Permaculture Design Course - 2018 modules

What is permaculture?

Permaculture is a holistic approach to designing sustainable and resilient ecological systems that are in keeping with the core ethics of caring for the earth, caring for people, and social justice.


About RECAP's permaculture design certificate course

RECAP offers a standard modular permaculture design certificate course, led by instructors accredited by PiNZ (Permaculture in New Zealand). The course involves twelve one-day modules plus a final design project.These modules address a wide range of topics including food growing, ecosystem restoration, water harvesting, soil care, natural home construction, renewable energy, community building, and much, much more.

Our approach is to offer the twelve modules 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. 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 forwards.

In 2018, we will be offering two introductory modules plus five additional modules that focus on permaculture design applications in diverse "zones", such as homes, gardens, orchards, food forests, and communities. In 2018 we will be offering a more in-depth look at some of the key building blocks of permaculture, including soil, water, air (climate), energy, and appropriate technology.


Course fees

RECAP takes the unique approach of subsidising student fees (only $40 per module rather than the national norm of $100-$150 per module), because it is important to RECAP to provide community education that is as inclusive and equitable as possible. This discounted fee is possible thanks to the efforts of RECAP volunteers and support from our funders, especially Lotteries Community Grants, Palmerston North City Council, and Eastern and Central Community Trust. RECAP's permaculture design course is open to any adult regardless of previous experience. 


The introductory modules: In 2018 we have several spaces available in the two-day "introduction to permaculture" that kicks off the permaculture design course. These two days offer students the big picture of permaculture, including an introduction to permaculture ethics, principles, design applications, design processes, zoning, and landscape and site assessment. If you'd like to understand the permaculture design framework from a holistic perspective, these two days are for you. Registration for these modules will open over the summer. Students will receive a certificate upon completing the two-day introduction.

  • Day 1, Intro to permaculture: Philosophy and Design. 24 February, 2018.
  • Day 2, Intro to permaculture: Landscape and Site Assessment. 3 March, 2018.

Fee for the two-day introduction: $80.

Additional modules: At this point, we have a waiting list for our additional permaculture modules, although spaces may yet open. Note that zones are taught out of order for a better fit with seasons.

  • Zone 0, Homes, shelter and the built environment: 7 April, 2018.
  • Zone 2, Integrated orchards and small animal management: 26 May, 2018.
  • Social permaculture: 23 June, 2018.
  • Zones 4 & 5, Ecosystem dynamics, conservation, harvest forests, and large-animal grazing: 28 July, 2018.
  • Zone 1 & 3: Food gardens and main crop gardens: 25 August, 2018.
  • Final project presentations and graduation (no additional fee): 27 October, 2018.

Fee for the above five modules (plus graduation): $200.

All modules are taught on a Saturday, from 9 am - 5 pm, at the Village Valley Centre in central Ashhurst. Each day includes a mix of small group design activities, presentations, and hands-on learning, in most cases 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 instructors

Our 2018 modules will again be taught by Sharon and Phil Stevens of Slow Farm, with support from course intern Kushla Mercer. At time additional specialists may be brought in, all of whom are active in PiNZ and the national permaculture community.