International Permaculture Design Course

Session time! Outside under a tree!

Session time! Outside under a tree!

Back in October, I decided I wanted to enroll in an 11 day Permaculture Design Course (PDC) during the December holidays. Since I want to continue with permaculture as a career, the PDC gives me the certification I need to do so, and would make me a legitimate Permaculture Designer. Fun, right?

So right before the school term ended, I hopped on a bus to PTA (where I randomly met two other PCVs from my cohort), then on to Joburg. The course was held about an hour outside of Joburg, in a rural area. I chose to attend the International PDC through Food and Trees for Africa, which is the organization that also hosted the EduPlant school gardening competition. All the winning schools were able to send 1 educator to the course, so the PDC was geared towards using permaculture in education.

I was able to meet people from all over SA, and even 2 from Lesotho and one from Egypt. I learned a lot more greetings in SA languages, particularly the Nguni languages (Ndebele, Zulu, Xhosa, Swati), and practiced some of the greetings I hadn’t used since PST (Venda, Tsonga, Afrikaans). It was pretty amazing to be exposed to some many different cultures, and to be able to communicate somewhat in their languages. One day I did part of a summary in Tswana, to gales of laughter and loud applause. Communicating to people in their mother tongue is a powerful thing.

I learned an incredible amount of information at the PDC. I went in thinking I knew a fair amount about permaculture-HA! Hahaha! Not even close! I learned so much that my brain almost turned to mush, but it was pretty awesome. The previous permaculture trainings I had attended really discussed permaculture only in relation to garden. But the PDC addressed the lifestyle of permaculture, from Earth building to permakitchens.

Workshops in SA are very different that workshops in the USA. I thought that since many different cultures were represented, it would run more like a workshop in the States. And in a few things, we did. We kept to a schedule fairly well, and cell phones ringing during the session was not acceptable. But the different cultures were truly embraced throughout the course, not removed from the equation. Singing, dancing, prayers, more singing and dancing, poetry, stories…..this is how we would begin after our breaks. We even sang “Away in a Manger” in some language. I spent breaks learning Xhosa tongue twisters, speaking Setswana, and seeing what the Rainbow Nation is truly like. I saw a future picture of South Africa-one which rarely exists now, but shows us the promise of what could be.

I was told before I went that attending a PDC would be life changing, and it’s true. I look at the world a little bit differently, and I’m more inspired to figure out how the Lord wants me to use my permaculture knowledge. And it made me a lot more excited about my options for a third year, and showed me the breadth of permaculture projects that exist around the nation.

For the “talent show” at the end of the course, I wanted to share what living in SA meant to me. So I chose to write a poem in Setswana, which I will post. It’s a little cheesy, but hey, my Setswana only goes so far. And it was appreciated by the other participants.

“Mo lefatshe la rona,
Go na le bothata.
Batho ba bua, fela
Ga ba reetsa.
Bath oba ituta, fela
Ga ba itse.
Batho ba bereka, fela
Ga ba tlhokomele.

Lefatshe la rona le a bobola,
Le kopa thuso.
Re tswanetse go reetsa.

Jaanon, re a change.
Re tswanetse go improva.
Le Permaculture, re kgona…
Re kgona go thusa,
Re kgona go reetsa,
Re kgona go tlhokomela.”

“In our world,
There are problems.
People speak, but
They do not listen.
People learn, but
They do not know.
People work, but
They do not care.

Our world is sick,
It asks for help.
We must help.

Now, we are changing.
We must improve.
With Permaculture, we can…
We can help.
We can listen.
We can care.”

So if anyone wants a permaculture design for your yard, school, or place of work, you know who to contact! 😉

Salads we made during the permakitchen session.

Salads we made during the permakitchen session.

Dance time!

Dance time!

Working on my design!

Working on my design!


About Jen Lamos

Christ follower. Writer. Permaculturist. RPCV. Photographer. Gardener. Keeper of Chickens. Daughter of God.

4 thoughts on “International Permaculture Design Course

  1. That’s awesome. Permaculture is a skill/science that I’d love to get into one day. I’m glad you had an upbeat experience – especially after the reflections from your last post.

  2. I’m inspired by your experience with permaculture. I am actually planning to apply to the peace corps this year and would like to include permaculture in my service. Would you recommend taking the PDC before applying, and is there anything else you would recommend?

    • Doing any such training will help you become a more competitive nominee and invitee, and could help insure you get into a specific sector with PC. I don’t know much about your situation, but if you are passionate about it and want to have the skills and certification to use it in your service, I’d say go for it. If you want, feel free to email me at jenkdaugherty (at) gmail( dot) com. If I know more about your specific situation, I can certainly offer some more advice. Just let me know.

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