2019 Permaculture Design Course (PDC) ← Spiral Ridge Permaculture

2019 Permaculture Design Course (PDC)

Permaculture design course collage

2019 Permaculture Design Course (PDC)  – Farm and Homestead Design

2019 Permaculture Design Certificate Course

October 11-20, 2019

Earn your  permaculture certification during this 10 day permaculture design course that integrates real-world design, and homestead skill building.  

Hands-on permaculture design courseWhy take a permaculture design course?  Problems abound.  This is clear.  Agriculture systems are causing more harm than good;  stripping the earth of topsoil, creating pollution and declaring war on ecology.  There is a lack of unity among people and this impedes our ability to regenerate land and heal our communities.  Resources become more scarce, while overconsumption is the norm.  Many people feel isolated, disconnected and unhealthy.

It is easy to be overwhelmed by all the bad news, to feel like nothing you do can change the current trajectory of the world.  We used to feel helpless too, but not any more.  We have discovered that there are solutions.  You can contribute to this positive change and the time is now.


We need to change our inner landscapes.  The culture of our minds.  We need vision.  We need a positive, solution focused mindset.   We need to be inspired and we need to take action.  We need to regenerate and heal our landscapes, our personal lives, our relationship with nature and our culture & communities.  We need resiliency training.  We need to learn how to connect with nature so we may learn how to mimic it in the design of our present and future.  That’s what this permaculture design course is all about.

permaculture design course sketches Will you join us?

In this 10 day permaculture design course otherwise know as a PDC, you will be learning the tools, guiding principles, and strategies that create lush productive landscapes, reduce your energy use, and create more stability and security for you and your loved ones.  You will create a village, and find community with a group of caring individuals sharing the knowledge and enthusiasm that come from joining forces and focusing on solutions.  All levels are welcome.  Whether you are new to these ideas and wondering where this path will take you or if you have been in an a related field and need new inspiration.

Now is the time to take action to benefit ourselves and future generations.  Yes, the earth is beset with problems, YOU ARE THE SOLUTION!

Permaculture Design Course Topics Include...
Permaculture Principles & Ethics * How to Read the Landscape * Patterns & Pattern Application * Water Harvesting * Swale Building * Rainwater Catchment * Zone and Sector Analysis * Climate & Microclimate * Mapping * Land Access * Community Building * Plant Guilds, Food Forests & Agroforestry * The Ecological Design Process, Principles, Strategies & Techniques * Soil building * Synergistic Gardening * Pond Management & Ecology * Earthworks * Natural Building * Grey Water Systems * Bio-remediation * Renewable Energy Systems * Forest Management * Watershed Management * Growing Mushrooms * Animal Systems * The Business of Permaculture *Ferment and Human Nutrition * Homesteading Skills * Farm Practices * Propagation Techniques * Appropriate Technology * Holistic Management * Keyline Design®  * Pattern Languages *Landscape Design Graphics * Urban Permaculture *Financial Permaculture *Communities and Ecovillages *  and More

 Key Benefits of Taking Spiral Ridge’s Permaculture Design Course (PDC)

Generate an inspired vision for your landscape.student design pic

Increase the yields and resilience of your backyard, homestead or farm.

Learn to create and implement a design from site analysis to completion.

Discover the secrets for rapid creation of healthy, and biologically active topsoil.

Plan for whole landscape water harvesting for your property.

Learn to improve efficiency and synergy between elements in your landscape.

Reduce costs and dependency on outside energy inputs, increase profits, and enhance livelihoods while improving your quality of life.

Create resilience and security for your family and your local community.  

Contribute to the regeneration of land, water, and air quality to improve the health and wellbeing of the environment and it’s inhabitants.  

Think in whole systems, rather than in parts, to understand and enhance the relationships between those parts.  Whole systems thinking is a methodology that leads to successful problem solving because it mimics the behavior of natural systems.

