Permaculture Design Course

Permaculture Design Course
Madeira Island - Portugal
Permaculture is to live in harmony with nature providing for human needs and the needs of everything around us

Permaculture Design Course (PDC) by Helder Valente and New School Permaculture Team

Permaculture Design Course
Course by Helder Valente and
 The New School Permaculture team


The PDC is about how can we think and act the same way as nature does, providing practical solutions to the global crises we are currently facing.

Permaculture is a sustainable design system that provides for human needs while having positive effects on the surrounding environment. 

Have you ever asked yourself this questions? 

How can i design my farm, my garden or my house so that i become more self sufficient?
How can i get more connected with nature and understand how it works?
In what way can i save energy on everything i do?
How can i recover and redesign areas or objects in a way that they become more ecological and nature friendly?
How can i live a more healthy life without having to buy so many chemical products?
How can i develop or be part of a network of people that is inspired to be of positive change to this world?

Did you ever found your self having this ideas?
I want to develop design skills and find a new way of thinking.
I want to support other people to find a way to live a low impact lifestyle  
I would like to be living connected with nature working the same way it works.
I see myself living with a community that works toguether.
I want to recover an old farm and live with what it can produce.

On this course we will answer these questions and will support  these ideas

The PDC is the course that creates the certified permaculturists, many people practice permaculture in an intuitive way with wonderfull results, on this course we learn about the thinking of permaculture, the way we look at things, so this course has the objective of changing the way we look at the world, thats why for many people its a life changing experience.

On this days we look at the story of permaculture, were it comes from and were it is going, we share the alternative ways of presenting knowledge of the new school permaculture, there is a focus to start to create the community that will live toguether until the end of the course, this is all part of the introduction to social permaculture that we cover on the early days of the course.

It is important from the beginning of the course that students understand the ethics and principles of permaculture and how ecosystems work, so we develop skills reading the landscapes, and understanding climates and microclimates on the context of natural patterns and successions .  

Building soil and soil consciousness its the base for regenerating ecosystems, thats were we move our focus wen we want to learn about creating abundant stable gardens or forests, independent of being on a urban or rural context.
We talk about land regeneration with soil building and proper water retention and management, the secrets of living water and how to regenerate deserts.

The PDC is a wonderfull course for people that like to work with plants and animals, living material as we call it, during these days we dive deep on garden design and landscaping, companion planting, food forests and animal care, we hope that by the end of this course people can design gardens and farms on the permaculture way.

One of our big goals is that our students understand and practice this new way of thinking, the way of nature, so we focus on exercises about sistemic thinking and ecological dynamics so that we can get the goals of creating a change of attitude of the way people see everything around .

The PDC its a design course so the main focus is on developing design skills in a way that students can apply sustainable strategies any place they go. 

To know more about the content of the PDC you can check:
 Bill Mollison Curriculum HERE
British Permaculture Curriculum HERE

The subjects covered during the PDC include:
The ethics and principles of Permaculture
Learning strategies
Educational Methods
Reading the landscape
Pattern in design
Water preservation
Forest and trees
Garden Desin
Urban strategies
Soils building
Buildings and natural construction
Community development
Alternative economies


Diana Arhire - Moldavia

One thing was clear for me from the beginning- if among all this world pandemic chaos, all these people are still coming for the internship, across the middle of the Atlantic- it’s going to be a special one! I felt inspired, supported, understood, challenged, encouraged. As they say, every conflict is an opportunity, and if we see this pandemic as a global conflict, then it could indeed be a great opportunity- for change, for slowing down, for going deeper not further, for (inner) gardening, for Permaculture!

I’m grateful for all the amazing people I met during the courses, so many laughs, hugs, spontaneous dancing, building and burning our first fireplace. Our Perma-tribe was led by our eco-shaman Helder, the most unusual, non-conformist teacher I ever had, with his great sense of humor & observation skills, he knows how to bring out the best in people. Lots of cool (horror) stories from his many experiences around the world. Bring popcorn.

And so, brave people from 10 different countries, so different from each other, yet we got together for the same reason or cause- we want to shift from an outdated broken society model to a conscious, harmonious co-existing with Nature, where we can all be involved, from growing a pepper on your urban balcony (and maybe some guerrilla planting shhh) to regenerating soils, forest, and rivers. It’s a change of mindset where you realize (or more like you are being reminded) that ANYONE can make a change. Anyone can grow food, in any conditions. Each of us plays an important role, wherever we are, and whoever we are- a farmer with many lands, or the weirdo of the family, backpacking around the world- we are all connected in this web of transformation and we are the influence in our community or family, and nowadays, influence is power. So this Permaculture internship was for me, among other things, about Empowerment.

Empowerment and understanding the Essence- whatever the question is, the answer can be found in Nature, by observing, interacting and experimenting. We humans, as Observers, can change the world around us, thus we are creators of our own worlds (inspiration from quantum physics). When we slow down and observe Nature, we see problems as solutions, we understand the natural succession of things, where each part plays a role in the cycle of life, where there are no invasive species, just pioneer soldiers doing their job to balance something our or to regenerate damaged soils or ecosystems. By understanding the Patterns in Nature, we understand ourselves, and by understanding ourselves we move upward in the spiral of Life.

I’ve learned that Permaculture is about compassion, for all life forms- it’s empathizing with the Earth, with Nature, with the plants, with the animals, the insects, the rivers, the soils, but also with ourselves and the other humans beings across the globe. It’s a holistic approach on Life.

