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Our purpose is to supply information that enables people everywhere to provide for their own & their communities' needs for food, energy, shelter, & a decent life without exploitation or pollution & from the smallest practical area of land.
You can learn to restore degraded landscapes; shelter & feed displaced, hungry people & wildlife; & convert energy-wasteful infrastructures to thriving ecological systems that meet your needs with excess to share... the Permaculture Design Course!

What is Permaculture?
Elements of the Curriculum
Design Course Syllabus

Permaculture Courses and workshops taught by Peter Bane, Keith Johnson, Rhonda Baird and associates.

Instructors: Peter Bane (Dipl. Perm. Des. & publisher Permaculture Activist), Keith Johnson (Dipl. Perm. Des. & Patterns for Abundance), Rhonda Baird, and guests. Midwestern natives, Peter, and Keith have between them facilitated over sixty permaculture courses and led groups from four to over a hundred students and between them have graduated more than 2300 design students. They have gardening, building, design, and teaching experience in all regions of the United States.

Peter Bane published Permaculture Activist magazine for over 20 years and has taught permaculture design widely in the temperate and tropical Americas. He is a native of the Illinois prairie whose interest in good food and simple living led him at mid-life to become a writer and teacher of permaculture design. He was also drawn into the arcane world of intentional community as fate presented the opportunity to help create and build Earthaven Ecovillage in the southern Appalachian Mountains. There he discovered his inner architect in the course of building a small off-grid solar cabin and later took on the more prosaic job of rehabilitating a pair of suburban ranch houses in the Midwestern college town of Bloomington, Indiana. That was the first step toward creating a small suburban farmstead where he now lives with his partner and apprentices. A prolific writer in journals and collections on forestry, building and all things sustainable, he consults with universities and municipal governments as well as for private landowners.

Keith Johnson was raised in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (where he learned at an early age he was related to Johnny Appleseed), and has been a commercial landscaper, stonemason, and organic gardener since 1976 in places as varied as subtropical Bay Area of California, the White Mountains of New Hampshire, Michigan, & the mountains of W. North Carolina. After devouring Permaculture One in 1978 he continued to learn all he could on the subject. He’s been teaching Permaculture since ’95, has instructed more than 1200 students, many of those through Indiana University’s annual Design Course which began in 2003. He’s taught or trained with Bill Mollison, Larry Santoyo, Tom Ward, Penny Livingston, Peter Bane, Chuck Marsh, Andrew Goodheart Brown, Albert Bates, Starhawk, and Jerome Osentowski and others. Now resident in Bloomington, IN, Keith participates in a number of local activism projects including the editorial guild of the Permaculture Activist, the founding of Transition Bloomington (Indiana’s first Transition Town Initiative), past board member of the Local Growers Guild, contributor to Bloomington’s Peak Oil Task Force, member of the Bloomington Permaculture Guild, member of the Bloomington Food Policy Council and the Trillium Horticultural Park Project. A frequent public speaker and radio interviewee, he works constantly to share a vision of cultural and ecological regeneration and continues to provide ecological design and consultation services via Patterns for Abundance.

Rhonda Baird is a permaculture educator and designer; homeschooling mama; and community organizer. She and her family are nestled in Bloomington, Indiana. Rhonda is a seventh generation Hoosier, with deep ties to the forested hills and rivers of southern Indiana. Though permaculture practice began formally for her in 2005, she grew up in a working-class family that had multiple gardens-incorporating fruits, shrubs, and animals into the patterns and rhythms of those sites. Her family also preserved seed, propagated young fruits, foraged on nearby public lands, and was active in forestry. In 2005, Rhonda “stumbled” into a Permaculture Design Course with Peter Bane and Keith Johnson and never looked back. She began apprenticing as a teacher and after the first year, began working as a designer and offering independent workshops as well as coordinating the Bloomington Permaculture Guild. In 2008, she began working with The Permaculture Activist. In 2010, Rhonda joined the board of the Association for Regenerative Culture.

