Learning through Experience — Toru Trust

Our workshops and courses are now mostly facilitated through TORU EDUCATION TRUST.

The guidelines of this trust are as follows:

  • 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.


Workshops & Courses

We also facilitate and tutor workshops and courses at our place and for other organisations and community groups.

This includes the following:

Short Workshops

We facilitate and tutor short (2 day) workshops on permaculture and indigeneous worldviews, through a Te Tiriti partnership.  This involves observation and pattern recognition skills and interactive learning along with conceptual understanding of alternative perspectives on the world we live in.

We have facilitated and tutored 1 and 2 day workshops on perennial plant food growing through food forests, or forest gardening.  We have designed and project managed a 20 hectare Food Forest through its 5 year establishment period, along with a design team and on-site implementation.  We are now available to provide advise and design services for the development of site-specific forest-based horticulture, as a regenerative form of food growing, which is both highly productive and resilient.

For a pamphlet outlining forest gardening in Aotearoa/New Zealand go to:  BOOKS

Residential Permaculture Course

We have facilitated and tutored two week (live-in) residential courses since 2013.  We decided not to do a residential course in 2020 – good decision.

However, we are doing a 4 module course for 2021 – all going according to plan.  This consist of 4 modules on a seasonal basis of 3 to 4 days each.  The first will be a Summer/Fire module in January, followed by an Autumn/Water one in April, a Winter/Earth (3 day) one in July, and a Spring/Air one in October.  This course will be facilitated by Toru Education Trust ( ), and will be held partly at our place and partly at Waihoanga Centre ( ) beside the Otaki River.

This course is full, unless someone has to withdraw.

A summary of what the course covers is:

  • Introduction to permaculture principles and ethics
  • 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.
  • Introduction to biodynamics and astronomy
  • Introduction to Maori food politics & Hua Parakore: a kaupapa Maori approach to growing.
  • Food – Home gardening: from living soil to nourishing food.
  • Water – essence of life.
  • Building – Natural building & Appropriate technologies.
  • Cultural transformation and natural economics.
  • Creating resilient and healthy communities.
  • Design methods and presentation

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.

Modular Permaculture Course

We developed a modular Permaculture Design Course, and have facilitated these modular courses undertaken on weekends, over 9 months to a year, since 2005.

In 2013 we tutored a modular course run through RECAP in Ashhurst.  Since then RECAP have organised further courses, and we have been involved as tutors in these courses.

RECAP now provide these modular courses over two years.

The following is the modules of the 2016 course, of RECAP, as an example our modular courses:

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 would like more information about courses and workshops on permaculture, natural building, organic horticulture and regenerative forest gardening, and other aspects of healthy, just and resilient living, or would like to have a short tour of our place — through Contact Us