Book a Permaculture Design Course

We are taking a rest during so please go to Aranyas site and choose from one of his courses and if not we hope to see you another year.


Permaculture Design Course Syllabus


Introduction to Permaculture

Introduction to systems

Elements, systems & functions

Feedback loops: balancing & reinforcing

Identifying problems

Spirals of erosion

Points of intervention



Various definitions

Carbon and eco-footprinting

Different measuring methods


Online calculators

Principles of natural systems

Observation walk


Pattern understanding

Identification of patterns in space and time

Analysis of function


Biotime and phenological diaries

Encourage thoughtful observation

Record patterns

Web of life

The importance of beneficial relationships

What is permaculture?

History – oil crisis etc.



Permaculture ethics

A ‘three-legged’ structure

Accelerated learning

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

Multiple intelligences

Mind mapping

Action learning – no mistakes!

Approaches to design

Principles of ecology

Derived from natural systems observation

Permaculture cup of tea

Introduction to microclimates

Local climatic variations

Principles of attitude

Everything is a gift!

Limiting factors and resources

Visible’ and ‘invisible’

Hierarchy of resource use

Elevation planning and aspect

Microclimates and opportunities

Gravity directed flows

Zones and sectors in site design

Element placement in a modelled landscape

Desire lines

Making connections

Application at different scales

Holmgren principles

Energy descent strategies for governments as well as individuals

Climate and landform

Strategies for different landscapes

Humid, arid, islands, coasts, wetlands, estuaries

Climatic differences

Temperate, tropical, deserts


Economy based on ecology (Kumar)


Introduction to soil

Types and textures

Fertility factors

Importance of organic matter

Soil food web

Mycorrhizal associations (wood wide web)

Tilling pros & cons

Soil profiling and site transects

Indicator plants

Texture test

Jar test

Soil conservation

Hierarchy of intervention:

Remove limiting factors: animals, chemicals, tillage, compaction

Biological: mulching, feed soil life

Mechanical: terracing, swales etc.

Surveying tools


Bunyip water level


Soil improvement

Composting: hot and cold, wormeries, Jean Pain method


Green manures, liquid manures

Dynamic accumulators

Bioremediation / Mycorestoration

Effective micro-organisms

Rock dust


Introduction to water

Availability and purity

Strange properties – an appreciation!

Characteristics and yields

Main issues

Water conservation

Key strategies – link back to soil conservation

Collection, storage and use

Find it – inc. roof catchment calculation

Measure it – quantity and quality (ladder of organisms)

Store it – in biomass, soil, groundwater, surface water, containers

Move it – gravity, ram pump, papa pump, biomass

Clean it – sand filter, UV

Use it – Prioritise purity, minimise use, cycle


Keyline strategies

Chisel ploughing, contour strip forests

Swales versus close-contour ditches, ridge rejuvenation


Establishment (site, scale, species)

Self-forage systems

Waste water and sewage treatment

Grey water reuse – diverting, traps, issues (SLS)

Reed bed & WET systems


Nutrient cycling – sewage to sea and imported foods

Tree bogs, compost loos, safe (pathogen free) composting

Forests and trees

Trees and their microclimates

Trees as translators of energy across the soil / atmosphere ‘edge’
Wind, light, rain, transpiration, frost

Spiritual’ connection, folklore and identity

Types of forest

Fuel, food, forage, shelterbelt, structural, natural and conservation

Woodland establishment

Remove limiting factors, pioneers, nitrogen fixers, Succession

Species selection, protection of trees

Woodland management

Coppice, pollarding

Thinning, clear fell versus continuous cover

Fire strategies, Jean Pain method

Cultivated ecology

Zone 1: Kitchen gardening

Intensive, high value crops, use all space

Zone 1 / 2: Synergistic gardening (Hazelip)

Raised mulched beds, leave roots in, no composting, mulch wastes

Zone 2: Forest gardening (Hart)

Seven layers, establishment, species selection

Zone 2: Fruit trees and orchards (inc rootstocks)

Rootstocks, grafting, pollination, long cropping, integration

Zone 2: Mushroom cultivation

On logs and toilet rolls

Zone 3: Natural farming (Fukuoka)

No pruning of trees, ground cover, undersown rotation, clay seed balls, mix veg seeds together, natural timing of sowing, cultivating humans

