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Permaculture Design Certificate Online - OSU Informal Survey  RSS feed

 
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I have a quick question and wanted to see if you could help.

I’m with Oregon State University and we have an online Permaculture Design Certificate that starts January 7.

Before it begins, I wanted to see if we can make it even better.

Question –

What are your two top permaculture design questions/issues that we absolutely need to cover?

Thanks for your time.

-Greg-
Oregon State University Professional and Continuing Education
https://pace.oregonstate.edu/permaculture
Staff note (Nicole Alderman):

For those wondering about the free permaculture course I mentioned in the dailyish, it's a free INTRO to Permaculture Course, which is different then the Design Certificate in this thread. Here's the link to the free intro course https://open.oregonstate.edu/courses/permaculture/. Sorry about the confusion!!!

 
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For me it would be feeding the soil (earthworks+carbon+mineral+soil life+dutch clover&company groundcover).
For garden beds, I like Bio-Instensive double digging and infusion of compost (soil life+mineral+carbon), and dense coverage(aka ground cover).

The other point would be to stress that permaculture is not just limited to food forest or even full on homesteading in the wood.
Instead it is a way of life have that can anyone make both big and small steps towards a more sustainable and regenerative way of life.  
 
pollinator
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Just MHOs...

1)  Maximizing localized diversity of calories/nutritives/flavors/storability of foods in as sustainable way as possible, and

2)  Best building designs/practices/materials for the local climate.....most efficient/comfortable cooling for hot periods, most efficient/comfortable heating for cold periods.
 
master pollinator
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Zone 5 - "One certain result of using our skills to integrate food supply and settlement, to catch water from our roof areas, and to place nearby a zone of fuel forest which receives wastes and supplies energy, will be to free most of the area of the globe for the rehabilitation of natural systems.  These need never be looked upon as 'of use to people', except in the very broad sense of global health."  Bill Mollison, Permaculture a Designers Manual,  page 6-7.

This is the "purpose" of permaculture as Mollison envisioned it, to return most of the globe to natural systems. . This is something which is almost universally ignored in discussions of permaculture as I have experienced them.
 
pollinator
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Aloha Greg,
I love what you, Andrew, & crew are doing at OSU. Your team has done such a great job creating & sharing awesome permaculture content; I'm a big fan.

Also, everyone in this thread has made excellent suggestions so far. I would like to second S Bengi's point about permaculture being more than just "advanced gardening" as it's often stereotyped. It's full-spectrum, whole-life-systems biomimicry. I like Holmgren's Permaculture Flower to help highlight this. In reality, an entire university system could be designed around all the "departments" that permaculture includes.

1. Emphasizing solutions-based thinking over deficit-based thinking. I experienced a paradigm shift during my PDC from a single-sentence suggestion uttered by the permaculture instructor one day. We were to be working outside helping to restore a semi-wild creek. Before we started working on it all together, this teacher's suggestion outside of the humble tool shed to us was, "Today, we're going to focus on what we have at hand, not what we lack [in order to accomplish the task]." I after hearing this & now fully adopting this mindset in my everyday life, I feel as though I'm not only a more effective permaculturalist, I'm also a more effective person.

2. I've listened to 4 of Bill Mollison's PDC's & read his books. Bill was constantly citing & referencing the practices & names of indigenous groups - past & present - for their advancement of regenerative systems & lifestyles. This is a precedent that must be followed, not only because it's the right thing to do, but also because it gives folks real-life historical examples to be inspired by.
Holmgren_flower_HawaiiEcoLiving.com.jpg
[Thumbnail for Holmgren_flower_HawaiiEcoLiving.com.jpg]
Permaculture Flower by David Holmgren, PermaculturePrinciples.com
GARO-Bimbache-El_Garo-_arbol-garoe-de-el-hierro-_grabadoslitografias.com.jpg
[Thumbnail for GARO-Bimbache-El_Garo-_arbol-garoe-de-el-hierro-_grabadoslitografias.com.jpg]
Bimbache - El Garoé, arbol garoe de el hierro, grabadoslitografias.com
 
pollinator
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Three areas in which I think we need to train people better are outlined below. They are a result of my own experience in design and implementation, watching others do the same, and a careful review of the questions and topics found right here in permies.com.

1 - A more in-depth understanding of soil structure and soil health. A deeper understanding of the microbiological processes that take place in the soil, such as nutrient exchange and the interplay between different compounds in the biology of the plant and the soil, especially the rhizosphere. This would include a better understanding of what plants appear or thrive or give signs under different soil health conditions.

2 - Tone down a tendency to hyper focus on earthworks during the PDC classes themselves. Of course this is dependent on one's goals and the nature of the actual place, but I think many of us are too quick to jump to invasive earthworks as a means of developing a framework for a given design. I was guilty of this in a big way. Don't get me wrong, earthworks have their place. It just seems that in our desire to implement a plan and see immediate progress often leads us to earthworks that have objectives that can be achieved in a better way.

