Online Permaculture Design Course | HOME | Permaculture Training | Publications | Consulting | Links | News About | Permaculture Articles  

Barking Frogs Permaculture News

2013 Annual Letter -- Barking Frogs Permaculture Center
Pease Post and/or Announce
16th Annual Certificate Permaculture Design Course Online
Cycle 16 of the Elfin Permaculture annual course online begins April 14. Enrollment has begun.  To allow for other projects, we may, at the conclusion of Cycle 16, discontinue annual offerings of this program for some years, or permanently.  To accommodate students enrolled in our deliberate track, which involves students during two of our-six month course cycles, we will have some sort of program for Cycle 17, but we may well accept only non-certificate students not submitting designs.  The decision will be made during, or shortly following, Cycle 16.
The Elfin Permaculture Design Course Online is singularly rigorous and complete, with 21 course modules of one week or more, most covering multiple topics. Full details of the course structure and content may be read in the course preregistration package, which is a free download at
Because I devote a lot of time to reviewing each student design draft, I limit enrollment to five new designs in the deliberate track and three new designs in the fast track, including non-certificate students submitting a design. We will also accept students who do not submit designs, up to a limit of 20 total students.  (We award certificates only to students who complete acceptable designs and meet all other course requirements.) Tuition varies according to type of enrollment. See the course fee tables in the preregistration package for details.
Registration may be completed only by physical mail using the registration form found near the end of the preregistration package.
Other News
Due to time-consuming health problems, progress on various projects was minor since our last letter.
Chicken Trellis
We have begun work on a chicken/trellis design detail that I originally proposed when I taught the first Mexican Permaculture Design Course, in 1984.  At that time, I suggested combining poultry with chayote farms to attain multiple benefits. (Little or no weeding, no need to buy fertilizer, forage for the chickens to reduce the cost of purchased feed, two crops in one area with the work of one crop, etc.)  This year we began implementation of a very small-scale variation of that ‘standard design’, planting a small vineyard of muscadine grapes and beginning trellis construction.  Additional benefits will include excellent cover from owls and hawks, both abundant here.  We will report on the project, when complete, in our publication, The International Permaculture Solutions Journal. (TIPS Journal).
At present, the following projects underway or were completed since our last letter:
• A revised and much enlarged version of our client survey, 20+ pages of questions intended to develop the core of a design site analysis, is essentially done, to be published in a future volume of TIPS.
• I have begun a series of publications on gardening, a topic with which I have been involved over a much greater time than my 32 years as a permaculturist.  I will not, as others have done, pretend that a gardening book is a permaculture book, but of course the permaculture way of thinking will be an evident influence.  While I have notes for several titles, lately I have concentrated on container gardening (mainly for food), and one big push will find that title ready for release.
•  We plan to use my core materials for the online permaculture design course as the basis for a permaculture book.  To that end, I have been adding a great deal of new material to the course CD, benefiting my students and giving me the benefit of reader feedback before I finalize publication.
• We continue to accumulate material for our sporadic publication, TIPS. Inquire if you feel you have something to contribute, sending the email to
On-Site Food Production
Gardening at Barking Frogs Permaculture came almost to a stop last spring as medical treatments took precedence. Interestingly, our self-sowing crops filled in nicely and of course our chickens were unaffected.  Without the time and energy to daily visit the garden  (which cannot be right at the doorstep, the optimum location, due to shade), invading wildlife, including deer and rabbits, have become a limiting problem there for the first time since we installed our chinampas years ago.  When my (at least daily) visits to the area stopped, the area ceased being a permaculture Zone 2 and became a Zone 4, as befits its location relative to our house. It will be interesting to see if we can now discourage these plant eaters, which have become habituated to visiting this area of enhanced fertility.  We have no objection to eating them, but we almost never see the rabbits and, except in very narrowly defined circumstances, killing deer is a felony in Florida.  Our dog has been outstanding at protecting our chickens from predators, but she doesn’t see the point of patrolling plants when she could be sleeping. So we have an opportunity for new insights here, and a refined definition of permaculture zones that I will explore with the online course students.
Tree Crops
Our fruit trees were hammered by frost damage again this year. Global warming hastens the breaking of dormancy, but we still get hard frosts in February and early March. Fruit, blossoms, and new growth are killed. Last year a lot of wood was killed too.
We have a mountain of wood chips, from electric-line right of way work, that I have begun to move as mulch for our trees.  An even larger stash is composting  in an attempt to restore an area covered with infertile material during canal construction, which took place decades ago. I am letting composting reduce the volume before I spread the material, adapting the concepts of Jean Pain from his rocky land to our pure sand.
The bald cypress plantation continues to thrive and grow faster than the books predict.  It should qualify as a bald cypress swamp in a few years more.  It has needed no input from us since the trees were planted.  The trees are restitution (with compound interest) for those cut to build our house, and much more.
Our bamboo groves also thrive without much need of human assistance, though I harvest poles, fuel, and tool handles and do appropriate thinning and grooming when I have time and energy.  If I get enough wood chips laid down under some of the bamboo, we will have a nice situation for edible shoots, possibly a cash crop.
Together with our woodlot areas, which I manage to produce firewood for cool season cooking and heating, our trees are sequestering carbon much in excess on-site carbon dioxide and methane emissions, and probably more than the carbon also released by our automobile.  (This is a guess based on the tiny amount of gasoline needed to cut a considerable amount of firewood, generating vastly more heat than the chain saw generates.)  We are getting woodier all the time, despite our reliance on it as an energy source.
While planting some trees in our agroforestry area, I encountered an area of soil with a much higher quality than nearby. The contrast is striking. It had been the site of a burned brush pile that produced a lot of charcoal, the larger pieces still evident a decade later.  I am impressed with the degree of inadvertent improvement, especially since a lot of the charcoal is in pieces too large to be optimally effective. Charcoal does not increase fertility, but holds it in place. The main source of fertility would have been falling tree leaves and very small amounts of manure from foraging chickens, not much, but apparently cumulative.  Usually organic matter breaks down quickly and leaches out of the sand ‘soil’. I surmise that charcoal promoted fertility by slowing losses to leaching.
We return small amounts of charcoal to the soil when we apply wood ash as fertilizer, also. While the quantities are quite small, I believe that every bit makes a difference, especially in highly leached soils.
Cynthia had some ‘ball cap’ type hats made with our Barking Frogs Permaculture Logo on the front.  While these were produced mainly for use by family, we are happy to sell a few as well.  The tan hat has our frog logo in green and ‘Barking Frogs Permaculture’ in red. We’ll try to get a picture of the hat on our website sometime this year.
When I began our online course, more than 16 years ago, there was only one other online course offered, based in Australia, with a very different approach.  Recently I’ve read that a number of other people now offer online certificate courses.  While I believe that there is a continuing need for a course with the experience, rigor, scope, and long-term support built into our program, I do feel better about considering ‘retirement’ from this project. After living more than six-dozen years, about half of them devoted to permaculture, I’m perhaps ready for a change of pace, and one that is perhaps less intensive.
Dan Hemenway

