Erasmus+ mobility- Job Shadowing a PDC in England

Text: Charlotte Louise Langdon
Photos: Aranya

Job shadowing for Aranya and Caroline Aitkens PDC course this spring has given me a great deal of inspiration for developing my teaching. This I would like to share with you here.

We were about 18 people who spent two weeks at High Heathercombe Centre: this included a teaching team of 3, plus me as the shadow, 2 working in the kitchen and 12 participants.

Here I have collected some of the things that made the teaching on this course so effective.

  • What we teach- is the content relevant?

Questionnaire was sent out before the course beginning- covering participant’s previous knowledge of permaculture, their interests, expectations and future plans for using permaculture in their life. The teaching group read through the questionnaire replies together, on the day of arrival. This meant we were able to see who in the group had previous knowledge and who were beginners. This helped in organising groups and making the content relevant to all participants.  Other methods could be a show of hands, where educators ask the group about their interests.  The questionnaire also helped to flag up and unknown circumstances like health problems, shyness or learning difficulties.


  • How it’s taught- is the process engaging and interactive?

Course days were filled with activities and opportunities to relay content to suit many learning styles.  Visual learners were met with slideshows, free standing pictures, as well as pictures and clear mind-maps on the whiteboard. Linguistic learners could talk it out in pairs or groups, kinaesthetic learners got the opportunity to move their bodies and complete practical activities, audio learning was aided by discussion and presentations. Participants were invited to work in groups, in threes, pairs and often came back to the whole group presentation in order to share the individual experiences from the activities to the whole class. This meant that the course felt dynamic, but also that participants could compare their own findings to the findings of others, thereby broadening their understanding.


After-lunch sessions were particularly reserved for practical and outdoor activities, since this is usually a time of low-energy when sat in a classroom situation. Activities included soil-testing, observation of natural systems, water audit for the teaching centre, measuring slope with bunyip and A-frame.  Handouts meant that it was possible for small groups to go and work independently while still receiving guidance from the educators. On the handouts were questions which should be filled in for later presentation to the whole group. How is the soil where you have taken your test? How does this compare to the other test site?



It was very clear that the educators had been inspired by multiple intelligences, the Action Learning Cycle and Accelerated learning in their teaching. (Participants are prepared by offering a safe group working environment and building on previous learning. The content is presented creatively and interactively and the participants then have the opportunity to practice the learning in real-world situations. They are then offered insight into their performance through peer support, coaching, personal observation, evaluation and feedback)



  • What relationships does this information make with our
    existing knowledge- does it connect with previous learning?


Reviews of the previous day’s content were carried out by each of the groups in turn. They would prepare a review for the rest of the group and were offered inspiration for how to do this with some “idea cards” The idea cards were based on the multiple intelligences- so it invited the review team to refresh their peers memories through mime, logic puzzles such as word scrambles, kinaesthetic activities including recreating the forest ecosystem with their body poses. Linguistic methods were also used in reviews where the participants could talk about their memories of the previous day with a partner. One fantastic review was auditory/musical and consisted of the group singing some very funny songs about the previous day’s content.  Very memorable!


End of week reviews consisted of the whole group drawing in image form, what we had learnt throughout the week, trying to match the memories to the day that we covered the content.


  • How does it lead us forward- what can we do with this new knowledge?
    The educators gave many practical examples of how the new knowledge could be used by the participants, introducing them to agroforestry methods, small-scale home sufficiency, national and global organisation and alternative economy. There were 3 visits to sites where practical examples of the course content could be found. Martin Crawford’s forest garden, LAND matters community and Odd-Job community recycling station.

The teaching crew had a library of relevant books on the subject matters covered. They would lay the relevant books from the library on the floor, so participants could see them, have a flick through or borrow them to read while staying at the centre. This gave a great deal of inspiration for further reading and where to go next. Participants also got the chance to go deeper into what they feel is relevant for them, outside of session time.


Participants gained the ability to actually start designing whilst on the course, presenting their design to their peers and receiving feedback from the educators and teaching apprentices. Achieving this learning outcome was made possible by the creative presentation of course content, group dynamics and support systems, and opportunities to practice design techniques.

A good example of this is the presentation of principles of permaculture (in slideshow form) and principles of ecology through drawings on the board and discussion, always asking the participants to contribute. “What is the difference between these two ecosystems?” Through inquisitive questioning, observing the image and thinking, the group cement the principles in their knowledge.

