Permaculture gets posh

September 2, 2011

Once upon a time, a permaculture course wasn’t a permaculture course unless it involved going home like you’d spent two weeks at the Glastonbury music festival. But permaculture is going upmarket; nowhere more so than at the Permaculture Sydney Institute, which has set itself up in a luxury retreat just across the Hawkesbury.

The institute hopes that by hosting courses and workshops at the Bandusia Country Retreat (pictured), near St Albans, less than two hours north of Sydney’s CBD, it will attract a wider range of clientele.

“A lot of people tell me ‘I’ll do a permaculture course when I can do it in luxury’,” says the institute’s co-founder, Penny Pyett, a long-time leading figure at Permaculture Sydney North. “Well now they can. We’re aiming for a wider appeal. We want to attract the mainstream because they are the people that need to change.”

Spring workshops include Hands-on Bamboo Construction (September 17-18), Wood-fired Oven Construction October 8-9) and Straw-bale Construction (November 12-13 and 26-27).

The bamboo workshop will be presented by Munir and Mittal Vahanvati, architects from Giant Grass Design. Over the two days they will be teaching species selection, propagation, growing, harvesting, preservation techniques and construction, with workshop participants building a gazebo. Cost is $240 including organic lunch and morning and afternoon teas.

Accommodation in the retreat for is discounted for course participants and starts at a very reasonable $60 per person per night, twin share, including breakfast and dinner. There are also camping options (with or without access to pool, sauna and spa).

Pyett hopes courses in the new year will include cheesemaking and heritage fruit tree growing. A two-week Permaculture Design Certificate course is scheduled for January, with Geoff Lawton among the teachers. It is hoped permaculture co-founder Bill Mollison will be involved too, but that is yet to be confirmed...

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