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The Foundation Yearbook


Sustainable Agriculture Institute - Revolutionizing Sustainable Living 

The Institute’s purpose of which is to pursue the goal of excellence in Integrated Design Sciences.

 Table of Contents

  1. S.A.I.’s Adoption of The Permaculture Academies Foundation Yearbook Outline
  2. The Foundation Year-Book of The Sustainable Agriculture Institute
  3. Open Universities and Itinerant Teachers
  4. The Form of the Institute
  5. How the Institute will Operate
  6. Steps Towards Degrees and Academic Membership
  7. Fields for Thesis and Projects
  8. Formal Registration of Academic Centers
  9. Textbooks, Curricula, and Resources
  10. An Etymology

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S.A.I. Adoption of the Permaculture Academy Foundation Yearbook Outline

The Sustainable Agriculture Institute has been formed under the guidelines laid out by Bill Mollison, the founder of Permaculture, in “The Foundation Year-book of the Permaculture Academy“. S.A.I. has adopted the Permaculture Foundation to become an Institute and has modified the Original Year-book in line with today’s modern business practices and online Learning Management Systems as well as the International Standards Organizations guidelines for the application of ISO 9001:2008, IWA 2, Quality Management Systems, as pertaining to Higher Education Requirements.

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The Foundation Year-Book of The Sustainable Agriculture Institute

It is clear that what is proposed here is a serious undertaking not normally achievable by unsupported people. Therefore, we must do it bare-handed going forward, with all intellect, goodwill, and selflessness, but above all with a deadly persistence until the task is over until we have established an Institute that runs itself, unsupported.

The aim of the Institute is to encourage and reward “practical positivism” – effort towards solutions. We are not so interested in further defining well-known problems, but we are interested in solving those already widely defined. We consider there is enough evidence of global problems, but not enough models of practical solutions. It is just too easy to get more evidence, or oppose all the time; we are sure that positive, practical realistic solutions have the greatest effect on problems, and this is where we prefer to spend our efforts.

We are essentially designers of practical working models, more than theoreticians; at least once the action starts and theory is proved or disproved. Otherwise, our aim is to preserve academic integrity, to seek evidence of excellence and comprehension, a proper skepticism, and a teachable (hence comprehensible) approach to work.

As belief is disempowering, we do not deal in belief; rather in working models accessible to everybody, explicable, measurable, beneficial, reproducible, realistic, available to, and understandable by everyone.

While we realize the value of evidence and protest in changing public opinion, we belong to another discipline – that of real solutions.

In January 1979, formal teaching commenced in Permaculture Design through Bill Mollison.

As graduates build up members in any one country, first Permaculture Associations are formed, then formal Permaculture Institutes and, as projects develop, such enterprises as ethical investment centers, consultancy services and, eventually, development corporations for using investment capital are set up.

Where universities send their staff members to courses, Permaculture is taught in horticultural, small farm design, and environmental design courses. As the trend for Permaculture teaching permeates other formal institutions, the need for accurate recording services and educational handbooks – rather like a university yearbook (but with a longer life!) spelling out our educational requirements – becomes essential.

It is needed to keep track of graduates for larger projects, to identify teachers, to introduce ethical investments and development centers, and to set standards acceptable to all institutes and fixed institutions, such as colleges and universities. That is, we need to observe standards in Diplomas and Degree courses compatible with other institutions’ requirements.

As graduates increase (and mature), professional associations, good academic criteria, and the establishment of research foundations will increasingly become important. We should also have an eye to the future, and if possible anticipate needs.

Requests for introductory courses now exceed our capacity to either supply teachers or to back up finance in a physical aspect. It is obvious that our “western” Permaculture Institutes need to build up foundation grants (capital invested, interest-only used), and not solely to ensure payment for teachers in areas of need.

Courses in the western world can be given through a college or charged to students. Once local teachers evolve, courses are given locally at low or realistic costs, and this is our usual long-term solution.

Of our courses, leading to higher degrees, the basic introductory or general course (for all climates) is in fact based on, or rather gave its structure to, Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual (Tagari Publications 1989), available from the Permaculture Institute.