After being introduced to the key planning tools, participants were given a small design exercise to work on in groups, starting with a simple problem solving exercise: where to place a compost bin in a small garden. The course culminated in detailed group design work and finally presentations, feedback and celebration.


  • Teaching styles, individual sessions and the course as a whole were reviewed, both between the teaching team (when participants were busy with practical activities) and by the participants themselves through the opportunity to write feedback on post-it notes and pin them up- while the teachers were out of the room.



Design of Teaching Structures

What else can we learn from seeing, interactive, well-planned, quality practical and theoretical courses that are held in the UK. Part of the learning can come from looking at the course itself: teaching techniques, tools and the fantastic online and print learning resources available to students.

But we can also learn from the overreaching structures that support these courses, in the form of teacher’s guilds, mentoring opportunities and common teaching resources which make it possible for a group of educators to offer the same high quality education and worth to participants across the country.
Aranya is part of a teacher’s guild called “Designed Visions” which consists of Looby Macnamara, Chris Evans and Hannah Thorogood. They have worked with creating course materials, course timetables, improvement of courses and teaching, support, inspiration and peer review. They also have a common webpage where courses can be posted publicly.

Caroline Aitken had been working under a skilled mentor: Patrick Whitefield, where she had learnt many of the interactive teaching skills and techniques that came through on the course. These strategies make a great deal of sense, especially when working with permaculture. We know that an integrated system is more resilient and stable than segregated elements (The group outlives the individual)

So on your next workshop or course, don’t forget:

  • Prepare well with lesson plans and learning outcomes
  • Prepare the learner by creating a comfortable and relaxed learning environment and nurture a cooperative group culture.
  • Find out about participants previous knowledge and make the content relevant to their needs.
  • Allow opportunities for group, pair and individual working.
  • Keep the course dynamic by including lots of different teaching methods.
  • Get the participants to review and refresh content often.
  • Guide participants to actually start putting the learning into practice, and offer feedback or peer-2-peer sharing following these exercises
  • Cater to the multiple intelligences

Become an EVS in Spain

If you are a member of Permakultur Danmark, are between 18 and 30 years old and  interested in becoming a volunteer for 9-12 months from next autumn through the European Volunteer Service, this 200ha-ecovillage could be a good option.


Los Portales is an intentional community that practices innovative ways of life in different areas including organic agriculture, holistic education, deep psychology, empowering and power sharing systems of governance, conflict resolution, natural medicines, art, clean energies, an economy based on sharing, and above all, the empowerment of each individual, continually advancing towards greater sustainability and self-sufficiency.

Founded in Andalucía in 1984 (although born in 1978 in Brussels), the inspiration of the founders was nurtured by Jungian psychology and dreamwork as a way to know and transform our fears and pains into power, and to access our hidden talents.

They have a firm commitment to personal and global development and harmony through respect for oneself, each other and their environment. They conceive the community not as an end in itself, but as a means of creation and a path of transformation.

After 33 years of existence, Los Portales is a well-established, stable and broad project that has developed in many directions and integrated the main dimensions of sustainability.

You can read more about Los Portales in their website:

If you know other projects that are of interest for you, you are welcome to contact them asking if they host EVS.

More info about EVS programme:

For further information about EVS, feel free to contact Ruben:

2-day Certified Laughter Yoga Leader Training in Fejø Retreat Center

An exciting course coming up first weekend of june in LAND center Fejø Retreat:

Become a Certified Laughter Yoga Leader and help to spread the laughter in permaculture places, yoga and fitness studios, senior care facilities, and many more places.
Denmark needs more laughter and impro.
Ruben has learned with UK´s Laughter Ambassador: Lotte Mikkelsen, who has trained more than 800 individuals over 10 years.

In order to participate you have to sign up and pay before may 8th.

Deadline to register: may 8th

This popular course is ideal for individuals who are looking to expand their set of skills, learn new energizers and bring more laughter into their lives and their teaching.
Or simply learn the Laughter Yoga techniques to add more laughter in your own life.

