What if I can’t afford a Permaculture course?
We believe that the Permaculture Design Course offers very good value for money, and is a worthwhile investment for individuals, projects and organisations. For example, a number of our past students have described their experience as ‘transformational’ or ‘life changing’ in helping them to think in new ways about their world or situation. Many have used the skills gained to supplement their livelihoods by offering design consultation services, or have discovered ways to become more self-reliant or ‘downsize’ their lifestyles and live more lightly in terms of consumption and spending. Others have used their new design knowledge to enhance their work places, organisations or communities. Many have even been inspired to completely change their career paths and set up their own sustainable businesses or community enterprises following a PDC. Not bad for a course that can cost you as little as around £25 per day!
However we do recognise that for some people even these modest costs can be hard to find in the current climate of austerity, in which case we suggest a number of options to make your learning affordable;
Crowdfunding to raise course fees
Increasing numbers of course students are using crowdfunding as an innovative way to raise their learning costs, getting friends and family or using social media to advance-fund them in return for rewards such as free design consultation sessions or other ‘pay back’ benefits later on. This is an option that we highly recommend as this gives you an opportunity to take full responsibility for raising your own learning costs, as well as a chance to be as flexible, imaginative and creative as you like!
Spiralseed and some of the other course providers we work with are pleased to be partnered with WE THE TREES, an ethical initiative who offer full guidance and a whole set of resources to help you create your own course fee raising crowdfunder.
Another crowdfunding platform that specialise in supporting permaculture projects, including helping to raise student tuition costs, is Earthways, contact them for more information.
Other funding sources
It may well be worth asking your employer to fund your training, particularly if you can demonstrate that it will benefit your personal development or bring improvements to the workplace. If you’re unemployed and claiming Job Seeker’s Allowance it’s worth asking at your Job Centre whether they can fund you. The Permaculture Association (Britain) is registered as a supplier on ProcServe, which is used by the Department for Work and Pensions, ie Job Centres, to buy things. Our courses are certified by the Permaculture Association, so if there is any funding for courses available it should be possible to access it.
Alternatively, here is a list of organisations which have given funding to people on permaculture courses in the past. This information is largely taken from Patrick Whitefield Associates web site with grateful acknowledgements. Note that this list is for guidance only, and we cannot be held responsible for its current accuracy or otherwise.
0800 842 842
Gives grants for training to young people up to 25 years.
Princes Countryside Trust
Gives grants to projects that help support the people who care for the countryside, including grants for training.
0845 850 1122
Provides funding for “people with vision, drive, commitment and passion who want to change the world for the better.” This is interpreted quite widely.
Thomas Wall Trust
Funds courses for individuals who have financial difficulties.
The Vegeterian Charity
Gives grants to people under 25, which have included grants for permaculture courses.
Grants for Horticulturalists
Information on grants and bursaries available from organisations in the United Kingdom for horticultural projects, exchanges and travel.
The Conservation Trust (formerly British Trust for Conservation Volunteers)
From time to time either the national organisation or regional and local branches give grants for training.
Cooperative Community Fund
Only gives grants to community organisations, not to individuals.
Comprehensive lists of funders can be found at www.fundingcentral.org.uk
Payment by Instalments
Some of our partner course providers are able to accept payment by instalment, enabling you to spread the costs over several weeks or months. Contact them for more information (see specific individual course listing details).
Concessions and ‘Sliding Scale’ options
We are sometimes able to offer ‘sliding scale’ concessionary fee payment options to enable students on lower incomes to participate. Most of our partner course providers are also able to offer such options, or limited numbers of ‘bursary’ or expenses only places. However please note that our courses do not usually receive external funding or subsidies and need to be self-financing, with course fees covering all of the costs such as venue hire, teacher’s fees, catering, materials, certification, etc. Therefore concessionary and bursary places are only intended for those with genuine financial need. Please see specific individual course listing details for more information.
‘Work Trade’ or ‘Apprenticing’
Some course organisers are able to offer ‘work trade’ or ‘apprenticing’ opportunities in lieu of full or part cash payment for course places. However Spiralseed are not able to offer such opportunities at the present time. Some of our partner course providers may be able to offer occasional work trade opportunities so it may be worth asking them, although these do tend to be very limited.
There are any number of free resources available online. Many are offered by Spiralseed, have a look at our articles section. We also offer a number of free or low cost publications. Permaculture Magazine have written an excellent article on learning permaculture for free which offers some great advice.
Organising Your Own Course
To our minds however there is still no substitute for the rich collective learning experiences gained from attending a course led by skilled tutors and trainers, and working and sharing knowledge and experience with others in a group setting. Permaculture is about the art of possibility, and where there is a will there is a way to make it happen – If a group of you can get together, pool your resources in order to meet the costs of hiring a tutor as well as the other expenses involved, plus find a suitable venue (I have taught permaculture courses run in people’s front rooms before!), why not convene your own introduction to permaculture day or weekend course, or even full Permaculture Design Course??? This can involve quite a lot of work and organisation, but also has a number of advantages beyond being more easily affordable. These can include the opportunity to organise a course tailored to your own site, project, group or community needs, or maybe a chance for new or trainee teachers to gain experience and feedback alongside more experienced practitioners. Spiralseed can offer teaching services for self-organised courses and workshops at reasonable costs, contact us if you might be interested in discussing this further. Alternatively try contacting the Permaculture Association for more information about organising courses or finding potential teachers.