This course equips people working in international development and grassroots projects with the perspectives and skills needed to engage with communities in partnership to incorporate elements into the design of communities, smallholder farms and land with household agricultural production that are holistic, appropriate, strategic, effective, diverse, as well as ecologically and economically sound. This course includes the 72-hr Permaculture Design Certification through the Permaculture Research Institute. The course has an emphasis on hands-on projects including a practical design project that is site and context specific and integrates all of the different elements of a thorough Permaculture Design.

What is Permaculture?

Permaculture is a design science utilizing an innovative systems-approach to consciously design landscapes, human settlements and smallholder farming systems that integrate functional diversity and biological fertility by mimicking natural eco-systems. Diverse and fertile systems act resilient in the face of shocks.

Who is this course for?

This course is designed for people who work with Non-Government Organizations (NGO’s), Government Organizations, or are Community Organizers. The teaching is directly relevant for international development practitioners, including the technical teams from agency Headquarters and field teams engaged in implementation.

What is the applicability?

People working in international development will benefit from the years of experience of our teaching team in applying permaculture around the globe. We have tailored the entire permaculture certification curriculum to better equip the people who work in international situations where people live in non-westernized conditions. The Quail Springs Learning site is ideal for the immersion of these teachings in an off the grid, nutrient cycling, dry land, water conscious community, where we work with the surrounding natural resources to provide for our shelter, water, food, and energy.

Participants learn:

  • Tools to integrate sustainable systems design into existing projects
  • A systems analysis design protocol for holistic pattern recognition
  • To design stable and resilient food, shelter, water and waste cycling systems for health and resilience in all of your projects
  • To create an ethics and principle based training program within your organization that honors local customs, traditional knowledge and ecological conditions


Permaculture Design Courses always include the internationally recognized PDC Curriculum that can be found in the Permaculture Designer’s Manual. Highlighted for this course are the following:

  • Agro-ecology Principles, Processes and Practical Applications
  • Building Soil and Fertility
  • Carbon Sequestration
  • Watershed Management and Erosion Control
  • Waste Streams/Cycling
  • Perma-Gardens Curriculum, A USAID TOPS program
  • Conflict Resolution / Peacemaking
  • Pattern Literacy
  • Food Forestry
  • Water Harvesting
  • Climate Change Resilience
  • Earthworks
  • Design Priorities
  • Broad Acre Applications
  • Food and Nutrition Security through Permaculture Design
  • Agroforestry
  • Social Entrepreneurship
  • Design Principles and Practices to build resilience in farming systems
  • Animal Systems and Agricultural Integration
  • Appropriate Technologies
  • Community Facilitation/Community-Based Development
  • Cultural Awareness and Honoring
  • And much more!


  • “This Permaculture Design Course was not a course, it’s so much more than a course. This has been the most impactful, life changing experience that I've ever surrendered to.” — PDC Participant
  • “My learning journey at Quail Springs helped to nurture my presence of mind to be a better and more active listener—a vital trait for the international development professional.” — PDC Participant

Living Conditions.


  • tent camping

Omnivore Food

  • communally cooked meals


  • slow: emails only

Getting here.

Quail Springs is located in the Coast Ranges of the Southern California mountains in a quiet canyon of the Cuyama Valley, surrounded on three sides by the ruggedly beautiful Los Padres National Forest.

Due to our remote location we meet our students about 5 miles away at the Santa Barbara Pistachio Co. in Ventucopa, CA. From there we will caravan over to our site. More details will be sent to course participants upon signing up.


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