Permaculture Design Certification Course @ UBC Farm 2023

Fri Jun 23 2023 at 09:00 am to Sun Oct 15 2023 at 05:00 pm UTC-07:00

UBC Farm | Vancouver

Conscious Design Collective
Publisher/HostConscious Design Collective
Permaculture Design Certification Course @ UBC Farm 2023
Design learning for sustainable food, building and community systems.
About this Event
June 23rd - October 15th 2023 | UBC Farm and Bioregion | $900 - $1350
Presented by the Conscious Design Collective with support from the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems and University of British Columbia.
Event Summary:

Permaculture is an holistic method of design leading to establishing a “permanent culture” guided by grounded ethics, principles and design practices.  It considers the whole system at multiple levels of scale through the intelligent integration of social, economic, land, water, plants, and shelter sub-systems.  Using Permaculture can lead to the design and implementation of self-sustaining, regenerative human systems that “do good” for both humankind and the Earth. 

Please join us for a dynamic, internationally recognized certificate course on the principles and practice of Permaculture Design.  We will guide you to finding practical applications of sustainable design in urban and rural contexts though presentations, interactive design activities, and applied hands-on sessions.

Learning Topics:
  • Permaculture philosophy and design methodology
  • Blue water systems including ponds, swales, Keyline systems, and water catchment
  • Black and grey water planning for water efficiency and nutrient cycling
  • Soil building, amendments, erosion control, and planning for a productive harvest
  • Animals in urban and rural environments
  • Edible landscaping
  • Integrated pest management
  • Perennial food forests, guilds & agroforestry
  • Appropriate technologies, natural building (cob, earthen plaster)
  • Designing for energy efficient and sufficient homes and communities
  • Small and large scale site design (room, home, village, region)
  • The environment and economics
  • Drafting and communicating design with hand and computer assisted design
  • Community consultation and participatory (charrette) design processes
  • Horticultural techniques (propagation, grafting, efficient weeding and planting
  • Personal and community sufficiency 
  • Planning for resilience  
  • Design of sacred space 
  • Medicinal plants and foraging
  • And much more...

Learning Environment:

We teach using Experiential Education, or learning by doing and active reflection. The intergenerational nature of the course enables an exceptional learning experience that can be structured around YOUR learning goals.  The course will also be supported by a series of media rich presentations, online dialogue, and readings to dig deeper into the art, science and culture of sustainability and resilience.  

The course is demanding and will be full-on during the days we're in session.  However, we endeavor to challenge your head, heart and hands in a way that I find leaves folks exhausted, but in a good way.  With that in mind, it is not a great idea to take this course while in the process of moving or during some other life-changing event - we will take care of that during the PDC!

Tentative Outline:
  1. June 23 (FRIDAY) Introduction to Permaculture Design, Permaculture Ethics, Principles, Patterns and Practices, How to read the landscape; Location: UBC Farm
  2. June 24 (SAT) Agricultural systems, Writing the landscape; Location: UBC Farm
  3. June 25 (SUN) Urban Permaculture, Active transport systems, Placemaking I, Design communication I - Plan graphics Location: Downtown Vancouver, Cottonwood Community Gardens, Strathcona Community Gardens
  4. July 1 (SAT) Rural Systems, Natural Building I - Working with cob and cordwood. Location: Gibsons Farm, Sunshine Coast
  5. July 2 (SUN) Natural Building II - Planning a natural home, Orchard systems, Orchard management and grafting, Design communication II Elevation graphics Location: Gibsons Farm, Sunshine Coast
  6. July 3 (Mon) Animal Systems; Water systems; Design communication III - Perspective graphics. Location: Gibsons Farm, Sunshine Coast
  7. July 15 (SAT) Client interviews and Site Visits and Analysis; Location: Vancouver and Bioregion (Design sites)
  8. July 16th (SUN) Plant systems and guilds. Plant Identification. Growing a forest garden (design, planting, management) Location: UBC Farm
  9. August 19 (SAT) IPM, Design For Cool Climates, Ethical Wildcrafting, Teas, Decoctions and Nourishing Herbal Infusions Design Studio; Location: UBC Farm
  10. August 20 (SUN) Governance Models, Group Processes, Conscious Communication, Placemaking ; Location: UBC Farm
  11. Sept 16 (SAT) Seed Saving, Permaculture Economics, Right livelihood, Alcohol Extracts and Glycerites; Location: Abundance Farm, Aggasiz
  12. Sept 17 (SUN) Design for Tropics, Land Access, Organizational Structures & Bioregionalism, Lotion, Honey infusions, Oxymels; Location: Yarrow Ecovillage, Chilliwak
  13. Sept 30th (SAT) Digital Design and Communication (online), Sketchup, Floorplanner, GIS; Location: ONLINE
  14. Oct 14 (SAT) Design for Drylands, Resilience, Fermenting vegetables and fermented Drinks, Canning principles, Design studio; Location: UBC Farm
  15. Oct 15 (SUN) Design Presentations and Graduation; Location: UBC Farm

* The timing of the schedule will remain the same, however locations and topics may evolve as opportunities sprout.

