Thursday, 14 May 2015

Join us this October 2015 in Spain

This unique 17 day course will consist of a broad range of topics applicable to life anywhere on the planet,at the same time catering to specific needs of the participating students.

Topics will include:
• History and Definition of Permaculture
• Ethics and Principles of Permaculture
• Design Methodologies
• Patterns in Nature, Culture and Society
• Reading the Land – Observation
• Land Restoration Techniques
• Water Harvesting Techniques
• Grey Water Recycling
• Natural Building Strategies
• Cultivated & Productive ecological Gardens
• Food Forests and Plant Guilds
• Appropriate Technologies
• Integrated Pest Management
• Compost
• Soil
• Water
• Food Forest
• Animal Management in Permaculture
• And many more fun and dynamic activities!

The course is adapted to a wide variety of learning styles and is presented via lecture, images, video, group discussion, individual and group exercises, and design projects. Class usually lasts from about 8 AM to 5 PM

Rico Zook:

Richard Rico Zook | Permaculture Desinger, Consultant & Instructor

As well as creating and working with a wide variety of landbased systems in all types of climatic environments, Rico brings over 40 years of experience in nature to his work. For the past 20 years he has been a Permaculture designer, consultant and educator working with private individuals, farmers, villagers and local organizations in northern New Mexico, India, Cambodia, the middle-east and other parts of the world. This work focuses on assisting all levels of our global community to create culturally and environmentally appropriate life systems that are resilient and regenerative. He has also worked with local and indigenous cultures to help preserve traditional knowledge and technologies while adapting to and becoming active members of our rapidly globalizing world.

In addition to academic and professional credentials, Mr. Zook has spent more than 25 years living in nature, including long-term residencies in California’s Yosemite National Park, the demanding Sangria de Cristo Mountains of Northern New Mexico, and as a homesteader in Northern California wilderness. For more than a decade as Land Manager for the Lama Foundation, a spiritual community and retreat center North of Taos, NM, Mr. Zook designed and transformed the rugged, semiarid high-altitude site that had been decimated by wildfire into one of beauty and productivity. Using permaculture practices and a lifetime of observation and interpretation of the natural world and how to create human harmony with it, he has built a visible and successful permaculture demonstration and teaching site. It is a model of design integrating the needs, resources and yields of community and nature in proactive and abundant ways with respectful and restorative impacts on the environment. Mr. Zook is a graduate of Sonoma State University, from which he holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Studies focused on land restoration, with minors in Biology and Philosophy.

Please contact us for a more detailed info brochure here:

please contact us for the more details:

or see Lead teacher Rico Zook's website here:

Nepal Earthquakes - Spreading Awarness & asking Support from the Permaculture Community

I have been a regular visitor to Nepal over the last 4 years and have made a deep connection with this country, its kind hearted people and stunning environment. Permaculture in Nepal is very established and practiced by a huge amount of Nepali Farmers.This is much connected to the long term efforts of people like Chris Evans and Govinda Sharma plus many, many more.

                    My friend,mentor and teacher Govinda and I in South India near Auroville

                                 A Farmers Training with Govinda Sharma during our time at Hasera

The current news about the situation in Nepal after a second earthquake hit the country just a day ago is really, really worrying to me. So far more then 8000 people have died and many many more are left homeless and without food.This situation makes me feel really sad knowing this country and its wonderful people that are living often on a very tight budget without much money but full of love and joy.

                        The House of my friend Dinesh near Pokhara after the second earthquake

I am participating in the Diploma program here in Australia at the moment at the Permaculture Research Institute Sunshine Coast and for the first time in 4 years I am not in Nepal at this time of the year. I ask myself how can I help from so far away and thought of spreading the message, raising awareness, asking for 'Fair Share' support and help from the Permaculture network is the best I can do at this point from here.

                                        The situation in the village of Patlekhet, near HASERA

                                        Most houses have totally collapsed

Until now I didn't hear from some of my friends living in Nepal since the earthquake hit but I am in constant contact with Govinda Sharma from Hasera Agriculture Research and Training Centre.We have worked together on a PDC Course in South India and I also stayed with him and his family at the Hasera Research and Training Centre just outside of Kathmandu. I was impressed by his wealth of knowledge, his constant and passionate support for the local community and his kind family.

                              The web of life exercise during our PDC together in South India

                              The South India PDC group picture at Pebble Garden Auroville

About Govinda (Gopi Ji) 

Govinda Sharma is the founder of HASERA. He holds Masters degree in agriculture from the Netherlands and Nepal, and has conducted in more than 500 trainings on permaculture in Nepal and abroad.. He has been practicing and teaching Permaculture since 1992 and has facilitated 30 PDCs until now. His trainings have already encompassed the participants from 55 countries in the world. Currently he serving as Executive Chairman of HASERA and Vice President of Nepal Permaculture Group.He designed 9 Permaculture Farms and Communities and also published several booklets and articles on Permaculture topics mostly in Nepali language.

