Permaculture design

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  1. Understand and describe the ethics and principles of permaculture
  2. Outline procedures used to analyze a site for permaculture
  3. Create a permaculture plan for a selected site and describe considerations when implementing the permaculture plan.

Course Schedule 2014

Introduction to permaculture ethics & principles

Session 1 and 2

To do

  1. Introductions and welcome.
  2. The main part of your assessment will focus on creating a permaculture plan for a selected site.Please choose a site over the next week.Ideally you may want to choose a site which you can visit frequently in order to observe the characteristics of the site,take measurements, and in time, implement your design.If this is not possible, your learning facilitator will allocate a site for you so you can practice the process which will then be applicable to any site you choose in the future.
  3. Watch this powerpoint to guide us thru an introduction to the ethics and principles.
  4. What is Permaculture?The word permaculture is a portmanteau of permanent agriculture and permanent culture.Permaculture is an approach to designing human settlements and agricultural systems that mimic the relationships found in natural ecologies.Permaculture is a broad-based and holistic approach that has many applications to all aspects of life.
  5. Explore permaculture ethics.At the heart of permaculture design and practice is a fundamental set of ‘core values’ or ethics:

Permaculture principles class activity

Permaculture principles. We will explore permaculture principles at work by getting into groups of two or three and looking at the concepts that are connected to the various principles.Your group will be allocated one or more of the following principles and you will be required to describe how you already honour that principle or perhaps an example of how you could honor the principle in the future.

Permaculture ethics class activity

  1. We will watch the film, Food Inc. and identify examples within the documentary that do not support each of the three main ethics of permaculture.Identify examples within the movie that do support each of the three main ethics of permaculture. (Food, Inc. is a 2009 American documentary film directed by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Robert Kenner.The film examines corporate farming in the United States, concluding that agribusiness produces food that is unhealthy in way that is abusive of animals and environmentally harmful. The documentary generated extensive controversy in that it was heavily criticized by large American corporations engaged in industrial food production.)A worksheet for this activity will be completed for this activity and handed in at the end of the class.


  1. What do you think of David Holmgren's belief that permaculture could change the world?Watch the video embedded on the link and scribble down your thoughts.
  2. Attend HortTalk tomorrow June 6 at the Dunedin Botanic Garden Information Centre, (Lower DBG next to the Cafe)We will start our next class with a discussion about this free talk.
  3. Before our next session, find an Internet connection and look for resources and video related to permaculture ethics. Free access to computers and the Internet is available at Otago Polytechnic Community Learning Centres.Please take note of any good information you find so we can add it to our list of resources..
  4. Print off your free poster of permaculture ethics and principles.
  5. Find,create or recycle some sort of scrap book and bring to next class.

Ecology and its relationship to permaculture principles

Session 3

To do

  1. Welcome and attendance.
  2. I would like to suggest that we look out for any interesting articles related to permaculture and post them on the classroom noticeboard.We should also put up some posters related to our studies.I have brought some along to kick us off.
  3. Has everyone chosen a site for their permaculture plan?
  4. The purpose of your homework activity is to embrace the importance of how natural ecosystems underpin our goals in creating a cultivated ecosystem.Watch this video of permaculturist ,Peta Hudson,which explains the purpose of the exercise in exploring natural ecosystems.
  5. Today we will visit Lovelock Bush in the Dunedin Botanic Garden and make some observations about what is happening in this ecosystem.Kate Caldwell is the collection curator for the Native Collection at the DBG and will do a brief introduction to the area we are going to explore.[
  6. The desired learning outcomes would be:


  1. Visit Lovelock Bush or an area of bush near you and spend some time observing what is happening around you-jot down your observations to share next time we meet.

Getting started on your site plan

Session 4

To do

  1. Welcome and attendance.
  2. How did we enjoy and learn from our visit to Lovelock Bush?
  3. What observations did you make about a natural ecosystem?
  4. Why did we do the observation exercise and what does it all mean?
  5. What permaculture principles may apply to this exercise?
  6. Today you will need to start on your base plan. Use an A3 or A2 piece of paper and draw everything that is on your site. A base map is a drawing that captures everything that is already on your chosen site. It includes buildings, fences, trees, hedges, pathways and driveways, power lines and services.Please choose a scale that will suit you and your site.The most common scales that students have used in the past are a scale of 1:100(1cm.=1 meter) or 1:50(2cm.=1 meter)
  7. Let's look at some examples of a base plan.
  8. Check out this helpful link by Graham Burnettwho in addition to writing, illustrating and self publishing a number of books, Graham Burnett is an experienced permaculture practioner, designer and teacher. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Permaculture Association (Britain), and holds the Diploma in Permaculture Design (Dip Perm Des).
  9. Today we have a guest speaker!Steph Saunders who will talk about the SPCA Blue Tick certification programme run by the Royal New Zealand SPCA.They certify animal products that are farmed to high welfare standards.The scheme started by certifying eggs in 2001 and then added pork products in 2009. In 2011 we added standards for meat poultry chicken and in 2012 we added turkey standards. We have plans to add veal and salmon to our portfolio in 2013.


