Timor Leste 2020-01-13T10:49:01+00:00

Timor Leste

Sustainable Food Systems, School and Community Gardens:
To express interest in this trip, please email us at: global@ceres.org.au

Join us this March/April and explore a unique country and landscape, sharing with people working with their communities as they strive to develop more sustainable livelihoods.

Through a mix of discussion, site visits and practical hands on experience, we will be introduced to local farmers, educators, community development practitioners and permaculture champions, respecting and building on traditional agriculture practices, which embed cultural and ecological principles. We will gain a first-hand impression of some of the most important food security and sustainable development challenges facing this very young independent nation, which while one of Australia’s closest neighbours is still relatively unknown to many.

Our engagements with communities in Timor Leste are based on the principles of mutual learning and respect. Participants in this trip will have the opportunity to engage in careful   observation, deep listening, personal reflection and sharing of perspectives, experiences and ideas.

This is an amazing opportunity to become part of the growing movement of people dedicated to creating positive change for themselves, their communities and the environment through ecological based solutions.


Permaculture has become an international phenomenon creating a space for an alternative international development agenda. This is an important shift in our thinking about efficiency, resource use and food production. The trip will encourage you to consciously listen and learn from locals and each other, while acknowledging the patterns and relationships in nature, understanding the importance of growing food and harnessing local energy, and finding new ways of exploring and organising yourself and people.

Throughout the trip participants will learn from the themes and practical application of basic Permaculture principles through interacting with projects connected to Permatil, Naterra and the Aileu Resource and Training Centre. People of any background and any level of Permaculture knowledge are welcome to join the trip.

Places we visit


Working with Sister Rosalva and the Aileu Resource and Training Centre (ARTC), we will learn about the permaculture concept design for the Kadalak Dame peace garden developed in 2016 by CERES Global participants and put into practice in our 2018 and 2019 trips.  In 2020 we will continue to get hands on and work alongside our community partners on the development of the Kadalak Dame peace garden.

Whilst there we will also continue developing relationships and sharing learnings with local farmers and school communities.  In particular we will follow up on the invitations from the Aileu Reference School (CAFÉ School) and local schools connected to Permatil to collaborate on school gardens and fostering of links between schools in Aileu and Australia, including through CERES Education and its network of 300+ ResourceSmart Schools.

A’tauro Island

We are returning to the beautiful paradise of A’tauro island exploring local eco-tourism initiatives, sustainable schools, social enterprise and Permaculture opportunities.

Working with our partner NaTerra, we will travel to the tiny village of Atecru where we will stay, learn and contribute to a project designed to increase self-sufficiency, improve food and water security, and provide training opportunities for locals.

There will be opportunities to soak up the beauty of the island, snorkel the reefs and explore the marine wonderland of the most bio-diverse marine ecosystem in the world. To help keep the reef pristine, we will participate in a beach clean up and potentially contribute to other community projects.


Dili is a bustling city and will provide a contrast to the villages and rural regions that we visit on the rest of the trip. Whilst there, we will meet with Permatil who will provide an overview of Timor Leste and the historical and social events and movements relevant to the emergence of Permaculture as a tool for development in the region.

Our time in Dili will also allow for visits to some of the following highlights: Chega Museum, Archives & Museum of East Timorese Resistance, Motael church, local markets.

Our Key Partner Organisations

Ego Lemos & Permatil

Permatil is an organisation involved in promoting Permaculture and sustainable agriculture in Timor Leste. Established by community leader and famous musician Ego Lemos, Permatil has been very active in promoting the permaculture ethos and approach in Timor Leste. Not only have they created the most comprehensive guide to Permaculture for tropical climates in English, Tetum and Portuguese, they have successfully advised the government to incorporate permaculture into the national school curriculum! This is a world first!

For several years we have been working with Ego Lemos and colleagues, including supporting the school garden program.  This program aims to facilitate local communities efforts to develop a permaculture-based garden in every school in Timor, to be used as a tool for hands on and experiential education.

