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Permaculture Training of Trainers: Interactive Training for Permaculture in Aid Work in the Developing World (30 Day Program US$2000; 8-week follow-up internship program US$1000)

Steve Cran brings his infamous Green Warriors (Permaculture-Aid Workers’) Program to Ethiopia. This course is a full-on intensive, interactive action learning Training of Trainers Course, inducting the participants on the practicalities of applying Permaculture to the development of food security in rural third world communities. This induction will be done through action learning: The participants themselves will run a “Community Sustainability Course” for two local Ethiopian School Communities in the local Konso area of South Ethiopia. Participants will thus be capable of leading community trainings in Permaculture for themselves by the end of the course. Another outcome of the course will be development of plans for Permaculture implementation in the two local communities. Those opting to take the follow-up internship will participate in the implementation of the plans developed by the school communities during the training, facilitated by you. This course will not only qualify you to lead Community Sustainability trainings in the future, it will actually result in the initiation two Permaculture schools in Southern Ethiopia.

Facilitators: Steve Cran, Tichafa Makovere, Alex McCausland
Dates: July 1st to July 30th (optional internship to follow, August 1st to September 30th, 2011)
Location: Konso, South Ethiopia
Venue: Strawberry Fields Eco Lodge
Requirements: A passion to help with food security in the developing world; strength of will and dedication; a previous PDC or experience practicing PC is not necessary though may come as an advantage.

The Facilitators

Steve Cran is a sustainable community development specialist or “Permaculture Aid Worker” with 20 years of field project experience Steve enjoys the challenge of assisting people living on the edge of survival to rebuild their communities. Steve has set up projects in war zones, post disaster zones, poverty zones and in many difficult areas on this troubled planet most people would shy away from.

Steve worked for 5 years with rural Aboriginal communities in outback Australia. In 1999 Steve went to East Timor and formed a permaculture training network which he developed over 5 years. This network continues to grow. He returned home to Maleny, Queensland, Australia in November 2004 for a well earned rest. A month later the tsunami wiped out over 200,000 people in several countries. Steve’s field experience was called upon to set up a project in Aceh, Indonesia. In January 2010 Steve was asked to go to northern Uganda and work with the Karamajong people to restore food security and assist in ending violence and conflict in an area plagued by conflict and poverty for 40 years. Aid dependency had robbed the people of the ability to grow their own food and the youth were sucked into a cycle of violence in cattle raiding with the abundant supply of automatic weapons available in East Africa. These youth were known as “the Warriors”. Working with an international organization, Steve trained many of the Warriors to become “Green Warriors” and return to their communities and introduce self-sufficiency through permaculture. Steve was able to prove that the Karamajong people were more than capable of growing their own food and the “food-aid” was having a negative impact on their culture and health. Many communities that were written off by the government and the UN produced crops and converted barren land into farmland using basic hand tools and non-hybrid seed. The “Green Warriors” of Karamoja provided previously unheard of new role models for the people of Karamoja. The project continues today.

Tichafa Makovere grew up in a marginalised farming community in Shurugwe, Zimbabwe. He developed a career in education over 30 years; 20 years as a successful headmaster in Zimbabwe, Malawi and Botswana. In June 1994 he participated in a PDC at the Fambidzanai Permaculture Centre in Zimbabwe sponsored by the SCOPE (Permaculture in Schools and Colleges Outreach) Program. He went on to take first prize for best implementing school nationally in 1995. He sat as secretary of the Permaculture Association of Zimbabwe (PAZ) for 2 years from 1994 – 1996 and subsequently as chair person from 1996 – 1998. He has produced handouts for SCOPE trainings which are still used by the SCOPE program in Zimbabwe today.

His activities as a SCOPE, and more latterly ReSCOPE, lead facilitator have included: Drawing up 1-week and 2-week programs for SCOPE, facilitating at both 1-week and 2-week workshops; producing training materials and handouts, making follow-up visits to schools after inclusion in the SCOPE Program; participation on the curriculum, training and fundraising committees for the advancement of permaculture in Zimbabwean schools; reviewing and monitoring workshops for expansion of permaculture in schools in 66 districts of Zimbabwe, representing SCOPE at international level and reviewing books on permaculture before they were published.

