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West Michigan Lakeshore

Permaculture Design Course

Learn to restore degraded landscapes; shelter and feed people and wildlife; and convert energy-wasteful infrastructures to thriving ecological systems that meet your needs with enough to share, in a Permaculture Design Course (PDC).


4th Annual PDC

September 5 - 18, 2021


Purpose of the Course

In a world of diminishing resources and increasing stresses on natural and social systems we must rapidly implement strategies to restore degraded landscapes, shelter and feed displaced and hungry people, and convert our energy-wasteful infrastructure to holistic and ecological systems that meet their own needs and the needs of those who manage them. This course lays the foundation for understanding the workings of natural systems and for designing human environments that produce food, shelter, and energy. It also provides participants with models of community development and extension by which they can create networks of support for themselves and empower others to do the same.

What to Expect

Our team of world-renowned and locally grounded teachers will create a stimulating atmosphere for group learning, giving you the tools to practice regenerative land design. We are at home in the friendly White Lake community, nestled into West Michigan’s wonderland of natural beauty between lakeshore dunes and wooded ridges. Our residential setting offers you an immersion experience in developing permaculture systems and shoulder-to-shoulder encounters with experienced designers and action learners from across the region. HeartBeet Farms will provide us a laboratory for exploring carbon farming, the mycelial internet, water management, polyculture gardens and orchards, home food preservation and storage, regenerative forestry, energy-efficient building science, greenhouse and solar technology, community living, and the circular economy. 

"To my mind the very act of enrolling for a permaculture design course is one of the most political acts most people ever engage in. Since I have certified over 3,000 people I feel that I have helped create a small village of active, engaged and aware folks who now have the tools to change the reality around them - and many of them are very busy doing just that.

The very act of reading "Permaculture - A Design Manual" is extremely radical and political as the information and realizations sink in of the ultimate outcome of following the permaculture path. The beauty of permaculture has always meant, to me, that I can travel all over the world, in some of the most brutal dictatorships, espousing a revolutionary system of design and I am considered harmless by the powers that be. That is an incredible advantage in a world that has become increasingly polarized by the paranoia of rampant capitalism and lack of ethical guidance.

Within the ethical guideposts of permaculture are contained all the political guidance one could need."
- Scott Pittman, Permaculture Institute, NM

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Elements of the Curriculum

  • Evidence of Need for Change and

  • Ethics of Sustainability

  • Principles of Permaculture

  • Observation and Landscape Analysis

  • Pattern and Design

  • Ecosystems: the Models of Nature

  • The Gaian System: Climate and Biogeography

  • Forests, Trees and Tree Care

  • Water Harvesting, Management, & Conservation

  • Building Soil Fertility

  • Creating the Home System

  • The Third Skin: Natural Building Design

  • Waste Recycling and Treatment

  • Aquaculture and Animals

  • Agroforestry and Forest Gardening

  • Useful Plants and Planting Strategies

  • Feeding Yourself from Home

  • Garden Design & Establishment

  • Integrated Pest Management

  • Tools and Appropriate Technologies

  • Patterns of Settlement

  • Cooperative Economics, Money and Financial Systems

  • Mapping and Design Exercises

  • A Home in the City

  • Villages & Neighborhoods

  • Elements of Practical Design

  • Team Design Projects

  • Broadscale Landscape and Farm Systems Design

Teachers from Michigan and the Great Lakes region will will enrich this residential intensive with their hard-won experience in animal management, appropriate technology, building science, and community development. We will present the 72+ hour curriculum recognized by Permaculture Institute of North America (PINA) covering ethics, principles, design process, pattern knowledge, natural systems of soil, water, and forests, along with climate and microclimate adaptations, food and fertility systems, urban and village design, architecture and building methods, economics and finance. We will wrap up with team design projects to be implemented on the ground.

Come and practice observation and drawing, small-scale earthworks, tree care, waste reduction and redirection, and learn the arts of simple everyday living in community. We will have time to tell stories, make music, and swim in the lake, while we reflect together on the urgent challenges of our times, and find renewed commitment to a better world.

Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner will be provided each day. Please let us know if you have any dietary restrictions or allergies, and we can discuss accommodations. 

Course materials, tuition, meals, and rustic camping in our managed woodland are covered by a $150 registration fee. Commercial lodging is available locally by private arrangement. The $150 deposit is non-refundable if you withdraw before completing enrollment, but fully refunded if the course should for any reason be cancelled. The final cost is determined by the date you complete payment. Early registration saves you money:

          - by June 10, 2021: $1100
          - by July 5: $1250
          - by August 1: $1350
          - by September 18: $1450


Participants from over 100 countries in all regions of the world and from all walks of life have called the permaculture design course “life-changing, transformative, and enormously affirming.” In the lively company of a diverse group of engaged and motivated women and men with a common interest in the future of humanity, learning is rapid, multidimensional, and long-lasting. 

Permaculture Design Work & Certification

Upon completing this course participants will receive a Certificate of Apprenticeship in Permaculture Design from the College of Graduates of Permaculture & will be entitled to use the term Permaculture in their professional work. Generally, students are encouraged to apprentice with other designers for two years. Prospective teachers should aim to gain experience through a permaculture teacher training course & practice teaching with others for a comparable period. This course presents 72 hours of the standard certificate curriculum.

Please note:
ALL Permaculture Design Courses will issue a certificate of completion if you participate fully in the training.

The certificate does NOT mean that you are certified to teach the PDC or that you have all the tools and skills to be a professional Permaculture designer.

Advanced courses, teacher trainings, diplomas, and practice with professional teachers / designers are encouraged for all those who wish to expand their teaching and design practice. Visit the Permaculture Institute of North America (PINA) for further details about mentoring toward diplomas in advanced permaculture subjects.

If you’d like more information on sponsoring a PDC in your area, contact us.