Advanced Training in Permaculture Design

Advanced Permaculture Design Course (APDC)
NOTE: We have not scheduling an APDC at this time in 2021 but plan on doing so in early winter, 2022. Please check back for dates. Thank You
Prerequisite: The Permaculture Design Course (PDC)
Click Here to access examples of Students Final Design Work

Supporting PDC graduates with their next steps.
  • Deepen your permaculture design skills
  • Learn how to create professional looking designs with simple software
  • Learn what elements make up a quality permaculture design
  • Explore the key elements involved in setting up a successful design business

We will teach students who attend this training how to create designs such as the above.  Click here to see this full design in layers. You’ll also find a higher resolution map and can view a video of Bill and Becky describing the design of their home here at Midwest Permaculture. 

“It’s been a wild April.  4 days a week of installs with a part-time crew each week.  This weekend we’ve got an elementary school food forest to install.  Got some fun water projects done at the home base food forest as well.  Still riding the wave of APDC inspiration Bill! Many Thanks.”
Matt – 2019 APDC Course Graduate – 6 weeks following training

Taught by Bill Wilson 
You will be learning from the lead designer, teacher and cofounder of Midwest Permaculture. For those of you who have already been through a Midwest Permaculture PDC, you know that Bill will be giving you the most useful tidbits and resources we have to offer. And, he’ll deliver them in his relaxed, inspired and competent manner that makes it fun and easy to learn. (More on Bill.)

A Word from Bill:
A permaculture design is only as good as the integration of the elements included, customized to the real needs of the client, and anchored in the principles and ethics of permaculture. It is NOT about the flashiness of a computer generated design map.  A simple pencil sketch can actually be twice the design as a professional looking digital map. 

That being said, I have also found that most people feel that they are getting a higher quality design if the work I do is digitized and looks professional. And now that I am doing my own digital design work I am finding it to be actually helpful in the process of thinking through the creation of a design while putting it on the screen. It’s a comfortable process now.

I am not a highly competent computer person, so early on I hired others to create our design maps. But in the process of waiting for others to get to our projects I found myself experimenting with various computer programs in order to get our clients their designs in a more timely manner. Slowly I discovered that with PowerPoint (or its equivalent) I could create almost anything I needed, in high resolution, great detail, and in layers! I didn’t really need one of the more complicated design programs such as Illustrator, Sketchup, Gimp or Inkscape. ‘Google Slides’ is a free-online alternative to PowerPoint and is incredibly similar so I wholeheartedly recommend it as well.

There were some tricks or workarounds I needed to discover to get PowerPoint to do what I needed but by moving back to the permaculture principles of using appropriate/available technology and simple solutions, I have found a perfect permaculture design tool that sits on almost everyone’s computer. 

This being said, my primary goal for students of this training is that they deepen their design skills. Our real work is to create good, useful and productive permaculture designs and the only way to get there is to get some good practice designing with various different situations. I’ve got some great design exercises waiting for you and I’ll share with you whatever I am working on at the time. 

Then secondly, we’ll get you started on creating professional looking designs and how this might translate into designing for others so that you can make an income as well. If I can do it, you can too.

I’ll walk you through it.

–Bill Wilson

Here is an example of a simple framework design in sequence that Bill created for one of Midwest Permaculture’s clients. Bill used PowerPoint. Google Slides would have worked just as well. Bill will teach students of this training how to recreate each step.

First we extract an image off Google Earth of the property we are designing. We’ll show you how.

Then the signature block and scale are added.

On the earthworks layer we design for the movement and holding of rainwater.

In the next layer we add the plants.

And finally the support infrastructure.

Framework Permaculture Design
These are the basics for what we call a framework design. For most people or clients, this is all they need besides the reasoning behind everything and then some follow-up guidance. We typically charge $2,000-$3,000 for something this size (1/2 acre) which includes one or two site visits, the design and the follow-up consulting via phone or email.

Full Permaculture Design
If there is a desire for greater detail we can drill down and create what we call a full design which could essentially be handed over to a professional landscaper to implement. This would likely include design sketches of the earthworks, the species and exact cultivars of plants best suited for their property, where to purchase them from, price estimates, a time-table of what to do and when, and more. For this kind of detail there are many more hours of design work, research and interaction with the client. The price for a full design for this property would likely fall in the $6,000-$9,000 range.  If the project is 10, 20 or 150 acres then the work increases and so does the price of the design service. $10,000-$20,000 is the range this work would fall in. 

Providing What is Truly Needed and Wanted
The point is, we want to give our clients what it is they need. We like to offer them options and give them enough to be successful but not overwhelmed. The ethic in permaculture of caring for people certainly pertains to one’s clients.  

