Does Permaculture have to be so expensive??? DO YOU HAVE TO THINK CHEAP = LOUSY!!!!

April Sampson-Kelly askpv at
Thu May 13 21:42:43 EDT 1999

thankyou for your thoughtful and kind reply
As you may know permaculture was originally conceived by David Holmgren and
Bill Mollison,  Bill was his lecturer and tutor
and David wrote the first thesis.

David lives near Melbourne in a cold hilly area.  His work is detailled in
his latest book and shows a lot of ideas for temperate zones.
Although permaculture teaches about intensive systems generally, (imitating
you will find that David believes in more open systems in his climate. he
still has a least three layers and complex, non-mon-cropped zones, but in
more rainforest areas we can build up to 12 different layers, i have about 6
layers to date (my site is now 5 years old) mainly on those areas where i
have built up a more subtropical microclimate.
I think David's experience gives us an interesting angle for temperate

Permaculture Visions International
Students and graduates in 16 countries

PS i am not surprised by the kiwifruit there, what is more difficult is
growing temperate crops in tropical zones.  because of their needs for
shorter daylight.

I have managed to grow JackFruit here!!  that was fun.

  -----Original Message-----
  From: Kelley [mailto:amaranth at]
  Sent: Thursday, 13 May 1999 7:12
  To: permaculture
  Subject: [permaculture] Re: Does Permaculture have to be so expensive???

  April and all.
  Thank you for sharing information on your course, as I was not referring
to your course in my post, but another one that, in my opinion, as most
permaculture texts, seems highly posed toward dryer climates.  And no,
Australian geography courses aren't typically offered in the U.S., so I'm
sorry if I've clumped the entire continent under one rainfall study.
However, it does seem that quite a bit of the written information on
permaculture does cover very dry climates, the rest may be geared more
toward rain forests, but I haven't been able to find much on more cooler,
temperate climates such as there is here in New England.  I'm still amazed
to hear that folks grow kiwi up here.

  I have looked at the information that you have on the internet regarding
your correspondence course, and it does seem like a high quality course.  I
agree with much of what you're saying by helping people help themselves and
that it's not permaculture per se that is expensive, but more of how much
people are charging for the courses.

  Hope you didn't take offense at my posts, none was meant, and I was merely
trying to point out that there are more economical alternatives if the
student is willing to take more responsibility for their own learning than
is typically needed in on-location courses (where the learning is intense
and specifically directed).  Correspondence courses do allow the student the
opportunity to focus more on their own micro- and macro-climates, if they
would like to, or simply stick with the basic permaculture ideas, as you
pointed out.


  April Sampson-Kelly wrote:

    I find it pretty insulting that neither of you have spoken to us
    that you refer to but seem confident that you know us well enough to
    about us.
    I can clearly see that you haven't learnt any Australian geography
    Few Australian's live in hot dry areas!!!
    last year my area got over 2000ml of rain! it is temperate rainforest

    I have worked teaching permaculture CHEAPLY without taking a wage for 5
years now
    because I have another good part time job and felt their was a genuine
need for detailled
    and comprehensive texts which i have written myself and now offer to
students on CDrom.
    I do it because it makes me happy. i couldn't give a toss about earning
    from students, i follow the permaculture ethic - work where it counts
    my teaching service is highly successful in my own measures.
    I have students now in 15 countries now and in many areas of isolation
(phyical and social)
    from prisons to 80 miles from the Post Office, those with Quadreplia to
those who are tired working mums.

    It's not permaculture that's expensive it's the people trying to make a
living of teaching
    what is essentially a lifestyle.
    you can't teach a lifestyle you can only help people help themselves by
providing ideas and experience.

