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Elfin Permaculture’s 6-month Permaculture Design Course Online will be given twice a year, starting in 2002.  Startup dates for 2002 are March 17 and Sept. 15.  Courses are regarded as cycles, so students may participate in the cycle that follows the one in which they began.




            This course reflects 20 years of our experience in teaching the permaculture worldwide. Along the way, we adopted many of the details in this course, incorporating what we learned from student groups. We strive for a version of the one-room school house in which students learn from students as well as from the teacher. This is consistent with the permaculture principle of fully utilizing all available resources that suit a given purpose. 



            Students must complete all requirements and assignments in this course to receive Elfin Permaculture Design Course Certification as an entry-level permaculturist. Not everyone needs certification. You can take the course not for certification if you wish, however certificate candidates have first priority if we are at the enrollment limit. If you do not wish certification, obviously you can adjust your participation to suit your personal needs and choices. Major certification requirements are listed below.


PDC CONTENT--Elfin Permaculture has adapted its three-week live permaculture design course to serve as a correspondence course with an email classroom. The program follows almost the same outline as our three week standard Permaculture Design Course, except we have added a module for "Design for Health".  From time to time, we revise the course somewhat to keep pace with revisions in the live design course or to adapt to the special circumstances of internet communication. You may get a good idea of course content by downloading Yankee Permaculture Paper #24e from our website or ordering it using regular order form.

            For people with scheduling problems, or with a need to spread out payments, it is possible to enroll in one section at a time. The total cost is higher than prepaying for the entire course in advance. The best sequence is the one we have designed (below). However, any sequence that suits the student may be taken except that Section I of the course is required for enrolling in the design practicum (full permaculture design report). 

            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.



            Each certificate student completes a design or contributes significantly to a team of students that submits a single design. Designs must be based on a real place to which the student has frequent access. We expect most students to design their own homes. There must be a strong possibility that a good design will be implemented by the site residents. We are not interested in theoretical  exercise here. At a minimum, the permaculture  design will address provision of food, water, energy, shelter, fiber, and income for the residents, protection and enrichment of the ecosystem, and practical step by step recommendations for implementation over at least three-years. Designs must be practical, affordable by residents, safe, legal, and within the cultural constraints of the residents and community. The design is exceedingly site specific, and frequent access to the design site is necessary.

            Two acres, or about a hectare, are approximately the upper limit of what a student should attempt in a beginning design. These can be part of larger properties, in which case the ways in which they integrate with the larger property will be included in a design report.

            We encourage students who live near one another to work together on a single design. We allow a tuition discount if they do. (See below.)

            Enrollment  in, or completion of, Section I is required for the design project. Students may, of course, begin a design project at any time. However, we will not support the process until after completion of Section I, where the design report requirements are taught. 

            A student unable to complete his/her report within the 6 month course period may request permission to submit a report in Section I of the next course without  late fees. (We may need to limit the number of carry-over designs.) The instructor will announce a deadline for requesting an extension. Thereafter, the student must reregister for the design report portion of the course. Exact terms for reregistered students are at the discretion of the instructor. Additional provisions are posted to registered students in Section I of the course. Students must complete ALL OTHER REQUIREMENTS of their initial course to carry their design project to future courses. If a student fails to meet the extended deadline for  his/her design report, the student must reenroll in the design practicum to continue.

Supplemental Course Students

            Students in the supplemnental course, taught by Willem Smuts, must present their final design report in Section 1 of the following course cycle so that final design review can be done by Dan Hemenway.  During Section1, a student from the supplementa course.may submit a final draft and a revised final draft, based on Dan’s critique.

Advanced Certification

            Graduates of this or another Elfin Permaculture certificate course may achieve advanced certification by taking the design practicum for additional design projects, provided that these are submitted at a time convenient to the instructor. (This allows the new students to see some design work and discussion before they start on their own designs.) Again, this must be arranged in advance. We make arrangements and set requirements on a case by case basis. Graduates of courses taught by other instructors should take our online course through one full cycle before submitting a design to it.   

            ALTERNATE ARRANGEMENTS for fulfilling the design requirement for certification are detailed in "PDC Costs" below. These include a team of students working on a single design.

            DEADLINES for proposing the design project, requesting permission to extend the design process, to submit design drafts, and for the final design report submission are posted at the beginning of each course. Deadlines for designs to be presented in the following course cycle are at set the discretion of the instructor. Permaculture is the opposite of crisis management. We plan and stage our work. We regard failure to meet deadlines as a failure in staging, a necessary skill for certification.


NOTE ON DESIGN REPORT:  Included in the reading package is Yankee Permaculture Paper 27, Special Order Catalog. In addition to many resources of value in preparing certain permaculture design reports, #27 lists sample designs, both those by students and some by the instructor. If we do not have student designs to review early in the course you take, you can purchase some designs on a special order basis. Students have found that it is very important to have model designs when working on their own practica. We hope to have a book or disk of designs available sometime in the future, but this work has not yet begun. It is the student's responsibility to select designs most applicable to his/her project and study them.  As part of the course, we post an outline of one design and selected portions of design reports as examples.



