Skills for real life

Kirsten Nick AsharMilkwood is dedicated to teaching and sharing permaculture skills, for living like it matters. Online, in-person, in print… whatever form it takes to get you inspired and making a better world, we want to help help you learn.

We are a small family; Kirsten Bradley, Nick Ritar and Ashar Fox. We live at Melliodora in southern Australia – a beautiful permaculture smallholding designed by David Holmgren, co-originator of permaculture.

We are also a larger crew of educators, facilitators and doers, and together we teach everything from permaculture design to market gardening, natural building and mushroom cultivation, to help create resilient and abundant households and communities, wherever we can.

We do this by providing free online resources & offering world-class training – skills that give you the confidence to create permanently sustainable systems.

Students leave our courses ready and able to design & implement a better future for their families, farms and communities. Our courses are run in NSW & Victoria.


Our Teachers

Nick Ritar

Permaculture designer, mushroom cultivator, beekeeper & gardener

@Milkwood_Nick on instagram

Nick is Milkwood’s primary educator and consultant. Nick is passionate about authentic outcomes for students studying permaculture and life skills, and cultivating community. Based at the iconic demonstration site ‘Melliodora’ in Hepburn, Victoria, Nick spends his time growing good food, keeping bees, cultivating mushrooms, teaching permaculture design & advocating for community-scale resilience.
Nick teaches Milkwood's Intro to Permaculture, Permaculture Design Certificate & Gourmet Mushroom Cultivation courses.

David Holmgren

Permaculture co-originator & designer

Holmgren Design

David Holmgren is an ecologist, ecological design engineer and writer. He is perhaps most well known as co-originator of the permaculture concept with Bill Mollison.
Through the spread of permaculture around the world, his environmental principles have exerted a global influence. He is the author of several significant permaculture texts, including Permaculture: principles and pathways beyond sustainability (2002) and RetroSuburbia: The Downshifter's Guide to a Resilient Future (2018).
David regularly does guest sessions on Milkwood's Permaculture Design Certificate, Permaculture Teacher Training & Introduction to Permaculture courses when they are held in Hepburn.

Hannah Moloney

Permaculture designer, teacher trainer & community cultivator

Goodlife Permaculture

Hannah is a change-maker, permaculture designer and facilitator who has designed and delivered many community-scale programs on local and state levels around food growing, composting and cultivating community. Her extensive project portfolio includes working locally with Cultivating Community and overseas with Action Aid.
Hannah is a highly regarded Permaculture teacher and has co-taught Milkwood's Permaculture Teacher Training course with Rosemary Morrow & Nick Ritar on multiple occasions. She also runs her own Permaculture design and training business Goodlife Permaculture with her partner Anton in Hobart.
Hannah regularly teaches on Milkwood's Permaculture Design Certificate and now leads our Permaculture Teacher Training course.

Beck Lowe

Permaculture practitioner & animal whisperer.

Personal website

Beck Lowe did a Permaculture Design Course (PDC) in 1994 and spent time growing food in a cement courtyard in a rental in inner-urban Melbourne, but since 1997 has been developing her 40 acre property near Heathcote in central Victoria. It provides milk and dairy produce from her goats, fruit, meat and vegetables, as well as timber fr building & firewood.
Beck has a science degree majoring in zoology & a masters in sustainable agriculture and has been teaching permaculture since 2003. She is also delivers Accredited Permaculture Training (APT), the nationally accredited suite of Certificate and Diploma courses in permaculture.
Beck teaches on Milkwood's Permaculture Design Certificate course.

Olivier Sofo

Market gardener

Living Earth Farm

Olivier is a professional market gardener with experience in many climates and soils. Olivier farms with his partner Falani at Living Earth Farm in the southern highlands of NSW. Olivier has a passion for dynamic adult learning environments, and has a strong focus upon sharing his knowledge to help inspire and guide positive change in the community.
Oliver teaches Milkwood's Introduction to Organic Market Gardening course.

