Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course September 2014 at PRI Sunshine Coast

Back to simplicity

Back to simplicity

After 5 years of teaching students and volunteers, and another 5 years before that of hosting and teaching volunteers and wwoofers here at Maungaraeeda, we have decided to step back and regroup.

As we were training people and looking after their needs constantly, we lost focus on our objectives and the lifestyle that we wanted to create for ourselves. We decided earlier this year to step back, regroup and re-focus. 

We started out with permaculture on this property to live a simple and fulfilling lifestyle, growing and processing our own food, slowing the pace and being less dependent on fossil fuel. As we started educating and training more people, we found ourselves managing people, running an office and a training centre and losing the objectives that made us love our lifestyle. People are an incredibly needy bunch, and we spent a lot of time trying to please everyone apart from ourselves. I found myself constantly in the office to try and market ourselves so we could get more paying students to pay for the ever expanding costs of running an educational centre with volunteers and scholarship students. Tom found himself managing people rather than managing the property, which resulted in systems getting into disarray and improvements not being made. Financially we were having trouble to make ends meet. We are unsure where we fell down there and hopefully we will find out why in the future, but we are very aware that we are not good at marketing ourselves and our project. When financial stress was added to being responsible for people, we found we were no longer able to cope and were increasingly unhappy.

We are incredibly grateful for the time all our volunteers and scholarship students have spent with us, it has been an amazing learning experience for us as well. But as we would like to live in the slow lane, we now have to step back.

We are moving forward aiming to become more and more self reliant. I have started to make long ferment sour dough breads, yoghurts, saurkrauts and other ferments again and am moving forward on my journey of food growing, processing and consuming.

Tom is moving to improve the property further, putting more systems in place to make life easier and to be able to grow more food. Fertility of our property has increased significantly over the past years, so we will now be able to grow more food than we can eat.

We are also ever diversifying and are looking at other species to grow on the property. All our processes, systems, hints, tips, struggles and experiences will be made available on this website through regular articles and videos. Newsletters will also be sent again on a regular basis.

Our aim is still to inspire, empower and motivate people, which we feel is our purpose on this planet. We would like to do this through this website, as we can reach a lot more people online and it is cheaper for people to stay home and experience what we do. We also still offer consultations and coaching, and the occasional course and class. Please follow our website or sign up for our newsletter to stay in touch with future developments, and to benefit from our experience in your own journey towards sustainability.

©2016 Zaia; Do It Yourself Food and Health Hub, incorporating Permaculture Research Institute Sunshine Coast, going back to simplicity, self reliance and homesteading


  1. Hey Tom and Zaia,

    I’m saddened to hear the news about those changes because I had such a wonderful time there as a student, but I am glad to hear that you will still be doing some teaching. I learned so much and you have so much knowledge to offer to people. I hope you guys can find that lifestyle you want. You work so hard, you really deserve it. I suppose trying to find balance can be difficult for everybody. Best of luck to you guys.

    1. Thanks so much Mike, it really means a lot to us to hear that you had a great time here, we enjoy inspiring and empowering people! We are trying to find that balance again and once we have found that, we hope to continue to inspire and empower!

  2. You guys have truly, truly, inspired me. Seeing participating and learning at Maungaraeeda has opened my eyes to just how good and fulfilling life can be, when in harmony with natural systems and resources. I cannot thank you both enough, and I hope visit you guys many more times in the future, there’s so much to learn!
    Thank you.


    1. Thanks so much Nick, we do hope to keep everyone informed and inspired on this website!

    2. And we would love to see you back here some time in the future!

  3. Hi Tom and Zaia,

    I suppose managing people is not always easy. For the short time we were there, we never felt anything but warmth from the both of you. I’m sure it won’t take long for you guys to go back into the swing of things in the farm, going back to the things that you love doing. We pray for the best for you as a family … All the best guys!

    1. Thanks Taufiq, we have enjoyed having so many amazing people on the property! We hope to keep everyone up to date with regular posts on the website, to start soon. It is challenging running this property with just us two, but I am sure we will get there! Thanks for your prayers and hope to see you and your family again in the future!

  4. Hi Tom and Zaia

    Thanks for the updates. Wow. Those are some serious re-arrangements, but it is so good that you recognised that you weren’t being true to your priorities and your values and have acted on that.

    I know that whatever you do, it will be done with passion and love, and therefore will be successful. You two are so good at the “people stuff”, and at imparting your knowledge and ideas, that I have no doubt that you will continue in both those fields in some way. That you will be doing so from a base of life and livelihood that is more in tune with how you want to live will only make it all the more valuable – and satisfying for you.

    I look forward to hearing and seeing how it works out.

    Wishing you much joy and satisfaction with your new direction.


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