In November 2008 Tichafa travelled to Ethiopia and took up the role of Resident PC Facilitator and Farm Manager for Strawberry Fields Eco Lodge in Konso, where he has to date facilitated a total of 16 PDCs. He subsequently went on to spear-head the formation of the Permaculture in Konso Schools Project working in partnership with various NGOs as well as SFEL itself. In June 2010 Tichafa formed his own independent consultancy, Shumba Integrated Eco Designs (SIED) which is now active around Ethiopia.

Alex McCausland is developing as a permaculture practitioner and trainer. His lifelong passion for ecology and the allowed him to excel in school and at university in that area. But, having graduated with a BSc in Biological Sciences in 2003, he became disillusioned the reductionist science and turned his back on academia. He dedicated two years to traveling the world, WWOOFing, working on farms and learning about cultures and languages, during which time he became interested in development and food security issues. In 2005 he heard about permaculture and realised it combined the holistic aspects of ecology which he had been so fascinated with, and the practical orientation and community empowerment that the academic approach completely lacked. He dreamed up a plan to establish a project which would promote Permaculture as a means to achieve sustainable development in the third world.

The next year he came across Ethiopia, seeing a a land of great ecological wealth and yet much economic poverty and food insecurity. He resolved that this would be the location for the project. He took his first PDC later that year in Catalunya, Spain. In 2007 he returned to Ethiopia, began working on establishing a viable permaculture-based business which would facilitate the local community to learn about and practice PC. He ended up establishing an Eco Lodge in the South of the country, which went on to become the site for Ethiopia’s first model PC farm. Unable to think of a better name for it at the critical time, it ended up being called Strawberry Fields. The model farm has developed with input from a number of volunteers, interns and PC practitioners, such as Guy Rees, Dan Palmer and Tichafa. Working alongside these people Alex has developed and honed his skills as a PC designer and practitioner over the last 3 years. During this time the project has hosted a total of 18 PDCs to date — two lead by Rosemary Morrow and 16 by Tichafa. Alex took over the running of the demonstration farm in June and has designed and developed systems such as drip irrigation and terraced vegetable beds, black water, composting and compost powered water heating. Alex will explain and demonstrate some of these systems as part of his contribution to the PDC.

The Course Curriculum

  • The Ethics and Principles of Sustainability
  • Mapping
  • The Village Zone System
  • Zone 1 Home and Family Garden
  • Zone 2 The Village
  • Zone 3 Small Farms around the Village
  • Water
  • Soil Improvement
  • Integrated Pest Management
  • Animals
  • Zone 4 Community Forest
  • Zone 5 Conservation Forest
  • Appropriate Technology
  • Enterprise Development; Final Assessment

The Venue: Strawberry Fields Eco Lodge (SFEL)

Strawberry Fields Eco Lodge hosts the first working PC demonstration site in Ethiopia; a model design established over 4 years on degraded land, incorporating drip irrigation, grey and black water re-use, composting toilets, hot composting and compost water heating, tree nursery and solar fridge, solar shower and much more. SFEL integrates an Eco-Lodge and organic restaurant with the model PC site as well as running a program of trekking and community based cultural activities in Konso. SFEL’s project objectives are to promote alternative livelihoods for the Konso community through facilitating community inclusion in tourism activities as well as promoting food security locally and more widely in Ethiopia, through promoting permaculture.

Location: Konso, SNNPRS, Ethiopia

Konso Woreda is in the Southern Region (SNNPRS) of Ethiopia (5’15’ N, 37’30’ E). It covers an area of 500 square kilometres, and ranges from 500 to 2500m altitude with its main agricultural zone between 1400 to 2000m asl. Konso’s capital, Karat-Konso, is at 1600m altitude, 85km south of Arba Minch, and around 590km south of Addis Ababa. The land form of the area is a basalt massive, running east to west across the bowl of the Great Rift Valley.

The Konso people have a unique culture, based on sedentary mixed agriculture, which distinguishes them from their neighbours in the lowlands to the east and west who are pastoralists. The Konso are characterised by their unique culture, intensely social life-style and a penchant for hard physical labour. The Konso village is remarkable for the beauty and simplicity of its workmanship, constructed entirely of natural materials, cultivated or gathered from the surroundings. The entire village is ringed by massive dry-stone walls, at least a meter thick and two meters high. Stone-lined pavements run between the housing compounds and the stones have often become polished to a shine by long years of service in the village’s transport system.

