PDC: Permaculture Design Course


Immerse yourself in permaculture for an intensive living, learning experience with PCA at Djanbung Gardens for our residential PDC intensive. Gain the knowledge and skills to design your property, create abundance, build resilient community and bring practical sustainability into your personal life, profession and workplace.

Doing the PDC at Djanbung Gardens is an inspiring and empowering experience. Learn in a living working permaculture farm where the concepts taught are practiced. Located in the beautiful Nimbin Valley, an area famous for it’s natural beauty, rainforests, sustainability initiatives and alternative culture.

“My PDC was a life-changing experience, and I recognize that much of this was due to the careful planning and consideration that had gone into the teaching to make it as effective as possible as a learning experience.” – Mari, USA

“Loved every action packed minute. Great teacher and methodology, my fellow students all bonded in no time, the “wholesum organic alive food” was a learning experience all of its own. Only the vegie bar in Melbourne can compare to what we ate.” – Tony, Vic

The course is comprehensive introduction to permaculture principles, applications & design practices. The 80+hour PDC at Djanbung Gardens includes the standard certified 72-hour international PDC curriculum initially created by Bill Mollison, co-founder of the Permaculture concept, and further developed by Robyn Francis, international permaculture designer, educator and pioneer.

Read on for general information about the PDC.  For specific details about our upcoming courses click on the boxes on the right. All course applicants should first read the information on this page and the information provided on the downloadable registration form.

Djanbung-aerial2014-south2Our PDC addresses all major climatic zones (temperate, subtropic, tropical & arid) and the breadth of permaculture applications for sustainable urban, rural & bioregional design and development.

Course content is regularly update to include recent developments in earth sciences, organics, sustainable landuse and agriculture and social systems. Our permaculture training gives special attention to climatic zones represented by course participants.

The course meets a common international st andard as a foundation course for permaculture practitioners and teachers. The PCA PDC curriculum, developed by Robyn Francis, is regarded by leading permaculturists as one of the most comprehensive PDC courses available that adheres to the original PDC requirements, with important additional topics and regular updates of new earth science and permaculture practices.

Melian Fertl, artisan chef
Melian Fertl, artisan chef


Garden to Table experience…

The residential courses are fully catered by our permaculture artisan chef, Melian Fertl. Delicious healthy meals prepared with produce fresh from our own gardens, local farmers markets and local producers, including breads baked with local biodynamic spelt, Nimbin Valley rice, locally grown coffee and olive oil, free-range grass-fed dairy products and ethical meats.

The menu includes a diverse range of ethnic and contemporary Australian cuisine, mainly vegetarian with some meat options. Vegetarian, vegan and gluten free diets are catered for on request, however for some specialist diets you may need to provide your own supplementary foods.


Course Topics

  • Robyn Francis, garden forage
    Robyn Francis – walking the talk

    Permaculture principles, ethics, design methodologies, pathways to sustainability and regenerative design

  • Patterns and processes in nature, a biome (climate-based) approach to sustainable management, essential earth systems science and understanding global climate influences and climate change implications in design
  • Soil ecology, organic soil management, soil food web, use of mulches, making compost & compost teas, biochar and ways to build a healthy soil ecosystem
  • Water management planning, collection, storage and conservation, earthworks and aquaculture
  • Forest ecosystems and design of forests for food, forage, fibre, structural materials, habitat, conservation, wildlife, tree-cropping and farm forestry
  • Food producing systems for home gardens, small holdings, urban systems to broad acre farmlands
  • Design to reduce vulnerability to fire, drought, natural disasters, and impacts of global climate change
  • Appropriate technologies, renewable energy systems, and passive solar house design
  • Social Permaculture: Bioregional & community development strategies, urban renewal, eco-village design, community economics, legal structures, community gardens and city farms

Skills & Knowledge you will learn

  • Bananas Harvest Polly eating the Banana Slices. a refreshing and practical approach to integrated earth systems science, working with ecological processes and planetary life sustaining systems
  •  Practical ways to maximise self-reliance at home and in your bioregion
  •  How to design for low energy productive urban and rural environments: domestic to broad-scale
  •  Holistic approach to sustainable landuse planning, conservation and resource management
  •  Creative problem solving and participatory processes to facilitate positive change
  •  Tools for community building, bioregional sustainability & transition initiatives
  •  Strategies for individual, enterprise and community response to peak oil, climate change, globalisation, and challenges of the 21stC
  • A positive, solution-oriented whole systems approach to life and the world we live in


Who should attend a PDC? Students showing design work

  •  Individuals concerned with sustainable lifestyle and self-reliance
  •  Property owners (rural and urban) and developers
  •  Educators, teachers, community workers and people involved in transition initiatives
  •  Workers and volunteers involved in sustainable aid and development • Environmental and social activists
  •  Professionals such as architects, planners, engineers, biological and social sciences
  •  Trades: builders, electricians, plumbers, horticulturists, landscapers etc
  •  All sectors of sustainable horticulture, agriculture, conservation & land management practices.

What past students say….

A professional, realistic course covering a broad spectrum of living systems & sources of information – most enjoyed living and learning in a place where the gardens and surroundings are the ‘classroom’.” – Organic dairy farmer BSc, NZ

Very professionally structured for so much info in a short time and great intro into many areas that have changed my mind about many things” – Café manager, Sydney

Challenging and inspiring. Made me aware and have new questions about our relationship with nature, food and modern society – Robyn’s explanation was clear and easy for me to understand – I had a great time” – youth worker, Japan

Very thorough intro to pc – loved the group dynamics – an incredible experience” – landscape designer, USA “Very interesting, enjoyable, fun, good group, beautiful venue – Great value for money – amazing food, much appreciated” – Naturopath, UK

A wonderful experience – I learned heaps about the land and how ecosystems vs people work – it perfectly touched every side of permaculture” – horticulturist, Canada

Motivating – eye & thought opening – I really enjoyed the course, it was fun, and a mind-expanding experience” – youth educator, Israel

Why do a Course with PCA?

Robyn Francis, the main teacher, is one of the world’s most experienced and respected permaculture educators and designers, who worked with Bill Mollison in the 1980’s and early 1990s. She has now taught 149 PDCs in 15 different countries, plus as many advanced courses in diverse areas of professional permaculture practices including Teacher Training; Community Facilitation; Ecovillage Design; Sustainable Aid and Development;  Social Permaculture; Food Security & Year-round Food Production. She was one of the key instigators of the Accredited Permaculture Training (APT) and has spent 11 years providing full-time accredited vocational training in Permaculture Certificates III, IV and Diploma of Permaculture. Now thousands of her graduates are doing important work in all continents and climates around the world.

The PCA teaching team includes a great line-up of local trainers sharing experience in their specialist fields of expertise.  PCA is committed to providing high quality training and all key trainers have recognised permaculture qualifications and teacher training. We also encourage trainee permaculture teachers to gain experience with us and are mentoring a new generation of permaculture educators and facilitators.

Refresher PDCs PCA offers a special discount for people who have already completed a PDC to refresh their knowledge, or gain deeper insights into permaculture for professional development as permaculture teachers, designers and practitioners.  Please email us to apply for a refresher PDC position in one of our courses and provide details of your initial PDC including when and where you did your initial course and names of the main teachers. People doing the refresher PDC will be required to provide teacher assistance and student support during the course.

Other specialist courses we offer beyond the PDC ….

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