2018 Permaculture Design Course (PDC) for Homesteaders

Watch Last Years PDC and ATC

We filmed all of the previous 2017 permaculture design course and the appropriate technology course. All 177 hours of video is now available HERE!

The students and staff took a lot of photos and video of the 2017 PDC. Take a look HERE!



Most of our PDC students for the last 2 years have attended both the PDC and the ATC. We are doing that again this year. We are also running a "Peasant" PDC which is a less expensive option for a PDC.

Homesteaders PDC and/or ATC Pricing.

  • PDC only $1250
  • ATC only $1250
  • Both ATC and PDC $1950

Click HERE to register

Information on work trade here.


Permaculture Design Course (PDC) Overview

Sunday, June 24 through Saturday July 7, 2018 near Missoula, Montana


This will not just be a classroom PDC. Students will be out on the landscape surveying and designing.

The Homesteaders PDC will have a strong focus on DESIGN. Students attending this PDC will probably walk away with four times more experience with designing than students attending other PDCs. Most PDCs give equal time to urban, homestead and broad-acre designs. This PDC will cover all three, but urban and broad-acre design will be minimized so a stronger focus can be put on homesteading (2-200 acres).
We are offering two PDCs this year. One is geared to beginners that want a lot of hands on experience and is damn cheap! We call that one our "Peasant PDC." The second is a standard, 14 day PDC that is geared toward serious homesteaders, but that will also be deep enough for scientists, engineers, professionals and people that already have a great deal of study and practice with permaculture. This is our "Formal Homesteaders PDC".

More information about the peasant PDC can be found HERE.


The course will include soil analysis with the microscope.

Most PDCs, including the peasant PDC, are designed for people that are new to permaculture. While this works best for most people, we have heard from hundreds of people that they do not want to attend a PDC which only covers the basics with which they are already familiar – many of them have already done years of study and practice in the field. They want to have an experience that is a step up and they wish to receive their official PDC certificate. To that end, our instructor this year is an engineer that has taught several PDCs to scientists and engineers, and he promises a PDC that has the depth to be appropriate even for students who have already read a number of permaculture books, listened to lots of podcasts, and developed lots of hands-on homesteading experience.

This Permaculture Design Course

We get dirty

Come ready to get your hands dirty.

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 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 will start designing from day one. 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 day's subjects. This helps the learning to really take root in your mind.

Every student will work through the entire design project individually, but always with the support of their design group and the instructors. Students will have multiple chances to present their design ideas and get feedback throughout the course of the first 13 days, building to the final design project presentations on the last day. During these final presentations, each student will present their own design project to the group as if they were presenting to a professional client.


This course is designed to help you really start thinking like a designer. Even if you have a lot of practical experience is various aspects of homesteading already, the Homesteaders PDC will move you past simply thinking in terms of isolated systems and into designing integrated, whole landscapes.

Immediately after the PDC, most students will be attending the Appropriate Technology Course (July 9th - 20th, 2018).


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

Register Now!

Permaculture Design Course Instructors

Alan Booker - 2018 PDC Instructor

alan booker 2018 pdc

Alan graduated from Auburn University in Electrical Engineering with a focus on computer architecture and neural networks. He currently has over 25 years of experience as a systems engineer and systems architect working in digital telecommunications and large-scale computer systems.

As he gained experience in the industry throughout the 1990’s, Alan began to understand the long-term problems being created by modern design practices. In researching possible solutions, he became interested in Permaculture due to its holistic design approach and track record of creating workable solutions in a wide range of climates and ecosystems around the world.

In addition to teaching the PDC, Alan also provides consulting and workshops on earthworks, soil remediation, composting, forest gardening, holistic management of pastureland, keyline design, aquaculture and aquaponics, off-grid energy systems, and natural building systems.

Alan is the founder and lead instructor of the Eldenbridge Institute, which provides education and research in support of regenerative communities.

Alan's full bio can be found at the Eldenbridge Institute's website.

