Permaculture Design Certificate (Fall Weekends)
Friday, Sep 26, 2014 - Monday, Nov 10, 2014 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
  • Price: Varies
  • Attendee Limit: 26
  • Only 1 spot left!
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Stop dreaming of a job that makes a difference…and take action! Build a profitable career that goes beyond sustainability to heal the land and rebuild local economies.

Become a Permaculture Change Agent for Your Community in Just 3 (Long) Weekends in a Premium Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) Course Taught by Engineers for Visionary Professionals.

What makes our PDC unique?

  • We’re engineers and consultants: and we mean business! Our teaching style draws from our real-world business experience – and is geared to ambitious, focused professionals and entrepreneurs.

  • Bonus intro course: our 3.5 hour video intro course (delivered 6 weeks before the first in-person session) means students arrive ready to hit the ground running, and we have more hands-on time in the classroom to practice and apply the most advanced concepts. Check out the first 30 minutes of the course below:

  • Focus on design: With extra classroom time devoted to hands-on design application, our students leave with the confidence to launch their own permaculture projects and careers (plus infinite ideas for what those projects might be).
  • PDC roadmap: beyond the info-dense web of concepts and techniques of the standardized PDC, we’ve also pioneered a simple, step-by-step design process that students can take-away and apply to just about any permaculture problem. Talk about getting a head start!
  • And so much more: check out the “What Makes Us Unique” tab for even more reasons our PDC stands apart from the crowd.

Even the most gung-ho advocates for going green are realizing that the small, simple steps – curly light bulbs, tankless water heaters, and reusable bags – don’t even begin to touch the profound challenges we’re facing now….

…Not to mention the massive problems coming down the pike!

Instead, we need a deeper solution:

…one that goes beyond green…

…one that looks beyond individual issues like overflowing landfills, pollution of waterways, GMOs, melting glaciers, and megastorms…

…one that works with, instead of against, natural processes and systems…

We need a regenerative solution that rebuilds ecosystems and communities the way they were meant to function.

…a holistic approach to the environment that blends ancient knowledge with 21st-century clean technology

…a creative approach to community-building that’s rooted in the most basic principles of life and social sciences…

…a technically sophisticated, locally appropriate approach to designing and building human habitat and alternative energy solutions…

Most of all, we need an inclusive approach to change that embraces blue jeans and designer suits, cob and pervious concrete, upcycled rain-barrels and condensation catchment…

Sound incredible? It’s not – in fact, this is precisely what you’ll discover in our Permaculture Design Certificate course.

Meshing primal wisdom with modern technology for a regenerative career and lifestyle

Permaculture (“permanent” + “culture” + “agriculture”) provides a big-picture perspective, using nature’s patterns and rules as a basis for designing your home, backyard garden, business, community commons, and municipal streets and parkways.

It’s a systematic, regenerative approach that tackles big problems and solves them with sweeping effects.

For example:

  • Erosion is creating deserts on every continent…

…and permaculturists are using simple, low-tech strategies to rebuild soil and create lush oases not in decades but years…

  • City water supplies are growing more toxic from chemicals used in purification…

…and permaculturists are using plants to transform sewage to clean, drinkable water…

  • Mainstream energy, water, and food supplies are getting steadily more expensive and less safe…

…and permaculturists are building local renewable energy installations, community water-harvesting systems and self-sustaining gardens…

  • Forests are being clear-cut for wood, farmland, drilling, fracking and mining, speeding up global warming, erosion, and species extinctions…

…and permaculturists are planting food forests to clean the air and water, build soil, and provide fuel, food, shelter and habitat…

  • Trash is choking landfills and oceans, and washing up onto beaches…

…and permaculturists are turning waste into a valuable resource, starting up businesses and profiting from harnessing it…

  • Toxic waste sites are multiplying around the world…

…and permaculturists are cleaning up some of them in a matter of months using plants, fungi and microbes…

  • Personal and national debts are racking up and economies are getting steadily more unstable…

…and permaculturists are setting up local currencies, barter systems and time banks to bypass the staggering dollar…

  • Developers are pulling in megamillions while families get sick in poorly built, unhealthy, chemically-processed homes…

…and permaculturists are building simple, low-energy homes, made with indigenous natural materials, debt-free…

And that’s just the beginning!

Grads Say:

“I can’t express enough the value for all people to learn permaculture principles; and Verge made this learning fun, factual and provided a nurturing environment to do it in.”

- Shauna Treare, Winlaw, BC Tricycle Acres


If you’re mind-boggled by the sheer range of these permaculture solutions – so were we!

As engineers, we’re accustomed to taking a laser-focused approach to problems within complex human-made systems. And we know from experience that you could spend years of study, and a fortune in tuition, learning how to develop targeted technological solutions for our environmental challenges.

But experience has also taught us that those limited solutions won’t even begin to touch the full range of issues we face…and may even make them worse.

Why? Here’s the difference: The planet isn’t a machine…it’s a complex web of interdependent living systems, and far more than the sum of its parts.

So to solve the problems at their root, you need to understand how the system works as a whole:

  • how to observe and understand natural patterns and processes…

  • how to design and support sustainable, self-regenerating systems.…

  • how to intervene when something goes wrong…

  • how to create a household…a neighbourhood…a community…a local economy…and a culture that exists in harmony with the natural world.

And that’s when you can make really profound changes happen!

This is the holistic approach you’ll begin to learn in Verge’s PDC. For a tiny fraction of what it would cost to earn a conventional environmental degree elsewhere, you’ll discover the secrets that keep a healthy ecosystem and society thriving…and learn how you can use those secrets to create a successful, regenerative business, empower your community and “green” your world in ways you never imagined!

Grads Say:

“Thank you for the density of vital information for creating resilient communities. Thank you for the inspiration to find innovative opportunities for right livelihood, positive creation, earth repair…and true happiness! Thank you for the introduction to a vital, vibrant community.”

- Chrystel Vultier, Canmore, AB


Whether you’re a multi-degreed, credentialed professional or an entrepreneurial graduate of the School of Life, we can guarantee this is like no course you’ve ever taken before.

