Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) Courses






The Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) Course is the foundational 72+hour practicum for students new to permaculture. We offer several variations of this course as shown below.

Areas covered during a Permaculture course include:

  • Permaculture principles
  • Concepts and themes in design
  • The local ecosystem
  • Forms of eco-gardening and farming
  • Broad scale site design
  • The application of specific methods, laws and principles to design
  • Pattern understanding
  • Climatic factors
  • Plants and trees and their energy interactions
  • Water, soils, earth-working and earth resources
  • Zone and sector analysis
  • Food forests and small animal husbandry
  • Harvest and natural forests
  • Aquaculture
  • Planning the homestead
  • Structures
  • Craftwork and chores
  • Equipment, tools and vehicles
  • Renewable energy and energy conservation
  • Waste management and recycling
  • Permaculture strategies for different climates
  • Urban and suburban Permaculture
  • Small farm and garden management and marketing
  • Strategies of an alternative global nation
  • Practical work on design

PDC Course Outcomes

Students who successfully complete the PDC delivered by a certified, registered teacher, gain a basic understanding of design and development principles involved with large scale and small scale intensive Permaculture applications. These students earn a certificate that signifies they have completed the Permaculture Design Certificate course and are now authorized to use the word “Permaculture” to apply to their related work. In addition to gaining the certificate and information resources presented by the instructor, the students gain the following resources and skill sets:

  • Whole farm planning/property management planning
  • Land component identification and classification
  • Earthworks & soil renovation techniques
  • Water harvesting & drought-proofing methods and applications
  • Vegetable and fruit production
  • Farm forestry & tree crop ground preparation, management & processing techniques
  • Appropriate technology
  • Comprehensive planning and design for the built environment, the use of energy resources and control of the waste stream

We offer the following Permaculture Design Certificate trainings:

If you are interested in attending one of these courses, find current offerings on the class calendar.

Standard PDC 12-Day Training

This course is presented in keeping with the original format designed by Bill Mollison for the 72-hour course.

Standard PDC 9-Day Training

This course is a condensed version of the 12-day course described above. Due to time constraints, many folks are unable to commit to taking a course that stretches out over two weeks. This training covers the same information, just packed into fewer days. It typically runs Saturday through Sunday (just one work week and the including weekends) and includes required pre-course study materials and exercises that must be completed prior to attending classes at the the educational site.

The Three Epochs of Humanity

This PDC course is for students interested in a deeper experience that takes them through the history of humanity and how humans have related to their environment over time. The Three Epochs of Humanity contains the creative and experiential application of living skills passed down by our ancestors into the present time and beyond. The three areas of concentration are: 1) The Hunter-Gatherer Lifestyle; 2) Agricultural Settlement and pastoralism; 3) Appropriate Technology and the Ecological Epoch (URBAN/SUBURBAN). The Three Epochs course is designed to teach students to utilize what is available in the immediate landscape in a conscious and ecologically astute manner. By learning from the ground up they become immersed in living history where knowledge and hand skills come together in an integrated, healthy fashion. The student should be sufficiently fit to participate in all scheduled activities.

Epoch I – Hunter-Gatherer: Permaculture as Seen Through the Eyes of the Hunter-Gatherer

The hunter-gatherer relies on his ability to read the lay of the land and to gather what is needed. Food, fibers, building materials, water, etc., are gathered and utilized for sustenance, warmth, and pleasure. This segment of the course takes place completely outdoors.

Course components include:

  • Studying regional native traditions and life-ways
  • Observing and reading the landscape
  • Identifying basic necessities
  • Fire, food, water, etc
  • Making traps, bows, and arrows; tracking and hunting
  • Identifying, harvesting, and preparing wild edible plants
  • Making fishing equipment; catching, cleaning and preparing fish for a meal
  • Using local materials to construct a primitive village, paying attention to solar orientation, thermal mass, and insulation
  • Managing the waste stream
  • Discussing the invisible social structures of some tribes and tribal customs
  • Discussing the origins of agriculture and pastoralism

Epoch II – Agricultural Settlement, Pastoralism (animals), Natural Building Methods:

Course components include:

