Free Permaculture Design Courses

Niels-Frederik_Schiottz-Jensen_Reading_lady via

When I saw this picture, it reminded me of myself, sitting near my garden with a book, website printouts, or my smartphone ~ trying to identify an insect, learn about a plant disease and how to get rid of it, or any number of other gardening topics. We are blessed to have so much information at our fingertips, whether books (purchased or from the library) or web pages, for we gardeners and homesteaders are a curious and independent lot, always needing more information to do what we do. Well, get excited fellow information seekers because I’ve located two free online courses you might be interested in.

If you’ve been around the gardening circles for a while, I’m sure you’ve heard the term permaculture. Originally formed from the phrase permanent agriculture, the term permaculture represents a philosophy of working with nature, conserving energy, recycling waste, etc. when designing a landscape.

A better way to understand the permaculture philosophy is to examine the three core tenets of permaculture design (as stated on Wikipedia):

  • Care for the earth: make provision for all life systems to continue and multiply
  • Care for the people: make provision for people to access resources necessary for existence
  • Return of surplus: reinvesting surpluses back into the system to provide for the first two tenets above (this includes recycling waste – can you say compost pile??)

Whether or not you’re interested in all the intricacies of permaculture design, every homesteader and gardener can benefit from much of what this philosophy teaches. Unfortunately, most permaculture design courses cost hundreds of dollars to take. However, I’ve found two websites that offer permaculture design courses online for FREE! Of course, you won’t get a certificate or diploma for the coursework unless you pay the fee, but the video instruction and course information is free.


North Carolina State University is offering free permaculture design material that looks very interesting. Click here to access 29 lectures, including “Starting a Garden,” “Organic Soil Fertility,” “Vermicomposting,” “Rain Gardening in the Home,” and more. Pick and choose any lecture or listen to them all.


The Regenerative Leadership Institute is offering a 72-hour permaculture design course with Larry Korn (a leading permaculture authority). It’s a little more formal in that you have to sign up for the course with your name and email address. Signing up here allows you unlimited access to online video lectures. Again, it’s all free – unless you want the certificate for the course. That you’ll have to pay for.

As you all know, there’s always more to learn when carving out your own homestead nirvana. Let’s take advantage of all the free knowledge we can find!

If you know of any other free online courses in permaculture, homesteading, gardening, etc., please share the courses and links in the comments below.

Happy schooling!


6 comments on “Free Permaculture Design Courses

  1. I am currently signed up for the RLI course – some of the videos are better than others, but they are working on improving the information all the time (and you can’t beat free!). Another awesome resource I have found is the TreeYo Permaculture site, which, if you navigate around, you can find a series of articles pertaining to Bill Mollison’s book, “Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual” and other ideas on permaculture (go to It is basically a handbook for a permaculture design course. And to answer just about any question (or find info) on permaculture, homesteading, and gardening, be sure to check out the forums at Real people discussing ideas, projects, and what works (or not)! Thanks for your post! Love the picture at the beginning!

  2. and permaculture is a design science–a system whereby all the sciences and bits of culture are related to each other, even economics, legal sysytems, etc.

    the three “tenets” stated above are actually the ethics of permaculture that serve to guide all actions

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