Permaculture Design Course

At the Santa Cruz Permaculture Farm & Surrounding Region

The Santa Cruz Permaculture Design Certificate course, certified by PINA, the Permaculture Institute of North America, includes the internationally recognized 72-hour curriculum, augmented by an additional 38-hours of hands on practice and field trips. Plus, folks have the option to camp on site, and build community around the fire!

Our course brings in leading designers and teachers from around the region, each experts in different areas of permaculture. The Santa Cruz Permaculture network of instructors, alumni, community partners, and resources continues to grow each season, and by participating in our course, you become part of this network! Read interviews with our alumni here to learn how folks use the skills and knowledge they gain in this course.

Additionally, course participants work in teams throughout the program to design a holistic permaculture plan for a real-life site in the community. The hands-on learning, workshops, and readings throughout the course prepare students with knowledge and whole systems thinking strategies that allow them to create detailed and thoughtful designs.

Full Series: 6 Weekends over 6 Months

Full series registration is available up until the day before the first session. Late registration is available and you can make up any missed weekends with the next session. Use the next cohort registration and select the class you’d like to join on our registration form. Email info.santacruzpermaculture@gmail.com with questions.

Pricing

  • Full Tuition: $1295
  • Partner / Spouse Tuition: $995 (When one partner registers for the full course, the second gets a discount)
  • Early Bird Discount: $1195 (Register more than 30 days in advance)
  • Super Early Bird Discount: $1095 (Register more than 60 days in advance)
  • Teachers: $995 (Special price for For K-12, College and University Teachers)
  • Youth: $795 (Special price for ages 13-18)

Fall 2023-Winter 2024

  • Session 1: October 14-15, 2023
  • Session 2: November 11-12, 2023
  • Session 3: December 9-10, 2023
  • Session 4: January 13-14, 2024
  • Session 5: February 10-11, 2024
  • Session 6: March 9-10, 2024

Session Times: Sessions typically run 9am – 5:30pm both days, with a lunch break.

Spring-Summer 2024 

  • Session 1: April 6-7, 2024
  • Session 2: May 4-5, 2024
  • Session 3: June 1-2, 2024
  • Session 4: July 6-7, 2024
  • Session 5: August 3-4, 2024
  • Session 6: September 7-8, 2024

Session Times: Sessions typically run 9am – 5:30pm both days, with a lunch break.

Full Series: 2 Week Summer Intensive

Pricing

Tuition includes catered meals and on-site camping
  • Full Tuition: $1895
  • Partner / Spouse Tuition: $1695 (When one partner registers for the full course, the second gets a discount)
  • Early Bird Discount: $1795 (Register more than 30 days in advance)
  • Super Early Bird Discount: $1695 (Register more than 60 days in advance)
  • Teachers: $1695 (Special price for For K-12, College and University Teachers)
  • Youth: $1395 (Special price for ages 13-18)

Two Week Summer Intensive

June 16-29, 2024

Our 2-week intensive covers the same curriculum as our 6-month course. Tuition includes catered meals and on-site camping.

The 2-week intensive is followed by our 8-day Advanced Permaculture Design Course. Please consider joining us for both courses.

Individual Sessions

If you don’t want to sign up for the full course but would like to sign up for an individual weekend, you’re welcome to do so! The tuition is $295 per weekend. 

What is Permaculture & Whole Systems Design?

Permaculture is an ethically based whole-systems design approach that uses concepts, principles, and methods derived from ecosystems, nature connected communities, and other time-tested systems to create human settlements and institutions. It’s also been called “saving the planet while throwing a better party.” Learn more about permaculture.

Grounded in the context of Permaculture & Whole Systems Design, this course covers a wide range of topics, including:

  • Food Forests
  • Fruit Tree Pruning and Care
  • Agroforestry
  • Nature Awareness
  • Rehydrating the Earth
  • Creating Water
  • Retention Landscapes
  • Rainwater Catchment
  • Gabions
  • Berms and Swales
  • Greywater
  • No-Till Agriculture & Carbon Farming
  • Preparing Garden Beds for Planting
  • Cover Cropping
  • Mycorrhizal Network & Fungi
  • Soil Ecology
  • Composting
  • Natural Building & Cob Construction
  • Plant Guilds
  • Crop Planning
  • School Gardens
  • Urban Gardens & Orchards
  • Sudden Oak Life
  • Integrated Animal Husbandry
  • Holistic Management & Rotational Grazing
  • Local Food Systems
  • Designing to Mitigate Disaster
  • Bioregional Networks
  • The World Café
  • The Work That Reconnects
  • Nonviolent Communication
  • Financial Permaculture
  • Alternative Currencies
  • Economic Permaculture
  • Public Banking
  • Community Development
  • City Repair
  • Transition Towns
  • Social Permaculture
  • Intentional Communities & Ecovillages
  • Neighborhood Resilience
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Session Descriptions

All sessions include a mix of lecture and hands-on activities. Classes run from 9am-5:30pm each day.

