Permaculture, Deep Ecology and Earthcare Design


NEW WEEKEND WORKSHOP – ‘Permacultue Meets Creative Design’ at Crystal Waters Permaculture Eco-Village. Click here for a flier about the next one.

Permaculture Design Certificate Courses (PDC’s) have been run by Earthcare Education at Crystal Waters Permaculture Village and around the country since 1990.

In that time Robin Clayfield and Skye, and in later years, Robin and Jenny Allen hosted and presented over 30 of these two week residential courses based on Bill Mollison’s Permaculture Design Course Curriculum. These days Robin prefers to facilitate the learning of Permaculture from a deeper Earth based perspective and to be invited to present a course rather than do all the organizing herself.

Several years ago Robin presented 2 x two week courses for Vital Living International entitled Permaculture, Deep Ecology and Earthcare Design.

These were primarily for Japanese people and were presented using translators in a beautiful venue and environment. These courses supported participants to learn more about living gently on the Earth and inspired Robin to ‘be open’ to continuing to offer Permaculture Courses even though she officially stopped teaching PDC’s (Permaculture Design Courses) to focus on Training Facilitators and Teachers.

In 2005 Robin was invited by ‘Whispering Seed’ to offer this work in Thailand in a remote hill tribe village in Western Thailand. The course spanned 4 weeks and catered for western visitors as well as Thai people with an interest in Permaculture, Mud building, Alternative Education and Thai culture. There was also interest, involvement and support from the hill tribe village folks.

If you twisted Robin’s arm (a lot) she may consider offering the ‘Permaculture, Deep Ecology and Earthcare Design’ course again at your invitation in your area or country.


This is a two week intensive, residential course. The courses run by Earthcare Education are uniquely experiential, being based on active, interactive and people-oriented learning processes, field trips around the local area and practical design exercises.

The aim is not simply to pass on lots of information but rather to encourage and allow participants to learn what they want and need to know and to encourage growth, on individual, community, ecological and social levels, using creative techniques rather than a lecture format.

The course will enable participants to develop the competencies and skills needed to design and implement sustainable, environmentally and socially responsible systems and to help people connect more deeply with the Earth and the local environment..

Our courses are designed to make learning an interesting, exciting and fun experience.

Topics Covered

The interactive, people-centred approach used by Earthcare means that we do not set a rigid curriculum, but allow course participants to determine the program for the two weeks.

Topics which have been covered in previous courses include:

Principles of Permaculture

Topography – and how it affects us, how to read the landscape

Water – conservation, treatment, storage, use and recycling

Soils – structure, symbiosis, fertility cycle, improvement

Resource use, re-use, re-cycling and Earthcare philosophy

Design for catastrophe

Social systems – how they affect us, how we can change them

Energy – flow, use, generation….

Financial systems – and their alternatives (LETS)

Animals – designing them into our system

Mulch Gardens

Garden Design and Strategies

Orchard Layout and Retrofit

Integrated Pest Management

Urban Strategies/ Co-housing

Land Form and Microclimates

Forests – natural and planned

Deep Ecology and connecting with the Earth

Building – designing for your lifestyle

Appropriate Technologies and Communications

Bio-regionalism and Local Action

Designing with the Patterns of Nature

Bio-dynamics and Earth energies

Personal Empowerment

Spiritual Aspects within Permaculture and caring for the Earth

…. plus

Field Trips,

Evening Activities,



Practical Design Exercises

“Hands-on” Activities.

and lots of fun.


Earthcare Education’s PDC courses, (30 of which were run over 12 years from 1989) were led by Robin Clayfield and Skye, with the last 5 being led by Robin and Jenny Allen.  Skye and Jenny’s Bio’s at the time and a list of Guest Presenters that were involved over the 12 years is included for your information below. For Robin’s Bio see the About Us page.