Base Plan and Sector/Site Plans

Session 5

To do

  1. Welcome back after study break!
  2. Let's re-boot and ask why are we doing permaculture?#Read pages 5-8 from *Earth User's Guide to Permaculture. Rosemary Morrow and Rob Allsop. Kangaroo Press, NSW Australia. 2006 (2nd ed.).
  3. How did you go with finding an example of a home or an office building that you think would meet some of the expectations of permaculture design?
  4. The Living Campus project is the first of its kind in Australasia and involves turning Otago Polytechnic’s existing Dunedin campus into an open-air and interactive museum, a vibrant community garden and a sustainable model of urban agriculture. The aim of the Living Campus is to inspire curiosity and capability in sustainability to change attitudes to how we use land.
  5. Base plan and development of Permagrow Garden at L block.If time allows we will stretch our legs and explore the Living Campus.
  6. Today our guest speaker is Jen Rodgers. Otago Polytechnic has made a commitment to specialise in education for sustainability. This is because we recognise the need for a sustainable future, where economic, social and environmental dimensions are in balance.Jen Rodgers will go into more detail about her role and how Otago Polytechnic intends to fulfill its commitment.Would you like to be involved in planning a party?
  7. Read pages 95-100 from your text Earth User's Guide to Permaculture. Rosemary Morrow and Rob Allsop. Kangaroo Press, NSW Australia. 2006.Could everyone briefly show the class their base plan so far.
  8. We will alsolLook at plans from last year's students for a sense of direction.
  9. What is the difference between your sector analysis map and site analysis map?

Sector Analysis Plan

Site Analysis Plan


Events and Workshops

The elements and zones in a permaculture garden

Session 6

To Do

  1. After our guest speaker Steph Saunders spoke about farming in NZ you may have seen this news item on Freedom Farms?
  2. Welcome.Did you find any neat zone zeros. I'll show you my examples.Student examples included:Earthships can be built in any part of the world and still provide electricity, potable water, contained sewage treatment and sustainable food production. The Most Versatile and Economical sustainable green building design in the world.
  3. Permaculture a Beginners Guide - a 'pictorial walkthrough'
  4. Now that we have made a good start on the design process let us have a look at the foundations of permaculture. Permaculture was developed by two Ozzy blokes in the 1970s David Holmgren and Bill Mollison.Bruce Charles 'Bill' Mollison (born 1928 in Tasmania, Australia) is a researcher, author, scientist, teacher and naturalist. He is considered to be the 'father of permaculture', an integrated system of design, co-developed with David Holmgren, that encompasses not only agriculture, horticulture, architecture and ecology, but also economic systems, land access strategies and legal systems for businesses and communities. In 1978, Mollison founded The Permaculture Institute in Tasmania.One of his many words of wisdom includes the following quote“The greatest change we need to make is from consumption to production, even if on a small scale, in our own gardens. If only 10% of us do this, there is enough for everyone. Hence the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens, who depend on the very system they attack, and who produce words and bullets, not food and shelter.”And now David,“Permaculture is defined as consciously designed landscapes which mimic the patterns and relationships found in nature, while yielding an abundance of food, fibre and energy for the provision of local needs…more precisely I see Permaculture as the use of systems thinking and design principles that provide the organising framework for implementing the above vision”
  5. Could everyone briefly show the class their base plan so far.
  6. How is everyone doing with their base plan and building up the information for site/sector map(s)?Can we have a look?
  7. How is your list of elements going?Handout list of elements.
  8. The elements and zones within your garden are very important-I will show a few examples from my own garden which may help-remember that the yields and needs of your elements need to be carefully considered.Think about our visit to Lovelock bush and how we observed naturally occurring relationships between the elements in the bush-how can you transfer these examples to your site? (Use edges and value the marginal)For example,a pond needs: shelter from wind, some sun, a water source/catchment, plants, fish, and aeration. It provides extra humidity & light to the area surrounding it, moisture to the edges, thermal mass (holds heat & radiates it out in the evening), food & beauty. It’s needs will be met, if placed in good relationship to other elements & in return their needs will be met by it.
  9. Even on a small site all zones from 0~5 can be included. See “Earth Users Guide to Permaculture Design” and read pages 104-107 for more detail. Zones are about creating & placing areas of activity in good relationship to their needs & yields.


