Around April last year, I was wondering in the garden about how to do something. Perhaps the best way to mulch, or how to know exactly how much nitrogen to add to compost, how to successfully make a pond with tadpoles and natural wildlife.
Normally, I would just follow my intuition and dig, plant or cover, and often I would check the internet for research. But punctuating outdoor time with screentime isn’t something I love to do, as it breaks up the serenity of flowing with nature, and often leads to intense distraction and lack of productivity. Plus, as much as I love following my gut, knowledge of specific practices and techniques is also really important in creating an efficient home and garden.
I’d heard of Permculture Design Courses before, but admittedly wasn’t too convinced by the idea as I didn’t think it would be anything you couldn’t learn by just visiting projects directly and volunteering. However, after one year doing exactly that, I still found myself in this position of second guessing and feeling unsure about how to truly apply permaculture in daily life. So on one day, I found a list of courses and one in particular just sang out, like the mountains in Catalunya had sent a message over to those in Asturias, beckoning us to come.
Soil Sun Soul hosts the August Permaculture Design Course (PDC) in Can Lliure, a secluded natural reserve in the Alta Garrotxa mountains, complete with chalky blue rivers to swim in, spaces to camp, and beautiful forest. The part of the reserve used for the course has permission for planting and building certain structures, which makes it ideal as the pioneer ground for a realistic project that promotes living with nature whilst not harming or invading it.
Can Lliure’s philosophy is to create space for “mindful human-nature relationships through mutually beneficial, harmonious and co-creative interaction with the web of life.”
But why do a PDC?
You may be thinking at this point that a PDC sounds like it’s only for people who live in the mountains or in big green spaces: do not fret. Site organiser Roman Eisenkoelbl is also passionate to dispel this assumption – that only those who live deep into the countryside have the ability to promote self sufficiency and healing the earth – and replace it with an empowerment to make positive change across the world, be it in a city or a desert.
In fact, Roman said multiple times how he would like to see more people going into cities with permaculture initiatives that help communities to work together on projects that solve day to day problems such as those of food, waste and housing.
Doing a PDC is a great way to broaden your knowledge of alternative ways of living that help to work in harmony with nature rather than against it.
So, what will you learn?
You will learn mostly theoretically, sitting in a yurt or an outdoor classroom taking notes about soil, building, community, farming, animals, water, design, and everything that makes up permaculture.
There are some individual and group tasks which help to ensure that you have understood the teachings and can apply them to your own life outside of the 16-day course. Two weeks is the general time for a PDC, but they can be up to a month and sometimes even longer. For us 16 days of camping, eating vegetarian food and meeting wonderful people was perfect.
Field trips such as visiting the organic farm that supplied the food for the course and going to see a local man building his own eco-home also helped to provide real life, visual examples of permaculture in practice, on top of the example set by the site itself.
Who is it for?
One of the best things about doing a PDC, as well as potentially revolutionising your world view, is the opportunity to meet a diverse group of people with many ideas and experiences to share. There is no restriction on who it’s for. Any knowledge level, any age, it is fine to come with zero knowledge of permaculture, yet still beneficial even if you are a PDC teacher.
Good to know:
(about this particular course)
- The course is in English
- €400 includes camping, food and tuition
- There is space to sleep if you don’t have your own tent
Below is a video about Soil Sun Soul, made by the same person who took all these lovely photographs!
I would highly recommend doing a Permaculture Design Course to anyone who is interested in contributing positive changes in the world through connection with nature and harmony with people