Skye (B. Sc. hons., Dip Perm.) – Since completing his Design Course fifteen years ago Skye has been involved in many Permaculture Projects including city farms, food co-operatives, recycling programs (Maleny Wastebusters) and education campaigns. Since he moved to Crystal Waters nine years ago he has been actively involved in the administration and social development of both the immediate community and the wider community. Over the last 7 years he has, in conjunction with Robin played a central role in the development and implementation of the new interactive, ‘people-oriented’ method of teaching Permaculture. Other interests include participatory design processes, ceramics, computer communications, deep ecology and writing. Skye has spent much of 1996 & 1997 working and teaching Permaculture in Mexico, in the high dry plateau area of the Bajio.

In 1993 both Robin Clayfield and Skye were awarded the Permaculture Community Service Award for “vision and work forming an essential and selfless contribution to the promotion of Permaculture…”

Jenny Allen is a co presenter/producer of the latest comical Permaculture video “Eat Your Garden”. She co-edited the innovative educational “Manual for Teaching Permaculture Creatively”. As a lawn avoiding citizen she converted her garden into an abundance of bushfoods, exotic fruit trees, a rainforest, cabinet timbers, vegetables and herbs. She specializes in bushfoods, forest regeneration, fruit trees, community development and exciting educational techniques.

Guest Appearances

Crystal Waters is the home of many people with extensive skills and knowledge in many areas of Permaculture. Where appropriate some of these people may be called in as guest resource people during the course. In any region there are special people who can lend their skills and knowledge to a course.

Past appearances have included:-

Steve McLeisch- Trust Games and Rhythm

Hans Erken- Bamboo, Aquaculture and Site Visit

Kim Dunlop- Environmental Artist

Eric Keirnan- Economystics

Robert Thorley- Socio-drama

Nigel Parratt- Wastebusters

Yvonne Tolley- First-aid from the Garden

Barry Goodman- Living Environment Design and Site Visit, Appropriate Technology

Guboo Ted Thomas- Aboriginal Elder

Dave Blewett- Arid Land Stratagies

Phil Smith- Garden Site Visit

Fred Kohl – Mud Brick Dome Construction & Site Visit

Neville Ackland- Mud Brick Dome Construction

Wayne Wodsworth- Permaculture in El Salvador

Barb Knudsen- Permaculture in Palestine

Robena McCurdy – Permaculture Patterns, Permaculture in South Africa

Dean Cameron – Composting Toilets

What is Permaculture?

Permaculture is an integrated process of design which results in an environment that is sustainable, balanced and aesthetic.

The design itself pays particular attention to the interrelationships between the elements and processes within the system to ensure a stable, functional and high-yielding system.

It encourages restoration of the balance to the eco-systems which support us, through the common-sense application of ecological principles and strategies. Much of its inspiration comes from natural ecologies, indigenous approaches to the land, as well as modern scientific research.

Permaculture is fundamentally very practical, and can be equally applied to urban balconies, small acreage farms, large properties, natural areas, economic strategies and social systems.

As a process it is a synthesis of ecology, geography, anthropology, sociology, observation and design.

Developed by Tasmanian ecologist, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren over 30 years ago, it is now practised and taught all around the world.

Many of the 30 PDC’s conducted by Earthcare Education were held at Crystal Waters Permaculture Village

Crystal Waters Permaculture Eco-Village

Crystal Waters is the World’s first Village to be designed and implemented according to the landscape design principles of Permaculture from the beginning.

It is situated at the headwaters of the Mary River, 27km from the thriving town of Maleny, in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland of Queensland.

While it is still early days in the development of the community, there is much to see and do for people interested in Permaculture, with various gardens, tree plantings, innovative housing and some commercial crops.

It is also our home (along with some 250 other people) and is not normally “open” to the public. Courses held at the Village are a unique opportunity to temporarily become part of the Crystal Waters Family and to experience Permaculture as it manifests at Crystal Waters.

Who Can Attend

There are no prerequisites. To get the most out of the course we recommend people be familiar with the “Introduction to Permaculture” by Bill Mollison, “You Can Have Your Permaculture and Eat It Too” by Robin Clayfield or the “Earth Users Guide to Permaculture” by Roe Morrow. For the very studious try the “Designers Manual” by Bill Mollison.