With its sheer depth and range of topics, the program’s appreciating value, its unique and pioneering structure, our three levels of engagement to fit your schedule, budget, and business vision, and especially our track record of graduates’ successful businesses, this course will give you new hope and a new vision, the technical and business foundations to build it on, and the community-building skills to support it.

If you’re looking for a springboard into a new business or career – one that can make the crucial difference for you, your community, and the planet in the hard times that are approaching - this is the course to take.

Don’t spend another day in frustration and outrage at the dire headlines. Sign up today, and take your first step toward becoming a permaculture change agent.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Michelle and Rob Avis


Our PDC begins with 5+ hours of online video sessions delivered six weeks before the course start date. The first thirty minutes of the online course is excerpted above.

Introducing The PDC

The PDC is a tested and proven standardized curriculum offered by permaculture institutes and educational centers around the world. Developed by visionary author/educator/naturalist Bill Mollison, it includes all of the topics in his pioneering work, Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual…which you will receive as a part of your course package.

Here’s just a quick spin through the core curriculum as Verge offers it…

Introduction to PermacultureThis section and the next lay the foundation with the core principles on which permaculture is based. Starting with the mistakes that led to today’s world situation, we’ll look at…more

  • How did we (humans) get here, and where are we going?
  • What are the problems – how can we state them in a manageable way, without overwhelm?
  • What are the myths of our current culture, and how do they prevent us from acting?
  • How do we reclaim our story so that we can have a positive impact on our immediate ecosystem, our bioregion, and the planet as a whole?

Concepts and Themes in Design - You might call this portion How Does an Ecosystem Work? Starting with the ecological building blocks that every permaculture design replicates, we’ll look at…more

  • Naturally occurring patterns and natural laws, and how to replicate them in human-made designs (and dramatically increase crop yields in the process!).

  • Food webs and sustainable human diets, interdependency and natural connections between species, and the amazing, dynamic stability that’s built into a diverse ecosystem.

  • A new definition for the concept of yield.

  • A holistic understanding of all of the benefits and services a design should strive to provide (in nature, each element serves many functions, not just one!)

Methods of Design - Now we start getting into the nitty-gritty tools and techniques for replicating natural, self-sustaining ecosystems! We’ll talk about…more

  • Observing a site and deducing its needs, your options, and your best strategies, from the land itself.

  • Developing a strategic approach to a project, including designing from patterns to details, analyzing the elements of a site and the needs and yields of its systems, and using slope and orientation.

  • Surveying landscapes for property design using both simple and sophisticated tools, designing by map overlays and interpreting seemingly random assortments of information.

  • Finding your microclimate and increasing productivity with intensive garden design strategies including: stacking of space, soil-building, mulch, nutrient cycling, pest control, green manures, worms, compost & companion planting.

  • Building in the human factor: determining work spaces, designating zones and sectors for types of use.

  • Creating a master pattern that incorporates a code of ethics for the relationship between humans and nature.

  • Incorporating guilds of interdependent plants and animals.

  • Establishing and maintaining a balanced, self-perpetuating system.

Grads Say:

“[The course] divulges a greater understanding that we need to become closer to nature, to understand how all life is dependent and that community will be our survival. It was a pleasure to learn all that I did…. To meet people of like mind and to know that community is being built.”

- Jan Butts, Calgary, AB


Pattern Understanding - Circles, spirals, waves, branches…we see certain patterns over and over again in nature and human designs, but why? What purposes do they serve, and which should be used in X situation? We’ll talk about…more

  • Key natural patterns, the purposes they serve, and how and where to apply them.

  • The importance of boundaries as a place of species mingling, challenge and growth, and how to put this to use.

  • The impact of these principles on the human level, in relationships, society, and the economy.

Climatic Factors - These days, when we hear about climate, the first word that probably comes to mind is “change” – but here we’ll be looking at more basic questions. We’ll talk about… more

  • Climate zones and weather patterns, and the workings of precipitation, wind, and radiation.

  • How to identify the impact of climate factors on the project landscape and across the region.

  • How to identify your micro-climate and extend your growing season….

Trees and Their Energy Transactions - You probably know about the roles that trees play as fuel, raw material, and carbon storage, but are you aware of the many other functions they serve in living forests? We’ll talk about… more

  • How they regulate and moderate ecosystems by complex interactions with wind, precipitation, and temperature.

  • How you can sustainably use, propagate, harvest and manage tree systems using such techniques such as coppicing, pollarding, grafting, guild planting, succession planning, and designing shelterbelts and orchards.

  • How to grow your own fuel and heat your own home without fossil fuels.

Water - While Earth is called “the watery planet,” humans have tended to mismanage our fresh water supply, threatening the availability of our most precious resource. Here you’ll learn about how humans have intervened in regional water systems, and how we can repair them. We’ll talk about… more

  • Using earthworks to capture, conserve and store water, and reducing the water we use in our sewage systems.

  • Purifying contaminated water the way nature does, without the use of toxic chemicals.

  • Principles of water harvesting and conservation, rainwater collection and storage.

  • Uses for greywater (using your wash-water to make plants grow better),

  • Constructed wetland design and other smart water-use ideas you might never think of.

  • Passive water hydration and infiltration.

  • Composting toilets.

Soils - Yes, that’s right – soils in the plural! We have so much to say here – where most people see soil as dirt, permaculturists see it as a living ecosystem in itself. We’ll talk about…more

  • The soil ecosystem – its structure and elements, the role of water, gases, mineral nutrients, and micro-organisms.

  • How to diagnose problems in difficult soils through bioindicators such as plant ailments.

  • How to solve plant ailments through treating the soil.

  • The hidden crisis of global soil erosion, and what we can do about it.

  • The relationship between soil and life on earth.

Earthworking and Earth Resources - One common remedy for runoff and erosion is earthworking: building berms and digging swales. We’ll talk about…more

  • Identifying the many types of earthworks that harvest and store water, and when to use each of them.

  • Planning the project, measuring the slope and pegging the contour, moving the earth, and planting afterward.

  • Using both ancient and modern technologies for surveying, design and implementation.

The Humid Tropics - To be a permaculturist is to be part of a global movement, so we’ll look at climatic conditions and best practices for regions worldwide. We’ll talk about…more

  • Reading weather patterns, creating and enhancing micro-climate, and using design strategies for all major global climatic zones.

