Week one of the Accredited Permaculture Training and Internship Programme has flown by, and what a week it has been. An air of excitement amongst participants and facilitators has been abundant as SEED’s vision to enable youth to participate in the green economy as a truly sustainable solution to South Africa’s employment crisis becomes a reality.

Learning in groups requires people getting to know each other to build a culture of trust. Permaculture embraces new and dynamic ways of learning, and the processes we use in the course allow us to bond as a learning group rather than a bunch of individuals competing against each other in the ‘classroom’.
We dove straight into understanding ecosystems through various mediums starting with straightforward biology, followed by trophic pyramid work and leading into using Alan Savory’s holistic management tools for assessing ecosystem health. The bigger picture was also covered by looking at parallel economic systems such as the Community Exchange System which has been running successfully for 11 years in South Africa and offers an alternative more ecosystems based approach to economics.


Woven into this were exercises uncovering some of our blockages to thinking as part of the ecosystem as well as those which connected us deeply to nature and our own natures. We visited Silvermine to understand and explore a lot of this last Wednesday.


Understanding Permaculture ethics and principles is a critical element of the APT programme, and we explored Rocklands through discussions and group exercises in order to become familiar with these principles. We also worked on the use of natural patterns to design useful systems for applying to daily life.


Mapping is an essential part of effective Permaculture design and we spent quite a bit of time on geography: exploring different ways of mapping; learning compass directions; creating scale maps of sites; analysing available resources ; social mapping for client interviews; mapping the wild elements that come into our sites; and putting it all down on paper.


Finally we started working with design: listing all the things we wanted to bring into a site design to satisfy the client’s vision and grouping all these things according to how they connected to each other as components of the human support ecosystem.


Now that’s a lot of ground covered in just 6 days. Stay tuned for the next APT update as we continue to inspire growth in green economy.

Written by Calvin Dias: Co-facilitator of the Accredited Permaculture Training and Internship Programme.