This 80+ hour Permaculture Design Certification course imparts a positive and empowering vision for social and ecological transformation. We will train you to be a permaculture consultant who can apply the permaculture principles to a diversity of landscapes, scales and issues from rural to urban, and temperate to tropical environments.

Lectures and hands-on work will also explore: bioregional designs, natural history of Eastern woodlands and designs that cooperate with their regeneration, the evolution of agriculture, energy and nutrient cycling, watershed health, natural building, biodynamics, forest gardening, gravity run water systems, developing springs for drinking water, tree paste for fruit trees, sustainable forest management, encouraging maples, apples, shitake and ginseng, and the integration of animals into cultivated ecosystems.

This course is ideal for motivated individuals -- including community leaders and professionals in the fields of architecture, planning, ecology and education -- who wish to use the tools of permaculture in rural and urban environments as well as for designing sustainable businesses and new models for local economic and ecological regeneration. Come be inspired by the possibilities of today and learn how to redesign your world.

This course will include guest instructors Chris Jackson, Lisa DePiano, Mark Krawczyk, and Lizabeth Moniz.

Course start time: Sunday, 5pm
Course end time: Friday, 5pm

  • Competency Level: All Levels.
  • Sterling College credits: 5 Continuing Education Units ($650 additional)

Course Objectives

We focus on permaculture as a framework for understanding, evaluating, and
integrating the vast diversity of technologies, trends, and different perspectives in the
movement for "sustainability", and advance permaculture ethics and skills as a new cultural

Students demonstrate:

  • the vision and ability to implement solutions on a personal level to the unsustainable, destructive, and exploitative tendencies of dominant culture.
  • the ability to interpret a landscape and its ecological implications.
  • effective communication of these interpretations through maps, graphical analysis and assessment, and group presentations.
  • understanding of key ecological design strategies for systems of varying scale.
  • discovery and development of relationships between elements, goals, and site realities.
  • proficiency with design methods and techniques, observation, patten recognition, and systems understanding.
  • permaculture principles and ethics.

*Of course: we have fun, get to know each other, and share encouragement and inspiration!

Suggested Readings and Resources

Mollison, Bill with Reny Mia Slay. (2nd Edition). Introduction to Permaculture
Jacke, Dave with Eric Toensmeier. (Volumes 1 & 2). Edible Forest Gardens
Holmgren, David.  Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability
Hopkins, Rob.  The Transition Handbook
Kellogg and Pettigrew.  Toolbox for Sustainable City Living
Peterson's. Edible Wild Plants, Medicinal Plants & Herbs, Eastern Forests
Johnson, Charles.  The Nature of Vermont
Thompson, E. H., and E. R. Sorenson.  Wetland. Woodland, Wildland

Any Other Permaculture Texts such as

Gaia's Garden, A Designer's Manual, Food not Lawns!, etc.

Suggested Materials to bring

  • Tracing Paper (a roll or large pad)
  • Coloring Medium of your choice (Pencils, Markers, Watercolor, etc.)
  • Three Ring Binder
  • Engineer's Scale (3 sided ruler- not an "architect's scale"
  • Compass (both the circle drawing kind & a magnetic compass)
  • Tape Measure 50' or 100' (or longer)
  • Any other drafting tools you may have (circle templates, erasers, protractor, lead holders, pens, triangles, etc.)

Course Outline

The course consists of a 2 week design intensive, which includes lectures, guest speakers, field trips, hands-on design and implementation, group and individual presentations, readings, individual assignments, and other activities.

We introduce permaculture ethics, principles, the design process, site analysis and assessment, and a variety of permaculture solutions while facilitating a collaborative design by the students as a group. Collectively, the group refines their design for the next phase of real-world implementation at our host site. Students will also apply the design process to their homes or any site of their choosing. The course culminates with the presentation of these individual student design projects.

Personal Project: Students are to choose a site to develop their own in-depth permaculture design. A site which you are either intimately familiar with, or able to spend some time analyzing during the course is  recommended, but we are open to whatever best meets your learning goals. If you do not have a site, there are numerous opportunities for design at the Yestermorrow campus or in the nearby community- instructors will assist with the selection of sites appropriate to your needs and learning goals. If you already have a site for which you would like to design, any of the following information you can find will prove extremely useful:

  • Property Maps or Surveys: Deed maps showing property lines, buildings, rights of way (R.O.W.), buried gas, sewer, water, electric, phone, etc. These are typically on record in the Town Hall.
  • Aerial photographs: If you are near a city, Google Maps, will have frighteningly detailed pictures of your site. For more rural areas, has high resolution images, that you will have to purchase before you can see. The best aerial photographs of your site are available at a local university library map room, or your county‘s USDA office. You may be able to find additional GIS data online.
  • Soil Maps: Your local USDA office will have a free copy of your county's soil survey for you. If you have the results from any soil tests you've done yourself or by a septic engineer, bring them along. Soil maps are now available for the entire country online- we will help you to access this information.
  • Photographs: Photos of your yard, house, or proposed site. If you're able to take some, keep in mind your favorite views (to and from), things that cast shadows, features on the ground (stones, etc.), surrounding vegetation, ‘problem areas', etc.
  • Finally: Begin spending some time thinking about your goals, ‘problems', and other challenges or opportunities inherent to your site.
  • In-depth Goals Articulation, a Base Map, and Analysis & Assessment (through the ‘Scale of Permanence') are developed for your site throughout the course. From goals and analysis, students develop design concepts and presentation drawings to an appropriate level of detail for their project. At the end of the course, students will each present their
  • Final Design Project to the group and will receive constructive feedback from a ‘jury' of other permaculture designers. -Final Presentations are second Thursday.  Design ‘clients', housemates, friends, family, or other guests are welcome to attend. The Final Project will be discussed in greater depth during the course and with specific handouts.

Daily Schedule: (Subject to change according to weather, guest presenters, field trips, etc.):

8 am: Breakfast
9 am- 12 noon: Morning Session
12:00-1:00: Lunch
1:00- 5:00: Afternoon Session
6:00-7:00 Dinner
7:30 pm: Evening Sessions (Friends, Family, and other Guests are welcome to most)

As an intensive, we will have class sessions or field trips every day. We usually finish by mid-afternoon on the final Friday, with some time to clean the studio, etc.

Andrew Faust

Start Date: April 3, 2016
Duration: 12 Days
Tuition: $1750