Permaculture Design Course Gallery

Take a photo journey of our latest PDC at Oudeberg Permaculture Farm

Permaculture Design Course Gallery

Our recent PDC at Oudeberg Permaculture Farm has been completed and it was an awesome experience for all. We created a dynamic learning ecosystem together and we explored all aspects of Permaculture from Themes to Design methods. This was approached in a dynamic way using a wide diversity of learning modes, from presentations, practicals, tours, group work, research, play and above all lots of fun. Everyone enjoyed the Vegan based nutrient dense meals, designed to feed bodies and minds, keeping everyone alert and energised. What follows is a window into our experience.

If you are interested in joining our next course in October please follow the link below.

Permaculture Definition

At the start of the course we explore the concept of permaculture and one of the outcomes is the Students create their own definition of permaculture based on what they have learnt and encountered in the sessions.

Our Classroom

An open plan, light and airy space that is comfortable and fun to learn in. We spent a fair amount of time here engaging in presentations, doing research, group work, design work, watching permaculture movies and night, doing yoga in the morning and more.

Exploring the Permaculture Systems at Oudeberg

Oudeberg Permaculture Farm is the ideal environment to learn about permaculture as it has a wide variety of systems through 5 Zones. From vegetable gardens, food forests, agroforestry, animal tractor, processing, propagating, composting systems and more. Here we explore a young food forest from the perspective of a swale running through it.

Exploring Zone I

A swale catching excess water from the house roof forms the base of the vegetable garden, the swale is covered in perennial plants, from berries, fruit trees, herbs, ground covers, mulch plants and more…

Learning the Shape of the Land

Sandpit demostrations are great for presenting concepts and designs that are relating to slope, topography, aspect and design possibilities that arise from them.

Blessing Circle before Lunch

All meals are served beneath Karee trees in the accommodation zone…

Lunch is Served

Every meal is unique and delicious…


A course in a soul food meal about to be served…

Learning about the cycle between animals and the nutrient cycle...

Here we are in the kraal where our Awassi dairy sheep are handled from time to time. Here their manure and left over straw are collected and put into the nearby worm farm for vegetable garden fertility.

Learning to read the land

Students go through land observation processes on their major design sight.

Observation Process

Students getting onto the land and mapping their design site thematically, observing and drawing up vegetation, slope, hydrology, soil map layers and more, to inform design.

Following the Swale Infrastructures.

Learning about integrated water harvesting contour based earthworks.

Electric Fenced Mobile Chicken Yard

Learning about animal tractors and the vital role they play in building soil fertility and managing pests and weeds.

Agroforestry Systems

On a farm scale we learn about designing commercial production systems that are contour based with production trees on swales with pasture in alleys grazed by livestock.

Testing Soils

Facilitator Saskia shows everyone how to identify and test different soil types and conditions.

Making an A-Frame

Permaculture systems are designed and established on contour. To find contour in a landscape simple tools like this A-frame can be used. They are very basic, easy to make at little or no cost.

Using an A-frame.

After constructing the A-Frame, students learn how to use it to find contour.

Learning to use a Dumpy Level

The dumpy is a more effective tool for finding contour in larger areas and in rough terrain. Finding contour in the landscape is essential for locating and installing swales…

Making Aerobic Compost

Having a careful look at the ingredients of an effective arerobic compost heap the class is making.

Course kitchen and dining area

The old Toll house is our main farm processing area course kitchen/dining area and centre of the accommodation zone, with all rooms, camping and classroom in close proximity.

Food Forest Prac Site Prepared to go

Each course we design and implement a small food forest system. This site was a retrofit to an old dysfunctional olive grove on the farm.

Work is about to begin

Tools for the job wait on the wall of an existing swale at the top of the prac area where we are about install a dryland food forest.

Surveying the Site

Once the trees are planted into the holes, which were dug on contour, then the earthwork system to harvest rainwater is surveyed.

Forming Tree Pans

Once the main production fruit trees are planted, in this case Figs, Mulberry and Loquat, all of which will do well under simmilar conditions to the olive trees, the  tree pan or infiltration basins are formed around the trees. These basins are linked up so that they overflow rainwater into each other and on to the swale below.

Digging a swale

The crew get to work digging a swale to pacify and sink run-off coming into the system from the slope above the Food Forest.

Checking the earthworks

During the instillation of the earthworks they are constantly checked for contour accuracy.

Earthworks are completed

Now the system is ready to plant the rain, the plants can be planted. The main production trees are already in place and the new system is linked up to the existing established Olive tree system and the older food forest below it.

Earthworks form the basis of all production systems

Food forests are planted into water harvesting earthworks to slow, spread and sink overland water flow from upslope and rain falling on the site. This builds the ground water below the system and prevents erosion, allowing the water and mineral cycles to operate effectively and increase available water during rainfall events by magnitudes.

Planting the System up to Pioneer Plants

Once the earthworks are complete the pioneer plant ecosystem is put in.

Planting Pioneer Herbs

These plants form part of the pioneer ecosystem in the food forest that help control pests, build soils and create microclimates in the system.


The newly planted system is mulched to prevent evapouration, soil capping, to suppress weeds and to provide the ideal soil surface environment for topsoil microlife to thrive.

Installing the Irrigation System

The final step is to install the microjet irrigation system and turn it on. Using a blowtorch to fit joiners into the piping.

Rock Retaining Walls

We stacked available rock that came out of the ground in the site preps on the front of the earthworks to stabilise them, to retain moisture, to suppress weeds and protect the soil from erosion. In winter the rocks will radiate heat out and reduce frost.

Completed Food Forest

Terraformed, planted, mulched with irrigation installed… Well done… Advanced settings.

Free Day

On the 8th day of the course we have a rest day where students can relax, recharge and explore the farm and its mountains.

Swimming Tank

Cooling off on a warm afternoon.

Working on the Major Design Project

Towards the begining of the course students group themselves into 5 different groups. Each group designs the same site but with a different theme. Themes include Small Family Farm, Community Farm, Permaculture Research Center and Genetic Reserve, Regenerative Healing Centre, Self-Directed Children’s School… Each group goes through the same design process on the same site but with a different criteria and thus a different outcome.

Analysis of Elements

Students analysing the different elements {things and systems} that constitute their design content in order to link them up into one seamless synergistic and self-rgulating system, the hold grain of permaculture design.

Linkages Map

A phase of design where the interconnections between the different aspects of your system are worked out in a mapping process.

Developing the Earthworks Layer

Many design and observation mapping layers precede an inform the final design layer. Here facilitator Tahir helps a group with their water infrastructure design layer, which forms what we call the mainframe or sceleton of the design.

Finishing up the Final Design

The design is worked on throughout the course. The course is the mechanism through which the design project is developed. As the course progresses, the design process goes through its different stages and phases until completion.

Group Design Presentation

Each Desgin Group presents their different design layers to the class…

Final Design Layer

Major Design Project is completed with the final design layer which sits over preceding design layers such as mainframe earthworks layer and Zone Layer. This is the final outcome of the course, understanding and applying permaculture design into the context of the

Design Window

A detailed design of a dryland appropriate house by one of the groups. Designs have a larger map layout for the site design and focused design windows for details that cannot fit on the main design map.


Well deserved graduation. Once groups have presented their designs they receive their Permaculture Design Course Certification.

PDC Group

Here we all are, super stoked, charged up, newly trained and qualified permaculture designers about to be unleashed upon the world… Well Done everyone…

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