Tim Malfroy

Natural beekeeper

Malfroys Gold

Tim is a second-generation beekeeper, growing up on a large apiary in the foothills of the Blue Mountains. Along with his wife Emma, he is the founder of the award-winning Malfroy’s Gold honey label, and has been practicing organic and biodynamic beekeeping since he started keeping his own bees in 2006. In 2008 he was the first beekeeper in Australia to build and trial a Warré hive, and traveled to the Apimondia in France 2009 to take part in the first conference session on Warré and top-bar beekeeping.
Tim has been teaching Milkwood's Natural Beekeeping course since 2010.

Michael Hewins

Market Gardener

Michael is an organic market gardener with a background in permaculture, organic agriculture and horticulture and has a wide knowledge of how to grow high quality, healthy food. He’s run his own Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) scheme in the northern rivers of NSW and has a great working knowledge of organic vegetable growing in both temperate and subtropical environments.
Michael has previously taught on many of Milkwood's Permaculture Design Certificates and Intro to Organic Market Gardening course and currently delivers our Serious Backyard Veggies course

Kat Lavers

Urban permaculture practitioner & community maker.

The Plummery on RetroSuburbia

Kat Lavers is a garden farmer, permaculture designer and facilitator. Her award-winning urban permaculture system, ‘The Plummery’, produces almost all the household’s vegies, herbs, fruit and eggs (more than 350kg in 2016!) on a 1/14th acre, while using only 46L mains water per person and 3.9kWh electricity per day.
When she’s not teaching permaculture and organic gardening, Kat works with local councils and communities to design urban agriculture projects, and is a volunteer coordinator of Permablitz Melbourne.
Kat teaches on Milkwood's Permaculture Design Certificate course.

Sam Vivers

Natural builder

Sam Vivers is director of Viva Eco Homes with his wife Simone. They began building and renovating homes over a decade ago. It was right at the beginning of starting the business when they discovered straw bale building and building with natural materials. Sam couldn’t build with toxic chemical based building products anymore so then decided to build his own dream home from natural materials.
It evolved to a point where he thought these homes need to be made available to everyone – Australian homes with style, which were actually good for the world, made from the earth and were smart in every way possible. Sam is a licensed builder, building supervisor and carpenter. He is a member of the Master Builders Association, the Australasian Straw Bale Association (Ausbale) and the Earth Building Association of Australia.
Sam has taught Milkwood's Natural Building course since 2013.

Previous Teachers

Bill Mollison

The father of Permaculture

Bill Mollison co-originated the Permaculture concept with David Holmgren. He is referred to as "the father of Permaculture" for his tireless work spreading the ideas and nurturing the Permaculture movement from the 1970 to his passing on the 24th of September 2016.
Bill founded The Permaculture Institute in Tasmania, and created the Permaculture Design Course (PDC). Bill taught thousands of people throughout the world how to grow food and be more sustainable using permaculture design principles. In 1981 he was awarded with the Right Livelihood Award (also known as "Alternative Nobel prize") for his accomplishments in the field of permaculture.
Bill led a Permaculture Design Certificate along with Nick Ritar for Milkwood in the summer of 2011 in Sydney.

Peter McCoy

Radical mycologist

Radical Mycology

Peter McCoy speaks on behalf of the fungi, the most overlooked and misrepresented organisms in the web of life. A self-taught mycologist with 16 years of accumulated study and experience, Peter is an original founder of Radical Mycology, a grassroots organization and movement that teaches the many ways to work with fungi for personal, societal, and ecological resilience. Peter is the lead cultivation expert for the Amazon Mycorenewal Project and the mycology advisor to Open Source Ecology and Permaculture Magazine North America, as well as a regular guest on the Permaculture Voices Podcast. Apart from his work with fungi, he is also a community organizer, artist, musician, lecturer, and teacher.
In 2016, Peter released Radical Mycology: A Treatise on Seeing & Working With Fungi, a 650-page book on accessible mycology, mushroom cultivation, mycoremediation, and more. The book has since been hailed as one of the most accessible texts on the science and art of mycology, offering unique, thorough, and cutting-edge insights and applications in the rapidly evolving field.
In February 2018 Peter taught a Radical Mycology in Permaculture course for Milkwood at Melliodora.

