Permaculture Diploma blog of three people excitedly starting out their diploma. Dano in Ipswich, Suffolk; Marina in Lawford near Manningtree, North Essex and Nigel in Burgh near Woodbridge, Suffolk. Our initial Meeting with Hannah our Tutor on 8th January 2010.

Thursday, 14 January 2010


I did my design certificate in 2003, so it's great to be able to write up some of the things that I have done  between then and starting. I helped to build a spiral planter ( aka herb spiral) at IPEC Permaculture project in the savanah lands of Brasil. They were next to a quarry and plonked a few sandstone slabs in a spiral shape. It was done quickly with a large group of us. I facilitated the building of a huge herb spiral last year in Ipswich. Its where I work 15hours/ week: the People's Community Garden (a permaculture network LAND project). We used sandbags/ earthbags to create the spiral wall which contains soil to grow stuff in.

We are having three herbaculture workshops based around the herb spiral. £15/ day and £30 for all three. Saturdays April 24th, June 19th and September 18th. Seasonal aspects of growing herbs, permacultural uses etc. Im sure i can arrange accomodation too. 

I'm also trying to write up the making of the herb spiral to inspire others to try the same, imagine with tyres or old cars or smaller ones invovling rubble or bricks, logs. ....

Saturday, 9 January 2010


We are lucky that we had three people all wanting to do more with Permaculture and have spurred each other to start this diploma. We are each involved lots with the transition initiatives in our areas which boarder one other. So its  a great guild.

The Guild meets reguarly and supports each other with a tutor having to be there. If on your own geographically i suggest the first design you do is set up skype or a communication tool. So we decided to meet up in 5 weekly intervals to be at different stages of the moon each time and keep it fresh.

You ask four questions of each other. Its really powerful stuff. We are 3 people but adapt it to suit. One person asks the four questions and is aware of time if that is important (need to make sure you all get enough). Another writes down what the third person says. No interrupting. We dont get time just to speak in normal life. Very powerful to be heard. Then when done the scribe reads it back.  You then swap until everone has been heard.

These four questions are the same as the 1 on 1 chat with your tutor (see the paper towels in a previous blog).

What done, What To do

Use the flip chart above as guide to plan what you have done since getting your permaculture design certificate. Using a separate colour for each I started by thinking of the designs I had done in the last 6 years. By Designs I'm thinking of the projects in my life, like all te stuff involved with setting up a business, or creating a herbal show garden. Then I  added the learning, courses, apprenticships (in a new colour). Next think of what designs you can conjure up in your head and draw in with a new colour, finally the learning you need to get there in a forth colour. This is not a plan set in stone just a great way to plan your diploma. It will change, at least i hope so.

The last bit was planning on a time line with a finish time to aim for:

accreditation at 2012 convergence SEPT

(Support tutorial  July 2012)

Support tutorial  Jan 2012

Support tutorial July 2011

Support tutorial Jan 2011

Support Tutorial June 2010

Jan 8th 1st Support Tutorial to set this diploma off

I then place all my designs in this time frame, wrote all the learning, courses etc that i need to go on in that time. Rewards for each deasign done were added and Oh My! this is not only manageable but totally planned out in one day. No Stress just step that can be jumped up.

What is a Design?

A permaculture design can be land based or non land based (design a website, your inner personal life, or an economic system for examples)

Hannah said that to record our designs we need a starting point which could be a base map if doing a land based design. Then your design could be an overlay map, then a bit of technical commentary, which means explanations if necessary, but especially what learning you have done.

Then the Question is what criteria are the deisigns judged on and in true permaculture style they are not like most educational courses. How your design skills have evolved, and are you doing it in your life.....walking the talk.

I dont think the following bits apply to all your designs but the process of the diploma will result in community being built and supported by you, the permaculture message is spread, the bigger picture can be planned for in terms of costs and resources to improve these judgements, finally that we give back to the pot of love that previous people have contributed to. The symmetry means not just taking but offering too (e.g. please add comments).

The Diploma Pathway

The Diploma Pathway is explained in pure permaculture style with things found lying around (see flip chart): the rope is the path which may wind and change; the biscuits and candle which symbolize coming to the accreditation at the end of the diploma. The guild is not on the rope picture. It is the collection of students (us 3). The guild meetings, we decides, will take place every 5 weeks along this rope path. 
On the photo you can see apples representing the 10 designs, the logs are the design support tutorials which you pay extra for (recommended 6 monthly) and where your portfolio is checked. The paper towels represent the 1 on 1 chats with your tutor checking how things are going (included in course fee).  The pencils are technical tutorials and represent learning via courses or chats with elders or anything that skills you up. I loved the visual pathway created as we had each bit explained. I really recommend you contact Hannah to get involved in this diploma process. Call the PAB office or look online. 

We're Starting

Nigel, Hannah (TUTOR) Marina and Dan. 8th January 2010. Snowy Start at the Apricot Centre.