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What makes a Permaculture Designer? AND your chance to be involved

It’s a question those of us in Permaculture should consider because it is the very reputation of permaculture at stake. Next weekend the Sustainable Living Festival is hosting a ‘Speed Date a Permaculture Designer’ event where the general public are encouraged to bring in their garden plans and get advice from “Tasmania’s best up and coming permaculture designers”.  After consulting with the committee here at Permaculture Tasmania, Sustainable Living Tasmania have kindly agreed to change the wording promoting this event. And for the reputation of permaculture we couldn’t be happier and more grateful to them for doing this. The Speed Date event is now being promoted as a a chance to “connect with some of Tasmania’s most enthusistic Permaculture students, designers and educators”.

If you are interested in participating in this event please get in touch with Alex Sugden on 0468 473 987.  

  Here’s why we had initial concerns … the line up originally consisted mainly of people fresh out of a PDC. PDC’s are great. But a PDC does not a designer make. The permaculture industry has fought long and hard to get nationally accredited permaculture training in place and we now have the Cert I, Cert II, Cert III, Cert IV and Diploma levels to recognise formal qualification standards and they come with recommendations of  positions that each level is suitable for. Here’s what well respected Permaculture pioneer Robyn Francis has to say … “The PDC (Permaculture Design Course) provides a comprehensive introduction to permaculture principles, practices and applications. The course focus is on knowledge about permaculture rather than the skills to practice. As such the PDC provides a valuable foundation training module for the accredited vocational permaculture trade certificates, Cert III and Cert IV, and Diploma.  The APT (Accredited Permaculture Training) qualifications have both knowledge and skills requirements which are beyond the scope of a 72 hour PDC. These APT courses cover all the knowledge and skills requirements to be a competent and professional permaculture practitioner and at Cert IV level, a permaculture designer.” Robyn believes it is not until someone reaches Cert IV level that they should be allowed to call themselves a ‘permaculture designer’. No other industry springs to mind that would allow people to call themselves an expert after just 72 hours of non-accredited training. And the reason for this should be obvious; if anyone can set themselves up as an expert then there is no integrity to any permaculture qualification.

2 comments to What makes a Permaculture Designer? AND your chance to be involved

  • Nick_Towle

    A good thought provoking post and it would be good to have a further conversation around this at the Australasian Permaculture Convergence 12 in March in Penguin, Tasmania.

    It is important to recognise that this is only one perspective and there are many other persuasive arguments as to why there should be alternative pathways to becoming a Permaculture designer and practitioner. It is worth acknowledging that a large number of Permaculture pioneers have not completed accredited vocational courses and what is actually needed is a suitable process by which skills and expertise can be recognised.

    This is a valuable conversation to engage in, so thanks for sharing.
    Yours for the future,
    Nick T

  • You’re right Nick – experience is everything.

    Those with years of practical experience are able, if they choose to, apply for Recognised Prior Learning gaining them either full or partial credit towards Accredited Permaculture Training. Those with no experience who have only completed a PDC would likely not gain any recognition.

    This is why I advocate accredited training – it regulates an unregulated industry, protects the consumer and preserves the reputation of permaculture.

    Without a requirement for any standard to be attained (as we have now) anyone can advertise themselves as a permaculture designer.

    As permaculture becomes more popular, more people are jumping on board to make a living out of it. It will only take a few bad experiences with inexperienced and under-educated ‘designers’ before consumers start complaining about the quality of our industry.

    This concerns me.

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