            Each student will prepare a report on some topic to the class. We encourage each student to report on a subject that is his/her special interest or that reflects particular personal experience. For example, one student reported on how she raised two daughters carrying only a gallon of water per day to her teepee. It was a  humbling lesson in water conservation. Another student reported on degradation of Long Island Sound, a problem he had fought for years as a grassroots activist. Another, a retired herbal toxicologist, reported on the value and dangers of certain plants. Two purposes of this requirement are to validate that everyone has an important perspective to share and for other students to benefit from the special experience of each. For people who do not feel that written narrative is their strong point, they may submit tapes, artwork, databases, etc. However, a report must be of substance; entertainment alone is not enough. If a report is submitted in a form that cannot be accessed by simple email, the student submitting the report must send it to all students, monitors and instructors to be received before the deadline. If some participants in your particular course cannot access a specific item, e.g. a videotape, then another format is necessary.

            Students who do not wish certification may waive this requirement, though we will be happy if they too share their special knowledge and/or viewpoints with the class.



            At registration, students receive the standard course schedule that includes the reading assignments. (On request, we will send a free copy to people who order the reading package but are not yet registered.) The schedule can vary. We may extend time for pressing reasons, so that two calendar weeks can be allowed for one week's material. We will not extend the course beyond 26 elapsed weeks under any circumstance. This gives us four weeks to use to extend discussions.  If not used, they are helpful for completing final approval of design projects at the end of the course.

            The instructor will, about weekly, transmit the "lectures and notes" to supplement reading assignments as appropriate. We may also send by physical mail disks and hard copy. Likewise, we may share details of other design projects or consultations in which we are currently involved if they fit with the topics under discussion. The instructor is plugged into a great deal of internet communication  relating to permaculture. We routinely forward such communications to the class, obtaining copyright permission where appropriate.

            The first online course coincided with our purchase of land for our permanent permaculture center. We will continue to share our design process with our classes. This is a unique opportunity.



            The course consists of a number of elements: 

            * reading assignments,

            * course materials and online "lectures" supplied by the instructor via email,

            * email discussion of course materials, designs, and related subjects,

            * student design projects (discussion throughout the course)

            * related online resources provided by the instructor from time to time (optional).

            *  at least four reports submitted to the entire class by each student, including a design report, two teaching reports and a special report unique to the student's circumstances.

            *  comments on the development and implementation of Elfin Permaculture's own permaculture design and Barking Frogs Farm in Florida (optional).

            *  reports for discussion of other permaculture designs outside the class (optional), including projects in which the instructor is serving as designer or has been asked to review or oversee in some capacity.  

            As mentioned below, students may arrange for add-ons to increase the quality of their training and evaluation. Any student may at any time arrange a discussion with classmates, of course. Due to the work involved in course preparation, the instructor may or may not participate in such sessions, at his discretion.

            The reading assignments convey the core of information in the course. We presently offer the texts in a discounted package.

             Where he feels that the reading assignments need to be supplemented and/or interpreted, the instructor will send "lecture notes" for the upcoming week. At least once a week, he will download email from students and answer as required. Each topic will be on the course agenda for two weeks, one week when students respond with comments and questions to the week's materials and one week to finish any discussions thus begun.  Therefore two sets of subjects, a new set and an old one, will be under consideration at once. This is necessary to complete the course in a manageable time. The schedule also includes review sessions, in which we can go back to material about which a student has a question, discuss designs, etc., so that no question or comment need go unexpressed.

            Each student may be  assigned to a study group with several other students, depending on course size and other logistics. Students raise questions within their study groups and help one another. Where students form design teams, the design team may be the study group. Study groups enable unlimited  discussion to go on without overloading the class process. Study groups can bring questions and issues before the entire class for further discussion, of course.

            Each student is responsible to email all classroom comments (as opposed to study group discussion) to the entire class + any monitors. (Monitors do not normally engage in class discussion.) 

            If a student falls behind in reading, s/he should not participate in discussions on those topics. If a student misses a substantial portion of the course, s/he may be required to certify that s/he has completely caught up in order to receive the design certificate. The instructor may choose to require additional reports. If a student experiences serious difficulty in reading materials, s/he should notify the instructor even if the student has not finished the reading. Obviously there is no point in reading materials that are incomprehensible, and trying to do so might make eventual understanding more difficult.

