Geoff Lawton teaching at PRI Sunshine Coast

PRI Master Plan sites

PRI Master Plan sites

We just finished another PDC here at Maungaraeeda. Everyone was very happy with the course, the food, the people and the experience! (see student feedback page) We had a big surprise for the students in our course, when Geoff Lawton came here and taught the first two days. Geoff, Nadia and the gorgeous Latifah kindly came to Maungaraeeda to lend their support to our growing organisation, as we are a PRI Master Plan site.

We became a PRI Master Plan site early 2012 on Geoff and Nadia’s suggestion, after visiting them at Zaytuna. We believe our goals are very similar to those of the PRI, in wanting to further Permaculture education. With the help of PRI Australia, the number of students for our PDCs increased substantially, due to bigger exposure and by Tom now being an accredited PRI teacher. PRI Australia took us under their wing, making a huge difference to how people view us and our project “Maungaraeeda” (aboriginal for “Place of Food”).

Tom did his PDC with Geoff and Bill Mollison in Melbourne in 2008. He followed that up with a Teacher Training course with Geoff early in 2010. He started teaching PDCs in 2010, but attendance levels were consistently low. Unless you spend a lot of money on advertising online, it is hard to get your name out there. As we live Permaculture, we did not (and still don’t) have a large expendable income, so heavily advertising was not an option for us. Being under the PRI umbrella made a huge difference for us, in attendance and visibility levels, but also in the level of support which we have received and still are receiving from PRI Australia. Sometimes as a full time permie you do feel a bit isolated, so it is great to know that support is just a phone call or email away.

I know some people view this as PRI “branding”, but I feel this is not being fair to the huge amount of selfless work that has gone into the PRI from so many people, and especially Geoff and Nadia. Permaculture is something that can make a huge difference to the world and by building a recognised and trusted name, we can actually promote Permaculture more professionally. PRI accredited teachers will provide a high quality standard of education, which will ultimately build trust in a world which relies on images that companies build for themselves. Some permies may not agree with this, but I feel having this support from a larger organisation behind us has helped us tremendously with building a better Permaculture Demonstration site and offering better quality facilities and courses.

By “cross pollination” with other PRI accredited teachers, students will be able to get more value for their money. Tom will be going to Zaytuna in July this year to teach part of the PDC there.

I feel it is a lofty goal that the PRI Australia has set, aiming to have Master Plan sites all over the world! To have educational Permaculture Demonstration Sites under the PRI banner, which aim to bring Permaculture education to the masses at large, would indeed be a wonderful thing. As we dedicated permies are aware, Permaculture is the one thing which can provide this world with a better future. I feel that the PRI Master Plan has the potential to bring this to the attention of the masses.

It has therefore been disappointing to see the interest level here in Australia for this great plan has been low. As of today, we are still the only other PRI Master Plan site besides PRI Australia’s Zaytuna Farm. It would be great to see more Master Plan sites in Australia, so that we can spread the word far and wide. With today’s low quality food and people’s general dissatisfaction with modern life, there will be enough students for everyone. Yes, it does take time and commitment, but changing a student’s life for the better by teaching them about Permaculture is extremely rewarding! And it will change your own life for the better as well!

**Please note that PRI Australia did not ask me to write this article. I am not in their employ or paid by them in any way. We are just extremely grateful for the support they are providing us and would like other people to experience the same.

©2014 Permaculture Research Institute Sunshine Coast – PRI Master Plan sites


  1. Hi. Great article and I agree there can surely be more master plan sites than what there are, not only in Australia but all over the world. I myself have been trying to get more info on what is required to be a PRI site but have been seeing only the info that is on the site which is not sufficient. There are a lot of matters which differ from country to country especially the legal ownership management etc. Have been a permaculture practitioner for three years and have done two pdcs. Am an online student of geoff this year. Because of the currency exchange rate it is not affordable to see the beautiful places in Australia. But havr been saving fr a trip and will be able to make it next year. Would have lovef to do a real course with you and geoff but again it is not affordable 🙁 Have been following you guys and zaytuna on the net and you both are my virtual gurus already along with toby hemenway who got me started again thru his book. Will try to volunteer on your place when I can visit to atleast see the Permaculture places if not afford to do courses. ..I plan to host teachers to teach courses in india in some time…all the very best for the wonderful work you all do…jyoti.mumbai-pune india.

  2. Hi Jyoti and Zaia

    Jyoti you should add a link so people can see how your project is going.

    So good to hear that you may get to Australia next year. You and yours can stay with us south of Sydney.

    I agree there is a problem getting focus on permaculture sites. Partly this is because few these days can afford to escape to the bush, fewer to have a retreat in the bush. I am now in a country town and practising ingrained permaculture, PDC 1993. While the demonstrations of the big as at Zaituna are important for some impact on large scale projects there needs also to be exemplary suburban practice visible.

    Is perhaps exemplary mainly in showing erratic progress, mistakes sometimes learned from, constant design review, evolution of microclimates with plant growth, climate change or perversity …. and the rise and rise of a tree next door! It is also exemplary perhaps in that it excites some people, enrages others with their obsession with suburban conformity and worship of the godgrass. This is not an easy country these days for advocates of sustainability. The ABCs Gardening Australia these days has a strong PC and organic focus, but I’m not sure where it impacts. A mesh of projects mappable and accessible would help, though not everyone wants the tramp of boring tongues at the weekend.

    Best wishes

    Dennis, North Nowra NSW

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