Barakah Heritage Farm

SOUTHWOODS FOREST GARDENS: From a discussion with an 40+ permaculture world helper.

“Hi Dan, I hope you are well……  I wondered if you could give me advice on how to train/apprentice/gain the experience in permaculture design work to be able to create my own designs and teach it also. I am (45+), have kicked around the world a lot, used to work in environmental conservation and rural development, mainly in Papua New Guinea. I want to work with aid-type projects with people with fewer (economic) resources, but have found it so hard to gain the skills, beyond volunteering that provides fairly basic homesteading skills. ….I so much want to work in this field beyond moving around farm projects and helping out in exchange for a bed and it seems so hard to move beyond the PDC. I am no longer 20 and want this as a career/livelihood and to teach and train. If you have ideas I would be extremely grateful. ….

 Hi …,  My advise is to go back to school. I was about your age when I returned to college to get my Masters in Horticulture and the science needed to do the design work. By now you must be an expert on some area of practice. Dig deeper into that and be the source for deeper understanding. 

I would like to get us out of the train and teach thing, seems fraught with ego.  How about support, mentor, guide, collaborate,  I don’t know. 

Also, read all the great books (not just the popular Permaculture books). Text books on forest ecology, soil science, plant propagation, grey water systems ( brad Lancaster – Art Ludwig), and draw, everything out.  Study ecosystem restoration science. That is super important right now. Beyond humancentric permaculture. 

Right now, you could go to Hope Foundation in South Africa, learn tons, and help with teaching courses. Great place to apprentice for a mature service-minded agrarian. Belinda is great there. 

Your story is not uncommon for some of my world traveler friends. Each different of course. Issues seem to be assets for future needs, diminishing physical tolerance and stamina, and the preparation for the next stage of life. My story is similar. Don’t ignore the great foundation of experience you have. That might be your biggest asset gong forward. If financial assets are substantial, use that to set up the course for further income or opportunity through continued education and broader skill sets. 

Other choices are to settle into or cycle through your homestead communites and put down some roots. 

 What do you have to offer? Are you promoting yourself? FB, networking, or internet presence. Ships are not built to lay at anchor in safe harbor, they are built to navigate adventures in the open ocean. Stay healthy, write a book, chronicle your adventures and skills. Get certified as a UK Instructor. Maybe we will meet at a conference for a good conversation like this with others.


On – 17 Dec, 2017 By Daniel Halsey

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