Permaculture Courses

at Commonweal Garden feature top instructors in the field and hands-on training within a well developed, integrated permaculture design center.

Permaculture Courses offered by Regenerative Design Institute


Permaculture Design at the Regenerative Design Institute

The Four Seasons Permaculture Design Certification Course

This Permaculture Design Certification courses (PDC) offered at Commonweal Garden provide a unique exploration of sustainable, nature-based solutions. Participants meet once a month over the course of a year, allowing participants to intermix their studies and instruction with their own experiments with permaculture at home. Find out more.

The Curriculum

Our PDC curriculum is the culmination of more than 35 years of teaching permaculture design to students from all over the globe. We have learned that to be successful at implementing permaculture design, most students need more than the basic curriculum. Our 100+ hour courses are crafted to include the following elements to help launch students into a successful journey:

  • The classic permaculture curriculum, with founding principles and techniques developed by Bill Mollison and David Holgrem
  • A strong nature-connection component, including animal tracking and bird language, to deepen your awareness and intimacy with the rest of the natural world
  • A diverse range of hands-on activities with experienced instructors during the program in various aspects of the living classroom of the farm
  • Tools for cultivating our inner ecology to break through old patterns and barriers that hold us back from success
  • A globally recognized Permaculture Design Certificate upon completion of the course.

As you participate in the curriculum, reading, and “home play” assignments, you will learn how to observe and use the same principles that make ecological systems self-sustaining and apply them to integrated homes and gardens. In addition, you will learn how to apply these principles to energy systems and water supplies, healthy communities, meaningful and fulfilling work, ecological economies, and global political movements for change.

Throughout it all, you'll be engaged in learning and experiencing an empowering way of living in the world, surrounded and supported by like-minded people and instructors. Our goal is to make you a part of our farm community, incorporating our seasonal activities into your permaculture experience as time permits. Activities may include making an "A frame," laying out and digging a water harvesting contour swale, sheet mulching, spring and fall pruning, seed planting, plant propagation, bed preparation, compost pile making, water harvesting techniques, natural building, herbalism, beekeeping, and more.

To find out more about Permaculture Design Certification click HERE.

While no two courses participate in exactly the same activities, each course includes classroom and/or hands-on activities in the following areas:

  • Permaculture principles and ethics
  • Reading the landscape
  • Pattern and pattern application
  • Water harvesting
  • Swale building
  • Zone and sector analysis
  • Climate and micro climate strategies
  • Mapping
  • Urban permaculture
  • Land access
  • Community building
  • Plant guilds
  • Soil Carbon Sequestration and Biochar
  • Food forests and agroforestry
  • The design process, principles, strategies, and techniques
  • Bird language and nature awareness
  • Soil building and sheet mulching
  • Pond management and ecology
  • Earthworks and natural building
  • Grey water systems
  • Bioremediation
  • Renewable energy systems
  • Forest management
  • Watershed management
  • Economy and Equity
  • Group work on a conceptual design project

An digital workbook with excellent resources and reading material that we ask you to read as part of the coursework. In addition, we have an ongoing list of recommended reading that includes everything from foundational manuals by Bill Mollison to magazine articles on new applications of solar power. The list is not required reading for the course, but available to you as a resource as you continue your permaculture explorations.

The Classroom for the 4 Seasons Course

Commonweal Garden is dynamic, living classroom that offers a multitude of learning opportunities through direct experience. Features of the farm include chickens, fruit orchards, year-round vegetables, bees, edible mushrooms, culinary and medicinal herbs, grains, grey water, and solar-heating systems, aquaculture, natural buildings, and more. Located in the Point Reyes National Seashore, the interchange between wildlife and farm life is immense. 

At Commonweal Garden, everything from the soil, to the gardens, to the composting systems, farm animals, natural buildings, and abundant wildlife, provides a rich surface area for learning practical skills. Students get to learn by doing, and benefit from observing and experiencing permaculture features that are already in place. 


  • "I recently graduated from the course, and let me just say that it was an amazing experience. The lessons are not just about using the least amount of resources or the smartest design to achieve the greatest outcome, but they are also about beauty, empowerment, and healing of the land, our homes, communities, and ourselves. I gained so much personally from that course, and I know that everybody in my class felt the very much the same way. Penny, James and the other instructors are incredibly inspirational and talented."

    — Graduate