Permaculture Course Formats

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During the third of the seven EPT meetings held at Quinta do Vale da Lama in Algarve, Portugal, teachers from all over Europe extensively discussed various course formats for teaching Permaculture to beginners:

There are also advanced training opportunities  for Permaculturalists (who have a PDC):

More about the formats above follow, including some pros and cons:

Introduction to Permaculture

Examples on this site of Introductions to Permaculture

  • 2 days Introduction to permaculture courses:
    • Pros. This courses focus more on a paradigm shift and on starting to understand design rather than content. They are lighter than a full PDC, nonetheless students get a taste of what permaculture is and get excited about it. They are also more inclusive since they are cheaper than PDCs and include people with a full time job.
    • Cons. In these courses there is limited time for skills sharing, teachers find it usually difficult (if not impossible) to adjust to their students. Also, if the course is not residential, Sunday is usually a “tricky” day.
    • Formats:
      • 2h on a Friday afternoon, 9h on a Saturday, 5h on a Sunday morning
      • A full Saturday and Sunday
      • 2 Saturdays on 2 different weeks
      • 4 afternoons (1 per week) during 1 month
  • Both of these last two formats may include site visits in between.
    • Other types of Introduction to permaculture courses:
      • 3 3 hours evening sessions during 2 months
      • 5 2 hours sessions
      • 4 ½ days residential
      • 5 days residential “½ PDC”
      • 1 ½ hour intro lecture “taster”
      • 1 day (2 x 3 hours)
      • 1 week with lots of practical activities
      • 3 ½ days residential

Permaculture Design Certificate Courses (PDCs) 

Examples on this site of Permaculture Design Certificate Courses (PDCs)

2 Week Residential PDC

  • Pros. During this type of PDC there is a strong group bonding with a long-term, family like system and support. The microcosm of an ecovillage is created and evening time is a strong resource. There is more time for skill sharing and the teachers can be part of the group. Also, it is easier for the teachers to prepare the classroom and to understand the location. The students have a longer observation time for their designs
  • Cons. Conflicts may arise and there might be the necessity for group therapy. People who cannot take time off/time away from home are excluded from this type of course. This type of courses mean a 24/7 job for the teachers, which are usually burned out by the end of the course. In some places people (mostly locals) cannot pay the full fee at once. Also, a legitimate question arises: is the market quite saturated with this type of courses?

Weekend PDC

  • 4 weekends, 1 month between each meeting. Friday 16:00 – Sunday 16:00 with sleepover
  • 4 weekends, no accommodationFriday 12:00 – Sunday 16:00
  • 8 weekends, 1 weekend per monthSaturday 8:00 – Sunday 16:00
  • 5 weekends with/without accommodation
  • 1 week per month / 5 weeks of the same monthFriday afternoon – Sunday evening
  • 26 weeks, 72 hours +  practicals

Other PDC Formats

  • on-line intro 1 day then 3 months 1 day
  • evening classes
  • 2 times 1 week with time off in between
  • 4 x 3 days long weekends
  • 1 week residential + various weekends afterwards
  • 1 day every two months
  • 3 months residential
  • 16 days with intro courses overlapping
  • one weekend a month for 1 year
  • 9 days (weekend at each end)

Further Introductory Permaculture Opportunities

One to one visit 1 – 6 hours

  • Pro: adaptable
  • Con: takes all the teachers’ time

Further Education System (Irish Example)

  • Pros: can be funded; within the formal education system;
  • Cons: can take a long period of time

Group visit (6 – 30 people) more or less 4 hours

  • Pro: self directed
  • Con: it can get too big

Wwoofing  1 weekend – 1 year

  • Pros: self-directing, work done, relaxing holiday, healing
  • Con: lack of privacy

Specialised Courses 1 day (6-12 people)

  • Pros: work done; community building
  • Con: no continuity

Practical workshops and theory  from 3 day to 2 weeks (3 – 12 people)

Presentations/seminars  2 to 4 hours (10 – 200 people)

  • Pro: sometimes practical following; simple; not expensive
  • Con: no practice; lots of preparation; too short time

Design workshops (specialized on site design of a site)

  • Pro: introducing people to the permaculture design process
  • Con: lack of knowledge and previous permaculture experience for the students

Internships/ apprenticeships

  • Pros: practical application to develop hands-on skills; group building opportunities to research about specific topics
  • Con: it might be too theoretical/ practical

Specialised and Advanced Training (For Permies)

Formal (University, etc.) Education Sector