern Standard Time.

    They are the people who are supposed to officially sanction the issuing of PDC's. If your course was not ridgy didge, or simply below par, I would expect them to take some kind of action.

    Thirdly, why not actually speak up about which community garden is offering the apparently bogus course? It may help other prospective students avoid similar dissappointment and be a reminder to the course holders of the need to improve.
     
  8. ho-hum

    ho-hum New Member

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    Ben,

    Yes, all was eaten. Some was steak'd, some was brined/corned, some was minced etc.

    As for the other... it was a camp cooks course, not about guilds.

    floot
     
  9. christopher

    christopher Junior Member

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    Ben,

    Floot didn't answer your last question....

    C
     
  10. Boab

    Boab Junior Member

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    Richard, I am doing my course at Northey Street City Farm in Brisbane. One thing I have noticed very clearly there is that people do not take kindly to criticism no matter how well meant and, admittedly, I have not written a letter because my vocal concerns were so readily dismissed and also because I want to finish the course and get my certificate without any further hassle. Do you think the Permaculture Institute has any clout?

    Permanut I have leafed through the myriad of handouts I received on my course and 70% are straight copies from Mollison's designer handbook or other similar books. One or two handouts were written by fellow students (but presented by the teacher). Practical work consisted of a tour around the farm looking for plants and a few hours setting up a garden that was then just left to the elements and is now looking rather tired indeed. I admit I do not understand some design elements. I still have not seen a real life swale. In the books they appear to be much like what were called 'steppes' in my childhood. Just reading Christopher's experience of natural building colours me green with envy. Our module was three hours in length, the lecturer said straight up he wasn't prepared and we proceeded to wander around the farm in groups looking for natural building structures and working out designs for them. I still don't understand what that was all about. I immediately referred to Bill's designer handbook to get the gist of it. I also find Rosemary Morrow's books very informative and easy to digest too.

    I am glad that what I have had to say here has been taken so well. It has also made me feel a lot better with the feelings that I have harboured for a while now. I will copy the references for other PDC courses left here and have a look at them with a view to "having another go" at a later stage.

    Thank you all :love4:
     
  11. Sonya

    Sonya Junior Member

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    Boab,

    It's a shame you've had such a bad experience, but at least others are warned and perhaps it might spark Northey St into getting organised. I haven't been there for years now, but I had heard anecdotally that it was run down. It's a shame and I hope they can get it back on track because we need those resources and education programs to run exceptionally well and to a high standard, especially in cities where they have contact with so many people.

    And I thought all pdc teachers had to have completed a pdc themselves?

    Even a bad course teaches you things - seeing how not to do something is just as important as seeing how to do it well.

    Sonya.
     
  12. Sonya

    Sonya Junior Member

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    Permaculture workshop at Crystal Waters

    Picked up a flyer at World Environment Day on the Sunshine Coast.

    SEED International, based at Crystal Waters Permaculture Village near Maleny, have a hands-on permaculture workshop running Sept 30-Oct 1 this year.

    Includes:
    design, village tour, water-wise design conservation and harvesting, waste-water recycling, soil improvement, composting, worm-farming, low maintainence no-dig kitchen garden, seed saving & propogation, establishing a food forest and more...

    $295 includes all food (all organic), accommodation and comprehensive notes

    Run by: Morag Gamble and Evan Raymond.

    [email protected]
     
  13. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day Boab :)

    1. How long did your course go for?

    2 weeks

    2. Where was it held?

    Bendigo (Victoria, Australia)

    3. Do qualified permaculture teachers have to run it?

    Don't know and personally, don't care. After conducting research for about 5-years I was satisfied that the course I had chosen would meet all my needs (and in doing the course found that it not only satisfied, but exceeded all my expectations).

    5. How was your course structured? (Did it have any structure?)

    Yes, well structured. Early starts and working well into the night on some occasions. Ample time for breaks and periods of contemplation or group discussion. Varied modes of delivery from theoretical tutorials through to site visits, and everything you could inmagine in between.

    6. Did you get homework, feedback etc after the lesson or were you left to your own devices?

    Yes, 'homework' (most of our design task was completed outside of tutorials) and plenty of feedback - all one had to do was engage fellow students and teachers and ask for it.

