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Permaculture Design Course
June 13th - 26th, 2021
Near Missoula, Montana

permaculture design course 2021 wheaton Labs

click here for PDC ticket prices

All tickets are now sold!


An Advanced PDC:
A proper Permaculture Design Course (PDC) has a well defined syllabus. Most PDCs are crafted for beginners - and a lot of professionals get bored. Our PDC assumes that the student is desring a course with a bit more substance and grit. This PDC is designed for scientists, engineers, educators or people with a lot of current knowledge of permaculture.

Alan Booker, an engineer himself, has developed a format that caters to these people. Alan’s course will cover everything a PDC normally covers, but is packed with information that can help advanced or expert students take their knowledge to the next level.



Technical Permaculture Design:
The focus of this PDC is on the technical aspects of permaculture and on professional landscape designing for clients. You will be surrounded by like-minded people, and together you will not only learn the framework to survive in a rapidly changing world, but to thrive. You will also develop the skills to heal damaged landscapes while providing for your own needs.

In this course you are designing from the get go. Every new piece of information, every new concept, is delivered in sequence so that it is immediately relevant and applicable. Your design unfolds in step with the days subjects. This helps the learning to really take root in your mind. Learn how to make really good effective decisions. We can't emphasize how important this is if you want to make effective long-lasting change in your life.

Every student will work through the entire design project individually, but always with the support of their design group and the instructors. Students will have multiple chances to present their design ideas and get feedback throughout the course of the first 13 days, building to the final design project presentations on the last day. During these final presentations, each student will present their own design project to the group as if they were presenting to a professional client.

This course is designed to help you really start thinking like a designer. Even if you have a lot of practical experience is various aspects of homesteading already, the Homesteaders PDC will move you past simply thinking in terms of isolated systems and into designing integrated, whole landscapes.

Course Schedule



This is the official schedule. It is possible that a few details might change.

Day 0: Check In (Saturday, June 12)
Check-In: 9:00am - 7:00pm MST
Get Settled In: Find your camp site and setup.
Tour of the Lab: starts promptly at 9:30am
Tour of Base Camp: after lunch starting at 1:30pm
Sleep: Try to get plenty of rest. We start early and you have a full day jam-packed with information tomorrow.

Day 1: Introduction and Overview (Sunday, June 13)
Session 1: Introduction and Overview
Session 2: Ethics in Design
Session 3: Design Concepts 1
Session 4: Design Concepts 2
Design Session: Design Project Overview
Evening Session: Group Design Charrette

Day 2: Methods of Design (Monday, June 14)
Session 1: Methods of Design Part 1
Session 2: Methods of Design Part 2
Session 3: Methods of Design Part 3
Session 4: Methods of Design Part 4
Design Session: Design Property Tour

Day 3: Understanding Pattern (Tuesday, June 15)
Session 1: Pattern Understanding Part 1
Session 2: Pattern Understanding Part 2
Session 3: Pattern Understanding Part 3
Session 4: Pattern Understanding Part 4
Design Session: How to Conduct a Client Interview
Evening Session: Group Design Workshop

Day 4: Climate and Trees (Wednesday, June 16)
Session 1: Climate Factors Part 1
Session 2: Climate Factors Part 2
Session 3: Trees & Their Energy Transactions Part 1
Session 4: Trees & Their Energy Transactions Part 2
Design Session: The Client Interview
Evening Session: Introduction to Ecology

Day 5: Water and Soil (Thursday, June 17)
Session 1: Water Part 1
Session 2: Water Part 2
Session 3: Soils Part 1
Session 4: Soils Part 2
Design Session: Software Design Tools
Evening Session: Soil Analysis with the Microscope

Day 6: Soils, Compost, Crops and Seeds (Friday, June 18)
Session 1: Soils Part 3
Session 2: Compost & Aerated Compost Tea
Session 3: Annnual Crop Gardening
Session 4: Seeds & Seed Saving



Day 7: Break (Saturday, June 19)
No required sessions. Instructors will be available during the afternoon to help with design projects.
Optional Bonus Evening Session: Herbal Medicince