2012 ANNUAL LETTER – Barking Frogs Permaculture Center

All of the projects described in our 2010-2011 letter continue at Barking Frogs Permaculture Center.
About the only change in our programs has been an increase in emphasis on our green manure trials, which we have not previously mentioned in our annual newsletters. We have a number of legumes (Sesbania, crimson clover, cowpea, etc.) now established as encouraged nitrogen-fixing weeds in one or both of the main chinampas.  We are blessed with remarkably poor soil, which gives us an exceptional opportunity to prove-out various green manure plants, for which we have established trial areas and additional gardens. Crimson clover, cowpeas, and Mucuna (which does not self-sow in our climate) have proven themselves in the infertile-soil trial areas, and, after a slow start, we are having success this year with Crotolaria, planted this spring.  Non-legume green manures of value have in previous years included daikon radish and wheat, which grow best here in the coolest months, and castor bean for the warm seasons[5].  This year we began tests of promising warm season non-legume species: sorghum, Tithonia diversifolia, and T. rotundifolia, all fairly drought tolerant, very heat tolerant, and the latter also nutrient accumulators. (Tithonia spp. bring deep nutrients to the soil surface layers where most other plants have their feeder roots.  This is particularly helpful here, as several decades ago canals where dug across this area and infertile sand and marl spread over the rich, black, mucky marsh soils.) Next year we plant to combine sorghum with cowpeas, following this year’s Tithonia planting.
We will report these results in detail in a future edition of our Florida version of our Basic Gardening Data CD, which we released this year. (A Yankee Permaculture publication) The basic CD includes databases and tables showing plant nutrient content of abut 400 materials commonly recovered or scrounged, tables of plant symptoms of soil nutrient deficiency, fertility and pH requirements of hundred of cultivated crops, etc.  The Florida edition also includes planting tables and other items of specific pertinence to Florida climate and soils.

2011 Annual Letter

2010 Annual Letter - with pictures of various projects and personal and permaculture news.


Due to deteriorating storage conditions, we are selling most of our hard copy Yankee Permaculture publications at half price. Check the sale order form for details. We are discontinuing these publications in hard copy. Some of these may be stained and/or feature slightly nibbled edges, and they may have a musty odor that bothers a few people. They are complete and usable. For the more complete list of publications that we offer, check the current Yankee Permaculture Order Form, also downloadable from this web site.


