Join the Eldenbridge Institute for our fall Permaculture Design Certification (PDC) class starting the last weekend of August and running on six alternating weekends through the beginning of November.
Permaculture is a holistic design science that is based in the observation of natural systems. It goal is to create regenerative systems that support human communities sustainably over a time scale of centuries. By using design approaches that work with the Earth’s biosphere instead of trying to work against them, Permaculture seeks to meet the needs of human communities while repairing and maintaining the health of the ecosystems that support them.
The Eldenbridge PDC is designed to meet all of the requirements for the internationally recognized Permaculture Design Certification class, including all 72 hours of required course material, design project, and supplemental materials. The main course material will be presented in 48 sessions of 1.5 hours each for a total of 72 hours of in-class time. In addition, each student will complete and present a design project which will allow them to synthesize and apply the materials covered.
The PDC is a comprehensive introduction to the design science of Permaculture, teaching you to approach problems through observation and a holistic system design methodology. We will study how to apply this design approach to a number of systems that supply basic human needs, such as food, water, shelter, transportation, economic systems, and community structures. With this foundation, you will be prepared to extend this design approach to almost any problem set.
Some of the included topics are:
- Observation and modeling of natural systems
- Permaculture’s three design ethics
- Design principles for creating stable and regenerative systems
- Sector and zone analysis
- Understanding patterns in design
- The world’s climate zones and how they influence design requirements
- The importance of trees and other perennial plants in ecosystems
- Water and the importance of repairing hydrological cycles
- Soil fertility, composting, compost teas, and the soil food web
- Earthworks for earth repair, hydrological rehabilitation of damaged sites, and restoration of spring lines
- Specific strategies for dealing with each of the Earth’s major climate zones, such as the tropics, drylands, and the humid cool to cold climates.
- Food production systems, including annual gardens, food forests and perennial crops, rotational grazing pasture systems, chickens and poultry, greenhouses, and aquaculture
- The role of real food in supporting optimal health
- Natural buildings and sustainable energy systems
- Design approaches to build the invisible structures of culture and community that create an environment where people can be happy and healthy
Dates & Times
Course Dates: The fall PDC will be presented over the course of six weekends. Dates are:
- August 29-30
- September 12-13
- September 26-27
- October 10-11
- October 24-25
- November 7-8
Daily Schedule: We will run from 8:00 a.m. through 5:30 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday each weekend. There will be optional evening activities on several of the Saturday evenings throughout the course. The schedule will vary somewhat to accommodate field trips and special activities, but the general schedule for a day will be:
- 8:00-8:15 Morning gathering and check-in, questions from previous days
- 8:15-9:45 Class Session 1
- 9:45-10:15 Break, morning snack
- 10:15-11:45 Class Session 2
- 11:45-1:00 Lunch Break
- 1:00-2:30 Class Session 3
- 2:30-3:00 Break, afternoon snack
- 3:00-4:30 Class Session 4
- 4:30-5:15 Additional time for hands-on activities, questions, project work
- 5:15-5:30 Wrap-up and closing
Please note that our final Saturday evening, November 7, will include the presentation of projects and other special activities, so students will need to plan on attending this evening. Other evening activities throughout the course are optional.
The main location for the course with be Duncan Farms, a working Permaculture farm located about a 15 minute drive east of downtown Huntsville, AL. Duncan Farms is situated on 60 acres and features a newly established food forest on almost ¼ mile of swales, earthworks, ponds, pastured chicken egg production, pastured pork production, pastured turkey production, a new rabbitry currently under construction, and numerous other Permaculture systems that we can explore.
The course will include several field trips to other locations in the area to look at natural building methods, urban and suburban gardening, and how to integrate Permaculture into a variety of settings from urban to rural.
Tuition, Meals, & Lodging
Tuition: Normal tuition for the full PDC course is $995, but the early registration rate of $800 will remain available for everyone who registers online before the class begins on August 29.
A students and faculty discount rate of $600 is available for high school and college students and their teachers. Some scholarships may be available, so please contact us if you are interested in attending but are limited because of funding.
Drop-in rate to attend a single weekend is $150. Please contact us to through the Contact Us Page to register for an individual weekend.
Students under 18 years of age are welcome if accompanied by a responsible adult or special arrangements are made in advance. The PDC course can be fairly demanding in terms of attention and content for younger students, but motivated individuals as young as 14 have successfully completed the course. If you have a student under 18 interested in attending, please contact us to discuss whether this course is a good fit.