Day 8: Earthworks (Sunday, June 20)
Session 1: Earthworks Part 1
Session 2: Earthworks Part 2
Session 3: Earthworks Part 3
Session 4: Earthworks Part 4
Design Session: Gathering Climate & Land-form Data
Evening Session: Conservation and Circular Design

Day 9: Humid Tropics & Drylands (Monday, June 21)
Session 1: Humid Tropics Part 1
Session 2: Humid Tropics Part 2
Session 3: Dryland Strategies Part 1
Session 4: Dryland Strategies Part 2
Design Session: Building a Base Map
Evening Session: Movie Night

Day 10: Temperate Climates & Pasture Systems (Tuesday, June 22)
Session 1: Temperate Climates Part 1
Session 2: Temperate Climates Part 2
Session 3: Pasture Systems & Rotational Grazing
Session 4: Food Forests and Perennial Production Systems
Design Session: Sector & Zone Analysis, Designing Water & Access
Evening Session: Learning the Plants of Your Biome

Day 11: Appropriate Technology (Wednesday, June 23)
Session 1: Working with Energy Flows
Session 2: Natural Building Methods
Session 3: The Permaculture Kitchen
Session 4: Sanitation & Health
Design Session: Siting Mainframe Forestry, Buildings, and Permanent Fencing
Evening Session: Question & Answer Night - Alan Booker and Paul Wheaton

Day 12: Aquaculture and Animals (Thursday, June 24)
Session 1: Aquaculture
Session 2: Animal Systems Part 1
Session 3: Animal Systems Part 2
Session 4: Food Storage & Seasonal Eating
Design Session: The In-fill Mosaic and Aquaculture
Evening Session: Design Project Work Time

Day 13: Structures, Community and Economy (Friday, June 25)
Session 1: Designing Invisible Structures
Session 2: Legal Structures & Community Organization
Session 3: Economics & Money Systems
Session 4: Village Development & Human Scale
Design Session: Preparing for the Design Presentation
Evening Session: Design Project Work Time

Day 14: Design Project Presentations (Saturday, June 26)
Morning Session: Design Project Workshop
Afternoon Session: Student Presentations of Design Projects
Evening Session: Student Talent Night



Instructors

Alan Booker -- Instructor
Alan Booker is the founder and executive director of the Institute of Integrated Regenerative Design, which trains professional design practitioners to create systems that are ecosystemic, biocompatible, and regenerative. With over 30 years experience in engineering and 20 years in sustainable design, Alan is the author of multiple books. In addition to teaching PDCs, he also provides consulting and workshops on earthworks, soil remediation, composting, forest gardening, holistic management of pastureland, keyline design, aquaculture and aquaponics, off-grid energy systems, and natural building systems.

Helen Atthowe -- Instructor
Helen has an MS in Horticulture and Agricultural Ecology from Rutgers University; worked at Rutgers in tree fruit IPM; studied natural farming with Masanobu Fukoka. She famrs a 211 acre farm in eastern Oregon with her husband, where they have a mixed fruit and hazelnut orchard, small grain and dry bean production, vegetable gardens, high tunnels, and greenhouse.

Paul Wheaton -- Host/Instructor
Paul Wheaton, The Duke of Permaculture, is an author, producer, and certified advanced master gardener. He has created hundreds of youtube videos, hundreds of podcasts, multiple DVDs, and written dozens of articles and a book. As the lead mad scientist at Wheaton Labs, he's conducted experiments resulting in rocket stoves and ovens, massive earthworks, solar dehydrators and much more.

Lara Bigotti -- Event Coordinator
Lara became interested in Permaculture while living and teaching English in Japan. She worked on an organic vegetable farm in her hometown for two years after returning to the U.S., and then fulfilled her longtime dream of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. After participating in Wheaton Labs Bootcamp in September 2020, she returned to Missoula in February 2021 to take on the role of Event Coordinator and Rental Manager for Wheaton Labs. She is excited to learn more about gardening, natural medicine, photography & videography, and building.

Thomas Elpel -- Instructor
Thomas is an author, natural builder, educator, and conservationist. He has authored multiple books: Foraging the Mountain West, Botany in a Day, Shanleya's Quest and numerous others about plant identification, wilderness survival, and sustainable living. He has multiple videos: Building a Slipform Stone House from the Bottom Up, How to Make a Grass Rope, Build Your own Masonry Fireplace - Masonry Heater - Masonry Stove, and many more. Thomas regularly teaches classes on plant identification, primitive skills and natural building. He is founder/director of Green University, LLC in Pony, Montana.

