Permaculture Systems

An intensive foundation course in permaculture. Learn from highly experienced tutors about the different growing methods which underpin permaculture, natural systems which constitute ecology & zonal planning in permaculture systems.

Course Code: BHT201
Fee Code: S3
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Certificate
Get started!

Learn How to Design and Plan Natural Gardens

  • A Comprehensive foundation to work with Permaculture - Covers the standard PDC and a Lot MORE
  • Teaching permaculture since 1993 -learn from our experience backed by resources gathered over decades
  • Uniquely supported by bonus texts (supplementary reading written and published by us to add to your resources)
  • We follow the often "old fashioned" idea that our students come first - if you have an issue, we have an international staff of around 40 academics who will act as fast as they can to help you resolve it.

A permaculture system is a unique landscape where all the plants and animals live in balance in a self sustaining ecosystem. Permaculture has an ethical approach to designing land use and community systems, to provide food, ecological habitats and other essentials needed for human survival. Learning to develop plans for permaculture systems (ie. a unique landscape where plants and animals live in a balanced and self sustaining ecosystem) is a crucial part of the permaculture process.

Permaculture seeks to increase sustainability and biodiversity, lessen input, grow plants that have more than one use and that are actually used rather than just grown. Many plants will perform these functions. Plants that are grown as culinary herbs can have medicinal qualities, trees that bear nuts and fruit feed people and animals, provide windbreaks, animal shelters and alter microclimates. Some provide fodder for animals, fix nitrogen in the soil, provide mulch, are beneficial companions to other plants, improve the soil and attract insects. Others provide wood for fuel and timber for buildings and fences.

Towards permaculture expertise

Study this course to broaden your understanding of permaculture applications. This fully immersive course is extremely detailed covering a vast amount of ground including what the different growing methods are which underlie permaculture, how it is informed from observation of the science of natural systems, and how this information is used to establish zonal planning. Students get to design and plan their own permaculture system to complete the course. 

 

IF YOU PASS THIS COURSE TO A SATISFACTORY STANDARD, YOU WILL BE AWARDED A PERMACULTURE DESIGN CERTIFICATE (PDC) BY OUR QUALIFIED PERMACULTURE TUTOR

“In this intensive and practical course you develop the fundamentals required to implement permaculture principles, and to produce a design for a large or small property.” - Adriana Fraser Cert.Hort., Cert.Child Care, Adv.Cert.App.Mgt., Cert 1V Assessment and Training, Adv.Dip.Hort., ACS Tutor.

