Are you tired of 'the problems' and want to be more solutions-focused? Do you seek to live compassionately without the unnecessary exploitation of people, animals and the environment? Are you concerned about climate change and future generations? Then this the course for you. Design 4 ACTION is a different kind of permaculture course - positive design for your life, your community and your world by empowering the genius inside all of us!


Adapted from and building on the Permaculture Association (Britain)’s PDC core curriculum, this is a person-centred, fun, lively and inclusive course, exploring and utilising concepts such as Action Learning, Systems Thinking, Holistic Design, Community Empowerment, ‘Whole Person’ Health, Skill Sharing, Critical Thinking, Appreciative Inquiry, Right Livelihoods and much more.

D4A is about regenerative learning, enabling individuals, organisations and communities to come together to create empowering solutions to the real world challenges we are all facing. Participants will work individually and together, identifying and reframing real life challenges as opportunities to make a positive difference. We will work on applied design projects relevant to local situations or circumstances, empowering participants to take active, solutions-based thinking back into their own homes, gardens, lives & neighbourhoods, providing essential skills for creating active transformational change.



‘Permaculture is not about gardening. It’s about problem solving and decision making. It’s critical thinking. You USE permaculture. You don’t DO permaculture.’ – Larry Santoyo, permaculture designer and teacher

The D4A course is participatory and dynamic, using diverse visual, audio and kinethetic learning methods such as group work, games, problem solving, discussion, observation, field trips, practical activities, lectures and slideshows. Students are encouraged to further their learning through home study during the breaks between modules, including further research, personal reflection, and application of what’s being learned in practice.

Completion of our course qualifies attendees for the Permaculture Design Course certificate, provides recognition as a Permaculture Design graduate, and enables you to go on to study for the Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design. We also offer a range of other benefits for our course attendees.

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. To help you decide whether the PDC is for you, it might be a good idea to listen to What’s a PDC? to get a sense of ‘What is a Permaculture Design Course? and What isn’t a Permaculture Design Course?’.


Aims of the Course include;

  • Enabling participants to reframe challenges and problems as opportunities for dynamic positive change.
  • Introducing the basic concepts of systems thinking, critical thinking, holistic design and permaculture theory & practice.
  • Encourage participants to build personal and practical Action Plans (eg, setting SMART goals) to make change happen.
  • Introduce practical design tools for making change happen in your own lives and places.
  • Enable learners to integrate ecological & design thinking into their everyday lives.
  • Introduce learners to existing examples of community and permaculture projects & relevant network.

Design 4 A.C.T.I.O.N. Sample Timetable
(NB. This is an example timetable for information based on previous courses - actual content may vary according to course location and other circumstances)

Day 1
Welcomes, Course Culture & Expectations
What is Permaculture? History/context
Rivers of Life
Web of Life
What is Design?
Ethics of Permaculture
The Permaculture Cup of Tea - Systems Thinking pt 1

Day 2
Carbon Cycle Game
Permaculture Principles pt 1            
Circles of Concern and Influence            
Group Design Challenge
Observation Exercise/ 9 Ways of Observing        
Patterns in Nature    
Personal Design Projects - reframing your challenges as opportunities for design

Day 3            
Design Process - GoSADIM
Maps and Overlays
Zones and Sectors
Surveying and map making skills    
Setting the (W)Holistic Context

Day 4
Design Case Study slide show
Thinking in Systems/World Cafe
Soil Life game and soil ecology  
The Story of Soil    
Soil practical experiments and tests
Designer's Tool-box    
Group Design Exercise
Oblique Strategies

Day 5    
Personal Ecology – health, diet and the internal landscape
Ecological Principles bingo    
Urban Permaculture Field Trips: Parklands Walk - Bioregionalism    
Queens Wood - succession, woodlands and foraging practical
Meadow Orchard Project - Holmgren's Design Principles
Cob Building Practical
Priory Common Orchard tour - relocalising our diets
Permaculture Gardening

Day 6
Urban Permaculture Field Trips: Woodberry Down Allotment site tour
Edible Landscapes site tour
Butterfield Green Orchard tour
Orchard maintenance practical session        
Ecological Principles recap

Day 7
Revision - 50 things we've learned so far
Livlihoods - Skills audit/trading game
Eight Forms of Capital            
Natural Capital - Woodlands slide show
Trees & their energy transactions
Forest Gardening
Forest Garden design exercise
Practical Session
Student feedback - Plus, Minus Interesting

Day 8
Why Projects Fail/Patterns for Success
Community Dynamics
Creating Personal Resilience
Green Building Slide Show
Soils and Erosion demonstration
Water in the landscape    
Making Water Levels and 'A' Frames practical session
Measuring slope and contours practical session
Design Time

Day 9
Timelines to Transition
Appreciative Inquiry
AI Exercise/Design Time
Can Britain Feed Itself?    
Practical session

Day 10
Design Process recap
Mycorrihzal Connections - The fungal side
Hedges and Edges
Unblocking Proprietary Systems – open source at the cultural edge
Design time
Day 11
AM - Design project work
PM - Design Presentations

Day 12
Design Presentations
What's Next?
Certificates and celebrations!

In addition to these 6 ‘core’ weekends we may  also include additional optional days of further content covering subjects like forest gardening, holistic health, green building, community development and more in greater depth.



What folk have said about previous courses by Spiralseed

“I can totally recommend this. I’ve done 2 courses under Graham’s tutelage and have thoroughly enjoyed each one. The second changed my life (for the better) and gave me the courage to ditch a a job that was wearing me down, in favour of self-employment that has left me happier than ever before as an adult. The Introduction to Permaculture course I did opened my eyes and broadened my outlook. Worth it for that alone, but when you add in a weekend of fun with like-minded people – priceless!”

“Graham’s teaching style is open, non-ego, relaxed, positive and BRILLIANT – A natural educator, thank you!”

“If anyone is considering this course I would really recommend it”

“The course was terrific and was paced in such a way as to ensure maximum benefit”

“A wonderful weekend”

“I’ve done a lot of training courses and Graham is by far one of the best trainers I’ve had”

“I believe that we all left richer for the experience and, speaking for myself, happier and more hopeful. I am now just looking for an excuse to return, because the whole experience was just too good to have only once”

Can’t afford the course fees? Fundraise for your tuition with We The Trees!