Serving the permaculture network in Austin, Texas

‘6 Weekends’ Fall 2016 PDC

The Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) signifies completion of the 72-hour curriculum set forth by Bill Mollison in ‘Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual.’ This design course is equal to the courses taught domestically and globally as the basis for advanced training for permaculture internships & apprenticeships. Graduates can also use this course as their jumping off point to begin teaching permaculture modules, creating a portfolio of permaculture designs, and establishing a permaculture consulting practice. It is a life and world-view altering event for most students – living more kindly on their land, creating & caring for their community, conserving & renewing precious resources, respecting all beings, and designing & living in sustainable human settlements that work with and use Nature as the grand designer.

Permaculture Class in Session
Permaculture Class in Session at WLLC



Our Fall 2016 Permaculture Design Certificate Course is currently closed for registration. It is a ‘6 Weekends’ format course, spread out over the course of 6 months-1 weekend per month. This format is preferred by many people because it can fit snugly into a busy schedule.

Tuition is set as sliding scale, with the tuition ranging from $600-$1,000. This course is NOT open for registration. This page will remain open until the end of the course to provide schedule info for current students.

See the course schedule and other essential information below. If, after reading this page, you have any questions, contact the course registrar/web admin, Taelor Monroe at monroe DOT taelor AT gmail DOT com .


Class meets 9:00am – 5:45pm each day; arrive anytime after 8:30 to get settled in. (NOTE: If you can’t make all 12 days, don’t worry — you can make up the missed days at any of our future  courses for no extra charge.)

This course includes classroom instruction from Kirby Fry, Caroline Riley and Taelor Monroe. It features hands-on projects (including your final site design project), presentations by guest instructors, and field trips. For more details about the content and schedule, scroll down this page. We look forward to having you in our class!

Ellie the goat trying to sneak into class. See you there!
Ellie the goat trying to sneak into class. See you there!

Weekend 1:

October 22 – Day 1: Introduction to Permaculture, History, Ethics & Principles, Sector Analysis, Zones of Use and Design Methods

October 23 – Day 2: Patterns in Nature, Climate, Sense of Place

Weekend 2:

November 12 – Day 3: Water in the landscape, Earthworks, Trees & their Energy Transactions

November 13 – Day 4: Holistic Soil Biology & Science, Soil Strategies and Preparations, Hands-on Soil Workshop

Weekend 3:

December 10 – Day 5:  The Built Environment, Natural Building, Grey Water, Black Water, Water Catchment Systems, Hand-on Cob Workshop

December 11 – Day 6: Zone I Gardens, Small Animal Systems, Plant Families, Propagation, Seed Saving, Garden Design Activity

Weekend 4:

January 14 – Day 7: Perennial Forest Gardens, Grafting, Hands-On Grafting and Propagation Workshop

January 15 – Day 8: Permablitz Day!

Weekend 5:

February 11 – Day 9 : Holistic Management, Sylvo-Pasture, Wild Spaces, Design Activity

February 12 – Day 10: Guest Speaker – Gary Freeborg – Advance Soil Science, Design Workshop I

Weekend 6:

March 11 – Day 11: Community Design, Urban Permaculture, Appropriate Technology, Design Workshop II, Talent Show in the Evening (not optional!)

March 12 – Day 12: Final Design Project Presentations, Graduation Potluck


The Fall 2016 Course will be will be held at the Whole Life Learning Center (WLLC), a living example of permaculture design. Over the past 4 years this site has been completely transformed! WLLC has on site a 4 year old food forest, pond, ducks, chickens, goats, 10,000 gallon rain water catchment system, greenhouse, gray water system, 2 yurts, and a geodesic dome classroom. In between your permaculture design course weekends, the space serves as a learning center for children ages 3-13, drawing from Waldorf, Montessori, and nature based learning curriculum. Camping on site is encouraged for the both the Friday evening before and the Saturday evening of each of the 6 weekends.

Students presenting their design project at the Spring '14 PDC
Students presenting their design project at the Spring ’14 PDC at WLLC^

This is a commuter course. Along with classroom instruction, we have hands-on projects (including your site design project), presentations by guest instructors, and field trips. DRESS FOR THE WEATHER. Always come prepared to spend at least some time outdoors. Lunches are BYO/potluck.

The class day runs from 9:00 in the morning to 5:45 in the afternoon. Class starts promptly at 9:00. Arrive by 8:30 on the first day to get settled in, pay your tuition balance, chat over coffee/tea, etc. Bring your own lunch (and some to share with others if you like). There is a full kitchen on site. Please help us achieve zero waste by bringing your own reusable cup, silverware, water bottle, etc.

Reading assignment: This course follows the internationally recognized 72-hour curriculum outlined in Bill Mollison’s Permaculture Design Manual. The certificate signifies completion of this curriculum. You aren’t required to buy or read the Manual, but please read Introduction to Permaculture, by Bill Mollison and Reny Slay, ideally before the class starts.