I’ve learned that techniques and recipes are useful but once you understand The Essence of a process, you don’t need the recipe anymore. You can make your own fertilizer, you can make your own vinegar!

I’ve learned that when working with Nature, as with people, being gentle is more important than having a lot of knowledge and experience. Mindset and attitude are more important than any material resources.

With every course of the internship it felt like I’m putting a puzzle together to finally see “the bigger picture”:

PDC design course: 

The most intense course in my opinion, touches many aspects of our lives, from good design of our gardens and lives, to patterns in nature. We started by learning about Permaculture classics and their methods, like Bill Mollison that said:

Permaculture is a dance with Nature- in which Nature leads.”

We continued with Natural Succession, understanding the process and purpose of an eco-system, from Gramineae to forests. We studied soil composition and the importance (VERY important) of soil health in relation to balanced systems, abundant yield and sustainable agriculture. Of course we also touched classic topics like different types of composts, dry toilets, water management and household efficiency.

It wasn’t all hard work and taking notes, we also had chill open space at night and occasional movie nights when we would watch inspiring films about Permaculture projects around the world, for example the virtual tour around David Holmgren’s farm (another classic), or the online interview we had with Brian Laufer and his amazing plant collection.

Finally, we got to designing our first Permaculture project, for our first “client”- our dear host Ana, understanding her needs, vision, mission and objectives- great teamwork and very efficient Design Plan Process (OBRADIMCE)!

Another important aspect of this course for me was working on our dream project, design to details, because our dreams are the seeds of change, waiting patiently in the darkness, to be sprouting in the right conditions (inspiration from the Seeds Workshop with Pablo).

To see some more testimonials from 
our students click HERE

  • Many people look for Sustainability projects because they have a concern related with the way humans are interacting with nature and the impact they have on the planet. By being part of this movement we look to reduce our ecological footprint and develop a deeper connection with nature

  • Permaculture its a design based system that looks to create balance between man and nature by a sustainable management of resources. Permaculture its about understanding how nature works and work with nature rather than against nature. Permaculture its also a way of living based on functional design and decision making from the perspective of flow of energy.

  • By being part of the development of a permaculture project we envision to develop our capacity to become active agents of change towards a positive future. Despite all the problems in the world our choices determine our impact, by a regenerative management of our resources and materials we can create a brighter future

  • Permaculture projects have a big focus on reducing their ecological impact, the intelligent management of garbage, the production of food using organic methods and the construction of houses using local natural materials are some of the good examples that you will find, permaculture its a life changing experience and you will find many things to discover.

  • By focusing on nature we discover the importance of rhythm and seasons, often we wake up with sun rise or stop to work at sunset,we plant the seed and wait months or years to have the harvesting, understanding natural cycles its a very important part of permaculture studies and to be attuned with the energy flows of nature, deep observation its an essential part.

  • Water is the source of all life, and its availability can change dramatically from a dry climate in the desert to a wet climate in a rainforest. Proper water management becomes a priority in ecological design and to see water following a functional human designed system its a special experience.

  • By being able to close cycles we see organic garbage from the kitchen become super fertile garden compost that will then produce delicious organic food. Soil creation and improvement, its the first thing we design for when we start a new project and once it starts it never finishes.From compost to natural fertilizers, to worm farming to animal feed, there are many ways to manage the organic waste but it usually stays all the project and its all converted on precious black soil.

  • One of the great experiences in permaculture projects its to be able to eat the fruits of our work, its very usual to find large abundant vegetable gardens and diverse food forests producing a large diversity of fruits and berries .Producing its a part of it but also important its the processing of such crops.To make marmalades, vinegars, sourkrauts, jams and wines its a common experience in permaculture projects. Be ready to have great meals.

  • There are many different visions towards ecological regeneration, sometimes you find regenerative agriculture that has a special focus on animals, sometimes you find agroforestry projects that have a special focus on trees and sometimes you will find organic farming that focus on all aspects of farming, permaculture also focus on building of houses, natural architecture, how to organize social networks and project management.The main line that connects all of them its to use low impact natural methods instead of intensive short term chemical options.

  • Repair, reuse, reduce,  recycle, repurpose, that is all part of closing the cycles : To be able to have a future in harmony with the planet we need to stop exponential growth and exploitation of resources. To reduce our need for new things means to reduce the need for mining and industrial contaminating factories in poor countries, closing loops its the way to avoid that.

  • By working outside in direct contact with nature you will experience what it is to feel the wind on your face and the soil under your feet, that helps with our sense of belonging to the planet and you will find that closer connection. Nature can also be devastating and with strong energy flows, we have to be able to adapt and figure out the best way to deal with it. 

  • Natural Building is a hot topic that everyone naturally gets interested in. Everyone has the dream of a beautiful natural house in Nature. It is common to find houses made of clay, of wood, of stone and even houses of straw, it always changes with climate and available resources but the focus is always bioclimatic architecture and natural bioconstruction.

  • Animals There are people good with plants, and there are people good with animals, some people are good with both, find your place and what do you especially love. Connection with farm animals is a great way to ground the stress and to take care of a very sensitive being. By doing this we have a strong help to find where we fit.

  • By being part and helping on a permaculture project will give you some more clear ideas about how we can live in harmony with nature and how to design a future that goes from competition to cooperation, from exploitation to abundance and from egocentric to ecocentric. Take a step on this brighter future and you will see the world change around you

                        Create your path and let the path guide you

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