About our trainers

Permaculture Sydney Institute engages only highly experienced and professional trainers our courses. All are practicing Permaculturalists deriving an income from Permaculture. Each has ast experience in work and training. They also come highly skilled and qualified in a range of related professions and specialist areas.

Geoff Lawton – Permaculture Consultant, Designer & Teacher

Geoff LawtonGeoff was awarded a Diploma of Permaculture Design in 1995 in the subject areas of Education, Design, Implementation, System Establishment, Administration and Community Development. In 1996 he was accredited with the Permaculture Community Services Award by the Permaculture movement for services in Australia and around the world

Since 1985, Geoff has undertaken thousands of jobs consulting, designing, teaching and implementing in seventeen different countries around the world. Clients have included private individuals, groups, communities, governments, aid organisations, non government organisations and multi-national companies.

In October 1997 Bill Mollison, upon his retirement, asked Geoff to establish and direct a new Permaculture Research Institute on the 66 hectare Tagari Farm previously developed by Bill. Geoff Lawton developed the site over three years and established The Permaculture Research Institute as a registered charity and global Networking centre for Permaculture projects. Geoff Lawton is the managing director of The Permaculture Research Institute.

For more information on Geoff and his work, visit:


Janet Millington – M.Ed.C.A., Grad. Dip Ed., Dip Permaculture Design and Diploma Permaculture.

Janet MilligntonJanet is a Permaculture designer and teacher currently working QLD. She is President of Permaculture Cairns and an active supporter of the dynamic Permaculture Noosa Group. Her involvement with Permaculture began when she developed Environmental Study Programs in schools in south-west Sydney in the late seventies, leading to the study and implementation of Permaculture solutions in the early eighties. She did her first course with Geoff Lawton in 1995 and one with Bill Mollison in 1997.

Janet and Mick Millington have designed and implemented a Permaculture design on their 35 acre property at Eumundi, with the initial design incorporating commercial Crayfish production with Bamboo plantation and Farm Forestry. The property has a home garden, small animal systems, an orchard and restored riparian zones. Permaculture courses have been run from the farm for the past ten years. Formal study in Aquaculture in crayfish and fin fish has provided Janet with strong knowledge from which to draw when designing more poly-cultural and integrated aquaculture systems for her permaculture designs. Most of Janet’s consultancies have been in South East Queensland, due to the ongoing development and maintenance of her demonstration site, but she has worked also in NSW, Palau, America and Canada. Janet has students from, and working in, 17 countries.

Janet has a Masters Degree in Education as well as formal qualifications in Adult Learning. Her 30 year experience with learners of all ages in a wide variety of curricula has enabled her to develop courses that meet the needs and expectations of the participants. Janet was on the National Reference group that set up Accredited Permaculture Training. She worked with Carolyn Nuttall developing the very successful “Outdoor Classroom” initiative which resulted in a book popular with teachers and parents and proven to initiate, help maintain and to reinvigorate school gardens by incorporating the garden into the curriculum. Janet provides consultancies to schools all over Australia.

Janet co-founded the first Transition Town outside the UK and co-facilitated the writing of the second Energy Descent Action Plan, now used extensively by communities and council on the Sunshine Coast to promote the ethics and principles of Permaculture in the inevitable energy descent.

Janet is currently doing her Juris Doctor in order to work within invisible systems to ensure Care of Earth is upheld by domestic and international laws.

John Champagne PDC – Vries & Hugh Gravestein. Chiltern, VIC. 1992. Diploma in Permaculture Design. (APT through RPL)

John ChampagneSince completing his Permaculture Design Certificate Course in 1992, John has been active in many areas of Permaculture activity. For 15 years he has designed and developed the family property on the Far South Coast of NSW, Brogo Permaculture Gardens into a demonstration site for cool temperate regions that is regularly open to the public. Its here that John and his partner Sharon maintain a self reliant lifestyle and bring up 5 wonderful children. In 1995 he co-founded the South Coast Field Days which ran for 10 years that promoted aspects of sustainable landuse and living in an annual weekend event. John was President of the Sapphire Coast Producers Association for 10 years which nurtured a variety of niche agribusiness in a co-operative framework. He facilitated the group design process for the playgrounds of the Mumbulla Steiner School in Bega as well as a being involved in a number of other school design projects.