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Permaculture Design Studio
with Peter Bane and Rhonda Baird
May 13-15, Racine, Wisconsin

If you have taken a Permaculture Design Course, you should have been introduced to the design process, but even if your first design was a success, there’s a good chance you would benefit from a refresher and new insights.

Learn a living design process. We will work our way as a large group through Observation, Data Gathering, Analysis, and Pattern Language development to identify and carefully articulate the design problem. We will interview the client(s), study maps, evaluate sectors, soils, water, invisible structures, and more, and then, with feeling, formulate creative solutions to the challenges of the site and its occupants. Then we will brainstorm a handful of solutions and concepts, recruiting small teams from the class to take each of these and work out detailed designs for presentation. Close support will be provided at all stages.

The project, in an urban setting in Racine, will have public, educational, and broadscale aspects to be developed, so this course should have something for everyone.

Basic lodging will be provided in private homes for participants coming from out of town. All meals will be provided from Friday breakfast through Sunday lunch, based to the extent possible, on local, seasonal, and organic food prepared by our skilled chefs.

Racine is conveniently located half an hour south of Milwaukee and little more than an hour north of Chicago on the Lake Michigan shore. Famed for industrial innovation, Racine is home to a lively and growing community of entrepreneurs and artists. The Milwaukee airport is quite close by and Amtrak serves Racine with six trains a day from Chicago and all points east, west, and south.

Led by Peter Bane and Rhonda Baird, and sponsored by the Great Rivers and Lakes Permaculture Institute, this course is recognized by the Permaculture Institute of North America (PINA). Peter is the author of The Permaculture Handbook: Garden Farming for Town and Country, former publisher of Permaculture Activist, and holds diplomas in Permaculture Design for Education, Site Design, Media and Communications, Community Development, and Trusteeship. He lives in Bloomington, Indiana and west Michigan.

Rhonda Baird heads the Center for Sustainable Living in Bloomington, where she lives with her husband and two children. She has taught more than 20 permaculture design courses, translated permaculture design into programs for children of all ages, serves as the associate editor of Permaculture Design magazine, and has worked on design projects from Arizona to Ohio.

Tuition is $425 if paid in full by April 23rd, $495 after that date.
A non-refundable deposit of $150 will hold your place.
Send payment to:
Permaculture Activist, PO Box 5516, Bloomington IN 47407,
Email peter@permacultureactivist or call 812-335-0383.

Learning from Nature: Permaculture Design Course

Two intensive weeks of being outdoors, classwork, and camaraderie
Join us for the twelfth year of this fantastic experience!

Course Dates: June 5 – June 19, 2016
Application Deadline for IU students: Wednesday, March 30, 2016, by 5PM
Enrollment deadline for the public is May 5, 2016

Peter Bane, Publisher of Permaculture Activist magazine and author of The Permaculture Handbook: Garden Farming for Town and Country.
Keith Johnson, Editor of Permaculture Activist magazine and celebrated urban polyculture forest gardner.
Rhonda Baird, permaculture practictioner and teacher from the forests of sourthern Indiana.
David Haberman, Department of Religious Studies, IUB
You will also be working with the on location staff.

About the IU Permaculture Design Course

Indiana University has offered the permaculture design course (PDC) since 2002, making it one of the longest running university permaculture courses in the nation. The course introduces students to core permaculture ethics, principles, and practices, and is led by some of the top teachers and designers in the region. It offers an in depth look at the problems we face today (climate instability, peak oil, deforestation, famine, economic injustice, etc.) and provides participants with a wide range of practical solutions and steps towards resiliency.

The IU PDC is offered as a two-week residential course giving participants time to be immersed in the learning experience, to engage with peers, and to connect with the place around them. The course is taught through hands on activities, lecture, group design projects and discussion, videos, and lots of one-on-one conversation. During the two weeks, students will stretch their understanding of how the natural world works and strengthen their observational skills - learning to identify patterns found in nature and how to mimic them through thoughtful and integrative design. The PDC has inspired thousands of people worldwide and creates the foundation to lives and careers that help heal our planet. Join the movement towards a future full of abundance!

