Frequently Asked Questions

This is a selection of some of the most frequently asked questions about our courses and workshops. If you have a question that isn’t answered here please contact us and we will do our best to answer you!

What is a Permaculture Design Course?

The Permaculture Design Course (PDC) is a vital stage in the development of understanding of permaculture ethics, principles, design processes and implementation techniques. We utilise Regenerative Learning principles and methods in order to empower the genius inside all of us to create positive design solutions for your life, your community and your world.

The broad curriculum introduces all aspects of regenerative design and living in a participatory & enlivening way through group work, design practice, practicals & site visits. Areas of learning include the permaculture design process, surveying skills, soils, food growing and kitchen gardening, understanding climate & microclimate, agroforestry, restoration agriculture & forest gardening, water in the landscape, regenerative economics, bioregionalism, community organising, systems thinking, sustainable building, energy & transport plus much more…

Empowerment is the essence of the Permaculture Design Course, and practical and theoretical teaching methods are used to create an experience that is fun, lively & inclusive, using group work, discussion, observation, guided walks, ‘hands on’ practical activities, lectures, videos, and slides as learning methods during course sessions. Participants will also work together on applied design activities that will consolidate all of the learning content and empower students to take permaculture back into their own homes, gardens, lives & community, providing essential skills for thriving in the post-peak oil world. To help you decide whether the PDC is for you, it might be a good idea to listen to What is a PDC? to get a sense of ‘What is a Permaculture Design Course? and What isn’t a Permaculture Design Course?’.

Are Spiralseed’s courses suitable for those new to permaculture?

Unless stated otherwise, all of our courses including the Introduction to Permaculture day and weekend events, Design 4 Action Permaculture Courses (PDC), Forest Gardening courses and Vegan Permaculture Design Course are open to, and accessible for, anyone with no prior knowledge of permaculture so would be completely suitable for a newcomer.

Are Spiralseed’s courses Certificated?

Course participants will be awarded the Permaculture Association (Britain)’s internationally recognised Certificate in Permaculture Design (NB, to be awarded the certificate you must attend a minimum of 70% of the course and complete a group design presentation at the end of the course).

So what IS permaculture anyway?

’PERMACULTURE’ is a word that was coined in Australia during the 1970s to describe a design system pioneered as a response to what many globally saw as serious challenges to the survival of all of us. It has since become a worldwide movement encompassing all aspects of how human beings can live harmoniously in relation to our Earth and it’s finite resources. Find out more here…

water level

How does the ‘Vegan’ Permaculture Design Course differ from any other PDC?

“The content of the specifically Vegan Permaculture Design Courses isn’t hugely different from other PDCs I’ve taught. The focus is really on design skills – learning to see patterns in nature and in human and social contexts, plus giving us the tools and confidence to take responsibility for our lives and actions, in settings ranging from food production to ecological building to woodland management to ‘green’ economics to urban regeneration. Obviously, however, we would choose venues that are vegan-sympathetic, such as Wild Earth Animal Sanctuary in the USA, or Brook End in Somerset, and would focus on stock-free methods of soil regeneration such as using green manures and tree crops rather than examples or case studies that depend on livestock. Other than this participants can be confident that we are providing a ‘safe zone’, where they will not be criticised for their lifestyle choices, whether vegan or not. Feedback from our first course was that this aspect has been greatly valued, with one person telling us that they had previously had to leave a ‘conventional’ PDC halfway through, due to feeling judged and excluded for their vegan beliefs by fellow participants, and even by the tutor.

In addition we have created spaces on the course for discussions around the wider implications of ‘veganic permaculture’. For example, how do we dismantle and replace industrial and animal agriculture with systems that are life-sustaining and liberatory? Another theme that emerged was whether a vegan permaculture (vegaculture?) needs a ‘fourth ethic’ in addition to ‘Earth Care, People Care and Fair Shares’ – one of ‘Do Least Harm’. Is it enough to simply ‘care for’ our non-human fellow earth-citizens whilst our relationships with them continue to be exploitative, or should we actively promote their recognition as self-willed beings with an intrinsic right to exist free from unnecessary harm?

Not all permaculturists or permaculture projects are vegan, and I’ve often been asked whether a completely animal-free permaculture is even actually possible. My response is, of course not, and neither would it be desirable. For example, how would we fence out the earthworms that build our soil and maintain its fertility, or the bees that pollinate our fruit trees and vegetables, and why ever would we wish to? In fact, we actively design in features that are intended to attract wildlife: Ponds for frogs, toads and dragonflies, and flowering plants to bring in the ladybirds and hoverflies that keep populations of potential pests like slugs and aphids in check, and are essential to maintaining healthy productive ecosystems. What we don’t include are those ‘system components’ that we believe perpetuate exploitative relationships with our non-human earth co-citizens, such as pigs, goats and chickens, whose primary function is the production of meat, milk and eggs.” – Graham Burnett interviewed in ‘Growing Green International’ magazine, summer 2015

Does Spiralseed have a Safer Spaces Policy?

We aim to provide positive, safe learning environments where, from the outset, all participants are able to feel valued and respected without fear of discrimination, we therefore operate a safer spaces agreement to which we ask participants agree and abide.

What is Spiralseed’s deposit, payments, cancellations and refunds policy?

Please note that all deposits for Spiralseed courses and workshops are non-refundable, and remaining balances should be paid in full at least 4 weeks before the course start date. In the event of you cancelling your place(s) 4 or more weeks before a course is due to start, course fees paid (less deposit) will be refunded. No refund can be made for bookings cancelled less than four weeks before the event, except in exceptional circumstances. In the event of the course being cancelled you will receive a full refund. Note that we cannot take responsibility for any travel costs. See our policy here.

What If I Can’t Afford A Course?

We believe that our permaculture and other courses offer very good value for money, and are a worthwhile investment for individuals, projects and organisations. However we do recognise that for some people costs can be hard to find in the current climate of austerity, in which case we suggest a number of creative options to make your learning more affordable. Have a look at our article ‘Can’t Afford A Course?’ for plenty of advice ranging from seeking crowdfunding, paying by instalments, available grants through to hosting your own course at home! We are also able to offer ‘sliding scale’ payment options for some of our courses, and when possible are also open to negotiation in order to support those experiencing genuine hardship, especially those from marginalised communities. Please see individual course listings for details.