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Permaculture principles
    • Nature and scope
    • Principles of permaculture
    • Location
    • Functions
    • Elements
    • Elevation planning
    • Biological resources
    • Recycling energy
    • Diversity
    • Natural succession
    • Maximising edges
    • Other concepts and systems that have been incorperated into permaculture
    • Sustainability
    • Organics
    • No dig gardening (from Esther Deans)
    • No till planting
    • Crop rotation
    • Green manure cropping
    • Composting
    • Companion planting
    • Pest and disease prevention and management
  2. Design principles
    • Ecosystems
    • Abiotic components of an ecosystem
    • Biotic components of an ecosystem
    • Ecological concepts and terms
    • Biomass
    • Understanding climate
    • Microclimates
    • Degree days
    • Water in permaculture systems
    • Minimising water needs
    • Arid landscapes
    • Irrigation
    • Using swales
    • Reed beds for waste water treatment
    • Reed bed plant species
    • Hydrological cycle
    • Water - Direct fall onto land surface, intercepted fall, fall onto water bodies
    • Rainfall, Evapouration, Infiltration
    • Effective rainfall
    • Soil Environments - micro organisms, organic matter
    • Types of soil degradation
    • Types of erosion & control
    • Salinity and its control
    • Soil acidification and management of pH
    • Wildlife in a Permaculture system
    • Structure of a Permaculture system
    • Plants and their function in permaculture
    • Guilds and stacking
    • Successions
  3. Zone & sector planning
    • Scope and nature
    • Five standard zones
    • Sectors
    • Landscape profile
    • Site selection
    • Pre planning information; what is needed and how to find it
    • Procedure for concept design ; step by step
    • Recording site and locality details
  4. Permaculture techniques
    • Forsests and trees
    • Trees as energy transducers
    • Types of forests; fuel, food, forage, shelter, barrier, structural, conservation
    • Forest establishment
    • Designing fire or wind break
    • Fire resistant plants
    • Mandala gardens & their construction
    • Keyhole beds
    • Water bodies in a permaculture system
    • Water body design
    • Water containment options
    • Water plants (Three types)
    • Managing water bodies
  5. Animals in Permaculture
    • Location for animals
    • Functions for animals in a permaculture system
    • Bees, poultry, pigs, cattle
    • Grazing animals
    • Types of fencing (post and rail, hedge, wire, barbed wire, electric, banks and rises, gates
    • Animal water supply
    • Shelter for animals - trees, a valley, purpose built shelter
    • Birds
    • Earthworms
    • Aquaculture scope and nature
    • Aquaculture production systems (EP and IP)
    • Aquaculture species
    • Aquaculture management
    • Harvesting fish
  6. Plants in Permaculture
    • Scope and nature of plants for use in permaculture
    • Growing vegetables organically
    • Physical characteristics of a soil
    • How to test and name a soil
    • Chemical characteristics of a soil
    • Soil nutrition
    • Fertilisers
    • Animal manures
    • Liquid plant feeds
    • Rock dusts
    • Nitrogen fixation
    • Mycorrhyzae
    • Identifying plant nutrient deficiencies
    • Using mulches
    • Types of mulch
    • Weed management
    • Preventative weed control
    • Other methods of weed control
    • Culture of selected permaculture plants - asparagus, black locust, cassava, chicory, danelion, endive, fennel, garlic, ginger, horseradish, leek, mint, okra, pigface, rhubarb, sweet potato, tarowarrigul greens, water cress, water spinic, yams
    • Culture of selected fruits - apple, apricot, cherry, citrus, fig, loquat, nasi pear, olive, peach, pear, plum, quince
    • Culture of selected tropical fruits - avocado, banana, carambola, coconut, custard apple, guava, mango, paw paw, pepino, pieapple
    • Culture of selected vines - grape, passionfruit, kiwifruit
    • Culture of selected berries
    • Culture of selected nuts
    • Culture of rarer nuts
    • Crop plants which grow in shade
    • Fodder plants
    • Plant pest and disease management for permaculture
    • Plants with insecticidal properties
  7. Appropriate Technologies
    • Scope and nature of appropriate technology
    • Solar energy
    • Wind energy
    • Methane
    • Biofuel power
    • Composting toilets
    • Energy efficient housing
    • Living fences (hedges, hedgerows etc)
    • Water recycling
    • Domestic needs - climate control, space heating, washing and drying clothes, cooking and cook stoves, refrigeration and cooling, hot water supplies, water conservation, electricity and lighting
    • Alternative energy and management
    • Waste disposal: kitchen waste, non composting waste, recycling
    • Biological filtration system
    • Conservation and recycling
    • Types of waste water (liquid waste, grey water, black water)
    • Energy conservation
    • Solar energy
    • Solar greenhouses
  8. Preparing a Plan
    • Scope, nature and methods
    • Designing for natural disasters
    • Drawing a plan
    • Developing the final design