3 - Point 2 above is often born out of our eagerness. So, to counteract that we need to couch all teaching lessons in the context of observation. I know I'm guilty of not wanting to wait. However, I have found that when I wait and spend meaningful time in observation of macro- and micro-level details, I am better off. I know observation is taught in PDC courses, but almost invariably, people plan and implement without proper observation.
 
gardener
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I'm starting this reply before reading everyone else's replies so it might be out of left field.  I took the course myself a year or two ago and liked it.

#1 Something about putting the plan into action and how to stage elements of the design over the years.  Should I do pond and earth works or get chickens or do a zone 2 garden or plant a living fence?  If all are in the plan,  how do I figure out which to do in which order?

#2  Most permaculture training gets you all excited about some magical plants that will make your systems work wonderfully (nutrient accumulators, nitrogen fixers).  But since it's dependent on your home climate, it's hard to figure out which ones should be in your design template/repertoire.  I can't remember if there was anything for this in the OSU PDC (or anywhere on the web) but it would be wonderful.

Ok, now I'll read the other responses.

I guess I'd say that I'm not a soil scientist.  I like the focus on making soils awesome.  But I don't know if everyone needs to be highly trained to make soil better or turn dirt into soil.  My layman's hunch is that if I keep adding organic matter (mulch) and don't kill the little critters and plant diversely, the soil will take care of itself.  This might be more true for me as a homesteader on healthy land and less true for someone reclaiming a soy/corn field...
 
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What am I missing.... it says the cost is $840?  I'm sure it is worth it, but someone said "free".....?
 
S Bengi
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Quote the person who said free. Then a followup could help you....
 
Wj Carroll
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From Permies Daily-ish: "Did you know Oregon State University has a free online permaculture course? One of the instructors is here on permies, asking for our input as to what "permaculture design questions/issues that we absolutely need to cover."
 
gardener
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I think the biggest question would be....... how do I decide what part I should do in the coming permaculture solutions and what should be part of the larger society?

For example, what can I grow in my plot, what can I gather locally,  what CSA's are available, are there permaculture homesteads where I can take my kids out, volunteer and help, how does my bicycling and public transportation/ride share relate to regional solutions?

In other words, questioning strategies about how my individual part relates to the larger permaculture effort.

JohN S
PDX OR
 
S Bengi
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Wj Carroll wrote:From Permies Daily-ish: "Did you know Oregon State University has a free online permaculture course? One of the instructors is here on permies, asking for our input as to what "permaculture design questions/issues that we absolutely need to cover."



You are correct in stating that the Daily-ish Email state that it is free. Sadly I am 98% certain it cost $900 ($840+$60 for registration).
I will report the mis-match, and see.
 
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Wj Carroll wrote:What am I missing.... it says the cost is $840?  I'm sure it is worth it, but someone said "free".....?



I saw that too.  Must have been a mistake.
 
master steward
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Ah, this course https://open.oregonstate.edu/courses/permaculture/ is the permaculture course I recall seeing when I wrote this post. There've been a few threads on permies about the free Intro to Permaculture Course, and I sadly didn't take the time to investigate to see if this thread was referencing that course or a different course. I'm so sorry!!!

Thankfully, I did write "free online permaculture course" and they do have a free INTRO to permaculture course. It's just not the Design Certificate course that this thread is referencing. Sorry!!!
 
Wj Carroll
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Ah, that is it - thanks Nicole!  I'm sure it is a good course.  I guess I'm developing a bit of an issue with the university system.  I spent a decade, plus, paying off student loans.  I'm sure the OSU program is absolutely awesome, but the free stuff is never "for credit".  Of course, nothing worthwhile should be demanded for free!  But, it really bothers me that I can take the same class (English, math or history, for instance) at a community college for $75 as I can at a state university of (minimum) $300 per credit hour (so, $1,600 per class?)… or $7,000 at a private college.  Federal Financial Aid will cover the state university and lower cost.... and somehow, tuition at the universities increases as financial aid or access to student loans increases.... funny, that...   But.... the certification or degree is equally valuable from all... no matter how much you pay.  You "make your bones" in your first job... and after that, it doesn't matter if you went to MIT or Harvard... or Backwoods Community College.  When it comes to a PDC.... the value really depends on the instructor/s. My PDC was well worth the money, and really much more.  Meanwhile.... I really have concerns about modern college education... and I guess Bill Mollison did too, since he didn't want Permaculture taught in colleges.  My uncle was a very prominent Landscape Design Architecture pof… wrote the books that are used in university programs.... but it was all "theory"... he denigrated my self educated, "ignorant farmer" grandfather (who built and designed homes, cleared land, grew a farm into an amazing success and became a prominent "gentleman farmer")…. but he never even had a garden or even cut his own grass.... he wrote textbooks and computer programs, but never even attempted to do what was in them...  Well, I'm way off on a tangent... I have tons of (crazy expensive) post grad education that turned out to be little more than a mental exercise.  I guess, were I to pay someone to teach me something... I'd damn sure rather an "ignorant farmer" than a college prof....  that is, if the prof has no practical experience.... if he has both the academic and practical knowledge, well... that is something... but I still wouldn't ever go into debt for any education, in anything, ever again! The OSU Permaculture program doesn't qualify for federal financial aid... so, Id probably just got find an old farmer to work for.... and maybe learn something about life, as well.  Regardless, I've just taken the long way around of saying that if a university program's "certificate" ever carries more weight than a traditional or online DC, for a fraction of the cost... or even more, if someone were willing to pay it... I'll be quite negative toward that program.
 