    7. Did you feel you learned a lot?

    More than enough.

    8. How much did your course cost?

    Cost me nothing: Cost the Government $950.00

    9. Did you feel it was value for money?

    I would have personally 'paid' (most likely by labour exchange) up to five times this amount. Seriously, money could not 'buy' the experiences and learning outcomes I took away from that course.

    10. Would you do it again?

    Of course. Each course is a different experience. Each course is an opportunity to learn something new. But above all, each course brings together people from vastly different backgrounds but each with a common goal to make the world a better place.

    I have included a link to a course blurb which includes a further link to a flyer from an earlier course which was pretty much the same as the one I completed last year.

    https://www.permaculture.biz/SalvosPDC/home.htm

    I hope this information helps you in some way, and I hope your learning experience can eventually give you much peace and satisfaction.

    Cheerio,

    Mark.
     
  14. Richard on Maui

    Richard on Maui Junior Member

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    does the permaculture institute have any clout? well, I would be interested to know what kind of certificate they issue you upon completion of your course.
    my certificate was issued by the permaculture institute, and signed off on by my teacher. I believe that this is how the system is supposed to work globally, with the various regional institutes.
    it is very possible that I am under another misapprehension regarding this detail of bills masterplan. please, someone correct me if I am wrong.

    so, who is running the show at northey st now? Dick Copeman, Richard Nielson and John Morahan, still? What about Tash Morton? Those guys actually do have a wealth of knowlege and experience to share. I would be suprised if a course they offered was really all that ratshit.
     
  15. heuristics

    heuristics Junior Member

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    Hi Boab,,,, At the risk of echoing what R-on-M has said .... check out Bill Mollison's website at Tagari...

    For others following this post - i have cut and pasted two bits fromthat website that show PDCs are supposed to be of a certain standard and taught by people with a PDC themselves to ensure QA - quality assurance.... Take your issues to Tagari...

    From the Tagari site.....

    Permaculture Design Course
    We are living on a planet in crisis; often individuals feel powerless to effect change but Permaculture offers positive solutions to the problems facing the world; using ecology as the basis for designing integrated systems of food production, housing, technology and community development, you can learn to create a self-sustaining environment, on a farm or in your urban backyard.

    The Permaculture Design Course is for anyone interested in gaining skills and perspective for sustainable living and productivity. A Permaculture Design Course is a way to share accumulated information with others.

    What is Permaculture?

    Permaculture is an holistic approach to land use design, based on ecological principles and patterns. Permaculture aims to create stable, productive systems that provide for human needs, harmoniously integrating the land with people. The ecological processes of plants, animals, water, weather and nutrient cycles are integrated with human needs and technologies for food, energy, shelter and infrastructure.

    Elements in a system are viewed in relationship with other elements, and the outputs of one element become the inputs of another.

    Within a Permaculture system, work is minimised, “wastes” become resources, productivity and yields increase, and the environment is restored.

    Permaculture principles can be applied to any environment, at any scale - from dense urban settlements to individual homes, from farms to entire regions.

    Who would benefit from a Permaculture Design Course?

    Since the first Permaculture Design Course was offered in 1972, people from widely diverse backgrounds and interests have graduated. Farmers, ranchers, landowners, foresters, landscape designers, architects, builders, planners, developers, accountants, financiers, bankers, publishers, attorneys, aid workers, educators, environmentalists and students have all brought Permaculture techniques into their homes, businesses and communities.

    This course is for anyone interested in gaining practical skills and perspective for sustainable living and productivity. You will gain an understanding of Permaculture theory, building your knowledge of all the necessary aspects to become fully conversant with Permaculture design. By the end of the course, you will be able to confidently create your first Permaculture design plan.

    The Curriculum

    The curriculum is all subjects in Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual, by Bill Mollison.

