Teaching Approach and Curriculum

How we Teach the Course

The learning process is based on Permaculture principles and makes use of a wide range of group-based and creative accelerated-learning methods.

We teach the various aspects of the course based on spiral learning, meaning we cover each subject in many ways, starting with theoretical and concept presentations followed by exploring each subject by interaction, research, observation of existing systems, tours, practical work, implementation of systems, design practice on many levels, collective group work, presentations by students, discussion, movies and audiovisuals, guest presenters and much more…

We take you practically through the design process in the context of a Permaculture environment, which presents a diverse range of challenges and opportunities developing design skills, knowledge and experience set that can be applied anywhere.

You will often work in groups which affords the opportunity to cover material that is not possible through individual work and in the process of developing a real time design that will be implemented; you will also develop essential group working skills. Many of the techniques and methods used in implementing Permaculture systems will be covered in some detail, but the focus will be on the design process.


Course Curriculum

The curriculum we follow is based on the internationally accepted structure that is based on Bill Mollison’s Designers Manual. This means we cover all the broad themes in permaculture and thus the content is appropriate for any student whether you live in the city or country or in any climate context around the world. The details of the curriculum are specifically tailor made for each course context, depending on student needs and requirements.

Upon completion of the course, you will be provided with an internationally recognized Permaculture Design Certificate.

The basic sequential layout of the Course content that we will cover over 13 days

Introduction to Permaculture

  • Introductions
  • Accelerated Holistic Learning
  • Permaculture Concept
  • Permaculture Ethics
  • Applied Permaculture Principles
  • Efficient Energy Planning & Zones

Ecosystem Understanding

  • Energy Capture and Accumulation in Ecosystems
  • Nature as a Pattern Structure and Process
  • Patterns in Nature
  • Application of Pattern Language in Design
  • The Ecosystemic Reality
  • The 4 Ecosystem Processes
  • Brittle and Non-Brittle Environments

Understanding Landscapes

  • Climate Patterns
  • Land Shape and Keyline Classification of landforms
  • Pattern Dynamics of the Water Cycle in landscapes
  • Plant Ecosystems and Biomes
  • The Usual Suspects: Core keystone species in specific climate types.
  • Animal Impact in Landscapes
  • The Predator Prey Relationship

Permaculture Design Processes {the Land}

  • Observation and Design as distinct phases
  • Permaculture Design Process Principles and Core Concepts
  • Observing the Site Based Landscape
  • Mapping and Map Understanding, the Language of Maps
  • Observation Value Overlays
  • Land Units and their Analysis
  • Sector Analysis
  • Slope Analysis

Holistic Context of Design {the people}

  • Holistic Management Introduction
  • The Whole Under Management
  • Statement of Purpose
  • The Quality of Life Statements
  • The Forms of Production
  • The Future Resource Base
  • Developing the Design Directive

Themes in Design Water

  • The duties of Water
  • The global water availability context
  • Water Sources
  • The Principles of Designing for Water Abundance
  • Keyline Design for Water Harvesting Landscapes
  • Regenerative Water Systems for the Urban Context
  • Regenerative Water Systems for the Rural Context
  • Surveying & Earthworks

Themes in Design Soils and Plant Systems

  • The Living Soil
  • Testing Soils
  • Regenerative Soil Building Principles
  • Composting Systems Design
  • Compost Toilet Design
  • Animals as an agent of soil health
  • Mechanical Conditioning
  • Small Scale Approaches
  • Broadscale Approaches

The Design of Cultivated Plant Ecosystems

  • The Function of Plants in Permaculture Systems
  • Trees and Perennial Plants as the basis for Regenerative Production Systems
  • The Principles of Polyculture Design for Different Climate Zones
  • Design of Pioneer Plant Layers
  • Species Selection and Functions
  • Annual Plant Systems
  • Food Forests
  • Agroforestry
  • Wild Harvesting and Recharge Plantings
  • Shelterbelts, Barrier Systems and Fedges

Themes in Design The built Environment and Energy Systems

  • Principles of Regenerative Buildings
  • Buildings as Energy and Resource Harvesting and Exchange Systems
  • Design for Dryland Climates
  • Design for Temperate Humid Climates
  • Design for Tropical Humid Climates
  • Efficient Energy Planning in House Design, the self-regulating house
  • Conservation of Energy usage
  • Energy Systems function and Design
  • Off-grid Systems
  • Grid Tied Systems
  • Energy Cycling

The Permaculture Design Process, the Design Phase

  •  Efficient Energy Planning
  • The Keyline Scale of Permanence {KSP}
  • Creating a Zone Map
  • Developing Components of a Design
  • Listing of Elements of the Design
  • Analysis of Element of the Design
  • Connecting Elements in Design
  • Applying Elements into Zones
  • Apply Sector Elements into Zones
  • Design of the Earthworks Layer
  • Design of the Landuse Layer
  • The Design Document
  • Presentation of the Design

Core Outcomes

The core of permaculture has always been in supplying a design toolkit for human habitation. This toolkit helps the designer to model a final design based on an observation of how ecosystems interact combined with human needs and vision. This results in understanding the natural pattern of place into which a design pattern is harmonised.

– The development of integrated systems thinking and design skills that can be applied to any situation in any part of the world. Permaculture designers will have a range of principles, ethics, and skills at their disposal that can be applied to the following:

– Design of urban homesteads, farms (small or large-scale), community-based natural resource management systems, sustainable community development programs, village, and city design (Ecovillage and Ecocity), integrated business planning and design, the design of integrated and appropriate social and legal system. It is an ideal tool for regional and local planning for NGO and government workers in all fields of sustainable development.

  • Development of integrated systems management and assessment tools to bring disparate and non-communicating elements of any environment together into organic processes that self-replicate and evolve.
  • Discover how to turn problems into solutions and become a solutions-based thinker.
  • Retrofit by applying Permaculture ideas and methods to existing systems. (Home, office, industry, forestry, schools, etc)
  • Assess systems for regenerative potential.
  • Develop business plans based on outputs from regenerative systems.
  • During the course, each participant will get hands-on design practice by designing a site of your choice if you are doing an online course or you can design a site located at  the training venue. If you prefer to design a site of your own choice, such as your current home, you will have to attend the online course and obtain a a map of the property you wish to design with contour lines, and a list of relevant data (see lower down on the page) so you will effectively interact with the design tools and processes within the context of your own life’. We will run through the complete design process over the duration of the course and by the end of the course you will have completed a design and be well practiced in the permaculture design process. Effective knowledge of the design process is central to permaculture and the course process ensures practical experience in the following aspects of design…

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