That volume, together with material from Introduction to Permaculture (1991) makes up the basic texts. Teachers always include local species assemblies, techniques, and culture in purely local courses, although in fact all but fourth world courses have always included a truly international student body.

The lecture hours for a basic course are 72, based on 4th year university course hours, but can be more if time allows. Wherever possible, some days are also spent in field observations, establishing small domestic gardens, and in planning whole landscapes and their support services. The basic texts are now translated into many languages and tens of thousands of copies sold worldwide.

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From the beginning, the determination of the Permaculture Institutes has been to concentrate on going to the people, not locking themselves away in fixed institutions, unavailable to people who live in remote locations, in poverty, or who are now “illiterate” in terms of major languages (although very literate verbally, and a mine of knowledge).

Thus, teachers have given courses in very remote and sometimes dangerous areas, and will always continue to do so. These certificated courses allow students to achieve applied diplomas of design following two or more years of activity.

We now propose to set up the Institute as an open “university”, and to give these certificate courses. It would not dismay us if every person had access to a certificated course, and knew how to design sustainable houses, villages, economies, and land-use systems.

To eventually achieve widespread education in Permaculture, we must always concentrate on “letting teachers loose” in their own cultures, using their own languages, and teaching their own people.

However, while this work continues, we must always try to further develop open universities, internships on actual projects, and higher-level residential and separate courses in rented or owned institutions.

In all our corporate moves, we always plan to include education in every development, and wherever possible, trainee teachers are included in courses so that they gain confidence in preparing and giving courses; this is not possible where no money is available for fares, or where no previous courses have been given.

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This Institute is intended to be as broad as are the graduates of our teachers.

Vice-Chancellors (people with a history of university learning, or who have themselves completed a Permaculture Design Course) can offer, or be asked to volunteer, their services.

Every Permaculture graduate who holds a Bachelors Degree or higher will be asked to supervise (in the sense of planning, discussing, and helping assess) any other graduate at the Diploma level who wishes to take a higher degree, either as an account of applied work or as a research thesis on that work.

This Institute has multiple aims:

  • To form an association for all academies and academic graduates (who, in addition, have Permaculture training) as a professional society, which researches, implements, and conducts training in design sciences for sustainable systems.
  • To operate, as it evolves, an academic organization for the supervision of higher degree applicants, on a regional basis but globally in scope. In effect, to establish a widespread, non-hierarchical training group akin to an open university.
  • To offer degree courses both as applied degrees based in fieldwork, as degrees based on research and thesis, or as a balance of these methods, and to find appropriate supervisors of such degrees.
  • The Institute proposes to reinstate the ethics and philosophies of the original universities: that they are essentially free associations of teachers and students (magistrorum and minorum). That they are centers of free inquiry, free also from the constraints of external governments and councils, of the straitjackets of “disciplines which prevent the study of integrated design sciences, and also free of necessitous residence in or near a fixed institution, and fixed fees.

This Institute, in addition, will accept the basic ethics of the Permaculture movement generally:

  • Care of the Earth. Enhancement of the life support systems of clean air, clean water, healthy soils, and the conservation of the genetic bases of forests, wildlife, biomass, and the domestic cultivars or livestock varieties on which mankind depends.
  • Care of People. In that, the provision of basic needs for food, energy, and shelter are provided (in the context of a conserver society, with the aim of interdependence and cooperation of peoples regionally and globally), and assistance in the preservation of human cultures, languages, and autonomy.
  • Reinvestment of Surplus. Time, money, yields, or resources in order to achieve the preceding two aims.

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All Permaculture trainees and college members, with degrees or diplomas from this or other institutions, are eligible for academic membership.

Diplomates are, after receiving their Diplomas, considered to be enrolled in a College of Permaculture, and can proceed to Baccalaureates (Bachelor degrees) or higher degrees with the Institute.