Chase Jones -- Instructor
Chase Jones is a permaculture designer and consultant with a background in anthropology, conservation archaeology, ecology, and geospatial analysis. He is the co-founder of Biodesic Strategies, a permaculture design and construction service that offers ecological design and green infrastructure installation. For the PDC, Chase will bring both his practical consulting experience and background in the geospatial sciences to the process of helping students understand the tools needed to capture site data, synthesize an accurate base map, and develop a working understanding of any design site.

Melody Rothwell -- Chef
Melody Rothwell is an avid and creative cook, a world traveler, a free spirit, and a connector of people. She is an apprentice herbalist and yoga teacher, a life coach, & an Enneagram and Human Design practitioner. When she's not experimenting in the kitchen you can find her nerding out reading books on fermentation, learning to forage, and spending time outside. She's excited for the opportunity to bring her love of food and community to Wheaton Labs this summer.



Tickets

Work Trades for Permaculture Technology Jamboree, PDC, and SKIP
Work 7 weeks in Bootcamp for a ticket to the PDC!

click here for PDC ticket prices

All tickets are now sold!
COMMENTS:
 
steward
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Nicole Alderman
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Super Early Bird Prices end September 30th--only four days away!
permaculture-homesteading-events-going-on-an-adventure.jpg
permaculture design course super early bird prices
 
gardener
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What kind of drawing/drafting/paper supplies are needed for this?

I have some, and am considering whether I need to bring some of it.
 
steward
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Ash Jackson wrote:What kind of drawing/drafting/paper supplies are needed for this?

I have some, and am considering whether I need to bring some of it.



I think we will have lots.  

If you ask again in early feb, lara should be here and I suspect that she might be able to put together a bit of an inventory for you.

 
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Do you have any book recommendations before I attend your course?

Any teachers you recommend I seek out to communicate with?
 
Nicole Alderman
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Hi Bobby!

I thought I'd sent you the google form to fill out back in September--did it not make it?

Once you fill it out, I'll get you added to the private forum. Alan Booker is active in the forum, and even has a list of book recommendations for participants in the private forum.

I hope this helps!
 
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paul wheaton wrote:

Ash Jackson wrote:What kind of drawing/drafting/paper supplies are needed for this?

I have some, and am considering whether I need to bring some of it.



I think we will have lots.  

If you ask again in early feb, lara should be here and I suspect that she might be able to put together a bit of an inventory for you.



I definitely remember making a pile of these sort of things when I was organizing some stuff in the library in September. Ash, I'll give you more specifics once I'm there in feb!
 
paul wheaton
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Bobby Fallon wrote:Do you have any book recommendations before I attend your course?

Any teachers you recommend I seek out to communicate with?




Books:  every PDC is based on the BBB https://amzn.to/3o4VXSW ...  in a recent podcast, alan, the instructor for THIS pdc said that it is currently cheaper to get it from the publisher and pay the freaky big shipping costs:  https://www.tagari.com/permaculture-designers-manual/



This PDC is reall Alan's show.  And what I will do is pop in rarely and speak only if Alan asks me to.  What I did for the last two PDCs is to be there for the full hour during each of the three meals per day.   i sit at the southernmost table.  I am glad to visit with anybody on any topic or be stone silent.  In time, it seems a few people wanted to join me at every meal and they had a list of questions for each meal.   I am also glad to give an evening presentation or two if there is interest.  All this is to say that I have a fully published book (Building a Better World in Your Backyard) and an about to be published book (SKIP) and a pseudo community book available as a draft (Permaculture Thorns).  I thoroughly enjoy the idea of discussing these.


Next book:   https://amzn.to/38JeVI8


I was about to start a big list and then I thought of this:  https://permies.com/w/book-reviews


 
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Nicole Alderman wrote:Hi Bobby!

I thought I'd sent you the google form to fill out back in September--did it not make it?

Once you fill it out, I'll get you added to the private forum. Alan Booker is active in the forum, and even has a list of book recommendations for participants in the private forum.

