Robyn Francis

Address: PO Box 379
Nimbin  NSW 2480, Australia

Wk Tel: (02) 6689 1755
Mob: 0429 147 138

Overseas Work

USA, Germany, France, New Zealand, Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Brazil, Cuba, Taiwan


Training And Assessment Cert IV (2006)
Diploma of Permaculture (APT) 2003
Workplace Training & Assessor Cert IV  2003
Train the Trainer (TAFE) 1991
Diploma of Permaculture Design (Permaculture Institute) 1985
Permaculture Design Course 1983


RiverCare 2000 NSW State Bronze Award for Composting Toilet and Wetland Greywater Treatment System 1998
ABC Radio North Coast Rural Woman of the Year 1995
United Nations Environment  Media Award  1987
Permaculture Community Service Award  1985

Robyn Francis is acclaimed as one of permaculture’s leading pioneers and educators. Robyn has lead a diverse career as designer, consultant, educator, facilitator, presenter, and innovator. Her primary commitment is to empowering others to become effective agents of change through education and vocational training.


1983-Present:   Robyn has been working in permaculture education, design and consulting, organisational development, communications and media, community development and had input into planning legislation and policies on state and local level.  Her operations have been based in Northern NSW since 1989 and for the past 15 years on her property, Djanbung Gardens Permaculture Education Centre, located in Nimbin.

1977-1983:  Co-owned and managed an organic herb farm, nursery & market garden on the NSW mid-north coast. During this period she was also involved in Multiple Occupancy and Rural Land Sharing Community associations and working with government representatives in drafting guidelines for state and local government Multiple Occupancy planning policies.

Pre 1977: spent 5 years overseas travelling throughout Asia and Europe, study and learning about traditional sustainable farming and food preservation – included 3 years living in Bavaria, south Germany learning traditional herb-lore from village herb women and collecting wild foods and herbs.

Key Projects

1993-Present Accredited Permaculture TrainingTM

Published initial discussion paper The Need Accreditation  for Permaculture Training 1993, and been involved in industry discussions & research into accreditation through to the present. Appointed as member of National Industry Review Committee (2002) developing Accredited Permaculture Training (APTTM) Training Package, Certificates I-IV and Diploma, approved July 2003. Ongoing input into establishment of APT delivery, assessment and support services and development of training resources and programs, training the APT trainers and is a member of Permaculture International Ltd APT committee. Robyn has developed the APT Cert III, Cert IV and Diploma courses at Djanbung Gardens.

1989-present Training: Permaculture Education &  Permaculture College Australia  Inc

Managing permaculture training development and delivery, and principal tutor Permaculture Design Course, Ecovillage & Sustainable Community Design Course, Permaculture for Third World & Indigenous Peoples Course and numerous short course and workshop programmes. Developed and delivered training in Northern NSW, interstate, overseas and with Australian indigenous communities. Robyn’s 100th PDC in January 2008 places her as one of permaculture’s most experienced teachers globally.

1993-present  Manager/proprietor, Djanbung Gardens Permaculture Centre

Design, project management, ongoing management and development of permaculture training centre and 2 ha demonstration farm in sub-tropical Northern NSW. Permaculture Education and The ERDA Institute operate from Djanbung Gardens.

2000-present Design Consultant Nimbin Ecovillage

Facilitated community consultation and developed early concept and strategic plans for 45acre residential ecovillage for Nimbin Eco Village Pty Ltd, including extensive negotiation with Lismore City Council. The project changed hands in 2004 and currently engaged developing landscape concepts and design  and liaising with local community for the client Tareeda Pty Ltd

2006 – EcoRecreation Reserve, Nusajaya, Malaysia

Permaculture consultant to an international interdisciplinary team developing concepts for a 650 acre recreation reserve for Malaysia’s new city, Nusajaya

2000 – 2001 Permaculture Design Consultant, Lismore City Council

Community consultation and amenity landscape Concept Plan for Nimbin Peace Park including rainforest bushfood plantings and children’s playground. This project also involved superivising a team of youth in the design of a skate park.

1995 – 1997 Permaculture Design Consultant, Canyon Ranch Bali

Developed ‘best practice’ Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) Design & Project management guidelines for international team of consultants  for 48ha residential estate and 5-star health resort in Bali. Also landscape design concepts for organic agricultural estate integrating traditional Balinese farming and permaculture, concept plan and architect’s brief for 2ha education and cultural centre. Key focus on environmental, cultural and social factors.

