About Us » Our Staff

Course Developers and Teaching Staff include: 

John Mason 

Dip.Hort.Sc.. Cert.Supn, Adv.Cert.Mgt., FIOH, FCIH

Started his career in 1971 as a horticulturist, lectured and wrote on self sufficiency and horticulture since 1970's, Editor of Home Grown magazine. Contributor to Grass Roots magazine for 2 decades. Author of Sustainable Agriculture (published by CSIRO/Landlinks Press). John has a lifetime of experience putting sustainability into practice - growing his own food at home, recycling, and even building with mud brick and straw bale. He has been teaching and writing about sustainable living for over half a century.


Marie Beermann 

B.Sc. Hort., M.Sc. Hort., Cert. III Ldscp., Dipl. Management, PDC

Marie has studied horticulture in Germany and permaculture in Australia, and has over 12 years of practical experience working in both horticulture and education.


Maggi Brown

RHS Cert. Hort. Cert. Ed. Member RHS Life Member Garden Organic (HDRA)
Maggie worked for many years as the information officer at the head office of "Garden Organic" (Ryton near Coventry, England). She has been an icon of the organic industry in the UK for decades and has over 50 years of experience in all things organic.


Dr Kerry Claydon

BA-BSc (Psychology, Computer Science, Aquaculture), BSc (Hons Microbiology), PhD (Microbiology), Diploma in Brewing Science

Kerry has over 20 years’ experience in various fields of microbiology including aquatic microbiology, medical microbiology, agricultural microbiology, and brewing microbiology.  Kerry has been the Director of several health programs within Australian and Asia and is a passionate teacher and tutor.


Diana Cole

B.A. (Hons), RHS Diploma in Horticulture, BTEC Higher Diploma in Garden Design, Diploma Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development, PTLLS (Preparing to Teach in the Life Long Learning Sector), P.D.C.

Diana has studied and worked in both permaculture and horticulture. She runs her own landscape gardening business (Arbella Gardens), and has also been actively involved with volunteer groups for many years, including the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers. and the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners Ltd.


Megan Cox

B.Sc (Hons) Environmental Conservation, M.Sc.

Megan has over 10 years of practical and industry experience in farming, land conservation and horticulture. She spent 2 years working on organic farms (through WOOF) while travelling in Sth America; and has taught and  practiced permaculture in the UK.. She has a passion for permaculture and sustainable living and is now living on and developing her large property in north Wales, in pursuit of her passion for sustainable living.


Peter Douglas

Dip Ani. Husbandry 
With over 50 years’ experience in Agriculture and wildlife management, Peter retired after a distinguished career as a university lecturer, wildlife Park manager, animal breeder and equestrian science expert. Peter’s long terms and wide-ranging experience and knowledge in animal science, farming and tourism management is woven into the ACS products and courses.  


Jon-Paul Dunne 

B.Sc., PDC, Bioscience Mres (pending)

Jon-Paul has a wealth of experience in Science communication, habitat restoration, permaculture and sustainable land management from various volunteering projects all across the globe. He is currently a post grad student at Durham University researching persistent pollutants, while also working with ACS.


Marius Erasmus

B.Sc.Agric., B.Sc. (Wildlife), M.Sc.Agric. 
After completing a BSc (Ag) undergraduate degree in animal science, Marius completed an honours degree in wildlife management, and later his Master of Science in Agriculture (Production animal physiology).?Marius has worked in the United Kingdom and South Africa in wildlife management, dairy, beef and poultry farming. 


Adriana Fraser 

Adv.Cert.Hort., Adv.Dip.Hort.

Adriana has lived the self sufficient lifestyle for decades on her home properties on the eastern fringe of Melbourne. She has written for many magazines regularly, including Grass Roots and Home Grown; and over several decades has been a major contributor to books and courses written by staff of ACS.


Gaynor Hartley


Gaynor has worked for ACS periodically since 1986. She few up on a large farm in northern Victoria before studying horticulture in the late 70's. She owned and operated a propagation nursery for more than 2 decades, and has always followed a strong passion for arts, crafts and gardening. Her experience is immense and diverse, and her support of students has become legendary here at ACS.


Melissa Leistra

  Bachelor Education, Masters Human Nutrition

Melissa has lived the self sufficient lifestyle on her home properties in both northern NSW and in Tasmania. She has kept chickens and turkeys, grown all manner of foods, made all sorts of preserves, built her own home, and lived off grid. Beyond her wealth of practical experience Melissa is a fully qualified nutritional scientist with over 2 decades of experience in food, nutrition, education and writing.


Dr. Gareth Pearce

BSc (Hons), BVSc, MA, MVetS, PhD, GradCertEd(HE), PGCertAqVetS, PGCertWLBio&Cons, DiplECPHM, MRCVS. 
Qualified veterinary surgeon from both the University of Melbourne and Bristol, having previously graduated in Agricultural Science and gained a PhD in Livestock Behaviour and Production. Dr Pearce also has post-graduate qualifications in Education, Wildlife Conservation Medicine, Aquatic Veterinary Studies and Wildlife Biology and Conservation. 


Jade Sciascia 

B.Sc.Biol, Dip.Prof.Ed, Cert Food Hygiene.

Jade grew up in Scotland with a passion for horses and land based industries. She has worked mostly in education and writing and as an adult lives on acreage in Australia, keeping her own animals and growing her own food; and pursuing her passion for a more sustainable way of living.

Mitchell Skiller

. Assoc. Dip. In Horticulture, Cert IV in Training and Assessment.  

Mitchell and his wife met while both studying horticulture at the University of Queensland, Gatton campus. He has around 3 decades of experience working mostly in horticulture - from operating his own cut flower business to managing a large 200+ acre property, that included areas for fruit and vegetable production, grazing land, dams stocked with edible fish, and much more.  

Timothy Walker 

B.A.(Botany),  RHS.M. Hort., Post.Grad.Dip.Ed.

Timothy is a Botanist, Horticulturist and Gardener. He is an Author, and also a lecturer at Somerville College, Oxford. After training at a number of gardens  including Windsor Great Park and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Timothy commenced work at Oxford Botanic Gardens in 1986. Appointed as "Horti Praefectus" (Superintendent/Director) there in 1988, he held that position until 2014. Under Timothy's watch, the garden won four gold medals at the Chelsea Flower Show, and developed 67 acres of MG5 wild flower meadow at the Harcourt Arboretum; a UK threatened habitat. Timothy remains an active practical gardener as well as a highly respected international academic in the fields of horticulture and plant botany. 




  • Hold a tertiary qualification (diploma or degree).
  • Have a minimum of five years of industry experience.
  • Hold an appropriate training skills qualification.
  • Are still working in industry (at least part time).
  • We endeavour to employ tutors who have distinguished themselves as leaders in their respective fields. Current Academic Officers include former presidents and secretaries from professional associations, managers and department heads from a variety of organisations and successful owner operators of a wide variety of businesses.