Hi, this is Geoff. 

I’ve had my hands full for the past few months (more on that in just a minute), but I wanted to touch base with everyone here with another weekend edition of the Friday Five 🙂

For several thousand of you receiving the Friday Five for the first time – A WARM WELCOME! As I mentioned when you signed up for the Permaculture Masterclass, a couple of times per month I send out a short email (like this one) that highlights 5 things that have recently caught my attention. They could be things that are serious, funny, useful, or simply bizarre-but-in-an-interesting-way… all connected in some aspect to my life as a permaculture teacher, consultant, and active farmer for more than 30 years.  I hope you have as much fun reading — and engaging with — these Friday Fives as I do in putting them together. 

With no further ado, part 1 – what I’ve been up to:

As many of you already know, we’re in the final stretch of our Online PDC 2.0 course, week 25 out of 28 teaching weeks. We had planned on closing enrollment sometime ago, but had daily requests to the effect of, “I don’t want to wait until 2020 for the next Online PDC, so can I jump in now to this course and catch up even though I’m starting late?” 

But all good things must come to an end, so we are putting a strict enrollment-close 3 days from today, i.e. Wednesday the 31st of July, 11:59 PM EST. After that, we will begin filling out the waiting list for our 2020 Online PDC (exact start date to be announced later this year). 

For those of you who don’t want to wait until next year and would like to enroll immediately, the number # 1 question and concern is: Is it too late for me to join the class now? The answer is yes and no. 

First, the “yes” part of the answer: We’ve structured the class so that it blends elements of a self-paced approach with elements of a schedule-based one (i.e., specific start and end dates). What this practically means is the following: Like a self-paced course, you can enroll and start anytime, then work as quickly as you’d like to complete the course materials. Even though we pace the course at 28 weeks (including several breaks), you can in principle complete all the materials in 10-12 weeks; the fact that we give you an ENTIRE YEAR to do so means that you can start the class quite “late” and still do just fine. 

The only “hard requirement” is that you complete the Final Design Exercise by the last day of the course access (January 31st, 2020). So even after the 28th week is over (again, we’re currently on week # 25), you’ll have access to all the course materials, video lessons, animations, PDFs, discussion comments, Q&A, etc. — over 750+ instructional modules — all the way through to early NEXT YEAR. And as long as you successfully complete the Final Design Exercise by then, you’ll earn the PDC Certificate — the same certificate that Bill Mollison gave me more than 30 years ago when I first enrolled in his PDC course. The upshot is that if you really, really want to enroll ASAP and *not* wait until 2020, you’re welcome to do so by clicking here

And here is the “no” part of the answer, i.e. who should *not* enroll now and instead wait until next year: If you are the type of student who strongly prefers going through the weekly material in sync with other students who are working at the same pace, then perhaps it is best to wait until early 2020 and join the next cohort of students. 

There is no “right” or “wrong” approach, it just comes down to your personal learning preference. Some people crave community and moving at the same pace as others around them, while some prefer to just get going ASAP ASAP. The course is flexible enough to accommodate both styles and your unique needs. If you have any additional questions about this, please reach out to us and we’ll be happy to provide additional guidance about your specific circumstances. To do so, click here, scroll to the bottom, then click on the small red circle at the bottom right. 

So that’s what I’ve been up to with the online course. 

The second set of projects that have been taking up my time are those connected to our little “paradise farm” here in Australia — Zaytuna Farm. And when I say “projects,” I mean *lots* of things connected to the farm. Here’s a quick run-down:

  1. Farm PDC: We’ve been preparing for our once-a-year face-to-face PDC here at the farm later this month/beginning of August. And because I’ve reduced to my face-to-face teaching of the PDC to just 1-2 times per year, the course is unfortunately SOLD OUT.
  2. Farm PIA: However, if you’ve already done a PDC (online or offline), we still have a few spots open for our once-a-year “Permaculture in Action” fieldwork course that begins in the middle of August. The PIA picks up where the PDC leaves off, and unlike the classroom-based PDC, the PIA is overwhelmingly immersive. It is farm-and-field based to help give you the hands-on experience that students often crave after a PDC. Check out the details here.  
  3. Earthworks and Water Harvesting Course: One of the advantages of coming to the PIA is that you can stay on and enroll in one of our most popular advanced practical courses, “Earthworks and Water Harvesting.” This begins immediately after the PIA ends, and both take place here at Zaytuna. There are spots available for that as well.  
  4. Spring Tour: And if all of that wasn’t enough to make your August feel full, we wrap things up with our 1-day Spring Tour of Zaytuna Farm on September 1st. There is no prerequisite for this, other than a curious mind and a kind soul 🙂 Details here. 
  5. Greening the Desert Courses: And if you can’t come to Australia, but can make it out to Jordan (home of the Greening the Desert project), feel free to consider the face-to-face PDC Course, the 2-day Fermentation Workshop, or the month-long permaculture internship. There are spots available for all three, and they run from early November through the middle of December. 

