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Cultivating an Education: A visit to Allyn River Permaculture

As the permaculture movement marches forward into the sustainable future, there appears to be a growing collective insight shared by permaculturalists world-wide; information is the new global currency. In response to a growing demand and an increasingly urgent need for education and information, strategies and techniques we can use to create a sustainable future are invaluable. And there are many who feel that they can’t be spread quickly enough. Sensing a call to action, some permaculturalists with access to land and resources have begun to see the value in the propagation of a truly sustainable crop: students. One of those permaculture designers is Peter Brecknock.

Peter, an architect by Profession, is hard at work developing Allyn River Permaculture, an education/demonstration site in Allynbrook, NSW. Fellow designer Nick Huggins and I, having just finished the 10 week internship at Zaytuna Farm, set out down the Australian East Coast and planned a stop here at Allynbrook before heading to Wagga Wagga to install a permaculture home garden and orchard. After an amazing and information dense two and a half months at Zaytuna, Nick and I were eager to help out and put our newfound knowledge to work. On Peter’s 17.5 acres he’s capitalized on the land’s diverse features and continues to bring it to abundant production with several hundred meters of swales, dams, diverse food forest, native forest corridors, and small animal systems including chickens and guinea fowl (and the best eggs I’ve had in years).

In the days we were on site, Nick and I helped plant out native forest trees on contour, build zone 2 veggie beds, and maintained sheet mulch on some of the orchard swales. What we’ve seen here is a site with a potential for true abundance, and a teacher who’s on the way to setting up a truly valuable education site. “I’m interested in bringing people out of the classroom and showing how to put these techniques to use in a practical way” says Peter. “So many people don’t know what to do once they’ve taken a PDC or an intro course. I hope to provide an outdoor classroom that teaches practical water harvesting, and a demonstration of a large amount of diversity on a small site.”

Having been a student of Bill Mollison and a co-teacher with Geoff Lawton, clearly Peter is prepared to cultivate a crop of his own students. We wish him luck with that and applaud his endeavour to create another patch on the quilt that is Permaculture in Australia. At the moment, Peter has put a call out to wwoofers as he continues to develop his small site. Visit to contact Peter for more information about his site and his courses.



  1. If any of you reading this are in are in the cental coast of NSW Australia then you must
    call in and spend some time on Peter Brecknock Permaculture farm. The location at the foothills of
    one of NSW most beautiful National parks( barrington tops) is one of the biggest distractions from working.
    I was lucky enough to have Peter co-teach my PDC with Geoff Lawton at Zaytuna, then to have one on one
    with Pete was a great experance.
    One thing about Allyn River Permaculture, the food! Peter love to cook over a bottle of the districts local wines.
    If your serious about getting skilled in Permaculture, and learning from a great teacher, then visit Allyn River Permaculture.

    If your reading this Peter, then thank you for the time David and I spent with you and see you again soon.

  2. Great work Dave!

    For all you guys out there interested in seeing a great example of permaculture water systems, farm forestry, small livestock and creek regen this is a must see site. My wife and spent a few days with Pete and it was well worth the visit. Good food, great conversations and a great property to cut our teeth on.

    Keep it up Pete!

  3. Peter’s Permaculture farm in Allynbrook on 17.5 acres is worth visiting and an opportunity for woofers. Some of the many treasures include:
    A diverse and delicious fruit forest; excellent layout and use of space with swales, dams, and tree guilds on swales; chickens, guinea fowl; and no sting bees.

    There are a number of small scale profiles to parts of the land and the work done their shows the affordability and viability of small scale projects in the progression of a larger whole.

    The great news for you woofers with a little experience is there is still some really good work left to sink your teeth into at Allyn River Permaculture Farm before Peter realizes the completion of this master plan: some of this includes: more wood forestry; native riparian river bank regeneration and extension of small farm animal diversity. There is a beautiful clear rocky river to swim in. This combined in the presence of a friendly and great teacher. Peter Brecknock is a Master Tree Grower, Landscape and Permaculture Designer and architecht.

    I like Nick Huggins (comments above)was taught by Peter along with Geoff Lawton, when doing a PDC at Zaytuna Farm in northern NSW. My wife and I had the pleasure of visiting Allyn River Permaculture last weekend.

  4. Hi Dan.

    The trends for high intensive farming or for that matter home internet based business is well established that one can make a decent financial income or enough food on small parcels of land (albeit often employing some uncommon knowledge and techniques). One high intensive farming example on youtube is where 1 million pounds of food is grown on 3 acres:

    Regards “self sufficiency”, I think the term is perhaps a bit of a misnomer which can lead to confusion as different people can assume different levels of slef reliance. If one were to take the words literally we would be trying to live existing purely off nothing but oneself, which is absurd, taken a step further we would survive off our own land making our own tools and learning only from our own mistakes and successes, which is a pretty tough existence. Taken a few steps further we would have community and ecosystem collaboration designed for and sharing of information perhaps globally, where perhaps identified and executed was some appropriate onsite technologies employed, albeit some perhaps manufactured and purchased elsewhere, where one feels proud standing on their own feet although really much of what created the comfort was not their own doing but which interacted and advantaged them and others.

    Dan, to what extent would self sufficiency imply having no need to make a sale or exchange to raise funds or resources? What level of specialization and use of outside developed knowledge, resources and technologies still be allowed to be called self sufficient? Perhaps a purist may say that self sufficiency involves no need of outside anything beyond the site they are living on. A good living could be many things to many people, for some it would mean “financial independence” to someone else it might mean that there is no need for financial income, that the land provides all the material needs so no purchases needed to someone else it might mean an ethical, meaningful contribution where much passionate work involves the progressive realization of a worthy ideal. Someone else might feel that a good living might be learning to be happy with less material things.

    Dan, if you could describe quantitatively and qualitatively the good living you would wish and the sort of self sufficiency you would wish, someone may be able to provide information that is worthwhile to you. Perhaps the forums section might be a good space for you to ask.

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