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On-line Permaculture Design Courses
A list compiled by Michael Pilarski
The number of on-line permaculture design courses are proliferating
rapidly and there is a wide range of quality. Here is a list of a
few I know about. I have given some comments where I know
something about them. Additional info can be sent to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Download a PDF of this article HERE.
I used to scoff at on-line pdcs, but I now see that there is a
place for them. They are particularly good at the introductory
phase. I doubt any skilled permaculturist would want to sit through an
on-line course. They are also useful for people who live in places
where on-site pdcs aren’t offered and who have a hard time leaving to
go to a venue. Some on-line courses are low-cost but some are high
cost. The cheapest, in-the-flesh pdcs are cheaper then the more
expensive, on-line courses. On-line pdcs can certainly make a lot
of money for some teachers. Geoff Lawton and Vladimir Davidson are
setting themselves up to make millions. I imagine that other pc
teachers will be trying to follow in their footsteps.
benefits of an in-person pdc are that you get to bond with a like-minded
group of people. You get to have your questions answered in real
time. You get the nuances of things that cannot be picked up
otherwise. You get to have a deeper heart connection with
people. You can do group hands-on and group design and the many
other things that are foregone by sitting in a chair all by yourself
staring at a screen. So do take an on-line pdc if it seems right
for you. But after that you should be looking to take an in-person
pdc with a good teacher(s). Just as there is a range of
quality in on-line courses there is also a range of quality of in-person
courses. The main thing to do is get hands-on experience.
You cannot become skilled at permaculture by sitting in an
armchair. It takes years of on-the-ground experience.
Online Permaculture Design Courses
has a long reputation in the permaculture movement. His on-line course
is certainly the longest-running, on-line pdc in the US. 2013 was their
13th online pdc.
North Carolina University Free online Intro to Permaculture course:
72 hour Introduction to Permaculture (with instructor Will Hooker)
course online. The course is set in a classroom, with videoed field
trips, and the online version is meant for their 'Distant Education'
students, but also utilized by students who have missed a class. (Will
Hooker's home garden is on the front cover of Toby Hemenway's "Gaia's
Garden".) It doesn't involve the critical design exercise mandatory to
completing a PDC course.
Geoff Lawton’s on-line pdc:
is a write-up on Geoff Lawton’s 1st online pdc. I believe it had
1000 people taking it. The write-up is by Geoff Lawton’s crew so
of course it is all positive. The bit I have heard in person,
makes it sound like it was a good course. It cost $1,000 so it
isn’t the cheapest on-line course.
On-line pdc at Oregon State University:
is taught by Andrew Millison and Marisha Auerbach, both of whom are
good friends of mine and I have the highest respect for their ethics and
teaching. I know they maintain a good teacher to student ratio so
they can work one on one with students. I highly recommend their
course. They also offer an Online Advanced Permaculture Design
Practicum. As far as I know this is the only advanced pc course on
line. You have to graduate from a regular pdc to take the advanced
Cornell University on-line pdc:
instructor, Steve Gabriel, is an ecologist, extension educator, and
forest farmer living and working in the Finger Lakes Region of central
New York. He currently spends his time working for the Department of
Horticulture’s Garden-Based Learning program and coordinating the
Northeast Mushroom Growers Network. He also teaches for the Finger Lakes
Permaculture Institute and serves on the Board of Directors for the
Permaculture Institute of the Northeast. He is currently co-authoring a
book on forest farming with Cornell professor Ken Mudge, which is
expected to be published in 2014.
Regenerative Leadership Institute Free On-line pdc:
is promoted as a free on-line course and supposedly 58,000 people
signed up for it. I do not recommend this course. The course
material consists mainly of three-year old, poor-quality videos of Larry
Korn. Very few student questions get answered. This is a poor quality
pdc. Perhaps the lowest quality pdc in the world. Vladislov
Davidson, who is behind RLI, has a horrible reputation spanning the last
decade. After taking the free course you can pay for a design
course certificate for $365. RLI raised $26,000 via indiegogo to
develop their free course. The price tag for the certificate is
likely aimed at making lots of money for RLI. Mr. Davidson’s ethics
stink to high heaven. If you want to hear some feedback on this
course go to the discussion at: http://www.permies.com/t/28308/web-sites/Regenerative-Leadership-Institute-Free-Online
Permaculture Education Center online pdc:
Dr Enzo and Jessica Enzo.
Patrick Whitefield’s Online permaculture course:
course is from England, the United Kingdom. Patrick Whitefield is one
of the most well-known and respected pc teachers in the UK. One of
his specialties is reading the landscape and he published a book on it
“The Living Landscape”.
Online Permaculture courses in Australia:
April Sampson-Kelly's Permaculture Visions.
I would add is April Sampson-Kelly's Permaculture Visions. Her
online/distance learning course has been running for over two decades
and has Mollison's endorsement. World Pioneer in Online Permaculture
Learning Est. 1993. April has a solid reputation in international
Australia’s ACS on-line courses:
are three levels of their on-line pc courses and one is an advanced
permaculture course online. ACS is a highly regarded, large, public
system of education. Their permaculture education courses were set up by
Undoubtedly there are other on-line pdcs out there
and many more will be offered in the years to come. This is just
the snapshot I see at the moment.
garden in October, 2006. End of year
in Riversong Farm herb garden. Hood
River, Oregon. June 1st, 2006.
Planting almost finished.
|Sunny Pine Farm /
|Sheep Sorrell in
bloom at Sunny Pine Farm, Eastern