Permaculture - the ethics, principles and design process - is based on
living systems. Permaculture draws upon both traditional and
scientific knowledge. It can be applied to physical systems (eg.
farms, gardens, cities) and to social systems (eg. organisational
flows, business models, school curricula) anywhere. These courses
focus on permaculture as DESIGN, which can be broadly applied to
land-based, urban, social or economic systems.
This 84-hour Permaculture Design Course (PDC) consists of both the
Introduction Module and the Main Module. The Main Module is 45 hours
in class (taught over 3 weekends), plus 22 hours of assigned group and
The Introduction Module can be taken on any of these weekends:
April 27 and 28 – Colborne, ON
May 25 and 26 – Perth, ON
September 28 and 29 – Ottawa, ON
The Introduction Module provides a foundation in permaculture ethics,
principles and design. It also gives an overview of common gardening techniques used in permaculture.
• Permaculture ethics and design principles
o Earth Care, People Care, Share the Surplus
o work with nature, start small and slow, emphasise multiple
functions, create redundancy, promote beneficial relationships, use
renewable resources, cycle resources, maximise diversity and edges,
work with evolution, and be creative
• Patterns in nature
o branches, webs, spirals, waves
• Zones and sectors
o zone analysis – looking at elements/activities based on frequency of
use or care
o sector analysis – looking at uncontrollable forces that enter a system
• Design process overview, mini design exercise
o the basic design process and a mini design exercise in small groups
• Role of trees and forests
o water cycling, moderating temperature, wind shelter o forest garden patterns
• Basics of edible forest gardens, guilds, polycultures, sheet-mulch
o layers and functions of forest gardens
o some useful species
o how to sheet mulch • Garden hands-on (2 to 3 hours)
The Introduction Module can be taken on its own.
Cost: $195 for the Introduction Module.
Work Exchange: $65. Work exchange applications due by June 1. Two
positions available for the Ottawa intro in September. Enquire for
Main Module – In-Class Component (3 weekends, 45 hours)
The Main Module is made up of 3 weekends in Ottawa:
October 5 and 6
AND October 19 and 20
AND November 9 and 10
The Main Module goes into more depth with soil, water, microclimates,
earthworks, tropical, arid and cold climates, housing design,
alternative economics and more. The Introduction Module is a
pre-requisite for the Main Module.
• Design process review
• Principles and patterns review
• Soil fertility, basics of soil biology and chemistry
o texture, structure, humus, soil life, methods of building soil
• Composting o compost methods, carbon to nitrogen ratios, troubleshooting
o humanure composting, 2-chambered composting toilets, arborloos, pee-pee ponics
o small animals for backyards and forest gardens, needs and products
o water as more productive than land, solar ponds, chinampas, aquaponics
o basic tools, triangulation/trilateration, baseline/extension with offsets
• Creating microclimates, season extension
o using protective structures, cold-hardy annual veggies
• Water, duties of water, slowing down water, dams
o types of dams, building a dam, diversion drains, swales
• Earthworks, landscape, slope, keyline, drainage
o A-frame, bunyips, keyline plowing, earth-moving equipment
• Design for catastrophe, windbreaks, fire-breaks
o earthquakes, typhoons, tsunamis
• Humid tropics, drylands/arid climates
o strategies for settlements, gardens and other land-use; agroforestry
o soil conditions and challenges in certain climates
• Humid cool and cold climates; houses, passive solar, heat transfer
o siting, orientation, aspect, layout
o sun angle, window coverings, trombe walls, thermal siphons, natural
• Alternative economics
o money as debt, gift economies, local currencies, time banks
• Transition, eco-villages
o intentional communities, facilitation and Nonviolent Communication
• Design presentations
• Where to go from here, next steps and resources
Main Module - Independent and Group Component (22 hours)
• Design Projects
o Student teams will create permaculture designs, encompassing
physical spaces (eg. gardens, green space and buildings) as well as
organisational or social structures (eg. programs, groups and
o The design projects are a key component of the PDC. Presentations
will be given by the design teams to the class and the “client”.
o Previous design projects have included: the Community Urban Food
Forest at the Just Food site, the Andrew Fleck Child Care Services
schoolgrounds, the RightBike headquarters, and a communications plan
for Transition Ottawa.
• Independent Assignment Topics:
o Retrofitting for energy efficiency
o Going deeper on a course topic
o Students will also have the choice of a class field trip or an
independent video assignment on keyline design.
What sets our PDC apart from other PDC’s?
• We emphasise the use of permaculture principles and the design
process, making these tools widely applicable to gardens, farms, urban
settings, businesses and organisations.
• We emphasise design exercises and the team design projects as key
parts of the course. The design projects are for real clients and
have real potential to be implemented.
• Bonita and Sébastien specialise in applying the permaculture design
process to social, personal and urban settings (eg. organisations,
businesses, personal lifestyles, urban and suburban food gardens,
etc.). Douglas specialises in large-scale, land-based permaculture
design, earthworks, building design, and is knowledgeable about
permaculture in tropical, arid and temperate climates.
• Together, our teaching team brings over 28 years of permaculture experience.
• Collectively, we have worked on permaculture sites and projects in:
Eastern North America, Western North America, Australia, Japan,
France, India and Haiti.
Cost: $795 for the full Permaculture Design Course (includes the
Introduction and Main Modules).
Work Exchange: $200 for Main Module (3 weekends). Work exchange
applications due by June 1. Two positions available. Enquire for