59. Raising Permaculture Chickens with Guest Sonono

May 4, 2024
The Permaculture Vine
The Permaculture Vine
59. Raising Permaculture Chickens with Guest Sonono
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Show Notes

The Permaculture Vine
The Permaculture Vine
59. Raising Permaculture Chickens with Guest Sonono

Raising Permaculture Chickens

Welcome to episode 58 of The Permaculture Vine Podcast where I’m thrilled to share the inspiring story of a remarkable individual who has transformed his life and the lives of others through the principles of permaculture. As the host of the Permaculture Vine podcast, I had the pleasure of sitting down with permaculture designer, educator, and author from Zimbabwe, Guest Sonono, now based in Northern Ireland, to delve into his fascinating journey.

Discovering Permaculture: The First Steps

It all began with chickens. Yes, you read that right. Guest’s foray into the world of permaculture started while he was keeping chickens in Zimbabwe as a means to make ends meet. Little did he know that this humble endeavour would ignite a passion that would shape his future. His success in raising chickens piqued the interest of a supplier, which led them to explore farming through the lens of permaculture principles.

Eager to learn more, he enrolled in a permaculture design course in Harare. There, he were introduced to a wealth of knowledge on propagation, soil health, companion planting, and small animal systems. This experience was transformative, and it marked the beginning of a lifelong commitment to sustainable living.

Deepening Knowledge: Education and Implementation

The journey didn’t stop there. Guest furthered his education by taking an online permaculture course led by the renowned Geoff Lawton. This deepened his understanding and love for permaculture, inspiring him to implement significant changes in his chicken farming practices. He began growing his own feed, providing more space for his chickens, and integrating sustainable and holistic systems into his approach.

His career in permaculture blossomed as he worked for a permaculture design company and became a teaching assistant for Geoff Lawton’s online course. He didn’t stop there; they pursued a permaculture teaching course and earned a diploma in applied permaculture design with the Permaculture Association in the UK.

Teaching and Sharing Permaculture Wisdom

Guest’s passion for permaculture extended beyond his own projects. He became involved in teaching permaculture through workshops and projects, including a sustainable gardening initiative at a local youth centre in Zimbabwe. His experiences and education culminated in the creation of a handbook on raising permaculture chickens, a valuable resource for anyone interested in sustainable poultry farming.

Engaging Youth and Promoting Sustainability

During our conversation, we discussed a permaculture project that was particularly close to Guest’s heart. Aimed at engaging youths and promoting sustainable practices, the project involved creating a food forest with an array of vegetables, herbs, and fruit trees. The plan also included installing a greenhouse to ensure the project’s sustainability and provide income opportunities for the youths involved. Guest conducted workshops to teach the youth how to care for the garden, and the results were incredibly rewarding.

Expanding Horizons: Professional Garden Design and Advocacy

Guest’s pursuit of knowledge continued with a diploma in professional garden design. He also became actively involved with the UK Permaculture Association and looked forward to upcoming workshops and projects, such as a therapeutic garden for elders with learning disabilities and a workshop on chickens and gardening. is optimism for the future was palpable, as was his commitment to educating and advocating for permaculture and sustainable practices.

Embracing Technology: Digital Design Skills

In our digital age, Guest recognized the importance of digital design skills. He learned to use software tools like Adobe Illustrator, AutoCAD, and Garden Planner, which enhanced his professional garden design diploma. His permaculture knowledge, combined with these new skills, opened up even more opportunities to make a positive impact.

Making a Global Impact: “100 Voices for Our Planet”

The conversation concluded with Guest’s involvement in the “100 Voices for Our Planet” initiative by the UN. His goal is to reach influential people and contribute to environmental conservation. They emphasized the importance of starting the permaculture journey and embracing the process, reflecting on his own path from Zimbabwe to Northern Ireland and the solid foundation he built through his early projects.

Final Thoughts

Guest’s story is a testament to the power of permaculture to change lives and the environment for the better. His dedication to learning, teaching, and implementing sustainable practices is an inspiration to us all. Whether you’re a seasoned permaculture practitioner or just starting, there’s always more to learn and more ways to make a difference.

I hope this blog post has provided you with valuable insights and inspiration to embark on your own permaculture journey. Remember, it’s not just about the destination; it’s about the growth and discoveries you make along the way. Let’s continue to cultivate a sustainable future, one garden at a time.



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Guest Sonono is a permaculture designer and educator. He is currently a teaching assistant for Geoff Lawton’s online permaculture design course under the Permaculture Research Institute. Specialising in small animal systems (chickens), he has used his experience to write a chicken handbook and also write blogs about chickens.

