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[permaculture] Re: Does Permaculture have to be so expensive???
Hi Everyone - Long time since we've talked here....
We're in the middle of teaching a course here at the moment. We charge
A$500 + A$100 accommodation and approximately $60 for a food kitty. We've
been teaching for six years now and do three courses a year. We take a
maximum of 10 students on a course which allows us to use the facilities on
our own property (the accommodation money pays for Rene's parents to vacate
their home for the course, so that we can use it as the
classroom/accommodation area). The three courses provide the main source
of income for the year (way below the government poverty threshold - though
enough for us to live comfortably and have plenty of time for additional
The students take turns cooking, and we find with free use of our abundant
garden, that $60 buys all the other necessary organic and local extras. We
eat extremely well - they are healthy, tasty, and ethical meals (we ate
guinea pig by request yesterday and maybe we'll try some cockroaches
tomorrow!!!!!!) (Facing the cultural barriers to yield issues.....it's
We used to charge less for the courses, however, we've found that since
increasing the price it's easier to fill them. We don't think we'd get
more students if we gave our courses for free. In agreement with Russ and
Fiona, we can see that there is a market for much more expensive courses to
cater for those people who couldn't imagine a five hundred dollar , two
week course offering them anything useful.
We've spent a great deal of time, effort, and money developing a really
good course, knowledge base, and library, and certainly feel that it is
ethical to ask for something in return for the excellent service we
provide. For many people, this is the best two weeks of fun and learning
they've ever had. A permaculture course can make amazing changes to
people's lives. WHY DO PEOPLE HAVE A MENTAL BLOCK ABOUT CHARGING FOR
We don't offer work in exchange for course costs - we offer courses without
up-front payment, trusting people to pay back in instalments afterwards.
Occasionally they don't, but on the whole, they do. Most of our graduates
have become friends for life - many of them are in regular contact -
nationally and internationally.
We also offer a correspondence course for A$1600 - our course takes about
two years to complete. It's an in depth look at permaculture that requires
students to gather a lot of local information themselves, but also takes a
considerable amount of our time in personal one-to-one feedback. Again,
this is great value for money. (We would offer this course for free to
unfinancial people who could convince us that they were going to make a
major contribution to their community/country - our time and energy is
It's late, and time for bed before the five o'clock start (for us) and the
six o'clock swim (for the course participants) at our local beautiful Lake
Kind regards from beautiful Far North Queensland, Australia!!!!
Lorraine and Rene van Raders
P.S. Larry London's talked about providing a course for free on the net.
We are interested in helping but it's a huge project, and can see it taking
a long time to get up and running. (We hardly have time to scratch
ourselves as it is....)
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