I hope this helps!



Hey Bobby,

Welcome to the class!

I keep an eye on the private PDC forum and try to answer any questions that pop up there. Also feel free to send me a Purple Mooseage if you have a question you would like to ask more privately.

I will be scheduling another Zoom meeting sometime in March so everyone signed up by then can meet each other and we can talk through getting ready for the class. I will also be announcing pretty soon that everyone who signs up for the PDC will be invited to participate (for free) in a special 8-week online class with me in April and May working through my new book Observation for Design. This book is designed to be a great compliment to the material we cover in the PDC and will provide some great preparation for attending. More details to follow.
 
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Oooh, this looks exciting!

Between SKIP and PDC, which would you recommend a relative newbie take first? Is one course typically prerequisite to the other? It seems like PDC is more "book learning" whereas SKIP is hands-on.

I do not wish to become a professional designer, but I want to learn enough to feel confident on creating my own permie homestead.

TIA for the advice!
 
paul wheaton
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Austin Durant wrote: It seems like PDC is more "book learning" whereas SKIP is hands-on.



This is the exact answer to your question.

A PDC is going to cover the stuff in the permaculture designer's manual.   Our PDC is gonna shove three times more information into your head - all in two weeks.   And when you are done, you will be a certified permaculture designer.

If you show up to the SKIP event with BB40, you will probably finish the SKIP event with PEP1 certification.  But if you don't care about the certification, you will have a LOT of hands on experience.  And it isn't the sort of hands on experience where you did something with somebody - it will be 100% you doing the thing.  

Our PDC is for scientists, engineers, architects and teachers.  I think it would also be a fit for somebody that has listened to most of my podcasts.   The information is going to be presented at an intense rate.   Most people will not like it and will prefer a "normal" PDC.   This PDC is designed for people that would probably find a "normal" PDC to be boring.



 
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Austin Durant wrote:
Between SKIP and PDC, which would you recommend a relative newbie take first? Is one course typically prerequisite to the other? It seems like PDC is more "book learning" whereas SKIP is hands-on.


Hi Austin,

I’m attending all three and wanted to share some information with you. There are no prerequisites for either but it is recommended to be familiar with permaculture to take the PDC!  

You can learn about the 2017 PDC videos here.  The SKIP and PTJ are definitely more hands on and the PDC is lots of lessons and design experience.
 
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I'm just seeing this for the first time for some reason. It looks right up my street, but clashes with term time, so is a non-starter unfortunately. I hope it goes well for you.
 
Austin Durant
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paul wheaton wrote:
A PDC is going to cover the stuff in the permaculture designer's manual.   Our PDC is gonna shove three times more information into your head - all in two weeks.   And when you are done, you will be a certified permaculture designer.


Thanks, Paul! I am a teacher and I am fairly technical/"book smart" so although it would be a stretch, I think I could hack your "nutrient-dense" PDC.

Do you recommend taking the video PDC series first, and then doing the in-person PDC course in June? Or would that be redundant?

Cheers!
 
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Hey, I'm new to the forums and to permaculture in general.  The PDC seems too advanced for me.  Is the PTJ + SKIP a good option for me?  What if I study real hard between now and the PDC- would that be doable?
 
Alan Booker
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Britton Sprouse wrote:Hey, I'm new to the forums and to permaculture in general.  The PDC seems too advanced for me.  Is the PTJ + SKIP a good option for me?  What if I study real hard between now and the PDC- would that be doable?



Hey Britton,

As the course instructor, maybe I am the best person to try to address your question.

One of the PDC's I taught a few years ago had two PhD's, six engineers, ...and a student just out of high school. One of the PhD's (in physics) at the end of the course said he was "stunned by the depth and scope of the information" in the course. The other PhD (biology) came back to take it again the next year because he wanted to hear it all again a second time.

But even though there was plenty in the class to challenge and engage the PhD's and engineers, the high school graduate also completed the course, gave an excellent design presentation, and got certified.

The reason this can work is because I approach the PDC from the standpoint of understanding and designing complex systems, teaching this in a way that builds directly on top of what you would normally cover in high school physics, chemistry, and biology. So somebody who is comfortable with these topics at the level they should be to graduate high school should be able to follow the course with a little work. I think it comes down to being engaged and curious, willing to do some research to fill in any areas you haven't quite mastered yet.

