Winter PDC – Stelle

Our Winter PDC Course –  March 7-14, 2020
Location: Midwest Permaculture – Stelle, IL
This was a Great Course!
Hope you can join us in 2021.

Course Includes:

Foundations of Permaculture Webinar Series
14 Hrs. of Webinars

Textbook – Study Guide – Resources

A Special 4-hour Webinar Recording, of a conversation we had with Tom Galazen of
North Wind Organic Farms.
30+ Years of Homesteading, Growing Fruits and Vegetables for a living!

You May Begin the Webinar Series at Anytime

We’ll Meet Marty and Will Travis at Their Farm
Featured Farmers in the Documentary Film 

About the Documentary ‘Sustainable’
“Deeply inspiring and hopeful”   ♦   “Enlightening”  ♦  “Moving”
Visit Marty and Will’s Farm Website

Learn from Multiple Permaculturists and Farmers over 8 Days
In Person – Over the Internet – In the Webinar Series

Special Note:
Wondering about missing some hands-on activities at our Winter PDC compared to a summer course?

Grafting Workshop at Winter PDC
Grafting Workshop at Winter PDC

Most all of the hands-on activities we undertake at our regular PDC courses we can also do at our winter courses.  These include:

  • Learning to use the A-frame and sight level.
  • Building a dry-brick rocket stove and firing it up.
  • Making a clay model of a landscape to learn about swales, keylining, and ponds.
  • Touring Midwest Permaculture’s yard and the CSC land
  • Doing fruit tree grafting
  • Making cob from clay, sand and straw
  • and touring the Malchow’s (our neighbors) permaculture home to fire-up their thermal mass rocket stove couch/bench.

The one thing we cannot do because of the frozen ground is continue to work on the hugel-swale we are constructing for CSC. This consists of digging a section of a ditch, putting logs in, and then covering them up. We’ll show some pictures of the details related to this so you’ll get the information without the tactile experience.

Raising Profitable Heritage Breed Hogs at Spence Farm in a very Humane Way
Raising Profitable Heritage Breed Hogs at Spence Farm in a very Humane Way

Special to this Winter PDC
The one thing we do extra for this course is focus a bit more on the growing of food and what it takes to create a successful farming/growing/permaculture operation.

Many people want to make part or even all of their annual income from growing food.  This is certainly possible but it requires quite a bit of knowledge and then real practical experience. Our objective through this training is to save you years of time and money by giving you some critical information and fresh insights. 

To help anchor this learning experience we’ll be taking an extra field-trip over to Spence Farm in Fairbury, IL, to meet Will and Marty Travis who are doing pioneering work in these areas. 

If the timing works for you to attend this winter course we are confident that you will not leave feeling like you missed any hands-on activities.  It’s an amazing and very-full 8 days like all of our other PDC Courses.

Course Emphasis:

1. Delivering the full PDC curriculum.
2. Learning how to transform back yards, city lots, roof tops and community commons areas into bountiful & beautiful gardens.
3. Making the business of food growing economically profitable, socially responsible and environmentally sound.
4. Looking at the serious alternatives to industrial farming.

Group Fun

View Photo Summary of a Recent Winter PDC Course at Bottom of page


“The ambition for broad acres leads to poor farming,
even with men of energy.
I scarcely ever knew a mammoth farm to sustain itself…”

Abraham Lincoln
– Wisconsin State Fair, Sept. 30, 1859

Visit to Spence Farm: 
Will and Marty Travis’s farm is a bustling center of activity with a wide array of heirloom and native crops, heritage animals, and a large diversity of agricultural opportunities on 160 acres.  

Will, Marty and his wife Kris, are committed to finding ways to make a living with a wide variety of farm crops and products and are amazing and creative farmers. For example, they found leeks growing wild in their woodlot and in one month sold over $20,000 worth.

Spence Farm Permaculture Tour

Kris and Marty started “Stewards of Land” about 9 years ago and have helped over 3-dozen other sustainable farmers become more economically viable.

