Permaculture Design Course

What is a Permaculture Design Certificate Course?

This course lets you develop a broad understanding of permaculture and design that uses whole systems thinking, which looks at how everything works together as a part of a larger whole. This can apply to the environment, our internal state of being and our organizations and social systems. In this PINA-recognized Permaculture Design Certificate course, participants learn a standard 72-hour permaculture curriculum toward certification that is recognized around the world. Participants will also gain hands-on experience in designing and transforming a local landscape using design principles and incorporating the use of captured rainwater and greywater systems.

Sustainable Solano PDC 2021 with Lydia Neilsen and Anne Freiwald

The 2021 PDC program combines online Zoom classes with four hands-on weekends in Benicia. Participants will work in small groups of no more than 10 people and maintain physical distancing as required by current guidelines. For this reason, registration is limited for the 2021 PDC.

There is always a chance that the program could be postponed if cases surge and new restritions are imposed. We will continue to work with Solano Public Health, California Department of Public Health and monitor CDC guidelines to make sure the program meets the latest requirements.

Friday Focus online classes will be included for PDC participants and open to the public on a sliding scale of $15-$50. 

Registration and Tuition

2021 PDC: $1,200 (with $500 deposit at registration and balance due one week before start)

Benicia residents with proof of residency will receive a 10% discount.

Volunteer/trade agreements may be available for discounted tuition based on enrollment.

Youth who have graduated from Sustainable Solano’s Youth Leadership & Workforce Development programs are eligible for a full scholarship to the PDC program. If you are interested in bringing one of these programs to your school, contact Allison Nagel at

Friday Focus Classes (included for PDC students and available to anyone interested on a sliding scale of $15-$50/class)

  • Friday Focus: Bring Your Soil to Life! (Jan. 29)
  • Friday Focus: Do It Yourself Water Harvesting (Feb. 26)
  • Friday Focus: Habitat Creation for Pollinators and Wildlife Helpers (March 12)
  • Friday Focus: Create Community in Your Neighborhood (March 26) Register here!

 Watch these introductory talks:

    • Oct. 3: Permaculture 101: Patterns & Principles

  • Nov. 7: Permaculture 101: Soil, Water & Plants

    • Dec. 12: Restoring the Sleep Well: Parallels Between Sleep and Water

  • Jan. 9: Guilds and Community

2021 PDC Schedule

Jan. 29: Friday Focus: Bring Your Soil to Life! (online)

Jan. 30-31: On-site instruction in Benicia

Weekend Topics:
• Permaculture Principles and Patterns
• Permaculture Design Methods, Process and the Group Design Project
• Landscape and Personal Zone and Sector Mapping
• Soil Carbon, the Microbiome and Climate
• Soil Fertility Strategies
• Winter Pruning Demo
Hands-On Projects:
• Set up a Bokashi Composting System
• Sheet Mulch
• DIY Microbial Inoculants Brews for Soil and Plant Health

Feb. 4 & 18: Online Class

Feb. 26: Friday Focus: Do It Yourself Water Harvesting (online)

Feb. 27-28: On-site instruction in Benicia

Weekend Topics:
• Water Cycles and Climate
• Contour and Earthworks for Water Infiltration
• Rainwater Roof Catchment
• Greywater Reuse
• Bioremediation
Hands-on Projects:
• Build an A-frame Level and Contour Layout
• Dig a Swale and Berm
• Plan a Roof Catchment System
• Greywater Laundry to Landscape (part 1)

March 8: Online Class

March 12: Friday Focus: Habitat Creation for Pollinators and Wildlife Helpers (online)

March 13-14: On-site instruction in Benicia

Weekend Topics:
• Plant Families, Pollination and Seeds
• Agroforestry
• Trees and Guilds
• Inoculants for Plant Health and Vitality
• The Gift of Weeds
• Animals in Design
Hands-on Projects:
• Plant a Guild
• Make Seed Balls
• DIY Wholistic Tree Spray
• Greywater Laundry to Landscape (part 2)

March 22: Online Class

March 26: Friday Focus: Create Community in Your Neighborhood (online)

March 27-28: On-site instruction in Benicia

Weekend Topics:
• Bioregionalism and Placemaking
• Design for Disaster and Living with Fire
• Land Access and Policy
• Urban Permaculture
• Alternative Economics
• Appropriate Energy
Hands-on Projects:
• Create your Neighborhood Engagement Plan

April 10: Design Presentations in Benicia

Online classes will be over Zoom from 5:30-7:30 pm. Weekend classes will be from 9 am-5 pm Saturdays and Sundays in Benicia.

Meet the Instructors

About Lydia Neilsen

PINA certified permaculture educator, landscape and habitat designer, specializing in water cycle restoration and passionate polyculture.

About Anne Freiwald, MPH

Passionate personal health and permaculture educator focusing on growing food in small spaces, working for over 25 years with individuals and communities on personal ecology and community resilience.

  This course is offered in partnership with Benicia Adult Education