1994-1995 Nimbin Sense of Place – Permaculture Design Consultant for  Lismore City Council

Community consultation, participatory design facilitation, concept plan and construction drawings for Nimbin main street beautification plan, traffic calming and cycleways

1994 Permaculture Landscape Consultant, NSW Dept of Public Works

Design and supervision of implementation for tree planting & irrigation for Nimbin Water Supply Augmentation Dam site

1993  Consultant, Sustainable Futures Planning & Design

Concept development for an innovative new planning approach & guidelines for rural residential development for NSW Department of Planning – this report received RAPI NSW State and National ‘Excellence in Planning’ Awards in 1995-96

1993 Consultant for NSW Arts Council: Creative Village Project – Casino

Working in an interdisciplinary team with architect and community artist facilitating a major community consultation process and developing strategies for the town and community of Casino, Northern NSW

1991-1992 Design Consultant, Jarlanbah Permaculture Hamlet

Concept and master plan for 20 ha (43 lot) rural residential development as permaculture ecovillage under Community Title – input into by-laws and Development Application to Lismore City Council. This project was described by NSW Department of Rural & Urban Planning in 1995 as the foremost example of ESD (Ecologically Sustainable Development) ‘best practice’ for rural residential development

1987-88  Principal Consultant for Permaculture Services Ltd, Sydney

Cummeragunga Aboriginal Village, Community & Land Development
Contracted to the NSW Department of Housing, Aboriginal Housing Unit, this project involved extensive community consultation and education, preparation of a major report and analysis of environmental, social, cultural and economic factors effecting Cummeragunga and a second report detailing recommendations for the future of the village, community and 440 Ha farmlands

Other Industry Experience

Education, Training & Facilitation Summary

From 1984 to present I have been developing curricula and delivering workshops and courses in permaculture design and practices.

  • Permaculture Design Course – 80 hour intensive training incorporating the 72 hour curriculum of the Permaculture Institute PDC. From 1985 to 2008 Robyn has taught over 125 PDC’s in Australia, India, Indonesia, USA, Taiwan, Cuba, France and New Zealand. These have included culturally specific PDC’s with Australian Aboriginal communities, New Zealand Maori and with overseas groups.  See following web site for report on PDC+trainer training conducted in Bali 1999 for IDEP Foundation (Indonesia)
  • Design for Sustainable Human Settlement – 40hour intensive training, initial curriculum co-developed with Peter Cuming, addressing ESD issues and permaculture strategies for sustainable community development, urban renewal, eco-villages, rural land-sharing communities and residential developments. 14 of these courses delivered since 1994 in Australia and New Zealand. This course was revised and expanded to a 66-hour foundation course for APT Diploma of Permaculture 2005-2010.
  • Permaculture for Third World & Indigenous Peoples – 40hour intensive programme developed in reponse to growing needs for specific training in this area of work. This course 20 times since 1992, revised in 2005 as Sustainable Aid course for APT diploma studies and Cert IV Working with Cultural Diversity course.
  • Workshops and Short Courses – Robyn has delivered hundreds of workshops on a diverse range of topics including: Edible Landscape Design, Urban Permaculture, Organic Gardening, year-round Food Production, Food Forests for Small Properties, Small-scale Poultry Keeping, Planning Water Systems for Farms, Design for Ponds and Water Gardens, Bushfoods – Garden to Table, Tropical Spices and Vegetables – Garden to Table, plus numerous workshops and short courses on growing and utilising herbs, traditional herb-lore and herbal cottage products and crafts, herbal skin care, bamboo construction, gourd crafting, food storage and preserving systems.
  • Particpatory Planning Workshops & Seminars – these workshops have been conducted with intentional communities and community groups, facilitating a group process to identify common vision, values and objectives and strategies to deal with problems and issues in a constructive and creative way. Robyn has facilitated over 40 such workshops and seminars since 1992, including Imagineering the Future for Climate Action Groups.
  • TAFE – casual lecturer in permaculture (Permaculture Elective in Hort Cert) for Ryde TAFE, Padstow TAFE and Wollongbar TAFE at various times in the period 1985-1990

Conference Presentations & Seminars

Robyn has given numerous presentations at local, national and international conferences over the years including National & International Permaculture conferences, convergences, symposiums in Sydney, Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne, New Zealand, USA, India and Brazil, International Ecocity Conference,  Sustainable Aid and Development, National Horticulture Conference, NSW State Agriculture Conference, NSW Geography Teachers Conference, Seed Savers Conference, Climate Emergency Conference (Adelaide), Climate Change|Social Change Conferences (Sydney and Melbourne).