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

What You Will Do

  • Differentiate between Permaculture and other sustainable systems.
  • Explain the procedures followed in practicing different techniques which are sympathetic to Permaculture, including: No-dig gardening, Companion Planting, Biological control, and Sustainable harvesting.
  • Explain the interactions that occur between living and non-living components in five different natural environments, including: Forest Systems, Aquatic Environments, Soil Environments, and Arid Environments.
  • Evaluate different Permaculture designs against the nine Permaculture principles.
  • Distinguish between different garden zones in a Permaculture system.
  • Explain sector planning in a specific garden design.
  • Design a mandala garden for a specific site.
  • Determine the appropriate use of swales on a sloping site.
  • Investigate distinctly different Permaculture systems.
  • Explain three different cultural techniques used to minimise the maintenance requirement, in Permaculture systems you study.
  • Determine different animal breeds, which can provide a useful and sustained harvest from a permaculture system in your locality.
  • Describe the harvest, treatment and use of various products derived from different types of animals in a Permaculture system.
  • Explain the factors which can affect the success of different types of animals, in a Permaculture system, including: Poultry, Aquatic animals, Domestic farm animals, Insects, Earthworms.
  • Describe the husbandry of one specified type of animal, in a Permaculture system visited by you.
  • Determine different species of plants which can provide a useful, sustained harvest from a Permaculture system.
  • Describe the harvest, treatment and use of various products derived from twenty different plant genera in a Permaculture system.
  • Compile a resource file of fifty information sources for different plants which can be incorporated into Permaculture systems.
  • Explain the factors which can affect the survival of different types of plants, including those used for: vegetables, fruits, herbs, fibres, building materials, and fuel.
  • Explain the husbandry of one specified type of plant, in a Permaculture system visited by you.
  • Explain the relevance of appropriate technology to Permaculture design.
  • Compare three different waste disposal techniques which may be used for kitchen scraps in a Permaculture system.
  • Compare three different waste disposal techniques which may be used for effluent in a Permaculture system.
  • Evaluate the suitability of different building techniques in a Permaculture system.
  • Explain the application of two different systems of alternative energy in a Permaculture system.
  • Compare differences in the impact on a Permaculture system, of three alternative technologies designed for the same purpose (e.g. three alternative sources of electricity).
  • Evaluate the use of technology in a house (your choose the house).
  • Determine more "appropriate" technologies to replace currently used technologies, in a house you evaluate.
  • Illustrate on a plan, twenty different components of a design, including: plants, buildings, and landscape features.
  • Transpose a simple Permaculture plan to a different scale.
  • Represent an existing site, drawn to scale, on a plan.
  • Describe the stages involved in the process of producing a Permaculture design.
  • Prepare a concept plan for a Permaculture system surveyed by you, which is between five hundred and one thousand square metres in area.
  • Prepare a detailed design for a Permaculture system of between five hundred and one thousand square metres in size, including: scale drawings, materials specifications, lists of plant and animal varieties.

This course overlaps with our Permaculture I - IV courses.
 If you do this, do not do Permaculture I, II, III or IV as well (Permaculture Systems contains parts from the others). This course has been designed to satisfy the Permaculture Design Certificate curriculum..
 
 
THE WORLD IS CHANGING –AND SO IS EDUCATION

Flexible Study
Choose how you study, where you study, what you study, how much you study, and when you study.
  • Work at your own pace –you choose the intensity of study
  • Start, pause or restart according to changing demands of work, family or lifestyle.
  • Mix and match modules so you only study what you want or need to learn -We allow you to construct your own “tailor made” certificates
  • Options in assignments allow you to focus on things with greater interest to you.
  • Study electronically (online or using a CD); or using printed notes.
  • Use (or don’t use) supplementary services for extra learning want –unlimited access to tutors,  an online student room, social media, bookstore, etc
  • Orientation video and student Manual at the start of your course will provide a clear guide to how you can study and get all sorts of support no matter where you live.
Why Distance Education is Better
Classroom based education today is in crisis. Funding is under pressure, teachers are often stressed and increasingly, text books that were the back bone of courses in the past are becoming unavailable as electronic publishing impacts on the print media industry.

These pressures (and others) have resulted in the quality of classroom education diminishing. At the same time, technological advances have been allowing distance education to get better and better every year.

