Permaculture Design Course Details

The 72-Hour Permaculture Design Certificate Course is guided by the 14 chapters that comprise the book Permaculture: A Designers Manual by Bill Mollison. The course was developed by Mollison to spread the knowledge of sensible, ecological design while maintaining the integrity of its multifaceted approach. This powerful and revolutionary course  will spread over a 2 week period and  covers the following chapters:
  • Introduction
  • Concepts and themes in Design
  • Methods of design
  • Pattern Understanding
  • Climatic Factors
  • Trees and their Energy Transactions
  • Water
  • Soils
  • Earthworking and Earth Resources
  • The Humid Tropics
  • Dryland Strategies
  • Humid to Cool Climates
  • Aquaculture
  • The Strategies of an Alternative Global Nation

The TreeYo curriculum also specifically extensively covers topics such as Integrated Animal Systems, Natural Building, and Food Fermentation and Culture. 

Our aim as Permaculture trainers is to creatively facilitate a learning process that empowers people in permaculture design through experiential learning and hands-on training. Each student completes the course with a site design and presentation based on the skills and knowledge accumulated throughout the two weeks.
Graduation Photo from Malaysian PDC
Graduation Photo from Malaysian PDC
We have developed our scheduling and program based on our teachers training and our experiences from previous courses in conjunction with the international curriculum.  We are constantly seeking to make this information attainable for an affordable price while maintaining the standards of the international curriculum.  We cover all chapters of the book and strive to have fun with this learning opportunity.

Schedule of the PDC

Week 1

We employ a daily schedule very similar to most courses.  This schedule is made up of four main class times during the day and one evening lesson.  The evening sections are usually focused more on movies and/or presentations.  The first week is a mix of hands-on activities, lectures, interactive games, and movies that give students lots of information in preparation for the group design projects during the following week.  We start the course with community building exercises and then jump right into the core principles of Permaculture. We have decided to model these first days after Mollison’s principles.  His version of the Permaculture Principles are laid out in the Introduction to Permaculture.  He beautifully blends the second and third chapters of the Designers Manual into a concise form of the principles in the Introduction to Permaculture book.  We fit in a field trip or two that first week along with the exploration of patterns, which is highly enlightening for connecting to Nature. By the end of the week we get into the trinity of soil, water, and trees and how they are all inextricably interrelated.

Week 2

Week Two delves into the different ecosystems of the world and how the designs differ for each climate.  This helps to support the focus of the second week, which is the group design project.  Time will be set aside for groups to work together to complete the design project assignment.  We weave this in and out with the last chapters of the book including aquaculture as well as the community/economic/urban side of all of this.  Students then present their designs in groups for 35-45 minutes depending on the group size.  It culminates in the no-talent show, which is a way to celebrate the course and recap some of the material at the same time.  We highly encourage costumes and complete silliness.  The last morning is when you receive your design certificate and we discuss how to move forward into the Permaculture world.

A word version of the most up to date curriculum can be obtained  by emailing us at The schedule is an ever-evolving entity because we are always re-evaluating to utilize any opportunity to improve our curriculum.  We also recognize the uniqueness of each site (due to factors such as culture, climate, and resources) and adjust the schedule accordingly.  Overall we feel it is the most accurate portrayal of the curriculum that Bill wanted, integrated with new school learning techniques to accommodate different learning styles.  In the end we want people to connect with their newfound community, draw inspiration from Nature, and have some fun doing it.

Field Trips

During the course, we find it is beneficial for the students to leave the host site and explore the community outside. We incorporate field trips into the course which offer a unique perspective and wisdom from community members who have dedicated their lives to certain aspects of permaculture. Students are exposed to diverse properties and landscapes, and share in the journey of other agriculturists, greatly enhancing their learning experience. These days allow for a change of pace in the course, and present the natural world as one of our most valuable teachers.

Students enjoying apples and stories from 85 year old Ernie Hinkel and his well pruned orchard

We try to integrate hands on experience with the feild trip to support the community endeavor.  Whether its digging a trench for water harvesting or plastering an Earth Building, rewarding the days host site with an infusion of energy from people eager to learn complements each other quite well.  The site hosts takes time out of their schedule to share with us their experiences and systems thus its is wise to give back for this transference of energy.

Doug leading students in digging a trench for water harvesting into a

 tank on Terra Mae, a host for Field Trips

Facilitation Style of the PDC

As permaculture teachers, we embody the philosophy and principles of permaculture in our methodology and practice. By utilizing the core model of permaculture design in our course development, we strive to integrate this fundamental pattern of natural systems into the learning process.
    Permaculture offers a new set of eyes with which to see the world and our role within it.  Our teaching methods are thus rooted in Thoughtful and Protracted Observation (TAPO), which further cultivates this newly acquired global perspective. Throughout the course, we strive to fulfill our overarching ethical intentions – Earth Care, People Care, Fair Share – both inside the classroom and within our communities. Beyond our focus on environmental restoration, we emphasize community building and social justice as key components of the permaculture vision. Throughout the course we encourage self-reflection and evaluation, recognizing this transformative process occurring in all of us, and our need to create resilient living systems in the land, as well as within ourselves.
    As “facilitators,” we intend to break the barrier between “student” and “teacher” used in conventional education systems, opening our eyes to the mutual learning opportunities provided by the course, for all participants. Our role as “facilitator” is one who guides the learning process, using the framework of the 72-hour curriculum, while empowering the students in their accumulation of knowledge and understanding of the subject matter. We incorporate diverse teaching methods – lecture with visuals, powerpoint, readings, interactive games and presentations, films, independent readings and journal, and group hands-on projects – to satisfy all learning styles of our students and create a dynamic community experience.  Through this diversity students engage learning in various ways which enriches this transformative and very fun experience.

Hands on Training

    Our team brings empowering hands-on experience to the teaching of permaculture. This teaching style is unique in its use of the body as a tool to practice and memorize the techniques and skills learned in class. We aim to make our hands-on experiences as engaging and creative as possible by using the guiding principles of permaculture in the facilitation of each project.  We reinforce the concepts introduced in hands-on through in-depth discussions and adaptive learning techniques.

Natural Building during a pDC in Almocageme, Portugal

Have you ever wanted to know how to naturally filter your laundry water while keeping it on site?  How about finding level so that you can build a swale to harness rainwater runoff for reforesting a site?  Or maybe how to thatch a roof with local materials?  Do have a lawn and want to convert it into a garden quickly without lots of digging?  Want to plant trees but don’t really know how to protect them in their early years? Do you have food scraps coming from your kitchen but don’t know what to do with them?  Lastly maybe you have a site but not much money and want to get lots of plants growing quickly and cheaply?

Students learning to use an A-Frame which is a low tech way of finding level for swale building and water harvesting

Thus depending on the season and the host site, you will be given the opportunity to learn practical skills and give back to the site in way of the old adage “many hands make light work”.  Many students greatly appreciate the hands-on experience so they have the confidence to implement some of the techniques learned straight away after the course.  Often we get dirty and sweat a bit, but these are some of the most fun times at the course.  It’s definitely a balance though as this is a design course not just an organic gardening course.  So if you want more practical skills around composting or forest gardening, please consider taking a PDC like ours that is a well balanced learning environment.