New Life in Shenzhen

The big industrial city life has seeding and flourishing life… Imagine yourself in the thick of smog that limits your vision to only three unit blocks standing at 10 stories high away, humidity pressing onto your shoulders and chest, people absolutely everywhere and every opportunity is taken to stack stuff onto small motorbikes, buzzing and beeping straight past you. You walk into a complex of office buildings, green space is starting to appear. You walk further and you notice a fresh, clean, cool breeze sweep past you. Soon you hear birds chattering and see open bodies of water with koi swimming freely. You have found yourself in WuTong Island.

WuTong Island
WuTong Island

This exact time last month marks the first day of the Permaculture Design Course (October 1- October 15 2015) held at WuTong Island in Mainland China, Shenzhen, by Earth Passengers and Robyn Francis. As a Diploma of Permaculture Student, I was given the opportunity to support Robyn on her annual teaching extravaganza in Shenzhen.

Welcoming Artwork in the learning space
Welcoming Artwork in the learning space

This journey holds a personal milestone within, marking my first adventure abroad Australia, and what an opportunity to go alongside one of the most well-seasoned Permaculture teachers and respective traveler around. So before I briefly reflect on the Permaculture Design Course (PDC) I would like to pay my utmost respect and gratitude for Robyn Francis, for the opportunity to support her overseas, for Earth Passengers who oversee the PDC, and the course participants, who allowed me into their learning experience.

For more information on the previous years PDC (2014) held at WuTong Island follow this link 

A slightly longer than average intensive PDC, being 15 days due to translation, held space for 40 participants. With only 1 farmer, a handful of people from the company hosting the PDC, and the remaining participants being professionals, it was a very different PDC to what I have experienced in Australia.

The topics that were covered in this PDC were of what would be expected in Australia, a holistic view and opening to Permaculture. This covers all climates and their respective principles in application, deep ecology, natural ecological systems, scaled levels of farming, animal systems, structural and societal systems, and of course, opportunities for practical design and implementation.



Participants grasped as much of the concepts as they could in the time that they had. It was extremely refreshing to play witness to people of mixed age and gender be sewn together by the thread that is Permaculture Design.

With rooftop gardens being implemented, and more being designed, the total green space of this built environment is growing. There are niches found too, areas of opportunity for mixed perennial food forests and biodiversity sectors to encourage the bird and insect life. Only time will tell how this initiative will pan out in the wider terms of spreading the Permaculture Seed. Regardless, the seed has been sown, and will continue to be spread each PDC that is made available in Shenzhen and abroad.


Report by Jorja Callow:: Diploma of Permaculture at the Permaculture College Australia:: 03.11.2015

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