Permaculture Design

Be a part of the next big ecological movement.

Permaculture is an ethically based design approach to creating sustainable human communities. Although rooted in agriculture, permaculture design also touches on regional planning, ecology, architecture and international development.

Shenandoah Permaculture Institute Logo

Our Permaculture Design Certificate is offered through a special partnership with the Shenandoah Permaculture Institute. The certificate is designed for those interested in learning design techniques to build a more sustainable community in their backyard, their neighborhood or their city. The certificate will cover ethics, design, and sustainability issues. It will also give students practical techniquesthat can be applied to their gardens, farms and homes.

Our program includes 72-hours of workshops over four weekends. The learning modules use a combination of hands-on activities, field trips, presentations, conversations, collaboration, and a site-specific design project challenge. Students will gain permaculture design credentials that are ready for real-world applications in both your personal life and business opportunities.

Program Features

  • Team of experienced instructors with backgrounds in organic farming, green building, natural health, counseling and environmental management
  • Field trips to local permaculture projects
  • Collaborative hands-on design project on a site in the Richmond area — work with a client and develop a professional design

Who Should Attend

This program is open to all community members and will be of special interest to teachers, sustainability professionals, landscape designers, farmers and agritourism professionals.

Program Modules

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  • Permaculture Design Process

    Design is at the core of the science of permaculture. Learn the full permaculture design process including ethics and principles, patterns in nature, mapping and drawing techniques, and presentation skills. The goal is for you to learn how to create effective designs for your own home, farm and community systems.

  • Regenerative Agriculture

    Regenerative agriculture produces abundant nutritious food while increasing the health of the ecosystem. It encompasses innovative techniques such as Food Forests, Perennial Plant Production, Integrated Livestock Systems, Rotational Grazing, Organic Gardening and Mushroom Cultivation. We will learn how to apply these techniques in our homes and farms and visit local sites to see them in action.

  • Social Permaculture

    Learn concepts for designing the social landscape or “the human sector.” We will explore techniques for community building, financial permaculture and urban permaculture design.

  • Water Conservation & Management

    Water management is a key element of the sustainable farm and homestead. We will learn how to look at water holistically and practice key techniques such as earthworks, swales, ponds, water catchment and keyline design.

  • Soil Management

    Permaculture focuses on natural and organic management of soil resources. We will cover soil science with a focus on the soil food web, and learn soil-building techniques such as composting, cover cropping, low-till farming and mycoremediation.

  • The Built Environment

    Learn how to integrate the built environment into your permaculture system including greenhouse placement and design, passive solar house design, renewable energy systems and sustainable building techniques such as cob, straw bale and cordwood.

  • Health

    Permaculture takes a natural and holistic approach to health that includes herbal medicine and nutrition. Learn how identify and use wild medicinal plants, how to design and cultivate a medicinal herb garden, and how to craft your own fermented foods and beverages at home.

  • Applied Permaculture

    Permaculture design should be practical, tangible and accessible. To bring this idea home we will take field trips to working permaculture sites throughout central Virginia and we will also learn about successful permaculture projects around the world that have inspired us, with a focus on profitable permaculture farm businesses.