The work they are doing on their farm is admirable enough, but the work they are doing to build a community of farmers that can share costs, risk, marketing efforts and education/experience is their real gift.

Paw Paws on Marty Travis' Spence Farm
Marty inspecting Paw Paws

They will share with us how RELATIONSHIP, between people and business and plants and animals and the land (read permaculture), is the most important aspect of farming, family and community.

Kris Travis of Spence Farm
Kris explains the different transitions their prairie has gone through during their restoration project.
Golden Polish Chicken
Golden Polish Chicken

Bonus: 4-hour Webinar with Tom Galazen

We hosted a live webinar a few years back with Tom Galazen of North Wind Organic Farm.  A two-hour webinar turned into 4 hours.  Students of this course will receive a bonus link to this interview that includes much information about Tom’s homesteading style of low energy consumption, how he approaches fruit growing and what varieties he highly recommends for different species of fruit.

Tom Galazen

Tom Galazen
North Wind Organic Farm

Bayfield, WI
Tom has been raising a wide variety of fruits and vegetables on this farm for over 35 years. As much a homesteader as a farmer, he built most of the buildings on his farm and is off the grid. His specialty is in the growing and selling of a wide variety of fruits which are fitting for his location just a few miles from Lake Superior. Tom gets top-dollar for his produce through a local CSA and by retailing his goods right from the farm. Students receive access to download this interview upon registering for this training.

North Wind Organic Farm

North Wind Organic Farm
Tom Galazen’s Off-Grid, Self-Built, Homestead

Helen Cameron

Helen Cameron
Uncommon Ground Restaurant – Chicago
Helen and her husband Michael had been restaurateurs for 19 years. Then they decided to open a second location for their successful restaurant and chose a building with a large flat roof. Helen wanted to grow at least some of the food and herbs that they serve to their customers. In the process, they decided to become organically certified and as a result became the first roof-top certified organic ‘farm’ in the United States.

Our interview with Helen Cameron is in the
Foundations of Permaculture” webinar series

Uncommon Ground City Rooftop Farming

Backyard Farmers Robyn and Donna

Robyn Streeter (L) and Donna Smith 
Your Backyard Farmer
Portland, Oregon
Donna and Robyn are the first we have heard of who run their farming operation from other peoples back yards.  They have 53 ‘mini-farms’. And they don’t rent peoples back yards, they charge the homeowners yearly to have much of their families food grown for them right in their own backyards. Robyn and Donna visit each home once a week, attending to all that is necessary, leaving a full basket of produce on the residents doorstep when the little farm starts producing.Homeowners can also learn how to grow their own food from these innovative and successful farmers.

An insightful interview with Donna and Robyn is in one of your sessions from the “Foundations of Permaculture” webinar series.

Depending up availability, there may be an additional grower or two that will share their experience with us.

View Photo Summary of a Winter PDC Course at Bottom of page

“In this Permaculture Design Certification (PDC) Course we want students to learn the skills of viewing a piece of property through a permaculture lens to be able to better see its gifts and challenges. From there a permaculture design can manifest.
We will look honestly at the practical and financial realities of small-scale-sustainable farming and urban-food growing.
Bill Wilson – Midwest Permaculture 

Bill Wilson of
Midwest Permaculture
Stelle, Illinois

Lead Instructor for Training Bill Wilson
As a younger man, Bill cut his teeth in farming when he started a ‘pick-your-own’ berry business in Kentucky. He learned much about farming and as much about working with people. Bill was also the community garden coordinator for several years in the small, sustainably oriented community of Stelle, IL, where he has lived for over 40 years.

He and his wife/partner Becky have hosted and taught over 85 PDC courses and dozens of other permaculture workshops.