The most notable feature of Konso’s famous agricultural system is its terracing, which reduces soil erosion, increasing infiltration while allowing drainage in times of deluge. Terraces are planted with sorghum, intercropped with a range of other species; including trees, Moringa stenopetala (also called the cabbage tree – a vegetable tree-crop) Terminalia birowni, and Cordia africana which are grown for timber; shrubs such as pigeon pea, coffee and chat (Catha edulis) (a cash crop) and annuals including sunflowers, maize, millet, chick peas, various bean species, cotton and cassava. The terraces are fertilised with wastes from the villages including partially burned plant residues mixed with animal dung, which acts to keep the soil fertile.

Within the villages, Moringa is planted all around the family compounds and harvested regularly to form one of the staples of the Konso diet. Its leaves, which are reported to be extra-ordinarily nutritious, are cooked and mixed with dumplings made from Sorghum flower to make a dish called dama in Konso’s language (or korkoffa in Amharic). The other main food item in Konso is chagga which is a beery broth brewed from sorghum. It is drunk mixed with hot water, in the mornings and at lunch-time when the people are preparing for work. It is extremely rich in carbohydrate and provides plenty of energy for the farmers, but it also insures that people are generally drunk.

The Permaculture in Konso Schools Project (PKSP)

Today Konso suffers increasingly from food insecurity due to climate change. The UNDP’s Rapid Assessment Report: Konso Special Wereda, SNNPR (1999) states that; “since the 1950s, drought induced famines have hit Konso and the immediate area almost once every ten years.” “Konso was devastated by the droughts in 1973/74 and 1983/84”. In 2008/9 Konso was again suffering food shortage due to drought.

The PKSP seeks to preserve aspects of indigenous (agri)culture which benefit the local ecology, but fill gaps in traditional systems by incorporating new practises, ideas and resources; incorporating rain-water harvesting, soil and water conservation, small scale irrigation, nutrition gardens, tree nurseries, small livestock, appropriate labour-saving design-technology, alternative energy and nutrients based on locally available resources.

To date teachers from 8 schools have been trained in Permaculture and produced PC designs for their school compounds. From those, three schools have produced impressive model PC sites under the pilot phase of the project. The PKSP is eventually looking to expand to all 70 schools in Konso over the next 3 years, with support from the UK-based Ethiopia Permaculture Foundation. During this PDC we intend to incorporate 2 new schools into the program, this time putting the Green-Warrior touch on a new format for the project, with Steve’s input.

Learn more and book here!


  1. Dear friend, pls let me know if you have spaces open for july workshop-also include bursary info for South Africans. Warm regards jeanX

  2. what a bloody bloody shame those pmc design courses cost so much money!!!!!!!!!shame on you people.

  3. All PDC students and interns please realize.

    This will be a great course for many privileged first worlders to attend so they can get a good reality check and base line to compare with their first world experiences.

    We are supporting this course and others in similar situations to provide this experience while supporting the implementation and establishment of these project to improve the lives of local people.


  4. Geoff – why is this internship a fraction of the cost of PRIs internship? Are you improving the lives of local people at the PRI?

  5. Hi Matthew,

    The internship at PRI equates to $94 a day. In Australian terms that’s pretty cheap.

    In regards to wether PRI is invested in improving lives of local people… one of PRIs main goals is to improve the lives of everyone everywhere… isn’t that one of the reasons why you’re involved in permaculture? I know that’s why I am.

    Thanks Bonnie

  6. Hi Matthew
    our Zaytuna Farm internship in Australia at $94.20 a day and the Strawberry Fields internship at our Ethiopian partner site at $34.80 a day, is a case of very different economy so different costs.

    We are really trying to help improve the lives of local people here at Zaytuna Farm, we have 10 local paid staff, one of them is from your internship and has chosen to come back to live in the village with his wife and children just to work with us. Another intern from your internship has been able influence the government of a small island country to formally adopt permaculture as a strategy to achieve sustainability. Also Rhamis Kent a Zaytuna Farm intern is just about to teach a PDC in the Palestinian West Bank and will also be teaching a PDC at Strawberry Fields in Ethiopia in at the end of May.

    It is worth reading

  7. Hi there,

    I am very excited to have come across this course and am disappointed to have missed this year’s intake. Will the course be running in 2012 and, if so, when will enrollments commence?

    Thanks so much,

    Warm regards,

    Emily, Melbourne, Australia

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