Specialist seminar presentations have included ecologically sustainable development,  ecovillage design and sustainable settlement planning seminars for state and local government staff training and public seminars throughout Australia and in New Zealand including with Auckland Regional Council.

Misc. Design and Consulting Work

Since 1984 Robyn has worked as a permaculture design consultant and advisor for numerous clients including domestic garden landscapes, farm designs and consultancy, community groups, schools, religious organisations, commercial businesses, eco-tourism enterprises and overseas aid projects. Robyn is also advisor to Learnscapes Foundation and IDEP.

Writing, Publishing and Editing

Permaculture International Journal (PIJ) – From 1987 to 1993 manager, editor and desk-top-publisher of PIJ for Permaculture International Limited. During this period the PIJ grew from a subscription-only publication of 2,000 print run to a nationally distributed newsstand magazine with a 20,000 print run.
Articles -written and published a wide range of permaculture and related articles published in numerous publications and magazines since 1984. Some of these publications include PIJ, Greenhouse Living, Organic Gardening, Hope Dance (USA), Courier Mail, Earth Garden, Simply Living, Hobby Farmer, Country Living, Nimbin News, Nexus and numerous newspapers. Robyn wrote a regular weekly permaculture gardening column for The Northern Star (Lismore) for 2 years (2000-2001).
Self-published books and charts – self-published several small books for the general public including Mandala Garden (1991), Bushfoods Cook Book (2001), Celtic Wisdom in the Australian Landscape (2001), Micro-Eden – Urban & Small Space Permaculture Gardens (2002) and in 1996 designed and published the Celtic 8-Fold Year Seasonal Garden Chart for Southern Hemisphere: Subtropic and Temperate editions. Other publications are in progress for future publication.


Radio – given countless interviews on local and national radio and overseas about permaculture, sustainability issues, eco-villages and sustainable community development. Consulted for ABC Radio National documentary Re-imagining Utopias & for associated web site (see ). Have done several regular permaculture & organic gardening talk-back programmes with ABC Radio (Kempsey 1980-82, Lismore 1999-2006, Tamworth 2006) and was commissioned to write and present a radio lecture on urban permaculture for ABC Radio National.
Film & Video – Consulted for film makers of several documentaries late 1980’s including ‘In Grave Danger of Falling Food and The Global Gardener series both screened on ABC-TV, and for Extra Dimension series (Richard Neville, Channel 10, 1986-7) plus consultation for numerous pilot TV programmes. Given interviews for overseas film crews documenting permaculture and alternative lifestyles in Australia for video production and TV. Presenter of several permaculture videos for Global Visions including The Mandala Garden video.

Other Relevant Industry Experience

Organisational development includes Co-founder of Permaculture Sydney (1984) initiator of The Earthbank Society in Sydney (1984), founding director of Permaculture Services Ltd (1985), founding director of Permaculture International Ltd (1987), and was convenor/organiser of 3 national permaculture convergences/conferences (Ottford, 1985; Yarrahappini 1988; Nimbin 1997) and other national and regional industry seminars, gatherings and forums in the period 1986-2002

1998 founded The ERDA Institute Trust – charitable trust for permaculture and related training based at Djanbung Gardens Permaculture Centre.
2006 – co-founder of Permaculture College Australia Inc, not-for-profit incorporated association formed to manage the vocational training at Djanbung Gardens and Bioregional Campus

Permaculture Education is Robyn’s registered name as a sole trader for independent teaching and consulting work.

Other Passions

Among Robyn’s passions are gardening, cooking international cuisines, making her own herbal skin care products and soaps, gourd crafting, celtic knotwork art, music, dancing, exploring earth-based spirituality and Celtic philosophy.

Robyn is an accomplished musician, singer-songwriter and composer. A folk singer in the 1970’s, she abandoned her music career for her permaculture work. Robyn’s music encompasses a diversity of styles and genre from folk through to contemporary chill and electronic music. In 1992 she released her first CD ‘Songs of a Green Guerilla’, an eclectic collection of songs about permaculture, the earth and life. She continues to write music as a creative relief to her busy life and released a new CD ‘Dancing the Windstreams’ in April 2007.

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