Posted on Leave a comment

Online Permaculture Design Certificate Week 1

Snippet of the online permaculture design certificate coursework week 1

If you have been following along with our website then you will know that I (Brianna) have started taking my Online Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) through Oregon State this week.  Boy what a week…  I chose this course because it was accredited through the North American Permaculture Institute and it looked like a thorough Permaculture Design Certificate course.  The instructor was well regarded and the course work went well above the 72 hour minimum.  And Oh. Yes. It. Will. go past that minimum…

Week one started with an overview of the course and structure itself.  They had a unique suggestion for storing all your designs as slides so you have a final presentation when the course is complete.  Then right into the readings, lectures, supplemental readings/lectures, quiz, and homework.  Yeah, all the things just like a regular course.  If you were thinking this was just going to be a gimmee /”fun” course think again.  It is going to take well more than 10 hours a week to finish all the work.

Online Permaculture Design Certificate Week 1

Week one of the online Permaculture Design Certificate covered topics such as, but trust me, not limited to:

  • Permaculture Principals
  • Permaculture History
  • Watershed
  • Deforestation impacts
  • Beavers
  • Site Mapping
  • Topography
  • Core General Model
  • Contour Maps

And much, much more.  The quiz was lengthy and NOT multiple choice :( .  I had to write a paragraph for each question and actually look up some of the answers. However, it WAS open book for anyone panicking when I said quiz.

Snippet of the online permaculture design certificate coursework week 1
This is only the top 1/4 of the list…

After that I set into the real meat of the course introducing my chosen site for my 10 week design.  We will be selecting a single site and working on a complete permaculture design for the rest of the course.  When I am done, I should have an entire presentation, maps, and proposal for my chosen site.

Since, I have already done our home I decided to work on a friends’ property (I am sure I will tweak ours).  They purchased the .41 acre property almost a year ago.  Just a 10 minute drive to Asheville, if feels urban enough, but without the tiny yards and ridiculous prices.  They have graciously allowed me access to the property for the course and agreed to act as my clients.  I am hoping to design something they might implement in the coming years, but if not, that is totally okay too!

On that note, I immediately found that I picked a bitch an unusual site when I started the first part of my homework.  Watershed mapping…  Guess whose property is directly in the center of two watersheds…  This one…  So extra mapping was required.

One of my slides on the watershed area

As a side note: The property you pick needs to be accessible.  Additionally you will be giving the classmates and instructors the address during this online permaculture design course.  There is a good reason for this information as your classmates will be peer reviewing your work, so it is expected they will look up the general location, climate, topography, etc.  So if you are cautious about privacy pick a location that is not your own.

Snippets from my site introduction for my online permaculture design certificate

Sprinkled through this post are some examples of the work I created this week.  On the whole I am very pleased with the quality of the lectures and coursework.  I hope the rest of the class is as thorough, but I am a bit stressed about getting it all done each week!

For those of you following along

Posted on Leave a comment

Online Permaculture Course Overview

Example of some of the video content and slides for the course

The time is here! I started my Permaculture Design Certificate online course through Oregon State University last night.  Just a reminder I am not paid or affiliated with this course other than I wanted to take it! If you recall from my intro, I am going to (HOPEFULLY) document my work throughout this online permaculture course so that others can follow along and see if this type of course might be good for you. As a reminder, I am doing this course as this is the first step to becoming a certified permaculture designer and eventual instructor. Bonus though, this course alone will allow me to offer professional permaculture services using the appropriate Permaculture name! Yippy! There are PLENTY of knowledgeable instructors in the field who don’t go the whole certification route, but as a supporter of education I want to work through the official certification over the next few years.

That being said, the loose plan for these posts is as follows:

  • Post an Intro to the Course
  • Give an online permaculture course overview of the coursework (That’s what is happening today!!!)
  • On Monday’s give an overview of the work I did. My assignments are due Monday mornings, so I hope to be able to recap in a post each evening.

So what is the online Permaculture course from Oregon State looking like so far?

