Life at Zaytuna – Another Internship Coming to an End

Geoff Lawton, above the PRI’s Zaytuna Farm

Some of you may have noticed I’ve been a little intermittant in my (visible) work for you all of late…. I thought I’d better let you know I’m still alive and well, and that the reason for my tardiness in posting is due to travelling. I’m now, as the photo above indicates, at the PRI’s Zaytuna Farm, working on an update to last year’s Zaytuna Farm Video Tour. (On that note, if you have particular aspects of the farm that you’d like to see, do let me know via comments below, and, if at all possible, I’ll try to work those aspects in — but be quick, as I won’t be here long!)

‘The Hex’ (hexagon straw bale classroom)

This also happens to be the last week of yet another internship. I’m impressed with the great group of young and not-quite-so-young people we have here — coming from all over the world, but sharing a common vision for the kind of world we’d like to help develop, and who are keen to gain the practical skills towards that end. This time around, we have eleven interns, coming from the USA, Canada, the UK, Mexico, Turkey, and, of course, Australia.

We’re now in the last few days of the internship, and the interns are beavering away on their respective projects. I particularly enjoy seeing that on the PRI internship, students not only develop skills in base permaculture concepts like composting, nursery work, animal husbandry, etc., but if they wish they can also do so in a broad range of skills, including such things as building, welding, and so on. This farm really is a place where positive creativity is only limited by the imagination, and the imagination gets a lot of stimulation here! The tools, resources, inspiration, fellowship and mentoring are all here to be utilised to personal advantage.

As often happens, three or four of the current interns are planning to stay on after the internship, in the capacity of volunteer apprentices — allowing them an inexpensive option to continue developing their knowledge and skills base under expert mentorship. People who have done this in the past have often ended up being recommended for consultancies and interesting project work worldwide. It’s all part of our dream of reinventing the current economy, and giving the term ‘green jobs’ a whole new meaning.

I don’t know anyone, anywhere who runs a permaculture internship at this scale. Getting it started and established has been quite a work, with not a few teething problems along the way, but the dogged determination of Geoff and Nadia and the rest of the PRI team, and the help of many others along the way, has brought us this far — where interns are not only smiling, but often looking to stay on after the close of the program.

It’s our hope that other institutions can find a way to emulate this model, as too few young people today would otherwise have the opportunity to regain the skills and knowledge that our society has so rashly undervalued and discarded. ‘The Great Reskilling’ needs to commence!

As it happens, there are still a couple of places left available for the internship that starts in a little under 4 weeks from now — on April 22, 2013. A requirement for PRI internships is that you have already taken a Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course somewhere in the world. We run a PDC just prior to each of our internships throughout the year, so if you want to get on the next internship, and you haven’t already taken a PDC, you’ll want to jump on the one that starts on April 8, 2013.

For other dates, please see our course listing section for a full schedule of courses and internships.

Interns may come and go, but chefs Ish and Tony are thankfully still here,
churning out meal after tasty meal (I must take a few recipes away with me…)

Geoff blatantly ignores the "Food forest in progress, please use other track" sign.
We work in the hope that this sign will become more commonplace worldwide….



  1. Hi Craig,

    Your wonderful work on this web-site as PRI editor is always much appreciated by my partner & I, even if we haven’t expressed it before.

    One aspect that I would like to see & find out a little more about is the rocket stove(?) hot water heating system. I know that in one of Geoff’s early DVDs (we have all of them so I can’t remember which one), they were using a compost pile to heat the water but I believe that they have long since graduated from this to a more reliable, rocket stove(?) type arrangement. If you are able to oblige, that would be great.

    Also do you know when the next video in the series “Surviving the Coming Crisis” from Geoff is likely to be out.

    Thanks, Chris

  2. Geoff, Ari, Will, so wonderful to see you all there doing what you, and we all, love! Thanks Craig for this piece, inspirational to get to see more of what’s being done :)

  3. Nice to see my friends there working hard in their projects, I wish you guys all the best, hope to see you again soon.

  4. Hi Geoff,
    As so many people around the globe I am also very grateful for your and Nadia’s inspiring work, the PRI websites and Craig’s super photos and films.
    We have been keeping a mini-flock of goats on our 2.5 acre smallholding in the West of Ireland for 18 years now, run very similar to the one at Zaytuna (semi-stationary grazing, lots of cut&bring browse turned into fuelwood and woodchips, dairy, keeping or selling females, butchering males). You have a small clip about the goats in the video and it made me wonder how you address gastro-intestinal problems such as Haemonchus contortus or liver fluke which I think are a problem in most climates, except arid ones. Perhaps you could include a few words on that.
    Thanks and all the best,

  5. I would really like to see all I can on the nursery, not just the gist of an effective technology. When I herd geoff say casualy we use compost and sharp sand in different ratios, I made that the rules of engagement for our farm but it’s been an uphill discovery trying to turn a few camera pan’s and a statement into a meal. I really want to be able to build a guide for myself and my expectations and it’s hard to do with a farm that’s the full pdc when we get so brief a lesson.
    I want to see what the soil the seeds are planted in an how let’s say a subtlety like timing is superior in economy than let’s say investing in root pruning air pots.

    Thank you for all you do everyday

  6. I want to second Saybians call for more information on the nursery.
    Over and over again we hear that nurseries are the foundation of any permaculture project, but the information on these is very scant.
    I would like to see more on the philosophy behind the nursery,crop selection, specific techniques and materials used and reasoning for those as opposed to others.

    “A nursery” is a very broad term. I want to know the ins and outs of a permaculture nursery. Specifically a permaculture tree nursery.
    Thanks for the call for input!

  7. Inspiring presentation as always well done!
    If your cheerful pyromaniac was making biochar we hope he reduced his smoke (clouds) emissions with the chimney he had handy?!

  8. There are many styles to permaculture nurseries and I have mine which I can share with you, but I will definitely emphasise that will just be my style.

    Thanks for the input.

    Look out for the new nursery video, with “Craig Mac” on location Zaytuna Farm style coming soon to your cyber flat screens.


  9. Great stuff Craig, I wouldn’t mind a bit of a look into the minds of Ish and Tony, they get presented with baskets of produce in the morning and spend the day turning it into great food for everyone, its a big job.
    A really good tour of the kitchen would be nice.

  10. So nice to see you while reading this article on Zaytuna farm. I still can feel the energy and magic of the place and the people there.
    I’ll always remember one of the things I’ve learned with all of you: that the true Permaculture garden starts within our hearts.

    Thanks and all the best to Permies all over the world!

    Huge hug!

  11. Hi, Craig, Can you show more of the swale systems and how they interconnect with the dams. Also, side views of the dam walls and what is planted on them. Also an overhead of the property from as high up as you can. And a few sweeping views of the property. It has been awhile since I have been there, and I would love a look at the new dams and their swales.
    Thanks for doing this.

  12. Hi Craig, Thanks for the update it was good to see the smiling intern faces again. I was there for the Urban course in Feb and will be back for a full PDC later in the year. I would like to be able to see sweeping property shots from time to time too be able to see changes on the farm. I did some bamboo planting myself so you have that extra connection. And some more info and links on the rocket stove. Thanks again PRI and my thoughts are with the interns on their last day’s, hope you have a good transition once you leave the farm.

  13. Hi Craig
    As an architecture student, I would be extremely keen to see the straw bale buildings and any problems/solutions that have arisen from building in the subtropics.
    kind regards,

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