ACS started in 1979, and by 1982 was using computer technology to write and print courses. We have developed our school alongside a global technological revolution; adopting and applying new technologies to distance education as those technologies have emerged. Our experience has taught us how to deliver education in the most effective way, using modern technology; and allowed us to build a reputation that sets our graduates apart in the global marketplace.

  • Too many courses today are stuck in the past; giving graduates qualifications (often accredited), but leaving them with out of date skills and often unemployed.
  • Too many students commence courses with their sights on a job that exists when they start studying, but not recognising the fact that industries are changing so fast that by the time they finish their studies, their job prospects may be completely different (The job they started out chasing might not even exist by the time they finish studying). 
Fantastic Opportunities
This fast changing world of ours can be unsettling for some. We all prefer to set our sights on a long term goal, and achieve it. The reality is that the ability to live in this way is diminishing every year that passes.

You have two choices in your education –

  • One is to ignore the changes under way in our world and hope that studying something that has worked in the past, will work for you in the future.
  • The other is to recognise that that there will be unforeseen opportunities in the future, and then prepare yourself as best you can to capitalise on those opportunities.
 

Graduate Outcomes

  • Being prepared to capitalise on future opportunities in your field of study.
  • Awareness of the subject and the industry
  • Understanding of how to use what is learnt in real life situations
  • Ability to communicate with greater confidence and accuracy
  • Capacity to solve problems related to this subject

This course is likely to be of value to people who have a keen interest in permaculture. It will also appeal to anyone with a general interest in natural growing systems. People who take this course are most likely those working in or aspiring to work in:

Permaculture design
Natural garden design
Garden design
Horticulture
Ecology
Nature & wildlife

The course will also be of value to people wishing to start a permaculture design business.

 

ACS Distance Education holds an Educational Membership with the ATA.

ACS is a Member of the Complementary Medicine Association.

Principal of ACS Distance Education, John Mason, is fellow of the CIH.

Member of Study Gold Coast Education Network.

ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.

Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.

ACS is a Member of the Permaculture Association (membership number 14088).

ACS is a Preferred Member Training Provider with the Australian Institute of Horticulture. ACS students meeting AIH criteria can join AIH as a Category 2 student member.

Long-term member since 1986.

ACS is an organisational member of the Future Farmers Network.


How can I start this course?

You can enrol at anytime and start the course when you are ready. Enrolments are accepted all year - students can commence study at any time. All study is self paced and ACS does not set assignment deadlines.

Please note that if a student is being assisted by someone else (e.g. an employer or government subsidy), the body offering the assistance may set deadlines. Students in such situations are advised to check with their sponsor prior to enrolling. The nominal duration of a course is approximately how long a course takes to complete. A course with a nominal duration of 100 hours is expected to take roughly 100 hours of study time to complete. However, this will vary from student to student. Short courses (eg. 100 hrs duration) should be completed within 12 months of enrolment. Certificates, Advanced Certificates and Awards (eg. over 500 hours duration) would normally be completed within 3 -5 years of enrolment. Additional fees may apply if a student requires an extended period to complete.
If a student cannot submit their assignments for 6 months to ACS, they should advise the school to avoid cancellation of their student
registration. Recommencement fees may apply.

Simply click on the ENROL OPTIONS button at the top of this screen and follow the prompts.

You can see the course price at the top of this page. Click 'enrolment options' to see any payment options available.

You can pay by Credit Card, PayPal, Afterpay or bank transfer.

Yes! We have payment plans for most courses. Click 'enrolment options' to see the available payment plans.
We also have Afterpay that will allow you to pay for your course or payment plans in four instalments (if you are in Australia).


What do I need to know before I enrol?

There are no entry requirements that you need to meet to enrol in our courses, our courses are for everyone.
If you are under 18, we need written permission from your parent/ guardian for your enrolment to continue, we can arrange that after you have enrolled.

You don’t need to purchase any additional resources to complete our courses.

We aim to teach you the essentials without you having to purchase any specific computer program.
We recommend that you have access to a word processing program, such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs, so that you can easily complete and submit your assignments.

