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Lecturer in the spotlight

South Regional TAFE Lecturer Andrew Nicholson has been in the national spotlight recently in recognition of his commitment to following the principles of permaculture and teaching others the science behind it.

In an inspiring feature article on Permaculture Australia’s website, Andrew talks about his journey from a teenager with a fascination for sustainable living to actively adopting permaculture philosophies at six properties he has owned – including a 255ha farm. Now as a lecturer, he is enlightening others about the practice and its rewards.

A member of Permaculture Australia, Andrew, with his wife, has integrated plant and animal systems – an aquaculture set-up, rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens, ducks, worms, raised veggie beds, ground cover crops and fruit trees – on their quarter-acre block.

Andrew teaches two streams in the Certificate III in Permaculture at the Albany campus. One is the mainstream course, which students can complete by attending one or two days a week, and the other is a series of eight weekend workshops covering topics such as permaculture basics, water systems, structures, maintaining systems and preserving and storing the yield.

This flexibility makes the course accessible to more students.

In the Permaculture Australia interview, Andrew discussed his experience, philosophy and vision for the future of permaculture.

He said progressive farmers were moving away from whole-of-farm cropping programs and reintroducing grazing animals because of concerns around weed resistance to herbicides.

Promoting the feasibility of permaculture set-ups in suburban back yards, Andrew said concerns about health effects associated with some chemical usage was prompting more people to seek out healthy food options.

“We have the capacity to reduce the pressure on our farmers to harvest unsustainable levels of food from their land by turning some of our lawns and underutilised soil in back yards into productive food forests and even developing small businesses based on permaculture principles and practices,” he told interviewer Martina Hoeppner.

“These are skills not only for food production, but for a more resilient permanent culture.”

To complement his many years of informal learning and extensive permaculture practice, Andrew chose to gain formal qualifications for which he had to take a monthly 900km round trip from Albany to Mundaring for two years. His rewards were the Certificate III and Diploma of Permaculture, the latter of which he completed in July this year.

Andrew, who has been lecturing at the college for 25 years, said his most satisfying and enjoyable training times had been with his permaculture students over the past two years.

For more on the weekend permaculture workshops, visit https://bit.ly/3kCXgXc and for details of the Certificate III in Permaculture, visit https://bit.ly/3hNY8Xb.

To read the Permaculture Australia article on Andrew, go to: https://bit.ly/2EktTt0.

Page last updated September 23, 2020