SOPI Southern Oregon Permaculture InstituteDonate.htmlshapeimage_1_link_0

What is Permaculture?

Permaculture as a holistic system of DESIGN, based on direct observation of nature, learning from traditional knowledge and the findings of modern science. Embodying a philosophy of positive actions and grassroots education. Permaculture aims to restructure society by returning control of resources for living: food, water, shelter and the means of livelihood, to ordinary people in their communities, as the only antidote to centralized power. — Permaculture Activist Magazine

Hands On Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) courses

Learn More on a Working Permaculture Farm

Many people have trouble translating permaculture from a book to real life. The SOPI permaculture courses are designed to get your hands in the soil on Restoration Seeds permaculture farm, Ashland, Oregon. You will gain real-world design experience with your group design project. A typical day begins with morning class and followed by afternoon half hands-on projects and workshops. Every day is be different. See photos of our courses here.


The SOPI PDC curriculum follows Bill Mollison’s text the Permaculture: A
Designer’s Manual.

Day 1: Course administration, Introduction, What is Permaculture, History, Ethics and Principles.

~ Meta Systems ~

Day 2: Chapter 2: Concepts and Themes in Design. Chapter 3: Methods of Design. Ground Planning.

Day 3: Chapter 4: Pattern Understanding.
Day 4: Urban/Suburban Permaculture. Design Client Relationship. Visit group design sites.

~ Natural Systems ~

Day 5: Chapter 6: Trees and Their Energy Transactions. Pruning and Grafting workshop.

Day 6: Chapter 5: Climatic Factors.

Day 7: Chapter 8: Soils.

Day off.

~ Cultivated Systems ~
Day 8: Chapter 7: Water

Day 9: Chapter 12: Humid Cool to Cold Climates. Chapter 9: Earth Working and Earth Resources.

Day 10: Chapter 10: The Humid Tropics; Chapter 11: Drylands Strategies. Activity group design work.
Day 11: Chapter 13: Aquaculture. Activity group design work.
Day 12: Chapter 14: The Strategies of an Alternative Global Nation. Activity group design project and PDC fiesta.
Day 13: Design Presentations. Certificates. Student intention affirmation, photos and goodbyes. Finished after lunch.

Forest Gardening

On the farm you will see examples of food forest plantings over the last five years and what success and challenges they are having. We will cover food forest establishment for overstory, understory trees, shrubs, herbs and ground cover vegetation. You will learn how to plan the succession process from an oldfield to a shrubland to an edible woodland. Right: Jon Carlson giving a medicinal herb walk.

We learn about food forest maintenance including fertility, irrigation, pollination, diversity. This course will give you the hands-on skills and confidence to establish your backyard, homestead or community permaculture paradise. You will get out of the classroom and into the field.

Fresh Organic Vegetarian Meals

For residential courses, if we have at least 10 people signed up, we cook three fresh organic vegetarian meals a day for you. For smaller groups meals are prepared in community.

For weekend courses, we provide nourishing organic soups and bread. Bring something fun to contribute to lunch too. What we eat determines how we live!

Course Textbook Required

The required textbook for the course is Bill Mollison’s Permaculture: A Designers Manual. Please purchase the course textbook at least 30 days in advance. You can buy it through our online amazon book store. It is also available at Powell’s Books. Take time and review the textbook before you arrive.

We strongly suggested you also by both of these books: The Hand-Sculptured House by Ianto Evans, Michael G. Smith and Linda Smiley. Rocket Mass Heaters by Ianto Evans and Leslie Jackson. Please purchase them from the Cob Cottage Company. We are increasingly finding that the PDC course is shy on showing people how to build their own cozy homes from materials largely from onsite. We cannot take the time to teach a Complete Cob workshop in the PDC but we want you to read these two books to open the door to living mortgage free.

Another book we recommend is John Navazio’s The Organic Seed Grower. See the SOPI online book store. Your purchases benefit the institute.


Courses start at 9:00 am and we end about 500pm.

Summer course arrive the afternoon before the course to setup your camp site and check in. Dinner will be provided that evening. Contact us a few days in advance to arrange for a pickup at the Medford bus station or airport.

What to Bring

Bring a journal or note pad, pens, water bottle, snacks, closed toe shoes, rubber boots and rain gear in the winter.  For camping bring a sleeping bag, camping pillow, tent, ground tarp, sleeping pad, headlamp, toiletries, towel, favorite tea cup. There is a Wi-Fi network, we do not have a shared computer to check email. There is no land phone line on the farm, bring your cell phone.

Drawing supplies, sketch pad, thin to medium black drawing pens, color pencils, grid paper, engineer’s scale.

Certification: Apprentice Designer

PDC certificate holders are considered apprentice designers until they have had three years of permaculture design experience, after which they become a full designer. Designers gain experience at existing permaculture sites, institutes, work-trade, internships and by designing, installing and maintaining their own permaculture site; trial and error are excellent teachers. Career designers should also take our advanced Edible Forest Garden Design course.

Scholarship Work-Trade

We do have a need for a photographer or videographer and a course cook coordinator. Email us samples of your work if interested.

Food, Shelter, Health in Community

How to provide these for your family are important skills we believe are missing from modern education. Permaculture is a holistic place to start your journey. After you have your PDC, start branching out. Learn more about natural building or herbalist. Enjoy your journey, teach others too.

Contact  541 201-2688,  Sign-up here


Chuck Burr is founder of Restoration Seeds and author Culturequake: The Restoration




since the

early 1990s.

Cynthia Care specializes in the design of elegant, edible food gardens. An educator for twenty years, she currently offers classes in poultry care, as well as introductory classes in permaculture and biodynamics.

Gene Griffith has been in engineering  for nearly 30 years. He has a degree in Electromechanical Engineering and was a Automation Specialist. He teaches and advises on permaculture, water, aquaculture and fluid power.