The Zaytuna Farm Staff
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DES GRACE

Farm Manager

From Lismore in New South Wales, Des started working at Zaytuna farm in 2010.
As the Farm Manager, Des’ days are generally occupied with problem solving and managing the people systems. It’s a somewhat varied schedule which can range from repairing machinery and handing out technical advice right through to keeping the employee’s and apprentices as happy as possible.
Prior to joining Zaytuna Farm, Des was a stay at home dad with lots of farming experience. Des really enjoys the social life on the farm, meeting like minded people with common goals and wonderful ethics is one of the highlights. Des finds it very rewarding to part of such an efficient farming system and he now regards himself as part of the farms infrastructure, he’s here for the long term. When he retires he hopes to travel the world, sharing further his Permaculture knowledge whilst staying at other peoples farms.

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BEN CAINS

Apprenticeship Manager, Teacher, Consultant

Ben Cains moved to Australia from New Zealand in 2006. After studying with some of the biggest names he’s now an active member in the Permaculture world. Honoured by learning from many others who are leading the way in their field, like Geoff and Nadia Lawton, Elaine Ingham, Paul Taylor, Graham Bell and David Spicer. In 2012 he took his PDC with Geoff Lawton at Zaytuna Farm and has never lost sight of his dream to do great things with the movement. Soil biology is a passion of his, enjoying the universe of organisms under a microscope. With a passion for helping people become resilient, responsible for themselves and the environment, Permaculture was the perfect match. He joined the apprenticeship in July 2017 within 8months of arriving he has become the Zaytuna Farm apprentice manager, PSC consultancy manager and Geoff Lawton’s P.A. Ben now lives on site and supports Geoff, Nadia, Des and anyone that comes through the gate.

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GARY WALKER

Head Chef

Originally from Brisbane, Gary joined the team at Zaytuna Farm in May 2016. As head chef, Gary is responsible for preparing three healthy and delicious meals a day for the staff, apprentices, wwoofers and guests. This can range from 15 – 50 people.
Gary loves the variety and preparing fresh produce direct from the farm and also enjoys interacting with everyone who spends time here. Prior to Zaytuna Farm, Gary has worked all over the world, most recently in Isreal and brings with him a wealth of inspiration which is visible in the dishes he serves up on a daily basis.

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AMATULLAH DUNLAM

Education Coordinator

Amatullah has worked on organic farms in Australia and Spain. Her passion lies in saving seeds, growing and propagating plants. She completed her PDC in early 2014 and began working at Zaytuna Farm in June 2015. Since then she has managed the plant nursery at Zaytuna and helped develop the plant nursery at the Greening the Desert II site in Jordan. She also answers education enquiries and emails.

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LATIFA LAWTON

Entertainment Officer

Latifa has grown up on Zaytuna Farm and has been immersed into Permaculture pretty much since day one. For those of you who have watched Geoff’s videos over the years you’ll remember only too well how Latifa was always on Geoff’s back, singing away, while Geoff provided updates on the Farm. Today Latifa understands the in’s and out’s of the farm just as much as the permanent staff, she is extremely hands on and is a very prominent figure at the Farm. From helping with the harvests, entertaining the Apprentices, Wwoofers and students to making guest appearances in the onsite PDC’s and courses, Latifa must be one of the most experienced Permaculture children. Just like her older Brother Daniel and Sister Bonnie it looks like Latifa is set to follow in her fathers footsteps.

Graduated Apprentices
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Wan Muhammad Ridwan

Graduated Apprentice

Wan Muhammad Ridhwan completed our program at Zaytuna Farm under the tutelage of both Geoff and Nadia Lawton. He graduated as Chemical Engineer and spent 10 years in Oil and Gas production and operations with experiences in offshore engineering projects, financial budgeting, joint venture and people management before jumping full on into permaculture in 2014 after a PDC with PRI Co-Director, Rhamis Kent.

Whilst at Zaytuna Farm, he managed cattle, poultry, nursery, cropping and food forest systems setup, operations and maintenance. He also worked on irrigation, farm piping networks, mechanical works, earthworking and PDC co-teaching. He gained his International Project Management Certificate and valuable experience managing Zaytuna Farm and working together with Geoff Lawton on Consultancies, Designs and Implementation. He had the honour of learning from many others who are leading the way in their field, like Paul Taylor, Graham Bell and David Spicer.

He has now taught his first PDC courses with Geoff and now other courses. Intro course and Tropics masterclass at the PRI Malaysia site.

Ben Cains

Ben Cains

Graduated Apprentice, Former apprentice Program Manager, P.A. To Geoff/Nadia Lawton, Consultant, Permaculture Teacher.

