Permaculture Design

OAEC’s Permaculture Design Program facilitates community leaders to design and implement land-based solutions that generate measurable ecological regeneration, promote human rights and responsibilities, and grow personal and community well-being. We use a methodology we call Resilient Community Design.

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Permaculture News

Brock Dolman Featured on Two Podcasts

WATER Institute Co-Director and OAEC Co-Founder Brock Dolman has been busy! He recently participated in two podcasts which we recommend listening to! In the first, Permaculture Perspectives, Brock speaks with … Read more

The origin—and fandom—of Slow it, Spread it, Sink it

Like Carlo Petrini’s Slow Food movement, we have our own “slow water movement” at OAEC. You might know it as the permaculture mantra, or perhaps you’ve seen it as part … Read more

Compost Revolution in the Mother Garden

As the number of guests in our retreat program has increased in recent years, so has the volume of food scraps that our kitchen produces. For decades, our chickens, goats, … Read more

What is Permaculture?

A permanent culture depends on responsive, reciprocal relationships between a community and their environment.

Permaculture is a design process – based in observation and systems thinking – that enables people to create ecologically sustainable and socially just human settlements based in natural patterns and processes. At OAEC, we apply permaculture as a community-based endeavor in which groups craft their own regenerative living systems beneficial to themselves and the particular ecological and cultural systems in which they are nested.

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OAEC’s Permaculture Design Program works to build community resilience:


Every community has the knowledge, the ability, and the right to craft an ecologically regenerative, economically viable, and socially just future for themselves.

Community resilience is the ability of human groups to adapt to changing conditions over time by developing social and physical infrastructure that can withstand external shocks. With Resilient Community Design, OAEC’s adaptation of the permaculture design methodology, Permaculture Program staff facilitate groups such as schools, farms and ranches, highly-impacted communities, non-profit organizations, and governments through design processes to address their cultural, ecological and economic needs by deepening a community’s ecoliteracy, self-governance, and social/personal wellbeing.


Each year the Permaculture Program offers change makers from around the globe an opportunity to become trained and certified in Permaculture Design through our flagship 2-week Permaculture Design Course (PDC) to courses such as edible perennial food forest design, carbon farming, group facilitation, and intentional communities design.

The Permaculture Design Course offers a comprehensive design theory and practice curriculum that empowers landowners, policy-makers, philanthropists, land-use professionals, non-profit and agency staff, students, neighbors and social justice advocates to bring integrated design solutions to the bio-cultural challenges they face in their lives and work.


Community resilience depends on beneficial relationships with our ecosystems. Through permaculture design on our 80-acre demonstration site, OAEC is practicing how to restore and protect the ecosystems in which we live.

OAEC has applied dozens of permaculture design solutions such as roofwater catchmentgraywater, solar hot water, solar panels, hydro-electric systems, organic gardening and seed saving, composting and vermiculture, food forests, natural building, animal husbandry, wildlands restoration, resource sharing, and the ever-present water, energy, and materials conservation efforts.


Many communities face policy barriers that disable them from implementing just, ecological, and locally-appropriate solutions to the issues they face.

OAEC helps identify common obstacles to equitable and regenerative living and forms coalitions to move forward new policies, regulations, and laws that allow for the legalization, research, and funding of bio-culturally appropriate solutions that communities seek.

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