Meals: Since many of the students with be commuting, meals will not be offered as part of the course tuition. Students should have breakfast before arriving each morning and we will conclude each evening before dinnertime. Please bring your own lunch. Morning and afternoon snacks will be provided.
Lodging: camping on site may be possible if arranged in advance. Please contact us if you are interested in staying on-site during the weekends.
Cancellation Policy: Tuition will be refunded minus a $50 processing fee if you cancel more than 7 days before the beginning of the class. Cancellations made less than a week in advance cannot be refunded.
Registration: Registration for this event is now CLOSED.
Students who attend the entire PDC and complete all related requirements, including the design project, will receive a Permaculture Design Certification (PDC) certificate from the Eldenbridge Institute.
In order to receive a certificate, students must attend all class sessions in person unless arranged with the instructor in advance, since classes are interactive and contain various exercises and activities.
Class sessions where a student must be absent will be videotaped so that the student can view it at a later time. A student may arrange to miss up to 8 of the 48 class sessions and still qualify for a certificate provided all other work is properly completed and they make up the material by watching the video replay of the sessions they missed.
Students not interested in earning a PDC certificate may attend at normal tuition rates, but will be welcome to complete only the exercises and activities they feel comfortable completing. Often students arrive intending on just auditing the course, but decide to go ahead and work toward earning a certificate once they see how much fun the course can be.
Alan Booker, our lead instructor, will be the primary instructor for this class. Please see Alan’s CV Page for details on his background and qualifications. Other Eldenbridge staff and guest instructors will visit to add their experience and expertise at many points throughout the class.
Course Text Book
The textbook for this course will be Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual by Bill Mollison. Students are encouraged to purchase a copy of the textbook before the class begins, but having the textbook is not required to complete the course.
We will cover all 14 chapters of the text over the course of the 48 class sessions. The instructor will assign optional reading to be completed between weekend sessions for those who are interested.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are there any prerequisites for this course? Do I need to already have a background in gardening, sustainability, or systems design?
There are no prerequisites for attending this class. In fact, some of the best students have no prior experience and therefore don’t have bad habits to unlearn.
Is this class mostly for farmers? Gardeners? Professional designers? Who should attend?
Most PDC’s have a wide range of students who bring a variety of backgrounds and experience to the class. Since Permaculture is well known for providing solutions to some of the hardest problems of sustainable food production, farmers, gardeners, and those interested in local food production will certainly find a wealth of information in this course. But since Permaculture is a design science that addresses the full range of human systems, including buildings, energy, transportation, social structures, and economic systems, a broad range of students find that Permaculture gives them a whole new tool kit for dealing with their own challenges. If you are interested in helping create a more sustainable and regenerative future, then a PDC is a powerful way to help you get moving in that direction.
What will I realistically be able to do when I complete this course?
The material covered in a PDC is designed to give you a complete framework for designing systems that are functional and regenerative. You will find that this framework leverages your existing skills by teaching you to put them to work in new and powerful ways.
While we will not be able to cover the complete range of detailed skills that might be required to operate in all the various design disciplines, you will find that thinking like a Permaculture Designer helps you put those skills into the proper context and master them more quickly. If you decide, for example, to start your own farm business, there will be a lot of details to learn about the specific systems you will be building, but you will find that the PDC has taught you how to approach these problems in a way that will lead to a sustainable and regenerative system, and that will help you move toward success much more quickly.
For engineers, architects, city planners, and other professionals who already possess a lot of expertise, you will find that the PDC helps you understand how to use these tools in a whole new context. The holistic design science approach used by Permaculture teaches you to build systems and processes that work with the surrounding natural systems instead of trying to power over them.
If you are new to the idea of the thoughtful design of systems to support long-term sustainability and are just getting started, you will find that a PDC provides one of the best foundations you can build to pave the way for future learning.
Many people have completed a PDC and gone off with the Designer’s Manual tucked under their arm to do amazing things all over the world. If you are not afraid of getting your hands dirty and are open to learning new skills and new ways of looking at the world, this course will get you ready to get involved and create positive change, whether for your entire community or just your own backyard.
Why does the course cover climate regions such as deserts and the tropics if we actually live in a temperate region?
The curriculum for the full PDC includes all of the world’s major climate zones and the strategies for dealing with the unique challenges presented by each. Not only does this prepare students to understand what to do in design situations almost anywhere on the planet, it also makes them better designers in their own home regions.
Studying the spectrum of climate conditions helps highlight why different strategies work in different conditions, and thus develops a good understanding of when and why different solutions are most appropriate. Understanding the different extremes that exist in the world’s various climate zones prepares you to better deal with the natural variations and microclimates in your own area.