    Topics covered include:

    design methods
    understanding patterns in nature
    climatic factors
    water
    soils
    earthworks and their use in earth repair
    techniques and design strategies for both urban and rural applications
    the temperate climates
    dry lands
    cold climates
    humid cool climates
    humid tropics
    trees and their energy transactions
    aqua-culture
    waste management
    energy efficient architecture
    legal strategies and trusts
    effective working groups
    right livelihood
    money and finance
    ethical investment
    bio-regional organisation
    effective aid
    Recommended Reading:

    Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual, Bill Mollison

    Introduction to Permaculture, Bill Mollison with R. Slay

    Permaculture Two, Bill Mollison

    The Foundation Year Book of the Permaculture Academy, compiled by Bill Mollison

    More Information?

    See the Permaculture Institute’s Teacher Register pages for more information and for a listing of Teachers Registered with the Permaculture Institute.
     
  16. Alex M

    Alex M Junior Member

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    Chickadee said:

    Hey, what a great idea Ben! Why not use the resource we all have right in front of us, right here, right now? That's what's this forum's for after all, isn't it? Boab, because you decided to ask a question and start this thread, anyone anywhere in the world (who can get on the net) can get an idea of what to look out for when choosing a PDC; they'll also know what to expect from the teachers. In my opinion, you've made an important contribution.

    The other day, I posted a request for info on Guilds, because I reckon Guilds are a key element to the whole design thing. The thread has already attracted some great ideas, some of which I will use, and others I can't use (oh, those pineapples! :love7: ), but other readers surely will.

    Although I've done a PDC (Melb, Sept '05) I'm still a Permaculture dummy - there's so much to learn - and I'm looking for all sorts of stuff. I have no doubt there are plenty like me. Anyone who has information to share, or a question to ask can start a thread.
     
  17. Tezza

    Tezza Junior Member

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    :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: I thi nk hes got it.

    Pity about how us mere humans are never quit satisfied.Ive never had time or moeneyto do a course let alone find anyone who caters for Individuals

    Count your luck with any info free or paid Ive learnt 99% by doing it..I never had a bulliten board..Let alone people answering for nothing....

    If some one was advocating Permaculture,and teaching thats what matters....It musta inspired you still....Your in here :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: ...

    I dont have any certificates,But then again I dont charge,YOU dont allways get what you pay for as you say

    Tezza
     
  18. murray

    murray Junior Member

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    hey guys

    well - i had an idea a couple months back to put together an open source permaculture users manual with help from all you smart folk...

    [edit - i feel i should make clear that the idea to use a wiki for this was not mine. it was given to me via PM by a member of this board, ben i think? i can't remember and the PMs were nuked looong ago. so - credit where it's due.]

    i even registered a domain for it: https://www.permapedia.com

    if you guys are interested in helping me compile it , as chick said, starting with the basics and moving on from there, this might be the perfect opportunity to create something very unique. (just click the edit link on any page to update that page's content)

    what do you think?

    m.
     
  19. Richard on Maui

    Richard on Maui Junior Member

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    I am not suggesting this in opposition to your permipedia idea at all Murray, but I have often thought that it is a shame that one cannot access the Designers Manual online. I once travelled around Northern Thailand by bicycle with a fellow student from my PDC, Weerayoot Pansuwan. He carried the Designers Manual, and other references to remote villages in his panniers (god he was so slow, had to keep stopping at roadside stalls to wait for him to catch up!) to assist him in his design when he got to places. Ok, so Yoot is one of a kind, but I am sure that the manual would be of inestimable use as on online resource.
    Not to poohpooh the idea of compiling something new, but there isn't a lot of territory that isn't given pretty thorough treatment in the manual already.
    I don't actually know how to do it, but it would be straight forward to scan the pages and save them as pdf files right? or even make them into html? Of course, Bill would have to be agreeable. Surely his 3rd ethic sort of corners him into acquiescence though, I would have thought?[/i]
     
  20. Mungbeans

    Mungbeans Junior Member

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    Very nice, Murray!

    Perhaps you make the community portal a link back to the portal for this site. It seems a shame to spread it all too thin. Apart from that I can see the potential.

    You could even add a 'Wiki' link to the buttons at the top of this forum.

    Perhaps everyone could take their favourite entry from this forum, edit it and post it over there. There is so much great information it would be good to see it properly sorted and distilled.
     

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