Students teasing out a design challenge.

More Specifically, What Will Be Covered in this Training?

  • Design Exercises
    Every day there will be a design exercise for we know from experience that the best way to learn permaculture design is to just get down and do it. The permaculture design ethics and principles will be stressed as they are the foundation of good design that produces long-term results.

  • Earthworks
    We will drill down deeper into how to determine what sort of earthworks would be helpful on different properties. When do you design in swales, ponds, rain gardens, terraces, etc. ?

  • Soil Building
    We’ll explore deeply on how to build soil including soil analysis, formulation of what rock dusts to add, best soil building cover crops (annual and perennial), when and how to chop and drop, and foliar sprays to use and when. Understanding the priorities and sequence of soil building techniques is how the best results are achieved for the investment of time and money.

  • Plant Selection
    We will share with students the sources we go to when we design our plant systems and invite you to access them until you become more proficient yourself. 

  • Marketing Your Design Service
    There are few secrets here. Bottom line is that we have to find ways to let people know that we are available to do design work and become the kind of designers others wish to hire. It is a huge wheel one has to get rolling but once is starts it becomes easier and easier. Are you willing to invest your time and deepen your skills in the beginning to get this going? If so, we will share with you how we did it.
    Becky (L) and Bill (R) with clients.
  • Selling Yourself and Earning the Client’s Trust
    Once you get a call, what are the best methods for increasing the chances that they will hire you? This is not as hard as it might seem but it is critical to being in business. We don’t really look at it as ‘selling’ ourselves but rather being the kind of people that really deliver on helping the client get what it is they want and being the kind of people they look forward to working with.

  • Pricing, Bidding and Writing up an Agreement
    How much should you charge? We will share the steps we take from working up our bids (we will share samples), writing up a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU vs. a ‘Contract’), and how to set up the payment schedule. 

  • The Deliverables – What You Give to the Client
    Once you get the job what exactly do you give to the client, when do you give it, and in what form? There is much more than the professional looking basemap to delivering your design work. There may be spread sheets with plant selections and time tables, PowerPoints with pictures and details of various design elements and written documents with other details. Hint: Google Drive is becoming a real gift for us designers. We will explain. 

  • Do You Have to go Digital?
    Absolutely not. If you have the pen and pencil skills to create understandable designs then you will still gain much from this course. Remember, it is about the content and quality of the design that is important, not the delivery method. While some students are working on understanding how to use PowerPoint or Google Slides, others can be working with pencil or pen drawings. However, to be clear, we are not hand-graphic designers so will not be able to assist you in developing these drawing skills. We will however be digging deeply into understanding how to create the actual design regardless of presentation style. 

  • Installations and Ongoing Management
    Here is another income source if you have the time and ability to oversee the implementation of a design. Some folks really want a turn-key design/install and wish to look over your shoulder or join in as they learn while the project unfolds. We will share fully with you how we charge for these services including the responsibility one takes on when agreeing to oversee a design implementation. (Hint: It’s not a cake walk. You are working with people and all that comes with that. If you are in business you, or someone you work with, needs to be a people person.)
    Jim and Will burying four 1,000 gallon cisterns and then landscaping the area in a permaculture fashion.

Click - Details about the Training

Start and End Times
Arrival and registration runs between 10:00am and noon on Sunday. A light lunch will be provided at noon. The training begins promptly at 1:00 p.m..  The course concludes at noon on the following Friday.

Traveling to Stelle is Easy
If you live a good distance away you might consider using public transportation to get to us. If you can get to Chicago we can get you here for $2-$5!
Here is a full explanation on how that works. It’s pretty easy really.

Daily Schedule
We will have class morning-afternoon-evening, from 9 a.m. through 9 p.m. There is a lot of interesting information to cover and extra design exercise time in the evenings with instructors close at hand. If you are coming here to learn we will support you. There will be plenty of fun and some good breaks each day including lunch and dinner. There is a good amount of self-directed time so that students can focus on the main things they wish to learn while having Bill and other MWP design team members present.

All meals, snacks, coffee, tea and water will be provided as part of the course tuition. Meals will be prepared from mostly organic and locally raised foods and will include vegetarian and meat options. We can usually accommodate other dietary preferences if we know about it well ahead of time.

We have wonderfully prepared meals at all Midwest Permaculture trainings.

As part of the price of tuition, free camping space will be made available with toilets and showers close by. This is light camping as you will likely only be spending time in your tent to sleep. 