More on Bill

“Bill, this was unequivocally the best educational experience of my life. You and the others made permaculture completely understandable and I am so inspired to implement this work. This training has tied it all together for me. Thank You.
Amy H. – Small Farm Manager

“Thanks so much for all your work!! I was so inspired by the course.  I’ve already integrated permaculture into a community project I’m working on.  After 25-yrs of landscaping, I needed that boost of BLISS!”
Catherine R. – Landscape Architect

Description of our Full, Permaculture-Design-Certification Courses
If you landed on this page and happened to have missed the full description of the training, you might still be wondering what is actually covered in a certification course. If so, Click Here.

Further Details of the Course

Begin The Training Now with Pre-Course Studies
This permaculture course actually begins shortly after registration when the student receives a welcome email that contains:

Within a week or so students receive the course textbook, via US Mail.

Course Textbook
Included with the price of Registration
‘Earth User’s Guide to Permaculture’
by Rosemary Morrow 

This gem of a text, shipped to students upon registration, is written by Rosemary Morrow, an Australian, that has taught permaculture around the world for decades.

The book is straightforward and loaded with illustrations and substance.  It covers theory and also focuses on the practical aspects of how to create and implement a permaculture design.

This book is a must read for the serious permaculturist and is a requirement for students of our design certification courses.

150-Question Study Guide
To complement the text we have created a study guide with 150-questions that will assist the student in anchoring the information contained in the book. If a student can answer these questions to themselves, they can be assured that they have grasped the foundations of the permaculture design certification course.

Start and End Times – And Very Full Days
The on-site portion of the course begins on Saturday, March 7th at 1:00pm and ends the following Saturday, March 14th at noon.  Even though students will have already completed up to 20-hours of certification studies through the webinars, there are still 52+ hours of training ahead.  To fit the balance of the curriculum into only 8 days along with meeting all of the farmers, the on-site portion of the course starts at 8:15am each morning and runs all the way through 9pm. There are long breaks for lunch and dinner… but students need to come prepared for a very full week of learning, designing, and fun.

Group and Personal Design projects
For all PDC trainings, students work on several short design projects in small groups to quickly develop their permaculture design skills.

Personal Design Project Invitation: If one of the reasons you as a student might be taking this training is to learn the skills necessary to create a permaculture design for your own home or property there will be some time over the 8-days to make significant progress.  We will show you how to locate topographical, soil, wind and watershed information from the internet and how to create your basemap.

All meals, snacks, coffee, tea and water will be provided as part of the course tuition and will be served beginning with dinner on the first Saturday evening through lunch a week later.  Meals will be prepared from mostly organic and locally raised foods and will include vegetarian and meat options.

Free Winter Camping
As part of the price of tuition, free camping space will be made available with toilets and showers nearby in heated spaces.  This is a winter course however and one must be a very hearty and capable camper to deal with the cold and potentially stormy weather.  We have relatively protective spaces for any campers should that be of any consolation. Remember, students will only be sleeping in their tents as all food is provided.  The rest of the time will be spent in the classroom or on site tours.  If you have a good sleeping bag and are familiar with winter camping, you’ll be fine.

Rooms in Stelle – $150 for the Week
Some of our fellow residents in Stelle are delighted to rent out their guest rooms for a modest fee for the whole week.  All are a short walking distance from the classroom. Students can reserve a room when they register for the training. Questions?  Please email Becky or call 815-216-4124‬.

What to Pack & Other Details
About 4 weeks before this training begins, students receive more information regarding what to expect, arrival details, what to pack, access to maps, etc.

Students who complete this design course will receive a ‘Certificate of Completion’ from Midwest Permaculture which in the permaculture tradition, allows one to use the word ‘permaculture’ in the promotion of their work or business. Graduates may offer workshops, lectures and design services.  Click here for more on certification.

Previous Winter Course Graduates

Course Fee & Registration: $1,395
(Plus $150 for lodging or $0 if camping)
Early Registration Price (by day’s end, Jan. 1, 2020): $1,245
Online Registration Here
Price Includes ‘Foundations of Permaculture’ webinar series, 8-days of training, organically prepared meals, camping (oh boy…!!!), loads of permaculture related resources, and the networking site.

round final Group Registrations – Save $100 per Person
2 or more may register as a group and receive a $100 discount each. We’ve had friends, family members or couples register together and in the weeks before the course, bring in several more friends, everyone saving $100 each.