  • Adapting permaculture practices such as earth shaping and integrated land management to tropical settings.

  • Creating a home and garden for tropical conditions.

  • Evolving a tropical polyculture.

  • Working with the special needs of grasslands, tropical coasts, and low islands and cays.

Dryland Strategies - As erosion steadily sweeps topsoil into the sea and desertification advances across steadily broader regions, dryland tactics will become increasingly necessary! We’ll talk about…more

  • The interactions of precipitation and temperature.

  • Types of deserts.

  • Plants that can succeed under varying desert conditions.

  • The desertification process.

  • How to harvest water in arid lands.

  • How various people are reversing desertification.

Humid Cool to Cold Climates - If you’re planning to practice in the Alberta area, this will be the regional segment for you. We’ll talk about…more

  • Characteristics and soils of cool to cold climates.

  • Special needs of cold-weather homes and home gardens.

  • Construction and uses of greenhouses (“glasshouses”).

  • Characteristics of grasslands and rangelands.

  • The role of wildfire

  • Ways of cycling nutrients and incorporating animals into your system using cool ideas like chicken tractors, pannage systems, pigeon lofts, dairy systems and bees!

Bonus! – This section is our particular area of expertise, as we’ve honed our craft as permaculturists in this ecosystem! And you’ll reap the benefit, with extensive added information from our tried-and-true toolbox. We’ve added in-depth sections on…more

    • Using simple tools to do a solar analysis for placement of gardens, greenhouse and buildings.

    • Designing passive solar greenhouses (Rob’s specialty) and houses.

    • Using appropriate building techniques for our climate.

    • Using low-tech renewable heating solutions, such as Rocket Mass Heaters and others.

    • Building your own solar infrastructure, from solar dehydrators to solar air heaters and water heaters.

    • Using the earth as a storage of cold and heat to minimize your heating and eliminate your cooling needs.

    • Saving thousands of dollars on energy bills with efficient home design, retrofit and renewable energy systems, and other innovative building tricks and tips.

    • Incorporating water-saving methods like passive water hydration and infiltration, rainwater collection, storage and composting toilets.

Strategies of an Alternative Global Nation - Long before we reach the end of the course, you’ll realize that permaculture offers a whole new guiding vision for human society…and agriculture is just one tiny facet of this vision. We’ll talk about…more

  • Extended families, village development, and new approaches to political systems on the local, national and international levels.

  • Land trusts and ethical investments.

  • Right livelihood and working groups.

  • Effective aid, and the possibilities of the long-range future.

Grads Say:

“The Verge [PDC] is a comprehensive course with hands-on applications. It is fantastic! Rob Avis provides functional information that goes way beyond the garden to building, growing & creating a good life. We walked out with so many entrepreneurial & sustainable ideas & opportunities there is no way [permaculture] cannot grow exponentially to make a better future.

- Julie Budgen, Environmental Planner, Corvidae Environmental Consulting Inc. Canmore, AB


Are you feeling a little overwhelmed? We’re not surprised; this is a high-intensity course, designed to help you hit the ground running as a permaculture designer! But don’t worry – we’ve taken pioneering steps and added learning tools to help you put all the pieces into perspective and anchor in the information, as well as building in extra practice time for you to work on the concepts and processes.

Yes, just as in every PDC program, you’ll have the opportunity to get your hands dirty doing a composting workshop and implementing a new site design. But while digging swales, harvesting rainwater, and building cob ovens and spiral herb gardens are all important permaculture practices, we think it’s a pretty safe bet that you can download our recommended videos and try these practices in your backyard, participate in a work day at your local community garden, or join us on any of our permablitz weekends to learn technique.

We want to ensure that you get the greatest possible value from your time with us by giving you the high-end design and consulting knowledge we’ve gleaned through our years of practice!

What Makes Us Unique?

As engineers and business owners, we combine the visionary principles of permaculture with a professional, scientifically-proven approach…and loads of hands-on experience! We’ve lived many of the practices and techniques that we teach, from rehydrating an eroded field and stream bed, to planting a food forest, to building a passive solar greenhouse, even to creating a greywater system in our home (and getting busted for it!).

You see, we have an absolute passion for living and sharing this world-healing, world-changing information. Our vision here at Verge is to spread the teaching and practice of permaculture throughout Alberta, to Canada, the U.S… and beyond.

And our #1 goal in offering this course is to teach you to become a successful permaculture designer, entrepreneur, and/or teacher! So we’ve tailored the course for entrepreneurs-in-the-making, who seek to go beyond sustainability into a regenerative, earth-healing business.

And Bill Mollison’s encyclopedic Designer’s Manual is just the beginning of the value we offer in our new, enhanced PDC:

  • We add relevant material from around the world...perspectives we’ve gained from visiting permaculture sites Down Under and doing volunteer work at the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia; spending a six-month sabbatical integrating renewable technologies at a pioneering energy institution in Denmark; and travelling off the beaten track throughout Mexico to explore emerging sustainable agriculture practices.

  • We share our hands-on, DIY engineering experience with numerous eco-technologies…from primal to leading-edge…and show you how to learn from our mistakes and triumphs.

  • We offer the lessons learned from our personal experiments with living systems…remediating soil, water-harvesting, composting, growing food, and collecting and biologically treating wastewater.

  • We include our real-world business experience as practising permaculture consultants…from the first steps of creating a regenerative startup, to networking and attracting clients, to weathering business mistakes and triumphs, even to turning local eco-disasters into teachable moments with permaculture solutions.

When you add all of that to the standard PDC content, you have an extraordinary premium-level course! But we didn’t stop there. We’ve stepped ahead of the pack and developed key features, some of which are not offered by any other PDC, anywhere.

Grads Say:

“This class has helped me realize the potential each one of us has to create a better world. I am filled with possibilities, and that’s an exciting feeling!”

- Heather Zelensky, Operations Manager, Pixie Gardens, Duchess, AB


1. Get started early and learn at your leisure.

With class after class of students clamouring for more hands-on time to practice the advanced concepts and tools we offer, we were left with the question – how do we squeeze all this content into 3 long weekends, and still have time to practice it? And after two wildly successful experiments in live-streaming content and recording webinars, we had the answer.

So now, the Verge PDC course begins with six online video sessions that you can view and review at your leisure, any time for 6 weeks before the classroom training begins!