We are excited to announce that the course is returning to the magical Lazy Black Bear, a 270-acre retreat center located just south of Paoli, Indiana. This site, which is surrounded on three sides by the Hoosier National Forest, gives students ample opportunity to experience the wonders of the woods of southern Indiana while contemplating some of the most challenging issues of our times within a creative community. It features swimmable ponds, a 3-acre organic farm, a renovated barn classroom, a spacious and picturesque outdoor eating pavilion, a kitchen that prepares locally grown organ food, solar showers, composting toilets, a menagerie of animals (including possums), an open meadow for residence in a tent or cabin, and funky art everywhere.

IU students can get enrollment packets here.
Non IU students can enroll by contacting Peter Bane pcactivist(at)mindspring(dot)com

Permaculture Design Course
Northern Michigan, Dates: July 17-31
Location: Onaway, MI
Description: Over 72 hours of classroom and hands-on education. Those of us who live in Northern Michigan, love it here and want to keep the beauty we have found in nature, our neighbors and our lifestyles. We can take charge of our future! To preserve the best and improve the rest, we need a broader understanding of what has been going on, what it means and where it is heading. To prevent negative changes, enough of us need to see what is not obvious to everyone yet, nor visible at a glance. Limited to 40 students.
Instructors: Peter Bane, Keith Johnson, Rhonda Baird, and guests
Contact: Bob Lawrason, 989-733-5267

The Purpose of the Course

 In a world of diminishing resources and increasing stresses on natural and social systems we must rapidly implement strategies to restore degraded landscapes, shelter and feed displaced and hungry people, and convert our energy-wasteful infrastructure to holistic and ecological systems that meet their own needs and the needs of those who manage them. This course lays the foundation for understanding the workings of natural systems and for designing human environments that produce food, shelter, and energy. It also provides participants with models of community development and extension by which they can create networks of support for themselves and empower others to do the same.

"To my mind the very act of enrolling for a permaculture design course is one of the most political acts most people ever engage in. Since I have certified over 3,000 people I feel that I have helped create a small village of active, engaged and aware folks who now have the tools to change the reality around them - and many of them are very busy doing just that.

The very act of reading "Permaculture - A Design Manual" is extremely radical and political as the information and realizations sink in of the ultimate outcome of following the permaculture path. The beauty of permaculture has always meant, to me, that I can travel all over the world, in some of the most brutal dictatorships, espousing a revolutionary system of design and I am considered harmless by the powers that be. That is an incredible advantage in a world that has become increasingly polarized by the paranoia of rampant capitalism and lack of ethical guidance.

Within the ethical guideposts of permaculture are contained all the political guidance one could need."

Scott Pittman, Permaculture Institute, NM

What is Permaculture?

"Permanent agriculture" or "permanent culture," a term coined by Australians David Holmgren and Bill Mollison in the 1970s, describes a design system for creating human settlements that function in harmony with nature. Incorporating traditional knowledge, modern science, and the ecological patterns of the living world, permaculture design is applicable to farms, gardens, organizations, housing developments, towns and villages, or city neighborhoods.

Since 1978, tens of thousands of individuals on all continents have learned and taught to others the principles of energy flow and materials cycling, and the simple appropriate technologies of self-reliant living: gardening, shelter, water and waste management, aquaculture, forestry, and how to organize supportive local economies. The aim of this grassroots international movement is to liberate people everywhere to provide for their own and their communities' needs for food, energy, shelter, and a decent life without exploitation or pollution and from the smallest practical area of land.

Please read David's introductory PDF, The Essence of Permaculture.

What Kinds of People Take Permaculture Courses?
Thousands of people from all over the planet!

