Permaculture Design Certification Courses

at Commonweal Garden feature top instructors in the field and hands-on training within a well developed, integrated permaculture design center.

Permaculture Design Courses offered by Regenerative Design Institute

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Permaculture Design at the Regenerative Design Institute

The Permaculture Design Certification courses (PDC) offered at Commonweal Garden provide a unique exploration of sustainable, nature-based solutions. With Commonweal Garden as our living classroom, we currently offer two formats:

The Four Seasons PDC

meets once a month over the course of a year, allowing participants to intermix their studies and instruction with their own experiments with permaculture at home. This format also provides participants an opportunity to go more deeply into their group design projects, as well as to explore permaculture activities throughout the four seasons. Find out more.

The Two-Week Intensive PDC

provides an immersion experience, where participants learn and live permaculture at Commonweal Garden for a 14-day period. Living in community, sharing incredible and nourishing meals, and spending nights by the campfire fosters a creative, fun-loving culture to learn within. Find out more.

 

As a participant in either format, you will learn how to identify patterns in nature, deepen your observational skills and nature connection, and learn how to apply the principles of permaculture to create healthy, integrated living systems.

The Curriculum

Our PDC curriculum is the culmination of more than 35 years of teaching permaculture design to students from all over the globe. We have learned that to be successful at implementing permaculture design, most students need more than the basic curriculum. Our 100+ hour courses are crafted to include the following elements to help launch students into a successful journey:

  • The classic permaculture curriculum, with founding principles and techniques developed by Bill Mollison and David Holgrem
  • A strong nature-connection component, including animal tracking and bird language, to deepen your awareness and intimacy with the rest of the natural world
  • A diverse range of hands-on activities with experienced instructors during the program in various aspects of the living classroom of the farm
  • Tools for cultivating our inner ecology to break through old patterns and barriers that hold us back from success
  • A globally recognized Permaculture Design Certificate upon completion of the course.

As you participate in the curriculum, reading, and “home play” assignments, you will learn how to observe and use the same principles that make ecological systems self-sustaining and apply them to integrated homes and gardens. In addition, you will learn how to apply these principles to energy systems and water supplies, healthy communities, meaningful and fulfilling work, ecological economies, and global political movements for change.

Throughout it all, you'll be engaged in learning and experiencing an empowering way of living in the world, surrounded and supported by like-minded people and instructors. Our goal is to make you a part of our farm community, incorporating our seasonal activities into your permaculture experience as time permits. Activities may include making an "A frame," laying out and digging a water harvesting contour swale, sheet mulching, spring and fall pruning, seed planting, plant propagation, bed preparation, compost pile making, water harvesting techniques, natural building, herbalism, beekeeping, and more.

While no two courses participate in exactly the same activities, each course includes classroom and/or hands-on activities in the following areas:

  • Permaculture principles and ethics
  • Reading the landscape
  • Pattern and pattern application
  • Water harvesting
  • Swale building
  • Zone and sector analysis
  • Climate and micro climate strategies
  • Mapping
  • Urban permaculture
  • Land access
  • Community building
  • Plant guilds
  • Soil Carbon Sequestration and Biochar
  • Food forests and agroforestry
  • The design process, principles, strategies, and techniques
  • Bird language and nature awareness
  • Soil building and sheet mulching
  • Pond management and ecology
  • Earthworks and natural building
  • Grey water systems
  • Bioremediation
  • Renewable energy systems
  • Forest management
  • Watershed management
  • Economy and Equity
  • Group work on a conceptual design project

We provide a DVD workbook with excellent resources and reading material that we ask you to read as part of the coursework. In addition, we have an ongoing list of recommended reading that includes everything from foundational manuals by Bill Mollison to magazine articles on new applications of solar power. The list is not required reading for the course, but available to you as a resource as you continue your permaculture explorations.

The Classroom

Commonweal Garden is dynamic, living classroom that offers a multitude of learning opportunities through direct experience. Features of the farm include goats, chickens, fruit orchards, year-round vegetables, bees, edible mushrooms, culinary and medicinal herbs, grains, grey water, and solar-heating systems, aquaculture, natural buildings, and more. Located in the Point Reyes National Seashore, the interchange between wildlife and farm life is immense. 

At Commonweal Garden, everything from the soil, to the gardens, to the composting systems, farm animals, natural buildings, and abundant wildlife, provides a rich surface area for learning practical skills. Students get to learn by doing, and benefit from observing and experiencing permaculture features that are already in place. 

Testimonial

  • "One of the most transforming two weeks of my life. Beautiful land, people, and experience! I would do it again and again if I could."

    — Graduate