My Internship at Djanbung Gardens 2010 – international student
Over a cup of coffee in India, I found my recommendation to study permaculture with Robyn Francis.
it came from an accomplished permaculturist who had spent the last twenty years working with the Tibetan community establishing permaculture sites in south India. “There are plenty of people around there that will charge you an arm and a leg for a course”, he said. ” Go to Robyn Francis’ place, she’s a great teacher and has all the knowledge you’ll need. That was good enough for me. I checked out the website and enrolled to do my PDC and FLOW course, followed by a nine week internship.
I arrived at Djanbung Gardens, home of Permaculture College Australia and Robyn at the end of July, along with twenty five other eager students, for the winter two-week intensive PDC. There were people of all ages from across the globe- Canadian, Irish, English, French, Brazilian, Sicilian and Australian of course. Our accomodation was on site. There was a choice between the shared space in the beautifully refurbished train carraiges, or camping space in the gardens.
It was an intensive programme made easier to digest by Robyns accomplished teaching methods. These included interactive games, practical lessons in the garden, a comprehensive course handbook, slideshows, as well as classroom teaching. Not everyone learns in the same way after all. Her wealth of permaculture knowledge and experience, accumulated over more than thirty years, was invaluable and enriched the course practicum considerably.
Many people stayed on to do the FLOW course that followed. This covered alot of the practicalities in drawing up permaculture designs – from taking measurments on site and translating them to paper, to learning techniques on how to make your drawings look professional. This course also includes detailed advice and guidelines on setting up your own permaculture consultancy. i think this course should be mandatory for anyone considering a career in permaculture.
The beginning of my nine week internship, coincided with the return of the full time students commencing their semester two. I was allowed to partake in their curriculum, and was given the freedom to choose what subjects I wished to focus on. I was also given my own garden space to design and grow food in. The sujects I covered were;
- Plants in permaculture – introduction to Botany
- Food forests and orchards
- Organic pest and weed management
- Establishing a seed saving network
- Small crop production and post harvesting methods
- Appropriate technology/ Bamboo harvest
- Animal and garden maintainence
- Sustainable aid in developing countries
My teachers included Robyn Francis, Janelle Schafeur and Caroline Todd. All three women hold a wealth of knowledge in permaculture/ horticulture practices and thanks to their patience and care, none of my questions went unanswered.
My weeks programme looked like this throughout my internship;
Monday; Class and farm maintainence
Tuesday; Class and farm maintainence
wednesday; Practical day in the gardens and communal lunch with the class
Thursday; Excursions – visiting permaculture sites in the area
Friday; Practical day – animal and garden maintainence
My intership at Djanbung Gardens was a ” Hands On” living experience where you are an integral part of the permaculture system. You’re surrouded by five and a half acres of permaculture in motion – Natural buildings, compost toilets, veggie gardens, food forests, water catchments, wildlife corridors and all set in a place of astounding natural beauty.
As a student , you have access to an extensive library – a collection accumulated over forty years. You also have computer access and office facilities.
The Permaculture College Australia is situated in a bio-region that supports permaculture practices. There are farmers markets every weekend, a local food security project in place, a local alternative renewable power company, a local credit union for banking and many progressive thinking people. For me, it was an ideal place to study and an experience I will cherish till the end of my days.
Much Love, Future Students!
Maria Burke – Ireland.