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whole-life skills for a radically different future

Permaculture Design Certification Course

SOIL instructor Zev Friedman demonstrates the use of an A-frame to measure contours.Cancelled for 2018

at Earthaven Ecovillage | near Asheville, North Carolina

SOIL is unable to offer the Permaculture Design Course at Earthaven Ecovillage this year due to low enrollment. For students interested in taking a PDC in the greater Asheville area, we highly recommend the classes offered by our partners at Wild Abundance. Their instructor team, led by Natalie Bogwalker, provides two different paths to earning the PDC:

  • Traditional Permaculture Design Course: This traditional 11-day PDC focuses on assimilating permaculture principles and design strategies into the rich cultural and ecological elements of the South.
  • Earthskills and Permaculture ImmersionOn one three-day weekend a month from April through November, particpants cover not only the internationally recognized PDC curriculum, but also gain experience in related skills such as wild food foraging, natural building, and primitive firemaking.

Permaculture Design Curriculum

The Permaculture Design Certification (PDC) course at Earthaven Ecovillage incorporates the internationally recognized two-week PDC curriculum into an extended exploration of community-scale design for climate resilience. SOIL's instructors place permaculture practice in the context of the emerging global climate reality, all through the vibrant, 23-year-old living "classroom" of Earthaven.

As the world fully faces severe climate change amidst a lack of political willpower to take action, permaculture offers a people-powered approach for planting the seeds of a future cooperative culture. Climate-adaptive, community-scale permaculture design holistically integrates social needs, economics, energy infrastructure, buildings, transportation, and ecosystem management for food, medicine, and other yields.

This 21-day intensive course offers 130 hours of instruction and integrated, hands-on learning experiences. The course provides 58 more instruction hours than does the standard 72-hour PDC curriculum, which typically lasts 12–14 days. This longer immersion allows more time for hands-on projects, tours, special topics, conversations with instructors, and additional experience in the permaculture design process.

In this PDC course, you will deepen your leadership skills and find your niche in addressing the complex biocultural challenges of the modern age. You'll learn permaculture design principles for any kind of system—land use, business, personal relationships, or organizational endeavors—that mimic ecosystem dynamics and generate measurable ecological regeneration while caring for people and empowering marginalized communities.

The course covers the following topics:

  • Permaculture history, ethics, and design principles
  • Observation practices and natural awareness
  • Ecological patterns in design
  • Global and local ecological issues and human responses
  • Hands-on projects with bioregional techniques and species
  • Water in the landscape: ponds, earthworks, and rainwater catchment
  • Soil ecology, biochar, fungi, and soil fertility
  • Agroforestry, forest gardening, and diverse orchards
  • Perennial agriculture, polyculture gardening, successional farming, and guilds
  • Wastewater systems
  • Integrated animal systems
  • Renewable energy and appropriate technology
  • Eco-building design and natural building techniques
  • Ecovillage systems design
  • Urban permaculture strategies
  • Social permaculture: eco-social design, cooperatives, decision making, and collaboration
  • Cooperative and human-scale economics, financial systems, and project budgeting
  • Presentation and design mapping
  • Student design projects

Who is this course for?

Graduates of the 2017 Permaculture Design Course

Graduates of the 2017 Permaculture Design Course

SOIL's PDC course is open to people of all ages and stages. PDC graduates include activists, policy-makers, landowners, philanthropists, land-use professionals, government agency staff, village builders, religious leaders, students, and social justice advocates, among many others. SOIL encourages applications from women, members of the LGBTQ community, people of color, and other diverse perspectives to cultivate an environment of equality, authenticity, and unity.

Bring your Team. We encourage community leaders interested in spearheading a community permaculture design process to attend with 2–4 other community members. This high-level intensive course will strengthen your capacity to lead your community and re-envision local human systems that mimic natural patterns.


The PDC course is led by an expert team of instructors with over 100 years of collective permaculture experience. Together, they have worked in ecosystems throughout the continental US, Hawaii, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, Costa Rica, and India.

Lead instructors include Patricia Allison, Zev Friedman, and Courtney Brooke Allen.



Founded in 1994, Earthaven Ecovillage is located on 329 acres in culturally rich, biologically diverse Western North Carolina, about 50 minutes southeast of Asheville and 30 minutes southeast of Black Mountain. Surrounded by like-minded, ecologically oriented neighbors, Earthaven is home to 80+ residents, including students and visitors. The community is dedicated to caring for people and the Earth by learning and demonstrating a holistic, sustainable culture.

“Earthaven is where the human community is bonding with the Earth in a manner capable of healing the devastation of the past and inspiring a new grandeur for the future. At Earthaven, even for a brief while, we experience what it is to return to ourselves.”

- Thomas Berry, author of The Dream of the Earth.


Permaculture Design Course participants look at a locally grown feast.Tuition includes catered organic meals for 21 days. Our cooks prepare mostly omnivorous meals that provide simple, unprocessed, home-grown deep nourishment. As much food as possible is sourced from Earthaven and its surrounding organic farms and gardens, with some ingredients sourced from local grocery stores. Grains, beans, and nuts are often pre-soaked; vegetables are served raw, fermented, and cooked; soup stocks are made from the bones of our livestock; fats are high-quality animal fats (butter, lard, and tallow), coconut oil, and olive oil (with no trans fats, synthetic oils, or processed vegetable oils); and sweeteners (raw sugar, molasses, honey, and maple syrup) are used minimally.

This meal plan is gluten free. Vegetarian and vegan meals are available upon request. Please contact us about accommodating any other dietary needs.

Accommodations and Amenities


Participants will camp in the Earthaven campground. Most campground sites are for two-person tents; some can accommodate larger tents. Several RV spots (no hookups) are also available.  The campground offers clean drinking water, a tarp-covered kitchen with propane burners for cooking and heating water, and an outhouse with composting toilet and hand-washing station. A flush toilet is available in the Council Hall nearby. Private indoor lodging options are also available; contact SOIL for further details.

Earthaven Ecovillage is off-grid and therefore not supplied by public utilities. However, electricity is available from solar panels and two small hydropower stations. There is minimal internet access and no cell phone reception, although landline phones are available for short phone calls or emergencies. Living at Earthaven offers a balance between comfort and adventure.


Participants are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. SOIL expects to fill this course.

Tuition by May 1, 2018: $1,975
Tuition on or after May 1, 2018: $2,075.

This cost includes food for the entire program, camping, instruction, certification, and all materials. Private indoor lodging is available for an additional cost; please contact us for more information. Transportation is not included.


Cancellation Policy

If you cancel, you may transfer your place in the program to someone of your choosing (who will need to register online), or you can donate your place to someone who would not otherwise have been able to participate.

  • If you have paid tuition in full, 50% is refundable until June 5, 2018.
  • If you have partially paid tuition with a payment plan, 30% is refundable until June 5, 2018.
  • After June 5, 2018, there will be NO tuition refunds.
  • Indoor lodging fees are 100% refundable, minus a $100 office fee.

If SOIL cancels the PDC course for any reason, 100% of your tuition will be refunded.

Contact NikiAnne at info@schoolofintegratedliving.org with registration questions.

Check out Earthaven Experience Week

Join the homesteads, farms, and businesses of Earthaven Ecovillage for a hands-on, skill-building immersion in sustainable and climate-resilient community life. The learning journey weaves large-group discussions and classes together with intimate hands-on experiences in the village and farms alongside community members.

Learn More