How a teacher used permaculture to overcome adversity

DOWN TO EARTH: Award-winning permaculturalist Dan Deighton explains the gardening movement permaculture.
DOWN TO EARTH: Award-winning permaculturalist Dan Deighton explains the gardening movement permaculture. Amber Macpherson

PERMACULTURE - in the past few years, everyone would have heard about it, but how many of us actually know what it is, or what it means?

"Permaculture really means permanent culture - so how can we live permanently as a society?" Pinbarren permaculture expert and teacher Dan Deighton explains.

"Often it comes up as gardening but it can cover everything.

"You can use permaculture in medicine, or renewable energies, harvesting energy that's going to last permanently."

A bit of a Google confirms this: permaculture is usually defined as the act of working with nature, such as plants and animals, in harmony to produce a sustainable future.

Its principles encourage learning how to utilise ecosystems to have minimal impact on natural environments - if humans disappear, nature will take over the permacultured area with little need to adapt.

We're standing in a beautiful property in Pinbarren that falls gently in to a valley. The afternoon sun has dipped behind the hills, casting a long cooling shadow.

Dan is going through the beginning of a permaculture garden design class, teaching the group how to identify different elements that can affect how a garden grows.

Things like slope, wind direction, aspect, shadows and reflected light all come in to play, and it's getting technical - familiar high school maths equations keep popping up, and I'm feeling a little intimidated.

"What they're learning is similar to the first year of landscape gardening architecture at university," Dan said.

"They've got a format they work through and tick things off."

With an established program and a healthy number of students happy to drive a little off the beaten track to find the property, you would think the class has been running for years.

Only a few months ago, Dan had to face an ultimatum - keep the classes going, or shut it all down.


Originally, the classes ran out the back of That Place in Pomona, a trendy little restaurant and microbrewery on a property in Pomona's town centre.

When That Place in Pomona closed down, Dan was heartbroken - he'd created a strong community of like-minded people that cared for the future of the earth.

"I didn't want to leave there, but to stay would have been really difficult," Dan said.

"The way we responded was to be creative rather than give up and fold.

"What came out of it is that we're here, we've adapted. When things ended in town, we didn't lose anything. That was the most surprising thing.

"The gardening program, it wasn't the end. It was actually the beginning. All the lessons we learnt we took away with us."

Dan reassessed the situation and drew on a philosophy of permaculture to move forward.

"The last principle of permaculture is to creatively use and respond to change," Dan said.

"The symbol of permaculture is a butterfly, so its transformation and metamorphosis is about adapting."

One of the class members, Georgia Bailey, offered her out of town property to continue the classes, and away they went.

"He'd put in a year's work (at That Place in Pomona). He'd made it all happen," Georgia said.

"As much as I knew he was hurting, we said 'you can do it'. A lot happened, but it helped you to get here."

Dan said he wasn't ready to give up on the happiness that grows from the permaculture classes.

"The enjoyment comes from being well and being together," Dan said.

"We could all be at home gardening, but there's something that happens when we're all together.

"The main thing for me is the people products - the friendships, the community, facing challenges together. You're with your friends."

Dan has general garden classes every Monday 4pm-5.30pm and Tuesday Mornings 7am-8.30am.

Upcoming workshops:

Creating a No Dig Garden - 22 April 

Establishing a Productive Garden - 13-14 May 

Design and Plan Your Permaculture Garden - 17-18 June

Visit and for more information and how to sign up for permaculture classes.

Topics:  dan deighton farming nature noosa permaculture pinbarren

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Hot and dry conditions spark weekend infernos

DESTRUCTION: A fire at Noosa North Shore destroyed three houses and damaged two others.

Noosa was ablaze with at least three separate fires at the weekend

Speak up for road safety this week

ROAD SAFETY WEEK: Constable Matthew Bedding, constable Bradley Threkeld and constable Steve Freney participating in speed management LiDAR training in George Street.

Communities encouraged to get behind Road Safety Week

Outback adventure awaits volunteer

TOP HAT: Patrick Roach adds some race fashion to an Akubra for the Birdsville Races.

Patrick Roach is preparing to tick something off his bucket list.

Local Partners

Two bushfires burning, Sunshine Motorway closed

Two bushfires are burning in the Noosa area and the Sunshine Motorway is closed in both directions at Peregian Springs

Painting a brighter future for koalas

WORTH SAVING: The Queensland Koala Crusaders' Community Crowdfunding Campaign aims to raise $30,000 towards the cost of planting 10,000 trees for koalas.

Queensland Koala Crusaders have launched a crowdfunding campaign

REVEALED: Liam Gallagher is coming to Falls Festival

English musician, singer, and songwriter, former lead singer of the rock band Oasis, Liam Gallagher performs during his concert at National Olympic Sports Center in Beijing, China, 10 August 2017.

He revealed the news ahead of the official line up announcement

New colour festival to hold global debut on Sunshine Coast

The Sunshine Coast has locked in a new, world first festival: but get in quick, tickets are on sale tomorrow.

The Project will now be on six nights a week

The Project presenters Waleed Aly, Carrie Bickmore and Peter Helliar.

The Project is expanding with a Sunday night edition and a new host.

Click your fingers, tap your toes

Helen Peters, Elisabeth Wallis-Gaedtke, Evalee Sharples and Kemal Avunduk rehearse for Fascinating Rhythm, Sunshine Coast Oriana Choir's performance of hot jazz, sizzling samba, Latin beats and smooth swing sounds at Lake Kawana Community Centre on August 26-27.

Libby to set beat for Fascinating Rhythm this weekend

Margot Robbie is unrecognisable in London

Margot, is that really you?

MARGOT Robbie looks completely unrecognisable as Queen Elizabeth I.

Game of Thrones: Season 7 finale predictions

Emilia Clarke in a scene from season 7 of Game of Thrones.

JON and Daenerys finally met. But what happens next?

Reese Witherspoon on being a ‘has-been’ at 36

Witherspoon’s career has never looked better but that didn’t stop people declaring her a “has-been”.

Reese on the ‘brutal’ article that called her a has-been at 36.

RECAP: Game of Thrones s7 e6 - Beyond the Wall

Kristofer Hivju, Kit Harington, Iain Glen, Paul Kaye and Joe Dempsie in a scene from Game of Thrones.

*Warning this story contains spoilers about today's new episode*

Residents fear sand mine sell out by State Minister

Sand mine opponents attend the Nambour Council Chambers.Cou

Further testing undertaken on site, despite claims of significance

Investors quick to snap up property in key growth corridor

High-profile commercial site sells at auction for $4.920m

EXPLAINED: What the 'Costco effect' means for Ipswich

PRICE WARS: A Costco store similar to this one in Canberra, is planned for Ipswich.

Exclusive 'cult' about to change how families do grocery shopping

4800 homes to be built in massive new Coast estate

Masterplanned community full steam ahead - it's not Caloundra South

Open for inspection homes August 17 - 23

Check out this weekend's homes open for inspection.

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!