The Art & Ecology of Permaculture, PDC 2017 Course Schedule

Course outline


Readings & self study

Session 1: March 11-12, Introduction and Principles of Permaculture 

  • Location Saturday March 11: 606 South Elm Street, Greensboro, NC 27406 Street parking is available throughout downtown. The Railyard parking lot is 2 blocks away.

  • Location Sunday March 12: Black Diamond Collective (Black Diamond is located on the corner of Prescott Street and Guilford Avenue. Parking is available in the lot adjacent to the space.

In our first weekend together we will begin with introductions. As we introduce the principles of Permaculture and see how these interweave to build thriving ecological and social systems, we will also introduce ourselves and begin building our group dynamic.  We’ve chosen Elsewhere as our starting point. The back gardens (The Yard) were designed and installed by members of the Greensboro Permaculture Guild in 2015. We’re excited to begin in this dynamic gathering space, where social and ecological intertwine. If time allows we will walk to the Public Orchard.

On Sunday we we will work and design at Black Diamond Collective. We’ll hear about some of the problems and triumphs of the space and get our first chance to use permaculture principles and design fundamentals in a basic design charette. We’ll get our hands dirty and learn some practical skills by helping out with a hops fence project and revitalizing an asparagus hugelkultur area.

Gaia’s garden:

Chapters 1 & 2

Introduction to Permaculture:

Introduction, Permaculture Ethics, Chapter 1

Landscape graphics:

Read Chapter 1. Skim the book and all the graphics

Session 2: April 8-9, Broadscale farm design

  • Location Saturday April 8: Pine Trough Branch Farm, 600 Church Street Ext., Reidsville NC, 27320  

  • Location Sunday April 9: Gate City Harvest, 5511 Lazy Creek Ln. Summerfield, NC 27358

At Pine Trough Branch (PTB) Farm, we will take a look at whole farm design from a production & homestead point of view. We will cover zones, including a brief look at the ecology of the Eastern woodlands which will help us in understanding how to mimic the resilient intelligence of nature. We’ll  look at systems for animal pasturing/ bio-intensive grazing, explore some high tech/ low impact solutions including gravity fed water systems and solar chargers, and generally get a feel for the scope of an ecological i.e. Permaculture farm model.  We’ll also engage on a hands on project for the day.

At Gate City Harvest  we’ll see how farmer Aubrey Cupit has designed his small farm using Permaculture principles. We’ll see the ways in which he’s been building soil and discuss the difference between guilds and polycultures. He’ll also talk a bit about the entrepreneurial aspects of farming. We’ll be helping him to install pollinator islands which will serve multiple interweaving functions on his farm. In several groups we’ll explore design ideas including coppiced trees, agroforestry & mushrooms, native guilding (specifically Black Walnuts) and multipurpose uses for on-site buildings.

Gaia’s garden:

Chapter 4, 7,  & 10

Introduction to Permaculture:

Chapters 2, 6, & 7


Landscape graphics:

Practice techniques on pages 71 - 75 & 84

Session 3:May 13-14,  Home & community garden Design

  • Location Saturday May 13: Home of Jodi Staley & Mark Dixon, 1008 Silver Ave, Greensboro, 27403

  • Location Sunday May 14: Ashe Street Healing and Education Center, 1300 Ashe St. Greensboro, North Carolina

This weekend is designed to get us juiced up about what we can create in our own backyards. Often, this is the place we most want to design, and sometimes, some of the most important and impactful work we can do. Jodi and Mark’s large Glenwood lot will challenge us with its unique topography, diverse microclimates, and abundance of water. We’ll divide into groups and each group will be given a Site Map. From there your task will be to come up with a Site Analysis, a Microclimate Analysis and eventually draw a Concept Design. We also will spend some time on the topic of water (See GG, chap. 5.) We will also learn how to use an A-frame to build on & off contour beds and have an introduction to medicinal herbs and their uses.

Sunday, we will head over to Ashe St. Healing and Community Center run by course member Earth Feathur. There we’ll look some of the powerful ways that social and ecological permaculture can transform communities and be incubators for education and growth. We’ll continue to delve into the subject of water with gray water systems and water catchment designs and learn more from Alyssa about the Medicinal herbs at Ashe Street. A delicious vegan lunch will be provided.

Gaia’s garden:

Chapters 3 &  5

Introduction to Permaculture:

Chapters 5 &  8

Landscape graphics:

Chapter 1 (review examples of site analysis p. 7 & concept plan p. 8)

Chapter 2 (Become acquainted with tools and scale) Chapter 4, good examples of Concept Plans/Design)

Session 4: June 10-11, Mature Permaculture Gardens & social Permaculture at Play

  • Saturday June 10, Greensboro Montessori School, 2856 Horse Pen Creek Road, Greensboro NC, 27410  

  • Sunday June 11, Guilford College Farm

The Greensboro Montessori School has been referred to as a school within a garden. Here you’ll get a chance to see what a series of 20 year old Permaculture Gardens look like. These gardens flourish with the care of young hands. In addition to seeing a variety of garden design techniques, you’ll also learn a bit about the program curriculum and how Permaculture principles align with Montessori Pedagogy, both socially and physically transformative from the ground up.  Eliza Hudson, the Lead Gardening Teacher, will lead us in “the Mimosa tree guild” redesign, a Permaculture play space, which duly serves as a challenging site for erosion control.  In the afternoon, we will begin the process of drafting for your final designs. (Please bring a sketchpad/ large sketch paper and drafting tools and a printout from google maps of your site)


At the Guilford College Farm we will hear about the program and its origins from Nick Mangili, Farm Manager and GPG member. We will look at the ways that this college farm encourages young people to invest in traditions connected to permaculture including diversity, resiliency, collaboration, and all of the ways that farming can tackle the broad range of social and environmental justice issues facing our nation and the world.  

Gaia’s garden:

Chapters 8, 9, & 10

Permaculture city:

Click here to view the PDF reading (TBA)

Landscape graphics:

 Visit google maps and print out a map for your site project.

Browse these images for a broad range of design styles to begin to get ideas for how you might like to render your design.

Session 5: July 8-9, earthen building & farming the woods

  • Pine Trough Branch Farm, 600 Church Street Ext., Reidsville NC, 27320  

  •  Sunday Full Design Day

We’ll be at PTB farm for a second go round, this time, to work on a cob construction project and to get a sneak peek into off the grid living.

On Sunday, we will continue work at PTB and then the afternoon will be dedicated to Design time.

Gaia’s garden:

Chapter 6 & 11

Introduction to Permaculture:

Chapter 4

Landscape graphics: N/A

Session 6: August 12-13, Presentations of Design

  •  Location TBD

On our final weekend together members of the course will present and justify designs for their chosen sites. Members from the outside community will be invited and you’ll be given feedback on your presentation and upon completion, if all criteria are met, you will receive your Permaculture Design Certificate. Afterwards we will celebrate our accomplishments together!