HASERA is a Research and Training Centre dedicated to the promotion of Sustainable Agriculture, Sustainable Development and Permaculture in Nepal and abroad. HASERA means Hariyo, Seto, Rato (Green, White and Red), symbolizing plant, dairy and meat products.

                                      Govinda with a student group from Taiwan at Hasera

HASERA is an institutional member of the Nepal Permaculture Group (NPG) and the founding member of Organic Association Nepal (ORGAN). Govinda Sharma, founder of HASERA is also the managing director of Organic Certification Nepal (OCN). Through these networks, HASERA is well linked with local, national and international likeminded communities.

                             The traditional Family house at Hasera before the Earthquake

He is one of the pioneers in the Permaculture movement in Nepal and a passionate Farmer Trainer, Community Supporter and Family man.

           Govindas Presentation at the ninth International Permaculture Conference (IPC)in Malawi

The situation in Hasera itself is that parts of Govinda's family house has suffered some damage in the form of big cracks and the same in his training hall were hundreds of local and foreign students have been trained so far.

                                                    Cracks on villagers Family houses

Govinda and some volunteer helpers assessed the situation in the village around Hasera and have found:

Total no. of Houses: 906
Completely collapsed: 26.3%
Cracked but not safe to live in: 71.9%
Suitable to live in after repairing: 1.7%

                                              Govinda and Volunteer helpers 

Govinda has designed a rehabilitation plan for Earth quake victims and is looking for international support in terms of money or other resources.

Plan and priorities of HASERA for the rehabilitation of Earth quake victims:

1. Supply of safety gears for the cleaning up of broken houses
2. Training for the designing and construction of disaster resistant house
3. Support for the construction of home for needy families
4. Psycho social counselling for the people in shock 

Please help us to help the village get back to stability and restore balance. Let's support a localized, community-based, restorative and sustainable approach to disaster response led by a respected, wise Permaculture teacher and designer! 

If you have any ways/ means to support this cause please contact  Govinda Sharma here:

Or make a donation to:
Govinda Sharma, Nabil Bank Limited Nepal, Account no. 4210017500427, SWIFT Code: NARBNPKA

Thank you very much for your support, it is greatly appreciated and needed.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration

Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration

Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) is a low-cost land restoration technique used to combat poverty and hunger amongst poor subsistence farmers by increasing food and timber production and resilience to climate extremes.
In practice, FMNR involves the systematic regrowth and management of trees and shrubs from felled tree stumps, sprouting root systems or seeds. The regrown trees and shrubs – integrated into crops and grazing pastures – help restore soil structure and fertility, inhibit erosion and soil moisture evaporation, rehabilitate springs and the water table, and increase biodiversity. Some tree species also impart nutrients such as nitrogen into the soil.
As a result, FMNR can double crop yields, provide building timber and firewood, fodder and shade for livestock, wild foods for nutrition and medication, and increased incomes and living standards for farming families and their communities.
see more information here:

International Permaculture Day - Weekend Project visits - Crystal Waters & Bellbunya

I am in Australia at the moment and we had the chance to visit two exiting Projects last weekend which also was the International Permaculture Day (last Sunday).We decided to celebrate this event with some Permaculture Project visits in the local area and also dedicate some of our practical attention to the soil.But read more here:

Our trip started on Saturday morning with a visit to the famous Crystal Waters Permaculture Village which had a market day and we also got the chance to have a guided tour by Robin Clayfield,one of the Permaculture pioneers. Robin Clayfield has spent the past 30 years working, playing and interacting in groups in various capacities.Since 1990 she has been facilitating and creating one and two week intensive residential courses, Training Teachers, Guiding Women’s Weekends, Designing and Leading Empowerment and Visioning sessions (for Community Groups, Businesses and Individuals), Lobbying Governments & Councils, Chairing Meetings, Presenting at Conferences and Festivals, as well as Living, Working and Sharing with others in Community – all in a spirit of empowerment, creativity, joy and holistic growth and learning(taken from Crystal Water Website).

Crystal Waters is an environmentally and socially responsible rural subdivision, designed using permaculture principles. With a community of over 200 people living in the village, it is continually evolving, physically and socially.
The property covers 650 acres, of which 20% is made up of 83 residential and 2 lots for the Crystal Waters Community Co-operative (Co-Op) which provides facilities and services for the social and economic aspirations of the community. The remaining 80% is the best land and is owned in common. It can be licensed by residents for agriculture, forestry, recreation and habitat projects
It was really exiting and amazing to meet Robin,some of the crystal water villagers living there and to get some first had information about the Design and Projects of Crystal Waters from Robin.

