In 2021 Toru Education enabled a group of twenty people from different backgrounds to train as Permaculture Designers in Aotearoa New Zealand. From hands-on learning in the compost pile to fireside lectures, participants gained both new experiential knowledge to last a lifetime, and a new community that is still actively nourishing each other's lives beyond the completion of the course. 


“Three years on I still feel that sense of community through all the potlucks and working bees that have followed. The permaculture principles still pop into my mind often when I think about the design of all parts of my life, not just the whenua we live on”

— Fiona PDC Participant

The Permaculture Design Certificate course was grounded in the four seasons with one module happening each quarter, throughout one full year. Allowing participants' 'breathing space' in between to digest the learning, and to balance the course commitment with the rest of their lives.

Learning happened in a range of locations, from fully operating farms to inner-city houses. This demonstrated how permaculture practice can be applied to one’s own unique scenario. Covering a plethora of content from practical design across the wide-scope of land and dwelling stewardship, to strategic questioning and other forms of solo and interpersonal relational skills from a permaculture perspective. Exemplifying how everything is connected through a complex, vital web. 

With the generosity of coordinator, host and cook Doris Zuur, core teachers Garry and Emily Williams and  Rachel Pomeroy, cultural advisor Denis Grennell, along with invited teachers James Richardson, Matt King, Jessica Hutchins, Steve Porteous, Jenny Lindberg, Toru Education provided a high quality, enthusiastically valued experiential learning experience. 

“Access to the knowledge of teachers living wholesomely with deep care and intentionality was so significant for me. These people have been doing this for YEARS and the scope of their skills is immense. The impact of their generosity and passion was truly amazing and I am so grateful to have learnt from them”

— Beka (Participant)

Students in the garden

Rooted in considerations for time of year, impacts and influences of weather, stars, soil and stories, the cohort of PDC 2021 gathered in honour of building lives that are deeply connected to what ultimately keeps us all healthy. A regenerative ecosystem, the lowest impact exchange with whenua where growing kai, wood and animals is concerned, permaculture, biodynamics and Hua Parakore all woven in. Living with true seasonality - in how we impact land and how we are in ourselves. Knowing when to act, and when to rest. When to observe and when to influence. How permaculture practices positively impact disaster recovery, working with clients on designing systems for low impact land management that prioritises plant and soil health. Ultimately, permaculture principles can be applied to anything.

This course comes highly recommended by the 2021 participants. Direct quotes follow:

“What stood out for me was to be introduced to such a wide variety of site visits and change makers. People from all walks of life who made a difference to the outer landscape. While we worked hard in smaller and larger groups on our inner landscape, making sense of it all and internalising this knowledge. I experienced a sense of wholeness and balance in the setup and content presentations. I loved doing a real playground design for an early childhood centre for my end project, and realised how much confidence I had gained!”

— Hella


“I participated in the PDC during a period of intense personal upheaval. At the time of the course I didn’t have a significant capacity to take in the material but in the years following the lessons on social permaculture, the “living” living room and the lessons in ecological design that can inform personal decisions among many other insights have been a guidepost in the most challenging personal period I’ve faced. I’m incredibly grateful for the experience and the fruits that will yield from the course.”

— Jess B

“For me one of the most impactful parts of the course was the connections and sense of community that came from it. I loved the rhythm of re-connecting with the same group of people each season. We were all so excited to catch up on what had been growing in our gardens, hearts and minds since we last met. And so much grew for all of us… For me it was thanks to our PDC community that I found both a dream tiny house project and a wonderful place where we could work on turning it into a home.”

— Fiona

Final post for student project
Rachel Pomeroy teaching students

“Seeing all the different people on their various permaculture journeys & following their dreams gave me confidence to pursue mine. Eg. our composting toilet just arrived - something I don’t think I would’ve felt empowered to set up otherwise!”

— Brittany

“Doing this permaculture course with all of you has had a profound impact on my life. It laid foundations for so much of what I’m doing now. I’m deep in editing an 8 part series about Hua Parakore with Jessica Hutchings who I first met at Gary and Emily’s place. I’m beginning to develop land at Waitārere Beach based on Permaculture and Hua Parakore principles. I so often reflect on insights like “Value the margins”, “start small and slow”, “obtain a yield” in all aspects my daily life and find wisdom in them.
I honestly feel like our very special year together set me on a course for the rest of my life that feels restorative and meaningful and I am really grateful for that.”

— Jess F

The course has enabled each participant to build their resilience and deepen their connection to community and place. If you wish to help fund or participate in a future course, contact Doris at