Rosemary Morrow

Permaculture teacher & teacher trainer

Earth User's Guide to Permaculture

Rosemary Morrow is known and revered world-wide for her pragmatic and effective approach to creating Permaculture systems across an incredibly broad range of environments. Rosemary has successfully implemented community-scale Permaculture systems in such diverse biospheres as Uganda, Somalia, Thailand, the Middle East, Bhutan, Australia and northern Europe, to name but a few.
Rosemary's knowledge on how to create abundance, food security and successful sustainable farming models, no matter what the country, is perhaps unparallelled in permaculture education today. She is the author of Earth Users Guide to Permaculture & the Earth Users Guide to Teaching Permaculture.
Rowe has been one of the biggest influencers of how we teach permaculture at Milkwood. She has been a guest on multiple Permaculture Design Certificate courses & led our Permaculture Teacher Training courses in 2012, 2014 & 2016.

Michael Ableman

Master market gardener & change maker

Sole Food Street Farm

Michael Ableman is the co-founder and director of Sole Food Street Farms, one of North America’s largest urban agriculture social enterprises, established to provide employment to individuals who are managing poverty and addiction. He is the founder of the non-profit Center For Urban Agriculture, the charity Cultivate Canada, the Center For Arts, Ecology, and Agriculture, and co-founder of the Agrarian Elders.
Michael has written and photographed four acclaimed books including Street Farm: Growing Food, Jobs, and Hope on the Urban Frontier (Chelsea Green Publishing) in 2016.
Michael taught a series of Street Farming Masterclasses for Milkwood in Sydney, Melbourne & Adelaide in the Summer of 2018.

Sandor Katz

Fermentation revivialist

Based in Tennessee, Sandor Ellix Katz is the author of multiple books on fermentation including The Art of Fermentation (2012) and Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods (2003). With a cult following across the world, Sandor has given taught hundreds of workshops demystifying fermentation and empowering people to reclaim this important transformational process in their kitchens. Sandor taught a series of fermentation masterclasses for Milkwood in the summer of 2014 in Brisbane, Byron Bay, Sydney, Melbourne & Hobart.

Joel Salatin

The high priest of the pasture

Joel Salatin of PolyFace Farms is a world-leading example of how a small family farm can become an extremely diverse and profitable Local Food producer, and how the benefits of Local Food Systems can create resilence, stability and abundance for both local farmers and the wider community. Featured in Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and in the films FRESH and FOOD, Inc., Joel and his family at Polyface Farms exemplify successful small-scale farming and the growing relocalization movement.
Joel delivered masterclasses in poly-culture holistic grazing of cattle, chickens & pigs as well as marketing and farm succession for Milkwood in 2010, 2011, 2013 & 2015 in Mudgee, Sydney, Kiama & Melbourne.

Jean-Martin Fortier

The market gardener

The Market Gardener

Jean-Martin Fortier (JM) is a farmer, educator and best-selling author specializing in organic and biologically intensive vegetable production. His award-winning book, The Market Gardener, has inspired hundreds of thousands of readers worldwide to reimagine ecological human-scale food systems. His message is one of empowerment in order to educate, encourage and inspire people into pursuing a farming career and lifestyle.
He his the co-founder, with his wife Maude-Hélène Desroches, of Les jardins de la grelinette, an internationally recognized micro-farm in Southern Quebec known for its high productivity and profitability. Since 2015, he is the farm director at Ferme des Quatre-Temps, an experimental farm in Hemmingford, Quebec. This ambitious project was initiated by a group of philanthropists and practitioners of organic farming with the aim of paving the way towards a more ecological and nourishing food system for Quebec.
In 2016 Jean-Martin taught Urban Farming Masterclasses for Milkwood in Sydney and Melbourne with Curtis Stone

Dave Jacke

Forest gardener

Edible Forest Gardens

Dave Jacke has been a student of ecology and design since the 1970s, and has run his own ecological design firm—Dynamics Ecological Design—since 1984. Dave is an engaging and passionate teacher of ecological design and permaculture, and a meticulous designer.
Dave is also the primary author of the most comprehensive work on designing perennial ecosystems, the almost 1000 page, two volume book "Edible Forest Gardens". It has quickly become the reference book for anyone with a serious interest in designing tree systems for permaculture.
Dave holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Simon's Rock College (1980) and a M.A. in Landscape Design from the Conway School of Landscape Design (1984). He taught a series of forest gardening courses with Milkwood in March 2013 including an 9 day forest garden design intensive.