59. Raising Permaculture Chickens with Guest Sonono

Cormac Harkin (00:00:16) – Hello and welcome to the Permaculture Vine podcast where we talk about permaculture education, careers and business. I’m your host, Cormac Harkin, and today I welcome guests to the show. Welcome, guests.

Guest Sonono (00:00:29) – Thank you for having me, Cormac.

Cormac Harkin (00:00:31) – Would you like to give us a quick introduction? Just 30s elevator pitch VR where you’re from, what you’re about.

Guest Sonono (00:00:38) – Right. so I’m just so. No, no, I’m a permaculture designer and educator and author. So I come originally from Zimbabwe, but at the moment, based in Northern Ireland. yeah. And, I’m happy to, to be here to share my passion and hopefully some of the knowledge that I have can, can make an impact in someone’s life.

Cormac Harkin (00:01:04) – Great stuff. You’re actually only a couple of hours from me. We have met once before.

Cormac Harkin (00:01:09) – when I was working up the road. But we two busy schedules. It’s hard. Hard to get a meet up even at even that close. Yeah. So, as I said, welcome. So you’re from Zimbabwe? Do you want to, tell us about. I take it you discovered permaculture there?

Guest Sonono (00:01:23) – Yes.

Cormac Harkin (00:01:24) – Do you want to tell us about how you discovered it when you first heard of it?

Guest Sonono (00:01:28) – Yes. so permaculture for me started around 2020. So, initially before I discovered permaculture, I was, keeping chickens to just make ends meet. And then, in the process of keeping these chickens, I somehow discovered that I’m actually really good at this. You know, then I started falling in love with the process, such that, at some point, my my supplier, which was Raffles at the time, they got really interested and keen on knowing how I keep my chickens because, I had, quite a lot of success with the batches that I had. So they requested to come to visit my place to see where I was keeping the chickens just so they could, you know, understand how how I do things.

Guest Sonono (00:02:24) – So when they came, at that time, I was living in, in my aunt’s, yard, which was about 1.5 acres big. So, I was only utilizing not even a quarter of it. It was just two, two liters, only focusing on chickens. So now, the whole yard, it was just. It was just grass. There was there was nothing that was happening. So they asked me, why don’t you just do farming? You know, since you’ve got such a huge piece of land? This is something this was something that had never really occurred to me before. And then, I then discussed it with my aunt to say, I’m interested in doing farming here. can I get a go ahead to start? That’s when she told me that. Yes, you can. You can do farming as long as you’re doing it using permaculture principles. So that’s when it sort of began for me. Then I went to the internet, you know, I had to search. What is this thing called? Permaculture took me a lot of time, but I think I had enough knowledge, knowledge that I gathered to know that this is something that, somehow aligns with my passion.

Guest Sonono (00:03:36) – This is something that I’m going to love. And then, so I started by doing, a permaculture design course, which was in Harare, the main, the capital city in my country. So this was two weeks intensive. And then after that, there was still a lot of knowledge that came. But, you know, it was to some extent it was sort of overwhelming me. But then I think I can say that I had a starting point. So then when I went back home, it was towards the rainy season. So I decided, okay, let me, let me start. So I just started by planting, maize, you know, sunflower because I think the, the, the major concept that I got out of the permaculture course attended, you know, simple things that I can actually take back home and practice was the theme of companion planting. So I went back, I started, and then I saw good results. And then later on, eventually I then, started to change my system, like how I was keeping chickens, you know, because I used to keep them.

Guest Sonono (00:04:46) – Yeah, I wouldn’t say that was healthy. It was mainly just for business as usual. You know. But then once I got that, knowledge about, permaculture, I somehow became conscious of how I was doing all my things, you know? So I can say that was the beginning of permaculture for me.

Cormac Harkin (00:05:08) – What a great stuff. so what did you change? what was the main things you adopted? Maybe giving them a bit more space to take it on. Is there anything major change, then? We’re keeping the chickens the permaculture way.

Guest Sonono (00:05:23) – Yes. So, I’ll start with chickens. So the chickens, initially it was a system where chickens would come in as they all chicks. And then I raised them for about 6 to 8 weeks, and then they’re out to be sold. But then just by, just by looking at that process on its own, that is not, that is not healthy, you know, because for these chickens to grow within six weeks, obviously, it means there’s, there’s some, chemicals or stuff that have been put to actually make them grow that fast.

