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Is a PDC course worth it with such a small piece of land?  RSS feed

 
Kim Hill
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I am thinking of taking a PDC course but am not sure it is worth the cost with such a small suburban lot. My entire lot is 60ft x 100ft which includes a 1300 sq ft house and a 2 1/2 car garage plus large driveway. I may have already gone too far in my plantings also. I have 5 dwarf fruit trees in the small front yard which are now too large to transplant as well as other edibles used as foundation plantings (beach plums, viburnum and elderberry). In the back yard I have about 400sq ft in raised beds and along the fence line there are plantings of blueberries, cherry bushes and goumi. I also have a 6ft sq dog kennel I use for the chickens. With all this, is a PDC course a good investment? I should also say I will probably not move from here. Kim
 
R Scott
Posts: 3349
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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You already acknowledge you probably made mistakes, but sound unwilling to undo them.

I know, it hurts--I am in the process of fixing mistakes, too.

But a PDC will teach you how to work with what you have or to start over (bit by bit) to work it into perennial systems.
 
Kim Hill
Posts: 78
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R Scott wrote:You already acknowledge you probably made mistakes, but sound unwilling to undo them.

I know, it hurts--I am in the process of fixing mistakes, too.

But a PDC will teach you how to work with what you have or to start over (bit by bit) to work it into perennial systems.


I never said I was unwilling to fix them. I know I will probably never move from this home that is all. If a course that costs close to $1000 would make a big difference, I would save up and take the course. If it is not worth doing so for such a small piece of property, I have other places the money can be spent. My fruit trees are bearing fruit and are too large to move, that doesn't mean I won't take them out if it is for the best. I cannot tear down the garage or house or driveway so I have a very small space to work with.
 
Dale Hodgins
garden master
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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Everything that you are likely to learn is freely available on the internet. Read, watch videos and network with others. You may find that there is a good designer in your area who could spend a day or so pointing you in the right direction. If you're not looking to market yourself as a professional designer, I think your money would be better spent hiring someone who is making that their life's work.

Chances are that much of what you've already done will be just fine. If you find someone who insists on a clean slate, find someone better.
 
Myron Weber
Posts: 67
Location: Orange County, CA, USA
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I wondered the same thing - until I took a PDC. It was a great investment for me.
I'm in a very similar situation: lot is just over 5000 sq ft. I had some ideas of what I wanted, and a lot of them changed, evolved, and clarified in the PDC. Your experience may vary, of course, but for me it was definitely worthwhile.
 
Andrew Millison
Instructor
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Location: Corvallis, Oregon
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I think no site is too small for Permaculture, and a PDC provides lasting tools and a change in perception. I've had courses where people lived in apartments and designed their balconies as their design project. Check out this video of Bill Mollison designing an apartment balcony (starts at 9:00 minutes):



Permaculture design works on scales from tiny hyper-intense urban systems to broad scale regional planning. It's a way of viewing the design process and a protocol for design. True what Dale said that you can find tons of info freely available on the internet, and maybe that's how you learn best, but a PDC offers direct guidance through the design system with feedback and instruction. I'm learning guitar right now. I could just watch hundreds of youtube videos on playing guitar, but I feel the need to have lessons with a teacher who gives me direct feedback and guidance on what I need to work on. Everybody is different in what they most need.

My courses focus heavily on learning the design process and the order in which to analyze and layer the information so it makes sense and builds in a way conducive to design. It's a much different experience then surfing through the massive amounts of info out there on your own. Other PDC's out there are also very effective in leaving you with a framework for how to design and develop a site or a community of any scale
 
Kim Hill
Posts: 78
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Thanks for the feedback. As Dale says the information is available for free but I am not sure I am capable of putting it all together in the best way. Myron and Andrew, you made me think, which is a real good thing. I can see where it may be beneficial to take a course even though I have a small lot. It would be nice to understand why things are done the way they are. If that is not possible, then I will consider finding someone who can help me design the best arrangement for my little slice of this world.
 
Myron Weber
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Location: Orange County, CA, USA
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Kim - not to push my perspective, because everyone is different, but just one more thought. One reason I find the PDC valuable is this: design is not an event, it's a process.

While I'm sure that having a permaculture expert come and create a design for me would have been better than what I created in many respects, that person wouldn't live here. Using what I learned in the PDC helps me evolve the design with the insight of infinite details only experienced by living here.
 
Xisca Nicolas
pollinator
Posts: 1318
Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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I think it is good for total beginners.
I think it is good for all, but less worth the price for non beginners.

I never took a pdc and as designing is a process, I feel that anyway, even with a pdc, one still has to observe, adapt and correct.
What's about the pdc?

1) There is the way of thinking:
learn the 5 zones
+ the concept of "everything influences everything" = do things that have more than 1 goal.

Can it really go without the 2nd point?

2) Learn a pack of tips: they will vary too much according to your place.
Most of you will not want to hear about the plants I need,
and I will not be interested in the hardy plants I do not need...
 
Xisca Nicolas
pollinator
Posts: 1318
Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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Andrew Millison wrote:My courses focus heavily on learning the design process and the order in which to analyze and layer the information so it makes sense and builds in a way conducive to design.


Great, this is the most useful to learn!
As it would be quite "dry" I bet you put "flesh" on this frame,
that is where I find the goal more difficult to achieve while staying a generalist (to match the different people).
 
Andrew Millison
Instructor
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Location: Corvallis, Oregon
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Xisca,
Interesting comment about the challenges of staying a generalist. There's that saying, "Be a jack of all trades, and master of at least one". Often that one aspect where a person attains mastery is the one that makes them the $!

In Permaculture the design process holds true for any climate or scale. That is the general framework that I call the "Permaculture decision making matrix": zones, sectors, landform, principles.

In our course we then touch on the specific strategies for drylands, tropics, cold and cool climates. Although examples from multiple climate zones are peppered throughout, we put the specific climatic strategies in the last 1/3 of the course, and students start with the one that fits them. But it is really important in my opinion to learn details about every climate for a couple of reasons: 1) People move a lot in the world today 2) Aspects of different climates exist everywhere (the tropics in your greenhouse, the drylands during a temperate climate summer drought, the moist temperate swale in a dry landscape).
 
Stacey Khosravi
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I have been thinking of taking a PDC too. I also have very limited space to work with. Thanks for all the good advice!
 
Xisca Nicolas
pollinator
Posts: 1318
Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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Well Andrew, Let me say that pedagogy tips is a passion for me!
let's see if "generalist" means the same for you and me... It is about the "general" frame.

So yes, well said: "In Permaculture the design process holds true for any climate or scale."

If you are general, then you are also global.
A course has to serve for people in different climates and practicing at different scales.
The globality (process) is good for all.
BUT people are also different in their way of learning, which is in the design ... of the course!
Climates and scale are part of the details and help to illustrate.
So the challenge I think about is the people's way to organize the order in which they need global and precise knowledge.

Kim seems to like starting from examples = the details, and would like to get to the global understanding that would make links between the different parts of the design (which are visible, like plants, water etc, whereas the global is the abstract relationship between those elements)
 
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