Short Courses / Topical Deep Dives

These topical courses go beyond the PDC in particular areas such as plants, natural building, biodynamics, appropriate technology, and more. For current offerings please check the COURSE CALENDAR.

Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Practicum

In this course we will be studying the principles, methods, and practices of biodynamics in detail, along with hands-on field applications. Biodynamics has its roots in the teachings of Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian scientist and mystic who lived at the turn of the 20th century.

Steiner’s perennial philosophy is nutrition for the soul of the complete human being metamorphosing through earthly time. He offers a whole system that incorporates learning on many levels: physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual.

The course will cover the following topics:

  • The underlying philosophy of biodynamics
  • Merging of the cosmic and terrestrial
  • The Biodynamic preparations
  • Soils
  • How to develop a “farm organism”
  • The planting calendar
  • Plants and animals
  • Social aspects of biodynamics


Whole House Agriculture

In this intensive three (3) day class you will learn that “farming” can be defined in a much broader sense than what we are used to. Farming is not just something that is done on large tracts of land out in the country! You can farm in your own windowsills, under grow lights in your basement, in containers on your deck, in your front and back yards, on your hobby farm or larger homestead. It works ANYWHERE!

You will learn techniques to help you engage in creating your own food, medicine, and utility from a variety of sources in and around your own home. Techniques and methods that work in any environment and in various seasons will be discussed and demonstrated. Learn how to contribute to fresh, ready nutrition for yourself and your family. Learn how plants can provide you with many medicines that strengthen the body and the soul.


Hands-On Plant Course

In this intensive class you will learn techniques to help you identify and use local trees and plants, come to an understanding of their significance and use in the landscape and how to place them for best and highest use. You will practice using plants for food, medicine and utility. You will identify and harvest plants in the wild; then study, process and transform them. You will make tinctures, salves, decoctions, infusions, teas, ferments, salads and more.

Through guided observation you will discover methods to employ plants as windbreaks, shelter belts, habitat for animals, and companions for other plants that contribute to health and increased yields. Plant guilds, food forests, basic biology, basic botany, effects of climate on vegetation, interactions with animals, and the processes of various habitats and ecosystems (including farm ecosystems) will be discussed and examined. You will learn the basics of plant propagation, grafting, seed saving and more.

Explore, observe, study and interact with plants! Enjoy discovery walks through prairie, woodland, savanna, pasture, gardens, farm fields, and other ecosystems located at or near the educational venue. Students will go home with samples of plant-based products made in class which may include: teas, tinctures, decoctions, salves, infusions, syrups, ferments and more. 

Integrated Forest Gardening

Authors Wayne Weiseman, Daniel Halsey, and Bryce Ruddock have created the first, and most comprehensive, book about plant guilds, covering in detail both what guilds are and how to design and construct them, complete with extensive color photography and design illustrations. While other permaculture books address this topic of guilds, none provides enough depth to be replicable in a serious way. Wayne Weiseman teaches this three-day practicum based on his book. 

The guild concept often used is one of a “functional relationship” between plants. It is the integration of species that creates a balanced, healthy, and thriving ecosystem. A guild is a metaphor for all walks of life, most importantly, a group of people working together to craft works of balance, beauty, and utility.

The course will cover the following topics:

    • Permaculture Principles, Methodologies, Applications
    • The Plant: what is a plant? Why is it so important as the basis of all life as a primary producer?
    • Plants from the perspective of Biodynamics, alchemy, etc
    • Definition of a Guild
    • Functions and Structure of a Plant Guild
    • Animal Interactions with Plant Guilds
    • Partitioning Resources
    • Ecological Requirements of Guilds
    • Propagation
    • Steps to Guild Design
    • Sample Guilds
    • Guild Project Management