Session 1 – Regenerative Design & Nature Awareness

  • Explore the principles and ethics of permaculture
  • Learn design processes and methods for articulating client goals and desired outcomes, and site analysis
  • Study ecology and employ natural patterns as a design tool
  • Participate in a World Cafe with fellow students to access the collective intelligence of the community
  • Practice nature awareness and observation
  • Learn to add value to current systems and practices through the lens of regenerative design

Session 2 – Regenerating Watersheds & Soils

Session 3 – Personal & Economic Permaculture

Session 4 – Home Scale Permaculture: Creating Natural Homes & Edible Landscapes

  • Learn about natural building techniques
  • Gain hands-on experience building a small structure with cob
  • Learn about crop planning strategies
  • Tour the UC Santa Cruz Farm and Chadwick Garden
  • Explore the application of permaculture methods to educational curriculum design and the creation of school garden programs
  • Study food forests and fruit trees
  • Define and design “guilds” or constructed plant communities
  • Discuss local food issues and the importance of localization

Session 5 – Broad Scale Permaculture for Ecosystem Regeneration: Integrated Animal Husbandry & Forest Management

Session 6 – Social Permaculture, Community Development, & Design Presentations

  • Explore the principles of social permaculture
  • Learn about community designs and programs that foster resilient neighborhoods
  • Explore best practices for starting and sustaining intentional communities and Ecovillages
  • Visit urban gardens and orchards in Santa Cruz
  • Present final permaculture design projects

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, you can make up material you missed during the next session.

Please use the registration button above.

Cancellations up to two weeks before the course begins will be refunded, excluding a $150 processing fee. No refunds are given after that date.

Participants are welcome to defer their enrollment to the next session of the course.

Most classes are held on our 26-acre farm north of Davenport, CA, 20 minutes north of the Westside of Santa Cruz and 1 hour from San Jose or San Francisco. Participants are welcome to camp onsite for the weekend of the course and enjoy the gorgeous natural surroundings and beach access. Some weekends will include regional field trips.
Course participants are very welcome to camp at the farm Friday and Saturday of the course weekends. Our facilities are rustic, but comfortable. Building community around the campfire is a wonderful bonus! The farm is a gorgeous place where you will feel immersed in nature and enjoy spectacular stars at night and walkable beach access. There are restaurants and markets nearby in Davenport and Costanoa.
Yes. We provide a very comprehensive course reader for free to our students, and recommend you purchase the 2nd Edition of Earth User’s Guide to Permaculture by Rosemary Morrow.
Class meets Saturday and Sunday 9am-5:30pm with a lunch break. We typically have potluck lunches both days. On rare occasions the group may decide to begin earlier to catch a particular field trip and/or end earlier. We never end after 5:30pm.

Many participants in the course have dietary restrictions. Our caterer can accommodate vegetarians, vegans, gluten free, and allergies. Please inquire by emailing us at info.santacruzpermaculture@gmail.com if you have more specific restrictions.

Full Series: 6 Weekends over 6 Months

Full series registration is available up until the day before the first session. Once the series has begun, you are free to sign up for future sessions with the series.

Pricing

  • Full Tuition: $1295
  • Partner / Spouse Tuition: $995 (When one partner registers for the full course, the second gets a discount)
  • Early Bird Discount: $1195 (Register more than 30 days in advance)
  • Super Early Bird Discount: $1095 (Register more than 60 days in advance)
  • Teachers: $995 (Special price for For K-12, College and University Teachers)
  • Youth: $795 (Special price for ages 13-18)

Fall 2023-Winter 2024 

  • Session 1: October 14-15, 2023
  • Session 2: November 11-12, 2023
  • Session 3: December 9-10, 2023
  • Session 4: January 13-14, 2024
  • Session 5: February 10-11, 2024
  • Session 6: March 9-10, 2024

Session Times: Sessions typically run 9am – 5:30pm both days, with a lunch break.

Spring-Summer 2024 

  • Session 1: April 6-7, 2024
  • Session 2: May 4-5, 2024
  • Session 3: June 1-2, 2024
  • Session 4: July 6-7, 2024
  • Session 5: August 3-4, 2024
  • Session 6: September 7-8, 2024

Session Times: Sessions typically run 9am – 5:30pm both days, with a lunch break.

Full Series: 2 Week Summer Intensive

Pricing

Tuition includes catered meals and on-site camping.
  • Full Tuition: $1895
  • Partner / Spouse Tuition: $1695 (When one partner registers for the full course, the second gets a discount)
  • Early Bird Discount: $1795 (Register more than 30 days in advance)
  • Super Early Bird Discount: $1695 (Register more than 60 days in advance)
  • Teachers: $1695 (Special price for For K-12, College and University Teachers)
  • Youth: $1395 (Special price for ages 13-18)

Two Week Summer Intensive

June 16-29, 2024

Our 2-week intensive covers the same curriculum as our 6-month course. Tuition includes catered meals and on-site camping.

The 2-week intensive is followed by our 8-day Advanced Permaculture Design Course. Please consider joining us for both courses.

Your Guides For This Course

David Shaw

David Shaw

Sustainable Agriculture & Social Permaculture
John Valenzuela

John Valenzuela

Agroforestry & Tropical Permaculture

Lydia NeIlson

Watershed Restoration
Miles Taylor

Miles Taylor

Natural Building

Lee Klinger

Sudden Oak Life
Della Duncan

Della Duncan

Economics for Transition

Kanyon Sayers-Roods

Traditional Ecological and Cultural Knowledge
Greg Richardson

Greg Richardson

Broadacre Permaculture