(Photo by Keith Johnson: Students & teachers at Permaculture Design Course, VA)

Gardeners, farmers, homeowners and prospective buyers of land  and homes will benefit from the energy-saving and productive insights of permaculture, while students and professionals in the fields of ecology, agronomy, resource management, architecture, and planning will find their work enlivened by the holistic and interdisciplinary perspective of the course. Community development and aid workers, real estate brokers, municipal officials, and religious leaders will find practical and creative applications for permaculture design in their respective fields of endeavor.

  • Renters & Homeowners: Learn simple steps to improve your home ecosystem and your immediate surroundings while saving money, resources, and building a healthy habitat for family, friends and neighbors.
  • Planners & Managers: Learn how to integrate sustainable design methodologies into the planning process using a multi-disciplinary approach for the well-being of the whole community.
  • Municipal, State & Federal Employees: Improve public service & work efficiency and community benefits via creative land, water, and air resource management techniques.
  • Building Design & Construction Professionals: Learn about current practical systems of natural building, as well as how to integrate land-use design into the built environment.
  • Landscape Architects, Designers & Gardeners: Learn principles and techniques of sustainable landscaping, with an emphasis on functional, edible,  and economic plants, the creation of microclimates for extended growing seasons, and rainwater harvesting.
  • Social Workers: Acquire tools for empowerment and new dimensions in place-based professional practice applicable to micro through macro change processes.
  • Non-profit & Community Leaders: Integrate ecological design, professional networking, and social marketing approaches to advance your mission and programs.
  • Entrepreneurs: Explore how ecological models can be used to design, develop, implement, and manage a sustainable business venture.
  • Students & Educators: Integrate ecological systems design and social/environmental change practices into your academic studies.
  • Clergy: Add a whole systems perspective to your ecological  / green ministry.

Elements of the Curriculum

  • Evidence of the Need for Change and the Ethics of Sustainability
  • Principles of Permaculture
  • Observation and Landscape Analysis
  • Pattern & Design
  • Ecosystems: the Models of Nature
  • The Gaian System: Climate and Biogeography
  • Forests, Trees & Tree Care
  • Water Harvesting, Management, and Conservation
  • Building Soil Fertility
  • Creating the Home System
  • The Third Skin: Natural Building Design
  • Waste Recycling and Treatment
  • Aquaculture and Animals
  • Agroforestry and Forest Gardening
  • Useful Plants and Planting Strategies
  • Feeding Yourself from Home
  • Garden Design & Establishment
  • Integrated Pest Management
  • Tools & Appropriate Technologies
  • Patterns of Settlement
  • Cooperative Economics, Money & Financial Systems
  • Mapping and Design Exercises
  • A Home in the City
  • Villages and Neighborhoods, The Hope and the Results
  • Elements of Practical Design
  • Team Design Projects
  • Broadscale Landscape and Systems Design

Participants from over 100 countries in all regions of the world and from all walks of life have called the permaculture design course "life-changing, transformative, and enormously affirming." In the lively company of a diverse group of engaged and motivated women and men with a common interest in the future of humanity, learning is rapid, multidimensional, and long-lasting.

Permaculture Design Work and Certification

Upon completing this course participants will receive a Certificate of Apprenticeship in Permaculture Design from the College of Graduates of Permaculture and will be entitled to use the term Permaculture in their professional work. Generally, students are encouraged to apprentice with other designers for two years. Prospective teachers should aim to gain experience  through a permaculture teacher training course and practice teaching with others for a comparable period. This course presents 72 hours of the standard certificate curriculum.
The Instructors: Midwestern natives Peter Bane, Dipl. Perm. Des., and Keith Johnson have between them facilitated over 50 permaculture courses and led groups from four to over a hundred students. They have gardening, building, design, and teaching experience in all regions of the Americas. Both instructors live in Bloomington, Indiana.

Cost of thePermaculture Course averages about $800 to $1400 with some charging more for extended duration. The weekend series format usually costs less because food and lodging needs are greatly reduced.

