Food Forest Design Qualification (L5)

Food Forest NZQA Flyer2Delivered through a partnership between Food Forest NZ and and Otago Polytechnic’s Centre for Sustainable Practice.

South Island – July to November

You will design and begin implementing a food forest project, and be guided through the process through a series of 4 block courses and online support between. The cost for this 19 week course is $3,500.

If you choose this course, you will connect to the lively and growing food forest community of practice.



Block Courses

Between each Block Course you will apply the learning to your project. If you want a sense of the workload read this.

Block Course 1 – five days

Dunedin (Rescape Education Centre) • 21st Jul – 25th Jul

• Introductions and purpose – articulating your project
• Overview of the course and Assessment criteria
• System Conditions (The Natural Step) as applied to Food Forest design
• Design and Implementation – methods and principles
• Guilds
• Field Trips
• Personal Communication Skills (intro to engagement and dialogue)
• Collaboration – with individuals and organisations – using tools and skills
• Documenting your project
• Attracting support (money, materials, people) for your project



Block Course 2 – three days

Riverton (The Guytons) • 20th Aug – 22nd Aug

• Governance models (Public, Private, Commercial), in relation to your project
• Working with clients
• Working with local government
• Facilitating a public talk and discussion


Block Course 3 – three days

Wanaka (Ben Elms) • 15th Sep – 17th Sep

• Water Management
• Plant Propagation
• Soil Biota
• Animals, pests, climate and land data
• Online tools for communicating and promoting of your project


Block Course 4 – three days

Christchurch/Lyttelton • 22nd Oct – 24th Oct

• Tailored to the specific student and project needs
• Presenting projects – 5min elevator pitch summary of the project (evidence for assessment)
• Students to define specific support required for completion

Note: This block course outline was originally focussed around a North Island intake. It will be shortly be modified to suit the South Island locations.

Learning outcomes

Understand the system conditions for successful food forest design in a chosen place (ecological, governance, social and economic).

Develop an implementation plan for a food forest in a chosen place and begin to implement it.

Share the chosen food forest development with an audience, using relevant engagement and dialogue tools and processes.

Identify a barrier to the successful implementation of the chosen food forest development and design and begin to implement a strategy to remove that barrier.

Apply – Level 5 Certificate in Sustainable Practice

Simply call or email James Samuel, and he will answer any questions you have, and guide you through the process.

021 2520 653



Meet the Tutors


A few words from some of the tutors who will guide your learning.
Note: The Tutor list will be different for the South Island course.

Kay Baxter

My strengths are in the area of understanding the needs of plants, how to design guilds, which rootstocks to use in which situation and the actual creative process of bringing it all together. I will take you through a design process, from collecting information to presenting the final design.

Here at Koanga Gardens in Hawkes Bay, we have on the ground examples of new food forests that we can look at and talk about, and where a small design process can be undertaken as part of the learning.


Andy Cambeis

Hawea Flat Food Forest on Facebook

My Hawea Flat Food Forest project serves as a model for successfully establishing community Food Forests on public land. Hawea Flat is also a good example for finding the right plants and guilds for a challenging climatic area. My strength is finding the highest possible diversity of useful plants for any given piece of land. You can have bananas and coconuts in Otago if you choose and find the right species.

I hold an international permaculture design certificate and a graduate diploma in sustainable practice. I have also some years of experience working in Europe as a commercial permaculture and Food Forest designer.

I look forward to showing you plants you have never heard about before 🙂


Jon Foote

Jon Foote is a permaculture design consultant based in Dunedin. He has worked on a number of major projects, including working with Project Lyttelton on their Harbour Resilience  planning and Community Garden development, and a major permaculture development, the Aro Ha Wellness Centre near Glenorchy, in Central Otago.

He has also completed a permaculture earthworks specialisation course with Geoff Lawton of the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia, which he’s applied on the Rescape Resilience Education Centre land.


Steve Henry

The Centre for Sustainable Practice

I work to mainstream sustainable practice in education of people. I have developed progressive sustainable practice qualifications so they can be customised into a range of settings including food forest design.

I look forward to offering you ways to look, think about and design social systems that support people to make sustainable practice accessible.  I will support you to find the relevant language and processes of engaging people in your chosen food forest projects.


Fredd Marshall

Student at The Centre for Sustainable Practice

I’m a designer, artist and film maker from Wellington. I’m a certified permaculture designer and graduate of the Otago Polytechnic Sustainable Practice Certificate course.

My focus is to increase the resilience of our communities through the integration of a perennial food infrastructure, from home scale, to farm scale, from the back yard to the school yard, and everything in between.

As part of this course, I will be discussing the importance of fungi in the soil and how you can create a sustainable ongoing harvest of choice edible and medicinal mushrooms in a food forest setting.


James Samuel

About me

With a deep understanding of sustainability, and though my founding work with Transition Towns and Ooooby, it was natural for me to want to support the growth of sustainable food production.

I look forward to bringing my talents in community building, social media and enterprise to this course, and support you to become passionate and effective advocates for your chosen and future food forest projects.


Gary Williams

We have a small food forest that is about three years old, as well as a diverse and very multi-species orchard and food trees in various places, including shelter zones, alongside access ways etc. Emily and I did weekend workshops on food forests in Kapiti some years ago – where a horseshoe design plan came about. This design is being used in the Wairarapa project, which is far and away the biggest forest agriculture project we have been involved in – and the largest in New Zealand to date.

I look forward to sharing my experience with you about water in the landscape and the natural character of waterways and landscape, the whole soil to plate nutrition appreciation and the ecology and relationships of plants, animals (including humans) and microbes.