Our program contains the core 72 hour Permaculture Design Certificate Course You will:

  • Take part in lectures, slide shows, site tours, exercises, games, facilitated group discussions and other learning modalities.
  • See permaculture in action on a small farm/homestead scale in a temperate climate.
  • Build your skill set with hands-on  classes, practical exercises and implementations.
  • Learn from varied team of professional designers, farmers, homesteaders & community organizers that are actively putting the design process to work, not just teaching about it.  We live and work in the systems we create, constantly receiving insights and feedback to deepen our understanding of natural and designed systems.
  • Learn about and use the Ecological Design Process.  Not every Permaculture Design Course will teach the ecological design process, which has you create holistic goals, read the landscape and use the scale of permanence to organize data and develop a design.  This professional process will give you a step by step approach to applying the principles of permaculture.  You will gain confidence to tackle a variety of designs with this process.  You will create holistic goals, read the landscape and use the scale of permanence to organize data and develop a design to meet those goals.
  • Get the attention you need.  More time for questions, discussions, and individualized attention from the instructors, to dive deeper into a topic or discuss personal projects you are working on (bring maps of a current project, if you can).
  • Learn how to design in any climate and in any circumstance, yet give added focus to temperate climate permaculture.
  • Learn about complimentary disciplines such as Holistic Management, whole farm planning, Keyline and Broadscale Design in our integrated curriculum.
  • Connect with others and build community.
  • Devote 10 days to intensely study and live permaculture.  We like to take our time covering the material, with plenty of time for hand-on activities, group process and design, community building and fun.
  • Receive continued support after the course.  Cliff offers phone mentoring and consultation services for projects and professional development.
  • Camp onsite or enjoy a variety of low-cost housing options nearby.
  • Social gatherings in the evenings with story and music.
  • Experience incorporating permaculture practices into your daily life.  Join us as we do our regular homesteading/farming activities during the course of your stay and learn new skills.
  • Eat well!  Fully catered high quality meals, so you may focus on your time on course activities.


“First let me say just how much I still appreciate the learning experience y’all gave me. I’m still glowing over a month later! Before I attended the course, I already knew permaculture was my passion. But your course inspired me and motivated me even more.” – Jason Hurd

Permaculture Design Course Lead Instructors

permaculture design course lead instructors, Jen & CliffCliff Davis and Jennifer Albanese, co-own Spiral Ridge Permaculture, a learning center and design studio, serving the southeast since 2011.  Jen and Cliff also run Pig & Leaf, an eco-farm and nursery, specializing in craft pork, artisanal vegetables, organic plants and speciality cut flowers.  They developed their businesses out of their passion to; address cultural and ecological issues that demand real and lasting solutions, encourage more people to homestead and help save family farms, by making them more ecological and productive.  They have over 36 years of combined experience studying and applying permaculture in temperate, tropical/subtropical and dry land climates and have taught hundreds of students permaculture and homesteading skills.  They live off-grid with their children in a naturally built home.

Permaculture Design Course curriculum developer, Cliff DavisCliff  has vast experience in the fields of permaculture, food forestry, organics, appropriate technology, natural building, deep nature connection and regenerative agriculture, that allow him to offer an integrative approach to land and culture repair.  He empowers others to take a hands-on approach to design in his regular and advanced course offerings. His humor, straight-forward style and determination to make positive change, make him an engaging instructor, consultant and designer.   He has taught over 64 classes & courses since 2004, and has taken over 28 professional development courses in various specialities. As a professional designer and consultant, he has worked for farms, intentional communities, school campuses and homesteaders.  Cliff is the main instructor and curriculum developer for all Spiral Ridge courses. He took his permaculture design course in 2004 from the International Institute of Ecological Agriculture, where he earned his certificate.  He later received his teacher training certificate from Dave Jacke, after which he co-taught the teacher training course, with him.  Cliff has been featured in many podcasts/magazine articles and has been a speaker at many sustainability/farming events and conferences.  Experience matters.  For a detailed look at his experience, training & mentors as well as a list of courses that he has taught, check out his full resume.Spiral Ridge Permaculture Design Course Teacher Jennifer Albanese

Jennifer has been an organic gardening student and practitioner for over 20 years.  She has a special interest in soil regeneration and re-mineralization to create ecosystem health and nutrient dense food.  She specializes in annual nursery and cut flower production.   She has a passion for local in-season, nose-to-tail cooking, ferments and traditional foods.  Jennifer worked as a midwife’s apprentice, birth mentor/doula and course organizer, for The Farm Midwifery Center, for many years before running Spiral Ridge full-time.    Jennifer is also an instructor for the Women’s Permaculture Guild Online Permaculture Design Course.  Jennifer took her permaculture design course in 2007 from the Global Village Institute for Appropriate Technology and Ecovillage Training Center. 

