Permaculture Design Course

Permaculture is an approach to designing sustainable and resilient ecological designs that meet human needs. The permaculture design curriculum covers food growing, ecosystem restoration, water harvesting, soil care, natural home construction, renewable energy, community building, and more.

RECAP is now registering for our 2017-2018 permaculture design course! Once again, student fees are subsidised, thanks to generous commitments to sustainability education made by Palmerston North City Council, Lotteries Community Grants, and Eastern and Central Community Trust. The course is filling quickly, so registration is now on a first come, first served basis.

To register, simply email Read on for more information.

RECAP's approach to a permaculture design certificate course is unique. The 12 standard modules are offered on 12 Saturdays over two years, allowing ample time for students to develop a supportive learning community and to try out permaculture in their own homes, gardens, and neighbourhoods while taking part in the course. 2017 modules will provide an in-depth approach to the key building blocks of permaculture, that is, how to work with soil, climate, water, and energy. 2018 modules focus on permaculture applications in diverse "zones", such as homes, gardens, orchards, food forests, and communities. Thanks in large part to the duration of the course, it has been typical for RECAP students to develop strong friendships, to visit each others' homes and gardens, and to keep supporting each other after graduation. Some of our students have taken up gardening together; others have led community projects; some have taken on permaculture instruction themselves, passing their learning forward. The course is open to any adult regardless of previous experience.

All modules are taught on a Saturday, from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. at the Village Valley Centre in central Ashhurst. Each day includes a mix of small group design activities, presentations, and hands-on learning, almost always involving an outdoor field trip in the local area. Participants contribute to a shared lunch, and the informal exchange of ideas (and recipes) that takes place over lunch has always been a favourite for many students. Our 2017-2018 course will be taught by Sharon and Phil Stevens of Slow Farm, with additional specialists brought in from time to time to deepen the experience for students, all of whom are active in the national permaculture community. This course is certified through PiNZ, Permaculture in New Zealand.

Our 2017 course dates are as follows:

  • 28 January. Ethics, Philosophy, Design Principles & Process.
  • 25 February. Landscape and Site Assessment.
  • 25 March. Soils.
  • 27 May. Air and Climate.
  • 24 June. Water. Guest specialist Kama Burwell of Taranaki's Greenbridge Design.
  • 23 September. Energy and Technology.
  • 28 October. Urban Design. Again featuring guest specialist Kama Burwell.


Email for registration.

Student fees are only $40 per module. While we are in principle happy to register students on a module-by-module basis (provided that there is space available), we give first preference to students who pay $280 in advance for the full year's modules, with payment deadlines set at the time a waiting list develops. For more information or to register, please contact RECAP's Resilience Coordinator at

To earn a permaculture design certificate, participants are required to participate in the two introductory modules (28 January and 25 February), and to attend at least 8 of the 10 other modules. The curriculum is standardised, and PiNZ-(Permaculture in New Zealand)-accredited modules taught elsewhere may be combined toward the certificate.


Other opportunities to learn permaculture in New Zealand are posted from time to time at RECAP also offers talks and half-day workshops on related topics from time to time. Contact RECAP if you would like to be on our mailing list so that you will get first notice of any upcoming events. Thanks for your interest!