**Tuition includes three days glamping and meals at Gibsons Farm, Sunshine Coast.  The Farm is easily accessed from a short 40 minute ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay, and a local bus. We also include an optional overnight at Abundance Farm in Agassiz on September 16th.

Daily Routine:

The course runs ~9am - 5pm with short breaks for morning and afternoon tea and roughly an hour for lunch. Some time at the beginning or end of the day will be dedicated to supported studio work for students to meet with their teammates and work on assignments.

Teaching sessions will typically utilize a presentation in the morning (head), hands-on session (hands) in the afternoon, and collaborative design activity in the late afternoon (heart), in concert with how the mind, body and community tend to work.

What makes us different?

Heads-on, hands-on, hearts-on learning.  Our learning process hits all three modes of learning. You'll leave each day exhausted, empowered and enthused, appreciating some of the real challenges we're facing, but with the tools to do something about it.

Coming from a place of hope and action.  Starting with me.  It is easy to burn-out in today's hyper-connected, conflict-ridden society.  We will approach these challenges with the sadness, hope and action necessary to navigate towards a Permanent culture - starting from a place of me.

Community integration.  Our connection with UBC Farm, the university, Gibsons Farm and a host of other organizations make learning with us a meaningful step to enter real work in the field.  Many of our graduates find work at UBC Farm after our course, landscaping, small-farm management, or other organizations doing the good work.

A 40-hectare urban agro-ecology farm at your fingertips.  Our unique relationship with the UBC Farm and Centre for Sustainable food systems provides a living model of an urban food system at the forefront of agro-ecology research, and the centre of Vancouver's food system.  It hosts a 20 hectare second growth forest for use in our sustainable forestry module, a well-evolved orchard, and living examples of community-based farming in practice.

Traditional teachings with a twist.  The world has changed since the 1970's when the Permaculture concept was developed.  Lectures are based on traditional permaculture teachings from Bill Mollison and David Holmgren with added material that bring it up to date with today's challenges.  Climate change, political permaculture, urban design, stream restoration are some of the topics we'll cover that bring this course into the 21st century.

A design course with a focus on design.  We intend for graduates to leave our course with the capacity to design and install a permaculture design.  With tutors from fields such as landscape architecture, urban planning, project management, natural building and agriculture we'll prepare you to work with a client, plan a design, communicate your ideas and plant (or build) it out upon completion.

Local action, global application.  We're focused on the design and the doing, observing how things we do at home can make a real difference to the region and larger global community.  

An intergenerational course for everyone.  We attract a broad spectrum of intergenerational learners from undergraduate degrees, post-graduate study, pre, mid and post-career work.  Our framework enables folks to let shine what they've got to offer and learn from other people's strengths in ways that traditional schooling often fails.

An urban PDC with all the rural trimmings.  Most people in the world now live in the city.  We'll explore how Permaculture can be applied on the patio, backyard, community garden and city to help contextualize it where Permaculture is needed most.  

Small classes for great learning.  We'll have no more than 20 students providing a great space to learn from other students, the lead facilitator and expert guests.

Work-life-learning integration.  Rather than cramping the course into two weeks, we've spread the modules over four months for better learning, improved integration into your life, better observation of Permaculture through the seasons, and to enable working professionals and those with family commitments to be involved.

Less paper, more learning.  We avoid the information overload that often accompanies an intensive course by giving participants access to a wealth of digital resources they can use at their leisure following the course.  Included in the course fee is access to our self-published Urban Agro-Ecology Design Guide e-book, a tool-kit of sorts for doing the good work. Further, the relationships built with guests and other participants will last a lifetime.

Digital Skills for the Tech-Savy Designer.  We integrate a module on digital design and collaboration to support students developing "co-design" skills at a distance on applications like google jamboard, sketchup, and QGIS (see video below).

Pre-requisites and in-course requirements:

Prospective students should have at least a high-school diploma, be of good health, able to work outside in all weather and be inspired to learn.  The course is demanding (emotionally, intellectually, physically and creatively) and some time out of class is necessary for students to complete assignments.  An e-textbook has been developed for the course, which in addition to some key and relatively inexpensive design tools (markers, pens, stencil, tracing paper) are sufficient preparation for the course.  

