Permaculture Earthworks Design Specialist

Earthworks & Water Harvesting with David Spicer

Earthworks & Water Harvesting with David Spicer and guest teacher Geoff Lawton

August 29September 2


This earthworks course is a hands-on course that will help you design and implement water harvesting strategies on your property. Also, this course gives great value to enhance any serious consultant’s portfolio to have confidence when supervising contractors.

Earthworks construction can be a rewarding investment in your property. Enhancing the aesthetic appeal, functionality and value of your landscape are all realistic potential outcomes. However, it can be intimidating to order large machinery onto your property and getting it wrong can be discouraging and very expensive. This course will give you the knowledge and confidence to get your earthworks right, first time around.In this course, you will learn the theory and practice of Permaculture Earthworks – learning site design skills, surveying and directing earthmoving machines to establish dams, swales, terraces, access roads and more.



Students will understand the principles of permaculture design in earthworks: reading the site, interpreting contour maps and using surveying tools, placing elements in a design. Students will be able to use the basic terminology for earthworks and soil water management, resolve issues and work with contractors to direct earth movers in action.



  • Reason for earthworks and types of earthworks
  • Earthwork elements and types of machines
  • Learning how to use survey equipment; learning practical surveying and design of dams and swales
  • Learning how to direct earth movers

Dams and Spillways

  • Design systems with multiple elements
  • Specifics of dam construction and design issues
  • Tour farm site to identify different elements on the farm
  • Survey of dams. Break into groups for survey designs


Swales and Spillways and Gabions

  • Specifics of swales
  • Integration of swales into a system including planting-up of the system
  • Visit existing swale sites
  • Surveying of potential sites. Break into groups for survey designs

Earth Banks

  • House Sites/Benches/Terraces
  • Access tracks/driveways/crossing pipes
  • Activity: Stability Plan-Ups and Erosion Control
  • Placing of swivel pipes and crossing pipes

Review of Earthworks

  • Questions and answers from class
  • Miniature Earthworks Exercise by students
  • Completion of unfinished design projects with groups



David Spicer

David-SpicerDavid Spicer is the primary teacher on this course.

David Spicer’s approach to design and education is based upon a proven emphasis on practicality, having over 15 years experience in Permaculture education working and teaching with Bill Mollison at the Permaculture Institute (Tasmania) and Geoff Lawton, the Managing Director of the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia and Zaytuna Farm. He is renowned for his ability to explain concepts and ideas simply, getting to the basics.

David previously worked as farm manager of the renowned Tagari Farm and Zaytuna Farm in northern New South Wales.

He has taught and worked extensively within Australia and internationally on various projects, covering five Australian states, Morocco, Jordan and Palestine covering a broad array of different climate zones. David is a valued member of the team headed up by Geoff Lawton.

He has the distinction of being Registered Teacher #5 with the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia.

Geoff Lawton

Geoff Lawton will be a guest teacher on this course.

Geoff Lawton is a Permaculture consultant, designer and teacher. He first took his Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) Course with Bill Mollison in 1983. He holds a Diploma in Permaculture Education, Design, Implementation, System Establishment, Administration and Community Development given by the founder of Permaculture, Bill Mollison.

Geoff has undertaken thousands of jobs teaching, consulting, designing, administrating and implementing, in 6 continents and close to 50 countries around the world. Clients have included private individuals, groups, communities, governments, aid organizations, non-government organisations and multinational companies.

He has currently educated over 13,000 students in Permaculture worldwide. These include graduates of the Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) Course and courses focused on the practical design of sustainable soil, water, plant, and legal and economic systems.


The practical Earthworks component for this course will be carried out on a neighbouring property – ‘Djaning Farm’ – in the heart of The Channon.

Djaning Farm

Djaning Farm, an emerging permaculture site, is a short walk (about 1 km) from Zaytuna. The property, like Zaytuna, is bordered by Terania Creek, with it forming it’s Eastern and Southern boundary. Apart from the small stands of trees along the steeper inclines to the creek, and a handful of trees dotted about the paddock, the farm is a blank canvas. The 21 acres, like much of the area, was once logged for its red cedar and other valuable trees in the early to mid 18 hundreds, it was then burnt and used for growing various crops, including bananas (which failed due to the frost!). It was eventually left to be grazed in an unmanaged manner for close to 75 years.



Zaytuna Farm is an operational permaculture farm, education centre and demonstration site that has an ongoing development program. With the farm under constant development and seasonal variation, projects vary and change throughout the year. The farm is situated on a sixty-six acre property that fronts Terania Creek opposite the village of The Channon, Northern NSW. The property contains 800m of creek frontage, numerous swimming holes and abundant wildlife. The landscape is diverse, covering high frost-free hilltops, ridges and valleys with both cleared paddocks and forested areas.



Your fees include camping accommodation (in self-provided tents), full catering with three meals per day plus morning and afternoon tea, after hours internet access, and an abundance of Permaculture examples.


You can pay for your course now via Paypal or credit card by purchasing a ticket below, or you can contact us at All prices are in Australian dollars, including GST.


If you have any questions about this Course please contact us.


August 29
September 2
$1195 – $995
Event Category:


The Permaculture Research Institute
0419 741 358


Meals are fully catered with three meals per day plus morning and afternoon tea.
Camping accommodation will be available., Camping accommodation will be available.
Geoff Lawton, David Spicer