    I have an excellent system in place here on site too.  Students (usually
local students, pay in LETS currency - local energy transfer system - for
the correspondence course and
    then pay it off by working on site.
    it works really well and i would recommend it to every permaculture
    also, you can also get people to cook and provide accomodation through
LETs or as part of their fees in the course.

    about my students encouraged to do a lot of research of their own area,
THIS IS NOT mandatory, they, like everyone else
    doing a PDC can simply do 72 hours and not a bit over, SOME of the best
students have spent 300 hours on their work
    because they wanted to, and we give all student unlimited feedback - so
that is a big committment from us.
    they all have the option of which homework topics to do.  BUT I wonder
what kind student doesn't want to learn about their own community and local
farming practices, native species and individual micro-climates!!!

    sometimes i can get fired up and you did it well today guys!

    Permaculture Visions International
    Students and graduates in 15 countries

    > -----Original Message-----
    > From: Kelley [mailto:amaranth at]
    > Sent: Wednesday, 12 May 1999 6:14
    > To: permaculture
    > Subject: [permaculture] Re: Re: Does Permaculture have to be so
    > expensive???
    > Toby,
    > I'm not sure if you're referring to my post re: "Aussies" and
    > "cheap" courses or not,
    > but if you are, these are not on location, these are
    > correspondence courses and with
    > that comes the typical responsibility of self-teaching that comes
    > with a correspondence
    > course, especially since the course was designed for dry
    > Australian outback and I'm
    > trying to adapt the info to a wetter, cooler climate.  The
    > student does the largest
    > percentage of the teaching and learning.
    > Kelley
    > Toby Hemenway wrote:
    > > The question of the expense of Permaculture design courses
    > raises its head
    > > very regularly. I've recently started teaching courses, and although
    > > understand that the US $700-1000 price tag makes them out of
    > reach for many
    > > alternative people, I know the economics well enough to know that
    > > can't easily be made much cheaper. Nobody makes money on these
    > > Compared to most residential courses, they are cheap: if you
    > look at course
    > > catalogs from say, Breitenbush or Esalen, they charge $350-500
    > just for a
    > > weekend. In most of the PC courses I know of, the instructors get
    > > $1200-2000 for one to two weeks of prep, two weeks of 14-hour
    > days, and a
    > > week or two to collapse and usually get sick. That's over a
    > month of hard
    > > work for that two grand, or $24,000 a year if they could keep
    > it up, but no
    > > one can (more than 3 courses a year is considered suicidal in
    > most cases).
    > > Some of the payment is in work-trades to accommodate those with
    > > money, so that's even less cash for the teachers.
    > >     And I've seen the financial breakdowns from several venues
    > that run the
    > > courses: they break even, maybe lose or gain $1000 or so from the
    > > $10-20,000 they take in on a typical course with 15-25
    > participants. That's
    > > a low margin. After you buy food, hire a cook and support staff,
    > > latrines, showers, and shelters, pay rent on a space, and pay the
    > > instructors, there isn't much left. That's why big courses have been
    > > attempted, so that some seed money can go to start other projects.
But I
    > > assure you, the standard 15-person PDC doesn't make anybody rich.
    > >   So I'm in sympathy with those who can't scrape up close to a
    > > dollars to take a course. It's a lot of money for us alternative
    > > That's why most places offer work trades, or scholarships subsidized
    > > those who pay in full. But having walked both sides of the fence, I
    > > assure you that it's not viable for the instructors and venues
    > to try to do
    > > it for less unless the format were radically changed.
    > >
    > > I'm very curious to hear how the Aussies and others do it so
cheaply. Do
    > > people bring their own food and pay nothing for the land they use,
    > > commute? How does it work?
    > >
    > > Okay, no more questions that push my buttons now. I'm starting to
    > > guilty about spending too much time on these listservs!
    > >
    > > Toby Hemenway
    > >
    > > ---
    > > You are currently subscribed to permaculture as:
amaranth at
    > > To unsubscribe send a blank email to
    > $subst('Email.Unsub')
    > ---
    > You are currently subscribed to permaculture as: askpv at
    > To unsubscribe send a blank email to
    > $subst('Email.Unsub')

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...

More information about the permaculture mailing list