Tonielle Christensen, Earth Mumma & Permaculture Educator

Hi, I’m Tonielle aka Toddi or Earth Mumma. 

Welcome! My website is here to inspire anyone interested in Permaculture and Thriving. This is a little introduction about me and some topics I am passionate about, with a list of my blogs for more reading at the bottom of the page.

I'm a mum of two girls, living in Kuranda, the village in the rainforest in Far North QLD, with my partner Blake Hudson, the @eartheArtisan.

We have built our little off-grid home and established a permaculture garden surrounding us, from which we eat and facilitate various workshops for sustainable living. The wood framing was milled from the trees on site, and we observe the stars from our outdoor bath. It is rustic and eclectic, nestled between our nursery and food forest...built over six years with our hands and our community, with so much love (and sweat and some tears!). We have a flock of chickens who rule the food forest and a three-legged kelpie called Cedar, and they share this paradise with our family...three generations together. 

You will find me cooking, gardening, dancing, reading, or water painting and enjoying a cuppa with friends when I am clocked off from my work-from-home lifestyle. Or you could catch me exploring the amazing landscapes of our beautiful tropical region, which after years of travel, I call home. 

Permaculture saved my life, and I share some of this journey below. It is a true passion and an extension of my lifestyle, with education and nature healing (it works both ways) as my focus over the past decade. 

As an educator, I have taught hundreds of students in person and online, including Permaculture Design Courses, 2-Day Introduction to Permaculture Workshops and Practical hands-on 'garden to plate' superfood workshops from my home garden. I also have a podcast segment for Permaculture Herbalism, and beyond the garden, I have taught social permaculture with Sociocracy and Dynamic Governance and Decision Making techniques for groups to work effectively together. 

I developed an online curriculum for families to learn permaculture together as a tool and resource for all the Earth Mummas out there to get skilled in sustainability, where I continue to coach people around the world to connect to their ecosystems and seasonal living, nourish themselves in tune with nature, as well as grow their edible gardens; be it a balcony, backyard or bigger homesteading dream. 

As a coach and entrepreneur, I mentor aspiring entrepreneurs who want to work from home with a flexible schedule and a simple online, turn-key portable business solution based in the personal development industry. Beyond this, I provide coaching sessions to help people feeling stuck to 'design their life' to thrive with a holistic process. 

With the simplicity of working from home, I can indulge in my garden, follow my creative endeavours and be with my children, all values that are important to me! 

Feel free to explore my website; hopefully, there is an opportunity for us to connect and work together.

This photo (below) is me laying in my bed of Brahmi to enjoy the benefits of Grounding and have a nibble of this special herbal medicine.

Permaculture - where my journey began...

As mentioned, it saved my life. I share this health journey below, though let's start with what I was doing beforehand.

I worked on expedition boats throughout my twenties in which I travelled the Kimberly by sea for months on end, the coasts of New Zealand and through the south pacific. I fell in love with the ocean and diving. With the travel bug, I adventured through India, Nepal, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Bali and then more of New Zealand. I explored parts, mostly the east coast, from Tasmania up to the very tip of Australia. I lived in Melbourne, Brisbane, and spent a winter in Jindabyne learning to snowboard!

All of this travel was based on my hospitality experience ( I have a Cert 4 in Hospitality Operations, which I did as a school-based apprenticeship).

When I decided to buy my first house, I entered the Real Estate industry, where I started my first business and experienced burnout. It led to a health crisis that evidently led me to Permaculture. Thankfully!

You can listen to this story with all the embellishments via my Podcast: Introduction To Permaculture Herbalism here!

In a nutshell, chronic fatigue, Ross River Fever, Adrenal stress and unresolved childhood trauma were underlying my unconscious eating and relationship with food and substance abuse. 

Crises often leads to a catalyst for change. Depression and illness stopped me in my tracks and got me still enough to self-refect. With the help of a holistic doctor, I was given insight into my diet, thoughts/beliefs, and connection to my health. 

With a newfound interest in 'where my food comes from' and the quality of farming practices, my inner gut biology and soil microbiology, my mind expanded. This led me down some concerning rabbit holes (Genetically Modified Organisms, Monocultures, Herbicides, Pesticides, Food-miles and resource depletion, to name a few). Luckily I emerged with 'Permaculture as the solution'!

Fortunately, I made friends with a community of people who felt the same and were seeking solutions. I found ways to regenerate the earth (yep, there are plenty, we just all need to put them into practice) and upgraded my lifestyle.  

Empowered to make a change, I went on to study my first Permaculture Design Course (with Darren Doherty and Costa Georgiadis) and practised in my urban home garden. On 800m2, I grew all of my fresh greens (salads and spinaches), potatoes, herbs, eggplants, tomatoes, luffas, papaya, banana and carambola, plus some happy chickens. I got better, healthy, happier and more inspired to do more. 