Tara Rae - 2018 PDC Assistant Instructor

paul wheaton 2018 PDC

Born and raised in Wisconsin, Tara Rae currently garden-farms on the Front Range of Colorado. She began studying Permaculture in 2003, receiving her first certificate in 2010 and a Permaculture Teachers Certificate in 2012. Since, she has received numerous Advanced Permaculture Design Certificates (2013-2017) and has studied under Sandy Cruz, Becky Elder, Peter Bane, Adam Brock, Jason Gerhardt, Eric Toensmeier, Brad Lancaster, Mark Shepard, and Tim Barker.

Over the last 20 years, Tara Rae has worked in varying fields of biology, agronomy, and environmental science including laboratories, nature centers, farms, and jungles with experience in 3 climate zones – cool and wet; cool and dry; and warm and wet. She holds both Bachelors and Masters degrees in Ecology, is a Certified Ecologist, and works as an environmental scientist. She can be found at her website Tara Rae Designs and https://boulderpdc.com/

Chris McClellan - 2018 PDC Guest Instructor and ATC Primary Instructor

Chris McClellan 2018 ATC

Uncle Mud (aka Chris McClellan) raises free-range, organic children in the wilds of northeast Ohio. Between building things out of mud and junk he writes for Mother Earth News Magazine and teaches simple DIY skills at workshops and fairs.

  • Greenhouse Rocket Mass Heater with Chris McClellan

Jessica Peterson - 2018 PDC Guest Instructor

paul wheaton 2018 PDC

Jessica Peterson holds an MA in socio-economics and is owner of two ecological businesses, Inside Edge Strategies and Design, and Wild Willow Wellness. She lives, farms, and works in Helena, MT. She is restoring 40 acres of North Woods and installing pond systems and a food forest in Bayfield, WI. She raises organic meat rabbits, has an apothecary, and collects eggs from her organically fed chickens. She co-designed the first public edible forest garden park in Montana. She uses whole systems design/permaculture methods and applies this toward bio-regional food sustainability, her own life and profession. Jessica has learned from, been mentored by, and taught with practitioners Sepp Holzer, Dave Jacke, Penny Livingston-Starke, Michael Pilarski, Mark Shepard, Elinor Ostrom, and Rosemary Gladstar. You can find her current favorite rabbit recipe here.

  • Inside Edge Design
  • 6th World Garden

Paul Wheaton - 2018 PDC Guest Instructor

paul wheaton 2018 PDC

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, which a recent study showed to 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.

  • Better Wood Heat: DIY Rocket Mass Heater Videos pdc site
  • Wood Burning Stoves 2.0 permaculture
  • World Domination Gardening PDC fodder
  • Permaculture Keynote - S. California Permaculture Convergence
  • Permaculture Playing Cards for evenings at PDC
  • Permaculture videos permaculture people Toby Hemenway teaches permaculture design courses
  • energy conservation PDC
  • Sepp Holzer permaculture technique homesteaders pdc
  • hugelkultur design PDC
  • Sepp Holzer Paul Wheaton permaculture
  • paul wheaton ted talk permaculture heat designs
  • Paul Wheaton Permaculture Voices - Building a Better World One Permaculture Brick at a Time

Dan Ohmann - 2018 PDC Guest Instructor

Dan Ohmann Guest Instructor 2018 PDC

Dan has been an active student of permaculture since 2013 when he took Geoff Lawton’s first online PDC. Dan left his career in the public sector to pursue a regenerative agrarian lifestyle. He and his family moved to the inland northwest onto a 10 acre homestead where permaculture principles are guiding Dan’s decision-making process as he raises grass-fed lamb, pastured-poultry, and pigs. Dan’s current focus is pasture revitalization which he is pursuing through the use of his sheep and pigs. Dan documents his journey on his YouTube channel, The Grass-fed Homestead.

Dan has been involved in video production projects with Paul Wheaton and Justin Rhodes of Abundant Permaculture. He is also a member of Jack Spirko’s The Survival Podcast expert council. You can learn more about his current projects at GrassFedHomestead.com

  • Dan Ohmann's Grass-fed Homestead YouTube Channel
  • How to Process a Pig

Elaine Sheff - 2018 PDC Guest Instructor

Elaine Sheff Guest Instructor 2018 PDC

Clinical Herbalist, RH (AHG)

The author of several books on herbal medicine and healing, clinical herbalist Elaine Sheff has been passionate about sharing herbal knowledge for over 25 years. She is a professional member of the American Herbalist Guild and teaches workshops, and at conferences, both nationally and internationally. Elaine is the Co-Director of Green Path Herb School, where she strives to inspire and empower students and clients to remember their connection to the earth, the plants and their own healing process. You can often find Elaine marveling at small flowers in mountain meadows. If you’d like to learn more about medicinal plants, you can connect with Elaine, and Green Path Herb School via the Green Path Website or through social media: Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Twitter, or Instagram. You can find out more about Elaine and her life work at GreenPathHerbSchool.com.