On this trip, we will be visiting Permatil in Dili to receive an introduction to permaculture in the context of contemporary Timor-Leste. We will also be visiting schools in Aileu who are participating in Permatil’s school garden program.

Friends of Aileu

We have been working with Friends of Aileu  since 2013, developing a partnership and matching the interests, skills and ambitions of CERES Global participants to Friends of Aileu partner organisations in Aileu.  Friends of Aileu is one of the many partnerships between local councils in Australia and municipal districts in Timor Leste, called the Australia Timor Leste Friendship Network.

Aileu Resource and Training Centre and the Aileu Science and Technology Institute (ARTC)

ARTC is a local NGO that serves a vital role in offering adult learning opportunities alongside development of cultural expression, environmental protection and improved livelihoods with a focus on women’s development and participation. CERES Global has begun collaborating with ARTC on re-developing the Kadalak Dame garden site, which provides a community meeting place and space for quiet reflection.  The site includes coffee and fruit tree plantation areas, medicinal herb and vegetable plots.


NaTerra aims to enhance household food and nutrition security and improve rural livelihoods in through a reduction in food crop losses that are caused by the increasing frequency and severity of droughts (associated with climate change and variability) and increase in horticultural and fisheries productivity leading to a sustained increase in agricultural production in vulnerable rural communities. In doing so, they aim to contribute to the economic development, improved food security, reduced rural poverty, a transition from subsistence farming to commercial farming of crops and promotion of environmental sustainability and the conservation of Timor-Leste’s natural resources.

Background to Timor Leste

Timor Leste is Australia’s closest neighbour which most of us know very little about. The Island, surrounded by picturesque coral reefs, is divided between sovereign states to the east and Indonesian states to the west. Made up of eleven distinct ethno-linguistic groups, wild beaches and mountainous landscapes it is both culturally and geographically rich and beautiful, but Timor is not without its struggles. Over recent years Timor has experienced a huge increase in birth rates, said to be from confidence in their recent Independence, but they also maintain a low life expectancy due to a generation of turmoil and conflict. Today, it is a country slowly rebuilding and learning how to sustain its young and growing population. Each year, at the end of the dry season, Timor suffers from what are called “the hungry months” where food becomes scarce leading to serious food security issues and malnutrition.

Photos from previous trips




Our next trip

29th March – 12th April 2020

Costs: $2500 for 14 days

For further details contact us


(03) 9389 0183

In Timor, CERES Global are developing rapport and connecting with groups and Individuals. In particular we are establishing strong connections with ASTI, the Aileu district Administration, and with Ego Lemos at Permatil in Dili.

On our June 2016 trip, CERES Global worked closely with Andrew Mahar from With One Seed, Fernando from Na Terra, and Mercy Corps in Dili and Maubisse. Each of these relationships are ongoing, and we look forward to further strengthening them through future engagement.

CERES Global is very much looking forward to forming a long-term partnership with the Aileu ARTC, collaborating to design and create a demonstration sustainable agriculture plot as a resource for local Timorese farmers. We’re keen to have people from all backgrounds and interest areas join us in this project, as our diverse range of history and experiences will make a great contribution.

In June 2016 our first group of Permaculture students worked in Aileu on a PDC design. The project was a great success and we look forward to developing the plans with the local community again in 2017.

News from Timor Leste

2509, 2019

Lessons on life from the people of Timor Leste

By | September 25th, 2019|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

by Tyson Rory O'Shea CERES Global intern Our CERES Global trip to Timor Leste in July 2019 was an intense and immersive two weeks, packed with opportunities to learn about a country still recovering [...]

909, 2015

By | September 9th, 2015|

Aileu Science and Technology Institute (ASTI) and the Rai Husar Foundation (Chris Adams, Friends of Aileu) Background The District of Aileu, while not far from Dili, has for long been regarded as a relatively disadvantaged [...]