The Food Forest

Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC)

Dates: April 21-25, May 5-7 & 20-21, 2017

  • Registration includes meals, notes, entry fees on field trips and your accommodation option

This course is currently underway.

Why study permaculture?

Population growth and consumption levels are pushing our Planet toward a catastrophic environmental tipping point. Permaculture offers a way that we, as individuals and communities, can take control of our future and live sustainably.

Permaculture is a design system which draws upon the great truths of traditional knowledge, modern scientific understandings and the ethics of a peaceful and democratic society.  The approach was first developed in Australia in the late 70’s by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren and is now taught in over 100 countries. Since then hundreds of thousands of people have graduated from Design Courses and are using this tool to build resilience and diversity into their lives.

Permaculture can be employed by anyone, whatever profession or skill, on any scale, from balconies and backyards to farms, factories and cities anywhere on the planet and in any climate. It offers a sustainable landscape, dignified human-scale living and self-reliant children who have the confidence to design a sustainable future for themselves.

It is based on three ethics: Care of the Earth, Care of Community and Acceptance of personal responsibility for consumption and population. Many principles, technologies and strategies have evolved to make permaculture one of the most accessible and dynamic solutions to the issues we face in the 21st Century.

About this course

This 10 day intensive course will present you with an opportunity to consider your life in a new light and gives you increased confidence and many skills needed to design a sustainable and meaningful place for your future.

You will work with a group of motivated fellow students with diverse skills and backgrounds and learn through lectures, practical activities, small group work, case studies, DVDs, field trips and games. In addition to our experienced teaching team, you will have access to a wide range of printed and digital resources. 

The extended format of the course is for busy people, designed to cause minimum disruption to other parts of your life as well as to allow you to absorb and practise skills from one learning block before moving on to the next. However the residential aspect is important, as it helps you become fully immersed in learning about sustainable living. Sessions are scheduled in the evenings, but we finish at 5pm on the last day of each block. The first teaching block of 5 days starting Fri April 21, includes Anzac Day Public holiday which this year is on Tuesday April 25. There are 3 days in total which are normal ‘working days’; these may need some planning to have off.

In The Food Forest PDC you will work on a major design project of your choice. Many of the excellent designs have been implemented around the world and have had impact as local exemplars of sustainable design.

Whilst many people study permaculture as a design system for their personal and/or professional lives, successful completion of the course will qualify you for a Permaculture Design Certificate which makes you eligible to practice or teach permaculture commercially. The course can also be recognised as relevant prior learning towards the completion of requirements for the nationally accredited VET Certificate IV in Permaculture and Graduate Certificate in Permaculture. Earlybird discount applies; see booking form. 


The course at The Food Forest will focus on the southern Australian environment and the ways we can enrich rural and metropolitan landscapes. It will cover such topics as:
·      Permaculture ethics, principles & design of sustainable systems
·      Reading the landscape - land capability assessment
·      Passive solar design for houses and structures
·      Sustainable energy, ‘waste’ and recycling
·      Appropriate human settlements
·      Personal, family and community strategies
·      Soil management/ Soil health: improvements and maintenance
·      Garden, farm and urban planning
·      Orchard and food forest design
·      Alternative economic models
·      Catchments, water management (urban & rural) and aquaculture
·      Revegetation, agroforestry, bush food and wildlife
·      Value-adding and direct marketing
·      Application of Permaculture Design in professions & trades

The course at The Food Forest will focus on the southern Australian environment and the ways we can enrich rural and metropolitan landscapes. It will cover such topics as:

  • Permaculture ethics, principles & design of sustainable systems
  • Reading the landscape - land capability assessment
  • Passive solar design for houses and structures
  • Sustainable energy, ‘waste’ and recycling
  • Appropriate human settlements
  • Personal, family and community strategies 
  • Soil management/ Soil health: improvements and maintenance
  • Garden, farm and urban planning
  • Orchard and food forest design
  • Alternative economic models and legal structures
  • Catchments, water management (urban & rural) and aquaculture
  • Revegetation, agroforestry, bush food and wildlife
  • Value-adding and direct marketing of food
  • Application of Permaculture Design in professions & trades

Whilst many examples will be drawn from warm temperate environments (as experienced in South Australia), care will be taken to make the teaching relevant to other climatic areas.

Principal Tutors

David Holmgren, co-originator of the concept of permaculture, will be presenting during the first part of the course, providing a unique opportunity to update your values and techniques or start your permaculture career at the cutting edge. 

In 2003 David published “Permaculture: Principles & Pathways Beyond Sustainability”, a book which was the first significant development on the permaculture concept since Bill Mollison’s “Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual” which was published in 1988. David continues to refine permaculture in his writings and research. He is currently working on a new book, earmarked to hit the book shelves early next year. To find out more about David, see


Annemarie Brookman is co-owner of The Food Forest and runs its organic market garden, a busy office and family. She organises The Food Forest’s stalls in the Adelaide Showground and Gawler Farmers Markets, a busy office and family as well as coordinating the WWOOF-ers (Willing Workers On Organic Farms) at The Food Forest. 