We’ve worked with Jennifer Albanese & Cliff Davis for a number of years now and found them refreshingly high on integrity and low on bravado. They are above all else great at the work that they do and truly walk their talk, whether it be hosting cutting edge events or a real Permaculture Design Course (PDC) or in helping people develop their own dreams on a range of different sites in their region. Whenever we think of PDC’s or other workshops in the ‘south east’ we think straight away of Jen & Cliff!  – Darren Doherty, Regrarians

Permaculture Design Course Guest Instructors (Guest instructors vary at each Permaculture Course, based on availability and budget) . We also may have surprise guest instructors.

Lizzie Wright Spiral Ridge Permaculture Design Course Instructor and Graduate

Lizzie Wright is a forest ecologist and a farmer. She holds a master’s degree in Forestry and a graduate certificate in Conservation Biology from the University of Missouri. She has field ecology experience in Costa Rica and the British Virgin Islands, but finds herself most comfortable in the oak/ hickory forests and woodlands of the midsouth and midwest. She has a knack for botany and a love for insects and their ecology. Eleven years of teaching experience, a passion for science, and enthusiasm for life make her teaching style dynamic. She currently holds a position as the Outreach Specialist for the Oak Woodlands and Forests Fire Consortium, an organization that promotes the dissemination and exchange of the science behind prescribed fire. Prescribed fire is a tool that is commonly used in forest management. Additionally, she and her husband, Jesse, have just started their own farm business, Sugar Camp Farm in Bon Aqua, TN, where they will have a small veggie CSA, pastured meats and will employ the skills they learned in their permaculture design course at Spiral Ridge in 2014.  http://www.sugarcampfarmtn.com/

Joey Thomas Spiral Ridge Permaculture Design Course InstructorJoey Thomas aka “Joe Dirt” was raised on a hippie commune with 1800 acres in beautiful southern middle Tennessee. Six years ago after taking a carbon farming course with Darren J. Doherty and Joel Salatin, in his community, he fell in love with soil. What had started out as a small hobby quickly became a lifestyle. Joey has created a thermophilic composting system and compost tea operation to apply to his community land (and fortunately, the Spiral Ridge Homestead). With a few failures and many successes, he now believes he can build soil for future generations through his system.  http://joedirtsoil.wixsite.com/composttea

Troy Hinke While attending Maharishi University of MaSpiral Ridge Permaculture Design Course Instructor Troy Hinkenagement in Fairfield, Iowa, Troy took an intensive month-long Soil Food Web class taught by Dr. Elaine Ingham and realized a passion for compost and compost teas that expanded his love of plants and nature. This led him to apprentice with Dr. Ingham, at the Rodale Institute, to hone his skills at identifying soil microorganisms using a microscope. Rodale asked him to come on board and work with Dr. Ingham on a two-year grant, performing research with compost, compost teas, and using biology to improve soil fertility on both large and small scales. Projects included compost tea applications on 500 acres of a local farmer’s corn crop, working with perennial understory cover crops, and a side by side demonstration of aquaponics and “tea”ponics, in which compost tea was added to the water as the only source of fertilization.  Troy now owns Living Roots Compost Tea https://www.livingrootscomposttea.com/

 Permaculture design course instructorJason Adkins leads the Trevecca Urban Farm, teaches environmental justice at Trevecca Nazarene University and is a guest lecturer at Vanderbilt University.  Jason started farming in 2002 and earned his Permaculture Design Certificate through Spiral Ridge Permaculture in 2012.  In Davidson County, TN, he started three farms: Grace Farm, Son Farm, and Trevecca Urban Farm.  These farms served, respectively, recovering addicts, teenage boys, and a variety of participants in downtown Nashville.  Through a Trevecca University degree program and with neighboring K-12 schools, young people learn the particulars of growing all kinds of food and the big picture of how good farming sustains the people and the planet.  The farm operates as a constellation of growing works that includes goats, pigs, chickens, worms, tilapia, orchards, gardens, mushrooms, and compost.  These growing spaces are located on the Trevecca University campus and in the surrounding neighborhood—an area that faces food access challenges.  Jason is the president and a founding member of the TN Organic Growers Association and has traveled to Asia, West and South Africa to consult on practices of sustainable agriculture with communities facing agro-ecological challenges. https://www.trevecca.edu/community-life/urban-farm-and-garden