Imagine, walking into a classroom primed with the program’s first two units, Introduction to Permaculture and Concepts and Themes in Design. Imagine arriving with an understanding of the theoretical concepts, ready to apply them with the help of in-person coaching and hands-on practice. And that’s not all…

2. Place each piece of the PDC’s massive content in context with a clear roadmap.

When you look at all of the topics covered by the PDC, the sheer breadth of information can become overwhelming! We remember the feeling during our own PDC training – “Egads, how are we ever going to put all of this to use in a meaningful fashion?” – and we’ve seen it in the dazed eyes of our students.

Fact is, it’s hard to find a PDC graduate who hasn’t finished with a certificate in one hand, a lengthy reading list in the other, and absolutely no realistic idea of how to apply the information he or she has just gained. And that doesn’t work.

So we have taken a pioneering step in our PDC program and created an organizing matrix that puts this dizzying breadth of content into a practical, immediately-usable perspective. Each unit of information is placed within this matrix…and once you have grasped the larger context, you will be able to fit later learning within it.

This is the only PDC program to offer such a context, giving you the head start that every new PDC graduate needs!

3. Stay on track with learning objectives and summaries for every chapter.

Due to the amount of content that must be covered in the traditional PDC, little to no time is usually given for academic niceties like learning objectives, overviews and reviews…the very time-tested things that help to anchor information in your mind!

So, as we’ve developed our new, enhanced PDC, we’ve added all of these key learning tools. Each chapter begins with an overview of the concepts covered, learning objectives for that section, and a summary of homework, readings and activities. And you receive resource/summary emails matching the course content, to help keep you on track as you’re going through the pre-course segments, the homework, and so forth. Rather than floundering in a sea of information, you’ll be following a clearly laid-out path.

4. Have more time to build and practice your permaculture design skills.

So what are we going to do with the extra time you gain from this pioneering PDC setup? We’re investing it where it matters: adding time for hands-on practice in applying the core design concepts and processes. We’re setting up larger and richer design projects for you to hone your new skills, and offering interactive learning activities designed to get you started thinking like a permaculture practitioner.

5. Ask questions, share resources, and network with classmates in a private online forum.

Nearly every PDC graduate knows the bond that springs up among classmates. We’ve experienced it, witnessed it...and now we’re leveraging it before, during and after the on-site classes. From the day you receive your access to the pre-course material, you’ll also have access to an exclusive online forum, where you can chat about the course content, kibitz, share dreams, perspectives, and plans, network, ask questions and, collaborate. It’s the first step toward the lifelong connections you will form among the worldwide network of permaculturists!

Grads Say:

“I have renewed excitement for what we all can do together to bring back our soil diversity, improve our food and heal our communities.”

-Michael Victoria Moore, Edmonton, Genesis Permaculture


6. Learn from recognized experts in the field.

Naturally, Verge’s own home-grown crop of permaculture experts forms the nucleus of our faculty, with Rob Avis taking the lead instructor’s role and Alex Judd as program coordinator. To support them in teaching the standardized PDC units, you’ll meet a series of practising permaculturists. Check out our Faculty tab for updated bios of additional instructors.

7. Select your level of engagement based on your budget, schedule, and business vision.

Whether you’re looking to practice permaculture in your own backyard, or whether you’re envisioning a regional consultancy, this program is set up to suit your vision. With three levels of engagement, we can prepare you for the simplest makeover of your backyard or community commons, all the way up to your most ambitious business plan.

FAQ: Is there a pre-requisite?

Answer: No! All you need is the desire to learn in a fast-paced environment.

Is This Course For You?

So you may be wondering – I’m not a farmer, I’m a (fill in the blank) with no experience in making a living by healing the earth. Lots of dreams, sure, but…. will this course really help me to put a foundation under them?

We think that PDC grad Julia Mitchell, from Toronto, ON, gave the best response to your question when she wrote:

“Once you complete this course, you’ll realize how impactful permaculture is to the way you perceive your world. I was truly inspired by Rob and Michelle and am certain that permaculture will become a large part of my life. I would recommend this course to anyone willing to learn about how to take responsibility for their impact on this planet. BEWARE: Once you go permaculture, you can never go back. The community we’ve built, skills we’ve learned and knowledge we’ve gained are invaluable – this course is an excellent investment.”


That’s the thing that takes all of our students by surprise – that shift from the mainstream perspective of a consumer – helpless and dependent on “the system” – to that of a permaculture producer, based in natural processes and community resilience. It’s a stunning, life-transforming shift!

And that’s what makes this course accessible to so many…especially if you’re looking to become a change-maker through public policy or private entrepreneurism. No experience with gardening, building, etc. is necessary – only an honest desire to learn! This course is for the generalist; we’ll teach you about the principles and how to apply them. And you’ll walk away with the inspiration and motivation for getting further training in the areas that interest you…and the essential tools for building a sustainable, right livelihood in those areas.

Truth is, the standard PDC course is designed to be a starting point! Because the desire to heal and protect the Earth is common to such a wide range of people, cherishing such a wide variety of viewpoints, you can give the course many different slants…all the way from Earth-based spirituality and direct action protest to corporate consulting.

 Grads Say:

“I am so glad I negotiated the time off work to take this course. It has really been life altering. The concepts and ethics of permaculture should be something everyone is exposed to, and Rob’s teaching and enthusiasm were infectious. My mind will be spinning for months to come and I will be making some major changes in my life and career because of what I learned in [this course].”

- Jessica Roder Robertson, Wild Craft Permaculture Edmonton, AB


So we’ll be honest – as mechanical engineers with corporate experience, we definitely fit on the business side of that spectrum. We’re looking to create a groundswell of permaculture designers, consultants, and teachers…not to mention people incorporating permaculture principles into their businesses at all levels and in all fields, from artists and architects to zookeepers!

