Permaculture Diploma

The latest version of this page can be found on the NEW Permaculture Diploma page of my new blog website.

I’m currently (Feb 2012) deciding whether to undertake the Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design, or not. Initially I was not interested, preferring to concentrate on my own designs, but over the last month or so, I’ve been wondering whether or not I want to.

The hardest part of the process to date, is to find any significant benefit to me. I can see how the Diploma would benefit the Permaculture Association, and how it would be of use to people who want to teach Permaculture, or to design for others for a living. I think that it’s also good for people who have just completed the full design course, and want a guided, structured pathway for further development. That’s not me. I’ve been a smallholder for a long time, been looking at Permaculture for a while now, and it’s been four or five years since I did my design course. I do this full time, so my opportunities to Observe and Interact, are greater than most, and I do my own research.

So far, the biggest advantage to me would be to provide the discipline to record my designs, and the thought processes behind them. Much of what I’ve done, and am planning to do, has been done in my head, and on the ground, with only a basic recording, like the content in the Pictures, Designs, and Plans page of this blog. However, paying for the privilege of doing something that I can do for myself is not comfortable for me. There is also an element of wanting some recognition for what I’ve achieved so far. I’m confident that what I’m doing is a good example of permaculture design, and our status as a LAND learning center supports that view. I guess that there’s a little of the ‘inner child’ wanting a pat on the head, at work here too, but currently battling with an adult with little need of external validation.

The disadvantages are having to commit quite a large amount of design work to paper, or digital media, retrospectively, the expense, and that feeling that I might not be doing this for the right reasons.

I did some intitial thoughts about the way that I would break up the overall project into segments that would work as standalone projects for diploma purposes. It wasn’t too difficult at first, but again went against my own gut instincts. One of the principles of Permaculture is Integrate rather than Segregate, and that is how this place has been put together. To follow this principle, would be to present the project as a single, complex design, but I’m not sure whether this would be allowed or not. Having selected a number of ‘bits’ of my design as potential segments, it became clear that this ‘segregation’ was proving to be more difficult than I thought. As the system has been designed to maximise beneficial relationships, each element relates to at least one other, and often more. One example is my desire to create a low input/low output chicken system. Initially it had to be broken down into finding/breeding a chicken with the right attributes, and creating an environment that provided most/all of the chickens needs. I then have had to look at a housing/management system that provides the most additional yields from the other two bits, and then all of this is linked to my vegetable/food production research project, and overlaps with the forest garden. Is this one design, three, or five? My own instinct is that it’s all part of a large, complex system, but there is no real way to judge whether that would be acceptable in terms of Diploma Accreditation. For those taking a guided approach to the diploma, this is the sort of question that they could discuss with their tutor, but I’m going it alone, so have to make up my own mind.

If I have to segregate the different elements, my potential list would be as follows.

Large Scale

The Overall Design of the Project.

My Coppice and Woodland

The Forest Garden

My Research

A Polycultural Food Production system

Evaluating the performance of a large number of hardy Bamboo species in my environment

A Low Input Low Output Chicken breeding program

Small Scale

A Chicken Forage System

A Chicken Housing System

A Nectar production area


The Permaculture Pot

Options also include designing a low impact livelihood, social space, and a poultry food production system.

What has become apparent over the last few weeks is that the design has been a physical manifestation of my intent. Driven by Peak Oil, from before my Permaculture Design Course, the aim has always been to move from a way of life reliant on fossil fuel, to one that doesn’t, but maintaining the ability to thrive in either. As such, it is clear to me that this is a single, complex, interrelated design, and not a series of separate projects.

Update 9th February 2012

Well I’ve come to the decision that I’m going to register for the Diploma. A few things have come together to assist in that decision.

My objections were:

The cost, and not wanting to pay too much until I was ready for my portfolio to be assessed.

The amount of work needed to map and survey my existing designs.

The nagging thought that this was just to fulfil a need for approval, and recognition.

The cost issue was overcome in two ways. Firstly, the Permaculture association were flexible enough to allow me to pay a very small amount upfront. See end for more.