Who is Laughter Yoga Leader Training for?
The training is ideal for people in the following professions – but is not exclusive to those:
 Recreation activity facilitators
 Yoga teachers and sports coaches
 Occupational therapists and health care professionals
 Psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists
 Nurses and social workers
 Permaculture teachers
 Health care workers and senior care workers
 Professional speakers
 HR and management training professionals
 School teachers
 Entertainment professionals, actors and singers, clowns and comedians
 Life coaches and alternative therapists
 Tourism and nature guides
 And finally anyone who wants to add laughter and joy to their live

Ruben offers the popular Certified Laughter Yoga Leader Training in the following formats (for more details about courses and dates write to
 Group training (residential):
2-day Laughter Yoga Leader Training which runs in different locations.
 Private or workplace groups:

2-day or 4-half- day Laughter Yoga Leader Training running on request and always to suit your busy schedule, as well as running workshops by request.
NB The course content is the same for all Certified Laughter Yoga Leader Trainings.

For further details and information about tailored Laughter Yoga programmes for the workplace or information about Laughter Yoga and laughter training please contact us.
Course fee: Booking early is recommended.

Registration: Please secure your place via email/google form. You will receive confirmation and details once booked.
The world needs more laughter!

The course is held in the following location:
– Fejø Retreat Center – june 1-3
It comprises of two days of Laughter Yoga Leader Training as originally outlined by Dr.
Madan Kataria, Founder of the Laughter Yoga Movement.

Course Content
During the training you will
 get an understanding of the need for Laughter Yoga
 find out how the idea of Laughter Clubs originated
 learn the basic guidelines for a Laughter Session
 get to know the benefits of Laughter Yoga as well as the risks
 learn to present Laughter Yoga
 find out how to start a Laughter Club
 find out how to run community workshops
 practice a minimum of 40 laughter exercises
and much more.

EARLY BRID (Until april 30th): (1700dkk)
– Your own tent: 2550dkk
– Common room: 2650dkk
– 2-beds room (only x places): 2800dkk

Normal Price (From may 1st to may 8th): (2000dkk)
– Your own tent: 2850dkk
– Common room: 2950dkk
– 2-beds room (upon availability): 3100dkk

Fejø Retreat website:


Nordic Meeting 2018!

Nordic meeting2018 will be held at Stiftelsen Holma-
in Höör, Skåne (Sweden!)
From Friday the 9th Feb -. Sunday the 11th Feb

We will visit Holma Skogsträdgård (Holma Forest Garden) and there will be a presentation “Holma Folkhögskola- from idea to reality”

You can find the full program from january, on :

Registrations here!

Höör is easily reachable by train. (They go from Malmø a few times every hour) When you get to Höör station, it’s just 2,3km to Stiftelsen Holma. (takes a little under 30mins to walk)

For practical info, and sign-up
Contact Kicki

For the program and questions about diploma accreditation
Contact Hans


Scholarships to the IPC in India!

Did you know that when you take a PDC, you’re also supporting scholarships to the International Permaculture Convergence? These scholarships are given to permaculture practitioners from all over the world, so that they can afford to travel and take part in the IPC. For every participant who takes a PDC course here in Denmark, 100kr is donated to the cause.

This year we donated a total of 5.100kr! (That means we can also celebrate the fact that there are over 50 new certificate holders here in Denmark!) Thank you to all the teachers and participants who were involved.

There have already been applications for scholarships, from over 60 people, from Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Cameroon, Malawi, Gambia, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Kenya, Ghana, Zambia, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Brazil, Colombia, Jamaica, Belize, Ecuador, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Cuba, Argentina, Macedonia, Kazakhstan, Hungary, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Nepal, Sri Lanka and India

Why do we support this cause?

It’s really important that even those who don’t have the financial means to attend, still have the opportunity to take part in the IPC. This campaign allows them to be there, so their voices can be heard. It enables farmers and community leaders to come in contact with other permaculture practitioners, in order to gain support, inspiration and ideas- that they can then take home to their local communities.

What is the IPC?

The IPC is held every two years, and is an opportunity for permaculture practitioners from all over the world to get together, share knowledge and shape the future of the permaculture movement. This year’s theme is “towards healthy societies” and there is a particular emphasis on women as agents of change. There will be many speakers, giving talks, presenting their projects and sharing practical solutions through workshops and talks.

The conference takes place over two days,and this year it covers topics such as

  • sustainable resource management
  • revitalising and preserving traditional farming practices
  • permaculture and climate change adaption
  • women as agents of change.
  • Grassroots permaculture in action
  • Permaculture as a social responsibility.