Folks who come to the class with a lot of domain-specific knowledge often were taught it in a siloed fashion, so there is a lot of new and rich information for them to explore when we jump into whole-systems thinking. They can bring all of their domain-specific experience with them, fitting it into a larger and more holistic context. I have had engineers and architects tell me that the PDC has helped them understand how their specific expertise fits into a much larger picture. They are probably the ones who get the most from the class, because I tried to design it to compliment and extend what they have already been taught in college. But even someone just out of high school who is engaged and works hard will be able to keep up and learn a tremendous amount (while maybe not being able to mine quite so much out of it as the engineers, scientists, architects, etc.).

So even though the curriculum is designed for people with a technical background, I think the basic prerequisites for the course are whether a person (1) has a good grounding in the basic sciences, (2) is willing to work hard and stretch themselves, and (3) is curious and has a passion to learn.

 
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Alan Booker wrote:Hey Britton,

As the course instructor, maybe I am the best person to try to address your question.

One of the PDC's I taught a few years ago had two PhD's, six engineers, ...and a student just out of high school. One of the PhD's (in physics) at the end of the course said he was "stunned by the depth and scope of the information" in the course. The other PhD (biology) came back to take it again the next year because he wanted to hear it all again a second time.

But even though there was plenty in the class to challenge and engage the PhD's and engineers, the high school graduate also completed the course, gave an excellent design presentation, and got certified.

The reason this can work is because I approach the PDC from the standpoint of understanding and designing complex systems, teaching this in a way that builds directly on top of what you would normally cover in high school physics, chemistry, and biology. So somebody who is comfortable with these topics at the level they should be to graduate high school should be able to follow the course with a little work. I think it comes down to being engaged and curious, willing to do some research to fill in any areas you haven't quite mastered yet.

Folks who come to the class with a lot of domain-specific knowledge often were taught it in a siloed fashion, so there is a lot of new and rich information for them to explore when we jump into whole-systems thinking. They can bring all of their domain-specific experience with them, fitting it into a larger and more holistic context. I have had engineers and architects tell me that the PDC has helped them understand how their specific expertise fits into a much larger picture. They are probably the ones who get the most from the class, because I tried to design it to compliment and extend what they have already been taught in college. But even someone just out of high school who is engaged and works hard will be able to keep up and learn a tremendous amount (while maybe not being able to mine quite so much out of it as the engineers, scientists, architects, etc.).

So even though the curriculum is designed for people with a technical background, I think the basic prerequisites for the course are whether a person (1) has a good grounding in the basic sciences, (2) is willing to work hard and stretch themselves, and (3) is curious and has a passion to learn.



Thank you so much for your thoughtful response.  I think I meet those prerequisites!  I'll be seriously considering the PDC for my summer plans.
 
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Austin Durant wrote:

paul wheaton wrote:
A PDC is going to cover the stuff in the permaculture designer's manual.   Our PDC is gonna shove three times more information into your head - all in two weeks.   And when you are done, you will be a certified permaculture designer.


Thanks, Paul! I am a teacher and I am fairly technical/"book smart" so although it would be a stretch, I think I could hack your "nutrient-dense" PDC.

Do you recommend taking the video PDC series first, and then doing the in-person PDC course in June? Or would that be redundant?

Cheers!



Hey Austin,

Tim's PDC that is in the video course has a lot of excellent material and is well worth watching. The PDC that I teach is aimed at a slightly different audience and as such the curriculum is much more of a technical deep-dive. So if you are interested in both, I think they would compliment each other.

A lot of serious permies end up doing more than one PDC. The two main reasons are (1) each set of instructors bring their own unique perspectives, experiences, and approach, and (2) so much material is covered in a good PDC that you will probably have to hear it more than once to take it all in.

Most of the folks showing up to my PDC haven't watched the video course, so it certainly isn't required. But I would also say that it could be a good preparation if you have the time and interest.
 
Austin Durant
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Alan Booker wrote:Tim's PDC that is in the video course has a lot of excellent material and is well worth watching. The PDC that I teach is aimed at a slightly different audience and as such the curriculum is much more of a technical deep-dive. So if you are interested in both, I think they would compliment each other.