First impressions are that the interface is pretty robust. If you have never taken an online classes before it might be a bit intimidating, but if you just keep clicking around you will eventually find all your modules, course content, discussion forums, and syllabus. Plus there are a number of links and discussion forums for help.

Intro screen for my online permaculture certificate course at Oregon State University
So many links, but really just clicking on Modules will get you where you need to go


I, being an old school student, started with the Syllabus! I am sharing a snippet in the picture below to give you an idea of the content, but I do not want to give the instructor’s course content away in total. I am working on my own poultry raising courses as we speak and it takes an incredible amount of time to generate course content. I want to be respectful of this instructors time and work, so, if you want the whole syllabus then I guess you will need to sign up for the course ;)

Syllabus for the Online Permaculture Certificate course at Oregon State University

Anyway, my initial impressions of the course overview were as follows: excitement then overwhelmed then ‘let’s do this’. It is a large amount of work. Even more so when you start reviewing the homework and details of each week. I have zero concerns I will ‘get my money’s worth’ out of this course. I do have concerns that 10 hours a week will not be sufficient! In which case I’ll just do the usual and buckle up buttercup. I’m not afraid of some hard work! Edit: When I went to the website to link to this article Oregon State had changed the course details from 8-10 hours per week to 10-17 per week.  This makes much more sense than the original estimate.

After reviewing the syllabus I took a tour of all the side menus and figured out there are about 100 students in the course, but that we are broken up into small units (15-25 members) with dedicated Teaching Assistants (TAs). Our TAs have already in introduced themselves and from the looks of the introductions they have all taught Permaculture Design Certificate courses before. So, it is cool to have knowledgable mini-instructors. They sound much more versed in the subject of Permaculture than a lot of my TAs in their chosen subjects in Undergrad.

After doing an overview of the whole course I checked out the rest of the course content to see what would be expected and got into the details of…

Week 1: Site Selection and Watershed Mapping

I’ll go into details of what work I did week one, next Monday, but I noted that the general layout of coursework is similar for each week.

Each week, the instructor supplies video lectures, discussion forums, quizzes, textbook reading, and homework sheets. These are not required to be done in any timeframe other than by the next Monday. However, it is required that you log in and join the forums on at least a couple days. I assume this is to keep everyone from procrastinating until Sunday each week.

Details of the Online Permaculture Course

From the looks of things it appears that each week will break down to something along the lines of this:

  • Video Lectures: 1-2 hours
  • Textbook Reading: 1-2 hours
  • Quizzes: 30 mins
  • Discussion Forums: 1-2 hours
  • Homework: 5-10 hours (This varies by week as the first homework will be much shorter, but I imagine doing actual site drawings and overlays will take quite a bit of time)
Example of some of the video content and slides for the course
Here is an example of some of the video lectures. Complete with slides just like college used to make ;)

The course also provides the following:

  • Special Discussion Forum: to ask the instructor questions and also a
  • Facebook Group: for current and past students to discuss permaculture. I requested access to the FB group but have not gotten in yet.
  • Supplemental Readings/videos: They expect you to have access to the course after you take it and can use this info to further research
  • Logins to other sites: There appears to be some logins to horticulture sites and other info for students to access for free.

It was really important to read the first homework sheet, as well as, the course intro as it talks about the specific maps and write-ups you will need to generate in the first week BUT more importantly put in some notes for the rest of the course. They give you a heads up that you will need PHYSICAL ACCESS to the site you will be designing in the first set of lessons. This is important to know at the beginning because you use the same site throughout the course. I had gleaned that based on my course overview, but this is a super important fact if you are not using your yard. Which spoiler alert: I am not using our yard. I have a couple of friends that have generously allowed me to design their property. It is slightly outside the city and larger than our space. It still has a lot of semi-urban/suburban features, which, is my specific permaculture interest. Plus they have agreed to treat this as a full design and answer site questionnaires etc. (Thanks! Trevor & Justine) I will outline the details in the subsequent weeks.

Homework from my online permaculture course
Oh homework… At least the kids were impressed by the amount of reading I have to do this week.

