Permaculture at Shearwater School

Lauren Jardine writes of her experience following studies at PCA, Djanbung Gardens, putting her new-found knowledge and skills into practice as a volunteer at Shearwater Steiner School.

The Journey Continues…..
I have always toyed with the idea of being a teacher but never really liked the idea of teaching the curriculum in its most classic form. During my time at Djanbung gardens I became inspired! I was firmly placed on track for my future endeavours after meeting my wonderful teacher Robyn Francis.

The Permaculture Design Course (PDC) at Djanbung was a solutions based critical analysis of the current problems faced by humans and the earth today. Robyn’s delivery of the PDC epitomises Einstein’s quote that we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.

One evening Robyn was showing us a slide show of Jarlanbah, the local permaculture community in Nimbin, she mentioned that the skills and ideas that permaculture offers should be taught in our schools to kids of all ages. Imagine empowering the youth with all this solution based knowledge and igniting their spark of hope. Just listening to her speak about this, I got a rush of adrenaline and thought, “Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m gonna do!”


Since leaving Djanbung, I know each student has integrated the knowledge from the PDC into their life in some way. My way of doing this was to volunteer at a high school. This way I could see if I was indeed cut out to be a teacher and would be able to investigate how open the curriculum is to incorporating another perspective, particularly the modern solutions offered by the discipline of Permaculture. What I found was a world of possibilities at the most amazing school full of enthusiastic, progressive and supportive staff and wonderful kids, all at the Shearwater Steiner school in Mullumbimby.

During my three month volunteer placement at Shearwater, I planted a food forest with 39 edibles, taught in both primary and high school and designed a booklet with sixteen different lesson plans pertaining to many different teachers including; Food Technology, Agriculture, HUSI, Design and Technology and Primary. I participated in making cassava cake, chicken care and taught a lesson on the symbiotic relationships between animals and humans with the grade three’s. As well as participated in Bush Regeneration plantings and taught lessons on food forests, compost, and planting with food scraps with the grade nines.


The staff there were extremely inclusive and enthusiastic towards my efforts and I am truly grateful for my time at Shearwater. Now enrolled in a Graduate Diploma of Education for Secondary with a specialisation in Human Society in their Environment (HSIE) the journey continues and so does the the quest to ‘perm-eate’ the education system 🙂

Lauren Jardine

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