Ben Cains moved to Australia from New Zealand in 2006. After studying with some of the biggest names he’s now an active member in the Permaculture world. Honoured by learning and teaching with many who are leading the way in their field, like Geoff and Nadia Lawton, Elaine Ingham, Tom Kendall, Paul Taylor, Graham Bell and David Spicer. In 2012 he took his PDC with Geoff Lawton at Zaytuna Farm and has never lost sight of his dream to do great things with the movement. Soil biology is a passion of his, enjoying the universe of organisms under a microscope. With a passion for helping people become resilient, responsible for themselves and the environment, Permaculture was the perfect match. He joined the apprenticeship in July 2017 within 8 months of arriving had become the Zaytuna Farm apprentice manager, PSC consultancy manager and Geoff Lawton’s P.A. Co teaching with Geoff in the Jan 2018 PDC he now has over 85hrs of teaching experience.

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Aaron Bernhagen

Graduated Apprentice

Aaron’s interest in permaculture began over 4 years ago when he was introduced to it by a work colleague. This interest grew into a passion over the next year or so and this led to him converting his concrete back yard to an abundant source of healthy food. Through the available spaces of his friends and family he continued to gain his experience designing and growing food in a variety of situations from large suburban backyards to small urban apartment spaces, the majority of his experiences coming from warm temperate and subtropical environments. His never-ending hunger for permaculture knowledge was accompanied by a PDC certificate completed in 2014. Having come from a career spanning over a decade, in conservation and bush regeneration, Aaron can draw on his understanding of native plant communities to enhance his view and foresight of the potential for permaculture to develop into the landscape he calls home. This gives him a constant inspiration to do everything he can to further the awareness and depth of understanding of permaculture practices in Australia and the rest of the world.

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SARA

Graduated Apprentice

Sara discovered Permaculture several years ago when she became extremely concerned about the worlds environmental issues. Having grown her own food and raising chooks and quails for many years, she soon became inspired to help suburban families to grow their own food too. However, Sara also had a desire to spread this knowledge further, striving to help disadvantaged communities around the globe. In 2013 Sara took Geoff Lawton’s online PDC, but it didn’t stop there. She participated in a month long Internship at “The Greening the Desert II” project in Jordan and has completed several courses at Zaytuna Farm to include; Permaculture for Aid Development, Permaculture Soils, plus Earthworks and Water Harvesting. Now Sara has dedicated one year to the Practical Permaculture Management Apprenticeship Programme at Zaytuna Farm. Sara believes that the best way to address world poverty and the effects of climate change is through permaculture. After this Apprenticeship Programme, Sara will be extremely qualified and set to complete her personal objectives.

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YAMAN AMR

Graduated Apprentice

Yaman came to Zaytuna Farm in April 2017 to gain more experience and acquire some valuable skills in practical Permaculture.
From Jordan, Yaman has been volunteering at the “Greening The Desert II” project since October 2016 and has also been involved in aid work at Zaatari, a refuge camp in Jordan, implementing reed and wicking beds.
Yaman was originally an Architect, but was searching for the real value in life and an effective way to grow his own, good quality food. His research led him to Permaculture. In-turn Yaman left his old job behind, took his PDC in Jordan and since then has never looked back. Yaman hopes that the time spent at Zaytuna Farm will assist him to become a Permaculture teacher and help him to manage the “Greening The Desert II” site when he returns Jordan. Yaman believes that Permaculture is a great tool for self-resilience and for empowering people in need.

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ZAVERE WEEKS

Graduated Apprentice

Zavere Weeks came to Australia from the United States. He’s now a valued member of a talented team of apprentices at Zaytuna Farm. In 2016, Zavere took his PDC with Geoff Lawton at the Greening The Desert Project in Jordan. “Facilitating the moulding of communities that feed the sole is my greatest passion and personal mission”. Permaculture and its ethics of People Care, Earth Care and Return of Surplus were exactly what Zavere needed to help him accomplish this goal.

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HELDER PAULO FERNANDES

Graduated Apprentice

From Portugal, Helder discovered Permaculture in 2009 after conducting research as a result of severe health problems. Driven by ecological problem solving, Helder has been participating in Permaculture projects since 2012. He gained his PDC from Geoff Lawton in 2016 whilst in Jordan at the Greening the Desert project. Returning to Portugal he “packed up” his previous life and moved to Australia in 2016 to join the Apprenticeship Programme at Zaytuna Farm. Helder is a problem solver by profession and has a special interest in water harvesting systems. He is presently working as a consultant for Geoff whilst project managing aid projects. His passion is to focus on generating benefit for communities in need.

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DARREN HEY

Graduated Apprentice, Apprentice Manager

From Western Australia, Darren did his PDC in January 2016 with Geoff Lawton at Zaytuna Farm. As a health and nutrition consultant for the past 15 years, Darren believes that high quality nutrition is our birth right and that the highest quality of nutrition can only be achieved when you grow your own food using the earth care principles that permaculture espouses. After completing his PDC, Darren applied for and was accepted into the Zaytuna Farm Apprenticeship programme. Darren has also completed the Earthworks and Water Harvesting course in order to continue to develop his skills in this area. Darren is hoping to work worldwide, helping to further the cause of Permaculture and to free those people who are ready and willing to liberate themselves from current control systems that do not hold care of earth, people and self as the highest ideal.

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