How much hands on gardening is in a PDC?
This is a question that has been debated by PDC (Permaculture Design Certificate) teachers quite often. We get so much feedback from students that they love the “hands on” elements and that many of them feel that they learn best this way.

On the other hand the PDC is not a gardening course, it’s a design course so really the “hands on” element of the course is the “design”,  an element that we always make sure at Fair Harvest is a major component of the course.  Our students do 2 projects…a small (Zone 1 /zone 2)  individual design project, and a larger “real life/real client” project that students work on in small groups.


A page from a group design for a client showing zones and sectors of property


We do find though that the majority of people doing a PDC are keen to learn more about growing food and a great way to learn is by being in the garden with the food grower. As the curriculum doesn’t allow for a lot of this we offer ( optional) the gardening with Dorothee (our number one food grower) every morning before class in the veggie patch or in the orchard.


Prepping and planting garden beds



seed saving

turning the compost

natural pest control

We also encourage our teachers to think “hands on”, introducing small interactive exercises where ever possible, getting the group to explore and discover rather than sit and take notes.

Charlie Mgee teaching appropriate technology



Jema McCabe teaching edible weeds

group activity

Outdoor class room at the client’s property

surveying with Jamie from Burnside Organic Farm


It’s not all outside and fun, a Permaculture Design Certificate has a lot of solid information that is best suited to a classroom situation so the classroom does get well used by teachers.


Field trips are a big part of our course as visiting other farms and gardens gives students the greatest chance of understanding how permaculture can work for them in their lives, it also helps students to understand that there is no set way that a Permaculture garden/farm should look, it is as broad and varied as the people involved. That is liberating and exciting and hopefully encourages people to understand that their individuality can shine through their creativity in the home, kitchen, garden and farm.



visiting Merri Bee Organic Farm

Visiting a natural swimming pool

visiting Jeff Nugent’s


Visiting PB’s straw bale home

Visiting Burnside Organic Farm

Productive small space garden visit


Our aim is to cater to a range of learning styles by integrating hands on activities, talks, field trips and design work while covering the required curriculum for a Permaculture Design Certificate.


Congratulations to another fabulous group that completed our summer PDC, you were wonderful.




and I have to say your end of course “No Talent Show” was the best!



So many great testimonies

Here’s a couple

“This course has been an incredible experience allowing me to take my academic background in ecology and natural eco systems and lead me in the direction of how to apply this knowledge practically when managing land at a variety of scales. It has led me to question some of  my understandings about native plant species and I’m grateful for this opportunity to change my perspective. I will forever appreciate the opportunity for growth.”


“Fair Harvest Permaculture Farm is a vibrant and exciting place to learn the rudiments of Permaculture Design. The teachers are all super knowledgeable in their areas and I left with a much greater understanding of nature’s systems and the importance of living life based on Permaculture Principles. Thanks you to the Fair Harvest Team”    Jay

“This was not only a course on Permaculture , it was so much more. You guys are changing lives with this information. I thought I knew myself before, but I can’t get over how this has helped me connect the dots! Finally my niche has slapped me in the face”    Sarah

To find out about our April /May  Permaculture Design Certificate

Go here

To read about past PDC’s

See more here

May 2012,

Getting ready for the PDC,hot water from the compost, 

January PDC 2014

January 2015 PDC

January 2016 PDC

January 2017 PDC

Learn Permaculture on a real life project

May 2017






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