The convergence is a five day residential, experiential learning forum with a focus on networking, knowledge sharing, hand-on practices and celebrations.

Learn more about the IPC in India here

Find the crowdfunding campaign and donate here

Launch of the European Day of Sustainable Communities

This conference brings together policy makers and representatives of the thousands of community-led initiatives on climate change and sustainability in Europe in order to launch the first ever European Day of Sustainable Communities (EDSC) that takes place the following day.

The conference aims to engage European Union (EU) policy-makers and stakeholders in Brussels by demonstrating how community-led initiatives on climate change and sustainability have a vital role to play in achieving climate targets. The potential of community-led action is significant, and the EESC is delighted to work together with ECOLISE to promote local action on sustainability. The event will also contribute to the action week that celebrates the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals.

To mark the European Day of Sustainable Communities on 23 September, communities across Europe will be showcasing their pioneering efforts to create new models for sustainable living. Ecovillages, Transition initiatives, permaculture projects, the agroecology movement, and many others will open their doors and invite the public to observe, discuss and be inspired by a diverse range of projects, covering everything from community energy, to local food, sustainable mobility, resource management and much more. You may find events close to you by consulting the European Day of Sustainable Communities events map.

During the conference at the EESC, there will be a live video link-up with the organisers showcasing a selection of these Europe-wide events. The latest information from the ECOLISE network will be shared with conference participants, including research findings on the status, impacts and challenges of community-led initiatives in Europe in achieving climate targets, preserving natural resources and biodiversity, and creating a fairer and more equitable society.

Participants at the European Day of Sustainable Communities launch event will include EU policy-makers such as the European Commission, Members of the European Parliament, Members of the EESC, government representatives, and community leaders, including ECOLISE members, partner organisations, associations and NGOs.

Please register here to reserve your place. A draft programme is now available. Visit our website for further information. For any question, please email

Folkeavisen is here!

Climate change threatens our future and it is necessary that we make a transition to a sustainable lifestyle, within just a few years, if we are to survive as a civilisation- that is, a maximum of 20 years according to climate research.

Already, this transition is taking place- companies are converting their production, towns are becoming transition towns, countries, governments and municipalities are beginning to take climate change seriously and the UN has made 17 World Sustainable Development Goals. To top it all off, 196 countries are included in the Paris Agreement, which focuses on a global transition in order to counter climate change.

Initiatives are spreading, but are unfortunately they still aren’t sufficient. It’s for this reason that Danish green organisations came together to create a “Folkeavis” (The people’s paper) for the upcoming local elections here in 2017. The paper is an appeal to: take action, create a new path and make the transition to sustainability on all levels.  This can mean sustainable development of the Danish society, carried by the public, the municipalities, and companies.

This paper has been written by 36 green associations and people from civil society. In it you will find a long list of solutions and suggestions, on how we can create sustainability within 9 important areas. These are simple solutions- straightforward to implement, that have been tried and tested.

These aren’t party politic suggestions, but an attempt to formulate THE COMMON GOOD (Det Fælles Bedste) for ourselves and our future generations. The paper is intended as a green agenda for the local elections. We hope it can be used by local citizens and politicians, to find a new way; to create local debate for voters and municipal meetings; to gather organisations in shared activities and action; as the starting point for election of politicians in your municipality.

At this moment, it is especially the civil society (rural towns, organisations and citizens) that are active for transition. But an increasing number of companies can see, that in the near future, the best business lies in sustainable production. They can also see, that there is an abundance of possibilities, and the business sector in future, will only consist of green and innovative companies.

The municipalities have an important role to play in transition and some are already taking action. They have the possibility to implement sustainable actions, together with the people and local businesses. Energy, transport, food, homes and business. As one municipal chairman says in the paper “We can lead the way and inspire, instead of just coming behind. There are so many possibilities, it’s just a matter of getting started.”

We hope the paper can inspire people to get started. We hope to create a dialogue about the future. Choose the politicians that understand the importance of transition, and can see all the possibilities in it.

Enjoy reading!

You can read the (Danish) virtual version of Folkeavisen here

You can also find it on and

Det Fælles Bedste is made up of 4 green associations: Permakultur Danmark, Landsforeningen for Økologisk Byggeri, Omstilling Danmark and Landsforeningen for Økosamfund. Plus a network to over 60 green associations and a secretariat.

Welcome to the Permaculture Association of Denmark!