  • Green Path Herb School YouTube Channel
  • Herbs for Surgery

Christopher Borton - 2018 PDC Guest Instructor

Chris Borton - 2018 Permaculture Design Course Guest Instructor

Christopher Borton is director, co-founder, and designer of Sage Mountain Center LLC, an award winning off-grid educational facility promoting personal and environmental awareness. For over 20 years Sage Mountain Center has provided sustainable living education in everything from straw bale/cordwood construction and solar/wind power to organic gardening, composting toilets and vegan living. A fourth-generation builder, Chris is a founding board member of the Montana Renewable Energy Association (VP from 2003 -2012) as well as on the board of the Montana Energy Education Council. Coupled with his residential and small business consultation services, he continues to promote proven sustainable methods and techniques at all levels, from remote villages in Guatemala to federal agencies and large corporations.

  • Sage Mountain Center

Permaculture Design Course Content

Daily Schedule

7:00am: Breakfast

8:00am: Morning Gathering, Questions from Previous Day

8:15am: Session one

9:45am: Break

10:15am: Session two

11:45pm: Lunch

1:00pm: Session three

2:30pm: Break

3:00pm: Session four

4:30pm: Design Project Session

5:15pm: Break

6:00pm: Dinner

7:00pm: Optional Evening Presentation or Project Work Time

The 48-class sequence of 90-minute main sessions covers all of the base material required to complete the 72-hour lecture requirement for a full Permaculture Design Certification course.

Course Schedule

This is the official schedule. It is possible that a few details might change. Unless otherwise noted, all main sessions will be taught by Alan Booker and Tara Rae.

Day 0: Check In (Saturday, June 23)

Check-In: 9:00am - 7:00pm MST
Get Settled In: Find your camp site and setup.
Get Prepared: Meet with others, get your notebook and pencils ready.
Sleep: Try to get plenty of rest. We start early and you have a full day jam-packed with information tomorrow.

Day 1: Introduction and Overview (Sunday, June 24)

Session 1: Introduction and Overview
Session 2: Ethics in Design
Session 3: Design Concepts 1
Session 4: Design Concepts 2
Design Session: Design Project Overview
Evening Session: Group Design Charrette

Day 2: Methods of Design (Monday, June 25)

Session 1: Methods of Design Part 1
Session 2: Methods of Design Part 2
Session 3: Methods of Design Part 3
Session 4: Methods of Design Part 4
Design Session: Property Tour

Day 3: Understanding Pattern (Tuesday, June 26)

Session 1: Pattern Understanding Part 1
Session 2: Pattern Understanding Part 2
Session 3: Pattern Understanding Part 3
Session 4: Pattern Understanding Part 4
Design Session: How to Conduct a Client Interview
Evening Session: Group Design Workshop

Day 4: Climate and Trees (Wednesday, June 27)

Session 1: Climate Factors Part 1
Session 2: Climate Factors Part 2
Session 3: Trees & Their Energy Transactions Part 1
Session 4: Trees & Their Energy Transactions Part 2
Design Session: The Client Interview
Evening Session: Permaculture Design for Wildlands - Tara Rae

Day 5: Water and Soil (Thursday, June 28)

Session 1: Water Part 1
Session 2: Water Part 2
Session 3: Soils Part 1
Session 4: Soils Part 2
Design Session: Software Design Tools
Evening Session: Herbal Medicine - Elaine Sheff

Day 6: Soils, Compost, Crops and Seeds (Friday, June 29)

Morning Session: Morning Plant Walk - Elaine Sheff
Session 1: Seeds & Seed Saving - Elaine Sheff
Session 2: Soils Part 3
Session 3: Compost & Aerated Compost Tea
Session 4: Annual Crop Gardening

