How is the course presented?

The design course offers 14 days of instruction, presenting the brilliantly successful and transformative curriculum developed by Bill Mollison and The Permaculture Institute as a certificate course. All Permaculture Design Courses cover a minimum of 72 hours of material. This course is offered as 14 days of weekend workshops between April and October 2020. The course is adapted to a wide variety of learning styles and is presented via lecture, images, video, group discussion, individual and group exercises, and design projects. Class usually lasts from 9AM to 5PM. Weekend courses usually include readings and modest amounts of other homework, as well as occasional meetings of design project teams.

Each day of the course builds on the knowledge gained in earlier sessions in what is known as spiral learning, where we revisit some of the topics presented earlier but from a more advanced or broader perspective at each pass. This not only reinforces the subjects and makes learning easier, but it shows how each subject is related to the others. By the end of the course, this whole-systems approach will give you regenerative tools to let you redesign or improve almost any aspect of your life, from your garden and house to your livelihood, relationships, and community.

What is the permaculture design certificate?

Formally known as the Permaculture Design Consultant’s Certificate, this document is awarded to those who attend all sessions of the design course (missed sessions can usually be made up later), and who successfully complete the design project. The certificate for our courses is offered by the Denver Permaculture Guild, a 501c3 non-profit, and is in accordance with or surpassing the guidelines used by national and international certifying bodies.

The certificate gives the holder the right to use the word “permaculture” in a business or other professional practice, and signifies successful completion of the permaculture design course. It is the pre-requisite to further training in permaculture design such as the two-year diploma program offered through the Institute, teacher training courses, and other advanced permaculture trainings. Holders of the certificate join a growing community of many thousands of design-course graduates who share a common body of knowledge.

The certificate does not mean that you are a “certified” permaculture designer, as the design course covers roughly the same amount of material as two college courses, which is not enough to make you a certified practitioner, just as two courses in chemistry would not make one a certified chemist! The design course is the first step in becoming a permaculture practitioner, whether in design, education, construction, or any one of many other fields.

Who should take this course?

  • Design professionals can add new qualifications to their resumes and offer improved services to their clients. Their designs tend to use fewer resources, work more efficiently, and are easier to maintain.
  • Homeowners, gardeners, and farmers learn to increase the value and productivity of their property and to create home and land environments that better support their own needs as well as nature’s.
  • Real estate, construction, and development professionals are able to better address the public’s growing concern for the environment and to reduce resource use and impacts.
  • Educators learn to integrate permaculture design into their curriculum in ways that have been proven to raise student performance.
  • Planners and public officials find holistic solutions to land-use and resource issues, and will identify and solve bottlenecks and impediments to implementing their programs.
  • Energy, water, and waste-systems workers will learn holistic management strategies for integrating their projects into the larger community.

Most participants find the course life-changing, and they form powerful new viewpoints and enhanced social networks.

Who teaches this course?

The principal instructors are local permaculturalists Creighton Hofeditz and Asia Dorsey, who have a range of knowledge around permaculture theory and implementation. They will be joined regularly by Adam Brock and Ainslie O’Neil, as well as at least one guest instructor each weekend. Please visit our facilitators page to learn more about the instructors.

What does a typical permaculture course cover?

The curriculum covers a wide variety of subjects. Check out our syllabus to get a better understanding of the course schedule. This course will not make you an expert in any of the individual subjects covered, although in many cases we go into considerable depth. The point of the course is to introduce you to the relationships and synergies among the disciplines that permaculture connects. In a sense, permaculture creates an ecology made up of the many tools and concepts used to design sustainable communities.You will learn what these tools are and how to decide which to use, and when. The course will show you how these subjects connect. Then, after the course, you can go into whatever depth you desire in your areas of interest.

The order of topics in the course may change due to the presence of guest instructors, and emphasis on certain subjects may shift due to the needs and focus of the participants, such as urban or rural residents, city planners, farmers, and so on.

What will I get from this course?

This course will give you holistic decision-making tools to create and practice sustainable solutions for food, water, and energy security; regenerative shelter; building social capital; developing a sustainable economy, renewing local communities on all scales, and many other needs.  It will allow you to find solutions to the challenges presented by life in an industrial society. Permaculture uses ecological principles to design sustainable human communities that are harmoniously woven into the environment and that aim to have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It offers a framework for critical decision-making and right livelihood.

The permaculture design course teaches whole-systems thinking. What does that mean? Most of the time we’re taught to think in terms of things: the parts and pieces that make up our world. This approach lets us exclude supposed “externalities” like pollution and side effects, which often come back to haunt us later on. Systems thinking focuses on the relationships among the parts, the features that emerge from these relationships (often unexpectedly, just as suburban sprawl emerged from transportation improvements), and how the parts come together to make up greater wholes. Systems thinking is the key to sustainable living. This certificate course will introduce you to strategies and tools for designing and living in landscapes, homes, businesses, and communities that are regenerative—that is, that go beyond not just depleting resources and the human spirit, but renewing and invigorating them. In this course you will meet people concerned about the same things you are, and be inspired by them, and in many cases, form new collaborative relationships with them. Many people find this course to be one of the most transformative experiences of their life.

FAQ page adapted from Toby Hemenway’s web site, Pattern Literacy.