Permaculture Practitioners Course (PPC)

At the Whole Systems Research Farm, Mad River Valley, Vermont USA
NO course offered for 2018, taking one year off.  

  • Hosted by Ben Falk, M.A.L.D. and Erica Falk, N.D.
  • August 12-13th, 2017
  • Course filled quickly last year.
  • Open to all 
  • 2 intensive days
  • $495 per person, ($30 off for early bird payments)
  • Accommodations and food not included
  • Fill out the form here to register
Participants leave with: 
  1. Wine cap stropharia mycelium to begin their own mushroom patches at home
  2. Some of our selected favorite seeds/genetics and perennial plant cutting varieties to multiply at their home/farm (included in the course, additional plants available for purchase)
  3. An herbal salve made from the land

    "Ben, I Wanted to thank you, Erica, and Cornelius for such a fantastic PPC. Talking with several people the other night during dinner, we all agreed that the course far exceeded our expectations. And we all came with different expectations, so that's saying something."  ~Pat Hambly, PPC student
"Hi Erica and Ben, I wanted to take a moment to thank you both again for such an amazing course. As I was leaving yesterday I could not adequately express just how thankful I am for the time you spent preparing and executing this course. I will say that I was truly humbled by the incredible amount of skills you two have managed to acquire throughout the years. I could not be more motivated to continue traversing this alternative lifestyle that you have managed to make work so well!  Thank you for letting us take a step into your lives... You guys both did an amazing job and it was really incredible to finally see a system that was working on a level beyond that of years 1-5." -Adam Devito, PPC Student
Course Overview

The Permaculture Practitioners Course (PPC) is Whole Systems Design’s response to a survey of about 200 of our past permaculture design course (PDC) students and our clients who are transitioning to or enhancing their land-based lifestyle. They have told us that they want to be able to spend “a day in the life” of a permaculture site – not just in concept but in the daily reality of what it’s like to manage these systems over time. They also expressed a desire to get an on-the-ground view of what really works over multiple years.  They want to see what has proved itself out over time as we enter the 2nd decade of inhabitation here. As such, this course is a management, technique and tool-focused course, as opposed to a design-focused course. This course immerses students in the tools and practices of operating resilient homesteads and farms.  This is not a design focused course – it’s not about setting up systems theoretically (although that’s a foundational discipline and is the core of any PDC) or about snazzy approaches that people are doing in their first year three which look great, it IS about the daily operations of a diverse human habitat over more than a decade, focusing on the tools and infrastructure needed and how they are used in the Whole Systems Research Farm systems. 

The chasm between what we think of as an ideal human habitat system (what we design in PDC’s) and what actual practical systems evolve to be on the ground has continued to widen each year as the permaculture movement grows in number of enthusiasts. This course provides a ground-truthing of permaculture concepts in the practical reality of a human habitat that has been through multiple versions of plant, animal, fungi, water, social, built and equipment systems. This course will carefully examine these incarnations to highlight the successes and failures of different aspects of the systems as it they have evolved over the years. 
Content Overview

The systems we will examine include:
  • Heating systems: what’s worked best over time to heat space, water, cook and bake with and the details within.  We’ll examine four specific space heating system challenges and their solutions as well as wood cutting, hauling, splitting and storage tools and infrastructure. We’ll also examine the six-year-old solar hot water system and look at two different versions of wood water heating systems. Retrofitting existing homes with wood and using wood heat as a baseline around which to design will be focused on in depth.  
  • Building systems: the construction and management of high performance shelter for durability, adaptive use, independence from the electricity (passively survivable) and beauty. We’ll focus on ventilation, grid independence, lighting, low EMR, indoor air quality, materials selection, adapting building spaces, daylighting, gravity-fed water supply, architectural patterns employed and key integration strategies with neighboring spaces like barnyards and gardens. Retrofitting existing homes to radically increase resilience and performance will be a focus as will be the economics of building new versus retrofitting.
  • Medicine from the land:  we’ll examine crucial factors in designing your medicine garden; we’ll walk the land and experience our top 10 perennial and 5 annual plant medicines that bolster immunity, digestion, detoxification, improve energy and reduce stress; we’ll focus also on wild edibles on site, foraging, and harvesting medicine; we’ll examine the order of therapeutics and principles of healing.
  • Earthworks: swales, terraces, ponds and paddies: not only how they were constructed but the management challenges inherent within each one these structures and how these are being dealt with here.
  • The homestead shop:  what we’ve learned about creating the power center of a resilient lifestyle –the home/farm shop. We’ll examine the three different locations and renditions of our farm shop, the tools we rely on most and strategies we’ve learned about setting up and managing this foundational piece of a productive human habitat system. We’ll talk costs of setup and strategies for maximizing your dollar and time in establishing the best home shop possible.
  • Food storage: root cellaring, fermenting, and drying in particular, our main methods used – what we’ve learned and how our strategies have changed over the past decade.
  • Perennial plant systems: maintenance of these systems in their pre-deer browse years (1-4) and in following years 5-10; mulching, pruning, vole and deer challenges, fruit promotion, foliar feeding, grazing animal integration, and many other lessons learned.
  • Fungi: shiitake and wine cap stropharia production – how they’ve evolved over time including laying yard management and selection, processing, inoculation across the site and integration with plantings. 
Fill out the form here to register.  We will put on the course roster when we receive both the registration form and the deposit. 
Email Erica Koch for more information. 
Due to the nature of the course, class size will be limited.  Our past seven course offerings have filled entirely, so early registration is encouraged.