If you’d like to do additional reading, great! Other good introductory books are Gaia’s Garden by, Toby Hemenway; Earth User’s Guide to Permaculture by, Rosemary Marrow,The Permaculture Way by Graham Bell and One Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka.

You may be able to find these books locally. In Austin, Monkey Wrench Books and Brave New Books are good places to start. Brave New Books tries to keep a few copies of Mollison’s Introduction to Permaculture on hand. Keep in mind these books are not always in stock. You can also check your local library or check online.

If you can’t find them locally, we suggest you get them online via Permaculture Activist, which is run by permaculture teacher/designers and offers an excellent selection of book and video titles.


We are providing two diversity scholarship for this design course, reserved for people of color. These full ride scholarships require no payment in exchange for taking the course. If you would like to apply for any of these two available spots please submit a photo of yourself, resume and letter of intention attached in an email addressed to Taelor Monroe, monroe DOT taelor AT gmail DOT com . The letter of intention should give a brief history of your current work in this world and how you think you can make the biggest impact in your community if you were to receive a permaculture design certificate.

Deadline: Only applications received on or before October 1st, 2016 will be accepted. Responses will be given Friday, October 7, 2016.

This course includes classroom instruction, hands-on projects (including your site design project), guest instructor presentations, and field trips. This is a certificate course with 72+ hours of instruction. That doesn’t always mean just lecture. We have many activities we will be practicing during class time.

Students filling swales and creating the shelves in the pond.
Students filling swales and creating the shelves in the pond at the Whole Life Learning Center.

Day 1. INTRODUCTION TO PERMACULTURE, HISTORY, ETHICS AND PRINCIPLES, METHODS OF DESIGN: Introductions, History of Permaculture, Solution based movement, Permaculture ethics & principles, Design Methodologies,  Principles in practice, Site observation and analysis, sector analysis, reading flows

Day 2. PATTERNS IN NATURE, CLIMATE, SENSE OF PLACE: World & local ecosystems: elements, patterns, climates: dry, temperate, tropical; Austin’s climates & eco-systems; Creating micro-climates. Nature’s patterns & designs. Larger climate and soil patterns, Creating a sense of place, Natural Bio-Regions of Texas

Day 3. WATER, EARTHWORKS, TREES & THEIR ENERGY TRANSACTIONS: Water Slow it, spread it, sink it, from the sky, from the roof, in the soil, methods of in-soak. Trees and their energy transactions, Function of Trees, Water: in and from the house: water audit & conservation; Water on the ground: small-scale dams & earthworks; dig a small swale section. Water in the ground: ponds, dams, wetlands, & more. Plants, animals, fish. natural/artificial wetlands.Aquaculture: history, design strategies, water testing, plants and fish for the system and scale.

Day 4.  SOIL: Soil is Alive! Structure, types of soil, the soil food web, the roles of bacteria, fungi, nematodes, etc. pH; Austin soils; soil analysis-exercise. Organic soil management. Growing soil, mulch, biomass, trees. Preparing soil amendments.

Day 5. THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT & ENERGY, RAIN WATER CATCHMENT, GREY & BLACK WATER: Local, efficient, renewable, reduced consumption. Green building; in location/design/construction; principles; materials; techniques; low waste; efficiencies; local; embodied energy; re-use, recycled content; volatile organic compounds (VOCs), Natural Building: intro to design/build: strawbale; cob, light clay, rammed earth; cob build exercise. Energy: off-grid, local, renewable house/farm case study; intro to passive/efficient/natural design, solar PV & water. Energy inventory & reduction. Intro to: renewable energy options, technologies, trends, costs. Water-Methods of storage: types, advantages, costs. Exercise: gallons/yr on your roof/property. Waste water treatment plans for grey and black water, covers multiple methods. Grey water source & uses; wastewater treatment & use

Day 6. EVERYTHING GARDENS, ZONE 1 DESIGN: What is a zone I garden? Intensive plantings, schedules, rotation strategies, succession, guilds, companion planting, propagation and herb gardens, garden design game, Animals for zone I, Creating guilds, Super guilds, Intro to Texas plant palette: natives, needs, benefits, guilds, and favorites. Propagation by seeds & cuttings, Seed Saving, Intro to plant families

Day 7. TREES AND PERENNIAL FOOD FOREST DESIGN, ZONES 2 & 3: We will be getting our hands dirty while learning about all of the layers of a food forest and exactly how to lay one out. We will cover History of Food Forestry, Succession review, forest tour and design story, propagation: cuttings and grafting, Food forest design game to scale, adding to existing food forest

Day 8. PERMABLITZ DAY: Work with Kirby at a Permablitz site getting hands on experience digging berms and swales, planting all of the plants found in the food forest design system, including native and cultivated fruit and nut trees, nitrogen fixing farmer’s trees, perennial herbs and shrubs, perennial vegetables, vining fruits & flowers, cover crops, and root crops.