                                         The Crystal Waters Entry Sign

                                                               The Market Area         

We had also got the chance to meet Max Lindegger and see his garden.Max is one of the Permaculture Pioneers,he was invited by Bill Mollison to participate at the first Permaculture Course in 1979 and he also took part in the second course the year after. Since then he has been teaching Permaculture courses from the UK to the US, from Denmark to Macau and from Argentina to New Zealand and has been consulting on the subject in over 60 countries.

                                         Bamboo Construction

                                          Creative Mosaic Floor and Bench

Crystal Waters Village Objectives.

In the early design stages, six basic objectives were agreed upon
  • Clean air, water and soil (thus food)
  • Freedom of spiritual belief
  • To work towards a guarantee of meaningful activity for all
  • To create a place for healthy play and safe recreation
  • Active social interaction
  • Healthy shelter/accommodation
These have mostly been achieved and maintained.

                                         Sustainable Housing and Architecture

Where’s the Permaculture in Crystal Waters?
Permaculture is about design, and the efficient and productive use of land while taking care of the earth. Permaculture looks at the incredible diversity of plant and wildlife, the intricacies of eco-systems with their natural checks and balances and uses this knowledge to create a sustainable way of life.
Examples of principles used in the design are:
  • The balance of the hydrology was maintained, ensuring that the quality and quantity of the water downstream has not been negatively affected by Crystal Waters’ development.
  • 17 dams were created and are multi-purpose –
    • increasing the ‘edge’,
    • providing access for traffic from ridge to ridge,
    • opportunities for aquaculture, climate moderation, recreation, beauty and habitat.
    • They provide a flood mitigation strategy; as they absorb runoff and the overflow is directed into the Mary River and Kilcoy Creek via specially placed swales.
    • They are also a source of emergency water.
  • Re-use and recycle are two catchcrys of Permaculture. Evidence of this philosophy can be seen all around Crystal Waters, in the overall design and in individual lots. There has been a consciousness change towards human waste. It is not seen as someone else’s problem but as a resource.
  • A long term sustainable approach is taken, particularly with regard to forestry. Trees have been planted with the intention that they provide habitat and moderate environmental extremes, as well as various timber end uses.
  • Buildings make extensive use of renewable materials such as earth and wood, with particular emphasis on solar passive design.
  • The multiple usage of land. Crystal Waters can now accommodate up to 300 people, 83 home gardens. The best land has been set aside for agriculture, the steeper areas for forestry, recreation and natural habitat.
  • Zoning can be seen on individual lots, but also in the overall design.
    • The public face of the village is placed in Zone 1, and all are Welcome here. This is The Village Green, The Deck & Kitchen, The Bakery, Gaia Healing Centre and other Businesses are also part of this zone.
    • Zone 2 incorporates the Visitor’s Camping Area (VCA) and the Community House/Training Centre, where visitors come for short term stays and to take part in courses.
    • Zone 3 contains the residential, agricultural and habitat areas, and visitors need to be invited here
                                          The crystal waters village area

                                          Kangaroos hanging out

                                         Private Garden and Green Roof Housing

                                          Robin Clayfield, Kate and me

It was an amazing and exiting experience and i am grateful that i got the chance to see the world famous and pioneering permaculture village Crystal Waters,meet its people and environment.

Afterwards on sunday we visited my friend Daniel,which i met in India at a PDC that we organized with Govinda Sharma from Nepal.Daniel is at the moment Farm manager at Bellbunya another interesting project here in the Sunshine Coast area.

Bellbunya Sustainable Community and Eco-Retreat Centre:

Bellbunya is a demonstration centre for sustaining living on the Sunshine Coast Hinterland in Queensland Australia. 

Bellbunya is owned by an environmental charity and set up as an intentional community on 40 acres. We have organic food gardens, wildlife corridors, a creek and lagoon, a conference hall and restaurant and accommodation for up to 16 guests. The Centre is run on 100% renewable energy through our 7.2kva solar panel system and by buying wind farm energy.

Integral to the Centre is the Bellbunya Sustainable Community, established to explore ways to create a re-localised and sustainable future. Our “4-bottomline” approach includes: (1) personal and spiritual growth, (2) social sustainability, (3) economic sustainability, and (4) environmental sustainability. We practice permaculture, organic growing and bushland regeneration. We employ a broad range of group process skills and techniques for group facilitation, collaborative decision making, team building, conflict resolution and project management. We have developed various processes and structures to enable us to function effectively and to continue to learn and grow – both as a community and as individuals. We are growing sustainable enterprises that develop the healthy interplay of relationships with our environment and each other.

Here are some Pictures of the Bellbunya Gardens and surrounding environment: 

It was a real pleasure to meet Daniel again and get a informative and inspiring tour of the Bellbunya Project.

Last but not least we also turned the 18 day Compost that has been made at the last PDC Course here and connected ourselves to the importance of good soil!

                                                      Adrien turning the 18 day compost

The 18 Day Compost in its final Stages

Overall i really enjoyed this active and inspiring weekend!