Awesome. Thanks for the helpful clarification, Alan! Hope to see you in June!
 
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Nicole Alderman
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I thought I'd attach the PDC schedule here! I'm going to see if I can make it both downloadable, as well as viewable here in the thread
Filename: 2020-Wheaton-Labs-PDC-Class-Session-Outline.pdf
File size: 157 Kbytes
 
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There are




       only 3 tickets left!




 
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Ash Jackson wrote:What kind of drawing/drafting/paper supplies are needed for this?

I have some, and am considering whether I need to bring some of it.



Hey Ash! I finally discovered the drafting box in the library here. (Library reorganization is a project on my list of things.)

Please excuse my lack of knowledge of technical terms for these things. In the box are a couple rolls of drafting paper, lot of protractors and straight edges, colored pencils, two pair scissors, pens in various sizes (0.05 - 0.8 range it appears), and some more. I think all of it together might be enough for a few people but probably not everyone. If you have your own personal supply for yourself it might be worth bringing it.



 
Alan Booker
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Hey Lara and Ash,

I normally send out a lot of details about what supplies to bring in the private PDC student forum as we get closer to the class date, but since it popped up here I will give a little preview for anybody who might be interested.

One of the questions with a professional-level design course being taught in a 2-week intensive format where all the students are commuting is what tools to have the students use in preparing their design projects. The students typically come from a variety of backgrounds, so there is really no standard set of software design tools they will all know coming in the door. Trying to learn a whole new set of software tools during the PDC is really just too much. And even those who may be familiar with a whole suite of design software may not have a laptop powerful enough to run all of it that they can bring along.

The only workable solution I have come up with so far is to demonstrate certain software design tools that students may want to learn/use in the future, but not require that they be used for the actual design project during the PDC. If you happen to have software that you really like and have a laptop powerful enough to run it, then you are welcome to bring it along and use it. But most students just end up doing their projects using paper and colored pencils. This keeps the focus on the design process instead of the tools.

So we end up using a lot of standard drawing tools such as straight-edges, compasses, and protractors. Wheaton Labs has a number of sets that you are welcome to use, but you are encouraged to bring along your own drawing tools, pencils, etc. if you have them. If you prefer certain types of drawing or drafting paper, bring those along as well, even though there will be a selection provided.

Most students end up presenting their projects with their big site design map on a piece of poster board, with additional supporting materials on other pieces of poster board or other sorts of drawing paper. If you bring a laptop and create your design using software tools, you can display your design files using the projector (since there is no large-format printer available on-site).

Detailed site information is available in the private PDC forum, and learning how to gather additional site information is part of the curriculum at the PDC. We talk about things like using LIDAR data and GIS software to create detailed topographic maps.

But overall it is fun to approach your design project using simple tools like a straight-edge and colored pencils. I still often times do my first design concepts on paper before taking them into GIS and CAD. For me, paper and pencils allow for a more free-form and intuitive way to explore early design concepts.

- Alan

 
Ash Jackson
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Lara, Allen, thank you both! My question is thoroughly addressed. (I'll bring along some extra trace, pencils, scales, and triangles)
 
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Hi there! Are you requiring mask-wearing/facial covering during the PDC classes? Another course I'm looking into in Florida requires them inside and suggests them outside too, which makes it a no-go for me. I'd love to know how you're handling this even though I know the state of Montana lifted the mask mandate. Thank you!
 
paul wheaton
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https://permies.com/wiki/153897/permaculture-projects/Summer-events-covid-precautions
 
Corissa Saint Laurent
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paul wheaton wrote:https://permies.com/wiki/153897/permaculture-projects/Summer-events-covid-precautions



Thanks Paul! Much appreciated ;)
 
paul wheaton
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Oh yeah, I shoulda posted this earlier:


       only 2 tickets left!






 
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Alan,
I have 3 months to learn a software or 2 while I wait for the class.  Care to share what you use for plans?  Tom
 
Alan Booker
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Thomas Michael wrote:Alan,
I have 3 months to learn a software or 2 while I wait for the class.  Care to share what you use for plans?  Tom



Tom,

My mix of software tools is actually a bit complex, to a large degree because working on larger projects with a team of other design professionals requires me to interface with a wide range of software design tools used by the other designers. I will try to break it down into categories.