Contents below:

o New Online Program--Help With Your Home Permaculture Design

o 13th Annual Permaculture Design Course Online

o Discounted Publications

o Internships

o Florida Permaculture Workshop Opportunities

o Scholarship Deadline--Aug. 1

o Permaculture-suitable Land for Sale

o Unsubscribe Instructions

This is our annual news release. For more detail information and updates, please visit our web site at

New: Elfin Permaculture Design Clinic Online Begins Sept.14

For the first time this year we offer a special program to support people in producing a permaculture design for their own home. This non-certificate program features looser structure and total focus on the designs offered by each participant. The program will follow the outline of our Online Permaculture Design Course and run concurrently with the online course. Robert Waldrop (see below) will moderate the course and lead discussions, with backup by course designer Dan Hemenway. The clinic suits people who do not currently plan for permaculture to be a major focus of their lives, but who wish to undertake a transition to more nearly sustainable living. The program is not intended as support for people designing for others. The more rigorous online course is better supports professional design projects.

Unlike the online certificate course, all clinic participants are expected to complete their work within the six-month schedule. (If a need arises for continued support of difficult designs, we will consider the matter for future clinics.)

The clinic design allows for three levels of design support and correspondingly three levels of tuition. Homeowners or renters also have the option of taking the full Online Permaculture Design Course, which will provide greater depth of design support, but at a larger tuition.

While following the same overall schedule as the online course, in the clinic, no assignments are required. The moderator will identify those topics that he feels are of least importance to someone simply working on a home design with no immediate goals of outreach or professional permaculture service.

Go to our website for a preregistration package that includes a protocol for this first clinic, fee schedules, a registration form, and related information.

Elfin Permaculture Announces 13th Annual Permaculture Design Course Online

Elfin Permaculture's 13th Annual Permaculture Design Course Online, which begins Sept. 14, 2008, benefits from more than a dozen years of the online courses and more than a quarter century of teaching permaculture by the lead instructor, Dan Hemenway.

The deadline for scholarship applications is Aug. 1 each year. (See below.) Otherwise, students may register at any time. Students who are fully paid before the cycle begins receive a $100 discount.

People with limited funds or time may also monitor the course free with purchase of the course CD self-study version, or the full self-study reading package. Monitor registration must accompany registration for free tuition. See the Course Protocol, on our web site, for details.

The certificate course runs six months and includes the following learning approaches:

o extensive reading in books, papers, both in print and on the course CD-ROM;

o 21 modules of at least one week, mainly presented on the CD, representing the formal presentations of course instructors;

o at least four reports from each student, including a full permaculture design report;

o class discussion via email of readings and reports, as well as questions and issues raised by students or instructors;

o the opportunity to participate in student study groups where interested students can pursue any agreed-upon topic as long as they wish (independently of the course schedule);

o support for students by three instructors: Dan Hemenway, course designer leader; Cynthia Hemenway CNM, designer and discussion leader for a special week on Design for Health, and Robert Waldrop, founder of the Oklahoma Food Cooperative and leader of several online discussion groups, course moderator and currently discussion leader. You may read further background of our instructors on our web site. In practice, Robert will lead most discussion groups and review early design work and Dan will review more complete design drafts and provide deep backup throughout, as needed. Cynthia focuses mainly on the Design for Health module and serves as further deep back up.

The online course consists of three consecutive sections, plus work on a permaculture design which students undertake throughout the cycle in which they are registered. Samples of student design work are included in the course CD. We offer several registration options to accommodate people in varied circumstances including a non-certificate track, certificate training in one six-month cycle, and two ways to carry training into the next six-month cycle.

Registration is limited because of the time required to review and critique individual designs. To enable more students to participate, students may enroll in a fast track, 2-cycle track, or deliberate track, each with different design report deadlines.

Content of the course sections follow:

Section 1: Introduction and Basic Principles

a) World ecological problems and interrelationships.

b) Principles of natural design.

c) Permaculture design concepts.

d) Classical landscapes.

e) Patterning, edges, edge effects.

f) The Permaculture Design Report

g) Principles of transformation (Unique to Elfin Permaculture courses.).

Section 2: Appropriate Technologies in Permaculture Design

a) Energy--solar, wind, hydro, biomass, etc.

b) Nutrient cycles (3 modules)--soil, microclimates, gardening methods, perennials, tree crops, food parks, composting toilets, livestock, "pest" management, food storage, seed saving, cultivated systems, forests, etc.

c) Water--impoundments, aquaculture, conservation, etc.

d) Shelter/buildings and access.

e) Design for Health.

Section 3: Social permaculture. Design Report.

a) Design for catastrophe.

b) Urban permaculture.

c) Bioregionalism.

d) Alternative economics.

e) Village development.

f) Final design reports and critiques.

g) Final evaluation.

