London Permaculture Network PDC teaching – March 2013

In March, I was invited by the London Permaculture Network to teach on their inaugural Permaculture Design Course (PDC) course. Traditionally this course is delivered over twelve consecutive days. This can pose problems for people with busy lives, so thinking creatively this course has been designed and delivered over seven alternate weekends.

The problems that exist in the world today cannot be solved by the level of thinking that created them – Albert Einstein

I taught around the theme of bio-regional security. The three sessions I devised were:

  • how regenerative agriculture can address the failures of an industrialised food machine
  • the importance of water and how to develop water storage infrastructure
  • design task: create your own human settlement given a set of limiting factors

Regenerative Agriculture

regenerative culture

I led a group discussion about what a regenerative urban culture could look like. We looked at how to design a supply chain that is cyclical anticipating the effects of the triple threat of climate change, end of cheap oil and sustained economic austerity. We explored the impact of an industrialised food chain on us, our communities, the environment and the global implications.

I enjoyed meeting different people and loved Kevin’s teaching – student quote

I highlighted case studies that demonstrate that these issues are not insurmountable and there are positive examples of solutions rising up to meet this challenge. We concluded by discussing the merits of Darren Doherty’s regenerative agriculture model. This model addresses the failures of modern agriculture and promotes rapid building and conservation of soil, healthy diverse plant communities, ruminants in a planned grazing scheme combined with the critical decision framework of holistic management.

 Water Storage Infrastructure

On Sunday, we explored the theme of water vital to biodiversity on our planet. We begin with it’s composition and moved onto a discussion around global patterns of water consumption, systemic failure by design and the far reaching implications of these destructive patterns.

Q. Did you know that if you were to put our planet’s water into a gallon bucket only one teaspoon of that would be freshwater?

baja biosana water overlay cropWe then brainstormed what are the sources of water available to us in the urban landscape and how a holistic approach to system design can better manage this critical resource.

I concluded with a case studies from my study tour in central America where we looked at how by design the water strategy of Baja Biosana is supported by multiple elements creating security and biodiversity in the dry tropics of Mexico.

I found it really interesting to hear about Kevin’s personal experiences in Baja Biosana and elsewhere – student quote


Design Your Own Human Settlement

Permaculture is a solutions focused design framework. We have built in a number of small design tasks into this course to prepare the students for their final design working the weekends to come.

In the afternoon, I set the students the task of designing their own human settlement while embedding the ethics and principles of permaculture into the solution. The group generated a set of random limiting factors that influenced their design and each group presented their shared vision as a narrative with a planned drawing.

designing your own settlement


For me, even with the random nature of this task, the solutions put forward had a number of practical implementations that could be deployed in reality. I saw a lot of integrated system thinking and I felt the exercise helped the students embed the design ethic of permaculture into their thinking.

I was amazed by everyones wonderful ideas!, open groupness communication, being empowered – student quote

In September, I will travel to Sieben Linden Eco Community in Germany to teach on their exciting EcoVillage Design Education (EDE) training driven by the Gaia University.  If you are interested in engaging us to teach on your programme or a variation on the themes of permaculture design, I would be delighted to hear from you. Contact me any time from here.


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