Guest Sonono (00:05:56) – So, first I started by growing my own feed for the chickens, you know, using the, the other space in the yard. So I had my, my, my maize, I had sunflower, I pearl millet for these chickens. And then moving on to the chicken run itself, I then started to make small changes. I put some nest boxes so that my chickens can can lay eggs because instead of keeping chickens only for six weeks now, I was keeping chickens for for a much longer time, you know, so that they live naturally and then they can, you know, the whole thing just becomes sustainable because then if they lay eggs and I’ve got a rooster that’s going to allow them to then sit on those eggs for 21 days and then, you know, you’ve got chicks. So the system becomes, sustainable. It just expands naturally. So I then added the, the, the nest boxes. Then I subdivided my chicken run inside to have, a room where if a chick is broody, they can sit on those eggs for 21 days without any interruptions from the from the bigger chickens.

Guest Sonono (00:07:07) – And then if that chick now has chicks, it still won’t get, any disturbance. Because if these chickens are somehow mixed, you know, the other chickens, they can get so bossy and they start picking at these small chicks. And besides the mother hens at that time, they’ll be very protective of their chicks. So I had to subdivide that. And then I already mentioned about the feed. And then as time went on, I incorporated a further system for the system where I could now then grow, extra food for my chickens, you know, food that is going to be very nutritious for them. One, two, it’s very cost effective. It reduced a lot of my, a lot of my, you know, my costs that would go into into the feeding as much as I was, I was I was making the feed myself. But supplementing with the fodder somehow helped me, you know. And then I also started giving them time to just go out during the day, free ranging, you know, and then in this free range, there’s so many benefits that also came with that.

Cormac Harkin (00:08:18) – Yeah. So it’s good the way you’re thinking that, you took your initial systems, although not permaculture, and you’re, you’re developing new systems and you were willing to change and, and learn. Do you want to tell us about your, your your, PDC course in Harare? What was that like? Two week.

Guest Sonono (00:08:36) – Intensive. So this PDC course in Harare, it was being taught at Farm Permaculture Centre. Now this was I wouldn’t really say it was a pure permaculture course, but it was enough to get me started because, Most of them, most of their concepts. You know, some of them, they’ve been they’ve been changed so that they can, meet the the needs of the, like the economy, you know, because going through permaculture takes time of which in Zimbabwe, you know, the main challenge that we have there is economic challenges. So unfortunately it’s very difficult for people to practice, permaculture fully. But anyway, we cover topics such as, propagation, soil health, you know, companion planting, like I said before, and then small animal systems.

Guest Sonono (00:09:34) – yeah. Like I said, it was just it was just good to, to get me started. And then after some think after about two months of doing that course, I then enrolled in Jeff Lawton’s online permaculture course. You know, Jeff Lawton was based in Australia running, the permaculture Research Institute. Now, when I did that course, my knowledge somehow, you know, got deepened. But anyway, I’m grateful for, for for both. Because if it wasn’t for, for the initial permaculture course that I did in Harare. Yeah, I don’t think I would even maybe discovered, Geoff Lawton.

Cormac Harkin (00:10:13) – Yeah, same course as me. I know what year we are in.

Guest Sonono (00:10:18) – that was 20, 20. Yeah, yeah, I.

Cormac Harkin (00:10:21) – Was the year before 2019, but I didn’t graduate the 2021.

Guest Sonono (00:10:27) – right.

Cormac Harkin (00:10:28) – So we graduated at the same time. How did you find the course?

Guest Sonono (00:10:33) – so that cos it was really quite intensive, you know, because Jeff really goes deep when he’s explaining, when he’s explaining his things.

Guest Sonono (00:10:43) – But I think I really benefited, a lot from taking that course because there are very initial things that were covered there, things such as, you know, like Introduction to Permaculture, where he covers ethics, he covers the principles, he talks about the design itself, you know, and then it just makes us understand what’s going on in the, in the world and how permaculture can help to regenerate our world. Then you also goes deep into topics such as trees, you know, pattern understanding water. So that course I can say that now it’s really, you know, deepened my knowledge and my love for permaculture.

Cormac Harkin (00:11:24) – And I take it that, again, influenced your permaculture chickens on your own property. And did you change anything up or.

Guest Sonono (00:11:33) – With the chicken with the chickens in my in my property.

Cormac Harkin (00:11:37) – Yeah. After the Jeff Lawton’s course, did he, take it that deep into your knowledge, into the chicken systems that he he talks about, checking on on steroids and things they got. Did you did you implement any of that?

Guest Sonono (00:11:51) – Yeah, well I did start to implement some of that.

Guest Sonono (00:11:54) – So before the system that I talked about before, I can’t really say I started it immediately after doing the course that I did in Harare. It took maybe a couple of months before I actually started implementing it. And that was now after after taking the course with Joe Fullerton, you know, because, he talks about things like the chicken tractor and all of that. So this might sound a bit weird, but, you know, I did have an idea, of, of a chicken system that I wanted to implement in my yard. And, you know, I had a name for it. I used to call it the Chicken City, you know, whereby I was going to just fence, a really huge piece of land outside, which would be, inside the building, the chicken coop, the free ranging area and a chicken garden, you know, so this was just to. To to to give them a beautiful system that would be that would be having all these different elements connected to each other such that on any given day, these chickens can live their chicken coop, you know, going to the free ranging area.