John was an original founding member of BEND, (Bega Eco Neighborhood Developers) in 2003. He facilitated the Design Team that presently has a Construction Certificate to develop a 21 block housing sub division using the Community Titles Act on land in the township of Bega, NSW. John began teaching Permaculture in 2004 and also works as a consultant to clients seeking to establish self-reliant lifestyles. As a bioregionalist John, initiated South East Transition Towns in 2009 as well as the inaugural South East Bioregional Permaculture Convergence in Bega in 2011 that drew delegates from within the arc of Wollongong, Canberra and Bairnsdale.


Darren Doherty

Darren DohertyDarren J. Doherty has extensive experience across the world in Permaculture project design, development & management. A career-long focus on the profitable retrofit of broadacre landscapes has seen Darren acclaimed as a pioneer in this important & often overlooked field. He is a Certified Whole Farm Planner (University of Melbourne), Approved Keyline® Designer, Accredited Permaculture Trainer (APT®) & Certified in Workplace Training & Assessment and formerly a Registered Teacher of the ‘The Permaculture Institute’ (teacher registration system ceased in March of 2010).

Darren has been involved in the design & development of over 1400, mostly broadacre projects across 5 continents in 42 countries, ranging from 1 million hectare cattle stations in Australia’s Kimberly region to 110,000 acre Estancia’s in Patagonia, EcoVillage developments in Tasmania to Public:Private R&D Agroforestry & Education Projects in Viet Nam, Family farms across the globe with a range of private, corporate, government & non-profit clients. A true ‘integrationalist’, Darren has more recently been the originator of the Keyline® Design, Carbon Farming, Carbon Economy & Regenerative Agriculture (along with RegenAG®) course series across Europe, North America & Oceania. This wide experience has created an international reputation of achievement plus and enviable & expansive network that integrates many disciplines. Darren is married to Lisa Heenan and they have three children, Isaebella (18), Pearl (11) & Zane (10), all of whom are based in the Bendigo region of central Victoria, Australia.


Penny Pyett BA (UNSW), Cert. Welfare Work (St George TAFE), Dip Hort Science (Ryde TAFE), PDC (Permaculture Institute).

Penny Pyett is the director of the Permaculture Sydney Institute, an institute she is currently developing with others as a Permaculture Education and Demonstration Centre on 55 acres in St Albans on the outskirts of Sydney. Penny has extensive knowledge and experience in Permaculture, horticulture, community development, management and business. Over the last ten years Penny has been teaching Permaculture and Horticulture courses for community organisations and at various colleges for TAFE NSW including Permaculture Introduction; Permaculture Design Certificate Courses; and Gardening for People with disabilities. Through Tafe outreach she also teaches Permaculture design courses for school and community garden groups, facilitating groups with the design and development of their own school or community garden.

In 2002 Penny completed her PDC with Bill Mollison and since then has played a leading management role with Permaculture Sydney North (the leading group of Permaculturalists in the Sydney bioregion) on the management committee and as President (2005-09). She was one of the key initiators and the national coordinator of National Permaculture Day and convener for the National Permaculture Convergence APC9 in 2010.

In 1999 Penny designed and developed her own urban Permaculture garden at Ryde, which has won numerous awards and acknowledgment for best sustainable eco-garden and edible landscapes.

A community development worker for many years, for both local government and the community services sector, Penny has worked with many individuals and community groups in developing programs and services for their communities as well as neighborhood precinct committees. She has provided facilitative training for community groups, schools and organisations for over 20 years.

As the sometime owner of successful secondhand businesses, Penny likes to reduce waste and re-use second-hand materials in landscape design that is functional and aesthetic.

As well as quality permaculture and sustainability education, the Permaculture Sydney Institute (PSI) also offers Permaculture consultation, design and community development and group facilitation services.

