permaculture design course

15th to 29th July

Permaculture offers practical skills and methods for designing and creating sustainable living systems, integrating human needs with the ecosystems in which we are rooted. It is a theory of ecological design which seeks to develop sustainable human settlements and agricultural systems, by modelling them on the diversity, stability and resilience of natural ecosystems.

The Permaculture Design Course (PDC) is a 72-hour certified and holistic course encompassing a wide range of topics that demonstrate how to work with our ecological and social environment. The PDC will be composed of lectures, discussions, practical activities, and design exercises. Participants will gain knowledge and skills to enable them to design and implement the principles of permaculture in the creation of truly sustainable systems that can enable us to live well and with respect for each other and the earth.

The term “permaculture” was originally coined to refer to the idea of a truly sustainable agriculture, but has expanded to embrace the idea of “permanent culture” in recognition that the social dimension is integral to truly sustainable living systems. It has been described as “a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labour; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area or thing in isolation.”

Permaculture draws from several disciplines including organic farming, agro-forestry, sustainable development, and applied ecology. The design principles which are the conceptual foundation of permaculture are derived from the science of systems ecology and study of pre-industrial examples of sustainable land use. The primary agenda of the movement has been to assist people to become more self reliant through the design and development of productive and sustainable gardens and farms. It applies equally well to both rural and urban areas. Permaculture can also be called simply, “a revolution disguised as gardening.”

Back in the 70’s, two Australians, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren started a journey that we are still on today. They re-organized ancient knowledge and skills, traditional wisdom about plants, animals, and social systems, and added some new ideas. They effectively created a system of design for how to build a stable and resilient culture, and called it “permaculture.

The majority of sciences, including modern agriculture and horticulture, have been developed under a reductionist approach, separating everything — soils, plants, insects, animals and humans — and examining in great detail every one of these isolated elements. In contrast Permaculture is the study of inter-relations and the inter-dependence of living organisms in their environment. It results in a new way of sustaining and enriching life without social and environmental degradation. Permaculture design focuses on connections between things, creating something bigger than its parts.

Permaculture is underpinned by a set of three ethics, and by principles which are transmitted in various ways and interwoven throughout the ethics:

CARE OF THE EARTH: Provision for all life systems to continue and multiply.
CARE OF THE PEOPLE: Provision for people to access those resources necessary for their existence.
FAIR SHARE: By governing our own needs, we can set aside resources to further the above ethics.

Permaculture ethics offer a direction to responsibilities, moral values and livelihood. They provide the vision on which design approaches and strategies can be tested.

What are the learning outcomes? Participants will learn:
• approaches to design including: mapping; designing from patterns to details; analysis of elements; using slope & orientation; and analysing the needs and yields of systems.
• how to increase productivity using intensive garden design strategies including: stacking, soil-building, mulch, nutrient cycling, pest control, green manures, worms, compost & companion planting.
• how to survey landscapes for property design using simple and sophisticated tools; mapping and map making; and site analysis and assessment.
• how to read weather patterns; create and enhance micro-climates; and create design strategies for all major global climatic zones.
• how trees and forests regulate and moderate ecosystems; how to sustainably use, propagate, harvest and manage tree systems using techniques such as coppicing, pollarding, grafting, shelter belts, orchards, guild planting and succession planning.
• how to save money on energy bills with efficient home design, retrofitting, and renewable energy systems.
• multiple uses for greywater; constructed wetland design; and other techniques for treating “waste water.
• passive water hydration and infiltration, rainwater collection, storage and composting toilets.
• using reconstructive earthworks, water harvesting and soil conditioning to recharge ground water, re-hydrate and drought-proof the landscape.
• how to bring fertility back to the land and build topsoil through a diversity of ancient and modern techniques.
• how to cycle nutrients and incorporate animals into your system using innovative techniques such as chicken tractors, pannage systems, pigeon lofts, dairy systems and beekeeping.
• creating living ecosystems that feed and nurture us and future generations. Design through the use of nature’s rules to create a lush and resilient natural environment.
• aquaponic systems, the combination of aquaculture (growing fish) and hydroponics (growing food without soil).
• how to design solar-heated buildings (including cold-climate greenhouses). The use of natural building materials, energy efficient house placement and design and the assurance of a healthy indoor environment.
• strategies for creating community-wide sustainability, village development, alternative economies, local currencies, and how to organize community groups.

What is the schedule?
DAY ONE: • Ethics & Principles • Design Methods
DAY TWO: • Map Reading • Water & Soils
DAY THREE: • Macro & Micro Climates • Earthworks
DAY FOUR: • Plants & Forests • Windbreaks
DAY FIVE: • Patterns in Nature
• Our houses and gardens
DAY SIX: • Fruit Tree Forest
• Field Crops and Animals
DAY SEVEN: • Day of Rest
DAY EIGHT: • Natural Forests and Wildlife Management • Site Analysis
• Weed Ecology
DAY NINE: • Design for Disaster • Biotechnology
DAY TEN: • Bio-regions – Local Wealth • Ethical Investment
DAY ELEVEN: • Land Ethics & Access
• Village and Commune Permaculture • Suburban Permaculture
• Urban Permaculture
DAY TWELVE: • Design Work
• Design Presentations • Celebration!

Suggested contributions in the Dana Economy are €450/€700/€1200. Make a booking.

The team:
Joe Atkinson: Joe works for the Permaculture Association (Britain) as the Learning Coordinator. He has coordinated several national and international permaculture events and has supported the emergence and development of regional, national and international networks of teachers. He holds a Diploma in Applied Permculture and an MSc Architecture: Advanced Environmental & Energy Studies, as well as certificates in horticulture, counselling and teaching. He has been teaching permaculture since 2010, and is a registered PDC Teacher and Diploma Tutor for the Permaculture Association.
He brings diverse experience to his teaching, having worked in various jobs across a range of industries and sectors. He is particularly interesting in ecobuilding and intentional communities. Between 2010 and 2013 he helped to realize a low impact cohousing project in Leeds called LILAC (Low Impact Living Affordable Community), where he now lives.

Grace McKeown has a long and close involvement in the ecodharma project, where she has provided continuity and experience to the development of growing and cultivating. She played a lead role in the design and implementation of the forest garden in 2012/3 and continues to help coordinate planning for land use. She has a special sensitivity concerning the preservation of the wild land in the valley. With decades of experience teaching and practicing integrative medicine and holistic health, this currently ties into her interests in the therapeutic dimensions of growing and food production, as well as the medicinal value of plants, both cultivated and wild.

Martin Jefferies: Martin´s interest in finding ways of living that are respectful to the web of life has brought him close to Permacultures ethics. He sees value in implementing design principles into everyday life using applied learning and close observation. Having lived and trained on site at Ecodharma, Martin brings a deep understanding of the ecology of the valley.

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