You sure can. We are here to help you learn whatever your abilities.

Yes, if you are enrolling in a Certificate or Advanced Certificate, you might be eligible for credits if you have evidence of your previous studies or relevant experience. More information is here.

We recommend that you are able to browse websites, send emails and conduct online research. You will need to be able to type and submit your assignments.
If you have limited computer skills, we can make special arrangements for you.

This is possible, it depends on the institution. We recommend that if you would like to use our courses that you contact the institution first. Our Course Handbook is a good resource for this.

Our courses are written in English and we only have English speaking academic staff. If you can read and complete your assignments in English, our courses are ideal for you.

Our courses are designed to build knowledge, hands on skills and industry connections to help prepare you to work in the area, running your own business, professional development or as a base for further study.

This course has been designed to cover the fundamentals of the topic. It will take around 100 hours to complete, which includes your course reading, assignment work, research, practical tasks, watching videos and anything else that is contained in the course. Our short courses are a great way to do some professional development or to learn a new skill.

It’s up to you. The study hours listed in the course are a rough guide, however if you were to study a short course (100 hours) at 10 hours per week, you could finish the course in 10 weeks (just an example). Our courses are self-paced, so you can work through the courses in your own time. We recommend that you wait for your tutor to mark and return your assignment before your start your next one, so you get the benefits of their feedback.

The course consists of course notes, videos, set tasks for your practical work, online quizzes, an assignment for each lesson (that you receive feedback from your tutor from) and ends in an exam (which is optional, if would like to receive the formal award at the end), using our custom built Learning Management System - Login.Training.

Our courses are designed for adults to gain professional development and skills to further their careers and start businesses.

Our custom online learning portal allows you to conduct your learning online. There may be practical tasks that you can do offline. You have the option of downloading your course notes or print them to read later.

There is also the option to pay an additional fee for printed course notes and or USB (availability limited to location and deliverability).

Yes, if you don’t have access to the internet, you can receive the course as paper notes or on a USB stick for an additional fee. We can also make alternative arrangements for you to send your assignments to us.

We offer printed notes for an additional fee. Also, you can request your course notes on a USB stick for an additional fee.

Yes, your tutor is here to help you. Simply post any questions you have in your login.training portal or contact the office and we can pass on a message to your tutor.

We are more learning focussed, rather than assessment focussed. You have online quizzes to test your learning, written assignments and can complete an exam at the end of the course (if you want to receive your certificate). You will not receive a pass/ fail on your course work. If you need to add more details on your assignment, we will ask you to resubmit and direct you where you need to focus. If you need help, you can ask your tutor for advice in the student room.

Each module (short course) is completed with one exam.

Exams are optional, however you must sit an exam if you would like to receive a formal award. You will need to find someone who can supervise that you are sitting the exams under exams conditions. There is an additional cost of $55 (AUS) $50 (O/S) for each exam.
More information is here

There are practical components built into the course that have been designed to be achieved by anyone, anywhere. If you are unable to complete a task for any reason, you can ask your tutor for an alternative.

When you complete the course work and the exam and you will be able receive your course certificate- a Statement of Attainment. Otherwise, you can receive a Letter of Completion.

You can bundle the short courses to create your own customised learning bundle, Certificates or Advanced Certificates. More information is on this page.

Yes, our courses are built to be applicable for people living anywhere in any situation. We provide the fundamentals, and each student can apply their own unique flair for their own interests, region and circumstances with the one-on-one guidance of a tutor. There is also a bit of student directed research involved.

Employers value candidates with industry skills, knowledge, practical skills and formal learning. Our courses arm you with all of these things to help prepare you for a job or start your own business. The longer you study the more you will learn.

ACS has an arrangement with OAMPS (formerly AMP) who can arrange Professional Indemnity from Australian and New Zealand graduates across all disciplines. Ph: 1800 222 012 or email acs@oamps.com.au.


