Life at Zaytuna – PDC Students Given Design Brief

Yasaman surveys with the laser level

We’re halfway through our latest Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course, and the students appear to be learning a lot as well as having a lot of fun along the way.

Today their knowledge store was tested and stretched, by way of having their minds applied to making their own site design in a real-life consultation situation! For the rest of the course, along with continuing classes, the students will spend some of their time working together in groups on a design that will be presented to the landowner at the end of the week.

We all went to a property a few kilometres from here, where we met the landowner in question – Jeremy – who has a seventeen acre property up on a ridge line formed by ancient volcanic activity (Mt. Warning loomed large nearby).

Jeremy, at right, gives the student a brief of his needs/wants, etc….

…while the students take notes

Jeremy’s place already has some green features, like a solar water heater,
outside composting toilet, veggie garden and chicken coop, but there’s certainly
a lot of room for improvement yet. This is where our student team can help out
– and learn a lot along the way.

The team were quick to prioritise – moving around the site to examine how to improve the water situation for the site, and for a potential new food forest that could reside there. The soil is a deep red volcanic clay loam. Although clay, it has essentially turned into a kind of granular terracotta through volcanic activity. Clay, in its original ultra-fine form, normally has immense water-holding capacity, but in this form this attribute is greatly reduced. The soil drains quite easily, yet still retains a rich nutrient store that could be capitalised on with the addition/generation of sufficient organic matter, moisture content, soil life and improved soil structure..

With a site map in hand, Paul and Sean start to observe and consider the land

Sean, Michael and Craig get to work with the laser level

Ellen takes notes as she walks…

…while Laura reviews hers

The land, with its strong easterly aspect, has a lot of morning light potential.
Mikael, Despina and Trevor consider potential placement
of swales and other elements.

Wael and Brad make concentrated discussion about the soil type

and the potential, or not, of a swale/dam combo

Jeremy’s rabbits couldn’t figure out what all the activity was about,
but kept munching regardless

Will try to give you an update later in the week – where the students will share their design plans.

This is a great exercise, not only in Permaculture application, but in the politics of group dynamics!


  1. Nice one guys,

    Its great seeing groups like yourselfs coming together and sharing a great knowledge and experience…..keep it going.


  2. In only two weeks, and you gain all that knowledge and fun and have a site design ready! (envy)! that’s good work…really encouraging…keep it going guys.

    Good luck and enjoy it.

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