There are also indoor lodging options available that run $150 for the full week of the training. Please email Becky (or call 815-256-2215) if you have any questions.

What to Bring
     – Note taking supplies
     – If you plan on developing your skills for doing hand-drawn design work, bring simple sketching and drafting supplies.
     – Laptop computer (not a tablet unless it is robust) with PowerPoint or Google Slides ready to go. 
     – Key reference books: If you have a few titles that you love and use (plants, wildlife, buildings, property design, etc.) feel free to bring them. They could come in handy for design work.  But the internet will be available too.
     – Comfortable, casual clothing that is seasonally appropriate.
     – Light work gloves, work boots, sun hat, light rain gear (our schedule is flexible so we will not be trudging in the rain)
     – Your favorite mug with lid (if you have one) for coffee-tea-water during class

“Thank you for an amazing week. I learned so so much about professional-permaculture design. Everything was interesting, practical and useful.  And the resources you gave us are probably unparalleled. I feel that I’m ready to start my own design business right now. Thanks so much Bill.”
Gail T. – Kids finishing high school (44)

Click - Pricing and Registration

APDC Training Fee
We will post the fees once a course is scheduled. It will likely be about $1500 for an in-person training or $1,000 if we offer it online.  Thanks.

Prerequisite: As a reminder, you must be a PDC course graduate to take this advanced training. When you register you will be asked the name of your PDC course certifying instructor and the season/year of your training. 

If breaking up your payment is an important factor to your ability to participate a $350 deposit will secure your seat until the training begins when full payment will be due.

Low Risk Cancellation and Refund Policy
We know  that unexpected things happen or come up. Therefore, should a student need to cancel their enrollment in this training there is a full refund less $100 if thirty days out, or less $150 if within 30 days of start. 

There are no refunds for cancellations or withdrawals once the course begins. However, we do look at each situation individually and if we can will extend a partial credit toward a future training.

Questions? Need to talk this through a bit?
Feel free to email or call Becky. (  —  815-256-2215)

Click - About Training Location

Stelle, Illinois, Home of Midwest Permaculture

Stelle (rhymes with ‘bell’) is where Becky and Bill have been residents now for 40 years. The community hovers around 110 people in size with 45 suburban homes, and there has been a strong sustainability focus among some of the residents for over three decades.

Aerial view of Stelle, Illinois, home of Midwest Permaculture – Photo by David Imm of Panamedia

During this time those who have been interested in permaculture, sustainability or community have created such things as an organic garden co-op, a community tool co-op, a dinner co-op, a solar-powered telephone company (which includes solar-powered, community wide WiFi), a wind generator assisted fresh-water treatment facility, Illinois’ first straw-bale home, and more. If you would like to know more about the community of Stelle, visit our community website.

As the home of Midwest Permaculture, students will be given a tour of the community of Stelle and will be able to see first hand some of the early permaculture work that has been going on. In particular, students will be able to fully explore Bill and Becky’s permaculture yard and witness the progress on the 8.7 acre CSC permaculture design project.

Bill and Becky have been deeply involved in Stelle for decades and as such are willing to share of their experience. Some of the evening sessions will be filled with open discussions on permaculture, community and related topics. It will be a rich week.

Wind generators looking outside of Stelle.

Additional Examples of Our Design Work using PowerPoint
We will show you how you can duplicate work like this as well.

Click on any of these to open them as a high-resolution .PDF file.

We will teach you how to save your work as .JPG pictures for emailing or as high resolution .PDFs. The .PDFs allow one to zoom into your work to see fine details if sitting at there computer or looking on their cell phones. It also creates great looking posters you can print and present to clients. 

All of this work can be done in layers so that you can turn on different views of your work to simplify concepts and understanding for the client.

You will be able to make any sized poster, handout or even brochures.

To be clear… just like permaculture design work, making these maps or illustrations takes some practice but it is not rocket science and can be easily learned if one is motivated and dedicated. 

We will walk you through everything and give you key aids so that when you complete your training and head home you will have the resources you need and a trail to follow. 

We hope you can join us to learn how to do this inspiring work and help get permaculture thinking into the world. 

Seating is limited to 12 students for our Advanced trainings so register early if you can.

Cheers… MWP Team

Examples of APDC Students Final Design Work

Feel free to open these documents to see what others have created while attending this APDC training. You’ll notice that they are not all uniform. We teach you the skills and show you how to use some tools–you apply your own creativity with us at your elbow. 

Example 1
A 9-acre Educational Permaculture Project

Example 2
The Grounds of a Private Home Schooling Cooperative

Example 3
The 10-acre Lot and Home of an almost Retired Couple