Forest Garden Design Intensive 2016

Dave Jacke returns to Australia in 2016!    Forest Garden Design Intensive     [March 25 – April 3, 2016]

With David Holmgren, Steve Burns, Kat Lavers & Paul Ward

dave laughing eyes closeddavid h close up w glasseskat mugshot 2013

After his highly successful 2013 Australian tour, Dave Jacke returned to Australia to run his 9 day Forest Garden Design Intensive in March/April of 2016.  Dave had only run the course once anywhere in the world between 2013 and this course, so there was some pent-up demand.  As well as students from all over Australia, we enjoyed the company of students from the USA, Mexico and the Netherlands, which added a richness & diversity to our experience.

In total, 36 students and 11 staff (5 teachers, 5 in the catering team and 1 excellent provider of childcare) participated in the course in various ways and filled the site with excitement & energy.

This 9 day course immersed the students in the theory & practice of designing forest gardens, and all enjoyed a unique accelerated training in design that could be applied to all areas of life.  Many students were in tears at the graduation ceremony and several spoke of how profoundly the course had caused them to review whole-of-life goals, not just their forest garden aspirations.

Dave Jacke is well known as the primary author of the award winning Edible Forest Gardens texts and a leading independent voice in the permaculture community.

For the first time, the FGDI included permaculture co-founder David Holmgren conducting a mid-course tour of his own property, Melliodora, featuring a review of different tree-based systems relevant to forest garden design.

This course focused on cool temperate forest gardens and included multiple practical design exercises and students working on teams to produce a major design.   Camping on-site was the preferred option for nearly all students and enabled them to enjoy the full networking benefits of a residential experience (including evening beers around the fire pit).

Dave’s Australian teaching team was originally scheduled to included Hannah Moloney (Good Life Permaculture, Tasmania), who taught with Dave on the FGDI in 2013, however a family medical emergency meant that she was called away at the very last minute. Fortunately, the teaching team were able to shuffle assignments, with Dave taking some additional classes and others being led by other members of the team.    We were super-grateful to enjoy the teaching  of Kat Lavers.  Kat has taught on permaculture and sustainability courses in Australia, Mongolia and Malaysia,  coordinates the My Smart Garden program for Hobsons Bay City Council and is also a volunteer coordinator of Permablitz Melbourne.   She was joined by FGDI graduate Steve Burns (Chestnut Farm, Ballarat Permaculture Guild), who completed teacher training with Dave in Tennessee, USA, in 2014.  FGDI graduate, plant nut, blacksmith & long-term permie Paul Ward (Castlemaine, Victoria) joined the team to provide his amazing expertise & plant knowledge (he’s a walking Google search!) alongside Student Coordinator Matt Bowman also participated in some of the teaching activities.  Matt originally hails from New York state & completed Dave’s teacher training in Tennessee (2014), where he and Steve became friends.  Matt completed the FGDI in Montana (2015) and really enjoyed his first visit to Australia.  [He celebrated completion of the course by jumping across to Queenstown, New Zealand, for some adrenalin-charged thrill seeking]

Chestnut Farm is an 8 acre permaculture property outside Ballarat, western Victoria. Ballarat is a major regional town of 100,000, just over an hour from central Melbourne and easily accessible by train. A shuttlebus links to Ballarat direct from Melbourne airport. Chestnut Farm features organic vegetable production, ducks, chickens & bees. There is also limited volume sale of heirloom fruit trees (principally apples, pears, nashis and cherries) & forest garden plants including berries, currants, herbs, grapes. Training facilities include dedicated training room, library & camping facilities. WWOOFing and Internship positions are regularly available. Owner Steve Burns is a regular permaculture design course teacher who delivers & attends permaculture training in both Australia & the USA. He founded Ballarat Permaculture Guild & taught with David Holmgren on the Advanced Permaculture Principles course.

Following the FGDI, there was another chance to work with Dave Jacke on the Designing Perennial Polycultures weekend (April 8-10).  This course comprised Friday night plus two full days working on plant guilds with  Dave and a bunch of 16 keen students (including some FGDI graduates.  We developed polyculture planting plans for feihoas, locquats, jujubes & some other less common plantings.   A more detailed report and photos will follow – gotta get outside and do some other stuff right now!

Thanks for reading about the fabulous FGDI… if you missed out this time, we’re talking to Dave about him coming back in a few years.  Meantime, read the books, join the online networks and communities – and get gardening!   🙂