The Permaculture Podcast

    Episode 1618: PDCs and Families



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    Today’s interview is with Jesse Peterson and Penny Livingston-Stark about how to make permaculture education more accessible and provides different ways to do so for families and couples, as well as for those whom the more traditional two week intensive is burdensome. We also discuss different class formats beyond the design course, and what age is appropriate for a student to receive a certificate. Penny also delves into what it means to being a certified permaculture designer.

    You can find out more about Jesse and her work at, and Penny is at The upcoming permaculture design course they are co-teaching together is in Bozeman, Montana, from July 15 – 27, 2016, and integrates many of the ideas we discussed here.

    Jesse and her daughter

    Jesse and her daughter

    Permaculture accessibility is of ongoing importance to me, as well as those of us who call Seppi’s Place home. Though my work on the podcast continues to push the edges of social, economic, and community permaculture, the core corpus of knowledge that comes with designing a series of permacultures rests in the Permaculture Design Course, which requires steeping one’s self in the language of the land, food, and gardens; water, clothing, work, and shelter. Through that one gains a core understanding of the language and lexicon of practicing permaculture. It isn’t the destination of the journey, but the starting point, a place too often one cannot start down because of barriers of time, cost, or burden to family. That is changing, however, as more permaculture teachers, such as Penny and Jesse, see this problem and try different solutions. In their case, they provide child care and couples discounts. In others, the format is broken up and spread out over a series of weekends. Some are even being offered in the gift-economy.

    As time and needs change, so does our approach to permaculture. I remember a time speaking of permaculture beyond the landscape seemed completely foreign and antithetical to the work, but more books and articles emerge on social and economic permaculture each day. The more teachers and students who take up the mantle to teach and learn this material, the more options we have in sharing it with others, and in continue to make it more accessible and affordable.

    Whether you are a student looking for an alternative to the traditional design course intensive, or are a teacher who is offering something different, I’d like to hear from you. My phone number is 717-827-6266 and the email address is If digital means are not your preferred way to reach me, you can also drop something in the mail. That address is:

    The Permaculture Podcast
    P.O. Box 16
    Dauphin, PA 17018

    From here, coming up is the Mid-Atlantic Permaculture Convergence outside of Charles Town, West Virginia, at The Riverside Project. The keynote speaker for this day is Michael Judd, talking about his experiences as a permaculture practitioner, with opening remarks by Joel Glanzberg. Classes and workshops are scheduled on Living in the Gift, Animals in Permaculture, Broadacre permaculture, whole systems learning, plant walks, and tree ID sessions. If you do plan on attending, please consider carpooling. If you haven’t picked up your tickets yet, get them today at

    Until the next time, take care of Earth, yourself, and each other.

    This interview is possible because of listeners like you who sign up as ongoing members at, by those who make one time contributions via the PayPal link on the side bar of the podcast website at, and by the show sponsors. Today’s sponsors are Your Garden Solution and Good Seed Company.

    Your Garden Solution is a Pennsylvania company run by a permaculture practitioner and their business partner that helps people to garden using the techniques developed by Mel Bartholomew and popularized in his book Square Foot Gardening. In addition to garden installation and education, they also have an excellent soil mix and compost ready for your raised beds. Find out more at

    Good Seed Company has been in business for over 40 years and believes we have an inalienable right to open pollinated, non-GMO seeds for common use. These are the seeds saved by our ancestors for thousands of years that can sustain us today, and contribute to a bountiful future for the generations yet to come. Find out more about the rich history of this company and the importance of seed saving at, or shop the catalog of ecologically grown organic seeds online.

    Your Garden Solution
    Good Seed Co.
    Inside Edge Design

    Permaculture Design Course with Broken Ground
    Inside Edge Design
    Regenerative Design Institute
    Institute of Permaculture Education for Children
    Jen Mendez of PermieKids
    Sarah Wolbert
    David Sobel
    David’s Books

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