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Permaculture Design Course (PDC)

Permaculture Design Course (PDC)

Design regenerative and productive landscapes, communities and households.

Permaculture design, PDC

The new CERES Permaculture Design Course (PDC) is like a ‘user’s manual’ for the planet you live on. As we explore the huge elements that drive our living planet (energy, climate, geology, ecology etc) we will stay grounded in the simple, practical steps participants can take to live full and meaningful lives within the limits of what nature offers.

The design skills of the CERES PDC will embolden participants to make clear decisions that balance big-picture thinking with local, practical life choices, whether applied to a rental property in the inner city, or a large rural setting.

Course Overview

CERES Permaculture Design Course has been refined by our inspiring and innovative core team of Permaculture Educators and Practitioners. There is a stronger focus on urban environments, both owned and rented. The course includes an Urban Excursions weekend visiting Joe’s Market Garden, permaculture rental properties and Kat Lavers’ incredible permaculture property – The Plummery. We have also added new, hands in the dirt experiential sessions to ensure that participants learn through doing! Some great additions include Extending the Harvest and Retrosurburbia. Learn, live and give to the earth with new knowledge, passion and practical permaculture skills.

The CERES PDC is a predominantly classroom-based, theoretical course with site visits – it is not intended to be a gardening course. The PDC is an ecologically-inspired design course that also integrates socio-political & environmental systems.

The PDC is intended to produce trainee Permaculture designers, ready to apply their Permaculture knowledge in their own lives and to continue self-directed learning into their individual areas of interest to improve their design skills. The extensive course material covers the whole design course curriculum within the context of urban & regional landscapes of cool temperate south-eastern Australia.

Central to the PDC is completion of a group urban Permaculture Design project. This involves small groups designing for the same urban site by completing practical design exercises on the site and then creating a permaculture design based on the client’s needs and wants. This project will demonstrate your learning throughout the course.

“I learned more about the world, not just gardening. The course has changed my outlook and solidified my values in a way I didn’t expect but am so pleased about.”

Pdc grad

“The PDC course has equipped me with practical skills that I can use immediately in my life, as well as within the community I live in. I enjoyed the different tutors and their various topics of interest. Meeting like-minded course mates is a real bonus”

Pdc grad
Course structure and learning outcomes

The PDC is a 100hr+ commitment.

The PDC will comprise a combination of Wednesday evenings 6.30pm – 9.30pm and additional individual weekend days (either a Saturday or Sunday from 9.30am – 4.30pm). There will be two weekend site visits, our new Urban Excursions weekend based in and around CERES and our well-loved Castlemaine weekend. The PDC course is delivered by a range of experienced, passionate, professional Permaculture teachers and practitioners from urban and regional areas.

The design project and exercises are not graded, but are an essential part of learning Permaculture design, so their completion enables the student to receive their Permaculture Design Course completion certificate.

To gain the most of the PDC, students are encouraged to read further materials before and after each class topic. Reading materials and online learning resources are provided and students are encouraged to be self-directed learners in using the PDC as a launching pad into topics covered.

Each course will have an individual schedule, which will be provided prior to the commencement of the course.

Compulsory requirements to complete the course and obtain a Permaculture Design Course certificate:

+ Students are required to attend 90% of the course content, and must complete the core subjects of Permaculture Ethics, Principles and all design subjects;
+ Students are required to complete Group Design Project and Design Exercises;
+ The PDC facilitator will use discretion to make the final decision;
+ Students who miss critical sessions are welcome to sit-in on future classes to catch up.

Course outcomes:

+ An appreciation of the fundamentals of permaculture and the historical context in which it was developed.
+ Ability to incorporate ecological and energy literacy/understanding in the design process
+ An ability to read patterns in landscapes and understand how they influence design choices
+ An understanding of the design processes and the conceptual design tools used in permaculture, as background for later application topics.
+ An ability to design food production and other agricultural systems in appropriate landscapes
+ An understanding of how communities function and how permaculture concepts can be used to build functional communities.
+ An understanding of how trading functions and how permaculture concepts can be used to build more equitable economic systems.
+ Understanding of how settlements can be designed to meet human needs on a sustainable basis
+ An understanding of how buildings can be designed to meet human needs on a sustainable basis.
+ An appreciation of the technologies that are available to assist in building sustainable lifestyles – renewable energies and conservation of non-renewable resources.
+ Confidence in one’s ability to make a difference at the individual level.