Diplomates with extant higher degrees from other academic institutions, colleges, or universities can enroll with the Institute as follows:

a) Those with Bachelor’s degrees can enroll for postgraduate degrees and may apply for membership of the Institute.

b) Those with Masters or Doctoral degrees, Readers, Deans, Professors, or Chancellors can volunteer to act as Regional Vice-Chancellors for this Institute and find or appoint supervisors (or act as supervisors) for those studying for higher degrees. Such people are registered as academics or academicians of the Sustainable Agriculture Institute.

In all cases except those of Diploma of Permaculture Design recipients, notification of membership must be forwarded to the Institute together with a short C.V. (the Institute already holds registers of Diplomates).

As the Institute develops, it should be able to find qualified people in most centers, or volunteers to supervise by correspondence. Given that most universities are located in or near cities, attendance at these institutions means expenses beyond the capacity of most families (few offer courses in functional design or integrated studies) and, in many cases, some 70,000 to 100,000 students are turned away from such centers annually in rich western countries such as the United States of America, European Union countries or Australia.

The Sustainable Agriculture Institute sees a real need for an independent able to offer courses in applied design sciences to rural people, students in remote areas, or poor people.

By charging only mutually agreed on supervising fees, and a small sum for the issue of degree certificates, the cost of academic studies can be brought within the range of most people. Even these costs can be paid as credits to supervisors under the L.E.T. (Local Energy Trading) system if such systems have been established locally, thus further reducing the cash costs of such an education.

Our aim is to stimulate excellence in the studies of sustainable systems, whether these are agricultural, settlement planning, financial, or community-based projects, or in research on specific areas applicable to Permaculture.

Thus the formation of an Institute is an almost inevitable result of our prior education in the applied design sciences field leading to a Diploma of Permaculture Design (Dip. Perm. Des.). This yearbook, a foundation document, sets out some of the ways the Institute will work and gives prototypes of application forms for both members of the Institute and for registering applications for higher degree studies.

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1. Completion of a Permaculture Design Certificate Course. Teachers supply and sign certificates, and forward student lists to regional recorders. The curriculum is covered in Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual.

2. Completion of Applied Filed Work.

3. All students, including those who previously held degrees from other Institutions, or those who do not, need to complete the above Fieldwork in Permaculture in order to hold a Diploma or other Higher Degree.

4. Baccalaureate or Higher Degrees. Those who already have degrees from other institutions can, at this point, proceed as follows:

a) Enroll for a Post Graduate Degree.

b) Enroll as a member of the Academy at Baccalaureate.

c) Enroll as a Vice-Chancellor of the Academy (at Master’s or Doctoral levels).

Members of the Academy can act as supervisors to other students, to their own level.

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The following fields have been the basis of diplomate work, and form an indication of the areas that can be covered by degree students for applied or theoretical degrees. Applied degrees are weighted to field projects; academic degrees are weighted towards research.

1) Education: This includes special education, education via electronic media, or the development of educational aids.

2) Media: Many students are developing information systems, photo libraries, print or electronic systems, and some have succeeded as journalists. Authors producing a significant thesis or finding in any area of research indicated here may submit for a degree.

3) Site Development: This indicates work on a farm or village over a long period, working to develop a Permaculture system or community facility or project.

4) Site Design: People acting as consultants to a variety of projects, rural and urban, may submit for applied degrees. Planners and consultants for projects in Permaculture.

5) Community Services: For those devoting their time, often with great hardship, to populations in poverty, fourth world people (tribal peoples), disadvantaged or aged groups, and to people in urban and rural poverty.

6) Finance and Business: Developing and promoting local employment, non-monetary exchange, cash recycling in a community, cooperative endeavors, models of development, and cost-benefit analyses of real projects, accounted financially, socially, and environmentally.

7) Technical Development: People developing technical systems in transport, energy, processing systems, recycling, conservation systems or efficient appliances.

8) Resource Development: Making supporting resources available via land banks, plant or seed resources, livestock development, contract services, and other essential support systems.

9) Architecture and Building: Completion of projects demonstrating low-cost and energy-efficient housing, special purpose buildings, or the construction of villages and suburbs.

