Discovering Permaculture Design

I knew very little about permaculture and its applications before entering on the Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course. I couldn’t even define “Permaculture” before starting – possibly something vague about growing food and nature. But now, 10 weeks later, I can see it in everything I do.

Permaculture is designing all systems in life (including life itself) based on the systems and patterns found in nature. Nature has been evolving perfect designs for millions of years, so why not use these to improve our lives and livelihoods.

“What can we learn from nature?”
“Why is nature so successful?”



Permaculture design methods allow us to do this to greater effect, focusing energy on the vision/targets we have, utilising the permaculture principles to maximise effectiveness and efficiency. There are 3 core ethics to permaculture which are People Care, Earth Care, and Fair Shares. 

I am completing my PDC in Durham with Wilf Richards as lead teacher and Alan Charlton as co-teacher. It has been a fantastic experience, and another learning journey for me after the completion of my degree last year. Wilf and Alan’s teaching methods combined are great for me personally, with lots of discussion, practical elements and….spider diagrams (with lots of colour, of course)! I find that I can remember information through creating spider diagrams/maps much easier than reading blocks of text or just listening to someone. The practical elements have run throughout the course, either as shorter sessions during the day (e.g. practicing observation on short walks), or as full day practicals working on Abundant Earth, where a veg box scheme is run (owned and run by Wilf and co.), doing a tour of Transition Durham, and doing our design projects.

An intro to willow weaving at Abundant Earth

An intro to willow weaving at Abundant Earth in Durham

The course is 12 days, which we have completed over 12 consecutive Fridays. This was a great time-frame for me as I was able to notify my new employer before starting work that I would need every Friday off for the remaining weeks – luckily the position is flexible as I started the course before getting my job!  I would be really interested in completing a residential PDC in the future, as this would bring many new experiences to the course. For example there would also be afternoon/evening activities, such as more shared food and the gift of sharing music and experiences! However, I have enjoyed having the time each week to absorb what I have learnt, and having the chance to read other material online and in books. It also gives us more time to complete the design project phase.

We are now finishing the design phase of our project, which we have one more day to complete as a group. Then next Friday will be presentation and celebration day – celebrating both the completion of the certificate, and a great friend, Alan’s, birthday!

This is just the beginning of a journey learning about and applying permaculture design and principles.

Permaculture - From Ethics to Action (taken and adapted from "People and Permaculture" by Looby Macnamara)

Permaculture – From Ethics to Action (taken and adapted from People and Permaculture by Looby Macnamara)


6 thoughts on “Discovering Permaculture Design

    • Thanks very much 🙂 That’s what I’m already trying to focus on. I will follow up with more blogs as I do and learn more…I’ve built a herb spiral and we’re growing food at the moment, so I’m always trying to apply the principles where I can. Loving it!

  1. Hannah – it’s not an ‘easy’ transition – slow and steady works best – usually – but it is about applying the PDC materials in a number of different settings/applications…heuristic – learning by doing – .and you can decide to do that more formally in undertaking the Dipolma route….we talk about “What next – options?” after you complete your Group Designs towards the end of Day 12…. 🙂

  2. I just love reading your writing. It flows easily and always portrays your point in detail 🙂

    Sent from my iPhone


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