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Fermenting Project
Four Seasons Permaculture Design Course
Re-skilling for Resilience

Carrying forward the lineage of the Permaculture Design Course taught in the Commonweal Garden, our Four Seasons PDC teaches the principals of self-sustaining, regenerative ecological systems and supports participants in applying principals in their homes, gardens, communities and lives. This skillset becomes ever-more relevant in our changing world: people with practical skills in growing food and medicine in a regenerative way, designing sustainable energy and water systems, understanding and applying carbon sequestration and nitrogen fixation, and critically examining social systems are better-equipped to navigate the times of transition in which we live and build a regenerative, resilient future.

The Four Seasons Permaculture Design Course's rich, multilayered curriculum has evolved to support students in successfully implementing permaculture design principles in their work and lives.

Our PDC curriculum includes the classic permaculture curriculum, with founding principles and techniques developed by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. Our 2021 Four Seasons: Re-skilling for Resilience has a strong focus on the practical application of skills in growing food and medicine, and the systems needed to do so regeneratively. Starting in February, the course is timed so that participants desiring support in the process of installing a regenerative food and medicine garden from planning to harvest will be supported at each step of the way, all the while earning a permaculture certificate.

The curriculum includes:

Fava Beas in the Garden
  • A diverse range of hands-on activities with experienced instructors in the living classroom of the Commonweal Garden.

  • A strong nature-connection component, including animal tracking and bird language, to deepen awareness and intimacy with the natural world.

  • Tools for cultivating an “inner ecology” to break through old limiting patterns and barriers to success.

  • An introduction to Social Permaculture, in which ecological and permacultural principles are applied to social systems toward a more sustainable and whole society.

  • Interwoven consciousness of the healing sourced from a reciprocal relationship with the Earth and leveraged toward personal, community and planetary healing.

Permaculture Project

While no two courses participate in exactly the same activities, each course includes classroom and/or hands on activities in the following areas:

  • Permaculture principles and ethics

  • Reading the landscape

  • Pattern and pattern application

  • Water harvesting

  • Swale building

  • Zone and sector analysis

  • Climate and micro climate strategies

  • Mapping

  • Urban permaculture

  • Land access

  • Community building

  • Plant guilds

  • Soil Carbon Sequestration and Biochar

  • The design process, principles, strategies, and techniques

  • Bird language and nature awareness

  • Soil building and sheet mulching

  • Pond management and ecology

  • Earthworks and natural building

  • Grey water systems

  • Bioremediation

  • Renewable energy systems

  • Forest management

  • Watershed management

  • Economy and Equity

  • Group work on a conceptual design project

  • Food forests and agroforestry


Through it all, you'll be engaged in learning and experiencing an enlivening way of living in the world, supported by like-minded people and instructors. You'll be integrated into the seasonal rhythm of tending the Garden, preparing beds and compost piles, planting seeds and propagating plants. You may build an "A-frame", and layout and dig a water-harvesting contour swale. You'll tend the medicinal food forest, pruning and grafting and learning about the medicinal uses of the plants you encounter. You will be supported in making permaculture and ecological principles real in your life.

Course Instructor: Spencer Nielsen and guests including Lydia Neilsen. 

The course takes place one Saturday each month, from February through October, with two weekends including an overnight. 

2021 Dates:

February 20-21, March 20, April 17, May 8, June 5-6, July 10, July 31, August 21, September 11, October 2 and October 23 


General Tuition ~ $1250

**We have limited discounted pricing for those in need. Please reach out to; special priority given to BIPOC, elders, single mothers, students, and those working in the nonprofit realm. Please reach out before registering! 

Camping is encouraged during our two two day weekends. 

**Our 2021 course will be held in a COVID-safe way, completely outdoors either in our "outdoor classroom": a well-ventilated, open-sided tent with an eco-conscious heat sources, and lots of hands-on activities in the larger outdoor classroom that is the Garden. Class size will be limited to allow for social distancing under the tent. Masks will be required. Please contact us at with any questions.

**We are suspending our Permaculture for Kids program in 2021 due to COVID considerations. However, we will offer nature and garden-immersive childcare for those who'd like to be in our PDC. We will be limiting the size of this group for safety, as well. Please email us if you are interested at

*Please note that this event takes place on wood-chipped paths, with port-o-potties that have a step.

swale pic.jpg
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