Day 9. INTRO TO HOLISTIC MANAGEMENT, WILD SPACES, ANIMAL SYSTEMS, DESIGN ACTIVITY: Designing for animals for zones II, III and IV-goats, cows, horses, & chickens. What is zone 5? Holistic large scale animal husbandry. DESIGN BASICS: intro to professional-level design and presentation techniques. Relationships of elements, synergy, dependencies, multiple income/ resource streams, listen to stakeholders, learn history. Data and graphics: surveys, GPS databases, etc. Using measurements, scale, drawing board, ruler/t-square/triangle, pencil/erasure, pen, colored pencils. Producing your quality base map plus contours, flow map, bubble diagram, final site design, and in-color presentation.

DAY 10.  GUEST SPEAKER GARY FREEBORY-ADVANCED SOIL, DESIGN WORKSHOP I: DESIGN WORKSHOP: Quantum Agriculture, Soil Preparations, Bio-Dynamics, Broad-Scale soil science, Broad-scale soil strategies, Re-wilding soil, Work on your design starting with a detailed, to-scale base map, adding contours/slope, then separate flow map and bubble diagram before proceeding to site design and final colored design. Workshop is interspersed with short exercises/talks/breaks on design techniques and review of permaculture principles and past students’ designs. Students are encouraged to review designs and techniques with each other in the informal class setting.

Day 11: URBAN PERMACULTURE, INVISIBLE STRUCTURES, COMMUNITY CONNECTION, DESIGN WORKSHOP II:  Patio, small lot, larger lot. Permaculture in the city principles and designs for city and suburbs; resources of the city; needs of the city; some model cities & their needs/solutions. Energy, waste, resources, pollution, need for community/cooperation. Invisible Structures, Building community, Legal structures, economics, de-localization strategies, creating communities, business model ideas, Create your permie community game. Complete final design project with your group to present the next day.

Day 12. STUDENT PERMACULTURE DESIGN PRESENTATIONS, WRAP-UP: Design presentations; and next steps. What are you going to do next? What can you do with your PDC? Culture of Cooperation: student exercise/discussion of what they want to do and who with, where, and how. Yourself / your property, neighborhood/village/city, coop or eco-village, a nonprofit, city group, urban/suburban/country. Lists of ideas, opportunities, support groups/agencies, help from individuals, corporations, NGOs, foundations, government programs. Discussion of giving, giving back, social/economic justice, invisible systems and barriers to overcome, helping others and community and environment.


Kirby Fry is a permaculture teacher and practitioner with more than 20 years of experience throughout central Texas and Guatemala. He worked with the Peace Core in Guatemala planting trees and building earth works. He received his own PDC with Bill Mollison in North Texas during a 5 week intensive course. Since then he has been spreading permaculture far and wide by speaking at and organizing events, and helping other create their own permaculture design and implementing it on their property. He has maintained a permaculture design on his own property for the past 15 years that includes earthworks, ponds, a straw-bale house and a grey and black water system. Contact Kirby at kirbyfry9 AT gmail DOT com, or (512) 663-9538.

Your Instructor Kirby Fry
Your Instructor Kirby Fry

Caroline Riley is an Elementary Montessori Guide who teaches permaculture to both children and adults. Her commitment to inspired learning, and place-based environmental education led her to create the One World Permaculture Project. This project connects youth to their local and global community through permaculture design and empowers them to follow their inspirations and practice compassion. This project took her to Lusaka, Zambia in the summer of 2011 and is in partnership with the Whole Life Learning Center in Austin, TX. Caroline began teaching permaculture design at Austin Community College in the Fall of 2011. She has studied and practiced permaculture in Colorado, Austin and Oregon with Dick Pierce, Jude Hobbs and Andrew Millison. She offers design and consulting through One World Design. She will be bringing a new soul into this world at the start of this course so she will only act as a Co-instructor, popping in as much as she can. Contact Caroline at caroline DOT riley DOT carberry AT, 512-217-0661

Your Instructor Caroline Riley

Taelor Monroe is the Executive Director for the Austin Permaculture Guild and organizes and teaches at the permaculture design courses and workshops advertised here. She has been organizing and teaching PDCs for 4 years. In the Summer of 2015 she traveled to India and Thailand where she worked on two different permaculture farms learning about the natural way of farming and building with adobe bricks. She worked with Caroline Riley at the Whole Life Learning Center from Jan. 2014-June 2015 to transform the space into a full functioning permaculture design. She supported Kirby Fry in creating the community Permablitz events in Central Texas starting in January 2013 and continues to offer help promoting these informational workshops and volunteer events. She previously created a Permaculture centered intentional community titled Sacred Roots in San Marcos, TX. She has studied Permaculture design under Kirby Fry, Caroline Riley, Theron Beaudreau and Dick Pierce. Her top most goal is to create community, and educate others about regenerative permaculture design and practice, and holistic nutrition and fermentation. You can contact Taelor at (214) 448-6428 or monroe DOT taelor AT gmail DOT com

Teacher and organizer Taelor Monroe
Instructor and organizer Taelor Monroe