Design Your Site with Permaculture

This course will teach anyone who wants to live a more sustainable life how to effectively design their home or garden and increase their personal resilience.

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  • Why do this course

    We live in uncertain times and while our modern infrastructure is very clever and convenient we’re also learning how fragile it can be. The spring of 2020 saw unprecedented demand on seed companies and local food producers as many rushed to buy local and grow more of their own. A community garden local to Aranya quickly evolved into a food surplus distribution scheme, community composting, a home-growing skills centre and a network helping people to set up their own growing spaces.

    Permaculture offers us the tools to do all of these things really well, minimising wasted time and costly mistakes. From experience, Aranya has discovered that the very best way to learn permaculture is by following a real-life site design, then doing the same for yourself.

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  • Who this course is for?

    This course is for anyone wanting to use a permaculture approach to designing a site, whether it be a home garden, allotment, community garden, forest garden, market garden or smallholding.

    This course is suitable for:

    • Complete beginners, new to permaculture
    • Permaculture Design Course (PDC) graduates
    • Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design apprentices

    The course is also recommended for people looking to buy land, so they know exactly what to look for. Over the years Aranya has met quite a lot of people who bought land and then did a permaculture course. A lot of them wished they’d done the course first!

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  • What you will learn

    The Design Your Site with Permaculture course is new and unique. After teaching over 90 Permaculture Design Courses (PDCs), Aranya has selected the content most relevant to most of us and organised it around a real-life site design process. The PDC is undoubtedly a great grounding in permaculture, but for many students a significant proportion of the content may never be practically useful. Time is precious. This course is very much focused on small to medium scale site design.

    The course utilises a design framework called SADIMET, breaking down each part of the process into manageable parts.

    Along the way Aranya demonstrates and explains in detail:
    • All the things to look for when surveying a site
    • How to make a good site map, should you not already have one
    • Some simple surveying tools and techniques
    • How to clarify your design remit or interview a client
    • How to identify the key functions of any design
    • How to match your needs to the ability of the site to meet them, then set clear, realistic and achievable goals
    • How nature provides us with a set of guiding principles for excellent design
    • A selection of different permaculture tools and techniques, and...
    • How to use them to choose the best elements to include in your design, and...
    • How to assemble these into efficient, resilient and effective systems.
    • How to prioritise activities into an implementation and maintenance plan
    • How to share your ideas with others in an engaging way
    • What Aranya and his partner Jules have been implementing on their own site

    The site survey module for example, includes 19 sections, each with its own video, covering topics such as vegetation, animals, structures, soil, water, energy, leaks and limiting factors, microclimates, desire lines and zoning, and more.

    As you progress through the course you’ll learn how to observe, assess, and then improve all these aspects.

    For those new to permaculture, Aranya also covers the principles and ethics within the survey module, asking what can we learn from nature and from our ancestors? This can also serve as a refresher for those who’ve already had some permaculture training, including a full PDC.

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  • How it works

    While the learning is online, Design Your Site with Permaculture is very much a hands-on practical course. Though you’ll get to watch videos and read text, you’re very much invited to go out and put it all into practice for yourself. That’s how the learning gets embedded and how your site will get designed.

    Lessons are made available on a regular basis to help pace you through the course. Within each lesson there will be a series of activities to complete and check-off. These are of varying length and you can pause at any point, as the learning platform will remember where you've got to.

    A typical activity begins with an explanatory video, between 3 and 50 minutes in duration, followed by an activity, sometimes involving a worksheet, to help you embed the learning. Many activities include downloadable handouts and useful links and may also include polls or discussions.

    While you’re free to progress through the course at your own pace, scheduled webinars on specific topics offer some incentive to maintain momentum. These provide an opportunity to check-in, ask questions and meet other course participants. These webinars will be recorded so you can still catch up even if you’re unable to attend.

    One of the most life-changing aspects of a permaculture course is in connecting with like-minded people, so by sharing your progress you’ll also contribute to an online community, learning at the same time from your peers.

    On completion of the course, you'll have been guided through to the implementation of the first phase of your permaculture design.

    Once you have paid for the course you will have lifetime access, allowing you to revisit the design process when you want to tweak your design, and review the material as much as you need.

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  • Interactive elements

    During the course there’ll be opportunities to ask Aranya questions by email and during webinars and engage with other participants through online forums and discussions.

    There will be an additional option to choose 1-2-1 sessions with Aranya, enabling you to get personalised feedback, insights and ideas for your design.

    We hope that each participant will share their design after they have completed the course, enabling us to learn from each other.

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  • Dates and Times

    We plan to launch this course in mid-late June. There will be a discounted rate for the first participants.

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  • FAQs

    Is there a time limit for me to complete the course?

    No. Once you’ve paid for the course you have lifetime access, allowing you to revisit the design process whenever you want to tweak your design, and review the material as much as you need.

    Is there an exam at the end?

    No. We hope that you’ll test your own learning as you go along through the process of designing your site and observing how well your ideas work.

    Is this a certified permaculture design course?

    No, it isn’t. We’ve made a deliberate choice with this course not to be constrained by the syllabus of the PDC, which includes a number of topics that some people would never find practically useful. Instead we’ve decided to focus on all the things you need to know when doing any small to medium scale site design. We know that time is precious and we don’t want to waste yours if you’re not interested. The PDC was created back in the 1980s to teach permaculture pioneers all they needed to know about any of the different climate zones they might find themselves working in. Most of the people we teach these days just live normal lives.

    If you’d like to do a PDC, Aranya teaches a number of them in-person each year. Plenty of other teachers are also delivering PDCs online, but if you need a PDC to qualify you to do a Diploma, make sure the course you choose is properly certified.

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  • Aranya


    Trelowia is home to Aranya and his partner Jules.

    Completing his Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design in 2003, Aranya started teaching the following year. He discovered this made his heart sing, so he made it his main focus. Since 2004 he has taught over 90 two-week design courses, something he has no intention of stopping. He feels that it's a privilege to have the opportunity to teach "something that can make a real difference in all our lives".

    Aranya is also excited about new ways in which permaculture thinking can help us, developing new courses on using its principles to help us design for optimising our health and creating ethical livelihoods.

    In the spring of 2012 Permanent Publications published his first book 'Permaculture Design - a Step-by-Step Guide', which evolved from a set of design course worksheets. He also writes occasionally for magazines and from time to time shares interesting items on his blog. Aranya is currently writing a second book, about a subject he’s especially fascinated by, the application of systems thinking and patterns in permaculture design.