            Because the course is based on everyone reading the same materials at the same time, it is imperative to order reading materials promptly. This is particularly important for students outside North America, due to normal shipping delays. We routinely ship by surface mail--air shipment will approximately double the cost of reading matter. We do try to transmit electronically some material where the student could not order material in advance (as in waiting for a grant, registering late, etc.). This requires a computer and email program capable of receiving and downloading large files. It is helpful if Macintosh owners have StuffIt utility for decompressing files. Because transmitting materials in this way can be time consuming, often requiring several attempts before success, we keep this service to a minimum.  Moreover, electronic transmission of any reading materials is solely at our discretion and no one is "entitled" to it.



            There is no prescribed software for the course. All text communications and reports must be submitted as email, NOT as attachments. Attachments are to be avoided whenever possible. Design reports, and other reports or communications that are lengthy and/or require visuals, must be sent as attachments, however.

            The recommended software for sending attachments is Adobe Acrobat.  This software is NOT required, simply recommended. Students can download Adobe Acrobat Reader free from the Adobe web site.  Since some material in Acrobat will be submitted, we strongly recommend that all students down Acrobat Reader. Students may also submit such materials in html format, which is readable by browser software.

            If you do not have capability to submit in either of these formats, you must verify that other students and the instructor can read your attachments. Generally, most students can read Microsoft Word attachments. If someone cannot read your attachments, you must send that person or persons hard copy by mail in time to meet the deadline for the material involved. You must also send duplicates of such materials to the instructor so we know you have met the deadline. We have scheduled within the course a period of time for verifying testing attachments sent among students. 

            The only capability REQUIRED for this course is the ability to send and receive email. Attachment capability is a great convenience, but is not required.

            We have a volunteer who will try to help students with computer problems on request.



            Most of the course posts may soon be available on CD-ROM, together with a number of reading materials to which we have copyright or permission from the copyright holder.  Check the News section of our web page to check on availablility of this CD.


NOTE ON READINGS:  The reading assignments for the course are quite heavy at times. If you do not think you can keep up with a heavy reading assignment, you can monitor the course or just read on your own.Either way, you can take the course after you have done enough reading to feel comfortable that you can complete the course reading assignments. You also have the option to the course over two cycles, so that you can spread out the work.  You can download the reading assignments free from our web site. Otherwise, you may purchase the schedule of reading assignments for $US10.00 + P&H.


Review Sessions

            The schedule provides special times to review materials. Students can nominate subjects for review up to a week before each session. Students should check with others in their study groups before bringing such questions to the whole class.


Posting Protcol

            Each posting by the instructor or any student will be confined to only one exact topic. Topics must be clearly labeled in the “subject” field of the post. In this way, everyone may organize "course notes" readily. A special email address will be reserved for the course and must be used. We try to label forwarded supplemental material for the section of the course to which it pertains. Use course email address ONLY for course business. Observing this rule is a requirement of the course. When the subject of a discussion thread changes, it is imperative to change the title of the post to reflect the content. Otherwise, valuable viewpoints and information may be misfiled or discarded.

            Students are required to provide feedback at specified intervals and at the completion of the course. In addition, feedback of any kind is always in order at any point in the course, the sooner the better.



            From time to time, it may be important to use conventional mail to supplement the email communications. Not every student can receive attachments or send and receive images. Students should check on the ability of classmates to receive the sorts of material that they are likely to send. If another student cannot receive material as you send it, you must have it ready in time to deliver by conventional mail at the same time that everyone else gets it as an email attachment. There is nothing sacred about using the internet for all communications. When it is convenient, we use it. If another method becomes more convenient, we use that. 

            Conventional mail is also used to send hard copy and a backup disk of final design reports to the instructor at Barking Frogs Permaculture Center.



            Everything sent during the course is copyrighted. In fact, everything written, drawn or otherwise created is copyrighted at the moment of creation. Students and monitors sign an agreement to honor copyright of all material received in connection with the course. This means that you do not distribute anything from the course to other people nor do you distribute the work of others to the class without permission before, during or after the course. In particular, it is not acceptable to forward material from newsgroup or email list discussions without consent of the AUTHOR. The name and email address of the author must be included, with a statement that the material is forwarded with permission. Upholding this policy 100 percent of the time is a requirement of certification and repeat violations will result transfer of a student to monitor status without rebate. We are serious about this. 



            We recognize a limitation in evaluating designs for sites that we have not seen. While can recognize most (probably all) problems in a written design, we may not see if you missed opportunities that the site offers. We encourage students to organize design intensive workshops for us to lead in their home area. Work done in such workshops can form the basis of the design practicum requirement. Workshop participants design the course site. Students get the added benefit of some of our extensive slide collection, and on-site work with the instructors. This is especially helpful for students who benefit from face-to-face contact and/or the concreteness of on-site work.

            To meet the design requirement through a 10-day or two-week workshop, students must post the design to one of our online courses, either the current one, or the next one, by advance arrangement. This usually requires some modification and upgrading of the workshop design, but should be far less work than producing a full design solo. The instructor usually will indicate the main tasks after the live workshop is concluded. The finished design should meet the same high standards as required for all designs in the course. Any number of students attending a specific workshop may receive practicum credit this way, polishing and finishing the design report as a team. A partial refund of the online course tuition is credited to students who meet the design requirement  through our live design intensive.  Elfin Permaculture teaches worldwide.



