Is taking a Permaculture Course Worth It? When I think back on my own experiences of taking a Permaculture Design Course (PDC) and look at the knowledge, skills and path that I am now on as a result, I would have to say that taking a permaculture course is absolutely a worthwhile experience. It has propelled me to where I am today and I would highly recommend it to most anyone.
First it’s useful to step back for a moment and look at the larger picture. When we take the systems that are available in the mainstream today for providing for ourselves , we can easily recognize that they are not caring for the planet, people, or the future. In fact, the situation is getting worse. These systems which manifest as the standard strategies for providing for oneself — such as going to college, getting a job, buying a house, driving a car and even shopping for necessary items — are breaking down. The price of college far outpaces inflation and for most isn’t an option without taking on crushing student debt. The economy is shedding jobs, manufacturing has followed cheap labor across the seas, government and business are paring down to the bone, and millions are unemployed and have given up looking for work. The housing market has crashed and threatens to collapse much further with the inventory of empty homes that no one can afford. The price of owning a car is climbing, with gasoline alone tripling in price in the last decade. Long supply chains, easily disrupted, bring us all the things around us, most of it is unnecessary junk or designed to fail in less than two years. The quality and safety of our food is highly doubtful. And the list goes on.
What is needed is not to trash the systems that are still providing for us, but instead to enable each person to establish other systems capable of taking up the slack, ensure that they are ethical, resilient, robust, and that most of all they meet the needs of people without being a detriment to the planet or the future. This is where the Permaculture Design Course comes in.
The Bigger Picture
It doesn’t just stop there. Permaculture is systems thinking and applies to much more than where we get our food from. It gives us tools to see the big picture and help us work in any system, leaving it in better condition for us, the planet and the future. That means it can apply to how we work in a job or community, design our homes, what tools or technology we choose to use, how we educate ourselves, or even our relationship with God and existence. Of course, the community and connections you make during the course are often worthwhile too. These can lead you to your next job or a great friendship.
It needs to be said that not all courses are created equally. There are many teaching PDCs, each with their own styles, with various amounts of experience and ability. It’s best to do a bit of research, speak with the teachers, get recommendations, and find the course that is right for you.
For me the Permaculture Design Course that I took has been worth the time and money. The skills I have gained and the relationships I have made more than make up for what I invested in it. I feel that I am, as a result of the studies that began with my PDC, more than capable of both accurately assessing my situation and changing it in a positive way. It’s also been worth it for the ethical return, knowing that I am working to leaving the world in better condition than I found it.
Milton Dixon took his PDC course in 2009 with Midwest Permaculture and his Permaculture Teacher’s Training in 2010 with David Jacke. He is a permaculture designer and teacher as well as the IT administrator for several permaculture initiatives. He is also the host of the Chicagoland Permaculture Meetup Group. He lives with his wife and new son in the wilds of urban Chicago.