Reflections on Diploma at PCA

Guy Stewart reflects on his APT (Accredited Permaculture Training™) diploma with PCA at Djanbung Gardens.


The Diploma of Permaculture at Permaculture College Australia was an interconnected, multi-disciplinary, self directed project that changed my life — a catalyst that gave me the confidence and motivation to effectively enter into permaculture activism at the local, state and federal level.

I engaged with topcis that personally interested me and then sought out existing networks and forged a few new ones along the way.


My diploma was made up of several key projects.

First was the extension and continuation of my Cert IV. This raised the bar of my homestead system. I planned, designed, co-ordinated, constructed, accounted and evaluated several building projects. They were thoroughly documented with designs, plans, costings, articles, and more.

These buildings were first conceived during my cert iv and once completed that design was revised and updated using the latest planning tools available.

Paper sketches and scale drawings were translated into 3d models and placed into Google Earth for GPS accurate aerial photos with terrain.

The diploma pushed my focus beyond the heady, insular space of personal rural property design and into the community.

Helping internationally renounced facilitator and tutor Robyn Francis I was front and centre for a whole town community consultation process that sought to define the key sustainability challenges for our region and how to meet them. This process formed the Nimbin food security working group and I was encouraged to be involved.

The group would meet to explore the issues around and challenges of our local community’s food needs. We secured project funding to identify barriers to local food production and gather hard data about local food trends.

I stepped up to an executive role in the newly formed Northern Rivers Hemp Association with distinguished company such as Dr Keith Bolton, Klara Marosszeky and others. This role allowed me to support the inclusion of permaculture principles and ethics at the very core of the associations goals.

It is with that firm ethical foundation that we are able to support one of the the largest hemp associations in Australia, the peak body by membership. Read more about the work of the NRHA at

I became humbled to the power of an effective group and learned how to form & maintain them.

A solid organisation’s influence is greater than the sum of it’s parts.

It deepened my understanding of the patterns that are reflected in healthy systems.

Skills such as mediation, conflict resolution and other gaps in my experience that were not satisfied by my self directed real world projects were met in house at the college gardens. I co-ordinated groups and facilitated planning sessions. These culminated in the amazing displays at the Lismore show and Djanbung Gardens Open days.

The process and rigor of documentation to satisfy the high standards set by Robyn and the college were challenging and ultimately incredibly rewarding.

I was offered work immediately on the completion of my diploma based on the capacities, connections and confidence I’d gained.

Since completion my schedule has been full with demand for my designs, which is grounded in an ethical and integrated way with an ecological awareness.

Through the excellent working and documentation habits I have established I am already building up a well rounded professional portfolio of work that I hope will be recognized at the next level of further higher education when a suitable course becomes available.

Until then I am able to support myself. Growing my own design business, engaging with ethical clients and projects. This is a critical and deeply satisfying piece of my permaculture pie.

Guy Stewart

Wholistic Design

The diploma program covered the following units:

  • Design an integrated permaculture system
  • Develop a strategic plan for a permaculture project
  • Manage a permaculture project
  • Plan the implementation of a permaculture project
  • Research and interpret requirements for a permaculture project
  • Prepare a community and bioregional development strategy
  • Facilitate participatory planning and learning activities
  • Plan management strategies for overseas development projects
  • Plan and design structures for permaculture systems


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