So we think you’ll feel completely at home in this course if you’re…

  • an environmental advocate working in conservation, restoration, or activism…
  • …an attorney, judge or lawmaker interested in legislation for sustainability…
  • …a local organizer involved in community-building…
  • …a policy-maker at the municipal, provincial or federal level…
  • …an educator or academic administrator looking for ways to “green” your curriculum…
  • …a landscape designer planning to build your services and value to your clients…
  • …a midlife career-changer aiming to become a permaculture designer, consultant, or teacher…
  • …an eco-savvy entrepreneur looking to start or expand upon your own earth repair business…
  • …an architect, engineer or all-around techie looking for a regenerative way to apply your professional knowledge, skills and experience…
  • …a disillusioned desk jockey looking to save money, grow your own food, reduce your environmental impact, and build community…

Grads Say:

“The beauty of permaculture lies in its simplicity. It makes us all slow down and finally LISTEN to the earth and respect its systems. Applying permaculture principles– teaching , changing, healing — is going to save the world. A lot of people have become disconnected with their communities and this course reminded me of how essential it is to revive them. My mind is overflowing with ideas, plans, and I’m so excited to implement them ASAP.

- Karla Cox, Provisions Permaculture, Cochrane, AB


Of course, it’s not just about what you do for a living! While our students come from a wide range of backgrounds, they share all sorts of common struggles and goals. You’ll fit right in if you’re….

  • …trying to co-create a living, green urban community where you live…
  • …looking for ways to turn compromised rangeland or hardscrabble pastures into lush, productive farmland…
  • …agitating for a recycling program in your community…
  • …shopping at farmers’ markets and independent local businesses instead of big-box franchises…
  • chafing at every bill you pay to the electric or heating oil company while you visualize solar panels on your roof or a water-wheel in your backyard…
  • …thinking it’s crazy to irrigate your garden with processed municipal water…
  • …thinking “what a waste of land” while you mow your lawn for the umpteenth time…

Grads Say:

“It is important to learn all these new ways we can help make a better more sustainable future. Very comprehensive learning material, fast paced but effective delivery. Course was well worth it. I would recommend it to others.”

- Joshua Dyck, Nelson, BC


Sharing our struggles and goals becomes the first step as our students build a cohesive community of classmates. You’ll find yourself digging deeper and discovering that you’re not alone as you share fears, questions, hopes, and even wild and crazy dreams…

  • …worrying about the tar sands, fracking, and dwindling water supplies, and wondering whether there’s any reason for hope…
  • feeling like a misfit in this disposable, planned-obsolescence, consumer culture, and wondering what the alternative could be
  • …wondering where the bees, butterflies and lightning bugs have gone, and if they’ll ever return…
  • ….planning to create a lush, abundant, sustainable family haven and wondering where to begin…
  • ….or dreaming of living in an off-grid strawbale house with a flock of chickens and a goat or two in the backyard!

In a throwaway culture filled with isolation and competition, permaculture represents a path to connection, communication, respect, and cooperation – with our families, our neighbours, our communities, plants and animals, and the planet. We may not be hippies, but we think that’s downright subversive… and it’s a shift in perspective that empowers our students with hope for the future!

Eight Reasons Why This is One of the Best Educational Values You’ll Find Anywhere…

Believe us, we understand –  3 long weekends and $1799 is a hefty investment, especially in tough economic times! It’s easy to say, “This course will change your life” – but what does that mean, exactly?

So before we can ask you to commit your time and hard-earned dollars, naturally you need to know how you’ll benefit.

Just for starters:

1. This Certificate Opens Doors…

Our enhanced PDC program includes all the topics, theory, and practice you’ll need to launch a new career as a permaculture designer, teacher and/or entrepreneur. Not only that – it provides the foundation you’ll need to pursue full teacher registration and a Diploma of Permaculture Design with the Permaculture Institute.

Grads Say:

“Permaculture offers an exciting and engaging vision for human organization and habitat. This course has equipped me with positive alternative solutions to the significant problems our society faces. I hope to apply my experience to food security policy issues. Rob and Michelle have developed an organized and structured course; combined with their knowledgeable instruction, the value of the course far surpasses the course fee. Highly recommended.”

- Joel Laforest, Calgary, AB


2. You Get A Dozen Courses for the Price of One:

If you were to seek out a degree program covering the information we include in these weekends, you’d need to take between 10-15 individual courses, and pay roughly 10 times as much. This program includes (just for starters):

  • Permaculture design, technique and practice taught by recognized experts in the field

  • Water conservation and harvesting

  • Organic gardening

  • Renewable energy

  • Integrative pest control

  • Project management

  • Soil restoration

  • Community-building

  • Natural building techniques

  • Alternative economic systems

And that’s barely scratching the surface! Some of the most important topics, such as Pattern Observation, simply aren’t taught outside of a PDC program. We assure you, you do get your money’s worth!


Grads Say:

“If you are into growing your own food, harvesting rainwater, composting and getting green, this is the course for you! Rob and Michelle have travelled the world learning permaculture and green technology – they are so knowledgeable. I enjoyed the time I had with them greatly.
Worth ten times the cost for this course.”

-Samantha Hussey, Calgary, AB Arithena Healing Arts


3. You’ll Practice What We Teach…

We’ve built in extra time for you to practice the tested and proven techniques and procedures that we use every day as permaculture designers and practitioners. Oh – and yes, you’ll have some high-energy, hands-on outdoor time implementing a new design, so bring clothes you don’t mind getting grubby!

4. If Our Teachers Charged by the Hour…

Let’s see….this course is 72 hours of class time between lectures and practice. That works out to roughly $25/hour… about half the average college professor’s paycheck for teaching just one course! Truth be told, most of our students tell us we’re undercharging: they usually realize the full value of the program by the fourth day, if not earlier.

 Grads Say:

“For the fee of the course, it was absolutely yielded within the first weekend… I intend on becoming an instructor within the permaculture community. The passion from Rob and Michelle truly inspired me to take the next step. Permaculture is by far the most educationally stimulating course I have ever taken! Thank you!”

- Joshua McWilliam, Calgary, AB


5. One Program, Many Ways to Save…

Students who take this program find themselves transforming from ordinary folks to committed and capable change agents. You’ll learn to identify the problems on a site and design effective, efficient and sustainable solutions to provide food, water, shelter, and energy…all at measurable, long-term cost savings. And you’ll find those savings far exceed your one-time course fee.

6. One Program, Many Ways to Earn…

Most importantly we have designed our course to produce new Designers and new Teachers…and that’s only the beginning of the career paths that open up! Just check out what these grads have done (and see Grads in Action for in-depth video profiles of our change agents in the world!)