So I started my first business, Home Grown Edible Gardens and became a designer and consultant to assist people in growing organic produce at home. 

My world collided with Blake Hudson, and our dreaming aligned. Together, we went on to establish Organic Motion Permaculture, which was a huge lesson in managing a business for me. Here, we grew in more ways than one, gaining professional experience consulting and landscaping with Geoff Lawton (Zaytuna Institute) and becoming certified permaculture teachers with Robin Francis (Djanbung Permaculture College). We also had our daughter Nova and began building our homestead dream together. 

With the ups and downs, smiles and frowns...we continued teaching, consulting, landscaping and learning. This work as given me the opportunity to work with organisations such as; North QLD Conservation Council (I facilitated an urban composting project with 100 participants), Vital Resource Management (I assisted with the development of a Soil Carbon Sequestration program), CenterCare (gardening program and edible retreat space), Northern Gulf Resource Management Group (various Gulf Kids Day events community training in resilience) and various school projects.

After a decade, once I had delved deep into the domains of ‘land and nature stewardship’ and education and culture’, and discovered that my passion within this holistic design framework had evolved more into the ‘health and spiritual well-being and ‘community governance aspects of design. These are known as the invisible structures of society.

Social permaculture, specifically, is the philosophy focused on redesigning ourselves; our inner world and our social systems (communities) and how we work together and make decisions to care for the earth and people and share resources with equality. I have trained in Social Permaculture: Dynamic Governance and Decision Making, and Dynamic Groups and Learning for creative teaching with Robin Clayfield at Earth Care Education and did my Cert 4 in Training and Assessment. 

Between all of this, I went to the Green School in Bali to study my second Permaculture Design Course with Penny Livington Stark (from the Regenerative Institute) at Kul Kul Farm. I also studied  Sociocracy Facilitation with the Sociocracy Consulting Group!

My bookshelves are filled with permaculture, herbal medicine and personal development books, crystals, nature gifts and visionary art. I'm sure this provides enough insight into aspects of myself that I hope we can share some time. 

Right now, the Nature Kids Permaculture Program is alive and thriving in this space, which has been my main focus over the past two years.

The picture below is from an interview featuring my first permaculture garden in Townsville. 

My Book

Throughout this empowering journey, I have studied with many of the pioneers and am forever grateful to my teachers. 

With this experience, I have delivered workshops and courses to hundreds of people from around the world in person and now online with the Nature Kids Permaculture Program for Families. 

As a book lover, I devoured many and found that gardening books for the tropics and permaculture were lacking. So, I wrote my book, the ‘Incredible Edibles Tropical Superfood Guide which was the compiled information I was teaching in my 1-day workshop. It provides information to grow fresh food throughout the hot, wet summer months and to establish food forests.

With a focus on 32 easy to grow superfood plants including descriptions and recipes, it is a resource to learn how to eat from your garden to your plate!

Nature Kids Permaculture Program

When I taught my Design Courses (PDC's) at the Cairns Hinterland Steiner School, I had many parents wanting to learn, so alongside the 2-week retreat, I designed a Nature Kids Program for kids to do whilst parents learned. It was a success, so I continued to do them in school holidays with one of my students, who became a friend and co-worker!

When Covid changed our venue agreement, Samantha and I, decided to create the online program which evolved into lifetime access to 96x nature-inspired activities to embody the permaculture principles through play. It is epic. I hope we can meet in this space because it is the most comprehensive offering I've made thus far to really give people the opportunity to design and create an edible landscape live seasonally with a zero-waste lifestyle in a community setting. We all learn better through play, no matter what age!

Conscious Business

In the process of all this learning, I gained a bunch of business, marketing and event management skills! I invested in a business mentorship with the innovative and unconventional Jeffrey Slayter, who provided the business training I needed to be an entrepreneur. He introduced me to personal development, specifically Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and coaching, which I see have the tools to design our inner landscape, so naturally, I studied to become a certified Coach with a Master's in Coaching. 

Owning a business is, no doubt, a personal growth journey. It brings up all limiting beliefs. Add parenting to the mix, which activates one's inner child and then mix the two together...this is an opportunity for serious growth! 

I love helping people to 'unstuck' themselves and find clarity to step into their path with personal empowerment. 

What happened for me was that my previous business (Organic Motion) had many elements of what I loved to do; however, there were aspects out of alignment, which meant I wasn't really living my best life in a supportive way to be a present mother nor fill my days doing what I love. It was spreadsheets, neverending meetings and an 8 am to 6 pm stretch on my time. 

With the inner work I did through my coaching program, I realised I had to let go of some things, people and habits in my life that had become burdens. 

Thankfully, this self-development work has helped me grow my success mindset.

