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While an abundance of information about permaculture can be found online or in books, permaculture certification is required for those who wish to use the copyrighted term "permaculture" for vocational pursuits. Permaculture certification is granted upon successful completion of a permaculture design course. Design courses are based on the teachings of permaculture's co-originators, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, and are offered in many locations worldwide. The course usually takes about two weeks to complete, depending on the schedule.
Despite some variations in organization and content, a permaculture design course should be based on the concepts and principles first outlined by Mollison and Holmgren. A common set of principles forms the foundation of permaculture design. The three most widely recognized ethical principles are expressed in shorthand as "earth care," "people care," and "fair share." In addition to these ethical principles, permaculture has 12 design principles. The commonly-used image of the "permaculture flower" shows how all of these principles, represented as the heart of the flower, are applied to a set of seven domains, represented by the petals.
Permaculture principles and domains are usually the first subject covered in a permaculture design course. Later parts of the course tend to focus on application of permaculture design within the seven domains. Courses typically cover the following broad areas: understanding natural and cultural patterns; understanding landscapes and climate zones; managing and conserving resources; agricultural planning and design; built environment planning and design; and economics and marketing. Each of these areas covers a range of more specific topics. Managing and conserving resources, for example, could include renewable energy, energy conservation, water harvesting, and waste management, among other topics.
In addition to traditional classroom learning, design courses for permaculture certification tend to feature hands-on training. Students may apply what they are learning by working with plants or animals on a farm, or by helping to build a sustainably-designed house in a permaculture community. Completing one or more design projects is also a common requirement for permaculture certification.
Although permaculture design originated in Australia in the 1970s, certified instructors and design courses can be found throughout the world. Some instructors have expressed concern that the standards for content and depth of learning set by Mollison and Holmgren have been diluted by the rapidly growing number of certified instructors and design courses. The Permaculture Institute of Australia and its sister organization, the Permaculture Institute in Santa Fe, New Mexico, work to ensure that a standard curriculum is taught in courses granting permaculture certification.
@umbra21 - There is certainly plenty of value in just taking a few short courses in permaculture. You don't have to go the whole way towards getting certification, particularly if you don't intend to run a farm or something like that.
I enjoyed just learning about keeping chickens in the backyard, and how to use worm farms and things like that. They discussed the principles of permaculture and its origins and so forth with us, but they didn't really linger on them. It was mostly just a really good course in growing your own food in limited space, and trying to keep things as easy and organic as possible.
I really enjoyed it, and would do it again.
Permaculture is one of those things that seems to have a simple enough premise, but actually takes a long time to learn.
Yes, it's easy enough to try and use a few permaculture principals in your backyard. And, in fact, people ought to do that as much as they can.
But in order to try and take a piece of land as few as possible into the permaculture lifestyle, you need a lot of dedication and research.
I would suggest, at the very least, you should make sure your course has a hands on component, so that you can see what an area that has been cultivated according to permaculture principals really looks like.
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