Permaculture Design Course

Heathcote is not currently offering a Permculture Design Course.

Click here for information about Patty Ceglia's next course.

Here is the description of the last course we offered.

Permaculture Design Certificate Course

Fall 2014 - Spring 2015

When:  Sept. 20, 2014 - May 17, 2015 (six weekends)

Where:  Fox Haven Farm and Learning Center, Jefferson, MD

Course Dates and Topics:

Sept. 20-21, 2014: Bioregionalism, Ecosystems, Ethics & Principles, Design Process, Observation & Site Analysis

Oct. 18-19, 2014: Water Harvesting, Nutrient Recycling, Soil & Gardening

Nov. 15-16, 2014: Urban Permaculture, Social & Economic Permaculture

Mar. 21-22, 2015: Renewable Energy, Natural Building

Apr. 18-19, 2015: Grains, Aquaculture, Forest Gardening, Guilds, Animals

May 16-17, 2015: Forest Garden Installation, Final Design Presentations & Certificate Awards

NOTE:  People who are not enrolled in the full course are welcome to audit individual days for $75 per day. 

Class hours:

Class will meet on Saturdays and Sundays.  Class hours will be 10 AM to 6:00 PM (with a one-hour lunch break). 


Course site:

The course will take place at the Youth in Transition School Farm in Windsor Mill, MD.




Early bird rate:  Sliding scale $900 - $1,100 (if you register and pay the $200 deposit by August 15, 2014)

After August 15:  Sliding scale $1,000 - $1,200

Group discount:  

Groups of 2 or more people who attend the course together and work on the same project can have a group discount of $50 per person.  Members of School of Living and the Gunpowder Valley Conservancy can have a 5% discount.  Email to confirm your membership and get your discount code.

Payment Plan:

A payment plan is available if needed. You can pay a $200 deposit plus 5 equal payments due at the beginning of class for the first 5 weekends.


BGE has given us a grant for five 50% scholarships that will be awarded on the basis of financial need and diversity.  Please email to request an application.  The application deadline is Sept. 1, 2014.


There are two options:

Students will Provide their own food.  Bring your own bag lunch on Saturday and Sunday.  


Students are responsible for providing their own lodging. 


Students are responsible for their own transportation.  We will also match students for carpooling.


Click here to register

You must pay a $200 deposit to reserve your space.  Send a check for $200 made out to School of Living to Heathcote Education Committee, 21300 Heathcote Rd, Freeland, MD  21053.




Permaculture, a term originated by Australian ecologists, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, means permanent culture. Using both ancient and modern knowledge, this design methodology mimics universal patterns found in nature to create healthy human communities. Guided by ethical behavior, Permaculture is both theory and practice. It is a system of designing ecologically inspired landscapes that integrate food production with energy, shelter and water.


Permaculture is a frame of reference for analyzing specific human habitats and finding sustainable solutions to their inherent problems or needs. Whether one is designing a small-scale backyard or patio, or large-scale farm, village or city, Permaculture principles provide basic criteria for informed decision-making. Permaculture suggests our limits to growth, and our potential for peaceful interdependence.




Evidence for reform: Global ecological and cultural crisis; origins of health.

The ethics of sustainability: Care of the earth; care of people; contribution of surplus; life ethic; cooperation vs. competition.

Permaculture design principles: Relative location of elements in a system; the many functions of each element; Zone and sector site planning; Biological resources (vs. machinery/fossil fuels); energy recycling; small scale intensive systems; accelerating natural plant succession and evolution; biological diversity and polyculture; edges and natural patterns; mental attitude.

The design process: Creative visualization; decision-making criteria; site analysis; programming; research; schematic design; design development; implementation.

Site analysis, design and mapping: Identifying natural resources; topography; climate and microclimate; soils; existing structures/infrastructures; defining goals and identifying site opportunities and constraints; water harvesting, management and conservation; siting important infrastructures; design for catastrophe.

Chesapeake bioregion: Watersheds; ecology of streams, wetlands, and forests; threats to the Chesapeake Bay; design strategies for protecting and restoring the Bay.

Design of houses: Integrating house and garden; natural house design in temperate climates; recycling and treatment of waste resources; appropriate technologies.

Home garden design: Zone I planning; garden layouts; soil fertility; urban/suburban gardens; gardening in cold climates.

Design of orchards, forest farms and grain crops: Integrated orchard systems; forests for production and conservation; grain and legume crop systems; fuel self-sufficiency.

Designing animal forage systems: The function of animals in a system; Zone I animals; small animal forage systems; pasture crops and large animal forage systems; pond and wetland aquaculture.

Urban and community strategies for self-reliance: Patterns of human settlement; land access for food production; growing food in the city; integrating food production and suburbia; recycling; community economics; ethical investment; global community.

Sustainable philosophies of land use and ownership: Bioregionalism; local management of natural resources; preservation of wilderness; land trusts as a legal tool.