The mapping issue was overcome in a Eureka moment, after reading the assessment criteria again. The criteria was to demonstrate competence in the mapping and surveying, NOT to provide detailed drawings for all of the designs. As soon as that was clear, examples of that fell into place. Many other designs are not land based, so wouldn’t have detailed plans drawn, and the assessors might only have one, or two, examples, on which to assess a candidate. Therefore, as long as I provided good examples for two projects, possibly one hand drawn, and one drawn with the aid of a computer, that would be enough to meet the criteria, and the larger, established projects, could be presented as a combination of schematics, and pictures, most of which I have already done. There are two designs which lend themselves well to surveying, and mapping. problem solved

The ‘neediness’ issue was really irrelevant. If that need exists, and isn’t just an excuse for procrastination, then I should satisfy it.

With that out of the way, the money became even less of an issue, as it was apparent that once committed, a small regular payment was well within my means.

Time to get registered

Update 26 March 2012

Since writing this post, I have registered for the diploma, and completed two new designs. The first was to Design my own Design process. This has been published in Permaculture Works Magazine. The second was to Design my own Design Method. Neither were on my original list, which is above, but were useful for me. Not only does it give me two additional designs for my portfolio, but it gives me some non land based designs, and introduces my methods to the assessors.

Update 3rd March 2012

I lost most of my diploma work when my hard drive crashed three days ago. One consequence has been that I have brought forward my plans to use this blog as my portfolio. I have been editing I blog pages for each of the ten designs that I intend to use as part of my diploma portfolio. This means that if I have another hardware problem, don’t lose all of my data again. Looking on the bright side, at least it didn’t happen at the end of the process, and there was less to redo.

For now these pages are not displayed on the home page of the blog. Once they are fully functional, I will change the theme of the blog to one that gives a drop down menu for pages, and all will be revealed.

Update 12th June 2012

As of yesterday the new theme was implemented and the designs can now be seen. Only six have been completed so far, and there are at least four more to do.

To access the designs, put your cursor over the Permaculture Diploma tab at the top of the page, and a menu drops down. Some of the pages on this menu have further pages that you can access by clicking on them. Enjoy

2 thoughts on “Permaculture Diploma”

  1. Deano. I Like the thoughts.
    The design manual says: “Once you have completed your Permaculture Design Course you might not intentionally work towards a Diploma, but could find, after a number of years of practising permaculture, that you have developed into an
    active permaculture practitioner, and want to get acknowledgement of that.”
    Do you want to spend £280 and the time to document your 10 designs? Do you want the accreditation?
    Essentially it comes down to whether you are going to teach in the future.
    I suspect you will. It would be a shame not to share your knowledge.
    Maybe you could consider starting to write down your work in a simple systematic format bit by bit. Then over the next 4 years you will have documentation that is written to aid your decision making and serves the purpose for accreditiation when you want it. Then you pay the £280 and get accredited.
    I see it as a form of sucession. Do the stuff, document it knowing that your knowledge will mature and come to fruition in the form of educating others in the future.
    Each design builds like rings on a tree.

  2. Hi Darius
    A little while after doing my PDC I contacted Patrick to check the status of the Diploma, in relation to teaching. He told me that there was no requirement to do the diploma, in order to teach. The main reason for the connection is that the Association will not promote a course led by a non-diploma holder. Patrick was also kind enough to say that he thought that I was competent enough to teach without it, but did suggest that I could be a bit loud, a habit gained after 23 years in the Infantry.
    I’m not too bothered by the cost, and it isn’t a big deal to record the designs, especially over a period of time.
    I’m not sure that I’ll teach. There seems to be a lot of Permaculturalists who aspire to teach, and I don’t need the money. I love to pass on what I’ve learnt, especially where my experiments are concerned, but that can be done through visits, my blog, or even a book.
    The only reason to register soon, is to get the benefit of the diploma gathering, which could be useful in preparing for the accreditaion process. If I can do that, and hold off paying the remainder of the fees until I’m ready, I think that’s what I’ll do.
    Thanks for your input.


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