Course Schedule

The course schedule for the PDC is available here.

Trainers Profiles

Joel Meadows is an environmental educator, energy auditor, building designer, sustainable transport consultant, illustrator, maker of things of steel and wood, grower, cooker and preserver of food, avid gardener and musician. Joel has studied Sculpture, Blacksmithing, Renewable Energy Technology and Permaculture, he has worked for private, government and not-for-profit organisations and runs the Green Hand Institute, offering permaculture education and product development from new forms of rocket stove to innovative beehives, from human-powered machines to biochar makers. Joel illustrated the second edition of David Holmgren’s ‘Principles’ book and ‘The Rocket Powered Oven’ e-book with Tim Barker.
Joel lives with his family on the fringe of Castlemaine – Central Victoria, in their owner built and designed passive solar straw bale home, where he continually works on his permaculture business, property and ideas. When not in the shed Joel can often be found in the garden, growing food, building hot compost piles, tending to the chooks or scything around the orchard trees. Joel is an avid bike rider and repairer, likes playing and making guitars, building furniture, blacksmithing and leather.

Kat Lavers is a small space food gardening specialist with a background in permaculture design, teaching and facilitation. She has a breadth of training experience working with residents and local government as well as refugee communities, aid agency staff and even Mongolian nomadic herders. Her award-winning house and garden, ‘The Plummery’, is a 1/14th acre urban permaculture system that produces almost all the vegies, herbs, fruit and eggs consumed (more than 450kg in 2020), as well as recycling all organic waste on site and harvesting the majority of power and water used by the household. When she’s not teaching permaculture and organic gardening, Kat designs community gardens and urban agriculture projects with local councils and communities.

Beck Lowe worked closely with David Holmgren on RetroSuburbia as chief editor, researcher and project manager. Since publication, she has also taken on the role of education coordinator and has run workshops and developed resources to help households make positive changes. She is an enthusiastic and experienced permaculture educator and has been involved in permaculture training at all levels for more than 15 years. She has practical permaculture experience in private and community spaces in inner city, urban and rural areas.

Taj Scicluna, ‘the Perma Pixie’, is a passionate and motivated little sprite who aims to inspire and educate people to live more nourishing and sustainable lifestyles using permaculture, awareness and compassion! Through passionate permaculture education and sustainable services such as Permaculture Design and the creation of delicious ornamental edible gardens, The Perma Pixie aims to nurture diversity and protect ecology through harbouring healthy and resilient communities and ecosystems.

Monique Miller is a conservation and land management professional, Permaculture teacher, workshop facilitator and avid gardener. Monique came to Permaculture via a Philosophy/Arts degree and a year spent overseas. To Monique, Permaculture is the toolbox with which we can tackle the issues of a late-capitalist world. Monique completed her first PDC in Portugal (2012) and second at CERES in 2016. Since, she has been building veggies gardens, growing food at home, getting on Gardening Australia, attending 3 International Permaculture Convergences, learning more about applying Permaculture to life design, teaching edible weeds & fermentation workshops at CERES and facilitated the PDC from 2017-2019. She is passionate about harnessing the energy of & guiding new PDC graduates, social permaculture, and self-study.

Terms and Conditions

Our booking and refund policies, concession pricing information, FAQs, as well as other general terms and conditions can be viewed here.


August 3 @ 9:30 am 4:30 pm

100+ Hours
CERES Brunswick, Corner of Roberts & Stewart Streets, Brunswick East, Victoria.
+ Field trips and site visits in urban and regional Victoria.

*Concession and payment plans available. Contact adultlearning@ceres.org.au for enquiries.

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