Nicholas Crook

Nicholas Crook has 30 years experience as a gardener and Horticulturist, and studied at Pershore College of Horticulture, Worcestershire. He started growing vegetables at an early age, and worked in historic houses and nurseries in Great Britain, before emigrating to Australia. He has wide experience as an organic grower of fruit, vegetables and herbs, based on Permaculture principles. His gardening career has included garden design, consultation, propagation, garden maintenance, teaching horticulture and Permaculture, nursery management and garden writing. Nick works at Ryde College of TAFE as a teacher of Landscape and Horticulture.

Craig Duckmanton

Craig-DuckmantonCraig spent over 25 years in senior marketing and general management roles working on branded goods for leading consumer goods groups.  Over the last few years, he has changed direction and is building outcomes in the areas of holistic coaching for balanced lives (www.coachinglives.com.au) and designing and implementing workshops and forums for our ageing populations where he opens discussion and outlooks into positive, or audacious, ageing.(www.positivelives.com.au)

Craig completed the extensive Introduction to Permaculture at Ryde College of Tafe in 2010 and more recently the Permaculture Design Certificate with the Permaculture Sydney Institute. He is currently the Education Team Leader with Permaculture Sydney North Inc and an active member in the Permaculture Sydney movement.

Craig also runs a small gardening cum exercise business (www.thequietgardener.com.au) which promotes a return to a de-powered garden environment  – a place where hand tools are the norm, noise is minimised and peace and tranquility returns to the suburbs!  He has 40 friends on Facebook!

Craig studied urban and environmental geography and economics back in the 70’s and has recently completed a Masters program in Social Ecology.  He also has certifications in coaching, sustainability, aged care, health and wellbeing, values based assessments, permaculture, health and fitness, six sigma foundations and world cafe.

Aaron Sorenson

AARON SORENSENAaron Sorensen is a qualified teacher and has studied fine arts before full immersion in Permaculture design, practice and training.

His foundation work with the establishment and development of the North Wollongong Community Garden at the Wollongong PCYC (a demonstration site for urban Permaculture) has provided the basis for growing the “Living Classroom” program with Daniel Deighton.

Aaron currently facilitates training in the “Living Classrooms” of Cringila, Coledale, Mt Terry, Port Kembla and Warrawong Public schools and Warrawong High school for students and support for staff and the wider school community.

He also collaborates with Dan Deighton in Permaculture design for urban and rural applications including like community gardens, school “Living Classrooms” and eco farms. Their work also includes Permaculture training on PDCs (Permaculture Design Courses), introductions to Permaculture and workshops in food forest design, intensive organic growing both locally and abroad.

Daniel Deighton

Dan DeightonDaniel Deighton has a degree in Landscape Architecture and a Diploma In Permaculture. He has been working in environmental design, restoration and conservation, community food gardening and community development since completing his formal education in 1992.

The restoration of Tom Thumb Lagoon Wetland in Coniston and the Port Kembla Laneway – pathway to sustainability project – are foundation projects upon which Daniel, in collaboration with Aaron Sorensen, developed the “Living Classroom” program.

Daniel’s passion for biodiversity conservation, environment restoration, & community food gardening have become a vehicle for his involvement in community development, growth and a return towards a culture of care for the earth, care for people and sharing resources – key ethics of the permaculture profession that guide his life and work.

Daniel is a talented Permaculture designer in urban, suburban and rural applications locally and abroad. He also provides specialist training in the establishment and maintenance of resilient Permaculture systems.

Peter Brecknock PDC

Peter has developed a 17 acre property “Allyn River Permaculture” at Allynbrook, (200km north of Sydney) as a Permaculture demonstration property. He specializes in site design and the practical issues of earthworks and site construction including dams, swales and chinampas. Peter has co-taught several Sydney PDC courses and with Geoff Lawton at Zaytuna Farm. He has completed the Introduction to Permaculture Course and PDC at Ryde College of TAFE as well as the PDC Course with Bill Mollison and Geoff Lawton at Melbourne University. Peter was on the committee of management of Permaculture Sydney North for several years, participating in a wide range of Permaculture activities. Since retiring from his architectural practice in 2006 Peter has been a full time Permaculture practitioner and teacher with a particular interest in rural projects. He is a registered Architect and Landscape Designer, has also studied horticulture and forestry management, and recently completed a Cert IV in Training and Assessment.