Permaculture training in a changing world

By Greta Carroll

South Africa

P4R members Greta Carroll and Sarah Boulle traveled to South Africa in July to facilitate two Permaculture Teacher Training courses with the Permaculture Institute of South Africa (PISA). The courses used Rowe Morrow’s teacher training curriculum and introduced new permaculture topics from Morrow’s recently published book ‘Earth Restorer’s Guide to Permaculture’. Considering that more than 10 million South Africans live in informal urban settlements[1], the new Crowded Margins topic proved very relevant and resulted in rich discussion among participants. Similarly, students found the introduction of new topics Oceans and Design for Disaster important following recent landslides and flooding around Durban and with increasing ocean wave energy off the coast of Cape Town[2].

There was a diverse range of students in the courses and it has been exciting to see the application of teaching methods in their work environments following the course. We received images from our students at Siyazisiza Trust, Zululand Agri Support Center, of zonation being used in a community mapping activity during a food security training and A-Frames being used in their agricultural training.

Localised version of a zone map in a Food Security Training, KwaZulu-Natal, A-Framing to map contours in KwaZulu-Natal. Images supplied by Siyazisiza Trust, Zululand Agri Support Center, 2022.

Another student, Nyakio Kanui-Lake, returned to her work with domestic violence survivors at Agatha Amani House in Kenya, and will be running a course on food forest design and implementation. They recently received a Permafund grant and will now be able to facilitate this training.

Greta Carroll, Ivan Blacket and Rowe Morrow are preparing a new community-level design course curriculum which will be run in Bangladesh to support the Bangladesh Association for Sustainable Development (BASD), as well as a teacher training course for their trainers. The new course curriculum is designed to be more relevant to the majority, given that in many parts of the world, people do not have the space, permanence or conditions to set up a full Zone 0-5 system for an individual family unit. This newly designed course frames the PDC with the unit of design at the village, camp section, island, or community level.
Excitingly, BASD and P4R will also run a permaculture design course for NGO staff who work in the Cox’s Bazaar refugee camp in the south of Bangladesh. Approximately 900,000 people live in Cox’s Bazaar[3] (UNICEF, 2022), and in 2019 P4R facilitated two design courses in one of the camps. Data from the P4R Outcomes Report indicated that the most effective way of spreading permaculture through refugee camps is to train NGO staff.

Given the large number of extreme weather events and natural disasters experienced in the Philippines each year, Sarah Queblatin of Green Releaf Initiatives is also designing a permaculture design course that is taught through a disaster risk reduction and disaster lens. We hope that will be taught next year.

[1] United Nations, World Urbanization Prospects and Urban Indicator Database, cited by Institute of Security Studies, ‘Southern Africa must embrace informality in its towns and cities’

[2] Mortlock et al. 2022. Climate-fuelled wave patterns pose an erosion risk for developing countries, The Conversation.

UNICEF, 2022, ‘2022 HAC, Bangladesh’, online:

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