Permaculture: My Permaculture Design Course

I have been working hard on my education over the last 5 years and now I have just completed my first Permaculture Design Course.

The Permaculture Design course was March 15 − 26, 2013 at the Sustainable Kashi Yoga Retreat in Sebastion, Florida. It was presented by Koreen Brennan of With guest presenters Richard Powell of The Orlando Center for Urban Permaculture, and Permaculture Designer/ Woofer Eric Phillips.

I have taken three different introductory permaculture classes and workshops, and one of them twice. It has taken nearly half of those classes and lots of internet time for me to figure out what exactly permaculture is. The permaculture design course is best taken by a student who has been learning a bit about permaculture ahead of time. It is also useful to have spent some time gardening before undertaking a permaculture design course. It is too much to try to learn both at once.

Permaculture looks at everything we attempt to accomplish in our lives and tries to observe and copy the way in which nature would achieve such things. We do this because nature chooses the path of least resistance meaning that for us this will be the simplest way to achieve our goals.

Though permaculture is appropriately applied to education, relationships, economics, building, and many other aspects of human activities it is most simply applied to our agriculture. So while we may observe the way that the army corp of engineers redirects a river, or the way the farmer farms, or how the neighbor gardens, in order to instruct ourselves we observe nature, and then we apply what we see in nature to our design plans. A stream slowly meanders back and forth down a forested hill side soaking in as it goes;  Annuals grow in diverse masses where the soil can hold some water;  Forests grow as complementary layers of plants shrubs, vines, and trees, and are less subject to extremes of temperature, precipitation, and wind than lone standing trees;  A fallen tree creates a rich habitat for soil microbes, invertebrates and fungi as it lays rotting;  Trees’ roots hold the soil on a river bank, or on a hillside; Meadows are diversely populated with many different grasses and flowering plants that are constantly dying down and regenerating to create deep rich soil (the American plains).

What we observe about nature can instruct us in our pursuit of a good permaculture garden design. Noticing the specific ways that these basic natural rules take place on our property gives us hints about how best to proceed with new projects on the land. The main reason to mimic nature’s designs and tendencies in the garden is because nature is regenerative. The forest does not require the gardener to water, fertilize, pull weeds or battle with pests. It is not costly to us or to the environment, and it puts forth abundant yields in the most natural way.

You might ask then why we even need to learn about permaculture if nature knows how to do everything. The permaculture designer is needed because we have so thoroughly changed our home garden environment through rigorous unnatural gardening practices, that the gardens around our homes do not survive without our constant and costly intervention. Through permaculture design applied to these unnatural habitats we can recreate regenerative systems that function effortlessly so that we can actually get a minute to enjoy the garden.

I have completed the permaculture design course, and earned the certificate. What I have learned will help me to apply permaculture design principles more effectively in the garden and to more aspects of my regular pursuits. Having completed the permaculture design course I plan to actively pursue permaculture design jobs. Now I have the right to call what I have been teaching by its name, Permaculture. Boy howdy, I’m glad!