2019 Permaculture Design Course

July 12-21, 2019

Every one of our courses has filled quickly. 

Please sign on to ensure a spot if you'd like to enroll for 2019 

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  • Course fee is $2150 for early bird (April 10) discount and $2250 for later payments.  
  • $350 deposit to secure your spot via paypal or mailing a check. 
  • Early bird discounts on the tuition are due 12 weeks prior to course start date. To be fair to everyone we cannot make exceptions to this guideline. 
  • All inclusive, top quality catered meals, camping. NO unusual dietary needs aside from vegetarian/vegan/diabetic/GF are catered to in this course. If you have extreme dietary needs this is not the course for you. 
  • Nice bedrooms are available for a hostel fee on site - inquire about this option. 

Testimonials and course photos here

Whole Systems Design Applied Permaculture Design Course from Ben Falk's Vimeo.

And, Permaculture Skills, a DVD video series about the course's content:

The Permaculture Design Course : learning to see the world differently from Olivier Asselin.

For registration please click here.  

See past course images and more on our Facebook Page. 

PLEASE: do your homework: see testimonials here. PDC's vary a LOT

This course offers a uniquely hands-on opportunity to gain skills in applied permaculture skills immersed in one of North America's most diverse and intensive permaculture research sites now 14 years in, along with our 2nd site where we are establishing our approaches learned over a decade at the first site, to the commercial permaculture farm scale. 

Participants engage with high-performance home and community resource systems that are more resilient in the face of problems posed by peak oil, climate change, environmental toxicity, and the inability of existing economic and social systems to deal with such challenges.
These include systems such as:

  • A high performance cold climate home and established zone 1 gardens, 14 years in place.
  • Mature fruit, nut, pond, zone 1 homestead systems
  • A high performance earth-sheltered greenhouse in year 5.
  • A root cellar and established food preservation strategies 
  • Established medicine gardens and medicine-making techniques in use
  • A working homestead shop, barn and much else well into its 2nd decade.
  • 7,000 feet of agroforestry hedges and farm-scale permaculture plantings in year 4.

The course is staffed by those who live and make a living as designers, farmers, extension agents and health care providers. This is not permaculture as a fantastic idea, it's an immersion in how numerous systems actually work over a decade and beyond.  It's proof of concept. Participants have the unique opportunity to immerse in a working small farm and homestead and see exactly what opportunities and challenges arise in developing and maintaining a productive and resilient home and land resource system. Our site represents numerous cutting edge design opportunities for developing a self-reliant, liberated lifestyle customized for the cold climate, temperate biome.  This course includes the standard certificate curriculum but goes beyond the typical Designer's Certification Course by utilizing the background of skills-based trainings offered in Whole Systems Skills, and is filled with practice-based, learning-by-doing experiences, not only concept and information-based study. Students in this course will not walk away from the experience without basic post-peak oil resiliency literacy including:

  • how to plant and propogate trees
  • layout on-contour swales
  • harvest biomass with a scythe and sharpen it, sharpen and maintain other basic tools
  • harvest water, inoculate mushroom logs and spread mushroom patches, reverse wildcrafting
  • knots, herbal medicine, fermenting, and innumerable other hard skills. 

NOTE: This course takes a different approach than every other PDC we know of: there are actual qualifications met by meeting this course's requirements and as such, taking this course actually means one has understood specific learning goals, rather than simply attended a course for a certain period of time. This course is an applied permaculture training with a major focus on hard skills and designer-skill development. While we will cover permaculture and whole systems theory (through hands-on applications), some of this is expected to be gone over beforehand by students who have been exposed to the basics of permaculture via reading, courses or other experiences. This program is a principles in practice approach to offer students a much greater opportunity to gain hands on skill and design development than offered by any other permaculture course we know; the standard PDC model is theory-based and information-focused, not skill and practice-based. That approach is appropriate for students who have no exposure to permaculture, whole systems thinking or similar fields and is suitable for people at that stage. This course, however, is geared towards those seeking an intensive, very hands on, less academic experience where the actual reality of running a farm and optimized homestead are immersed in and utilized. We are offering this approach after two years of running (and being involved with a half dozen other PDC's) which have been fantastic, but academic courses. They have left students with still greater need for skills development and exposure. Whereas every other permaculture course we know of is geared towards (and often very appropriate for) those brand new to the world of permaculture and ecological design, this experience is for those who want to take the next step beyond theory and information. This has been lacking, we feel, in every other PDC we know of and in the PDC model globally. We will actually be practicing these techniques on the farm throughout the course.  This does not mean that many beginners don't take the course - they do - and they get tons out of it.

"Ben, just want to say that it's taken a while for everything I learned at last summers' PDC to sink in and get digested - i think i needed the winter as a brain reboot so that information could be added to the OS! I can't believe how many things I'm doing this year that are direct applications of your PDC/videos/etc."  -Glenn Barr, BC Canada

Course Highlights  

  • Immersion and practice in one of the most sophisticated and beautiful permaculture sites in North America coupled with our larger farm scale permaculture site, to compare and contrast permaculture on differering scales, goals and time frames.  
  • Learning immersed in established systems 
  • The foundation, resources and expertise of a professional landscape architectural firm - Whole Systems Design, LLC. 
  • Incomparable Vermont mountains in high summer: swimming, sunshine, serenity and fresh local food.
  • Local meals of the highest quality. 
  • Spring water from the land for drinking
  • A team of top notch facilitators including Ben Falk and Cornelius Murphy of Whole Systems Design, LLC, Erica Koch, N.D., Mark Krawczyk, Erik, Schellenberg, and others. 
  • An evolved, skills-based permaculture curriculum focused on resiliency and regeneration.  

