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17th Annual Permaculture Design Course Online

The Elfin Permaculture 17th annual Permaculture Design Course Online begins March 23, 2014.  This will be the last regular offering of the Online PDC..
The six-month course involves weekly readings, at least four student reports, and discussions of current topics online. For complete information, please download our Course Preregistration Package from

See the Barking Frogs Permaculture 2013 Annual Letter for news about developments with the PDC Online.

The monitor special is one of the best  deals in permaculture education anywhere to be found.  For $250, the monitor gets the course CD with all of its rich resources and the right to sit in and listen on all the course discussion PLUS read and post in the study group discussions. The monitor status must be requested when you order the course CD.

The course runs about six months and includes reading assignments from books, papers and the course CD, 4 reports from each student including a full permaculture design report, regular class assignments, and class discussion via email.

Instructors are course designer, Dan Hemenway, principal discussion leader Robert Waldrop, and special instructor Cynthia Hemenway, CNM, who leads the Design for Health module.

Enrollment of certificate students is limited. Up to 20 non-certificate students (no design report) and unlimited monitors (no participation) may join in.

The course CD, which includes more than 300 items including papers, course assignments, instructor's lectures, background information, reference databases, and sample designs, is available separately in a special, non-certificate edition.

The current course protocol and related information including instructor CVs may be downloaded from .

Assignments and TopicsOnline PDC Reading List | Course Fee Table

Pre-registration Packet, includes the entire Protocol, Reading List, fees, registration form, PDF file, 62 pages.  NB:  Use this Course Reading List rather than the one packaged with the preregistration packet.

New documents and other changes to the Cycle 15 CD.

Scholarship and Barter Information. More info on barter/scholarships, including how this works with live in-person courses is here.

If you take the course for certification, you will be required to submit a complete permaculture design report for a site you will choose. The site must be approved by Dan Hemenway, the instructor. Here is the course document that describes this report and details its requirements: Student Design Requirements

To be on a mailing list for an updated course preregistration package (protocol, reading list, assignment schedule, registration form, scholarship info., etc.) email your request to

Additional Information

Elfin Permaculture's Annual Permaculture Design Course Online incorporates the experience of 14 years of the online courses and more than a quarter century of teaching permaculture worldwide.

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

2. 21 modules of at least one week, mainly presented on the CD, representing the formal presentations of course instructors;

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

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

5. the opportunity to participate in student study groups where interested students can pursue any agreed-upon topic as long as they wish;

6. support for students by three instructors: Dan Hemenway (USA), course designer and discussion leader; Cynthia Hemenway CNM (USA), designer and discussion leader for a special week on Design for Health.

Registration is limited because of the time required to review and critique individual designs.

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 design work are included in the course CD.

Content of the course sections:

The course follows the outline of Dan's 3-week certificate course, with additions allowed by the longer course duration and adaptations to the email medium.  It consists of three sections, as follows:

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 (Special feature of
Elfin Permaculture Courses)
a) Energy--solar, wind, hydro, biomass, etc.

b) Nutrient cycles--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) Buildings.
e) Design for Health (NEW in 2000)

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 continent on Earth and a number of island countries, from latitudes spanning the equatorial tropics to sub-arctic, and a comparable range of elevations, etc.. The course is suited to beginning permaculture design students, people seeking support in producing a permaculture design for their own homes, and, by special arrangement, people with some permaculture experience who wish work in advanced areas.

Successful students receive certification as entry-level permaculturists. Advanced students pay no extra, but are expected to be additional resources to the regular students.

Registration & Tuition

To review information about the course methodology, content, certification requirements, tuition & fees, registration process, scholarship policies, reading list & cost, and assignment schedule, download the Pre-registration Packet.  NB:  Use this Course Reading List rather than the one packaged with the pre-registration packet.

We no longer supply Water Storage by Art Ludwig.  This book remains part of the required reading for our online course.  We are closing out our book inventory as we sell copies at hand, because we may discontinue offering the online course on a regular basis.  (We will announce that final decision as soon as we make it.)  The author sells this and other important books that he has written, and we recommend that you endorse his good work by purchasing the book directly from him.

Donations are needed to support additional scholarships and to provide reading materials to scholarship students. (We cannot include these in our scholarships.) Inquire at or send contributions to Barking Frogs Permaculture Center, PO Box 52, Sparr FL 32192-0052 USA. Please include the term "permaculture"  in the subject field when send email to us.


To Editors: Permaculture publications, media, and closely allied publications may request a review copy the latest version (4.x) of the course CD for self-study by sending an email to Dan Hemenway at This version is substantially enlarged and refined from the review version we distributed at the beginning of this course. The self-study version omits a few files restricted to certificate course students, but is substantially the same otherwise.

Since the course may be taken in several customized ways, a full set of tuition options is provided in the Course Fee Table. The course protocol (online at ) details various options for payment in smaller quantities for those with cash flow problems

The course can be monitored free if registration accompanies purchase of the Self-Study version of The Permaculture Design Course CD-ROM or the full Course Reading Package.

Elfin Permaculture is a teaching and consulting project of Barking Frogs Permaculture Center.