Social Permaculture:  The application of permaculture principles to the design of social and economic systems; social and ecological justice; tools for dismantling oppression; multicultural perspectives on permaculture; liberation ecology; social technologies and tools for creating a cooperative culture.



A significant part of class time will be spent on hands-on activities, applying numersous permaculture techniques on site at TALMAR, an organic CSA farm and therapeutic horticulture training center.





We routinely host guest experts to provide information on specific topics, such as solar energy and alternative economics.  Several local field trips will offer the opportunity to see a variety of successful permaculture projects, such as aquaculture and alternative energy.



Together the class will practice multiple design exercises at the Youth in Transition School property, exploring how Permaculture principles and strategies could be adopted, such as water harvesting, agroforestry, etc. 




Each student will apply techniques learned in class to the design of a Permaculture master plan for a familiar site of choice. This project will require scaled, color maps and drawings, a written research paper, and an oral presentation. All students will learn how to draw to scale in class.  Minimal tools will be required.


Permaculture design project by Mike Binder and Martha Wetherholt.



Permaculture Design Certificate:

Students who complete all the requirements will earn their Permaculture Design Apprentice Certificate.  The entire 72-hour permaculture design course curriculum developed by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren will be covered during the 12 days of class and through the required homework.  People who earn the Permaculture Design Apprentice Certificate are allowed to use the word "permaculture" when engaged in business and can go on to earn the 2-year Diploma of Applied Permaculture Design.  Permaculture design certification is applicable towards Gaia University degree programs.   




1.           Attend all class sessions (12 days).   

2.           Complete home study assignments. These will consist of readings and exercises. The required textbook is: Introduction to Permaculture by Bill Mollison and Gaia's Garden by Toby Hemenway.

3.           Complete a Permaculture design for a site of your choosing. Most students choose to design their own home and yard. However, you may also create a design for a “client” such as a neighbor, a school, or a nonprofit, or participate in a larger team design, with one or two other students. The design project will include a vision, site analysis, proposed design plan, written summary, and an oral presentation.



Patricia Ceglia is an ecological site planner, professional architect, and organic gardener.  As a consultant for the Gunpowder Valley Conservancy, she helps local homeowners design and install stormwater managing edible landscapes. In private practice, Patty transfers her 30 years experience in large-scale architecture to the process of integrating dwellings with their immediate environment, applying appropriate land use for diverse productivity. She has designed passive-solar and timber-frame houses, forest gardens, multi-functional and native landscapes. Patty teaches Permaculture Design at Wilson College, Chambersburg, PA. 

“Through collective intentional efforts of many individuals, a healing momentum can transform our planet into the radiant life source that it is intended to be.”     




Karen Stupski has 20 years of experience with permaculture and sustainable living as a member of Heathcote Community. She currently works as Executive Director of School of Living (a community land trust) and Development Director of the Gunpowder Valley Conservancy (a watershed organization and land trust). Karen is also on the faculty of Goddard College.  She holds a Ph.D. in the history of science, medicine, and technology from Johns Hopkins University and a Post Masters Graduate Diploma in Organizing Learning for EcoSocial Regeneration from Gaia University.





Nicole Robinson, a student of the 2012-2013 PDC course, lives in Frederick, Maryland where she is currently working with Ecologia, an edible and ecological landscaping business, and building a clientele of her own doing permaculture-based design and maintenance. She's most excited about an upcoming project that she has designed for a client and will start implementing this summer and fall - a series of garden spirals and food forest patches. She and her fiance aim to one day run a bed and breakfast homestead that provides permaculture education.



Shannon Sylte, a student of the 2011 PDC  course, currently resides in Harrisburg, PA where she is actively engaged in community  forest garden design and implementation.  She aims to continue her growth and understanding of ecological design through observation and embellish gardens with art installations made of natural and salvaged materials.




Patrick Bond is in his third year as an assistant teacher with the Heathcote Education Program. He first encountered Permaculture as an undergraduate working towards a degree in Geography. The Permaculture Design process was new to him but the concepts covered resonated with much of what he was learning as a Geography student. While living in Baltimore and completing his MS in Geography and Environmental Planning, Patrick had the opportunity to attend a Permaculture Design class conducted by Patricia Ceglia and Karen Stupski which ran through the Heathcote Education Program and the School of Living. Since finishing the program, Patrick has worked for a non-profit developing vacant lot and school yard gardens in Baltimore and is currently teaching Middle and High School life and environmental sciences at an independent school in Washington, D.C. Through the greenhouse and gardens at his school Patrick has been able to incorporate Permaculture into many of his classes and is in the process of developing a Permaculture curriculum for Middle and High School students.



Course Sponsors

Heathcote Community

School of Living

Gunpowder Valley Conservancy



We thank BGE for giving us a grant for scholarships for our Fall 2014 - Spring 2015 course and for free Introduction to Permaculture workshops!



Call Patty Ceglia at 609-954-1604 or email