Verge grad Juli Gillies and her husband Jeff (also a PDC student) are demonstrating a wide array of permaculture homesteading techniques on their 5 acre parcel – an old junkyard near Rocky Mountain House, AB – which they have transformed in just a couple of years into a beautiful and productive garden, complete with food forest and up-cycled raised beds.    

Shauna Teare left a commercial career and now blends her skills in business, marketing, and graphic arts with innovative upcycling, organic gardening and community networking to create a thriving permaculture homestead with her family.

Luke Kimmel started his career by founding a clothing company / artist collective / events company, also undertaking ventures in product distribution, business development, and music management… and is now cultivating sustainable human habitats and creating opportunities for meaningful work and community development with his company the Leaf Ninjas.

Evonne Smulders is a proud grandmother, gardener, ceramic artist, small business owner and community leader, sitting on the sustainability committee in Black Diamond and working with the municipality to change legislation regarding grey water, rainwater harvesting, and more. Evonne and her husband Rob have founded the sustainability/re-skilling center, Sage Folk School, and recently organized the 2012 Western Canadian Permaculture Convergence.


7. $100 + in Savings Up Front…

Fair warning – pack light for this course if you’re flying, and leave room in your luggage! A copy of the very hefty and very comprehensive course textbook, Bill Mollison’s Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual (a $100+ value) is included in your tuition, plus an extensive electronic resource list for future use. We know of very few PDC programs that offer this!

8. A Resource Library You Can Use Forever…

As a Verge PDC graduate, you’ll have permanent access to the digital copy of all our lecture slides and course material. We spent two years creating these materials, and they’ve been tested and proven with audiences around the nation and around the world. And they’re all free for you to use when you begin to create — and charge for– your own presentations and workshops. Talk about getting a running start on building your business!

Grads Say:

“Well worth the tuition fee. Learned so many options to use my life energy in a more sustainable way. Can’t wait to apply what I’ve learned!”

- David Fournier, Edmonton, AB learning guides


And the best part? All of these benefits are available for everybody, at the most affordable of our PDCs. We haven’t even mentioned the benefit packages we’ve designed for consultants-in-the-making with our Premium and Premium Plus packages…

So what are you waiting for? Join us, and join the fastest growing movement for positive change on the planet!

What Does it Cost – How Do I Register?

Since we began teaching the PDC, our students have ranged from home gardeners to community organizers; from municipal planners to cattle rangers; from artisans to career-changing executives. And as we’ve worked on enhancing the program, we’ve realized – there is no one size fits all!

So we’ve tailored the benefits you receive with our PDC to fit your budget, your schedule, and your dreams…

Choose your PDC experience:

1. Basic PDC – $1799 What's Included?

Basic, we say, but even this level fleshes out the standard PDC curriculum with our international training, engineering know-how, and business experience! Designed for the beginning permaculturist on a budget, this package includes:

    • 72 hours of in-class instruction

    • Online introductory course – a new feature this year, our video intro course ensures students hit the ground running and have more in-class time to learn and apply more advanced design concepts
    • A copy of Bill Mollison’s Designer Manual $100+ value)

    • All standard course materials:

      • Student Note Package

      • Digital Resource Library

    • Unlimited Access to the Private Online Student Forum – a wealth of crowd-sourced info-sharing, increases student collaboration and success

    • Instant gift upon registration – Rob’s popular presentation “Your How-To Manual For Passive Solar Greenhouses” audio and pdf resources – will be emailed directly to you!

Save $236! Alone, these items would add up to $2,035 – but we knocked the price down, for a 15% savings!

A PDC for beginners – this is my level!


2. Premium PDC Package – $2,299 What's Included?

Verge’s Growing Good Business Series – Part 1: Success from Verge Permaculture on Vimeo.

If you’re planning to round out your permaculture certificate with a solid grounding in sustainable technologies, this is the tier for you! Designed to give you the tools and techniques you need to integrate – and implement – sustainable technologies in your design projects, this package provides you with all of the Basic PDC features plus some of Verge’s exclusive in-depth e-courses and e-books:

    • Passive Solar Greenhouses: A DIY Design Guide E-Course (watch online)  & E-Book (download)

    • How We Turned Our Home into an Eco-Haven – and How You Can Too! 1 hour-long video presentation by Rob Avis (watch online)
    • Joel Salatin You Can Farm – 3 Day Course DVDs, audio CDs & study guide ($800 value) – based on our popular online course but with even more features!

    • (Newly added) Verge’s Growing Good Business Series – we interviewed successful permaculture business owners for advice on launching a permaculture career. Get the full-length footage of our 9 best interviews to guide you in launching your career! See the sample video above for a peek at what to expect. 
    • Urban Farm Bike Trailer Plans

Save $750! Our combined price for all these resources would be $3,004 – so with the Premium Package, you save 20%!

*We are currently in the process of recording/packaging these products; they will be available in late Spring.

All this, plus extra courses and how-to guides?


3. Premium PDC Plus Professional Development – $3,999 What's Included?

If you’re seriously looking toward establishing a permaculture business, this package is the single best investment you can make to ensure your success.

Designed to give you the mentoring and continuing education you need to incorporate regenerative business principles in a successful start-up, this level provides you with all of the Basic and Premium features, plus one-on-one training specifically focused on building your career and keeping your knowledge fresh and up-to-date. Due to the amount of personal attention in this option, spots are limited to 5 students per course:

  • Six hours of individual coaching time – phone or in-person ($900 value)
  • Weekend Practicum with Rob & Michelle in Invermere ($1,200 value)

more infoSpend a weekend in the gorgeous resort town of Invermere, British Columbia (September 12 -14th, 2014) and learn the hands-on details of permaculture design and implementation for a real, world-class client. Work alongside Rob, the lead designer/consultant for the renowned Groundswell Network’s Community Garden and Greenhouse – as he dives into Phase II of this leading-edge facility that includes an 8000 sq. ft. passive solar greenhouse, integrated outdoor garden with a food forest, swales, a hoop-house, a community gathering space, and much more… This is an extension of our exclusive practicum program, offered only to students of the professional development option. Lodging not included. Read about Verge’s past work with Groundswell in the blog The 8,000 Square Foot Garden.

