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Joe Johnson
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So a friend sent me this course assesment from a PDC he's participating in. I thought it'd be fun to post the questions and see if anyone here wants to tackle a permaculture quiz!

PDC Assessment Questions

I. Observation and Pattern Recognition

1. You were brought blindfolded into an area you’d never been in a region you were
familiar with.
a. Describe three ways you could determine which way is north/south and
what the prevalent wind direction is in a location on an overcast cloudy
b. What would you do to determine what the soils are like?
c. What would you do to assess the depth of the water table?
d. What would you do to assess the microclimate of the site relative to the
2. Why is strategic process design more important than physical design and
3. If inoculation is the preferred pattern for all designs and interventions (least
change greatest effect), describe inoculation processes for each of the following:
food preservation, human health, soil health, watershed health, forest ecosystem
health, grassland ecosystem health, human community health, economic health.
4. Describe successional processes in at least four of the above communities.
5. Why are patterns useful in design?
6. How are patterns useful in understanding systems?
7. How do patterns differ from structures or forms?
8. How can design shift the course of society?

II. Ecology and Systems
9. Describe the needs and outputs of one animal, one plant, one landscape and one
10. Name five plants that reside within walking distance to your home and two useful
outputs for each of them.
11. What is a nitrogen-fixing plant and why is it important?
12. Name three values of water in the landscape.
13. Name three values of stone in the landscape.
14. Name five services trees provide in a landscape.
15. Name four services animals in a landscape provide.
16. Name three values of mulch and materials which can be used as mulch.
17. What does the term “brittle landscape” mean and name two brittle and two nonbrittle
areas of the world. Do you live in a relatively brittle or non-brittle climate?
What aspects of your local climate or landscape make it relatively non-brittle or
18. Define “ecological succession” and name two pioneer species and two climax
19. Define “disturbance” as used in ecology.
20. What is the relationship between elevation and temperature, between elevation
and moisture, between elevation and wind, and between elevation and soil depth?
21. Plants commonly referred to as weeds are in fact fulfilling needed roles for the
ecosystem. Give an example of how each of the following 'weeds' can help our
soil and/or ecosystem: Plaintain, burdock, dandelion, clovers, nettles, and thistles.
22. Where you live, what is the highest angle the sun reaches in the summer and on
what date is that? What is the lowest and on what date is that?

III. Solutions, Permaculture Design Process, Design Mechanics
23. Define what site analysis means. What two particular aspects of a location does
site analysis aim to understand patterns about? Name five site analysis map titles
commonly performed in permaculture design.
24. Name three processes you would be looking for during a site walk.
25. Name three or more features you should be identifying during a site walk.
26. Draw a windbreak in cross section and show how wind movement is changed by
27. Draw a 35% grade/slope in cross section on paper to scale.
28. Draw topographic map showing two hills and a valley, show which way is north,
and mark the coldest and warmest microclimates as well as the wettest and driest
29. Define a contour line.
30. Define zones 0 through 5 and name two elements you would place in each zone
or that should reside in each zone.
31. Name three site elements to locate in the beginning of the design process and
three elements that are better to site later on.
32. What element should be on any map or plan you produce, if it represents a
physical place?
33. Describe two ways to find a contour on a slope.
34. If you don’t have trace paper how can you make overlays?
35. Describe two ways to enlarge a map or plan while maintaining accurate
36. What are two sources of topographic information for most any site in North
37. What is the difference between an engineer’s ruler and architect’s ruler?
38. What is the length of your pace?

IV. Principles, Strategies, Vocabulary
39. Define edge-effect and give an example of edge-effect in practice
40. Define slow it, spread it, sink it and why this is an important strategy
41. Define the term “guild.”
42. Name five primary permaculture principles.
43. Why are swales important? Name three of their functions in a landscape.
44. Define the difference and similarities between swales, terraces, ponds and paddies.
45. What is a base map?
46. Define the term “limiting factor.”
47. What is a regenerative system?
48. What is the fundamental difference between mining and farming?
49. Name two active ways to change the climate of a building and two passive ones.
50. What is hugelculture and why is it useful?
51. What is biochar and why is it useful?
52. Name the three primary soil types and one characteristics or values of each.
53. What is a staple food versus a nutrient dense food?
54. Define the term “thermal mass.”
55. Define “percent slope/grade”
56. Define the term “stacking functions.”
57. Describe three reasons to save seed.
58. Define the “Yeomans Scale of Permanence.”
59. What is mob-stocked or intensive rotational grazing and why is it valuable?
60. Define the term "bioregional herbalism"
61. List three medicinal plants that grow in your yard, field, or forest. For each
indicate what part is used and what it treats.
62. “Nature cure” is based upon health restoration rather than disease treatment.
Draw a diagram that illustrates nature cure and the process of healing related to
acute and chronic disease.
63. A key concept in “nature cure” is the order of intervention, also known as the
therapeutic order or order of therapeutics. This is a set of 6 guidelines based upon
the observation of how healing occurs in nature. List these guidelines.
64. The three types of remediation are Phyto, Myco and Bio. Give an example of
each and how you would apply it in your garden.
65. Herbs can be planted or encouraged for soil medicine. What are two herbs that
increase calcium in the soil (one is well known for planting along chicken runs
and thickening egg shells)?
66. What are two wild edibles and two wild fruits that grow in your area and how can
you integrate them into your garden design.
Andrew Sen
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Here is the answer for question number 11 you asked above i.e. about meaning of nitrogen fixing plants and their importance .Nitrogen fixing plants are those plants which help to covert atmospheric nitrogen in to compounds which are usable by plants. Plants like peas, beans are famous for their symbolic nitrogen fixing. Importance of Nitrogen fixing plants in Permaculture is that when plants intake nitrates which are used by them to get some energy and growing so that they can mature and produce seeds. These seeds are growing in to new plants. When plants like peas and beans which are also called legumes die, they decay into the soil, releasing compounds which contain nitrogen and can be used by other plants. Once plants get going, in other words, they can set up a system which will perpetuate as older plants die to make room for younger ones, sharing fertilizer as they break down.
Leon Elt
Posts: 42
Location: Central FL
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If most of the students can answer these questions after graduation - that's a pretty good PDC, kudos to the teaher ...
Diego Footer
Posts: 180
Location: San Diego, CA
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Leon Elt wrote:If most of the students can answer these questions after graduation - that's a pretty good PDC, kudos to the teaher ...

Agreed. Who's the teacher(s)?
Daniel Heublein
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This is from Ben Falk's PDC. Not to be a downer, but I don't really like the fact that it was posted up here looking for answers.. the exercise is meant to prep students before the class and make them think and learn, not just go copy answers from this forum. I'm glad to see they aren't up here.
Cassie Langstraat
Posts: 3907
Location: Zone 9b
bee books food preservation fungi
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I don't think it was posted for someone to get the answers to cheat. I think the OP just thought it would be fun to see if us permies knew any of the answers off the top of our heads.
Leila Rich
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Welcome to permies Daniel
If anyone out there's after cheaty permaculture answers, good luck to them when they try actually designing something!
That's some pretty tough questions and I'm glad I didn't have to answer them during my PDC...
Daniel Heublein wrote:the exercise is meant to prep students before the class and make them think and learn
So they go over the previous 'topic' before going on to the next subject,
like before they start II. Ecology and Systems, they do the I. Observation and Pattern Recognition questions?
Andrea Wiley
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Wow! That was fun. I'm actually surprised at how many I knew! But now I really wanna take a Pdc from Ben because that lil quiz sure showed what I didn't know as well!
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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