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Elfin Permaculture Celebrates 10th Annual Online Course

Elfin Permaculture's 10th Annual Permaculture Design Course Online, which begins Sept. 18, 2005, culminates a decade of the online courses and nearly a quarter century of teaching permaculture.

To recognize this milestone, for this course cycle only, Elfin Permaculture:

  • extends the deadline for scholarships from Aug. 1 to Sept. 1;
  • increases the number of slots for fully paid scholarships from 1 to 5 (almost entirely for students from countries where US exchange is scarce or impossible to obtain by grass roots workers); and
  • decreases the cost of the course CD for self-study or monitoring from $250 to $200.

    Email us with any questions.

Course Information

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

  • extensive reading in books, papers, both in print and on the course CD-ROM;
  • 21 modules of at least one week, mainly presented on the CD, representing the formal presentations of course instructors;
  • at least four reports from each student, including a full permaculture design report;
  • class discussion via email of readings and reports, as well as questions and issues raised by students or instructors
  • the opportunity to participate in student study groups where interested students can pursue any agreed-upon topic as long as they wish;
  • 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, and Dr. Willem Smuts (South Africa), an earth scientist who has contributed to each of the previous course cycle, currently as assistant instructor. Dr. Smuts is expected to take over as discussion leader of this course after cycle 10, with Dan Hemenway continuing to review design work and evaluate total student work where certification is sought. Cynthia Hemenway will continue to lead the Design for Health module and serve as Dan's back-up.

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 follow:

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, request the latest Course Preregistration Package from This is sent as a pdf attachment.

From the same address, prospective students may request a copy of the Course CD Contents Table. The course CD includes more than 300 separate items, including papers, data bases, weekly teaching modules, samples of design work, and other resources.

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.

Elfin Permaculture is a project of Barking Frogs Permaculture Center operated by Dan and Cynthia Hemenway.


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 fee table. The course protocol 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.  


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