Before my PDC at Elontila it was already clear that I would start the process of getting a Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design (DAPD). The difficulty with the Diploma Process is that there are many different systems around and those systems come with different strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Just signing up with a randomly chosen one wasn't good enough in my opinion. Choosing the right system and tutor is something that I wanted to get done consciously and with my character matching against the system and the tutor. The last time I chose an education system was when I signed up for Brewing Technology at the University of Berlin.

What is important for me:

  • the system needs to be flexible. The amount of designs shouldn't matter. Whether its 5 or 15
  • the costs should be transparent. I don't want to end up paying 2100 €
  • the tutor must be flexible, especially when it comes to tools of communication
  • there must be enough hours of tutoring available. Not just checking the designs prior assessment
  • the tutor must understand my scanner personality

What do I want to get from the Diploma and my action learning pathway?

  • a higher autarky level in food and energy
  • ability to hosts workshops at Beyond Buckthorns
  • connecting with the already acquired knowledge of brewing beer
  • expand my theoretical and practical knowledge in chemistry into practical application
  • becoming a leader in Permaculture in Finland
  • learn the craft of story telling in order to get more people into Permaculture faster
  • the ability to teach Permaculture

By understanding myself and what I want to get done (a more detailed version will follow in my learning pathway) the question is: what are the limitations? 2 years is a fairly decent amount of time. Besides that the boundaries and resources is also money. I will put 600 € / year aside for the pure diploma costs. This includes the costs for my tutor and 2 times travel to meet in person. How did I came up with that number? I checked the BPA's Diploma fee guide PDF. They sum up the costs for their guided path at about 860 € (of course converted from pound), while their non-guided path is available for about 460 €. The difference in hours is 16,5 to 10,5 while the guided path contains personal tutoring. But let's not focus on this. I took the total costs of the UK system and divided it by the standard hourly rate for a tutor, which is at about 40 €. This results in 21,5 hours. Let's round up to 22 hours, which is 900 €. Traveling to the UK or Sweden from Finland is about 150 € if no costs for staying are included. Traveling 2 times is 300 €. Hence 900 € + 300 € = 1200 € /2 years = 600 €.

Pure resources are family, all my friends and of course the marvelous online community of all the permies around the world. All the knowledge that is out there on the net that someone put up as their part of a global fair share. There is no limit as far as I can see it. The yield is theoretically unlimited.

Process

So: what do I need to do what haven't be covered so far?

  • get a better understanding of the different Diploma systems out there - more observation
  • focus on those that are easy accessible to me 
  • apply Permaculture ethics & principles on the process of making the decision

SWOT Analysis of the different systems from my perspective

When I started the process of finding the right system and tutor I looked into the Diploma systems of many different national Permaculture associations.

  • French: S = for free | W = not in English / German | O = interesting network, learn the language as well | T = travel costs, difficulty of understanding the 
  • German: S = carefully invented curriculum, lots of experienced tutors | W = expensive, somehow not flexible | O = they also offer a self teaching route | T = falling back into German thinking patterns
  • Italian: S = generally for free | W = tutoring costs need to be bartered | O = interesting network, learn the language as well | T = cultural differences, travel costs
  • British: S = stable, ok price, lots of tutors | W = inflexible, strict | O = traveling to UK, building bonds while Brexit, T = UK's dominance in the world of European Permaculture
  • Nordic: S = flexible, changeable | W = not transparent in costs, difficult to set everything up | O = improving the system while doing the Diploma, extending the Nordic network, intensifying the exchange with the Nordic countries | T = language barrier, tutor and pupil are not necessarily native English speakers

Narrowing it down

My focus was at the end on the Nordic and British system. Dan McTiernan got me some inside info on the independent route in January 2019 and from that in combination with reading all their available leaflets I concluded that the independent route is not my way. I thought of it in the beginning but the more I read about it the less I thought it would be the right fit for me. I would be too much left alone with everything where help would be highly appreciated. In the last round I then compared the Nordic system to the UK guided path.

I did a small comparison of their guided route to the independent route in LibreCalc in order to crunch some numbers. What I found is that only 16,5 hours in the guided route are used for tutoring and assessing. The standard costs for a tutor are about 40 €. 16,5 hours x 40 € = 660 €. The costs for the Diploma at the BPA are 860 €. The BPA basically takes 200 € for administration and overhead. That are 30% of the entire diploma costs. I think that is pretty much. If I would pay a tutor the same amount of money I would get 21,5 hours. That are 5 hours more in personal or design tutoring.

I read the Diploma tutor directory at the BPA and the Nordic Institute and I found some tutors which I found interesting or I related to their work and field of expertise. I also asked my PDC teacher George Sobol for a recommendation. At the end I found someone who is familiar with both systems and I got recommended by friends: Cathrine Dolleris. While she first suggested to run the Diploma through the BPA I convinced her to run the Diploma through the Nordic System using the basic time frame from the UK associations guided path. I have enrolled with the Finnish Permaculture Association -> I guess it is now its time for the learning pathway. 

Permaculture Guiding Principles

Multiple Functions

I also choose Cathrine because I work with her at the European Permaculture Networks comms group. I know that she gets things done in a timely manner - she is responsible for the EuPN's newsletter. I also work with her at the Nordic Institute of Permaculture where I'm appointed member of the secretary.

Energy Efficient Planning

As we both are at the Nordic Institute I will met her at the yearly Nordic Institute meeting and possibly at the yearly Nordic Permaculture Festival. That gives two possible face 2 face meetings. And: Denmark is pretty close to Finland. Far closer than the UK. And as there are no Finnish tutors yet – the tutor always needs to come from outside Finland. 

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About the Author

Nick

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Gardener, Biogas Practitioner and Webdeveloper. Living beyond buckthorns since 2016.

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