Permaculture Design Course Syllabus

Fundamentals (Section One)

Ethics, Principles, and Design, The Key Permaculture Overview (1 day):

Evidence of systemic ecological and cultural crisis; derivation and evolution of ethics; spirals of degradation and the etiology of health; energy and entropy; the Permaculture innovation and synthesis; roots of permaculture knowledge; principles of energy efficient design, language and terms; exercise in observation of landscape; the nature of pattern in form, orders in natural phenomena; application of pattern to design; design process, purpose and methods.

Natural Systems (2 days):

Principles of ecology; energy flux and materials cycling; conservation and diversity; guilds; cooperation; niches; forests as organism; climate, global weather patterns, and biogeography; forest impact on climate and the hydrologic cycle; functions of the tree; landscape analysis; the nature, sources, and value of freshwater; water's duties in the landscape; water movement, storage, and purification; water in the domestic system. The soil community; oxygen/ethylene cycling and nutrient availability; soil biota regimes, mycorrhizal associations; carbon/nitrogen and other nutrient relationships; tropical and temperate soil conditions; building soil; physical properties of soils and soil testing; climate near the ground; factors in microclimatic design; windbreaks; moisture and humidity effects; modifying sunlight and capturing solar gain; thermal zones and frost pockets; limiting factors in living systems; exercise building swales, ponds, trellises, and/or brush fences; use of leveling devices.

The Domestic System (1/2 day):

Design of the home system; zone and sector analysis; placement of elements for beneficial function; the domestic economy; staging of development in small permaculture systems; building design, materials, methods, and examples; conservation of energy; building as organism; nutrient cycling in the domestic system; biological treatment methods for human and animal waste: compost, constructed wetlands, biogas; urine as fertilizer.

Elements of Cultivated Ecologies (2 days):

Energy advantages of aquaculture; designing aquatic systems; water quality and species composition; animals as energy translators; their utility and efficient management; self-forage systems; intensive grazing; silvopasture; agroforestry systems; forest gardening and farming; alley cropping, coppice-with-standards; ; orchards as floristic communities; principles of pruning and tree health; useful plants and planting strategies; guild assemblies; plant identification, plant families, nomenclature; wildcrafting; establishment of nurseries and intensive small systems; economics and rolling permaculture. Self reliance and food security; the year-round harvest; methods of food storage and adaptation to climate; garden design, establishment, and methods; exercise in sheet mulch bed preparation; short design exercise in creativity; tools and their energy implications; choosing appropriate technologies; favorite tools.

Community Design, Common Resources, and Larger Human Systems (1-1/2 days):

Patterns of human settlement; city and regional design; orders of magnitude; the village as building block of human community; building cooperative networks, organizations, and communities; resource inventories; business incubators; principles of economic design; how money works; the problems with present financial systems: interest, corporations, taxes, planning; community-based financial systems; the use of maps; simple methods of mapping; the integral urban house; resources in cities; appropriate scale for conviviality, economy, and security; components of village life; new village development; designing for human cooperation and interaction. Resources for further work; the permaculture movement; continuing education; how to organize locally; making a living; future visions and participant evaluations.

Design Practicum (Section Two)

The Elements of Practical Design - 2 days

Review of Ethics and Principles; pattern languages; site analysis exercise; mapping & field surveying exercise; introduction to client interview, cost & budgeting, earning a living.

Team Design Projects - 3 1/2 days

Small group projects for real clients son or near the course venue; mentored, hands-on design work involving application of all presented skills; site observation and analysis, mapping, client interview, conceptual design, mind mapping, and presentation.

Presentation - 1/2 day

Introduction of presentation skills; several opportunities for planned and impromptu presentation to the whole class; formal presentation in group of the team design with sketches, maps, speech, and other modes of work.

Broadscale Landscape and Systems Design - 2 days

Urban and Village systems; farm landscapes; design for wildlife; restoration and earthworks; economic design including financial systems; land access, regional strategies.

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