It takes eight weeks to earn a Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) on Kaitiaki Farm. We are slow learners.
Holmgren’s 9th Principle, Use small and slow solutions, should especially be considered when it comes to teaching and learning. Humans learn slowly, and as our digital worlds speed up, the need for slow learning only increases.
Many PDC classes happen too fast with little time to reflect on the learning and little experiential learning. As someone who has spent their entire life as an educator with multiple education degrees, I steer clear of two-week residential PDCs.
That’s one reason we developed our eight-week PDC internship programme that includes total immersion in the patterns and flows of a permaculture farm. Alongside learning permaculture our interns are living permaculture.
Cultivating learners is what we do.
We start by pulling and straightening nails.
Holmgren’s 6th Principle, Produce no waste, is experienced by transforming materials that others have destined for landfill into valuable resources for future building projects.
We often straighten a nail and reuse it within a matter of minutes on the farm. Going back seven years, all ECO School interns have learned this as an essential first lesson.
Another skill taught on Day One is managing hot compost. We usually have three individual piles running: one we build through collecting materials; one that is ‘cooking’; and one that is finished and ready to use. Interns turn the active piles three times each week.
Finally, we emphasise the permanent in permaculture by planting and caring for trees, whether in the orchard or the zone 5 wetland we are establishing alongside Purua Stream.
Without fail, four to five weeks pass before we see lightbulb moments happening when interns really begin to understand holistic and four-dimensional design. That’s the payoff as an educator – when you know they get it.
Our PDC internships consist of a thousand teachable moments.
One insightful intern said, “You really need to learn to do things properly because there is no control+Z function on the farm. You can’t Undo something with your fingertips.”