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Course Outline

(Course Outline subject to change depending on who may be available to teach on certain days)

Day 1 Monday 

  • Introduction of Participants

  • Permaculture History


  • Permaculture Ethics and Principles 


  • Permaculture Principles contd


  • Orientation and a site visit of Wa Samaki Ecosystems

The Three Ethics form the core around which the course is taught. They are as follows

Care for the Earth

This includes all living and non-living things plants, animals, land, water and air 

Care for all People

This promotes self-reliance and community responsibility. We need to be mindful to ensure that everyone has access to resources necessary for existence 

Care for Community 

This requires us to control our population and be disciplined consumers so that we can distribute what is surplus to our needs, for the benefit of other people and all life.

The ethics are translated into actions by following 12 principles. These principles help establish all the parameters around which a Permaculture design is set up and are constantly reviewed throughout the PDC. They are applicable to almost all situations. 

The 12 principles include:

Relative location, optimizing connections 

Elements performing multiple functions

Functions supported by many elements

Energy efficient planning: Zone and sector analysis 

Use biological resources

Energy cycling: plants and animals in an integrated system 

Small-scale intensive systems : Grow boxes, deep litter beds, small animal systems

Natural plant succession and stacking

Encouraging polycultures and diversity of species

Increase the "edge" within a system: Unique niches and resource accumulation

Observing natural patterns

Paying attention to scale: Planning for the long term 


Patterns and Observation: all human knowledge is based on recognizing patterns not discrete bits of information. Observation and recognition of natural patterns and implementing them in designs can increases efficiency by reducing work or harnessing natural energies.



Day 2 Tuesday  

  • Root crops with Carl Fitzjames


  • Climate

  • Bio-geography

  • LUNCH 

  • Ecosystems

  • Water

  • B R E A K

  • Forests and Trees

  • Root crops

The permaculture ways of production of some of the important starch producing tropical root crops are looked at in more details. Hands on tour of some of the Wa Samaki production areas with Carl Fitzjames from the Brasso Seco community


Climate/ Biogeography: an introduction to all the climatic zones a student may work in globally and what design criteria must be looked for to successfully design in different climatic zones


Ecosystems: an introduction to natural ecosystems and what must be observed and learned from them for application into a Permaculture design


Water: a global look at the water situation, and what design criteria must be applied at a household, local and national level to conserve and harness this resource


Forests & Trees: forests and trees form the backbone of most Permaculture designs as they are the ultimate solar collectors to provide all of the other needs of a sustainable design. 



Day 3 Wednesday 

  • Soils

  • Micro-climates


  • Zones and Sectors 

  • LUNCH 

  • Mapping 1 and 2


Soils: Students are exposed to all the necessary criteria needed to form healthy soil as well as the differences between natural, undisturbed soils, Permaculture soils undergoing repair and heavily damaged agricultural soils.


Nutritional profiles are looked at as well as methods of soil remediation.


Microclimate: all climatic zones have areas within them that do not match the broad climatic expectations based upon their altitude, nearness to water etc. that allow things to grow or jobs to be done that are not normally possible. Designers learn how to find these areas or how to create these microclimates by designing elements or using elements that exist on the landscape. .


Home System/Zone & Sectors: A key factor to the success of Permaculture is to start small and start from your doorstep and move outwards, always managing what you can control. Students are taught how to analyze the movements of their client to design for efficiency, to section off different areas of properties for different types of uses and to analyze external factors affecting properties and how to design to enhance or decrease their influences. 


Mapping 1: The ability to read maps of all types allows designers to access information for the general area, as well as details of the site he or she is working on. Details of map reading and designing according to the information obtained from maps are followed by introductory design work on simulated sites. 


Mapping 2 : Students learn how to survey and draw their own maps of sites they are working with. Designing on paper is one of the best ways of avoiding costly mistakes that could take place on the ground with poor planning. Sites are used that will test regular methods of obtaining measurements to show students what alternatives they may have.



Day 4 Thursday 

  • Levelling and Earth working

  • Building a swale and small pond 

  • L U N C H

  • Tree crops and food gardens 

  • Animals and aquaculture


Leveling Tools and Earth working exercise: Designers are taught how to build and use simple leveling devices that prove invaluable on sites to trap water, build contours and roads and lay out trees. A hands-on exercise is normally done on a site to implement some of these features


Roads/Earthworks: Designing with earthworks to create roads, trap water, build shelters, guard against catastrophe. Moving earth is one of the primary and usually expensive aspects of large designs before other biological systems are put in place. Properly designed earthworks can be extremely durable and cost effective in the long run.


Animals, Aquaculture, Tree Crops, FoodGarden Design: An afternoon of analyzing and designing for all the different living systems in a Permaculture design and how to plan for energy efficiency and connections to reduce the amount of work and supervision a design needs.



Day 5 Friday  

  • Field Trip or Farm exercise 

  • L U N C H

  • Organic Gardening and companion planting

  • Designing an organic garden over time


Exercise or Field Trips: Students are taken on a field trip to observe what they have learned and to begin seeing potentials for designs.