Who are ACS Distance Education?

ACS Distance Education have been educating people for over 40 years.

We are established and safe- we have been in education for over 40 years.
We are focused on developing innovative courses that are relevant to you now and what you will need to know in the future.
We are focused on helping you learn and make the most of your experience.
You can enrol at any time, you can work on your course when it suits you and at your own pace.
We are connected to many industry bodies and our staff participate in continuous improvement and learning activities to ensure that we are ahead of what learning is needed for the future.

Our courses are not accredited by the Australian Government. However many of our courses are recognised and held in high regard by many industry bodies.

Our courses are written by our staff, who all have many years experience and have qualifications in their speciality area. We have lots of academic staff who write and update our courses regularly.


How do I enrol my staff/ sponsored students?

Yes, you can do a request for a bulk enrolment and request an invoice on our Invoice Request Form

We can prepare an invoice, quote or proforma invoice. Simply complete your details on our Invoice Request form

We can arrange bulk discounts for your course enrolment, please get in touch with us to discuss your needs.

Yes, we have many students who are in locked facilities, such as prisons or hospitals. We can cater by also offering paper notes at an additional cost.


What if I have any more questions or need more information?

We can assist you to find the right course for your needs. Get in touch with us via email (admin@acs.edu.au) call on +61 7 5562 1088 or complete our course advice form.


What if I change my mind?

Please get in touch with studentservices@acs.edu.au if you would like to be removed from our mail list.

If you would like ACS Distance Education to delete your information at any time (whether you are a customer or a prospective customer), please contact our privacy officer and we will process this ( admin@acs.edu.au ).




Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

Maggi Brown

Maggi is regarded as an expert in organic growing throughout the UK, having worked for two decades as Education Officer at the world renowned Henry Doubleday Research Association. She has been active in education, environmental management and horticulture

Diana Cole

B.A. (Hons), Dip. Horticulture, BTEC Dip. Garden Design, Diploma Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development, PTLLS (Preparing to Teach in the Life Long Learning Sector), P.D.C.
In addition to the qualifications listed above, Diana holds City & Guild





Tutors

Meet some of the tutors that guide the students through this course.

Jon-Paul Dunne

I am a Bioscience postgraduate researcher at Durham university. I have a degree in environmental science and a permaculture design certificate as well as extensive experience in landscape and habitat restoration as well as sustainable food production and self-sufficiency. My key areas of expertise are climate change's causes, impacts and solutions, as well as ecological principles and design.

Megan Cox

Megan has completed a Bachelor of Science (Environmental Conservation) with Honours from Writtle University College, as well as a Master of Science Degree in Countryside Management from Manchester Metropolitan University.

Her experience includes working as a Botanist, Ecologist, Head Gardener, Market Gardener and a Farming and Conservation Officer.

She has worked in various roles in Horticulture, Agriculture and Ecology since 2005. Megan has worked for the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Centre for Environment and Rural Affairs among other organisations in the UK, as well as in Australia and Cambodia.

Rosemary Davies

B Ed, BSc Hort, Dip Advertising & Marketing

Originally from Melbourne, Rosemary trained in Horticultural Applied Science at Burnley, a campus of Melbourne University. Initially she worked with Agriculture Victoria as an extension officer, taught horticulture students, worked on radio with ABC radio (clocking up over 24 years as a presenter of garden talkback programs, initially the only woman presenter on gardening in Victoria) and she simultaneously developed a career as a writer.

She then studied Education and Training, teaching TAFE apprentices and developing curriculum for TAFE, before taking up an offer as a full time columnist with the Herald and Weekly Times and its magazine department after a number of years as columnist with the Age. She has worked for a number of companies in writing and publications, PR community education and management and has led several tours to Europe.

Need Help?

Take advantage of our personalised, expert course counselling service to ensure you're making the best course choices for your situation.


I agree for ACS Distance Education to contact me and store my information until I revoke my approval. For more info, view our privacy policy.