Learning through Experience — Toru Trust

We promote teaching and learning “from experience to concept”.

We engage hands, heart and head in a balanced manner.

We embrace an open approach to permaculture ethics and principles.

We are teaching and learning from each other.

Toru Education provides experiential learning opportunities that nurture

people, planet and spirit,

and encourages the self organized creation of such opportunities.



We will be repeating the healthy nutrition workshop again in spring 2017


Phillippa Martin 

Emily Williams 


The weekend workshop covers the making and using of:

  • Yoghurt, kefir, clabbered milk and soft cheese (feta and mozzarella types)
  • Sourdough bread and chia chips
  • Kombucha
  • Lacto fermented vegetables and drinks
  • Flavoured vinegars and alcohol
  • Chutney, relish, pickle and sauce
  • Fruit bottling – overflow and oven methods
  • Jam alternatives
  • Sprouting, soaking grains and nuts

There will be lots of tasting opportunities as we make these, and also try some other homemade products eg. pickled walnuts, pate, kale chips and juices.

Take home your own starters for yoghurt, kefir, kombucha and sourdough.

Take home samples of some of the products made.

We will discuss nutrient dense food and the importance of good food and water.  There is an emphasis on low sugar.

Cost covering tuition, ingredients (organic/local as much as possible), folder of recipes, starters and samples is: $290.  Maximum 12 participants, minimum numbers also apply

No extra cost for lunches of garden salads, broths, breads etc. and teas.

Each day runs from 9.30 – 4.30

Please reply if you are interested, at Contact Us

Residential Permaculture Course

We are the main tutors for a two week (live-in) residential course held at Waihoanga Retreat in Otaki ( in October of the last two years (2015 and 2016).  The next residential course will be held in January 2018, at our place and Waihoanga.

The courses have been organised by Doris Zuur, with other tutors including Rachel Pomeroy, Matt King of Green Earth and Sarah Adams.

A summary of what the course covers is:

  • Guidelines and strategies for healthy and sustainable living.
  • Connection to nature and place.
  • Observation and recognising nature’s patterns and ecosystems.
  • Design methods and presentation.
  • Nourishing body, mind and spirit.
  • Food – soil to plate.
  • Water – essence of life.
  • Appropriate tools and buildings.
  • Cultural transformation and natural economics.
  • Creating resilient and healthy communities.

The course is a recognised permaculture design certificate course by PiNZ, the New Zealand permaculture organisation.

We facilitate these course for all learning styles, as open creative learning.  The course includes a variety of design exercises, practical activities, field trips, group and project work, as well as presentations and DVDs.

There is a sliding scale for the cost, which you select from depending on your circumstances, which last year was $2000 to $1700.  This includes all meals and on-site camping accommodation.

There is a minimum of 12 people for the course to run, and a maximum of 20, to fit our facilities and ensure the interactive and action learning of a small group.

There is one place available at half the cost in exchange for some course assistance.  This depends on total numbers.

Please reply if you are interested, at Contact Us

For more information see:

Modular Permaculture Course

We have facilitated modular courses over weekends for the last 5 years.

Over recent years the modular courses have been run through RECAP in Ashhurst.  The most recent course finished in October this year (2016).

Another modular course is being held through RECAP again this year.

The workshops are as follows:

1) Permaculture Principles & Design:

Welcome and introductions; permaculture ethics & principles; general applications of permaculture; ecological principles and design; concepts of sustainability.

2) Landscape & Site Assessment:

Natural patterns and reading the landscape; techniques of observation; measuring and recording land form; sectors & aspect; gathering information of natural conditions and cultural features and requirements; design process (information collection, analysis, options, evaluation and drawing up).

3) Soils:

Nature of soils and soil structure; soil life and fertility; soil testing (visual assessments & plant indications); soil/plant/animal relationships (nutrient cycles, mixing of air & water); composting; re-vitalisation aids (seaweed, rock dusts, EM, biodynamics etc).

4) Food Gardens:

Garden layout & design (sun, shelter, access, companion planting, rotation, green manures); garden preparation (digging, mulching, humus build-up); garden types & relationships; plant health & diseases/pests/predators; weed management; seed saving.

5) Culture & Social structures:

Worldviews, assumptions & identity; personal, social & economic transformation; legal structures, ownership and privilege; function of money, banking & financial systems, alternative currencies; decision-making procedures, social roles and conflict management.

6) Urban Living:

Healthy & sustainable living in cities; suburban retrofit & reducing your ecological footprint; apartment living first steps; engaging with local communities & councils; subdivision & development; layout and integration of urban areas/activities (community based and adapted to the landscape, transport and service corridors, integrated infrastructure, social services and community facilities).

7) Water & Water harvesting:

Nature and importance of water; watersheds & hydrological cycles; sources and sediments; purification & treatment (water quality, pollution & re-vitalisation); storage (naturally and in reservoirs); harvesting; uses, multiple use, re-use and conservation.

8) Tree Gardens & Small Animals:

Diversity of orchards, food forests, staple crops and small animals; climate and landscape and selecting trees/vines/berries/crops etc for site; layout for needs, guilds, diversity and in relation to facilities; planting & pruning; food forests and ecological principles; orchard management for productivity and plant health, and integration with small animals (bees, poultry, pigs); ecology of plants and animals; management and care of small animals.

9) Air & Climate:

Nature of the atmosphere (air, life and climate); types of climates, circulation patterns and changing climates; weather (rain, snow & ice, frost, droughts) & micro-climates; air quality, pollution & re-vitalisation; shelter & shade (design & species).

10) Nature’s Abundance & Dynamics:

Natural eco-systems, biomes and changes in climate and landscapes over time; role of forests and grasslands; large animal grazing and soil fertility; grazing management and animal care (water, stock movement, shelter, shade and health); structures (fencing, yards etc); forest types and habitats; services and re-generation; uses and management; coppicing and pruning, thinning; species and spacing; wild foods and herbal medicines. Dynamics of natural processes and large events; hazards (physical, biological/chemical, social and economic) and risk assessment; information about hazards, preparedness and responses.

11) Energy & Technology:

Nature and types of energy; sources of energy; energy analysis (efficiency, life-cycle energy); peak oil and energy descent; approach of science & technology and industrial production; appropriate technology and R principles – refuse, reduce, repair, re-use & recycle; energy and transport alternatives.

12) Shelter & the Built Environment:

Principles of building biology and ecology; orientation & layout for site and surroundings; building design (warmth & ambience, insulation, passive and active systems, storage & heat pumps, sound, light and electro-magnetism); building materials & construction (local earth, straw, timber, embodied energy, toxicity, finishings); services (on-site supply, micro-hydro, wind & solar energy, re-use & recycling, compost toilets, greywater systems etc).

Design Project workshop day at or after end of course.

Further information is available at the RECAP site RECAP

Please reply if you are interested, at Contact Us


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