The Organic garden and companion planting

A mixture of important tropical and temperate vegetables are studied to determine which groups grow well together and which do not. Students are taught how to design garden beds that allow for proper crop rotation, the correct companions for the chosen crops, planning for continuous production over time and methods of improving soil health and in turn plant health. 



Day 6 Monday  

  • Broadscale landscape design

  • Wildlife Restoration


  • Observing nature and Reading landscapes

  • L U N C H

  • Design Process

  • Costs

  • Presentation skills


  • Buildings

  • Waste treatment


Broad scale Landscape: Designing for large acreages encompassing zones 3, 4 and 5. Students look at different aspects of designing for areas that are not routinely visited, require low maintenance but must also provide resources/revenues for the owner. 


Wildlife Restoration : Repair of degraded lands using pioneer plant species and wildlife to bring in initial natural seeds and then planning for wildlife over the long term. 


Design Methods: Different methods of approaching design work are looked at. Students are exposed to alternative methods using senses that are not used in conventional western designing. Students then have a larger choice of what design approaches to use for their projects. 


Reading Landscapes: the ability of a designer to enter any landscape and be able to recognize certain aspects of the terrain to design for all aspects of Permaculture.


Costs: Analyzing and determining true cost of projects are looked at. Ways of avoiding over runs and making errors that require the continuous input of resources are studied. Communal projects are looked at that may help alleviate some of the problems individual householders run into. 


Presentation Skills: an introduction to making effective presentations, a prerequisite to successful client relationships and design acceptance.


Building Design and Waste Treatment: Students are exposed to current and alternative building designs that utilize local less energy intensive materials and are more ecologically friendly. Students are taught how to assess different criteria to come to more informed conclusions on houses that are normally one of the highest cost ins in current lifestyles. Waste treatment designs and solutions are looked at to handle residential grey water as well as alternatives to handling waste that is normally sent to septic tanks or sewage treatment plants. 



Day 7 Tuesday  

  • Fire and catastrophe

  • Energy and appropriate technology

  • B R E A K

  • Sheet mulching...a hands on exercise

  • Team Projects

  • L U N C H

  • Interviewing of Clients

  • B R E A K

  • Start project Work


Fire and Catastrophe: Students are exposed to different fire hazard conditions as well as criteria needed to be analyzed to design for storms, hurricanes, droughts and other potential natural disasters and what to have in place to come back quickly after such disasters. Permaculture designs always take into account such hazards as poor planning can be very expensive in the long run. 


Energy & Appropriate Technology: Technology imported from northern climates may not necessarily be the best technology to use in tropical areas either in the form of machinery or practices. This module teaches students about the different energy needs required in designed systems and how one can go about finding the appropriate technology that is affordable, simple to build and maintain and durable.


Design Process/Data Gathering/Teams: Methods of gathering data for design projects are outlined as well as a methodical way of beginning the design process. Students are divided into teams that will undertake group design projects for the final presentations


Interview of Client/ Teams Analysis: Student teams begin the interview process with an actual client whose land will be used to produce designs for. Students will treat this as a real interview similar to what they may expect once they begin designing for real clients. All aspects of the design process are followed to give as complete a design as possible.


Day 8 Wednesday  

  • Village Land access

  • B R E A K

  • Village design and land access

  • Bioregional cultural work

  • L U NC H

  • Team Base Maps

  • Design work


Villages and Land Access: Rules governing land access for all humans are looked at as well as design criteria controlling villages. Most food producers are small scale farmers that do not have land tenure. Different systems of land use and tenure are analyzed to determine what systems are sustainable and what systems lead to land abuse and deterioration.


Bioregional Cultural Work: Students are exposed to the concepts of bio-regions and bioregionalism. Supply chains and food miles are analyzed and solutions of reducing these by sustainably harvesting the natural resources of our bioregions are analyzed


Settlement: Criteria are looked at for what makes successful settlements and what are the historic and cultural limits that evolved in establishing them. Details are given on what makes successful hamlets, villages, towns and cities and what rules regulate their survival successes and failures


Teams Basemaps: Teams present their outlines for the projects they will be working on 


Day 9 Thursday 

  • City/Urban Design

  • Economics and money 

  • B R E A K

  • Design Work

  • L U N C H

  • Design Work

  • B R EA K

  • Design Work


City Design: Case studies are analyzed of what have shown to be successful cities that are sustainable and that have evolved or are designed using the principles of Permaculture. 

Urban Strategies: looks at making cities more self sufficient, reducing the ecological footprint through multi use zoning. 

Economics and Money: The current economic system is analyzed and alternative economies and more sustainable systems looked at that exist globally. Goods and services that are traded without the use of money are demonstrated as alternatives when modern economic systems have failed. 

Short Reports: a 10 minute report on how far the team has reached in their final design projects.

Teams Detailed Design : Teams spend the rest of their day finishing design work


Day 10 Friday  

  • Design Work

  • B R EA K

  • Design work

  • L U N C H

  • Team Presentations

  • B R E A K

  • Presentation of Certificates


Teams Finish Designs : Morning for final team presentation work 


Presentations: Teams make final presentations


Networks: An overview of the networking process and achieving Permaculture networks within the bio region 


Teaching: Further aspects regarding teaching Permaculture and other requirements

Presentation of Certificates


Closing : Closing circle and review of the course

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