Dan Deighton

Dan promo 3

Daniel 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.

Aaron Sorensen


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

His foundation work with the design, establishment and ongoing development of “The Garden” at the Wollongong PCYC is an outstanding demonstration site of urban Permaculture. It has provided the basis for growing the “Living Classroom” program with Daniel Deighton.

Aaron believes Permaculture practices to be an effective conduit of positive human transformation. The “Living Classrooms” like community gardens facilitate growing happy, healthy communities through connection and participation in natural cycles.

Aaron currently facilitates training in the “Living Classrooms” of Cringila, Nowra East, Port Kembla Public schools, St Patricks Primary School, Warrawong High school and Five Islands Secondary College for students, staff and the wider school and Permaculture/community garden community.

He also collaborates with Dan Deighton in Permaculture design for urban and rural applications including urban and rural properties, community gardens, school “Living Classrooms” and Eco Neighbourhoods and Permaculture materplanning. Their work also includes Permaculture training on PDCs (Permaculture Design Courses), Introduction to Permaculture and workshops in  food forest design, soil building and advanced organic growing locally and abroad.

John Champagne

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John has been active within the Permaculture movement since 1992 in areas such as a designer, teacher, promotions, regional development and the establishment of many properties including the BEND Eco-Village near Bega and his own property in Brogo www.permaculturedesign.com.au He is currently the President of SCPA-South East Producers, a position he has held for 11 years and a current Board member of Permaculture Australia. John has taught PDCs extensively in the temperate regions of Australia and the tropics of SE Asia.

Todd Cleary

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The soil borne ‘funguy’ and maestro of microbes, Todd Cleary, has been building biological soils and spreading the mycelium message across the bio region like a like a wild mushroom for the past 2 decades.

An earth alchemist, Todd has a sixth sense for converting organic wastes into precious soil building compost and life sustaining humus.

Combined with this Todd has an expert ability on earth moving machinery, and carved a reputation as a master of the swale and mound. He brings a unique perspective to the course being equally adept at reading the landscape from the broad-acre to the examining the biology of a compost heap

Inspired by the world-renowned soil biology researcher Elaine Ingham – www.soilfoodweb.com – and wholistic farming system agronomist Maarten Stapper – www.drmaartenstapper.com – Todd is an inspiring hands on ‘down to earth’ presenter and practitioner.

He is a permaculture graduate of Geoff Lawton.

Sheryl Wiffen


Sheryl has had an international schooling, which has guided her ethics and principles and been a catalyst for her dynamic role as a change agent in the Illawarra.

Sheryl has an extensive experience (26 years) in the Government and Non-Government sector in Community Development, Health, Education & Training and sat on the board of a host of committees.

She has a particular interest and strength supporting the edge of our community with setting up cutting edge innovative outreach projects in drug & alcohol, sex workers and homelessness.

Sheryl is a passionate Permaculture Gardener, completing her PDC with John Champagne at ‘The Crossing’ in 2009. She is a foundation volunteer at ‘The Garden’ since 2002. Her amazing suburban home is a testament to the ethics Sheryl lives by with innovative and simple solutions that can be transferred to other urban settings.

She recently set up ‘Permablitz the Gong’ with a small collective of social change activists demonstrating her commitment to moving beyond Zone 0 and into the community where she most at home.

Sheryl will be taking you on a journey of ‘no nonsense’ in the topics of Self and the Home Economy, ‘Permablitz the Gong’ as an urban solution and a tour of her magnificent demonstration of ‘the real’ suburban Permaculture site.

Permablitz the Gong
Photo: Illawarra Mercury
Permablitz the Gong formed in 2012, and have held six blitzes to date. Founding members Jacqui Besgrove, Sheryl Wiffen, Kristy Newton and Rebecca Mayhew came together after Jacqui and Kristy completed their PDC with John Champagne in October 2011. They returned to the Gong full of enthusiasm about the potential for permaculture activity in their local communities and connected with Sheryl who was a long time member of The Garden and was also keen to get Permablitz happening locally. Rebecca soon joined the collective, and the four hosted their first blitz on National Permaculture Day 2012.

Permablitz the Gong is heavily based on the model created by Permablitz Melbourne, but is continuously modified to suit the smaller interlinked communities of Wollongong and surrounds. Permablitzes engage community members to come together and create sustainable permaculture systems in a variety of urban settings, with the majority of blitzes including features such as no dig garden beds, swales, water harvesting systems, chicken housing, and physical structures such as fences, steps, and social spaces.

Community support for Permablitz the Gong has been amazing, and continues to grow. Blitz participants who have attended three blitzes are eligible for a blitz of their own, and RSVP’s for the most recent blitz had to be closed early as the blitz was already at capacity. We’ve held blitzes in torrential rain and blazing sun, people get muddy, dirty and sweaty, but always end the day with a huge smile on their face and the feeling that they have contributed to something amazing in their community.

Check out http://permablitzthegong.wordpress.com or http://www.facebook.com/permablitzthegong to get involved!

Costa Georgiades


Callum Champagne


Having grown up on a Permaculture demonstration site on the Far South Coast of NSW, Cal was herding goats through blackberries and making mud bricks from a young age. He formally completed his PDC through Brogo Permaculture Gardens in 2011, before spending a year volunteering on Permaculture projects throughout South East Asia, India and Mediterranean Europe.

While completing his bachelor degree and Masters (Sustainability), Cal honed his hands on skills locally as part of the North Wollongong Community Garden and as a volunteer at Warrawong High School’s ‘Living Classroom’.

Cal’s work behind the scenes in Elemental Permaculture’s 2013 PDC formed a steppingstone towards his involvement with Green Connect and the Urban Grown Community Farm. Cal now manages Urban Grown, working with youth and resettled refugees to grow chemical free food for sale to the local community.

Jess Moore


Sheryl WiffenWest Wollongong Suburban Permaculture Demonstration site

Johnny AlverezGreenhouse Park

Johnny's photo

Johnny has been actively involved in greening the Illawarra for the past decade. He has a background in environmental conservation and found his groove facilitating community volunteers to restore Greenhouse Park (GHP) a 22-hectare nature reserve. This involves managing the variety of different skills and ideas that people have to offer. His vision for GHP is the creation of an Eco farm, a space to support community food security. Creating a social enterprise is a something that he envisions at GHP in the near future.

Johnny completed his PDC in 2011 with John Champagne and is onboard to complete a second PDC with Elemental Permaculture. “Dan and Aaron have been a massive inspiration. I’m stoked to be involved with this PDC, in my local area and with two of the best in the business. Watching community’s grow together is amazing and inspirational”. Think global act local.


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