Feb 06

Why should I do a permaculture design course?

Bill Mollison, the father of permaculture, once said, “If you can only do one thing, collect rainwater.” If you’ve already started collecting rainwater, it’s time to take a permaculture design course and learn how the 3 principles work together ,Earth Care,People Care, Fair Share, get to know each other.
I often read people saying “I want a permaculture garden!”, but what is permaculture actually?
“In permaculture we try to create an environment that is self-sustaining and works in harmony with the surrounding ecosystems”.
This means that the market- or forest garden are only a small part of permaculture and they are in itself a very complex system. What many forget is that 2 of the 3 principles are relate to social life. Not just human beings, but all living beings. Permaculture says that 40% of the crop goes to wildlife and that’s a good thing actually. Without bacteria, insects or birds we wouldn’t get any yield either, but if we take care of the environment we will be richly rewarded. In the design course we get to know nitrogen fixers, plants for wildlife or multifunctional creatures.
When people talk about a “plague,” we look at the “problem,” learn from nature, and imitate it. Do you know e.g. the problem with empty nuts? Usually the tree weevil is at work and how can we regulate it in a natural way? Right, with chickens! We let the chickens run under the nut trees or bushes from March to the end of May, they devour the larvae and give us eggs, feathers and/or meat. The “problem” turned into a gratifying yield. This is just one example of many and shows how to deal with “problems” in permaculture. “The problem is the solution.“
The permaculture design course is only a framework, what you do with it is up to you and of course also differs from region to region.
I also came from mixed culture to permaculture when I was looking for something to help nature and people. On my last trip, when I crossed Australia on foot, I was particularly struck by the social injustice. People near the coast live an excessive life and people inland pay exorbitant sums for drinking water.
I’ve spent a lot of time with my tent in the native woods of Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania and when I think about how permaculture originated in these forests, I have a picture of ordered chaos in my mind. Also that the forests regulate themselves. E.g. I spent days and weeks walking through the south west of Tasmania which a few months earlier had the worst bush fires to date. It looked devastated and I looked like a chimney sweep, but I was pleasantly surprised that the trees have started to sprout again. Life is a give and take.
This is exactly what fascinates me about permaculture and why I did a PDC after my stay in Australia.
I learned gardening mostly from my grandmother, who has no idea about mixed cultures, but already had many elements in her garden for decades. I’m always amazed how an 87-year-old looks forward to the new gardening season and the enthusiasm has long spilled over to me. Last year I first sowed a part of the garden in a “disorganized” way and my grandmother just said “The garden has never looked so bad”. It still makes me smile and I look back on it fondly. I made a lot of mistakes and that’s good too. You learn from mistakes. I was lucky enough to grow up on a farm, to get to know and experiment with many mistakes in agriculture. Although I took the detour by studying international business administration, I think now I’m getting back to my roots and being self-sufficient.
A few months ago I bought a small alp with 2 hectares of garden in the Garda National Park (Italy) and I am currently building a permaculture farm. For me it is important to give something back and not to make a profit out of it. The farm is also part of the EU’s “Natura 2000” protection program, which is the largest protection program for nature conservation in the world. E.g. I open the guest house in the summer and offer food, plants, trees, etc. for a donation. In turn, I invest every profit in local projects for the preservation of nature. People should get the chance to really get to know the environment and a sustainable lifestyle.
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Seeds for Sustainability helped me a lot with my course and I’m super happy that I can now give something back and take care of the German course.
A course at Seeds is not just stupid learning of the course content, but much more. As I said, I come from the “normal” small farm and am therefore more practical. What I also find very important to pass on to the students in the course. That’s why I introduced a few months ago that we have a weekly discussion group with all students. On these assemblies we talk and discuss practical things such as windbreaks, special plants and much more. Nobody is omniscient and everyone can learn something from the knowledge of the swarm. What I also think is great is that everyone lives in different countries or has different projects. Something that works in Norway can be completely different in Portugal.
In addition, since the beginning of the year we have had a task and design meeting once a week, which gives everyone the chance to present their project and get feedback from the others. This path can open doors that you may not have even known about.
Permaculture is not a form of agriculture, but a way of life.


Teddy Metzler

  • Permaculture Designer
  • Tutor
  • Entrepreneur and Farmer
At Seeds For Sustainability, we are committed to regenerative design, both in business and on land. We want to sow the seeds that will help regenerate societies, people and the planet at the same time. Our mission is to provide regenerative solutions for a sustainable and healthy society.
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