Guest Sonono (00:13:09) – And then in the French area, my plan was to implement, like sort of a large scale food system whereby you can have, maybe different, different batches of, of food that being produced, you know, being produced at different times such that I can have one for the box which is ready maybe today, and then the next one after 3 or 4 days, the next one, 3 or 4 days. So that there is continuity and there’s also diversity, you know, and then the chicken carton. Chicken cutting. you are talking of, the chickens being beneficial to the system, by maybe scratching, leaving their, their, their droppings, which are very high in nitrogen. You know, and we know that nitrogen is one of the, the major elements, for, for for plant growth. And then so chickens they were really going to. To help amplify my system holistically. Not just the chicken system, but I think my system at large. Because also like when, when these chickens, maybe they’ve become many.

Guest Sonono (00:14:23) – The plan was to to actually have another chicken run where I’ve got layers and some are open up, business opportunities, you know, but then now there’s that element of sustainability. I won’t have to buy any chickens from outside. These chickens will be coming from the broody, chicken run when I’ve got chickens laying eggs and sitting on them, for 21 days. Then we’ve got chicks and then the other chicken run before, for keeping these hands, which will just be laying, eggs. And then these eggs can be sold, like, as organic eggs. You know, that’s that’s a channel for business. And then as for the roosters that will be coming from the chicks, because obviously roosters are also going to be coming, for roosters, I was going to just sell them, you know, just sell them, maybe when they’re now about 16 weeks old or up to 20 weeks old as live chickens, you know, because for for your chicken run, you only need one rooster for every ten hands anyway.

Guest Sonono (00:15:29) – So yeah, roosters for me, it’s really just going to be for people who want to add roosters in their system or, you know, people want to to eat chickens. Organic chickens.

Cormac Harkin (00:15:42) – Yeah. For me, I got, I got a couple of checks and then, it turned out was I got two hands in one restaurant at 4 a.m. in the morning, the I woke up and the check in was like, I got away. And I was like, the neighbors. Yeah, the neighbors never hang out. And, how’d it go?

Guest Sonono (00:16:05) – Yeah. So yeah, that’s that’s another thing to, to consider these chickens, you know, because around three and 4 p.m. they, they, they crowd, you know, making that noise. It’s one of their ways of marking territory and all of that. But yeah, it might be wise to check in with your neighbors before. Yeah. Some people. Yeah.

Cormac Harkin (00:16:24) – I did see a Jeff Lawton video where the the rooster was actually, put in a soundproof cage, so.

Cormac Harkin (00:16:30) – And that was laid out later on in the day, so it didn’t cause too much noise and not a cage. It was like a chicken house. So that was a better idea. So after your GFS PDC, where did you move to? Down. Did you did he further your education or do you want to tell us more about about that.

Guest Sonono (00:16:47) – Yeah. so after completing, the PTC, which I graduated around December 2021, and then January 2022, I started I got a job to work for, like Food Forest Abundance, which is a permaculture design company based based in the US. And that’s where I met you, actually, you know, I started.

Cormac Harkin (00:17:12) – The same month.

Guest Sonono (00:17:14) – Oh, yeah. Interesting. Yeah. So that was that was really the beginning of my of my permaculture career. And then as time went on, I decided that, no, I need to deepen my studies because I want to do more with this, you know, so I then, took up a course, a permaculture teaching course with that model.

Guest Sonono (00:17:37) – Campbell actually got offered a scholarship around those around September and then. Yeah, so I did that course for free. And then I graduated in. Around June 2023. Yes. And then, the other thing that I got involved in around May 2022, I became a teaching assistant for, for Geo Fullerton’s online permaculture course, of which I’m currently still a teaching assistant. So this teaching assistant role really, really helped in, in, in, in deepening even my own, my own knowledge, you know, because like I said before, that Joe Fullerton’s course is really it’s really, an extensive, extensive course like the knowledge they some things you won’t understand on the first call, you know. So now taking, that course again but now is a teaching assistant. It’s sort of helped me to, to feel that my, my knowledge and my, my, my education, you know. yeah. Yeah. And then at the moment, at the moment, I’m doing a, a diploma in applied permaculture design with Permaculture Association in the UK.

Cormac Harkin (00:19:00) – Yeah. So my. There’s a lot of like I’m a I, I never I was, I never had the call on to be a teacher.

