2017 Homesteaders PDC (Permaculture Design Course) in Montana

May 28th - June 10th, 2017 in Missoula, Montana


Source: permaculturenews.org

The aim of this PDC is to teach you the Permaculture process of design with a homesteading flavor. Once you have a deep and fundamental understanding of the design process, you can design for any situations: urban or large acreage, dry or humid climate, tropical or cold, etc.

The homesteading flavor comes from the opportunity to learn about really cool appropriate technology and homesteading infrastructure, and techniques used on site: rocket mass heaters, solar ovens, natural buildings, hugelkultur, and much more.

The location

Missoula, Montana

The cost

$820 until the end of January

$1100 until the end of March

$1400 afterwards

The PDC and ATC Combo

$1400 until the end of January

$1950 until the end of March

$2400 afterwards


A well run PDC can be a life changing event. For many people it can be the most intense learning experience of their lives and also great fun to boot.

You will be surrounded by like minded people and together you will not only learn the framework to survive in a rapidly changing world but to thrive . You will also develop the skills to heal damaged landscapes while providing for your own needs.

In this course you are designing from the get go. Every new piece of information every new concept is delivered in sequence so that it is immediately relevant and applicable. Your design unfolds in step with the days subjects . This helps the learning to really take root in your mind.

Learn how make really good effective decisions. We incorporate a lot of Allan Savory's Holistic management decision making process. We can't emphasise how important this is if you want to make effective long lasting change in your life.

While there will be hands on skills taught, the emphasis is really on the design. To learn more about specific skills, students are encouraged to also take the Appropriate Technology Course that immediately follows the PDC.

The instructors

A great group of experienced instructors. Learn more.

The schedule

Lots of fireside chats and bonus evening presentations. Thats almost worth the admission price there. Learn more.

The site

Lots of really cool Appropriate technology and natural buildings. Learn more.

The accommodations

While tent camping is included, you can pay a bit more to stay in one of the cool buildings. Learn more.

The food

Oh god! Did I mention the organic or beyond food? Wow! Learn more.

The people

You will probably learn a huge amount from other participants just as they will from you. Many friendships last long after the PDC is finished.


Questions about this course and the atc can be asked in this thread on permies.com

Register Now!

Course Content

Daily Schedule

9:00am: Session one

10:30am: Break

11:00am: Session two

12:30pm: Lunch

1:30pm: Session three

3:00pm: Break

3:30pm: Session four

By about day three or four, session four will be student design time each afternoon. Teaching staff will be available for questions and to check progress.

Course Schedule

This is the official schedule. It is possible that a few details might change.

Day 1: Intro to Permaculture Ethics and Principals

Day 2: Design Concepts and Themes

Day 3: Methods of Design

Day 4: Patterns in Nature and their application

Day 5: Climates, Climatic Factors

Day 6: Trees and their energies

Day 7: (AM Half Day Break) - PM Climate and Design

Day 8: Soils-healthy, humus, clay, sand, horizons, soil biology, pH

Day 9: Water-rain, fresh, collection, storage and economics, grey-water, black water

Day 10: Earthworks- swales, ponds, dams, slopes

Day 11: Aquaculture- Efficiency, Aquaponics

Day 12: Alternative Nation - Community building, Eco community, Invisible Structures

Day 13: Natural Buildings- Adobe, Super Adobe, Wattle and Daub, Bamboo, Rammed Earth - Fun "Talent Night"

Day 14: Permaculture Design Presentations and Talent Night

The Appropriate Technology Course

June 12th - 23rd, 2017

The Appropriate Technology course takes the permaculture principles to the next level by applying some crafty science and engineering to basic life essentials like hot water and water catchment. With this course, you'll cover a wide range of topics and get real life experience building the systems you'll need to live comfortably and sustainably

Find out more about this course here


Lead Instructors

Tim Barker

Tim has come a long way since his days as a diesel fitter mechanic, and now spends his time between Australia and New Zealand (and sometimes the US) as a semi professional pyromaniac and mad scientist teaching people how to burn stuff and make really cool machines and devices for low carbon living. He currently teaches Appropriate technology for the Koanga institute in New Zealand and Very Edible Gardens (VEG) in Melbourne, to name a few.

He has previously been farm manager for the Permaculture research Institute of Australia, power station operator/mechanic, adventure guide and professional turtle wrestler. His rocket stove and char making powered hot water systems, ovens and cookers reflect his passion for elegant simple and durable combustion technologies. Other projects include gravity powered water pumps, solar thermal cookers and dryers, pedal powered washing machines, cargo bikes, hovercraft, wooden boats and aquaponics, to name a few. When he is not tinkering he can be found on Macleay Island off the coast of Queensland Australia, where he and his family live and are currently in the process of building a rammed earth house (with maybe a little sailing thrown in).

He is particularly well known for his safe and effective rocket hot water heating system.He brings practical, hands on experience with some truly fascinating projects to the table - this from the Koanga institute:

"He has the practical knowledge and skills to construct almost any project with limited resources."

We're thrilled to have him instructing at our facilities!

Paul Wheaton

Paul Wheaton, the bad boy of Permaculture was proclaimed by Geoff Lawton in 2012 the Duke of Permaculture. He is the creator of two on-line communities. One is about Permaculture, permies.com, and one is about software engineering, CodeRanch.com.

He is a powerful advocate of Sepp Holzer’s techniques for which a recent study showed they have the ability to feed 21 billion people without the use of petroleum or irrigation. He also promotes the use of hugelkultur, which sequesters carbon and eliminates the need for irrigation, and polycultures, which reduces the need for pest control and improves the health of plants. He wrote several articles about lawn care, raising chickens, cast iron and diatomaceous earth. Paul regularly uploads permaculture videos and permaculture podcasts.

