Why I’m Taking a Permaculture Design Course

By August 1, 2015Homesteading, Permaculture
Whole Systems Design Research Farm

The Whole Systems Research Farm, where I’m headed in AugustĀ 

I’m awfully excited about the upcoming month. In August, I’m headed to the Whole Systems Research Farm in Vermont to take a Permaculture Design Certificate Course (PDC). In this case, it’s anĀ  intensive workshop and immersion in designing and maintaining resilient farms and homesteads, based on the principles and techniques of permaculture design. Basically… it’s 10 days learning about forest gardens, water management, perennial plants, scything, self-sufficiency, and maintaining high yield / low input food landscapes.

Okay, that’s still a lot of words, but you get the idea. This is rich stuff, and I’m thrilled to be able to see Ben Falk and co.’s living examples of permaculture in action. The timing couldn’t be better, as we’ll be moving onto our land this summer/fall, and making grand plans over the winter and in 2016 for turning our own 28 acres in a slice of perma-paradise.

Why I’m Taking a Permaculture Design Certificate Course

I decided to investigate the Whole Systems Design PDC based on my reading of Ben Falk’s The Resilient Farm and Homestead, which has become my go-to guidebook and reference for exactly what the title suggests. The book is extremely well-written, thoughtful, and based on a good decade of experience, with lots of firsthand accounts of what did and did not work for Falk and cohorts in their Vermont hillside locale. This is a fantastic “bigger picture” permaculture book, with an excellent amount of finer details about transforming a piece of land to be bountiful and regenerative. Importantly, the WSD PDC itself is much more hands-on and less “sitting in a classroom” than many other advertised PDC courses — the way it should be, I do believe.

I’ve spent much of my time over the past 8 years doing natural building, which itself is a piece of the permaculture puzzle, but now I’m very ready to advance more deeply into the food, water, plants, and animals aspect of living a resilient life. Natural building is but one path along the road to living sustainably. It’s a vital and exciting one, no doubt. But now that we finally have land to play with and steward, there will be so many new projects to explore in the years ahead.

I’m hoping to take back lots of fresh ideas for our land, particularly good design methods for ponds and swales and overall water management, combining rotational grazing with perennial food plants (think cows or sheep grazing around nut trees), getting a scythe peening refresher… and… lots and lots of other things. I’m counting down!


  • Yurt Grrl/Kari Cooper says:

    How terrific! I am just beginning to explore permaculture. Can’t wait to read all about ur experience, sounds fun! Be Well, Yurt Grrl

  • Curtis Reed says:

    Sounds great. My wife and I have been reading, researching and trying to figure out how we can do something similar. We researched Maine quite extensively, which is (obviously) just next door to Vermont. We absolutely love the state and there is a lot of land available at surprisingly reasonable prices. I had thought about Eastern Kansas as well, but the heat is just too much for me. Anyway, I’ll be following your progress. We are hoping to come out to your courses on straw bale houses. Good luck with your course.

  • Sherry Gunning Faught says:

    This woman has been living it in Ireland for 11 years.


    You might enjoy seeing what she’s accomplished.

    And I imagine you already know about


    I’m hoping you’ll give a full report on your experience at the workshop.

  • ziggy says:

    I’ll be taking plenty of photos, and should have a report (or two) once I return home!