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PDC Core Curriculum

Full Permaculture Design Course in Scotland (or elsewhere)

There is now a UK wide agreement about the core curriculum for the Full Permaculture Design Course. Graham Bell currently chairs the Education Working Group which updates this and it is then approved by the Council of Trustees of the Permaculture Association.

The document which summarises this can be found here

In Scotland (in order to ensure a consistent, high quality provision of a permaculture design course) the four practitioners who currently hold the diploma and teach PDC’s (Graham Bell, Lusi Alderslowe, James Chapman, & Ed Tyler (The Hazel Guild)), have agreed to co-ordinate courses when possible into a core curriculum that each will follow. In this way not only is quality assured but it also allow delegates to choose to complete the course with a single or multiple trainers.

Learning Outcomes
Our aim is that, by the end of the course, students will be able to explain the following topics:

  • What permaculture is
  • 3 permaculture ethics (people care, earth care, fair share/ setting limits to population and consumption)
  • ecological footprint
  • real wealth
  • resource choices
  • the prime directive ( “The only ethical decision is to take responsibility for our own existence and that of our children.” Bill Mollison)
  • Mollison principles (see appendix 1)
  • Patterns (Design from pattern to detail; physical, behavioural, conceptual)
  • Design Process (SADIMET, awareness of other processes)
  • Surveying tools (e.g. PASTE, sit spot, Whitefield’s 4 stage observation, client interview, history, boundaries, resources, biotime diaries, shade mapping, photographs, reading the landscape)
  • Mapping, elevation and have experience of making a map.
  • Zones and sectors
  • Energy flows
  • Climate and micro-climates
  • Input-output analysis
  • Analysis tools (e.g. random assembly, identifying functions and elements, SMART goals, SWOC, placement, design by limiting factors, process flows, relative location, PMI,
  • Design tools (e.g. cascade of intervention, 6 coloured thinking hats, Planning for Real, zoning, Yeoman’s Scale of Relative Permanence, wild design, dreaming)
  • permaculture and organic gardening and use of tools (e.g. spades, saw etc).
  • Soil (e.g. soil types, soil sampling, soil fertility, compost, tilling pros & cons, mulching, soil indicator plants, erosion, dynamic accumulators)
  • Water (e.g. Victor Schauberger, rainwater harvesting, swales, salinity, working with the sea, black and grey water, spiritual significance, ponds, aquaculture, productive aquatic habitats, keyline planning, water use in the home and water saving, catchment, spring line, water cycle, key characteristics)
  • Plants/Trees/Forest Gardening (e.g. energy transactions of trees, agroforestry, windbreaks & shelterbelts, riparian buffers, tree/plant ID (winter/summer & botanical names), tree types, species – native vs exotics, invasive species, trees as wind indicators, orchards, woodland management (grafting, coppicing, continuous cover forestry), guilds, mycorrhizal associations, fungi, uses of trees)
  • Built environment (e.g. ecological buildings and structures, working with existing buildings, natural building techniques, local materials, energy management, thermal mass, U value, airflow, plants and buildings, A Pattern Language, transport, desire lines, domestic renewable energy, urban permaculture)
  • Social systems/contexts (e.g. transition towns, the importance of vibrant, well-connected community, consensus decision making, social/physical/mental health, Zone 00, Non-violent communication, Work that Reconnects, diet, Herbal Medicine, Conflict Resolution, nature connection, finance & economics, land tenure & Community Governance, education)
  • How to create a permaculture design that is both sustainable and productive
  • The next steps (e.g. possible next steps on their permaculture pathway, membership of the Permaculture Association, Diploma, linking/establishing with local groups, setting up action learning guilds/peer support groups, book sales)
  • Given feedback and reviewed their course

By the end of this course, students will have:

  • visited an established permaculture site
  • seen design examples of diploma standard
  • participated in a practical example of permaculture in action
  • created a permaculture design that is both sustainable and productive
  • presented their design
  • experienced a celebration
  • received a certificate

Optional topics:

  • Holmgren principles
  • Morning circle
  • Plant of the day

Appendix 1
Principles – Bill Mollison’s principles as per the PAB website.
Attitudinal Principles (from Bill Mollison)

  • The Problem is the Solution (everything works both ways)
  • Minimum Effort for Maximum Effect (make the least change for the maximum possible effect).
  • The Yield is theoretically unlimited
  • Work with Nature (rather than against her)
  • Everything Gardens (or has an effect on its environment)

Permaculture Design Principles (also from Mollison)

  1. Each element carries out many functions.
  2. Every important function is served by many elements.
  3. Use stacking in space and time to increase yields.
  4. Accelerate succession and evolution.
  5. Value Diversity: including guilds.
  6. Plan for efficient energy use (e.g. zone, sector, slope).
  7. Observe and use the effect of edge on the system – maximise/minimise as appropriate.
  8. Cycle energy, nutrients and information as locally as possible within the system.
  9. Place elements to maximise the beneficial relationships between them (relative location).
  10. Value biological resources

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