Students: $995 (Registered in educational institution and taking full hours – 2 slots available)

Seniors:   $995  (Over 62 and on fixed income – 2 slots available)

Low Risk Cancellation and Refund Policy
If a student cancels their registration 30-days before the on-site portion a course begins they receive a full refund less $250.  The student retains full access to all of the webinars, keeps the course resource links and text book, and receives a $195 credit towards any future Midwest Permaculture design certification course, good for up to 3-years.

If a student cancels their registration in the 30-days before the course there will be a full refund less $350 and the student still receives the webinars and a $195 credit towards our design courses in the future.  The credit is good for up to three years.

There are no refunds for cancellations or for withdrawals once the course begins.  However, in certain circumstances, we may extend partial credit toward a future design course.

Continuing Support Following Graduation
Students who have completed a Midwest Permaculture design course are then invited to become part of our growing network of graduates.  There are two ways we work to support our students:

  • We have a separate website where all graduates can connect, share ideas and look for some assistance from each other.
  • Graduates may audit any future PDC courses at half price (provided space is available).

Our objective is to support our students for as long as they need it or want it and to encourage them to support each other.

Already A Permaculture Design Course Graduate?
We offer a 33% discount to students who have already graduated from another recognized course (from anywhere in the world) who wish to take a Midwest Permaculture course as a refresher. Please email for details.

Still Have Questions?
You are welcome to email us or call Becky at 815-216-4124‬.

Here are Pictures from a Winter PDC Course
Narration by Hayden Wilson (Standing, far right, son of Bill and Becky)

Our Group Photo with Rocket Stove in Foreground and Midwest Permaculture Home-site (our house). Mom (Becky Wilson) is standing on far left. Dad (Bill Wilson) took most of these pictures.
Visit to Spence Farm – Fairbury, IL.  It has been in the Spence/Travis family since the 1860’s and has seen all the farming changes common over all of these 150 years.
Kris and Marty Travis (standing) are moving Spence Farm into a diverse and polycultured income farm. For farm stability they feel one needs multiple income streams and really good relationships with fellow farmers and their customers.
The raising of heritage breed hogs is an example of the diversity they are after. These piglets have already been promised to a restaurant in Chicago at a premium price.
Wonderfully warm greenhouse for January starts.
The sugar bush where Kris and Marty’s son, Will, makes maple syrup each winter.
Back in Stelle, our neighbor Wayne has recently finished building his Thermal Mass Rocket Stove
Wayne loading up the rocket stove with wood to fire it up! Every PDC course we host visits Wayne and Bev’s (his wife) home to learn about this stove, their strawbale garage, and many features of their permaculture yard.
Notice how the fire is burning ‘sideways’ to the right?  More on thermal mass rocket stoves here.
Here is their finished stove just a month later with the final coat of cob and the cushions.
Here is their finished stove just a month later with the final coat of cob and the cushions.
Wayne took us all out to his garage (made from straw bales) to teach us how he made his cob from sand, clay and straw. There is a hole (now a small pond) where he got the clay from.
Tour of Midwest Permaculture Grounds – Becky Guiding
Me teaching how to use an A-frame for finding contours.
Students learning to use the A-frame.
Milton building a rocket stove model to demonstrate thermal dynamics of this design.
My dad (Bill Wilson) using a clay model to explain water harvesting techniques such as swales, ponds and keylining.
Visiting one of our Swales. It’s soaking in water, even during winter.
Milton Teaching
Orchard walk with grafting demonstration.
Students Sharing a Meal with our Community
Students doing Design Work in Teams
Very Comfortable Classroom Setting
Fun Night!
Winter Walk Through the Orchard (being redesigned into a food forest)
Keep an eye on our schedule for this and other future trainings.
We had a wonderful week together.
Hope you can join us some year!
Hayden W. 

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