Zone 3: Land Institute (Jackson)

Wild prairie versus monoculture – need to feed population

Four classes of prairie species in stable polyculture

Historical selection of annual versus perennial grasses

Perennialising annual crops / improving perennial yields

Stable self-sustaining productive polycultures

Zone 3: Agroforestry

Held succession, max diversity


Alley cropping


Seed saving

Why? Heritage seeds

Selecting, pollination, drying and storing

Functions of wild / rescued animals in the system

Mobile elements of the forest

Pollinators, seed distributors, nutrient sources, soil aerators

Regulators of populations (weeds, other animals)

Integrated pest management

Observation of patterns

Primarily prevention, control as last resort

Buildings and structures

Natural building

3rd skin – flexible and breathable

Local materials

Physical and emotional needs met


Cool climates – 50% energy used heating buildings

1. Conserve, 2. Collect, 3. Generate

Microclimates, orientation, EMERGY

Thermal mass, insulation and ventilation

Passive solar heating and cooling

Energy conservation

Behavioural strategies

Technological strategies and use of appliances


Energy generation

Appropriate use of different renewable energy technologies
(solar, wind, biofuels etc.)

Urban permaculture

Physical landscapes and pattern language

Limiting factors and resources

Biotechture strategies

Sewage, power, community gardens etc.

Low impact development and planning

Legislation and case studies

My dream home

Un-boundaried dreaming… qualities?

Invisible structures

Real wealth and wiser money

What is real wealth? Pros and cons of money

Gross National Happiness vs GDP (Bhutan)

Local economies, leaky barrel model

Micro-credit (Yunas)

Food choices

Our ethical guidelines

Local food networks: CSA, veg boxes, farmer’s markets, directories

Community structures (social landscapes)

Building trust, resource sharing, local economies, access to land etc.

Transition movement

Building local resilience in the face of peak oil and climate change

Zone 00

Peoplecare strategies pick’n’mix

Action learning guilds

Listening skills

Ongoing evaluation of learning and building trust

Talking circle

Residential course evening session

Design Workshop

Group process

Meetings, consensus, fishbowl

Conflict resolution, inclusion

Choosing roles, 6 hat thinking (deBono)

Introduction to design process

Need for a process


Design tools and methods

EMERGY, life cycle analysis, input-output analysis, SWOC, PMI, PASTE, web of connections, random assembly, post-its, flowcharts, exclusion method, overlays, incremental method, P4R


Obtaining maps, creating a base map, overlays

Design areas walk

All groups see all sites before allocating them to design groups

Site survey

Limiting factors, energy leaks, opportunities, resources

PASTE, soil sampling, history of use. Questions for client?

Base map

Overlays: zones, sectors and desire lines

Client interview

Wants, needs, values, limiting factors, resources, timescale

Analysis and identifying functions

Key client needs, stop energy leaks

Analysis of systems and elements

Ethics, EMERGY / footprint, SWOC, PMI, best integrations
(inputs / outputs), principles (esp. efficiency and security)

Placements and integration

Patterns to details

Zones, access / desire lines, sectors, elevation, aspect, soil type


Exclusion method

Inputs / outputs, energy cycling, guilds, patterns

Edge effect, alley cropping, matrix planting, biological control

Second client interview

First opportunity for feedback

Review elements and placements

Make changes in response to feedback

Examples of previous designs


My design portfolio

Application of different tools in design processes

Design drawings

Base map and overlays, overview map with expanded detail

Draw onto photos, 3D modelling, flow charts, mind mapping

Implementation planning

Least change for greatest effect, design around limiting factors, availability of resources, critical path analysis, succession and rolling design, start small. Costings

Maintenance planning

Life never stops, ongoing availability of labour and resources, timely maintenance, instructions for unfamiliar technologies, a clear plan!

Finalising design for presentation

Creating materials for presentation to an audience


Following OBREDIMET process. Q&A from audience

Feedback from tutors and client

Design process debrief

Process and content

Next steps

Permaculture Association (Britain) and networks

Diploma in applied permaculture design

Teaching pathway

Staying in touch…

Additional elements


Mulch bed etc. plant a tree?

Site visits

See permaculture in action in real life!


See distant permaculture in action – virtually!


To illustrate particular points made during sessions