Overall, I am pretty impressed and a bit intimidated by the course. I believe I have a pretty good grasp of the permaculture principals and design concepts from a lot of self study and Andrew Millison’s free Introduction to Permaculture course, but it looks as though this course will make me practice (a LOT) and flesh out my understanding to a much higher level. I am really looking forward to the coursework and the online format seems to be created in a thoughtful way to really help facilitate your learning. I was very concerned that I wouldn’t get as much from an online environment, but I think the instructor access and thoughtful course layout has put those concerns to rest. Now to get cracking on all this homework!

For those of you following along

Posted on Leave a comment

Online Permaculture Design Course

Happy polish and brahma chickens

Because full time out of the house job, full garden, chickens, and four kids is not enough I finally did it! I signed up for a permaculture design course accredited by Permaculture Institute of North America. I have always wanted to take a permaculture design course (PDC) but lacked the resources to make it happen. Resources being time, location, and money. I was very excited to find an this online PDC (also sometimes called a permaculture design certificate) through Oregon State University. After hemming and hawing because it still costs a lot of money… and still costs a lot of time, but flexible time… I signed up with Adam’s encouragement. The online nature of the course will allow me to do it on the evenings and weekends when the kids are in bed. FYI- this is not an ad, I haven’t even taken the course yet!

Happy polish and brahma chickens
Why not insert some happy permaculture chickens. Who doesn’t want to see that?!

Oregon State University has a free certificate program as an intro to permaculture I took this spring. From that course I was able to finish a first plan for our Urban Permaculture lot you can see here. I enjoyed the instructor and introduction to permaculture enough that I THINK I’ll get good value from the course. If nothing else finishing a permaculture design course is the first (in a lot of) steps to being certified as a designer or eventual permaculture instructor.

So why am I talking about my course? I rarely document personal stuffs on Craft Thyme, but I thought that a follow along as I go through this ten week course would probably be pretty interesting to those looking at potentially doing a permaculture design course. Especially, if you are looking at an online version. Plus 10 WEEEEEEKKKKSSSSS. I need something to keep me accountable for all the time it is going to take to work through the course material.

Can anyone be sad when looking at a sunflower?
Just a happy sunflower to also brighten your day! This is just one of the many volunteer plants I have growing in my urban permaculture microfarm.

Oregan State’s Online Permaculture Design Course

Let’s start with the course information:

  • Course Dates: 9/24/2018 – 12/7/2018
  • Time Needed: 9 to 10 hours a week. It is recommended you do not take a PDC less than 72 hours worth of instruction and time. So at 90-100 hours this more than meets the minimum.
  • Weeks: 10 Weeks. A lot of permaculture design courses happen in intesive 2-3 week blocks. I am hoping the longer time witll give me more time to digest the topics and practice techniques since I will lose a bit on the personal instruction a face to face might cover.
  • Instructor: Andrew Millison
  • Topics Covered:
    • Observation and analysis of the natural processes of a site
    • Design principles and methods
    • Dynamics of water systems, soils, gardens and trees
    • Urban permaculture
    • Apply an ethically based whole-systems design approach
    • Use concepts, principles, and methods derived from ecosystems, indigenous peoples, and other time-tested practices
    • Learn about regional planning, ecology, animal husbandry, appropriate technology, architecture, and international development
  • Textbook (affiliate link): Practical Permaculture for Home Landscapes, Your Community, and the Whole Earth. Oddly enough Adam had purchased this book for me this spring. I took it as a sign ;)

Sounds pretty excellent to me! Plus you are guaranteed to have a completed site plan by the end of the course with lots of one-on-one instructor and peer interaction. The timing is great as I don’t have a large fall garden planted or a lot of plans to build anything major. Summer is winding down and the kids are back in school, which leads to a much tighter routine. So now I just have to wait 3 more weeks to get going!!!! Check back on the 25th and I will update each week as we go with the links below:

For those of you following along

Follow along as I work through a fully online Permaculture Design Course (PDC) held by Oregon State University.