  • Budgeting for the homestead
  • Natural Building: Green structures, ecological building practices (Building codes included)
  • Eco-building construction and home retrofit (include building codes)
  • Renewable energy (wind, solar, water, fire) systems and Energy conservation
  • Cooling, heating, air purification, and climate regulation
  • Biological waste mgmt. systems and waste detoxification
  • Nutrient Storage – food preservation (food storage)
  • Creating a Peaceful Sanctuary
  • Homestead maintenance and recycling
  • Water collections systems: Purification, Storage, Distribution, & Cycling of Water
  • Earthworks for water management
  • Soils and Biological Diversity – fertility
  • Small Animal Husbandry
  • Large Animal Husbandry and Cropping
  • Permaculture Principles (pick a few)
  • Forms of eco-gardening and farming (include Harvesting and Utility Forests)
  • Plants, trees, and their energy interactions (with each other? Or with what?)
  • Aquaculture and aquaponics
  • Small farm management

Epoch III – Appropriate Technology and the Ecological Epoch (Urban/Suburban)

Course components include:

  • Land use planning: Site suitability, Viewshed analysis, Neighborhood
  • Analysis (include the application of specific methods, laws, and principles of design)
  • Small-scale bioregional site design-small intensive systems (include the application of specific methods, laws, and principles of design)
  • Pattern understanding and observational skills
  • Vegetation, land cover, and natural resource mapping
  • Appropriate technology for urban-suburban sites: energy, tools, etc.


Online Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) Course

An on-line PDC open only to students outside of the United States

  • A one year, six-part course (2 months per segment)
  • Upon completion of a final design the student will receive the Permaculture Design Certificate, sanctioned by Bill Mollison and the Permaculture Institute of Australia
  • Based on personal profile and needs the instructor will send lessons pending completion of previous lessons
  • Recommended readings will be included with each lesson
  • The student will receive a complete 180-page outline, detailed bibliography, Earth Users Guide to Permaculture – by Rosemary Morrow, six recorded Introduction to Permaculture webinars, and 150 self-study questions.
  • A tool chest of appropriate observation and design tools for the course will be suggested
  • Communication between instructor and student will take place by e-mail, snail-mail, digital photographs and, if necessary, by phone (this will be limited to “emergency” calls)
  • Fee for one-year course: TBD USD (includes course materials
  • If the student fails to complete course within the allotted period, there will be an additional fee to complete the course (six-month extension)

A Selection of Topics for the Permaculture Design Certificate Course:

  • Tone-Setting and Themes
  • Permaculture Principles and methodologies
  • Ecology and Permaculture
  • The Local Ecosystem: Bioregions – rural, suburban, urban
  • Forms of Ecological Gardening and Farming: The history of eco-agriculture
  • Methods of Design: Design Strategies and Techniques
  • Broad Scale Site Design: sector analysis, needs/products/intrinsic characteristics/behaviors, etc.
  • Applying Specific Methods, Laws and Principles to Design
  • Ideas and Applications: functional relationship, stacking functions, etc.
  • Drawing Basic Design: based on initial observations of your site
  • Pattern Understanding
  • Pattern Applications: how to apply what we have learned through observation and study
  • Climatic Factors
  • Agriculture, Large-Scale Settlement, Appropriate Technology and the Art of Permaculture
  • Plants and Trees and Their Energy Transactions:
  • Water: Regional intervention in the water cycle, Earthworks for water conservation and storage, Sewage systems and composting techniques (toilets, compost piles, etc.), Purification of polluted waters, Grey water, Natural swimming pools, Wells, Septic and leach fields, Wetlands for water purification
  • Function of soils in the ecosystem
  • Earthworks: Planning Earthworks, Planting After Earthworks, Slope Measure, Levels and, Levelling, Types of Earthworks, Earth Constructs, Moving the Earth, Earth Resources
  • Zone System: Zone 0: The Homesite, Zone 1: Gardening and Small Farming Practice, Zone 2: The Food Forest and Small Animal Husbandry, Zone 3: Cropping and Large Animal Husbandry, Zone 4: Harvest Forests, Zone 5: Natural Forests
  • Aquaculture
  • Planning the Homestead: Structures (the built environment), Craftwork and Chores Equipment, tools, vehicles, Renewable Energy, Energy Conservation, Waste Management and Recycling, Gray-Water, Recycled Materials, Animals, Tools and Machinery (mechanical, woodworking, metalworking), Vehicles (mechanics, trucks, tractors, bulldozers, backhoe, shovels, mixers, etc.)
  • Working with Different Climates: The Humid Tropics, Dry-land Strategies, Humid Cool to Cold Climates: Temperate Climates (temperature extremes, frost dates and planting zones)
    Urban and Suburban Permaculture
  • SMALL FARM AND GARDEN MANAGEMENT/ MARKETING: Project management, Budgets, Business plans, Yield analysis, Cost-benefit analyses, Spreadsheets, accounting, business software
    Strategies of an Alternative Nation