            We offer two online course cycles per year. The next cycle begins in May 17, 2002. We recommend early registration. If in doubt, you may wish to order the reading materials, which will help further your interest in permaculture even if you do not take the course.  It is well to have them in hand as we commence readings immediately. (The first week reading assignments are heavy and due before the course starts.) You can use the course outline (Permaculture Paper 24E) as a self-study guide if you decide not to take the course.

            Students who register late may not comment on material that has been covered before they registered. Students may register at any time.  See PDC--LATE REGISTRATION, below, for more details. 

            This course is based on our three-week Elfin Permaculture Design Course that runs 20 days, plus some new material. By allowing a week for each day of the live course, plus some cushion room, we assure that the course finishes within 6 months. All course activities should be completed within 6 months from the course beginning date, including revision of designs. Allow time for us to read materials you send within the same six months. ALL assignments MUST be completed  for certification. Extensions without extra tuition costs are available ONLY for the design practicum, except in dire circumstances.



            Students who are unable to complete their design project in the six months' time limit may request permission to present their design in Section I of the next course. This benefits the new students by orienting them to what we are working toward while they are still getting background information. There usually is no charge. If the design project goes beyond Section I of the following course, however, the student is required to pay a new practicum fee. We will limit the amount of time a student takes to complete the practicum at our discretion. We want permaculture practitioners, not permanent students.

            Any graduate (certificate recipient) of this course may elect to monitor the course following the one that s/he attends at no charge. In consideration, the understanding that the instructor may ask the graduate to participate from time to time. Graduate participation is purely the option of the instructor We find that a second exposure to the course materials is profoundly beneficial to our course graduates. 

            We are happy to work with course graduates in other ways to the limit of available time. For example, a graduate may organize a course for us to teach and participate as a trainee. In subsequent programs, the graduate takes over more and more of the teaching. (This is offered only to graduates of our own courses.) We are also willing to collaborate with graduates on design, again gradually stepping back from the process. Dan Hemenway of Elfin Permaculture is fully qualified to certify people with advanced diplomas in education, design, etc., on this basis. For additional models for advanced work, ask for information on our APT (Advanced Permaculture Training) program.


PDC--ENROLLMENT.  [Changed Dec 21, 2001]

            We will accept up to 12 new students who plan to submit designs during a course cycle. An additional 20 students may take the full course, except for the design report. This assures enough time to properly support the each student in his/her design report efforts.  (In the live course, we usually have only one report, done by the whole class.) Students who take the full course but are not scheduled to produce their design report in the current cycle  have priority in scheduling their report in the next course cycle.  However, it is not practical to attempt to review more than 10 designs submitted near the end of the course. All students should begin work on their designs after completing Section I.

            There are no enrollment  requirements other than completing payment of tuition and agreeing to honor copyrights and other course rules. We especially recommend that persons under the age of 13 first take the course as monitors. (See below.) (We have had people in ages ranging from 13 to 78 as active participants of our live courses.) Each participant will complete a personal profile so we can get to know one another and so each student can be identified as a resource to the others. 

            People take the Permaculture Design Course for a variety of reasons.  Our certification requirements indicate that a person has met Elfin Permaculture standards as someone who might make permaculture a major focus of his/her life activities. We may have the most stringent standards for certification worldwide. We have programs for people who simply want to design their own place, and we have integrated them so that work done in one program supports another. Anyone can take this course on a "Not-for-certification" basis and customize his/her participation accordingly.



            The equivalent of one full scholarship (or 2 half scholarships, etc.) is usually available in each course cycle. This is lower than in "live" courses because it is harder to imagine that someone with computer access is disadvantaged and because each student in this course adds a much larger work load than in the live design course where more students can actually mean less work. Any scholarship student in this course must show that s/he will use the knowledge gained to help a large number of people in difficult circumstances. Scholarship students must truly be unable to pay. While we applaud people who choose a simple lifestyle, and we understand the difficulties of college students, we will not underwrite these choices with scholarships, except if other, qualifying circumstances also apply. We only grant scholarships to people genuinely unable to pay and who have not chosen that condition. We make exceptions on a case by case basis for people on a path of service, e.g. a spiritual person who has taken a vow of poverty and does works related to permaculture. In such cases, payment has been made in advance.

            All scholarships are based on the Maori koha principle.  For more information on this, you may download our scholarship information document from our web site.

            We strongly encourage students to seek scholarships from other sources. Of the chief instructors, Dan took the Permaculture Design Course on a scholarship from the Massachusetts Society for the Advancement of Agriculture  and Cynthia attended as a representative of a land based group. (She gave them more than their money's worth and brought back the instructor as well as the instruction.)


