In October 2012, I graduated in the Permaculture Design Course (PDC). This course is located on the farm of Geoff Lawton in Australia. It was a special experience in Down Under, a country that is far ahead in permaculture.
In the beginning of 2012, I registered for a PDC in the Netherlands. However, this was cancelled last minute due to a lack of participants. Other courses had already started and in the Netherlands, PDCs are given in two seasons. Every month you have two weekends of theory and practice. After realising this, I thought: ‘What am I going to do now?! I don’t want to wait another year.’
Luckily, there is another option, namely studying permaculture abroad. PDC is also given in Portugal, Bulgaria and Turkey. But, there is also a next level: Australia. Most courses are given here as it is the birthplace of permaculture. Here, they give the course in 72 hours distributed over two weeks. Australia turned out to be my preferred choice, mainly because you learn the knowledge straight from the source. Bill Mollison and Geoff Lawton offered a PDC on the university of Melbourne. My first thought was: ‘That sounds nice!’. However, when I was registering online, many things went wrong. Fortunately, I saw a link to the site of Geoff on which I saw that he also offered a PDC, but on his own farm: The Permaculture Research Institute. This sounded a lot better to me, because on a farm you will also see the procedures in real life, which is not possible at the university. Besides that, staying on a farm instead of in the city attracted me much more. In addition, Geoff has almost 20 years of experience in teaching and has done projects all over the world.
The farm: New South Wales, 66 acres (circa 27 hectares) in the subtropics, next to a small river and located against a hill. There are also forests and various grasslands for cows and horses. Besides this, a complete water system of ponds, dams and swales is present. 90% of the dishes comes from the big vegetable garden and various edible garden forests. Also, there is small cattle that consists of goats, chicken, ducks and rabbits. Further, greenhouses, a bamboo forest and fields for potatoes and grains are available at the farm. The camping, where you stay during the course, has a shower with warm water provided by a rocket-stove. There are also compost toilets present. The house and the training space are made of hay bales and the electricity is provided by solar panels. Also, the only connection with ‘the outside world’ is a phone. In short, the whole farm is designed in the vision of permaculture!
A successful PDC
The course itself was studying the theory for two weeks from 9 till 5. The theory was based on ‘A Designers’ Manual’ by Bill Mollison. In total, 24 students between the ages of 23 and 60 followed the course, nationally and internationally. Despite the many different backgrounds, the vibe was amazing. After two weeks, there was a real family feeling. When I look back on it, the course was absolutely worth it. It is not just about how to grow a plant, but about how you can understand nature conceptually and how you can put this knowledge into practice.