Day 7: Break (Saturday, June 30)

No required sessions. Instructors will be available during the afternoon to help with design projects.
Optional Bonus Evening Session: Hands-on Seed Saving - Tara Rae

Day 8: Earthworks (Sunday, July 1)

Session 1: Earthworks Part 1
Session 2: Earthworks Part 2
Session 3: Earthworks Part 3
Session 4: Earthworks Part 4
Design Session: Gathering Climate & Land-form Data
Evening Session: Straw Bale and Cordwood Construction - Chris Borton

Day 9: Humid Tropics & Drylands (Monday, July 2)

Session 1: Humid Tropics Part 1
Session 2: Humid Tropics Part 2
Session 3: Dryland Strategies Part 1
Session 4: Dryland Strategies Part 2
Design Session: Building a Base Map
Evening Session: Alternative Energy for the Homestead - Chris Borton

Day 10: Temperate Climates & Pasture Systems (Tuesday, July 3)

Session 1: Temperate Climates Part 1
Session 2: Temperate Climates Part 2
Session 3: Pasture Systems & Rotational Grazing - Dan Ohmann
Session 4: Food Forests and Perennial Production Systems - Dan Ohmann
Design Session: Sector & Zone Analysis, Designing Water & Access
Evening Session: The Logistics of Abundance - Dan Ohmann

Day 11: Appropriate Technology (Wednesday, July 4)

Session 1: Working with Energy Flows
Session 2: Natural Building Methods - Chris McClellan
Session 3: The Permaculture Kitchen
Session 4: Sanitation & Health
Design Session: Siting Mainframe Forestry, Buildings, and Permanent Fencing
Evening Session: Question & Answer Night - Alan Booker, Tara Rae, Paul Wheaton, Chris McClellan

Day 12: Aquaculture and Animals (Thursday, July 5)

Session 1: Aquaculture
Session 2: Animal Systems Part 1 - Jessica Peterson
Session 3: Animal Systems Part 2 - Jessica Peterson
Session 4: Food Storage & Seasonal Eating
Design Session: The In-fill Mosaic and Aquaculture
Evening Session: The Economics of Regeneration - Jessica Peterson

Day 13: Structures, Community and Economy (Friday, July 6)

Session 1: Designing Invisible Structures
Session 2: Legal Structures & Community Organization
Session 3: Economics & Money Systems
Session 4: Village Development & Human Scale
Design Session: Preparing for the Design Presentation
Evening Session: Design Project Work Time

Day 14: Design Project Presentations (Saturday, July 7)

Morning Session: Design Project Workshop
Afternoon Session: Student Presentations of Design Projects
Evening Session: Student Talent Night


There will be a tour of Wheaton Labs on Saturday June 23rd, the day before the Permaculture Design Course starts. The tour starts promptly at 9:30 am, to tour the lab first. Then there is a break for lunch, and the base camp tour starts promptly at 1:30 pm .. The tours will include:

wheaton labs


For questions about the tour, look at this thread

The Appropriate Technology Course

July 9th - 20th, 2018

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

Permaculture Design Course Registration

Note: 80% refunds up to two weeks before the event starts. If you are not comfortable with being recorded, please do not attend. Tobacco free and drug free site.

Permaculture Design Course only is $1250 per student

(there are currently still spots open)

Appropriate Technology Course only is $1250 per student

(there are currently still spots open)

both 2018 courses are $1950 per student

(there are currently still spots open)

Or via bitcoin: 177pNU2a9iCpUXQwXX9EbtA2UwZpgeqcMT

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

Permaculture Design Course Location

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 to rent for a small fee; 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.

Permaculture Design Course Accommodation

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 served. 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.

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 Love Shack

The Red Cabin

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 tipi 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.

Permaculture Design Course Food


Here are some of the meals from the 2017 PDC

Meals are not included. BUT attendees will be invited to join Paul at his table. Food will probably be an omnivore diet and might have paleo, gluten-free, dairy/casein-free, and/or vegan or vegetarian options at many/some meals. If you have any special dietary needs/desires, you might want to bring your own food and make use of our rocket cook stoves, ovens, solar ovens and other interesting contraptions for cooking.