PDC Sample Schedule

Our Permaculture Design Course includes the internationally recognized, 72-hour curriculum that qualifies students for a Permaculture Design Certificate. In addition, we include earth-based ritual and training in social permaculture, group process, organizing and activism. We offer many hands-on sessions so students can learn through doing. Please visit our Schedule page to see our newest workshops and trainings.

“The course FAR exceeded my expectations. I underestimated the power in magic, teacher interaction, and group energy to bring about transformation. It’s phenomenal! Transformative! Heart-changing! Ego-altering!”
– Cynthia Cornell Novak, Agoura, California

Course Topics Covered Include:

  • Permaculture principles and ethics
  • Making a spiritual connection with the elements: real air, fire, water, and earth—the equivalent of a “Magic 101” class with Starhawk
  • Nature awareness techniques (such as owl-vision, fox-walking, plant allies, & the language of birds)
  • Humans’ role as Nature-in-Action
  • Pattern thinking in design, strategy, and movement-building
  • Diversity in ecosystems and in political movements
  • Planning for big changes: global warming and peak oil
  • Indefinitely renewable agriculture, urban food growing, garden design, planting for wildlife, and food forests
  • Urban permaculture and strategies for cities
  • How to think like a watershed: collect, conserve, clean, and reuse water
  • Bioremediation: healing soil and water with beneficial bacteria, compost teas, fungi, and plants
  • Soil and forest ecology; ecology as economics, economics as ecology
  • Erosion control and soil conservation
  • “Impermaculture”: temporary systems for encampments, gatherings, and emergency response
  • Renewable energy and efficient design
  • Media strategies
  • Natural building introduction and cob practice
  • Creative access to land and financing
  • Consensus process, facilitation, and conflict resolution
  • Movement building: basics of political organizing, strategy, and direct action
  • Weaving magic and ritual into action
  • How to stay grounded and centered in tough situations
  • Breaking the spell of fear, rage, grief, and frustration
  • How to renew personal energy, avoid burnout, and find hope for our world

Sample schedule:

This was a schedule for one of our January sessions. Agendas change for each EAT session, depending on time of year, guest teachers, and available opportunities. For example, past courses have included a May Pole Dance, hands-on stream restoration, and a lecture on California Native Americans’ subtle agriculture, based on fire.

Daily rhythm:

7:30-8:30     Breakfast
9:00-9:30     Morning Circle
9:30-12:00   Morning Class Session
12:30-1:30   Lunch
1:30-2:00     Break time
2:00-5:30     Afternoon Session
6:00-7:00     Dinner
7:30-10:00   Evening session

Schedule Notes:

Affinity groups of 6-7 members each will do hands-on projects together, and also kitchen chores together every few days.

Outdoor hands-on sessions may be shifted in response to weather. Hands-on sessions usually have multiple stations; students (in affinity groups) work a while at one station, then try another.

During the second week, all students work in small teams on Design Projects, applying class information to practical planning; projects will be presented to full class on last full day.

Evening sessions will begin with a short game or other activity as participants gather, and end with song or circle closing.

Day 1:

Registration, getting settled.
Orientation, welcome, introductions, and affinity group formation

Day 2: Air (air represents “beginnings, mind, theory”)

Opening Ritual: observing the elements, casting circle
Principles of permaculture; Patterns
Guest Teacher Jon Young of Wilderness Awareness School– nature observation
Slide show & lecture: Permaculture overview

Day 3: Air

Morning Circle (focus on air)
Zone & sector analysis; Site analysis; Design methodology
Political strategy–Applying permaculture principles: Site, Zone, and Sector analysis
Strategy charette process
Guest teacher Luke Anderson: Biotech and Genetic Engineering

Night ClassDay 4: Water

Morning Circle (focus on water)
Pattern and function; Water harvesting; Dryland strategies; Roofwater harvesting
Hands-on: swales, ponds and water systems
Water trance, Full Moon ritual

Day 5: Water

Morning Circle (focus on water)
Bioremediation, greywater, water purification
Guest teacher Adam Wolpert: Facilitation and group process/structure;
Community land trust; Alternative currencies, ecological economics
Guest teacher Brock Dolman: “Watershed/Waterspread”

Day 6: Earth

Morning Circle (focus on earth)
Soil Building; Composting/vermiculture; Video: “Life in the Soil”
Hands-on: Worm bins, composting, sheet mulching, garden bed prep, cover cropping
7:30 pm: tropical permaculture
9:30 pm: Showing of the Marija Gimbutas video with filmmakers Starhawk and Donna Read

Day 7: Day Off

Sleep late and rest; hike; or private adventure.
Meals served as usual

Day 8: Earth

Morning Circle (focus on earth)
Plants & trees; Forests, agroforestry, windbreaks
Introduce Student Design Project Teams
Hands-on: Planting, pruning, propagating
Talk: Permaculture in action in the world

Day 9: Fire

Morning Circle (focus on fire, energy)
Symbolic and strategic communication
Spells, action and campaign planning
Media strategy and basic methods
Hands-on — Planting a food forest
Urban Permaculture: discussion and slide show

Day 10: Fire

Morning (focus on fire, energy)
Animal guilds; Aquaculture
More on group facilitation
Guest teacher Dave Henson: Corporate Globalization
Nonviolent Direct Action and political strategy

Day 11: Fire

Morning Circle (focus on center)
Passive solar design; Renewable energy
Appropriate technology
Design Time for group projects
optional Student Offerings

Day 12:

Morning Circle (focus on center)
Design Time
Hands-on: Natural building projects: build cob bench; natural plasters
Natural Building Slideshow

Day 13:

Morning Circle
Catch-up time, question time, as needed
Hands-on–Guest teacher Mia Rose: growing mushrooms as bioremediation
Group Design Time
Guest teacher James Stark: “Cultivating Human Communities as though They Were Gardens”

Day 14:

Morning Circle
Design Project presentations
Design Project presentations
Variety show and Celebration!

Day 15:

Morning Circle
Where to from here? Taking it into the world
Closing ritual
Lunch, clean-up, and good-byes

“Amazing, life-altering experience. We all grow and learn so much during this short time. The safe, supportive environment really facilitates people opening up, feeling empowered, and coming into their true potential. We each find our place and voice here, and are able to carry a piece of that back with us into our work… it’s as much about the inspiration, the community, and empowerment as it is about the information.”
– Brenda Whitney, Aurora, Illinois