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Permaculture Design Certification

2024 Ellenville Syllabus

First Weekend:


First Session

10am - Introductions and orientation to our site and the course. Permaculture: its origins, uses, definitions, and source influences. Permaculture Principles: How they work, where they come from and how to use them.


12:30pm - Lunch


1:30pm - Anthropogenic Earth, physics, geology, biochemistry and applied anthropology. Deepening our sense of what we are inheriting as biological organisms on earth, human physiology, Earth history culminating with Permaculture worldview.


Evening Movie: Bill Mollison’s Global Gardener: Drylands and Tropics


Second Session

10am - Check-in and quickly revisit topics covered in yesterday’s class and film. Transition from paleolithic to neolithic modes of living, the advent of the domestication of plants and animals. Ecological History of civilization with a view towards permaculture solutions from successful techniques.


12:30pm - Lunch


Outside Activity: Reading the landscape, understanding the flow of natural succession, ecological indicators of historical patterns of use, trees, hydrology and looking at principles on-site. Understanding how to create ponds and develop springs and how earthworks function. We will end the day with some hands-on activity centered around the digging of earthworks with A-frame levels and working with pond systems.


Evening Movie: Bill Mollison’s Global Gardener: Deserts and Greening the Desert


Third Session

10am - Check-in, discuss the films and the day before. Researching and reading the toxic legacy of the military industrial landscape with a focus on the northeastern corridor. Knowing the facts about pollution in the U.S. and ways for your family, loved ones and future clients to dodge the toxic bullet.


12:30pm - Lunch


1:30pm - Water, understanding watersheds, riparian zones, hydrology, patterns in the landscape and aquifer recharge techniques. Forests, Polyculture Perennial Forest Garden Ecosystems, Forest Structure, global types, eco-functions and relationships to the water cycle and hydrology, bringing water back with reforestation and other permaculture uses of trees and management such as coppice and silvapasture.


5pm - We will end the day discussing what we will be covering next week.

Second Weekend:


Fourth Session

10am - Check-in, ecological site analysis and assessment exercise and a group design charette with presentations will occupy the majority of our time this weekend. We are excited to announce that we will be doing a group design exercise for ...


We will meet here at the Center For Bioregional Living at 10 am sharp!


Introduce the site and set us up base maps and a sense of the overall activity and structure for the analysis exercise that will comprise most of this weekend. Carpool to TBD after introduction. We will bring our lunches with us.


11:15am - Arrive at the group design site. We will divide into groups and then each group will walk the property observing landforms, water, vegetation and so on. Each group will observe a different sector of the property. Groups will then map out their observations on paper and present this to the entire group. After lunch we will do another round of observations creating even more layers and then we will head back to Ellenville to synthesize all this information in your design groups. Each group will work on pulling together a simple set of goals based on the what the client wants and what each group is looking to explore with this particular design. Each team will then create an Analysis and Assessment synthesis map and a design concept rendering for our group design site, based on the ecological realities of the site as seen through this analysis process.


Evening Session - Each group will work creating their A&A synthesis maps and begin their Master plan Permaculture design concept rendering.


Fifth Session

10am - Check-in, discuss the day before and the timeframe and expextations for the presentations later that day. lecture on

-Microclimates and Permaculture design techniques.


11am - Studio design time for groups to finish their design concepts and prepare to present between 2:30 and 3 pm


3-5pm - Permaculture Group design presentations and review process.



Sixth Session

10am - Check-in, discuss the A&A design process and what people learned and where they felt gaps in understanding the process. Start discussing design projects for the final presentations and go over any questions about that process and what the expectations are.


Bioregional design, contextualizing design to be regionally appropriate and tied into broad patterns like wildlife corridors and pollinator flyways to help cultivated ecologies. Blending the work of conservation land trusts and watershed groups with permaculture goals of getting a yield, creating working landscapes and ultimately bringing about bioregional economies.


12:30pm- Lunch


1:30-3pm: Urban Permaculture and transitioning the northeastern corridor to be more regionally self reliant and ecologically intelligent.


3-5pm: Bioremediation, Living machines and intentional wetland wastewater treatment systems. We will end the day discussing what we will be covering next week.

Seventh Session


10am - Check in, discuss student’s progress with their designs. Permaculture, Biodynamic, biointensive and organic gardening, their origins, history and techniques.


12:30pm - Lunch


Outdoor Activity: Walk around the Center for Bioregional Living Permaculture Gardens and plantings and discuss the biodynamic planting calendar and other techniques and materials that we use in our gardens to grow beyond organic produce for ourselves, our family, restaurants and our local food coop. We will end the day discussing our field trip for the following day.


Eighth Session:


All day Field Trips TBA



Ninth Session:


10am - Check-in, discuss the field trips. Understanding Energy and decentralized power grids, site specific hybrid mosaics of renewables for a wide range of circumstances and climates.


12:30pm - Lunch


1:30pm - Animals, history of domestication, rotational grazing, and broad scale permaculture.


3-5pm - Natural building, in depth strawbale construction for cold climates, passive solar siting and techniques, greenhouse designs.


5pm - End the day discussing where everyone is with their designs and the coming week’s agenda.

Fourth and Final Weekend



Tenth Session:


Lisa Depiano will be teaching with us all weekend and helping with studio and design presentations.10am - Introduce Lisa to the class and check-in. Lisa will present on Montview CSA a hand tooled no till Community Supported Agriculture farm that she and some friends started on conservation land in Northampton, MA.


12:30pm - Lunch


1:30-3pm - Studio time


3-5pm - Lisa presents on Co-op business models and Pedal people, a bicycle trash and compost pick up service that is cooperatively owned and run with over 900 customers in Northampton, MA.


Evening Session - Studio design time into the night. Presentations will take place the following afternoon.



Eleventh Session


10am - Check-in, final pointers and reminders about design presentations. Lisa will present on regional food security and designing a food system based on the concept of a foodshed. We will look into a case study that she created with the Conway landscape school for Northampton.


11:30 - 2:30pm - Design time with working lunch at 12:30 pm.


2:30-6pm - Final Presentations. Each person will have 10-15 minutes to present their A&A synthesis of their site and a design concept. Regional and neighborhood scale planning is encouraged! Go multi media: show us photos, overlays, side views and detail drawings of some of the unique elements in your design. Each student will receive 5-10 minutes of thorough feedback.


6pm - Dinner. Celebration to follow with bonfire, music and a keg of good local microbrew.



Twelfth Session


10am -12:30pm Check in, discuss the presentations and the class overall, fill out instructor evaluations. Issue certificates. Explain what the certificate means. Where do we go from here? Networks, organizations and approaches to your next steps as graduates of our Permaculture Design Certification course.

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