Jon Ramirez - Spiral Ridge instructorJonathan Ramirez is a nature enthusiast with a passion for learning and living in good relationship with the earth. He is a farmer, naturalist, edible landscape designer, and educator. Jon grew up in Queens, New York and was on the path to become an officer in the military when he was led to make a complete lifestyle change. He describes being awakened by the injustice in today’s world and empowered to be part of the movement to heal. Farming seemed an essential way to start, and Jon spent five years learning organic farming in the Northeast United States.  He worked on multiple farms, co- managed a CSA, started a permaculture project and learned from many permaculture designers. He currently lives on an 18-acre homestead in Joelton, Tennessee.  Together with his partner, they raise goats and chickens for meat/milk/eggs, honeybees, shitake mushrooms, a variety of vegetables, and have begun to establish diverse fruit and nut plantings all throughout their property.  Jon has developed a particular interest in agro-forestry and wild forest management.   Forest projects in the works include, active forest thinning and pruning, creation of silvo-pasture, mushroom log cultivation, livestock production in a woodland, woodland medicines, and use of woody materials for fire, building projects, and crafts. When not in the fields or woods, Jon does freelance landscape design, cooks, hones primitive skills, plays guitar, and celebrates life! https://www.facebook.com/ThrivingEarth/

Spiral Ridge InstructorJim Barmore received his B.S. in Environmental Engineering from the University of Wisconsin. Following graduation, Jim set out on a cross-country adventure dedicated to the exploration of sustainable lifestyles and strategies. By way of work trade, volunteer programs, and paid positions he acquired hands-on skills in natural building, alternative energy systems, habitat restoration, ecovillage living, and Permaculture. His discovery of Permaculture has proven the most important one. Permaculture’s inclusive and holistic approach offered Jim something he felt lacking in his previous academic work. Additionally, it reenergized his passion for good design.  Jim recently created Harrier GeoGraphics, LLC which offers 3D terrain/architectural modeling services and consulting with focus in landscape design, erosion control, mapping, and photogrammetry.

You will leave this course with a certificate, but, more importantly you will be inspired, full of knowledge & resources, and more confident & skilled as you take your next steps toward creating the life you want.

“For anyone thinking about going to a course at Spiral Ridge, DO IT! I just took my permaculture design course there and it was by far the experience and education of a lifetime. Cliff, Jenn, and the rest of the crew are the salt of the earth and true practitioners of all angles of this craft. Trust me…. DO IT… you will not regret it…”  Matt Fleener

To hear even more reviews of our courses, check out our testimonials page and read this article by a former student on Permaculture News.  

Course are held at Spiral Ridge/Pig & Leaf.  The project is on it’s 10th year, regenerating the landscape from a clear cut to a productive, profitable farm.

Rustic camping is available for free.  Other housing options are available nearby.  We will be providing two nutrient dense, high quality meals per day and snacks. 

For more details about camping, housing options and food, please read  our page of Frequently Asked Questions.  It also explains our cancellation/refund policy.

Course Fee

Save $200! Super Early Bird Registration – $1100
Save $100 Early Bird Registration – $1200
Regular Tuition – $1300

site analysis for permaculture design courseWe know that this is a big investment of both time and money.  We travelled for years (with children) spending most of our money on courses, working for next to nothing on farms just to learn and get skills, reading everything we could get our hands on, and experimenting on our own land holdings (and even making some costly mistakes).  We have used that acquired knowledge, direct experience and learn-from-your-mistakes-feedback and condensed it into a powerful, intensive course, designed to give you incredible value and answer the questions you have.  This is an investment in yourself, your community, your personal projects and perhaps your career, that will more than pay for itself in the years to come.

 Sign up now. We limit class size to give you more personal attention and time for questions and discussions.  Couples receive a $75 discount each.  Group rates are available for 3 or more signing up together…so tell your friends and contact us for rates!

If you want to stay at Spiral Ridge longer than the 10 days, we are offering an extended stay immersion program.  The PDC is included with additional skill building time on the homestead and personal mentorship.  Click here for details: Permaculture Internships

 Click Here To Register for the 2019 Permaculture Design Course!