GIS (Geographic Information System) Platforms

The main GIS platform I use is QGIS, since it is free and open source, but I often have to venture into ArcGIS since that is the most widely used commercial platform and is used by many of the GIS professionals I work with. Both are quite powerful and will both handle pretty much any of the basic GIS tasks you are likely to want well. If you are just getting started and want to learn GIS for yourself, I would recommend starting with QGIS since it is free. If you end up needing to use GIS in a professional setting, you may end up needing to learn ArcGIS since it is widely used by professional design firms due to the advanced tools and the access to a wide range of data sets that comes with the price tag.

For those not familiar with GIS, here is a short excerpt from my PDC notes:

Think of GIS software as a tool that lets you build a map and then associate all kinds of data with locations on that map. The most basic features of most GIS platforms allow you to capture terrain and contour data to create topographic maps, to locate features such as roads and buildings on those maps, and to then stack all kinds of other layers of data on top of that to analyze and display.

Most GIS software allows you to capture a large number of data points and then associate each data point with a specific geographic location and (if needed) with a specific time. The kinds of information you can capture and analyze are almost endless, from demographic information on the people who live in an area, to the kinds of vegetation growing there, to the types of soil found in each little patch of ground, to the water flows going over the ground.

The fact that each data point is identified both by spatial location and by time stamp allows for the analysis of how the data has changed over time. With a good data set, you could watch how the demographics of an area has changed over the past few decades, how the contour lines along a river have been changed by erosion and deposition, and how the tree cover has changed on a savanna ecosystem over the past few dozen years.



The most common use of GIS in working on a Permaculture site design is to create the Digital Elevation Model (DEM) of a site so that you can create a topographic map of the area you are designing. This is critical to understanding and designing the site hydrology, siting roads and access, and creating site-work drawings for buildings. Data to build the DEM can come from satellite LIDAR data, photogrammetry data captured by drone, from ground surveys using a tool like a Total Station, or from a combination of these.

On a 1200 acre site I am working on right now, for example, we had Ben from Pearl River Ecodesign pull LIDAR data and generate the DEM. He then created a variety of site base maps by using this data to generate contours. Satellite imagery was then overlaid and used to locate various features such as roads and buildings. Ben specializes in this kind of map generation, so it was quicker and more cost effective to have him do a site of this size than have me work through it. When you get to designs of a large enough scale and complexity, it is time to outsource certain tasks to specialists so you can concentrate on the main design tasks at hand.

If you will be doing a lot of professional design work where GIS is a critical part of the workflow, then learning either QGIS or ArcGIS would be a good investment of time. If GIS tasks and map creation will be an occasional thing for you, then consider outsourcing this work when needed.

Photogrammetry

I use Pix4D Capture to program drone flights to capture the image files to feed into the main Pix4D application. I see this as a complement to using LIDAR data. LIDAR is fantastic for mapping large pieces of land, especially if they are forested, while photogrammetry is great for specific areas where highly detailed 3D models are needed.

Here is another short bit of my PDC notes:

With the advent of inexpensive Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (aka drones), the ability to use aerial photography to document a site has exploded. It is possible to now fly drones over a property for only a few minutes and take enough pictures from enough different angles to allow a computer to build a very good model of everything on the ground.

The science of calculating a 3D model of a landscape using a number of different high-resolution pictures taken from various angles is called Photogrammetry. If exact location of the drone can be calculated for each picture, then pictures taken of the same spot on the landscape from various different angles can be used to determine its exact location in space.

The result is a precise 3D model that is referenced to exact longitudes and latitudes. These models can capture the exact location of every tree and building, along with calculating the contour lines of the ground with high precision.

While most publicly-available contour data from government sources only has resolution down to 2-foot or 4-foot increments at best, and only 5-foot to 20-foot increments in many cases, a good model created by photogrammetry can provide contour lines with a resolution down to a couple of inches or elevation change.

The biggest challenge with using photogrammetry is that the pictures taken by the drone can’t penetrate the tree canopy to see the ground below, so models created in this way have difficulty in generating accurate Digital Elevation Models for forested landscapes.