Online course participants have come from every inhabited continent and a number of island countries, from latitudes spanning the equatorial tropics to sub-arctic, and a comparable range of elevations, climates, etc.. The course is suited to beginning permaculture design students, people seeking deep support in producing a permaculture design for their own homes, and, by special arrangement, people with some permaculture training and experience who wish to undertake work. Successful students receive certification as entry-level permaculturists. Advanced students pay no extra, but are expected to serve as additional resources to the beginning students.

To review information about the course methodology, content, certification requirements, tuition & fees, registration process, scholarship policies, reading list & cost, and assignment schedule, download the course preregistration package from our web site,

To download only the package without visiting our site, go to


Publications Discounted by as Up to 1/2

We have begun to offer heavy discounts on some of our publications that have been stained in storage. These contain all information of unstained copies. We also have a number of single copies of books that we will list on our web site from time to time. Check our web site for details.

Internships at Barking Frogs Permaculture Center

While Barking Frogs Permaculture Center, for various reasons, is not open to the public, we infrequently host permaculture interns who wish to learn practical matters associated with permaculture design implementation and maintenance. For details, see our Intern FAQs and related documents on our web site. Our location in North-Central Florida particularly suits internships over the winter months. Interns here may simultaneously participate in Cycle 13 of our online course at no tuition charge. This option may not be available in future course cycles.

Florida Permaculture Workshop Opportunities

For personal reasons, we have drastically curtailed travel for teaching and consulting in the US and Canada. (We will consider requests for programs in other countries on a case-by-case basis.) In order to continuing sharing our permaculture experience and insights, we are looking to offer short programs in Florida, where we now live.

We have strong interest in programs in the Palm Bay area and in the Tampa area. Contact us to be put on a list for notice of such programs, if they develop. (You can also check our website periodically.)

If you live elsewhere in Florida, and wish to have a program in your area, please download the appropriate documents from our web site explaining our standard terms and what is involved. We are looking at designing programs over a series of weekends, as well, to minimize the duration of time away from our own site. For programs offered nearby, of course, we can commute. This would be the area between Gainesville and Ocala.

After reading what is involved, please contact us if you are interested.

We are also willing to undertake a few consulting jobs each year in Florida. Again, details are already on our web site.

We never offer training programs at Barking Frogs Permaculture Center. This is an ironclad policy.

Scholarship Deadline--Aug. 1

The annual deadline for scholarship submissions is August 1. ONLY APPLICATIONS SUBMITTED BY AUG. 1 WILL BE CONSIDERED. Instructions for scholarship application may be downloaded from our web site. If you miss the deadline, you may submit an application for a scholarship to a specified online program between July 1 and Aug. 1 next year. This one month window is the same every year.

Permaculture-Suitable Land for Sale

Because we are consolidating our resources at our current home base in Florida, we are seeking to sell 18 acres of land that Dan has owned since 1968. This land has not been sprayed for decades, is very suited to the construction of a resource and energy-efficient solar home, and has fruit and nut trees planted in several areas. Photos and more details are on our web site. Purchase of the entire parcel comes with a one-day verbal consult on the land's features and potential by Dan Hemenway.

Elfin Permaculture is a project of Barking Frogs Permaculture Center operated by Dan and Cynthia Hemenway. Other projects include Yankee Permaculture (publications) and the Solutions Network (permaculture volunteers).

October 10, 2007

Uncommon Knowledge, produced and directed by Eliza Hemenway, now available as a downloadable DVD.

Permaculture designer and teacher Dan Hemenway has talented kids. His daughter, Eliza has announced the availability of her first documentary film, Uncommon Knowledge as a DVD download While it is common knowledge that dads are proud of their progeny, in this case it is especially justified. Permaculture is art and like true art, is concerned with truth. That's all the justification I need to put this announcement on my site.

Award winning documentary filmmaker Ellen Bruno called Uncommon Knowledge, "A beautifully crafted and poetic political commentary." Jon Garfield, Media Studies Professor said, "Stunning visuals and leaps of insight, this film is as entertaining as it is illuminating. "

This compelling and poetic documentary takes place inside the University of California as plans unfold to shut-down its historic San Francisco campus. A unique view of privatization, filmmaker Eliza Hemenway worked at the campus for over six years. Wondering why a public university was closing a campus in favor of private development, she picked up her camera and began to film. Uncommon Knowledge is a revealing look into higher education and a hauntingly beautiful portrait of a campus and the community it served. (26 min., 2006)

Uncommon Knowledge is accompanied by an original soundtrack by Tim Barsky and Everyday Theater, with additional music by The Toids.

You can own a copy for $2.99 by downloading it, DVD Quality, at Caachi, an independent online film distributor at

For more information, contact Eliza Hemenway, Producer & Director, Trinity Productions,

The Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival