Permaculture Design Certification

Permaculture Design Certification (PDC) courses at the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center will immerse you in information, ideas and inspiration on how to design sustainable, regenerative systems in balance with your home ecosystem.

Learn more about our Permaculture Design Program.

Annual Courses

Permaculture at OAEC

We live it. We do it. We teach it.

For over 20 years, the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center and onsite intentional community have been researching and demonstrating ecological design on our 80-acre site in western Sonoma County, California. Immerse yourself in regenerative thinking at the Center, where we offer the longest consistently running Permaculture Design Certification course in the West.

At OAEC, we have learned as much from what we have tried that didn't work as what we've tried that did. We have translated those lessons into a design methodology that empowers you to not only "do it yourself" but to "think it yourself"; to apply elegant theory to the complexities of real places and people.


See sample syllabus >

The Permaculture Design Course is a two-week residential intensive at OAEC. Using a combination of lecture, discussion, hands-on activities at OAEC’s 80-acre site, visits to local permaculture examples, and a group design project, you will have the chance to integrate and apply the concepts of permaculture during almost 100 hours of course time. Upon completion of the course, you will receive a Certificate of Permaculture Design.

Not only will you become versed in ecological design principles, but you will also have completed a design project for a local community group in need of systems redevelopment. Through the community-service PDC design projects, we invite our students to be permaculture public servants by contributing to a real design project.

Permaculture Design Course graduates include policy-makers, landowners, philanthropists, land-use professionals, agency staff, students, and social justice advocates who have gone on to start thriving permaculture landscape design companies, become sustainability directors for leading educational centers, and conduct cutting edge myco-regeneration research.

Permaculture Design Course participants will learn the ethics, principles and practices of “permanent culture” by exploring topics such as:

  • natural building techniques
  • forest farming
  • organic gardening
  • water retention and regeneration
  • erosion control
  • community processes

Who can take the course?

Our Permaculture Design Course is open to the public, but we encourage community leaders interested in spearheading a community permaculture design process to attend with 2-4 other community members. This high-level intensive will strengthen your capacity to lead your community towards regional resilience through a collaborative process to re-envision local human systems that mimic natural patterns.

If your community is considering a collaborative permaculture design process, please contact Kendall Dunnigan.

Recommended Reading for the PDC

What to Expect

Overnight visitors to OAEC sleep in one of our two beautiful, spacious guest yurts overlooking our North Garden, or other guest housing. Alternately, you are welcome to camp in our Wildlands Preserve. Our accommodations are clean, lovely and spacious, with easy access to modern bathroom facilities. You will enjoy three delicious, organic, hearty vegetarian meals a day, with produce sourced from our gardens and orchards or from local farms.

Course and retreat participants at OAEC can also expect to experience powerful personal transformation, extensive knowledge acquisition, and inspiring networking opportunities.

Visit our Visitor Information page or take a Visual Tour of OAEC to learn more.


The cost of this 2-week, residential intensive at the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center is $1700, or $1600 if registered 30 days in advance. Besides supporting the work of OAEC and our many guest instructors, the course fee includes three organic, homemade meals a day and accommodations overlooking our beautiful gardens. Payment is due in full upon registration. Please see the registration page for our cancelation policy. We regret that we cannot accept Americorps Education Awards and are unable to offer scholarships or work trades at this time.

The Permaculture Design Course usually fills up 6 or more weeks in advance. Please register as soon as possible.


Permaculture Activist Magazine calls the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center PDC “a certification course presented by a winning team of California’s most experienced teachers."

Program Director

Brock Dolman has taught Permaculture and consulted on regenerative project design and implementation internationally in Costa Rica, Ecuador, U.S. Virgin Islands, Spain, Brazil, China, Canada, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cuba and widely in the U.S.

Program Director

Kendall Dunnigan is an ecologist, community organizer, artist, and educator with many years of experience teaching ecology and ecological design courses and leading socially-just, community-based eco-justice design projects for people of all ages.

Permaculture Design Program

Our goal is to build the capacity of place-based communities to transition towards ecologically and socially regenerative systems modeled after healthy ecosystems.

  • To achieve this, our Permaculture Design Program has certified over 1,000 students from communities across the world in Permaculture Design.
  • OAEC staff also consult with place-based communities as well as farmers, ranchers, landowners, empowering them to integrate ecological design principles and practices into their systems design. Contact Brock Dolman for more information.

Permaculture Design Program Design Program


"I look at water with new awareness. Soil is everything. Yes, I do have a new perspective and I do feel a shift in consciousness."

“I appreciated the emphasis on social permaculture and the importance of communication within community. OAEC is a great living experiment to witness.”

"The food at OAEC nourished my senses and my soul! I’ve never eaten so well for two weeks straight.”