Guest Sonono (00:19:10) – Yeah.

Cormac Harkin (00:19:10) – but I like the way you’re keeping yourself buzzy there anyway. yeah. I like the way that the. Being the teaching assistant, the Ta is helping you, helping your knowledge as well. Do you want to tell us about, more I Gamble’s teaching course.

Guest Sonono (00:19:27) – Yeah. so Mark was teaching cos, you know, you take that course with the different lenses because it’s basically taking a permaculture design course all over again, but then it’s taught in a different way. It’s taught, like at the back of your mind, you’d be knowing that at the end of this, you know, I’m going to be an educator. So that course, I think going all over those things again from a different perspective, it really also helped me, you know, and then, yeah, the last bit of, of, of that course you’re just, taught how to, how to basically, teach permaculture professionally, you know, and, and permaculture is taught in many ways, you know, you can teach it using, a permaculture course, which is, which is how people learning.

Guest Sonono (00:20:23) – But you can teach it through workshops as well. You can teach it through the books, of which for me, myself, before I moved here in Northern Ireland, I did hold a few workshops back home, you know, to just raise awareness of permaculture and just introduce a sustainable way for people to grow their own food. And also, this was my way of somehow giving back to the youth. You know, I’m quite passionate mostly about the youth because I am a youth myself. But I believe that the best empowerment that I got, personally, it was, it was to be to, to learn permaculture, you know. So. Because of that, I’ve been driven to. To somehow share that knowledge, especially with, with the youths and the communities back in Zimbabwe. So I was involved in a few, in a few projects, you know, there’s this, sustainable gardening project that we did it, at a youth center, a local youth center in Zimbabwe, you know, and then also, I hate the idea of writing a book like a handbook through through my experience.

Guest Sonono (00:21:34) – you know, chickens. And this was. Yeah, this was when I was still taking the course, like, moral compass course. So that course also helped me to just find other ways of, of teaching this, permaculture knowledge. So I did write, a permaculture. well, I did write a handbook on how to raise permaculture chickens. And I believe, you know, all of this, all of these ideas, they came up through that course that I took with, with Murray Campbell.

Cormac Harkin (00:22:09) – Yeah. It’s great to come away with that. Of course, with, something like a book. And you can get that book on the Brain Permaculture website and the link in the description below. Where else can you get it? Amazon.

Guest Sonono (00:22:22) – Yes yes it’s now on Amazon.

Cormac Harkin (00:22:24) – Yeah. So we’ll put the two links in the description below for that. you’re not a man who likes to sit still, are you? A lot of stuff going on there. so. Right. So you got more gambles? Tell me, can you tell me more about the workshops? Did you go back to Zimbabwe? Where these online workshops.

Guest Sonono (00:22:45) – so these workshops, I used to teach them on the ground when I was still, when I was still in Zimbabwe. So I’ll tell you about one that’s, that’s sort of still going and, you know, so this, this gardening project that we did in, in the, in the local youth center, it’s called the Legacy Youth Center, which is in my hometown, Bulawayo. So this was a project that I collaborated on with, With, Mechanic Roots, which is a company based in the US and Marlboro Foundation. So, how I actually got to this project. There is a guy, who owns Mechanic Roots. He was coming down in Zimbabwe, you know, for two weeks to implement a project, and then you contact, you contacted me, saying, so I found you online. You know, I see you’re doing permaculture. I’m looking for collaboration. And then he told me all about the project. So what the project was all about, it was it was just to build, a sustainable garden at the youth centre.

Guest Sonono (00:23:53) – You know, to just sort of bring food to the youths, to raise awareness of permaculture and to just keep these away from things such as smoking, taking drugs and all that. So what we did, at the initial phase with we have two phases for that, project, of which so far only phase one has been installed. So phase one included, putting in forest food forest where we’ve got vegetables, we’ve got herbs, got fruit trees, you know, and then phase two, phase two would be installing a greenhouse where instead of, instead of going out to buy plants, we’re going to make the whole thing sustainable and grow on plants and also. This greenhouse is also going to be like a source of income for the youths. You know where they can where they can grow their own plants and sell to people. You know, they can grow special plants, plants that are not really known by a lot of people. And then this will also be an opportunity to then now, you know, share some of the knowledge that we imparted to them.

Guest Sonono (00:25:05) – So that was the project. And then after implementing this project, this project was implemented in two weeks, you know, with the with the youths. After that, we did the workshop where we taught the youth how to take care of the garden, how to love the garden, you know. And so far it was. I think it was it was really a good thing. You know, we’ve got good results from that. We’ve got, we saw a, a good engagement with the youths and working together was, was, was, was quite good.