10) Research: A broad category, covering all Permaculture-related areas; a blend of the practical and theoretical is ideal.

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Any formal (Parliamentary Act, Royal Decree, Foundation Trust) registration of this Institute in any country will be notified to the Librarian, and such registrations should be actively sought. We certainly do not lack integrity or credibility as an organization, and this is the last step to our status as a professional organization, open to all of us and operated by ourselves, under our own academic umbrella.

Like the extant system of itinerant teachers, we will maintain a power-free, multimodal, non-hierarchical structure, based on the ancient ideas of free people pursuing free inquiries, in line with our accepted ethics.

It cannot be given away except for graduates. Copyright is deliberately sought, and the unique name coined so that this system of education could not be pre-empted by existing institutions or government agencies, but belongs to certificated individuals and Permaculture Institutes (as corporate bodies).

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The basic text for all curricula and courses, and the overall definition of the scope of Permaculture studies are:

MOLLISON, Bill, 1989. Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual Tagari Publications, Australia. The chapter contents of this text layout the curriculum of the basic 72-hour Permaculture Design Course.

Other Recommended Texts and Resources

FUKUOKA, M., 1978 The One-Straw Revolution. (available from libraries)

FUKUOKA, M., 1985. The Natural Way of Farming. Japan Publications Inc., Tokyo & New York.

GEIGER, R., 1950. The Climate Near the Ground. Harvard University Press,

N.Y. HOWARD, Sir Albert, 1943. An Agricultural Testament. Oxford University Press.

KERN, K. and Barbara., 1977. The Owner-Built Homestead. Charles Scribner’s Sons,

N.Y. KING, F.H., 1911. Farmers of Forty Centuries: Permanent Agriculture in China, Korea, and Japan. Rodale Press, Emmaus,

PA. MOLLISON, Bill and Reny Mia Slay, 1991. Introduction to Permaculture. Tagari Publications, Sisters Creek, Australia.

SHOLTO DOUGLAS, J. and Robert de Hart., 1976. Forest Farming. Watkins, London.

SMITH, J. R., 1977. Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture. Devine-Adair, Old Greenwich.

TURNER, N., 1974. Fertility Pastures and Cover Crops. Bargyla and Gylver Rateaver, Paurna Valley, CA.

WAIT, K., 1973. Principles of Environmental Science. McGraw-Hill International.

YEOMANS, P. A., 1981. Water for Every Farm / Using the Keyline Plan. K. Yeomans, 18 Commodore Dr., Paradise Waters, Queensland 4217, Australia.

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The meaning of keywords used in this yearbook.


An association of scholars or academics. Also, a school of study founded to promote a particular philosophy (e.g. Platonic philosophy). Here, the philosophy or ethics are those of Permaculture: the study and development of sustainable systems for landscapes and settlements. PERMACULTURE is derived from permanent and culture, as below.

Permanent: from the Latin permanens, to remain to the end, to persist throughout (per: through, manere: to continue).

Culture: from the Latin cultura, cultivation of land, or the intellect; now generalized to mean all those habits, beliefs, or activities that sustain human societies.

Thus, Permaculture is the study of the design of those sustainable or enduring systems that support human society, both agricultural and intellectual, traditional and scientific, architectural, financial and legal. It is the study of integrated systems, for the purpose of better design and application of such systems.


Latin for a field, applied also to ‘a field of study’; narrowly defined by some as enclosures within a college, but here used as an area open to intellectual inquiry.


Restricted, in the case of Permaculture, to integrated functional design, thus the conscious and intentional design of integrated systems. The process of design is to place any component of a system where it will best connect to other components, when, therefore, its requirements are met and its products used. It is the science of best relative placement of components in a plan or pattern, whose main function is to increase resources, conserve energy, and reduce or eliminate pollution or waste.


Restricted in Permaculture usage to any system that provides or conserves sufficient energy, over its normal life expectancy, to build and maintain itself, and to give a yield surplus to those requirements. Essentially, any system which amortizes its costs in energy terms.