PDC--SCHOLARSHIP FUND. We maintain a fund for scholarship donations. If you need a US tax contribution, donate funds to Permaculture, PREP Project and 95 percent of the funds will be used for scholarships. If you do not need a US tax deduction, donate funds to Permaculture, PEP Project, and 100 percent of your contribution will be used for scholarships. Scholarships target, more or less in order of priority: indigenous peoples where displaced and/or oppressed, women (particularly single mothers) with little money, people in societies with little cash or US$ exchange (usually for a class there), suppressed minorities, teenagers. elderly people, and others unable to pay. We will accept targeted donations: e.g. single mothers, Native American  youth, etc. All recipients will meet our requirements for need and potential for outreach. There is one scholarship fund for all our programs, both online and live. Most people who need scholarships do not have access to computers. Send contributions to the appropriate fund at Elfin Permaculture, Barking Frogs Permaculture Center, P.O. Box 52, Sparr FL 32192-0052 USA. Please indicate if you require a receipt. Make checks payable to 'Permaculture' and the appropriate fund. If no fund is designated, we decide where the money will best serve others.  Contributions for student books are also very helpful, since we are unable to subsidize books for scholarship students.



            To register, a student should complete the registration form and pay tuition. Early registration guarantees a place in the course. We will not increase enrollment beyond the limits stated above. In case of excess registration, early registrants generally have priority, except as noted above. However, we may also select students to achieve a balanced participation of women and men in the course. We find that such balance improves the quality of the one-room-schoolhouse aspect of the live course. You may request a registration form at or at either of our web sites.                    





            Monitors may join the course at any stage, but the fee will be the same as for the entire course. 

            A student may join the course at any stage, with the understanding that catching up is his/her responsibility. A student who pays for the entire course may have to take-over the current section. Missed sections will be picked up in the next course and are covered by the course fee already paid.

            It appears that late registration is a fact of life in the online course. Late registrants have two problems. First they cannot discuss in class material that they have missed, although they can of course privately take questions to other (willing) students. Second, they are seriously behind in their reading and have great difficulty catching up. Again, until they have read assignments, they cannot discuss them. Remember, it takes time for books to arrive. Only people who have the time for make-up reading should attempt to make up lost time. Instead, the student can take section(s) of the course missed over again for the package fee or else by registering for each section individually. 

            When we register a person for the entire course, we start them immediately even if they "officially" begin in the next session. For example, if someone signs on in the middle of Section I, we begin them immediately, even though they will take Section I over the next time that it is offered.  There is no advantage to making them wait under these circumstances.

            Reading materials are priced to be sent book rate or book-rate-surface, depending on destination. It is impossible to overstress the importance of ordering reading materials as soon as you are seriously considering the course. If you then decide to wait on the course, you can begin studying the reading materials anyway. Again, remember download the assignment schedule if you order the discounted package.



            It is possible that the standards for our courses are most the rigorous worldwide. We offer other programs for people who do not need a professional permaculture training.

            Our certification requirements include:


            1.  The student must submit a signed statement that s/he has completed all reading assignments.

            2.  The student's completed deign project must be approved by the instructor within the course interval.

            3.  The student must complete his/her classroom reports on time and to the satisfaction of the instructor.

            4)  Tuition must be paid in full.

            5)  The student must complete the course.

            6)  The student shall have completed both the course registration form and the trainee registration form completely and in typewritten form. The student shall complete the course registration form and deliver it to the instructor before beginning in the course. S/he must complete the trainee registration form and deliver it to the instructor before the course ends. To receive a certificate, the student must deliver the trainee registration form by the deadline specified during the course.

            7)  Students must complete and report for discussion on two experiences in teaching or explaining permaculture during the course, once near the middle of the course and again near the end. Deadliness will be assigned.

            8) The student must have completed all assignments made during the course, individually or to the class as a whole.


            9)  Disruptive or uncooperative behavior during the course or in business matters pertaining to the course can disqualify a student from certification. Extreme behavior, including flaming anyone in the context of the course, is cause for dismissal without refund. Passionate disagreement is not considered extreme unless it is disrespectful.

            10)  Any evidence that a student has violated our common law and/or statutory copyright, or has distributed without appropriate permission in the context of this course material copyrighted by anyone, can result in immediate termination without refund. We will be very clear when we supply information in public domain or otherwise available to be shared. By law, every item of communication produced is copyrighted unless deliberately placed in public domain. We are aware that some people may disagree with our copyright policy. They can choose not to take this course or to set aside their disagreement in this case. 

            Generally, the evaluation of the student design report is the most important single consideration in certification. We consider a report acceptable if it represents the best effort than could be made under the circumstances of the course, and considering the prior experience of the design course student. All reports must be in a finished, professional form, however. The second most important consideration is the instructor's evaluation of the student's growth in abilities and during the course. Not everyone needs to be a designer. Additional criteria are posted during the course.