  • Unlimited Refresher Course (come back any time to retake the PDC) – priceless!

Save $2,600! If you bought each individually, everything offered here would cost you $6,599 – but with the Premium Plus package, you save 35%!

I can make a consultant’s income and make a difference?


Compare Price Options

We’ve summarized the benefits and value of each PDC package below for a quick comparison: Show price comparisons

Included: Basic Premium Prof Dev
72 hours of in-class instruction x x x
Online introductory course x x x
Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual x x x
Student Note Package x x x
Digital Resource Library x x x
Access to Student Forum x x x
“Solar Greenhouses” audio and PDF resources x x x
Urban Farm Bike Trailer Plans   x x
Solar Greenhouse E-Course & E-Book*   x x

Salatin Course DVDs, CDs & study guide*

  x x
Six hours of individual coaching     x
Weekend Practicum in Invermere, BC     x
Unlimited Refresher Course     x
Total Value $2035 $3004 $6599
Tuition $1799 $2299 $3999
Tuition with 20% off Promo** $1439 $1839 $3199
Promo Savings $360 $460 $800

* These items will be delivered to students in late Spring

Additional Payment Details

Click on the drop-down headings below for more information. We highly recommend reading this section before registering!

How to Register for the Course

How to Register for the Course

Step 1: Click on the Register button at the top of this course page. If you don’t already have one, you will be asked to create a user account – follow the prompts.

Step 2: Choose your PDC level – Basic, Premium or Premium Plus Professional Development

Step 3: Review your registration details and click the “Confirm Registration” button.

Step 4: Choose a payment method. You can pay online with a credit card, or choose “other payment options” and follow the instructions provided. **Please be aware: a spot will not be reserved for you until we receive your full payment.

Step 5:

a) If you pay online via credit card, your registration will be complete and a spot will be reserved for you in the course.

b) If you have chosen another payment option, payment is due immediately. Your spot will not be reserved until payment is received. Be sure to download and save your invoice.

We will send you confirmation of registration as soon as we receive either your full payment.

Payment Methods

Payment Methods

You can pay using the following methods.

1) Credit card online: (Visa, Mastercard or American Express). To do so, click the register button at the top of this course page and follow the prompts.

2) Cheque sent by mail: Cheque should be made out to Verge Permaculture and sent to 227 Fonda Way SE Calgary, AB T2A 4Z7. You can also drop off the check – we have a secure mailbox. If you send the cheque by mail, please call or email so we know to expect it. Contact us at 403-770-9789 or

3) Email money transfer: If you use internet banking you should be able to send us an email money transfer. You will need to supply your bank with our email address (use and choose a security question. Next, call us (403-770-9789) and leave us the security question answer – for security reasons please do not email the answer. For Q&A regarding sending an email money transfer, click here.

4) Credit card by phone: We can accept your credit card payment over the phone (Visa, Mastercard, or American Express.) Please call 403-770-9789 during office hours, Tuesday – Friday, 10 am – 5 pm MT to speak with one of our office staff.

If it doesn’t make a difference to you – we’d much rather receive a cheque , cash or email money transfer. Small businesses pay huge fees to banks and credit card companies to process credit card transactions.. and VISA increased fees by 30% in 2013. Yikes.

Email Money Transfer Instructions

Email Money Transfer Instructions

To send an email money transfer you need access to online banking through a participating financial institution (BMO, CIBC, RBC, Scotia Bank, or TD Canada Trust, among others).

Step by Step Instructions:

1. Login to your online banking.

2. Locate Interac Email Money Transfer, usually found in the Transfer/Payments menu.

3. Fill in the Interac Email Money Transfer information as follows:

  1. Recipients email address: .
  2. Payment Amount: the total amount of your invoice.
  3. Security Question: Please choose a security question.
  4. Security Answer: Please choose a security answer.
  5. Message: Include your name, the course name and if different, the name of the course registrant.

4. Next, call us (1-403-770-9789) and leave the answer to the security question. For security reasons, please do not email the answer.

Cancellation Policy

Cancellation Policy

Please review our cancellation policy before registering, outlined below:

General Cancellation Policy

We reserve the right to cancel a program at any time due to low enrolment or adverse circumstances. Should we cancel, everyone who’s registered will receive a full refund.

If you need to cancel your personal registration for any reason:

  • If you notify us 14 days in advance: we will refund your course fee but will deduct an administrative fee of 10%.
  • If you notify us less than 14 days in advance: we cannot provide a refund, but will allow you to send someone in your place OR apply the full amount (minus the 10% administration fee) as credit towards another course. *Note: only courses that are open for registration at the time of cancellation are eligible for this credit transfer.
  • This policy does not apply to the promotional pricing, see below.

Promotional Pricing

  • Promotional pricing is non-refundable. We cannot provide a refund for any PDC purchased using the discount code, but will allow you to send someone in your place.
  • If you have purchased your course during the promotional pricing period but did not use the discount, the General Cancellation Policy still applies.


Rob Avis, Lead Instructor

Former petroleum engineer turned permaculture pioneer Rob Avis has a message for career-changing professionals who are looking to help the planet: It’s not only possible, it’s profitable. And he’s backing up his message with a permaculture design certification program that gives its graduates the tools to start successful businesses now.

After pursuing international training and certifications in renewable energy and regenerative design, Rob and his wife and business partner Michelle transformed Rob’s part-time consultancy to Verge Permaculture, now a globally-recognized design, consulting, and education center. Since then, they’ve helped more than 1000 students and a growing number of clients to establish local energy and food security, and build resilient communities and local economies, while healing the land.

In keeping with Verge’s mission to grow the permaculture groundswell, Rob is a popular and in-demand public speaker for community events, non-profit groups and businesses. He has been invited to guest lecture at the University of Calgary, taught workshops in partnership with the non-profit Green Calgary, and now teaches the full permaculture design certificate with courses planned across Western Canada.

Grads Say:

“Rob and Michelle Avis lead an inspired, organized and informed two week adventure into a refreshingly positive view of sustainability. Rob shines as an instructor, delivering easily understood and detailed explanations of permaculture design principles and its practical tools. We left with an excellent understanding of subjects and ideas that were new to us. This course is a must for everyone interested in living in harmony with the earth.”