Nicole Alderman
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I just thought I'd link to some of the many threads about OSU's programs here on permies:

Intro to Permaculture Design - Free online MOOC from Oregon State University
Free online Oregon State University class to teach permaculture in May This one has permies working on the assignments together
Recommendations for online PDC?
Montana PDC has this quote:

Oregon State University has an online Permanente Design Course and an Advanced PDC. Both are taught by Andrew Millison & Co. Reasonably priced, excellent material covered, & an intuitive & collaborative learning environment. As a "graduate" I highly recommend it.




Quite a few permies have taken the intro, and and some have also gotten the Design Certificate.

It looks like we even had one of the instructors as a guest here for a giveaway (giving away a place in the PDC) https://permies.com/t/28031/permaculture-projects/Andrew-Millison-Permaculture-Instructor.
 
Molly Kay
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Nicole Alderman wrote:Ah, this course https://open.oregonstate.edu/courses/permaculture/ is the permaculture course I recall seeing when I wrote this post. There've been a few threads on permies about the free Intro to Permaculture Course, and I sadly didn't take the time to investigate to see if this thread was referencing that course or a different course. I'm so sorry!!!

Thankfully, I did write "free online permaculture course" and they do have a free INTRO to permaculture course. It's just not the Design Certificate course that this thread is referencing. Sorry!!!



Good to know. I'm trying to get my kids interested in permaculture, and might be able to convince my oldest to look into the intro course.
 
pollinator
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My answer might sounds weird but in my opinion the two most important things in such course are permaculture design methodology and individual feedback on the final design exercise. Our goal should be to teach people how to start designing.
 
pollinator
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Richard Gorny wrote:My answer might sounds weird but in my opinion the two most important things in such course are permaculture design methodology and individual feedback on the final design exercise. Our goal should be to teach people how to start designing.


I agree. Teach the three Permaculture ethics and the ten or twelve Permaculture principles. Explain about patterns and systems in nature and how to apply them in a design. And teach what's important for designers, when they make designs for others.
In my opinion those basics are all that can be taught. All other things, about methods of gardening, plants for the garden, 'social Permaculture' etc. is information students have to find on their own, because there is no 'one rule' for those things. They depend on the situation. So the other thing that has to be taught is: how and where to find the information you need, how to become 'ecoliterate'.

After the student has followed such an online course, there's the project he/she needs to do to get the PDC. It takes a lot of time studying, (re)searching, experimenting, finding, etc. before the student is able to do that project. Feedback of the teachers is needed during that time. So good e-mail contact (maybe even skype or something like that) is a must.
 
pollinator
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Concurring with several comments. Each permaculture tool and principle should have as it's concluding assignment: Given your selected site should or how should this be applied?  
For example should your windows be faced toward the sun for solar gain or away from the sun to prevent overheating and provide radiant cooling?
Given your site's weather and topography which of the discussed planting preparations would be appropriate; swales, hugals, raised beds, trench beds, sheet mulch, cover crop, bare soil?
 
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I teach permaculture and was taught by Bill Mollison back in the 80's. I am also a seed saver teacher. One of the things that never seems to get a mention among all the "big topics" like soils and water is the fact that 3/4 of our world - that really needs to learn and understand sustainable systems - are those living in urban areas. The backyards, community gardens, schools, etc who operate at smaller, local scales.

We should never be reliant and dependent on larger scale properties for our needs. The more local smaller food growing areas we can get urban populations to contribute to the better. Not everyone can afford to develop large parcels of land, nor should they have to. Working together to simply be as productive as possible is do-able for all, even those with balcony gardens!

Permaculture should focus quite a bit more on people care and Zone 0 - the home as well, not just earthworks. Showing how to translate permaculture design on smaller scales and building this into any courses taught, will help empower ordinary folks without much land to still do their bit to keep things local and manageable by all people. Permaculture should be shown as inclusive and able to be practiced by all, not just the lucky property owning few.

I've found all the suggestions here amazing and am continually impressed at the community and 'permie' spirit shown on permies.com, but find it doesn't seem to translate so well when taught at university. I think Bill Mollison was right when he said permaculture should be kept ot of uni, it should be taught by experienced permaculturists - there is no substitute for 'permie life experience' IMHO.
 
S Bengi
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A bigger focus on suburban backyard food forest and high rise food/energy buying and usage pattern. Does seem a good idea vs only focusing on 500+acre farms and 5acre homesteader.
 
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