            Certification indicates that the student has received the minimum permaculture training to call him/herself a permaculturist. Advanced training is available in a variety of formats throughout the permaculture movement, including from Elfin Permaculture. Besides special advanced programs, we arrange advanced work for any qualified permaculture design course graduate within our regular programs. In this way, the other students get the benefit of an advanced associate and the advanced student has the convenience of being able to get custom training. We are also open to up to two mentoring arrangements for students seeking advanced skills and knowledge.

            Our goal is always to help people meet the standard we have set. In other words, if a good faith job was submitted on time, but is inadequate, we will support the student in making another try. If the second try does not make the grade, we will work out options with the student that may include supplemental reading fees. In live courses given since 1984, we have only had three students who failed to meet certification standards.



            Advanced work in teaching and design is possible in the context of this course. Tuition costs the same as for beginning students. People interested in advanced work must register with ample lead time so that we can work out the details of their program with them. Also, see comments above on using the design practicum for advanced designer certification. Students are always encouraged to try to work a bit beyond their entry level.


PDC--COSTS (With Options)

            • Tuition for the entire course is $1,000, if fully paid before the first week of classes. This breaks down $500 for the 6 months' program and $500 to evaluate the individual design report. Later registration is $1,100 for the entire course.

            * Alternate option. Students who have expensive email service may wish to purchase all standard course lectures, announcements, and addenda on disk.  We hope to soon have a CD-ROM that will meet this need.

            *  Alternate option.  Couples who are lifetime partners (so far as you know) may attend for a package price of $1,500.  You will receive two certificates, just in case.

            * Alternate option.  Where more than one student works on a design, the design evaluation portion of the fee is $500 for the first student and $250 for  additional students on the design team, to be divided equally. If 10 or more people in the same place want a course, we reduce the tuition to $600 per student, total for both components. To qualify, they submit a single design and pay in full before the course begins. If registering later, add $100 for each student.

            * Alternate option.  A student may take the course for $500, prepaid, or $600, later registration, and skip the design project. If the student later seeks certification, the design project can be taken at any of course for 2 years after the original course for $600 or the current practicum fee, if changed.

            * Alternate option. If a student satisfies the design requirement as a participant  in one of our 10-day design workshops or similar Elfin Permaculture programs, we will credit  $400 of the design reading fee, or, on request, give a $500 credit for Yankee Permaculture publications. The student must tell us at the time of the workshop of his/her intention to do this. To receive credit, the student must present a portion of the final design at the end of the live workshop. This includes answering questions about the design. This discount does not apply if you also submit another design for us to evaluate during the course. (Note:  Understanding our terminology will make this paragraph easier to grasp. We only use the term "course" to refer to our certification program. Programs in which students design but do not get certificates, we call "workshops." )  The student must also polish and present the qualifying design in his/her course cycle or the next available course cycle, for the benefit of other students. Ask about additional conditions.

            * Students need to obtain books on the reading list. We offer a reading list package, at substantial cost reduction, that covers all required reading assignments. We will not make substitutions on the reading list package. Again, students working in groups can share literature within limits. We VERY STRONGLY recommend reading as much as possible in advance. Some of the key materials are available only from us. If you do not order these materials from us, we assume that you have not completed the reading assignments. We will work with students in various countries where some locally published substitutions might save you exchange. A number of materials on the reading list were first published in Australia. Australians may find them cheaper there, even with the package discount considered.  (If you work this out, let us know so we can advise others.) The greatest difficulty people have in this course comes from ordering literature late and having to catch up.

            We do NOT provide free books to scholarship students unless we have received a donation specifically to cover that expense.

            • Deferred payment. Students may to split payments at an increased total cost.

                        *PLAN A:  A minimum of $500 is required to begin the course as a whole and another $600 before we look at any of your design work. More correctly, there is a discount when you pay for both course components before the course begins. Beyond this, we will not give credit. (Beginning after the course cycle starts costs $600.)

                        * PLAN B:  A Student may enroll separately in each of the three sections of the course at a higher total price. You may take sections in  any order. Students who take more than two years to complete the course may be required to retake sections or submit extra work.

            Prices per section are:

                        *  Section 1:  $200

                        *  Section 2:  $300

                        *  Section 3:  $200

                        *  Design Practicum (Requires Section 1):  $600.

            It is necessary to re-register for each section if you adopt this plan.  We may not remind you to do this, as our responsibility is the teaching of the course.  We avoid the distraction of bookkeeping for individual students.

                        * PLAN C.  A student may fulfill the certification requirement by attending an Elfin Permaculture Design Intensive Workshop of 10 days or longer. This has the advantages of being on site with the instructor and working in a design team. Students who intend to use their work at a design intensive in this way should notify the instructor in advance so he can evaluate the student's design work with this in mind.  The student, nevertheless, needs to present this design work to the class for the benefit of the other online students. Additional details are described elsewhere in the course protocol.