Certification Process:

Students are required to complete a group design project and actively participate in 90% of the course to obtain an internationally recognized Permaculture Design Certification (miss no more than two days). There will be some flexibility here with respect to sickness, however, so ultimately students will need to complete course assignments and present a final group design project to obtain a Permaculture Design Certificate.

Registration Process: 

1) Early Bird UBC Student admission ($1000).  $200 deposit "tickets" and balance due by 1st day of the course.  Available on a first come first serve basis to four UBC students.  UBC students are more than welcome to purchase "General community admission" deposit tickets at the regular price when early bird tickets run out.

2) General Community admission ($1350).  $200 deposit tickets and balance due by the1st day of the course.  Available until the course fills.

3) Teacher assistant: ($900).  One ticket ($900) is available for a teaching assistant (optimally a UBC student, staff, or faculty) interested in joining the course for a discounted rate.  They will help with the set-up and take down of materials and have the opportunity to develop their leadership and teaching skills.  Please email if you are interested with a CV and details on what you believe you'd bring to the course.  Applications for the TA position close end of February 2023.

The course is limited to 20 students (Min enrollment: 12).  The balance must be received by email money-transfer (to: [email protected]) ON or BEFORE the first day of course. We'll be in touch on June 1st confirm you are still on board which you must respond to by June 10th so we can offer up spaces to those on the waiting list if needed.  A more detailed schedule and access to our Permaculture library will be made available on the first day of class.  

For any course related questions or concerns, please get in touch with a phone #, your name and good time to ring and I'll get in touch when I can.

Refund Policy:

Life sometimes gets in the way.  If you contact us by May 15th, we will refund 50% of your deposit ($100). Unfortunately no refunds are available after the course begins.

We do our best to make the course socially and financially sustainable, now hosting the longest running PDC in the lower mainland.  Please do let us know if you can't make it so we can find someone to fill the spot.

In the extremely unlikely event that the course does not fill to 12 students (has never happened before), all students will receive a refund of their deposit and we will do our best to connect you to another course.

Discovery Guides and Special Guests:

James Richardson, Earth Educator and Landscape Architect: James teaches landscape architecture, Permaculture design, horticulture and mathematics in Canada and New Zealand.  He has over two decades of teaching experience at secondary schools (Integrated and Rudolf Steiner schools) and universities, following two Bachelors degrees, a Masters degree and PhD in Ecology, Outdoor and Experiential Education, Landscape Architecture and Permaculture design.  He completed a Biodynamic farming apprenticeship on Vancouver Island, Canada, his PDC and Natural Building Apprenticeship at OUR Ecovillage, Canada, and PDC teacher training with Cascadia Permaculture Institute, USA.  He has coordinated and co-taught Permaculture workshops at OUR Ecovillage, B.C., Lost Valley Education Centre, OR, University of Northern British Columbia and University of Victoria. With a deep love affair with the theory and practice of permaculture design, he brings to the space a deep understanding of the art, science and practice of sustainability. (

Kym Chi: Kym Chi is a settler of Scottish, English and German ancestry on the West Coast of Turtle Island on the unceded and stolen lands of the Coast Salish Peoples. She is dedicated to the continued process of decolonizing herself and creating right relations with the land and the original people where she lives, works and visits. She is a homesteader, Permaculture Teacher, Holistic Herbalist, Mentor and Artist. Along with acting as the Dean of the School of Permaculture Design at Pacific Rim College, Kym runs her own business - Interconnected Living where she creates and shares transformational techniques, encouraging empowered and authentic lives. Kym has taken multiple Permaculture design courses, teacher trainings, advanced classes and has completed a diploma in Permaculture Education. She sees Permaculture as a life path and integrates it into all that she does. (Web:

Special guests from the Vancouver bioregion will lead topics on plant selection, pollination and natural building and many more.  They Include:

Brandon Bauer, Permaculture Ecologist: Brandon has been studying Permaculture for 16 years and is actively applying Permaculture on various sites on Salt Spring Island and abroad. Over the last 8 years he has participated in teaching Permaculture Design courses at O.U.R. Ecovillage, The Bullock Brother’s Permaculture Homestead, UBC and at The Blue Raven Farm. (Web:

Jordan Maynard, Teacher, Farmer Builder: Jordan Maynard started Gibsons Farm in 2020 with his partner Robin Friesen after many years managing Southlands Heritage Farm in Southlands, Vancouver. Gibsons Farm is a 40-minute ferry ride north of Vancouver, and a unique place that combines sustainable agricultural practices, promotion of local food products, and children’s programs offering outdoor experiences related to agriculture, managing land, and making food.

We look forward to drawing, creating, building, consulting, dancing, weeding, growing, planting, eating and living, laughing and learning with you all soon!


James Richardson.


Event Venue & Nearby Stays

UBC Farm, University Endowment Lands, Vancouver, Canada


CAD 200.00

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