Wow, that was a lot!

There’s actually a bit more, but I wanted to present the next three separately because they are so unique that I don’t want them to get lost in the mix of activity above.

First, for the first time, we are opening Zaytuna Farm to ANYONE who wants to come and camp. We have decided to formally make available our little paradise through the good folks at YouCamp.com, whose motto is, “simplicity is the new luxury.” We’re just rolling this out now, so it’s brand new; but you can get a sneak peek, and be one of the first to come and camp near us, by learning more here

Second, it’s been years since I’ve visited the US. This October, I make my way back to the US-of-A.  I believe that this opportunity is close to being full, but feel free to contact the organizers to see if they can still squeeze you in. Details here

Third and finally, the project that has *really* taken up the biggest chunk of my time over the past several months is…I can’t quite say yet 🙂 It’s still a bit of a dream, and I’m not yet sure whether or not it will all work out. If it’s successful, it will represent a yet-deeper level of applied permaculture and community. That’s all I’ll say at this point. In the meantime, keep us in your prayers that it rolls out in the best way possible.

Alright, I almost forgot…the Friday Five 🙂 

So now, and *really* with no further ado, the Friday Five…

(Thanks for your patience) 🙂 

Even less time than we thought: The BBC’s Matt McGrath asks a tongue-in-cheek question that is unfortunately not funny at all: “Do you remember the good old days when we had “12 years to save the planet”? Now it seems, there’s a growing consensus that the next 18 months will be critical in dealing with the global heating crisis, among other environmental challenges.” Full piece here

For all bike fans: I love my bike. It gives me freedom of movement and a great way of seeing and appreciating whatever landscape I’m traveling through in a way that a speeding car often does not. So I loved this eclectic list that Julie Winterbottom put together, “10 Ways the Bicycle Moved Us Forward.” #8 was ingenious.  

The lawn, revisted: Those familiar with permaculture know that lawns sometimes elicit strong feelings. My teacher and founder of permaculture, Bill Mollison, said it best: “I hate lawns…” But this has been a “niche” position shared by few outside of permaculture circles. So it was refreshing to come across this long-form essay (a whopping 7000-word essay) that began with the simple observation: “Although there are plenty of irrational aspects to life in modern America, few rival the odd fixation on lawns. Fertilizing, mowing, watering — these are all-American activities that, on their face, seem reasonable enough. But to spend hundreds of hours mowing your way to a designer lawn is to flirt, most would agree, with a bizarre form of fanaticism.” If you want a great read, check out the full piece

Designing for 10,000 years: The inclusion of the prefix “perma” in permaculture is intended to convey the value of an approach to designing something that is long-lasting. Alexander Rose and his colleagues at The Long Now Foundation take this a step further by trying to build a clock that will last for 10,000 years. Here’s a great write-up by Rose himself about what he’s learned in the process

Hidden cities: One of the things I teach in Module 4 of the Permaculture Design Certificate Course is “Pattern Understanding”, where we examine the patterns of the universe and learn how common patterns form in infinite variations. These patterns can also be discerned in built environments like cities, like Northeastern University professor Geoff Boeing (yes, another “Geoff” 🙂 ) did with an ingenious tool he designed. His complete explanation of it, along with about 25 cities mapped out, can be seen here. Loosely connected to this is an incredible piece recently published in the New Yorker about the 200 miles that run underneath Paris: “Under the southern portion of the city exists its negative image: a network of more than two hundred miles of galleries, rooms, and chambers.” Full story here. And if you really want to go down this rabbit hole of hidden worlds under our feet in city environments, you need look no further

That’s it for the Friday Five. As always, if you have any comments/reactions/ or a different point of view, please share on the blog-version of this Friday Five (and all past + future Friday Fives), all housed here

Cheers, and have a great week,

Your friend,


PS: If you’re in Australia (or Florida, or Jordan when we get there later this year), come say hi! Whether it’s a 1-day farm tour, or a more intensive PIA or internship, I’m always happy to connect with those who want to help build a better world…maybe even 10,000 years 🙂

And if travel isn’t in your plans, but you still want to leapfrog your own understanding of permaculture, our online PDC might be a decent fit. But remember that we have just 3 days left before we close enrollment once and for all until 2020.