Cormac Harkin (00:25:40) – Yeah, it’s definitely good to collaborate. And, I’ve seen the project. It looks excellent. Again. We’ll put the link, but it’s on your page on vine. So if you go to Vine Permaculture. Com I think it’s a no no. that video was embedded in there. And your tour of your Zimbabwe place as well, as embedded in there, too. so you’re doing workshops? I was going to ask this, but it wouldn’t be fair.

Cormac Harkin (00:26:04) – Who’s better? More, I guess. Jeff. I’m not. Mickey. Answer that. Yeah. So we’ll move on to the, So you’re now doing a diploma as well?

Guest Sonono (00:26:16) – Yes.

Cormac Harkin (00:26:17) – You want to talk about that?

Guest Sonono (00:26:19) – Yeah. The diploma. You know, the diploma has been good so far because because there’s, there’s there’s so many things that you learn that you don’t learn in a typical, PTC, you know, because in the diploma there, you’re learning how to actually design, come up with the design using certain frameworks, following certain frameworks. And yeah, the diploma, for me, I think it’s going to be extremely helpful, you know, for my career development because, because of of just how the process of coming up with the design, you know, and this design is not it’s not only limited to just garden designs. Anything can really be this even this Tokyo that we’re doing can be a design. You know, that’s that’s what I’ve learnt, in the diploma. So, yeah, I think the diploma is something that I’m quite hopeful to finish, you know, and see what opportunities lie after that.

Cormac Harkin (00:27:24) – Yeah. And that’s what the UK Permaculture Association.

Guest Sonono (00:27:28) – Yes.

Cormac Harkin (00:27:29) – And you’re doing a talk for them soon aren’t you. I see yes.

Guest Sonono (00:27:34) – Yes, yes I’m doing a campfire session but then it’s still in. It’s still in process. Things are still being, planned out.

Cormac Harkin (00:27:44) – Yeah.

Guest Sonono (00:27:45) – but anyway, anyways, since we’re talking about talks or workshops, I forgot to mention there when I was talking about workshops back home, I do have a workshop that’s coming up on the 30th of May online. You know, where people will be talking about growing for the for goats.

Cormac Harkin (00:28:07) – A goat’s.

Speaker 3 (00:28:09) – Yeah.

Cormac Harkin (00:28:09) – Yeah. And we can put that link as well. It’d be a lot of links here.

Speaker 3 (00:28:16) – Yeah. Yeah.

Cormac Harkin (00:28:17) – Yeah. And. So we worked at FFA together. I think we done two designs together at three.

Guest Sonono (00:28:26) – Yeah. Two, three.

Cormac Harkin (00:28:27) – Yeah. And how did you find the unprofessional designs? How do you find that process?

Guest Sonono (00:28:33) – Yeah. It was FFA it was, it was quite cool, you know, also considering, when it actually when I actually put that opportunity, I was just fresh out of graduation, you know, still just finding ways of how how I can earn money through this, you know, and then, yeah, FFA was really, it was eye opening to be like a part of FFA to just go through all that, design process, you know, how to meet with clients, things to talk about that whole process.

Guest Sonono (00:29:10) – And then at FFA, I was also, doing content creation. I remember I created, some content for a few, for a few topics, you know, to be for, like to be taught to, to our clients and also our, our FFA installers throughout. And then, yeah, through FFA, I made that, food forest story, my food failure story, where I was just basically talking about the projects that I was involved in back home. You know, these projects that included, rainwater harvesting, gardening, chickens. yeah.

Cormac Harkin (00:29:54) – And then how did you learn digital design? Did you just teach yourself?

Guest Sonono (00:29:59) – Well, digital design for me growing up, I’ve always been a person who has been fascinated by computers because the environment that I grew up in, I’d rather was, was into computers. So I started learning computers from a very young age, you know. So now after after completing, the permaculture course and. After now being employed by by FFA. You know, I saw I saw a few a few designs like digital designs and then it was a bit challenging at first, you know, because obviously there’s a lot of work that goes in, you know, to, to, to make, a digital design.

Guest Sonono (00:30:40) – But I think now the at this stage where I am like my skills when it comes to digital design, I think they’ve, they’ve greatly improved through through practice and just exposure to more, more of these opportunities, you know.

Speaker 3 (00:30:59) – and then also yeah.

Cormac Harkin (00:31:01) – Go ahead.