- Valerie Andrews, Caterer & Peter Piasecki, Electronics Engineer, Calgary


Rob has earned testimonials from permaculture’s bestselling author Toby Hemenway, leading designer/trainer Geoff Lawton and “beyond-organic farming” superstar Joel Salatin among others. He is now leading the next wave of permaculture education, teaching aspiring eco-entrepreneurs how to build successful regenerative businesses.

When Rob isn’t teaching, consulting, or testing out new techniques, he spends his free time with his children, Rowan and Naomi (ages 3 and 1), playing guitar and meditating.

Grads Say:

“The ideas of permaculture are important because it brings a feedback loop back into our daily living. Rob and Michelle not only do an amazing job of presenting and applying information but also bring people together and create community.

I would highly recommend this course to others. When we all start making small adjustments to the way we live, we will create a big change.”

- Jessica Kavanaugh, Calgary, AB

Ted Bahr, Site Visit Coordinator

Ted Bahr is a certified permaculture designer and founder of PrairieSage Permaculture. He is an avid naturalist, health “foodie” and author of the blog “Re-generation”. Specializing in workshops and landscape design in and around Calgary, he is also the creator of the annual Calgary Permaculture Tour.

Ted can be reached You can also follow him on Twitter at @TRobertBahr

Ever Wondered, “What Can I Do With a Permaculture Certificate?” Meet Our Grads and Get Inspired By Their Career (and Life) Changing Stories!

Verge’s Grad Interview Series: The Trailer


The Grad Video series tells the stories of 10 graduates from our PDC course, documenting what they’ve done with the knowledge, skills and inspiration they acquired from the course. Two film makers set out to find these graduates and catch them in action, capturing their successes, struggles, and transformations as they embark on new endeavours – starting gardens, homesteads, community projects, businesses, building sustainable homes and structures, hosting conferences and much more. This is the trailer for a ten-part series.

We hope that watching these videos inspires you as much as we were inspired by creating them; so kick back, press play, and enjoy watching positive, practical change in action!

You can watch all 10 videos here!


Friday, September 26th to Monday, September 29th (4 days)

Friday, October 17th to Monday, October 20th (4 days)

Friday, November 7th to Monday, November 10th (4 days)

Note that the Verge PDC course begins with six online video sessions that you can view and review at your leisure. You’ll have access to this introductory course starting in mid August.

Daily Schedule

The course will run from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm each day, with a short break in the morning and afternoon, as well as 1 hour break for lunch. Students must arrange for their own meals. (There are a variety of food options available on campus and within walking distance.)


The PDCs will be held on the SAIT campus at Heritage Hall (1301 – 16 Avenue NW, Calgary, AB).

View Google Map here

View SAIT Campus Map here

SAIT is conveniently located directly on the LRT line and major bus routes, and only 5 minutes from the vibrant and trendy neighbourhood of Kensington and downtown Calgary.

The beautifully restored facilities are equipped with the latest technology to facilitate the learning experience, and there is ample parking and a number of food vendors available on campus, making it the perfect setting for focused but fun weekends!

One day of the course will be spent visiting other locations for the more hands-on activities such as making compost, building swales and learning about rain water harvesting. Directions and addresses to other sites will be provided in class and car pooling arranged, closer to the date of travel.


Reasonably priced, short-term accommodation is available on campus in the SAIT Residence building. Visit for more info, or to request a reservation.

SAIT is 2 LRT stops, or a 5 minute drive from Motel Village, which includes a Hampton Inn & Suites, Comfort Inn, and EconoLodge, among others. The University of Calgary’s Hotel Alma is another option, also affordable and easily accessible by LRT.

For students coming in from out-of-town who wish to billet or couch surf, we’d be happy to connect you with the awesome permaculture community in Calgary. Please check back with us in April.

Here are some quick answers for our most frequently asked questions to point you in the right direction. Please review our course page in detail, or contact us, if you have additional questions.

Q: Is there a pre-requisite? Answer

A: No. All you need is the ability and desire to learn in a fast-paced classroom environment.

Q: How do I register? Answer

A: Simply click the pink register button in the top right corner (whether you’re planning to pay online or not). Follow the prompts from there.

Q: How do I pay? Answer

A: You can pay online with your credit card, or select another payment option (cash, cheque, email money transfer or credit card over the phone). Your spot is not saved in the course until full payment is received. See Additional Payment Details in the Tuition tab of this page for more information.

Q: What’s your cancellation policy? Answer

A: You can view our cancellation policy here.

Q: Once I’ve registered, can I switch my registration into a different Verge PDC? Answer

A: We do allow changes to registration, however, due to the volume of requests we receive and the administrative time required, registration changes are subject to a 10% administrative fee. See our cancellation policy for more details.

Q: What are the price options? Answer

A: When you register for a PDC, you can choose from one of three packages: Basic, Premium or Premium Plus Professional Development. Regardless of the package, everyone is registered for the same PDC class, but with the Premium and Professional Development options, you get added benefits to help launch your personal permaculture projects or career. The prices and what’s included can be found under the Tuition tab of this page.

Q: Is this course eligible for tax credit? Do you issue tax receipts? Answer

This course does meet the requirements of “specified educational program” and course registrants are therefore eligible for Registered Education Savings Plan Education Assistance Payments as defined by the Canada Revenue Agency Bulletin RC 4902.

We are not, however, considered a designated educational institution (i.e. university or college) that qualifies for the purposes of the education tax credit claimed on the tax return. There are several reasons for this, including that we do not have our own physical space where we teach courses. Therefore, our course cannot be claimed under tuition fees, and we cannot issue T2202A slips.

If you are working in a small business and would like to write off the course because it relates to your business, then yes, you may use our proof of enrolment when filing your taxes. Please contact us for more details. We are happy to issue students a receipt or proof of enrolment for the above purposes.

Q: Do you offer scholarships? Answer

Our scholarships are limited to one per course and are subject to an application process. You can download the scholarship application form here.

Q: Will I still receive my certificate if I have to miss a class? Answer

A student may miss up to, but no more than 2 full days of the PDC course, and still receive their course certificate. Students in the Premium Plus Professional Development package may attend later PDC classes to make up for additional missed time.

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