Permaculture Design Certificate


Permaculture is a creative design process based on whole-systems thinking. It looks at the patterns and relationships we find in nature and how these can be applied to all aspects of human habitation, from agriculture to ecological building, from appropriate technology to education and even communities and economics.

The Permaculture Design Certificate or PDC is the primary qualification for permaculture.

Course Composition

There are 2 ways people can study for their PDC: modular and intensive. The modular format is run over approximately 12 -15 weekend days throughout the year. The modules are run as workshops and are held at a variety of sites, enabling the participants to view different levels and styles of permaculture in practice. The intensive format is typically a live-in two week course. The PDC is based around group learning, in safe and inspiring environments.

There are a number of people offering either course. If you are in Hamilton, you can contact the Waikato Environment Centre for details.

Contact: Hamilton Permaculture

Waikato Environment Centre
242 Peachgrove Road, Hamilton
Ph. 839 4452

You can also check out the PINZ web page to find out what courses may be running throughout New Zealand.


Course Completion

To attain your PDC you need to meet requirements for course attendance and at the conclusion will present either individually or in groups a design project which can be on any subject matter, so long as it demonstrates the application of sustainable design principles. This may take the form of a landscape design for an individual dwelling, a retrofit of a house, working with a community group, setting up a local alternative economic model, etc.

Presentations should demonstrate how the design was conceived (design process), the project (final design) and a brief outline on implementation and/or management. It should be completed in a minimum of 20 hours per person per project. Tutors will be available for feedback throughout the process.

What the PDC covers

Different training providers will provide material designed to suit the local community and environment. The following topics are typical but may differ from course to course. You should select a course that best suits your requirements.

1. Philosophy and Design

Introduction to the ethics and principles of Permaculture Design. Explore realistic opportunities and priorities for reducing your ecological footprint while designing abundance into your life. This workshop provides an essential and foundational understanding of Permaculture as a discipline, a paradigm, and/or a philosophy on which design projects are based.

2. Climate and Water March

Look at global patterns and local detail. You will develop a better understanding of climates and weather patterns, and how these are being affected by the way we live. You will be able to identify the climatic conditions that affect your home, town/city, region and country. You will look at the hydrological cycle, water conservation, devices/technology aids, harvesting/storage (rainwater, dams, and swales) and water quality and be able to set for your home or design project the next step you can take to make the most of this valuable resource.

3. Energy and Technology

Explore the types of energy found in nature and delve into energy analysis, efficiency and the life-cycle of energy. You will be given examples of appropriate technologies (high tech & low tech solutions), transport & energy alternatives as well as energy storage (both site specific and community based systems). Revisit the 4R’s – reduce, reuse, recycle & repair and be able to identify the next improvement you can make in your home, workplace or community.

4. Landscape & Site Assessment

Learn how to apply the principle “Observe and Interact” with a focus on nature, learning the relationships and patterns which play a part in the way the landscape is formed and managed. You will learn some practical techniques for observation; measuring and recording landforms; sectors and aspects as well as how to gather the information required to complete a landscape and site assessment.

5. Built Environments [Zone 0]

Gain an interesting perspective on building performance and how our houses affect our health. You will go on an insightful journey and learn how to design built environments to optimise thermal performance, energy, water and waste while integrating with the landscape around them. You will come away with the skills to be able to calculate things like energy use in the home and understand Passive Solar Design. You won’t look at building design the same way again when you are guided through the pro’s and con’s of the options that are available

6. Healthy Soils & Fertile Gardens [Zone 1]

Get down to the nitty gritty of understanding the nature of soils; you will learn how to identify its structure and its health as well as how to apply/make fertilisers, composting and revitalisation aids. In this workshop you will be able to identify the ecological functions as well as the characteristics of the elements in Zone 1 and observe energy flows which will help to inform your garden layout & design. You will explore preparation methods like double-dig and no-dig and the value of mulching, companion and rotation planting.

7. Small Animals & Orchard [Zone 2]

Delve into the ecology of plants and animals, plant selection and layouts for needs in relation to water, facilities, guilds & diversity. Cover the basics of planting and propagation as well as management for productivity and plant health. Learn how to best integrate with small animals (bees, poultry, pigs) along with their management and care.

8. Large Landscapes [Zones 3-5]

Take animals and soil care to a larger scale, look at the elements here which include water, shelter, shade, grazing, herbal leys & fodder crops. Explore the potential in plantations, forests and natural eco-systems as valuable resources (food, timber, firewood, etc) and consider aspects such as protection, restoration and pest management.

9. Human Sphere & Community Resilience

We know our world is changing, although what that means is not always clear. Many of the assumptions we now take for granted will no longer apply in the future. Both long term trends, such as climate change and resource depletion, as well as short term natural and social disasters may impact us in unexpected ways. Building a capacity for resilience, both as individuals and in our communities, is the best way to prepare for an uncertain future.

Permaculture design is all about creating sustainable, resilient and regenerative systems through mimicry of natural ecosystems. These design principles apply as efectively to our social worlds as to our physical ones. This module invites you to explore what it means to apply permaculture design principles to the social world, with a view to both building community resilience and making social change.

10. Te Ao—Māori World

Take a journey through the eons of time to todays Maori world. Understand the peoples connection with nature, look at the patterns and protocols around care of earth, care of people and fairshare.

11. Urban Design & Living

Putting all of the information together in an urban context this workshop helps you to make choices that can move you toward healthy and sustainable living in towns and
cities. You will cover how to bring the community culture back into your life through education and restoring values. You will talk through some of the opportunities there are to engage in local communities and councils. Together you will look at suburban retrofitting to reduce your ecological footprint including layout and integration of urban systems; public spaces, transport & circulation, housing, energy supplies & distribution, urban waste cycles, urban food production, storm water, waste water & potable water management.

12. Design Project Presentations

Present your design project to the tutors and fellow students in a supportive environment.


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