Guest Sonono (00:31:02) – Yeah. And also something that also enhanced my designing skills. Like I mentioned, I don’t know if I mentioned before that I’m also doing a diploma in professional garden design. So yeah, I think I’m doing that course with permaculture knowledge. it’s really been it’s really been nice, you know, and then also from that, from that diploma there, there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of, things to consider, you know, when, when doing a design. Although there designs, there are only just limited to gardens, you know. But now because permaculture is very broad, I’ve taken some of the knowledge that I have learnt from the, from the professional garden design, diploma and just combined with what I know in permaculture and I think my designs have greatly improved.

Cormac Harkin (00:31:56) – Yeah, I’m looking forward to seeing them. Looking forward to seeing your portfolio as well.

Speaker 3 (00:32:00) – So what.

Cormac Harkin (00:32:02) – designs do you, Adobe as an illustrator or affinity or both?

Guest Sonono (00:32:09) – is Adobe Illustrator. So Adobe Illustrator that’s that was the first that was the first software that I used for, for designing. And yeah, for me it was pretty simple and straightforward. But now, I’ve also learnt a bit of AutoCAD. I’m also now using AutoCAD. And, and then there’s this software called Garden Planner. You know so I just sometimes I just combine this software for, for AutoCAD I use it mostly for site surveys, you know, and then for Adobe Illustrator because for me it’s very much flexible. I use it for, for now the actually the actual designs. And then I combine that one with with Garden Planner because after after drawing up the design, I then put it up on garden planner. Garden planner has many different plants, different objects. You know that you just that you just add onto the onto the design.

Cormac Harkin (00:33:10) – Yeah. I used to use garden planner. I don’t anymore. And, I just ended it all. All on affinity. we have a course as well. pdc2pro.com. If anyone’s interested in, learning how to design, if you’ve just graduated or if you’re a seasoned pro and you, do hand-drawn. We’re teaching digital design. Get you started. get your base map done. Then we’ll teach you how to build a website, and then use the plant database guilder. And then that’ll get you started in your career as well. So that’s pdc2pro.com. Hopefully Guest will do some to work for us.

Guest Sonono (00:33:52) – Yeah, of course, of course.

Cormac Harkin (00:33:54) – Some market assessments, because that is to pass that course and get certified, you have to pass you have to produce a professional digital design and it must meet the standards of a professional design as you would serve the customer. So that includes getting your pollinating pears, zone appropriate plants, things like that. So it’ll all be assessed. guess you’re a positive man.

Cormac Harkin (00:34:19) – You’re doing two diplomas, working full time, doing workshops. What’s the plan for the future or what’s any or just just get all that work done and then see.

Speaker 3 (00:34:31) – Yeah.

Guest Sonono (00:34:32) – Yeah. So, yeah, I know that most of the things that I’m involved in at the moment, it’s mostly just studies. But, you know, I do have a few interesting things that are coming up. So at work, well, when I work full time, you know, I work in a facility where we look after, after elders with learning disabilities. So I saw an opportunity there, you know, to to just create, like, a therapeutic garden, which can be a space that is really helpful for for the elders, you know, so that’s a project that I’m, that I’m, I’m going to be implementing soon. And then there’s a workshop, that I’m going to be teaching with you very soon, you know. yeah. End of this month, on chickens and gardening and then, I think for the future, I’m really I’m really open minded, and I know that, you know, there’s going to be great things ahead, but, my involvement from for the future, I think it’s going to heavily rely on, educating people, advocating for permaculture and obviously gardening.

Guest Sonono (00:35:53) – You know, I think these are the things that I want to that I want to pursue. So at the moment, I can’t really say for sure what’s going to open up, you know? But, I can say that for sure. I know the future. The future is quite bright, you know.

Speaker 3 (00:36:09) – Yeah. So I’m looking.

Guest Sonono (00:36:10) – For it’s really it’s really just a matter of putting in the work, you know, just keep on developing myself. Keep on developing myself.

Cormac Harkin (00:36:19) – Yeah. I’m looking forward to that workshop. So, you’re going to cover the chickens and and. Yes. I’m really we’re going to have, I’ll have a deep bed and chicken system. Hopefully by that stage. And then I’m going to show how you compost that and mix it with other things. yes. So hopefully we’ll get some videos of that up.

Speaker 3 (00:36:40) – Yeah.

Cormac Harkin (00:36:41) – For, for the YouTubes. so we, I did I see something posted online about, the, you were doing something.

Speaker 3 (00:36:49) – Or the.

Guest Sonono (00:36:50) – UN. yeah.

Guest Sonono (00:36:52) – So, at the end of, 20, 23, around December, I got featured to be part of, there is an initiative that, the UN is starting, which is called, 100 voices for Our Planet. So I was one of those 100 voices for our planet. And, you know, it’s basically where the work that I’ve, I’ve done is, you know, getting recognition and. Yeah, I could be participating, at the, at the UN General Assembly summit around September of, of 24 this year. So yeah, that’s something that I’m also working on, on, you know, just preparation. To to get that started. But with that, opportunity, I really hope to, to reach, you know, a lot of people, a lot of, influential people that can actually help in making the, the change that we, we, we need for our planet, you know? So, I think my main target audience would be things like the policymakers, you know, Environment, environmentalists, you know, education practitioners.