                        *  PLAN D - SELF STUDY.  For some people, particularly in remote areas, the cost of downloading the weekly course material can be prohibitive. We have decided to make available all the instructor's notes on CD-ROM.

                        * PLAN F--PRIVATE CORRESPONDENCE COURSE.  We will accept students in a private correspondence course at our discretion, provided that there are strong reasons why the student cannot participate in the regular group email course. The fee for one-on-one training is $2,500 with the requirement that all work be completed within one elapsed year. This can be done by conventional mail, email, or a combination. This fee is provisional.  Check for the latest rate if you are interested.

                        * PLAN F --  MONITORS.  Anyone can monitor the course for $100.  The monitor fee may be applied to the tuition if the student takes the next course cycle offered as a full student. Such credits always are applied to the LAST payment.

                        *  ADVANCED WORK:  Persons who have already received the entry level permaculture certificate can participate in any Elfin Permaculture program at an advanced level, provided they may arrangements well before the program starts. The fee is the same for introductory or advanced work in any program. We will only custom design advanced programs for people who have earned the Elfin Permaculture Certificate, however. 


            The cost of the email course is designed to be comparable to or lower than attending our live course. Tuition for our live course is presently $800 per student with transportation to the site, room, and board adding to the student's expense. Also, most students forgo at least three weeks' income.  By comparison, we charge a minimum of $2,500 per student for a solitary correspondence course in which we work with the student one-on-one through the mail. By using an email classroom, we cut that cost by 60 percent to $1,000.


            All prices subject to revision.  These are good at least through 7/1/02.  So far, we have never raised the basic fees for this course.



            A deposit of $200 is required to hold a place in the course. Of this, $100 is non-refundable in any circumstance, except  if for extraordinary reasons we fail to offer the course. After one week before the course begins, THERE WILL BE NO REFUNDS. This is because enrollment is limited. If you can find someone to take your place within the first three weeks of the course, you can make the substitution for an administrative fee of $25. If you cannot find someone, we may be able to refer you to people who wanted to take the course and may still be interested.

            If a student opts to pay for the course in sections, a deposit assures a place in each section. Expression of intent is not a deposit. This is only an issue if the course is at maximum enrollment and more people want to come in at the next segment.  Normally this is not a problem.



            There is a service charge of $25 or whatever the bank charges (which ever is higher).  The bank fee for this has gone up faster than we can keep track of it.  If you want us to contact the bank and verify the deposit, e.g. to expedite a book shipment, double the service charge. Sometimes the bank notifies us by mail when it receives a transfer.  Sometimes we find out only when we review the monthly deposit statement. In our view, this is a very poor means to expedite matters since it can be weeks before we are certain we have been paid.

            All service charges must be included in the original transfer.



            Dan Hemenway is the principal instructor and designer of the course. He received permaculture training from Bill Mollison, permaculture movement founder, in 1981. Dan previously developed systems similar to permaculture that he had taught disadvantaged teenagers from 1978-81. After three years teaching permaculture and sustainable horticulture to prison inmates (1981-1983), he founded what became The International Permaculture Solutions Journal  (1983). From 1978-83 he was a leader in the Massachusetts food self-reliance movement. In 1983, Mollison named him one of three North Americans certified to teach the full Permaculture Design Course.

            In 1984, Dan taught the first such course given in Mexico. Since then, he has conducted hundreds of permaculture programs worldwide, often introducing permaculture to new regions. 

            In 1983, he received the Conservation Award from Friends of Nature and in 1984, the Community Service Award from International Permaculture Institute, which awarded him five advanced diplomas the next year. In 1987 he founded the Permaculture Education Project and taught permaculture around the world. In 1991, Dan accepted an invitation to the Roots of the Future NGO conference in Paris, that contributed suggestions to the Earth Summit later held in Brazil. In 1996, Permaculture Foundation/Network Kenya, named him honorary chairman.  And, in 1996, he was listed in the 1996-97 edition Who's Who in America.

            Dan has also founded the Forest Ecosystem Rescue Network, published dozens of permaculture publications, authored many permaculture articles, served on boards of many related groups, and given talks, courses, and keynote addresses worldwide.

            At present, he teaches a permaculture course on the internet, is developing his design for a new permaculture center, is studying chinampas by building some, and working collaborators in Africa and New Zealand.