Pivoting to work from home and online has allowed me to diversify my income streams, choose my work hours and create space to fulfil all parts of me, aka permaculture, business, coaching and mummahood. Time to Thrive is the space to connect here

Essentially, I have a mixed toolbox and skillset to redesign landscapes and mindsets for abundance. 

Birthing & Parenting 

I home birthed Nova gracefully in the water, a pool set up in our living room, in what I can only describe as a psychedelic 4 and half hours of primal ecstasy. I was supported by my midwife and share this experience in my Podcast: Midwifery, Placenta Planting and Syntropic Food Forestry with Elizabeth Jinks on Permaculture Herbalism.

During my pregnancy, I watched as many videos of natural births as possible and read extensively on the subject. I attended a four-day Birth into Being course and was gifted a 'Hyno-birthing' workshop by a friend who became certified to facilitate it. At age 29, I felt strong, prepared and empowered. I was able to step out of the pool, breast feed (try too, that was a six-week journey to success) and have a cup of tea and some cardamon porridge with my beloved. With the help of Shepard's Purse tincture, I was able to birth the placenta, and we kept it attached to Nova in a specially made towel bag (known as Lotus birth) for a few days until it was completely empty of blood. 

I understand home-birthing is not for everyone and that the hospital system is where some people feel safer, especially in high-risk situations. I hope all mothers have the respect, body sovereignty, safety and choice to give birth in the most empowered way possible. And beyond birth, to be supported by their families and communities, for the stages of birth do not end when the baby comes. Too many women (and men) suffer without the practical or emotional support they need in this challenging and sacred time. 

Before Nova, I became a step-mum to Auraura, whom I've known all her life. She is Blake's firstborn daughter and her mother, Donna Raymond, is a dear friend! We have a wonderfully unique blended family; feel free to ask me the story sometime! 

Alternative Education

Our girls had attended Steiner education until recently when we decided to homeschool Nova. This has been an opportunity to design the kind of education we dream about and has evolved alongside other homeschool friends. We now have a little pod of homeschool friends who spend four days a week together, learning through the Steiner-rich curriculum, with a three-day weekend...sharing in the education delivery with other parents and professional teachers we bring in for specialised offerings, like music, craft, math and drama. We include aspects of our Nature Kids Program in the garden and for seasonal celebrations, and we go on adventures in our region, plus camping with other homeschool families. Our kids make their own lunches, play in the bush, sing a lot and are barefoot most of the time. They participate in designing their lunch menu, excursions, play and fundraising. 

We focus on home-grown nourishment and herbal medicines where possible and appreciate them as artistic, wild, nature kids. 

Plant Medicine 

My connection to plants and respect for the deep ecology movement has also led me into the jungles to work with sacred teacher plants and gain insights into nature's wisdom and the essential connection we all have to our living systems to not only survive, but more importantly, thrive.  

It has been a great honour to witness the magic and healing of plants, those beings that give us the air we breathe and absorb the air we breathe out.

The lessons I have been (and still are) integrating from the two dieta's are expressed through who I am and my offerings.  

Nature taught me and continues to develop my true nature, for I am the microcosm to the macrocosm, and it shows me how important and worthy it is for me to regenerate my inner landscape as it is to care for the earth.

Kitchen Witching

I've been referred to as a 'hedge witch' which seems fitting, considering how much I love plants. However, it is what I do with them in the kitchen where I feel the magic really happens. As mentioned earlier, my health journey has led me to grow my own and that has evolved into learning how to prepare, cook and or preserve the medicinal and nutritional goodies. At any one time, you'll find dried herbs, jars of jams or pickles, ferments, dehydrated fruits, tinctures and oils in my pantry and spilling over to other shelves. I love making nourishing food for my family and leaning into my garden for health. I grow Elderberry to make cough syrup for the winter, Comfrey for healing salves and poultices, Plantain for cuts, and Aloe Vera for burns...to name a few. All of this is learnt through practice, I am not a qualified herbalist, simply self-taught and from attending workshops with experienced herbalists. 

Earth Mumma Blogs, Goodnews Letters & Videos

I love writing and sending out a moonthly e-good newsletter to my mailing list, plus some insightful blogs which contain information to support people to Thrive and create abundance. The information is intended for those who want to access skills for sustainability and deepen their relationship, not only with the earth but with themselves... to live their best life in tune with nature.

On my Youtube Channel @earthmummapermaculture, you will find useful videos regarding Nature Kids Activities, Permaculture, Coaching and other related content. 

For daily inspirations, follow my @loving_earth_mumma Instagram page!

Here are my most popular posts:

Additionally, are my free ebook 96 Nature-Inspired Activities for Kids Colouring Book.

I hope you find some down-to-earth connection to enjoy on those pages.

Feel free to sign up for a free coaching session. 

Otherwise, until next time, keep playing!

Naturally, 

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