Free Permaculture Primer – starter review

What is permaculture? How does it relate to ecofrugal? And can you learn about it for free? (YES)

For the last few weeks, I have been hooked on permaculture. I knew about it peripherally already, but 2020 was the year I truly dove in with both feet. I found permaculture books on the Storytel (Restoration Agriculture by Mark Shepard) and got hooked into The Permaculture Podcast backlog for my commute.

These have been great resources to immerse myself in, but what started it all was a mention of a free permaculture course online on the In Her Boots podcast which injects injects knowledge and hope in my daily life. This made me curious, and my subsequent google quest led me down the path of something I had previously thought was an aside to food forests, my age old passion and dream.

It was the other way around. Food forests are permaculture, but not all permaculture involves food forests. I’ve been spending a lot of time learning about permaculture ever since, and it has injected a whole lot of sunshine and hope in my daily life that I wish to share with you.

What is permaculture?

From the permaculture principles webpage, we get the following definition:

Permaculture is a creative design process based on whole-systems thinking informed by ethics and design principles that feature on this site.

This approach guides us to mimic the patterns and relationships we can find in nature and can be applied to all aspects of human habitation, from agriculture to ecological building, from appropriate technology to education and even economics.

By adopting the ethics and applying these principles in our daily life we can make the transition from being dependent consumers to becoming responsible producers. This journey builds skills and resilience at home and in our local communities that will help us prepare for an uncertain future with less available energy.

The techniques and strategies used to apply these principles vary widely depending on the location, climatic conditions and resources that are available. The methods may differ, but the foundations to this wholistic approach remain constant. By learning these principles you can acquire valuable thinking tools that help you become more resilient in an era of change.

You might have heard about permaculture as a gardening technique, but it is a lot more than that. It is about creating sustainable gardens, yes. But it is also about creating healthy communities, healthy people, healthy, sustainable businesses and overall, a healthy planet.

By imitating processes we find in nature, we minimize the amount of work we have to put in, but at the same time maximizing the output.

If you are more of an audio person, I recommend the interviews with David Holmgren, Nicole Foss, and Helena Norberg-Hodge over at Happen Films on Youtube.

The free permaculture course

a 52-week free permaculture course can be found here. They will ask you if you wish to donate a chosen sum to the project, and you can decline if you are short on money, and they will not ask you again.

The course will send you an article with a short video every week at the time you signed up. Each week it covers a different permaculture principle, and you do not need to have a garden to appreciate the philosophy.

I’m on week 3 at the time of writing this, and we started with an introduction to permaculture, the principles of permaculture, and already on week 3, the article talked about urban permaculture, and how we can access land to grow food and community, even if you rent in the middle of the concrete jungle.

It has not yet been a month, but these weekly tidbits have already become a piece of sunshine that I look forward to every week. As someone who is still paying off debt, working in the city and does not yet have the finances to move to the place I really want, this course reminds me of what I am working towards and keeps me optimistic.

Who is this course for?

Obviously I am biased and think this course is for everyone, but there are a couple of people who might get extra enjoyment of this course.

  • People who wish to learn to build a more local and self-reliant community.
  • People who, like me, are still working towards where they want to be, and need a weekly optimism boost.
  • People who wish to learn more about permaculture and a different way of thinking.
  • People who are curious about permaculture, but don’t know if they can commit the money or time to do a permaculture design certification (PDC) just yet.
  • Busy people who don’t have much time to spare.
  • People who wish to learn about a community that embraces ecofrugal mindsets and meet people who might be of a similar mind.

Who might not benefit from this course

  • People who are impatient and want all the information, right now! It is 52 weeks after all.
  • People who want to get the PDC.
    • Getting PDC does and will continue to cost money because you need to have a design project assessed and approved by a permaculture teacher. A process that cannot be automated by a course (I want to get this eventually, and am saving up money as we speak).
  • People who learn more from hands-on, in-person experience.

As mentioned in the bullet points above, this free permaculture course is not a replacement for an in-person or online paid for permaculture course. The same people who run the free permaculture course page also run paid online classes with mentors that do result in PDC.

Since permaculture is all about observing and respecting the climate and patterns of the area you live in, there are many benefits of doing an in-person permaculture course.

However, if you, like me, live in an area where there are not a lot of course holders nearby, it might be beneficial to start with an online course and then work from there. If you get really hooked, you could go on to work towards a permaculture diploma, which will qualify you for teaching PDC courses yourself to your local community. That way, you might become the teacher you didn’t have in your community and pay it forward to other people.

A natural part of the ecofrugal mindset

If you can’t tell from my writing already, I have been well and thoroughly hooked. I dream about getting a plot of land where we can build community, and since Norway is a long, sparsely populated country, it would be awesome if I could become a permaculture teacher and travel in a tiny home to various places in the country where I teach the people who live in remote areas.

As ecofrugals, there are a lot of us who are curious about growing our own food and building up our local community. It seems that including permaculture principles and philosophies are an awesome match that couldn’t be more natural for each other, had we planned it.

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2 thoughts on “Free Permaculture Primer – starter review

  1. I am also permaculture-curious and am glad to read about your experience! I got hooked when I saw a video on Greening the Desert and realized there is a PDC course close by in the Pacific NW. I started Practical Permaculture (book) a few weeks ago but it’s been slow going. A weekly online course might be a better match for me and help me figure out if I do eventually want to get a PDC. Looking forward to checking out the podcast, thanks for the rec!

    1. That was my reasoning too! I know I want to practice permaculture, but there are no courses nearby, nor do we have the money right now. But we can learn an awful lot even without the PDC!

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