Guest Instructors

The guest instructors will be announced soon.


Until the end of January

PDC: $820

ATC: $820

Both: $1400

Until the end of March

PDC: $1100

ATC: $1100

Both: $1950


PDC: $1400

ATC: $1400

Both: $2400

Don't wait - these prices are for a limited time only! Register now to get the discounted rate.

Permaculture Design Course only is $820 per student

Appropriate Technology Course only is $820 per student

both courses are $1400 per student

You can also pay for the course with Bitcoins by sending the appropriate amount to Paul's account.

Lots more details, FAQ, discussion, etc. on this thread at permies.com

Location Information

These courses will be taught at Wheaton Labs, a learning facility located west of the Rocky Mountains, in the Missoula area of Montana.

Established in 2013 by the founder of permies.com and richsoil.com, Paul Wheaton, the expansive property features a spectacular sampling of natural buildings, eleven rocket mass heaters, eight rocket cook stoves, hugelkultur garden beds, earth berms, showers heated by compost, a variety of solar power systems, sustainable horticultural practices, and a broad collection of projects and experiments intended to shape the future of permaculture.

Wheaton labs is actually two pieces of land: “base camp” which has a few buildings on it already, and “the laboratory,” which started as bare timber land. It is surrounded by beautiful mountain views and expansive coniferous forests and nearly a thousand acres of federal Bureau of Land Management land. wheaton labs is truly surrounded by beauty!

This “farmer laboratory” fosters innovations and experiments such as wofatis, poopers, hugelkultur, polyculture food systems integrated with holistic management-style animal systems, a different style of community, aquaculture, and earthworks for privacy, water retention and frost protection. The ultimate goal is the least toxins possible.

Note: For the security of our residents and staff, the exact location of Wheaton Labs is only revealed to paying customers - you will receive detailed location information and directions upon receipt of payment.

For Those That Fly to the Event

If you need a ride from the airport, we can arrange for somebody to pick you up.

  • between 8 am and 9 pm: $15 per ride
  • Outside of those hours: $35 per ride
  • Please be ready to pay driver in cash

For those that may not be able to fly with sleeping bags and tents, there are a limited quantity available for borrowing, and of course, you can always rent the Tipi, Wofati, or other structures for your stay to lighten your luggage.

A few people have shipped a box of this sort of thing here. And a couple of those have left tents and sleeping bags for future people attending these events.


Everybody must be okay with being photographed or filmed, and people are encouraged to take video and photos of the course. Details here.


Tent camping is included with the courses.

We have a few formal tent pads with a sand bottom, to give you a soft, level surface for setup. First come, first serve. Some people last year came a week early.

Once you are registered, we will give you information on local hotels, lodges, campgrounds, etc. - we have had several people that prefer that sort of thing.

We have had some people arrive with a van or truck to stay in - that's fine. Some people want to bring a camper - please coordinate with the registrar about that - there is no fee, but we need to put you in an appropriate spot. We don't allow plugins or the use of a generator. Solar panels are okay.

You are welcome to harvest some of the food we have growing here, just be respectful, and leave some foods behind to reproduce.

Slumber Party at Cooper Cabin!

Cooper Cabin is also known as "Wofati 0.8". The structure is not quite done yet, but people have been living in it since August of 2014. This spacious structure has plenty of room for large groups.

We will be allowing up to twelve people to throw a sleeping bag down on the floor of Cooper Cabin for a small fee. This requires a seperate registration. Details here.

A step up from camping - rent one of these

Course instructors will be occupying most of the structures we have, but there are a few structures with bunks still available. (we will try to update this page to reflect availability)

The Tipi with Rocket Mass Heater

You probably won't need to fire up the rocket mass heater, but you could if you wanted to. This is the tipe and rocket mass heater that was part of the great rocket mass heater experiment in the winter of 2013/2014. Most people want to stay in it during the winter to fully appreciate the function of a rocket mass heater.

You can learn more about the tipi with the rocket mass heater here, and the particulars about renting this during the event here.

Allerton Abbey (aka Wofati 0.7)

Though there is still a bit of cob work to be done in this structure, it is fully winterized, and darned cozy! There is a rocket heater, two twin sized bunks and one full sized bunk. You can learn more about allerton abbey here, and the particulars about renting this during the event here.

The Love Shack (aka The Porta-Cabin)

Currently located at base camp, this small one room structure is a simple wooden insulated shack built on skids - so we can move it anywhere. It was originally built in a day - although it has gradually received a lot of small improvements. You can learn more about the love shack here and the particulars about renting this during the event here.


Organic or better, real, whole food meals are included in this event, made by a returning, full-time cook, Stewart Hung, that we think is excellent (along with helpers). The meals will primarily be omnivore fare, though a vegan or vegetarian should be able to find at least some options at each meal.

The Cook, Stewart Hung

Stewart has been learning about permaculture principles during the recent three years since he discovered that living a consumerist lifestyle is not fulfilling and that there must be something more. As a scientist and an individual who enjoys learning, he quickly latched onto permaculture as a different and more natural method of system design. He grew up in a family of chefs and some of that has rubbed off on him. His goals include contributing to and being part of the homesteading community in central Pennsylvania, building RMHs, and developing new technologies for homesteading. Stewart is looking forward to returning to Wheaton Labs and be a part of the group to help to make this PDC another great one.