The Designer's Checklist and Intro to Growing Fruit Trees in Dunedin and Surrounds

Session 7

To Do

  1. Welcome and attendance.
  2. How did you go with your list of elements?Did anyone find an element they thought was really interesting/unique?
  3. Next sessions guest speaker is Jason Ross who has a wonderful knowledge of what fruit trees ,perennials and useful permaculture trees suit Dunedin's climate?
  4. Jim Channons food forest garden
  5. Distribute class set of Edible and Useful Trees and Shrubs for the Dunedin area by Jason Ross.
  6. Discuss concept of food forest use page 2 of Jason's book for specific plants to fit food forest layers.
  7. Power point on Growing Fruit Trees/Shrubs in Dunedin
  8. What does Fukuoka say about pruning fruit trees?
  9. What is the designer's checklist?Hand out checklist to guide with your planning/design.
What are your needs from your site? What resources do you have available?
Observe what is happening on your site. (Design from patterns to details.)

For example, a pond needs: shelter from wind, some sun, a water source/catchment, plants, fish, and aeration. It provides extra humidity & light to the area surrounding it, moisture to the edges, thermal mass (holds heat & radiates it out in the evening), food & beauty. It’s needs will be met, if placed in good relationship to other elements & in return their needs will be met by it. Look at other elements that you have or need, in the same way & see how you can place them so that their needs & yields are met by each other. Cycles of energy are enhanced & created this way.(Catch and store energy)

Sector Analysis Map

(Observe and interact.) Think of your sector analysis as what energies are affecting your site from the four different directions(north south east and west)outside of your site.See above for more detail.

Site Analysis Map
Analyze elements and flow patterns
Zone planning

Try to include all five zones on your site even if it may take a few years to develop all zones .You may want to seek advice from your local council when you are developing or adding to plantings for your zone 5. (Apply self regulation and accept feed back)

Now pull all of these steps together for your final site plan.


Guest Speaker Jason Ross

Session 8

To Do

Videos about food forests

Where can we source fruit trees/shrubs and shelter/forestry/firewood trees that are suitable for the Dunedin area?


Growing Edible Plants in Dunedin

Session 9

To Do

  1. Welcome and attendance
  2. Our guest speaker today is Bart Acres who is the main contact person at Otepoti Urban Organics which is a non-profit network of gardeners, community groups and businesses who have an interest in fostering and engaging in organic food growing activities, and other sustainable practices in Dunedin.The primary purpose of the network's existence is to increase the quantity and quality of food grown by people in their own back yards or other locations, and to make these activities more enjoyable, productive and efficient for all involved.
  3. Check out this wonderful resource that outlines the specific requirements of different species and strains of fruit and vegetables. When to grow things, what soil they like, seed germination tips, nutrient requirements, sunlight preferences, etc.
  4. Hand out for planting guides for coastal otago.
  5. Bart is going to talk about the importance of seed saving and introduce us to the fantastic Symbiosis Seed Exchange
  6. Tour of permaculture garden at L block.Look at concept of multi functional plants.Good example is tagasaste Chamaecytisus palmensisor tree lucerne
  7. Hand out for planting guides for coastal otago.
  8. Seed sowing and pricking out of edible plants for permaculture garden.
  9. Power point on vege gardening in Dunedin.

Soils Improvement Techniques in the Permaculture Garden

Session 10

To Do

Managing pests,diseases and weeds in the Permaculture Garden

Session 11

To Do


Design Presentations and Pot Luck Celebration


Visit to Two Permaculture Gardens

  1. It can be helpful to have a look at permaculture gardens that have been planned,implemented and are working examples of what can be achieved.
  2. Two great examples can be found in Waitati,New Zealand.Jason Ross of Sutherland Nursery will give us a tour of these great models and some valuable tips that may be inspirational for your own designs.

Visit to Jon Footes' Education Centre for Resiliency

  1. Jon Foote is a Permaculture Consultant who specialises in the regeneration of Urban and Rural landscapes. He is passionately determined to help create communities that can feed themselves by designing food systems that will outlast the humans that plant and harvest from them, while also enhancing the eco systems in which they reside.The Centre he is developing in Dunedin spreads across 7 acres of a north/south running valley, the site will include a series of food forests, market gardens and timber crops. There will be an indoor education centre and outdoor workshop areas, demonstrating the many different methods of food production, such as stacking, guilding, hugelkultur and sheet mulch no-dig beds. There will also be an emphasis on passive water harvesting with dams, ponds and swales.
  2. Check out Jon's website-BareFoote GardenerIt has some great information related to permaculture design and some neat time lapse images of the building of the dam at the ReScape Resilience Education Centre.



Useful links

External links

Movies to make you think

Course information

2014 Workshops and talks

Numeracy and literacy

Session One

Session Two

Bonus Activities

  1. Student activity:Read pages 17-26 from *Earth User's Guide to Permaculture. Rosemary Morrow and Rob Allsop. Kangaroo Press, NSW Australia. 2006 (2nd ed.)Find a buddy and discuss the topics from your readings and where possible give examples for the following concepts.Each group will nutshell their topics for the rest of the class.*Hand out activity topics that include negative and positive stories about issues facing our world,students will nutshell and present to class.
Create a book