Join us in developing new solutions to unprecedented challenges. 

Additional Information

This course applies the core Permaculture Design curriculum including applications of Permaculture in a range of settings and strategies for meeting human needs via mutually-benefical participation in our ecosystems. Lectures and hands-on work will also explore: bioregional strategies, ecological history of the northern forest bioregion, energy and nutrient cycling, watershed health, gravity-fed water systems, tree crop care, agroforestry, mushroom inoculation and management, rapid soil building and more. The course will conclude with students doing their own group Permaculture site design.

What skills will I be exposed to? We practice the following techniques and tool uses in this course in addition to others.

  • Design process in the context of a professional landscape architectural firm and practicing designers
  • Medicine production and making from our in-house naturopathic doctor and herbalist
  • Mushroom log inoculation (shiitake) on site 
  • Blade sharpening: scythes, knives, sickles, axes Scything/pasture and yard management with scythes
  • Forest management  
  • Fruit harvesting 
  • Putting up and processing foods and medicines via various methods 
  • Waterworks for home and farms 
  • Many other rural living and farm/homesteading techniques simply by living on the active farm site for the duration

Students are encouraged to bring tools to practice with and skills with which to share in the group. There will be ample time for group skill sharing as past courses were filled with experts in various disciplines relating to permaculture.

"I can't even begin to put in words the experience I've just had this past week and a half. The gorgeous scenery, amazing genuine people I've met and knowledge attained, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually is priceless. As a person I've grown more in the past 10 days than I have in 10 years." ~Stephanie Romero, student

How is this course different from others? The Whole Systems Design permaculture design course varies from others nationally and in the area in several important ways:

  • It takes place on two sites - an established working homestead and developing integrated medicine and silvopasture farm.  For those interested in improving their own home or farm, or those seeking to develop one, this offers the opportunity to learn directly from the systems here, their successes and failure points, their best aspects and those that need advancement further. Learning from the collective six decades of experience in the instructor team as well as from directly experiencing a site a decade and a half in the making is extremely different that the academic encounter offered at newer sites.    
  • It is hosted along with a professional design and planning firm - Whole Systems Design, LLC - for those in the design fields or seeking to perform professional design this offers an inside view of how a leading firm in the field functions.   
  • A focus on hard skills through hands-on practice differentiates this course from others in the world. We send required readings out well ahead of the course date to help us cover the PDC curriculum while allowing more precious time on site for direct practice of skills with practiioners.  This is much less academic-focused and more hands-on practice focused than any other permaculture course we know of.     

A $350 non-refundable deposit is required upon registration to hold your place in the course and the course is very likely to fill before spring of 2018. 

The remaining balance, due in cash or check, is due six (6) weeks prior to course date for the late course fee, and it is due 12 (twelve) weeks before for the early bird course fee. The course is filled on a first come first serve basis. The student-instructor ratio will ensure that participants receive an exceptional level of training. Yes, this course is about 10-15% more expensive than many other permaculture design courses. And our past students have affirmed that the course delivers a value according to what is offered here. We deliver a different experience than other courses due in large part to the decade of large investment in land and infrastructure systems here which range from extensive earthworks to high performance buildings to hundreds of species and varieties to interact with. These have required much time and expense and the course is priced according to what is accessed and offered by the experience. We are sure you will find it to be worth far more than 10 days of your time and expense. 

Hello Ben, You introduced me to permaculture and I've changed my life. I was in the Navy for 6 years as a SEAL. Now I'm well into my permaculture journey. I'm working in Texas as a designer, builder, and heavy equipment operator specializing in permaculture earthworks. I used my GI Bill to get the equipment training. I'm so busy it's hard to keep up, but it's the best work knowing that I'm doing a good thing and not just another pawn for the globalists. I know you work hard to make a positive change, just wanted to let you know that your seeds of inspiration are growing without you even knowing it! Thank you." -Pete V.

"Hey Ben, 
I wanted to reach out and say thank you one more time for the lessons and wisdom you shared with our class last summer. I know I was well outside the realm of your typical student, but because of that perhaps it is my life you changed the most. I returned to Charlotte with a renewed sense of hunger to get my hands dirty, and produce a sustainable and liveable environment." - Jesse Stevens

Some FAQ's

  • Is the course appropriate for graduates of other PDC's? Yes and we get numerous people each course who have taken others. We also get folks totally brand new to permaculture and ecological design
  • Camping on site?  Yes, indeed, included in course cost. Rooms at hostel rate. 
  • Can I bring pets? No, sorry.
  • Can I rent a room and not camp? Yes, please ask about it when registering. 
  • Traveling to and from the site: BTV is the closest airport. A train gets 40 minutes away from the site via NYC, to Rutland or Burlington. 
  • If I am in a wheelchair or not fully able-bodied can I attend? Yes, we've worked hard to make that happen for folks in the past with good results.
  • What if I'm really high maintenance and want instructors and staff to spend more time with me than everyone else? We have some great courses we can recommend.

"Ben and Erica Falk's research farm is overflowing with learning: life changing principles, processes and strategies for partnering with the land with minimal inputs and abundant yields. Ben and Erica: Thank you for sharing all your knowledge in the 10-day permaculture design certification!" -Kay Megorden-Staten

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