Permaculture Design Courses
The international permaculture curriculum is taught as a
72-hour plus class (about two weeks long, or a series
of weekends) covering the topics below so that the
participants leave with a general understanding
of site design, regenerative systems, practiced
hands-on implementations, and have met local
leaders with specific skillsets. Students who fully
participate in class and the design team final
project receive a certificate of completion, which is generally known in the Permaculture community as a
mark of study and full exposure to the Permaculture methodologies. Although it is not a primary aim of people taking the class, about 1/3 of participants will go on to start a business one day practicing some aspect of sustainable design that is learned in this curriculum.
This curriculum is from our last full Permaculture Design Course, in Parkland, WA:
Aug. 3: Permaculture Ethics, Principles, Patterns.
Observation of natural systems shows the most efficient way to encourage ecosystems that are abundant for human needs as well as nature's. This class grounds the participants in the
history and uses of permaculture as a design science.
Aug. 4: Traditional Ecologies, Watersheds, & Restoration.
All people's on Earth have/had unique ways of living sustainably within their climate's context; we'll learn what it means to truly live within the abundance of each unique watershed.
Aug. 5: Mapping & Design. Each site is different, and this class teaches how to assess wind, sun, microclimates, etc. through creating base and sector maps. Permaculture design is then a series of methodologies by which designers plan, place, and prioritize sustainable components into landscapes.
Aug. 6: Soils, Compost, Fungi. This class covers: soil analysis, soil building, soil-remediation, and the myriad of composting strategies that we can work with. There is a strong focus on mycoremediation and in cultivating mushrooms, as fungi do incredible work in the soil.
Aug. 7: Design Practicum. This class will be spent entirely in the field working in teams to create the first parts of the design: base map, sector map and zone map, as well as interviewing the project site's clients specific to your team.
Aug. 8: Water in the Landscape. We can reduce the amount of irrigation we need by sinking water in the soil through a diverse set of water-harvesting and saving strategies.
Aug. 9: Plants, Gardens, & Food Forests. Permaculture gardens usually have self-seeding, perennial, year-round, self-maintaining, polyculture elements. 'Food Forests' includes the structure of a plant ‘guild’, how to create analog ecosystems, how plants support each other, and how to maintain and reproduce them.
Aug. 10: Animals in the System. In this class we explore how to integrate livestock, poultry, beneficial insects, bees, and even wildlife into a garden ecosystem, (on a rural or urban scale). This topic also goes over tracking basics, and best practices for deterring unwanted critters.
Aug.11: Cleaning Water & negating the concept of Waste. How improvements can be made to approaches for dealing with wastes by mimicking nature's cleansing wetlands. 'Designing Home Potable Water Systems from Rainwater' will be open to the public.
Aug. 12: Appropriate Technologies. First we learn how to reduce energy output and how to incorporate many ‘passive’ technologies into a home. Then there are the basics of ‘active’ solar, wind, and microhydro technologies, as well as fuels. This also includes fire-building from scratch, building super-efficient rocket stoves, and preparation for disaster scenarios.
Aug. 13: Ecological Building. How to create affordable safe non-toxic dwellings using smart design and local resources. This includes wood, cobb, straw bale, passive solar, cordwood, and many techniques that work well in this region, as well as retrofits. Includes an open talk on Ecological Building.
Aug. 14: Invisible Structures. The systems that make or break are designs are: decision-making, different land access models (land trusts, ecohousing, ecovillages,‘commons’,community farms), sustainable economics and alternative economics (barter, timedollars, LETS, potlatch/gift economies), etc.
Aug. 15: Design Team Presentations. This is the completing project to demonstrate understanding of permaculture design. Participants work in teams to map out, research, design, and prioritize criteria for a specific piece of land in Parkland.
If you're interested in hosting a Permaculture Design Course at your site:
There is a fair amount of prep that goes into such an intensive class. Lodging, meals, hands-on work, classroom setup, and numerous other duties are important at a site, as well as assessing the local community for interest and doing a fair amount of publicity. In other words, it is not a get-rich-and-installed-quick plan for your site. It may help further your goals, but anticipate a long to-do list from us.
If you're interested in taking a Permaculture Design Course: Upcoming PDCs that we are involved in will likely be posted here or on our 'Projects' menu. For listings of PDCs, visit Northwest Permaculture Convergence (of course, NW specific) or Permaculture Global. We advise anyone who is contemplating spending time and money on a course to do thorough research on the teacher and the program to ensure you get a fair deal. Similarly, we are happy to answer questions about our programs.
PRICING: Most Permaculture Courses run about $1,000 per student, depending on the venue costs, meals included, lodging, etc. Even if not accredited by an educational institution, participants report that it is roughly the education and work of taking a 16-credit college class (rarely as cheap as $1500 per 16 credits) so it's subjective whether the course is considered cheap or expensive.
When Kelda lead teaches a Permaculture Course, she usually receives about $3,000 for easily 2 months of work, as well as extra for taking on any registration, site coordination, or follow-up work. The goal is that all of the teachers get paid fairly for their time (~$100 per 2 hour guest speaker), the venue makes some money and gains work finished, and everyone has comfortable organic-or-better meals, lodging, and quality education.
If pricing is an issue, please know that nearly every Permaculture Course plans for worktraders for various tasks to take the class for free or cheap, and that barters or in-kind materials for the class (like veggies for the meals) are valued highly.
There is something magical that happens with a PDC community
that cannot be replicated with online learning.
Kelda is credentialed to lead full Permaculture Design Courses through PINA (Permaculture Institute of North America)
Each PDC also incorporates 1 other co-teacher and about 10 guest speakers who are experts in various topics. Kelda's role is primarily as curriculum and 'learning experience organizer', experts on all sorts of topics are actively sought out.
And a testimonial:
As a novice gardener, I signed up for Kelda Lorax's "Permaculture Intensive" hoping for a few tips on how to grow a healthy garden. What I got was an amazing introduction to the holistic philosophy of permaculture, which mimics nature's relationships to create a garden that is self-sustaining, food producing, beautiful, free of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and even requires less weeding and watering. Beyond the immediate garden plot, permaculture principles extend to the ethics of economics, ecology, land use, water conservation, and social activism. It was a privilege to learn from Kelda (who has worked on permaculture projects around the world), and to be amongst a group of such lively and engaged students, from all walks of life, who raised so many excellent questions that in turn led to deeper discussions about the future of the environment. Permaculture shows how methods of land stewardship and food production that succeeded thousands of years ago are still relevant - and much needed - today.