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Permaculture Design Course

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“Growing your own food is a revolutionary act. Our food system is at the heart of our culture and society. Change it and we literally change everything." - Vandana Shiva.

Permaculture is a set of design principles centered around whole systems thinking using the patterns found in Nature. By implementing permaculture we're creating new systems for the way we grow our food and steward the land that are in harmony with Nature. This course is applicable to anyone with an interest in designing resilient and regenerative futures as well as professionals in the fields of architecture, planning, ecology, education, farming and community development.

Join our diverse team of permaculture instructors led by Scott Gallant and Sam Kenworthy of Porvenir Design for this life-changing 2-week experience. The course covers the core Permaculture Design curriculum and emphasizes creating diverse multi-functional human landscapes based on ecological patterns. This is the first course ever offered in conjunction with the Brave Earth community and Finca Luna Nueva.

Utilizing these sites as a living classroom, the class will mix lectures and hands-on work, exploring design solutions for both temperate and tropical regions.  Putting Permaculture into practice, the course concludes with students working in teams to create their own permaculture site design.

The whole-systems design thinking outlined in the course will give participants the tools to re-design and improve their surroundings; from gardens, farms and homes, to livelihoods, relationships and communities. 

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What is a PDC?

A PDC is a survey course that introduces students to the core curriculum as originally laid out in Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual (1988). It features a minimum of 72 hours of instructor face-time. It is an introductory course which focuses on the theory of permaculture as a tangible and evidence-based applied design science. It is largely an academic course laid out to inspire, inform, and focus students on the needs of the land and human society.

Permaculture is something you use, not something you do. It is not a course on gardening, but rather on how to design a garden. While often hard/tangible skills are incorporated into the course, the learning outcomes evolve around understanding and applying the ethics, principals, and methodologies of design. In this regard students should not expect to gain 14 years of knowledge in 14 days; please remember that a PDC is a great place to start, but a poor place to stop learning. You will not finish this course as an expert or professional designer: rather, you will leave with an understanding of the broad patterns needed to regenerate our world, and the inspiration and knowledge about what steps to take next.

The PDC will cover:

  • History of Permaculture

  • Principles and Ethics of Permaculture Design

  • Design Methodologies and Site Analysis & Assessment

  • Pattern Languages in Culture and the Landscape

  • Reading the Landscape and Pattern Recogintion

  • Simple Mapping and Surveying Techniques

  • Client Interviews and Goal Setting

  • Map Reading

  • Master Planning and Design Presentations

  • Climate and Microclimate Design

  • Water: Cycles, Catchment, Ecology, Conservation, Treatment

  • Greywater and Blackwater Systems

  • Earthworks, Pond Construction, & Water Storage

  • Soils: Biology, Ecology, Fertility Strategies

  • Biochar, Biofertilizers, Mulching, Biomass Production, Microorganisms Cultivation, Compost Making

  • Introduction to Keyline Design and Holistic Management

  • Gardening from the Tropics to the Temperate Regions

  • Orchards Management and Agroforestry

  • Plant Propagation, Grafting, Nursery Management

  • Silvopastural and Aquaculture Systems

  • Fermentation, Post Harvest Handling, and Harvest Strategies

  • Shelter and Siting

  • Natural Building Techniques

  • Urban and Suburban Permaculture Applications and Case Studies

  • Regenerative Economic Models

  • Social Structures, Decision Making, and Community Organizing

  • Professional Designer Project Case Studies

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Why Join Us?

Without a doubt there are countless PDC’s offered around the globe, with great teachers and sites to learn from. We believe our course fits right alongside the best of them for many reasons:

The Place

Finca Luna Nueva, is a living classroom, regenerative, biodynamic farm and rated one of the top 10 ecolodges in Costa Rica. Offering a restaurant, miles of hiking trails through the lush rainforest, a Sacred Seed Sanctuary, featuring 300 plants prized for their medicinal or sacred uses, spa services, and an ozonated pool and jacuzzi. There are several on-site activities available such as night wildlife hikes, birding, a tour of our sacred seed sanctuary and regenerative farm.

Brave Earth (Tierra Valiente), partner and sister-property to Finca Luna Nueva, is a living laboratory in service to regenerative living and co-evolution with Nature. Initiated by a diverse group of  change-makers, artists, creative innovators, activists and thought leaders from around the globe with the intention of  prototyping a model for community based on biomimetic principles, ancestral wisdom, sacred activism and solidarity economics. The location is a treasure of biodiversity located amidst endless tropical rainforests and world-class, natural thermal baths.