She has observed societies, crafts and cuisines in many countries. Her passion for visually beautiful, local and wholesome food and her skills as a designer are expressed in a direct and practical manner. She is expert in the integration of poultry and vegetable production and is an unashamed lover of chooks. Time management, small scale marketing, and sustainable home-building are included in her talents. She is qualified in permaculture design & training, art and craft.

Graham Brookman has experienced land use all over the world and his search for ecologically sustainable farming systems led him to the permaculture model devised by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. Graham has put the model to the test and teaches his findings in an energetic, interactive and practical style. 

Discovering how to build with strawbales has given Graham free rein with the construction of an amazing series of beautiful and environmentally responsible structures. He has taught hundreds of others how simple it is to build anything from a garden bench to a house from straw bales. 

He is a qualified horticulturalist, teacher and permaculture designer and was founding chairman of the Adelaide Showground Farmers Market and the Gawler Natural Resource Centre. Though first a farmer, he was involved in town planning and has made numerous educational films. 

Guest Tutors and Field Visits

A wide range of guest tutors, selected for skills in their particular field and their commitment to sustainable living and permaculture will also teach in the course. Tours will visit outstanding examples of permaculture in & near Adelaide.


The Food Forest, 80 Clifford Rd, Hillier (West of Gawler), SA.


The accommodation is in a share, bunk-style facility at The Food Forest. Alternatively you can bring your own van, caravan or tent, or possibly book a private cabin not too far from The Food Forest.... or commute from home.


Meals are included in the registration and include vegetarian, vegan and omnivorous options. Delicious, healthy, local and in season is important to us! A lot of the food served at the course will be harvested from The Food Forest, including many varieties of fruit, vegetables and herbs. We have also preserved produce from the different seasons. Of course we don’t produce everything; milk, cheese, bread, some grains & pulses will be sourced locally, in many cases direct from the producers. We do our best to cater for different needs but please note that for very specialised dietary requirements you may need to bring some of your own supplies.

Come Prepared

We strongly recommend, reading some of the following texts (hopefully available via your local library):


  • Permaculture: Principles & Pathways Beyond Sustainability, David Holmgren. His website:, has an abstract of his book as a free download. Easy to read and not too long.
  • Introduction to Permaculture, Bill Mollison & Reny Slay - Tagari ( 
  • The Holistic Life by Ian Lillington, Axiom Australia, (publ 2007), available from David Holmgren’s website: 
  • Permaculture Designers Manual, Bill Mollison - Tagari (This is the standard reference book for designers but it is not a ‘light’ read)
  • The Permaculture Handbook, Peter Bane, 2012, New Society Publishers, Canada
  • Permaculture Design, A step-by-step guide, Aranya, Permanent Publications, 2012
  • People & Permaculture, Looby Macnamara, Permanent Publications, 2012
  • Permaculture Pioneers, stories from the new frontier, edited by Kerry Dawborn & Caroline Smith, publ:
  • Gaia’s Garden, Toby Hemenway, 2009 2nd ed, Chelsea Green
  • The Permaculture City: Regenerative Design for Urban, Suburban, and Town Resilience, Toby Hemenway, 2015, Chelsea Green
  • Edible Cities: Urban Permaculture for Gardens, Balconies, Rooftops & Beyond, Judith Anger, Immo Fiebrig, Permanent Publications, 2013 

Web based:


  • Design for Life, Permaculture, The Food Forest Story, DVD, 2010. You can see the 3 minute trailer on YouTube (the whole DVD is available for purchase from The Food Forest website).
  • Introduction to permaculture design, Geoff Lawton, DVD,

There are many other Permaculture book titles, DVDs and there is a lot to google about Permaculture. Have fun!

Bookings, Cancellations & Refunds

  • Your place is reserved upon receipt of full registration or $500 deposit 
  • Registration includes meals, notes, entry fees on field trips and your accommodation option 
  • Please note: In recent years our PDC course has filled quickly, well before the close of early bird discount date.
We suggest you book early to avoid disappointment.
  • Cancellation: We understand that circumstances can change. If a cancellation is made before March 17 a refund will be made, minus an admin fee of $100.00. If you cancel after March 17, the registration is transferable to another person or another PDC course to be run at The Food Forest, but is non-refundable. If we can successfully offer your spot to someone on our PDC waiting list we will refund your fee minus an admin fee of $100.00.
  • In the unlikely event of insufficient registrations, the organisers reserve the right to cancel the course 
with one week’s notice. In this case a full refund will be made. Unfortunately we can not refund travel expenses incurred.