Where photogrammetry excels is in generating real-time updates to site terrain data as work on the site progresses. LIDAR data, although it is great for penetrating tree canopy, is only updated periodically. Photogrammetry data can be captured as needed, allowing frequent and inexpensive updates to terrain data as site work unfolds.



Please note that a FAA Part 107 Commercial UAS Pilot License is required if you are going to fly a drone for commercial use in the U.S.

CAD

The majority of professional designers that use a CAD platform end up with some form of AutoCAD, so I end up having to interface with a lot of design files generated in this format.

Here are a few of my notes on CAD:

The category of Computer Aided Design (CAD) software is actually fairly broad and includes tools that can be used to design everything from small parts up to entire buildings and landscapes. Most CAD software allows you to draw out designs to scale, either in a 2D or a 3D view.

Different types of CAD software is used today to design everything from toasters to cars to bridges to buildings to roads and landscape designs.

Just like with GIS, there is a wide variety of different CAD software packages available today, with AutoCAD probably being the most famous and most widely used in industry. There is also a large number of plug-ins for AutoCAD that customize it to perform specific tasks more easily. For example, The Land/FX plug-in optimizes AutoCAD for landscape and irrigation design.

Architects use specialized CAD software such as Revit to design buildings. These software platforms incorporate Building Information Modeling (BIM) features that allow for exchange of design data between all the different professionals (architects, MEP engineers, general contractor, civil engineer, etc.).



Drawings and Schematics

I have settled in to using Microsoft Visio for a lot of my technical drawings and schematics. The professional version has built-in smart objects for MEP (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing) designs, so it lets me create MEP documents quickly and efficiently. It is also great for creating quick and dirty floor plans since it also has a collection of smart objects for various kinds of equipment, furniture, and building core elements.

I have had a number of PDC students use Visio to create their design project drawings. You can take a base map image and import it into Visio, make it into a locked base layer, and then proceed to use the Visio drawing tools to overlay your design.

Hydrology

If you need to model stormwater, retention ponds, open-channel flow, etc., I lean towards Hydrology Studio. It has a clean and intuitive interface and has powerful modeling capabilities for a reasonable price.


Hope that is helpful. If you have specific questions, please feel free to ask.

Alan
 
paul wheaton
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It is official.  All of the tickets are now sold.  

Nicole, can you please update the pdc page at wheaton-labs.com to show that all the tickets are now sold?

 
Nicole Alderman
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paul wheaton wrote:It is official.  All of the tickets are now sold.  

Nicole, can you please update the pdc page at wheaton-labs.com to show that all the tickets are now sold?



I'll get that done tonight once the kids are asleep!
 
Thomas Michael
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Alan Booker wrote:

Thomas Michael wrote:Alan,
Hope that is helpful. If you have specific questions, please feel free to ask.
Alan



That's great, plenty to learn in that list.  Tom

 
paul wheaton
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starting in two days.  people are showing up ...
 
paul wheaton
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Students, feel free to post oodles of pics and videos here!
 
pollinator
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Loving the PDC! Just 3 days in, and my mind is blown!
0C6D85CD-2B0A-4BE8-BAD5-2C1943D9DA4D.jpeg
Double rainbow to brighten our day!
Double rainbow to brighten our day!
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Practicing Ruth Stout composting! Yay BBs!
Practicing Ruth Stout composting! Yay BBs!
 
Nicole Alderman
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I'm not able to attend the PDC, but I feel like I sort of am vicariously via the Boots! So, I'm going to share some of their pictures here!

Selection from Dez's thread (I copied his captions over)

panoramic
in session


paul wheaton discussing permaculture design at round table
Morning discussion of design


Helen Atthow instructing holding plants
Root exploration


day three of Alan Booker PDC


outdoor class at wheaton labs
Windy rain stakes


students sitting on the roundwood balcony
Team Learning



From Jen (Nine) Tuuli's thread  (I copied her captions over)

students walking around Wheaton Labs
Considering designs


Alan Booker instructing about the sun's path across the sky



From Kyle's thread  (I copied his captions over)

sunset at wheaton Labs
Ending a hot day with a storm to cool off.


Josiah explains using the rocket hot water heater and gives us safety tips
How to not go boom squish.

 
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