Guest Sonono (00:38:15) – And yeah, I think that that is going to be maybe a quite a good opportunity for permaculture itself, you know.

Cormac Harkin (00:38:24) – Well, no better man to represent us. Guest has been very impressive, a lesson in hard work. getting your head down, getting yourself educated and, very bright future ahead. I’m looking forward to seeing it play out. And just remember. Just remember us when you’re. When you’re famous.

Speaker 3 (00:38:47) – listen to this guy. Yeah. Of course. Man. yes.

Cormac Harkin (00:38:52) – Have you any final thoughts for us before we wrap this up?

Guest Sonono (00:38:57) – well, maybe just some advice for anyone who is maybe at the starting point, you know, of this, permaculture journey. I think what I would like to say is that, listen, I know it’s not an easy. It’s not an easy thing to. It’s not an easy journey to begin, especially especially when you’re only starting. You know, there’s so many things that you won’t be understanding. But my advice would be just just get started. You know, no matter how small it is, no matter how small it may be.

Guest Sonono (00:39:29) – You know, with permaculture, it’s, It’s something that takes time, you know? So you just have to to get started, get your hands dirty, embrace the process. You know, in the end it’s going to it’s going to pay out. It’s a it’s a seed that you plant. Because for me personally, some of these things like this opportunity that we’re talking about, this is something that I. That I started. well, back then, back when I was still in Zimbabwe. You know, I I’ve been here for at least a year, but I can say that when I was, when I was doing those projects, they’re back home, you know. maybe some things were not so clear, you know, how the future is going to be like. But it’s because of of that foundation that I laid back the, you know, that is led me here. So, yeah, that would be my advice for, for anyone who’s, who’s at the, starting point.

Cormac Harkin (00:40:28) – Yes, that’s great advice and thank you very much guys.

Cormac Harkin (00:40:31) – That’s been Guest Sonono on the Permaculture Vine podcast. And I’ll see you all next week. Thanks. Guest. Oh.

Discovering Permaculture (00:00:00)
Guest shares their introduction to permaculture and their discovery of permaculture principles while keeping chickens.

Permaculture Design Course (00:03:36)
Guest describes his experience attending a permaculture design course in Harare, covering topics such as companion planting and soil health.

Jeff Lawton’s Online Permaculture Course (00:08:18)
Guest discusses his deepened knowledge and love for permaculture after completing Jeff Lawton’s online permaculture course.

Implementing Permaculture Principles with Chickens (00:11:33)
Guest explains the changes he made to his chicken systems, including growing his own feed, implementing a sustainable chicken run, and incorporating a large-scale food system.

Furthering Permaculture Education and Career (00:16:47)
Guest shares his journey of furthering his permaculture education, including working for a permaculture design company and becoming a teaching assistant for a permaculture course.

Teaching Permaculture and Community Projects (00:19:27)
Guest discusses his involvement in teaching permaculture through workshops and community projects, including a sustainable gardening project at a local youth centre in Zimbabwe.

Writing a Handbook and Workshops (00:22:09)
Guest talks about writing a handbook on raising permaculture chickens and conducting workshops to raise awareness of permaculture, both in Zimbabwe.

The project for youths (00:23:53)
Implementing a permaculture project to engage youths in sustainable gardening and income generation.

Workshops and diploma (00:25:05)
Teaching youths to care for the garden and discussing the benefits of pursuing a permaculture diploma.

Collaboration and upcoming talks (00:26:04)
Discussing collaboration, upcoming talks, and workshops related to permaculture and gardening.

Professional garden design diploma (00:27:24)
Exploring the benefits of a professional garden design diploma and its impact on career development.

Digital design skills (00:29:59)
Learning and improving digital design skills, combining permaculture knowledge with professional garden design diploma.

Software for design (00:32:09)
Discussing the use of Adobe Illustrator, AutoCAD, and Garden Planner for digital design and site surveys.

Future plans and projects (00:34:32)
Planning to implement a therapeutic garden project and continue educating and advocating for permaculture.

Recognition by the UN (00:36:52)
Being selected as one of the “100 voices for our planet” by the UN and preparing for the UN General Assembly summit.

Advice for beginners (00:38:57)
Encouraging beginners to embrace the permaculture journey and start small, emphasizing the long-term benefits.

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Cormac Harkin

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