            Cynthia Baxter Hemenway, CNM, is partner in Elfin Permaculture  and Associate Editor of The International Permaculture Solutions Journal. A founding member and former director and officer of the Planetary Project Foundation (Kansas, USA), Cynthia is a Certified Nurse Midwife and holistic health practitioner with particular emphasis in working with women during the childbearing year. She has taught  women's health and reproductive topics to undergraduate and advanced practice nursing students at the University of Florida, Gainesville, where she also introduced a course in alternative therapies. As of May, 2000, Cynthia is focusing on health counseling, including alternative therapies, calling her practice Design for Health. She brings experience in leading workshops on health and spiritual matters to permaculture as well as the intention to expand the practice of permaculture in these areas. Because of the demands of her other work, Cynthia is available to co-lead workshops only on an occasional basis. She serves as Honorary Secretary, Permaculture Foundation - Net_Work - Kenya,  Homa Bay, Kenya.  Cynthia will support the course, participating when she can find time after her other professional responsibilities, and in particularly by teaching the Design for Health component of the course. She shares most of the current projects described for Dan. Cynthia monitors all course activity and may post comments from time to time. She is also backup instructor if Dan's ability to lead the course is interrupted for any reason. 


            Dr. Willem Smuts (Pr. Sci. Nat.), associate instructor, is a South African who has taken every one of our online courses to date.  He over sees discussion and inception of designs in the supplemental online course. Dr. Smuts, is a geologist with a Masters degree in sedimentology from the University of Port Elizabeth (1987), a Ph.D. from Pretoria University (1998) and an Elfin Permaculture Design diploma from the Permaculture Institute (1998).

            Willem worked as a researcher at the Institute for Coastal Research in Port Elizabeth from 1985 to 1987. He was a member of the Geological Survey of South Africa from 1987 to 1994 (from November '89 to April '94 as Assistant Director). He then started a geological and environmental resource services consultancy with two partners, consulting widely in the minerals, energy & environmental field in Southern, Central and West Africa. He spent a year doing energy policy and capacity building work for an NGO in South Africa. In January 2001, Willem joined Landmark Graphics Corporation as their operations manager for southern Africa. It is out of his consultancy work throughout Africa that Willem realised the plight of Africa will only ever be solved once Africans take responsibility for their own future and start by getting the basics right while moving away from “subsistence farming”.  Working with Fr. Nzamujo in Benin in the early 90’s he realised the solution lies in sustainability and the appropriate scale of living and farming.

            Willem has a passion for renewable and alternative energy and has been active in rural development and permaculture projects in Benin, Congo Republic and South Africa since 1990. He has worked closely with the USAID-funded Songhai Institute in Benin from 1993 to 1999.

            He has authored and co-authored over 56 scientific and technical papers on geology, palaeontology, energy policy and climate change, rural development and permaculture. He currently serves as an Associate Editor of the African Geoscience Review. He has taught geology and mathematics at two tertiary institutions in South Africa and since 1998 assists Dan Hemenway in teaching a six-month permaculture design course on-line.

            Willem is registered with the SA Council for Natural Scientific Professions and is a member of the New York Academy of Sciences, African Geological Society, International Peat Society, SASQUA, SESSA and International Solar Energy Society.




            MONITOR the email course for $100. You will get all class email sent after you register and most group materials. Monitors usually may not participate in group discussions or ask questions of the group. However, we may open discussion to monitors at given points in the course where more opinions are needed. You are permitted  one  request to the group to see if any students are willing to discuss questions with you. If you ask a student a question (related to course material) s/he cannot answer, the next step is that student's study group. If the study group cannot answer it, then the question should be brought to the whole class including the instructor. In that way, we can find areas that may need further work without duplicating topics already successfully covered. If we have expensive materials to mail, monitors may be asked to cover those costs. Your monitor fee can be applied to tuition if you decide to take the very next course.  (See above.)


            INTERN OPPORTUNITIES: We will work with up to two interns at Barking Frogs Permaculture Center near Sparr, Florida. We may accept more at a later date, if we have someone who can take primary responsibility for their supervision. We prefer people with some permaculture training, but reliability, honesty, self-reliance, and self-motivation are our main requirements. A couple would be particularly welcome.

            Internships involve a combination of office and site implementation work. Interns may play a major role in the design process for our own permaculture center. They also work on some of the design implementation, for example construction of a network of chinampas.

            Interns automatically get scholarships to any email course going at the time of their internship. Otherwise, we provide no permaculture design training except for explanations as to why a particular job is done a particular way.

            Download our Intern FAQs for more information on this topic.


CHECK OUR WEB PAGES FOR A REGISTRATION FORM.  Registrations must be sent with tuition by mail.  We reserve the right to cancel a course if we receive less than 10 registrations.




WHAT DID WE MISS?  We have tried to cover every issue that we could think of in this sheet. Please read it carefully.  Then, if you still have questions, please ask them.




For Mother Earth, Dan Hemenway, Yankee Permaculture Publications (since 1982), Elfin Permaculture workshops, lectures, Permaculture Design Courses, consulting and permaculture designs (since 1981), and now permaculture training in an email classroom. Copyright, 1996-2000, Dan & Cynthia Hemenway.  P.O. 52, Sparr FL 32192-0052 USA.  All rights reserved.


We don't have time to rush.