The Design
 Design is at the heart of permaculture and consequently we strive to put students in as many design scenarios as possible. In addition to smaller design charrettes, students will spend extensive time on a large group design projects. Groups of four to six students are given a piece of land at Brave Earth and a fictitious client; they are expected to create a base map of the property, complete a site analysis and assessment, interview the client, and create a design that is presented as a capstone project at the end of the two weeks. Approximately a quarter of the course will be devoted to this project.


The Community and Networking
 Our goal as instructors is to support all of our students post-course. This has taken many forms in the past, including helping sourcing materials, introductions to specific organizations/people, sharing available job opportunities, and such. One of the great advantages of taking a course at Brave Earth and Finca Luna Nueva is that you become part of the larger Familia Luna community. The opportunity to plug into that is an invaluable part of our PDC.

The Instructors
 Our diverse teaching team brings ample enthusiasm, knowledge, and experience to the classroom. Having multiple instructors is a huge advantage for students. It means a diversity of opinions and teaching styles. Scott and Sam (pictured below) will be the lead instructors joined by their team which has a strong gender balance and local Costa Rican knowledge. Our teaching guild has been working together in various capacities for many years, and each individual brings a unique set of strengths to the course.


Scott Gallant is an agroforester and food system designer with nearly a decade of experience working in Central America. He is the co-founder of Porvenir Design, a landscape design firm specializing in productive landscapes. He graduated from Wabash College in 2008 with a degree in Economics. He was the farm manager at Rancho Mastatal for nine years, and has worked with diverse projects such as VersaLand, Open Source Ecology, Project Bonafide and many more as he has developed his skill-set in permaculture design.

Passionate about regenerative agriculture, holistic thinking, ethnobotany, community development, and re-skilling, he still makes time to hike and bike, read exhaustively, and work on his basketball jump shot and frisbee throw.  He has traveled extensively in Latin America, leading to a love of the culture, food, and language, which he attempts to speak.  Scott writes for the Permaculture Research Institute and has been featured on the Permaculture Voices and Abundant Edge podcasts.

You can find him on instagram here.


Sam Kenworthy is a water systems specialist and landscape manager with nearly a decade of experience in the tropics. He has experience designing and developing educational curriculum for students of all ages, particularly focused on conservation, practical skill building, and applied research. Originally from the east coast of the United States, Sam currently resides on the southern Pacific coast of the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica.

Dedicated to continued learning and improving his skill sets, he is passionate about self sufficiency, water management, generating more and better yields, and well executed design for human eco-systems. Experienced in working in a wide variety of environments, he enjoys the process of designing around problematic landscapes. Sam holds a B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Political Science and Hispanic Studies.

Course Outcomes

Below we have highlighted the principle learning outcomes and community building and networking advantages that are specific to taking a course at Brave Earth/Finca Luna Nueva and with Porvenir Design.

Students will:

  • Understand existing global patterns of agriculture, economics, development, etc and how permaculture design creates a paradigm shift toward new patterns.

  • Gain an understanding of ecology and its process, specifically focused on soil, water, plants, animals, and microorganisms.

  • Learn and practice how to approach design problems through site analysis, client interviews, mapping, drafting, etc.

  • Learn how to identify broad landscape patterns and details and how they relate (scale, order, etc) and create a context for design work.

  • Learn and practice design methodologies and processes such as observation, pattern recognition and application, the scale of permanence, etc.

  • Be able to analyze landscapes across climates for successful human settlements.

  • Have clear next steps and connections into networks and resources provided by the instructors. Be inspired about their ability to create change where they live.

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There are different accommodation options available: 

Camping (bring your tent, access to hot showers & composting toilet) - $1000
Farm Loft Single (semi private /shared toilet) - $1500
Farm Loft Room or Jungle Huts (private /shared toilet) - $1900 (single) $1500 (double)
Gaia Domes & Tambos (private /shared toilet) - $ 2260 (single) $1650 (double) 

Costs include instruction, 14 days and 15 night accommodations and 3 fresh, locally-sourced meals per day. Transport to and from the lodge or airfare is not included. 


To register for the course fill out this online application.

A $500 deposit will secure your spot in the course.  

You can make your deposit with PayPal or go to our contributions page for more information and options.

For more information contact us at

Earlier Event: October 2
Master Plant Retreat
Later Event: November 22
Three Rivers Ceremonial Retreat