Frequently Asked Questions


Do you have specific questions about our Permaculture Design Course?


Do you have specific questions about our Building Your Permaculture Property book and courses?


Curious about our greenhouse courses and related products & services? Or perhaps you want to know more about rainwater harvesting?


Wondering if our Academy might help you practice permaculture at the next level?


Are you looking for consultation on acreage design, pre-property-purchase consult, coaching services, or guest teaching / speaking?


Are you a registered student with questions such as login, cancellation policy, switching courses, missing classes, etc?


For all questions related to our awesome Contour Map Generator.


For all other questions….

Find answers to your question quickly by using the categories below

What is your speaking background and experience?

In less than 10 years, Rob Avis left Calgary’s oil fields and retooled his engineering career to help clients and students design integrated systems for shelter, energy, water, waste and food, all while supporting local economy and regenerating the land.  He’s now leading the next wave of permaculture education, teaching businesses, innovators and professionals how to combine technology with earth science and eco-entrepreneurism.

His past speaking engagements include:

  • Airdrie Horticultural Society
  • Calgary Horticultural Society
  • Calgary Economic Development
  • Nanton Horticultural Society
  • Pathways 2 Sustainability Conference 2011
  • Green Calgary
  • Permaculture Research Institute Saskatchewan
  • Saint Mary’s University College
  • Riverside Community Group
  • University of Calgary Ecological Design Department
  • ReThink Red Deer
  • Craik EcoSolar Fair
  • City of Calgary
  • Urban Systems
  • Mount Royal University “Under Western Skies” Conference
  • Master Gardener Program, Calgary Zoo
  • Organic Connections Conference, Regina
  • Groundswell Network Society, Invermere
  • Permaculture Voices Conference, San Diego, 2014
  • Global Earth Summit, 2014
  • AMEC E&I
  • and more…


How Do I Send An Email Money Transfer?

We can accept Email Money Transfers from Canadian Bank accounts.

*Please note that registrations paid by EMT are processed manually. Because we are not in the office everyday, be prepared to wait 24 hours during weekdays before your registration is approved. If you are registering with short notice before an event, we recommend that you pay online using a credit card.

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. Message: Include your name, the course name and if different, the name of the course registrant.

No password is required for your EMT.

If you need more detailed instructions for completing an email money transfer, go to

As a PDC Student, where do I find my online materials and extra digital resources, as applicable?

This six minute video provides a comprehensive overview of how to access your Student Dashboard and associated course materials:

The Student Dashboard

Once you are logged into the site, the WELCOME STUDENT! menu item will appear. Hover over the WELCOME STUDENT!  menu item and navigate to the STUDENT DASHBOARD (or simply visit the url:

From there, scroll down and select the tab called ONLINE COURSES & MATERIAL to view any online courses or online material associated with in-person courses, as applicable.

If you are a Permaculture Design Student, and you are looking for course slides, courses resources and other features, head to the item called EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR PDC (START HERE).

Hit the expand arrow and you’ll see the item PDC- COURSE RESOURCES & FEATURES ACCESS.  Click there.

Now you’ll see the a table outlining all the features and resources included in each of our Foundational and Premium packages.  Links and/or instructions for delivery are included for every item.

For instance, the access link for the Digital Resource Library, which includes a digital copy of the slides, handouts and 30+ additional resources, is shown below:

What consulting services do you offer?

We offer farm design, acreage design, micro and broad acre water-harvesting, shelterbelt/agroforestry system design, pre-purchase property assessments, and green infrastructure design. For more information, see our Consulting Page.

What is your cancellation policy?

Updated: January 2023

Verge Permaculture Academy

When you enroll for an annual or a 6 month subscription, if within 10 days of your enrollment you are not convinced that the program is a fit for you, we’ll provide a full refund.

Monthly subscriptions are not refundable.

All academy memberships are subscriptions (annual, bi-annual, or monthly) and will renew automatically. To cancel your subscription, simply contact us.

All content made available to you within the Academy as part of your subscription, including access to live event recordings, is accessible to you only while your subscription is active and in good standing.

PDC, Masterclass, and any Live Course Cancellation

For courses paid up-front in full:

If you need to cancel your PDC, Masterclass, or other Live course registration for any reason:

  1. Up to 10 days following the 1st class: we will refund your course fee but will deduct an administrative fee of $150 (plus applicable taxes), however, you will lose access to all course materials and recordings. Tuition for the PDC On-demand course is not refundable.
  2. More than 10 days following the 1st class: We cannot provide a refund.

For payment plans:

You can cancel your payment plan anytime (but you will lose access to all course materials and recordings). Payments made towards plans are not refundable.

On-Demand Course Cancellation

All on-demand courses are non-refundable, but you retain lifetime access through your account on the Portal. Login HERE to access your course today.

Is this course third party accredited or certified?

Rob Avis is a Diplomate in Education from the Permaculture Institute of North America (PINA) and PINA recognizes and endorses Verge Permaculture’s courses and curriculum.

How do I hire you for consulting?

Our consulting firm is Adaptive Habitat. Our website summarizes the types of consulting services we provide.

Complimentary Client Intake Meeting

For project-driven consulting, we have found that the very best way to quickly & effectively assess your project and our ability to help is to connect for 20 – 30 minutes over the phone. We call this a client intake meeting.

During this no-fee and no-obligation meeting Rob will discuss your project with you, determine fit, and then recommend options for proceeding as well as provide a high-level idea of what it might cost and what value we can provide should we get involved. You can schedule your complimentary client intake meeting here.

Note also that if you only have a few quick questions, Rob can usually answer them during these initial consultancy calls.

Hourly Consulting

Rob is also available for virtual consultancy on an hour by hour basis. If your project is small and/or you are looking for high-level technical advice, you can book a one hour virtual consultancy here.

View the booking page for his up-to-date hourly consulting fee. Payment is due upon booking. If you are unsure about our hourly consulting and want to first discuss whether we can help, you are welcome to start with a Complimentary Client Intake Meeting.

What payment methods do you accept?

You can pay online with your credit card.

If you’d prefer to pay using another method select that option during checkout and you’ll receive instructions on how to do so. Note that we can accept cash, bank-certified cheques, email money transfer (Canadians only) or credit card over the phone.

Your spot is not saved in the course until payment is received.

We can also accept payment plans for some of our courses. The payment plan option will be displayed at checkout if that is the case.

*Please note that registrations paid by email money transfer are processed manually. Because we are not in the office everyday, be prepared to wait 24 hours during weekdays before your registration is approved. If you are registering with short notice before an event, we recommend that you pay online using a credit card so that your registration is processed and approved automatically by our system.

I love your program and your open-source tools. How can I support this initiative?

We’ve invested a substantial amount of dollars and hours into the development of the Contour Map Generator and the Adaptive Habitat Self-Study Program and other associated tools.

Help us to continue to support this free program and free tools by making a donation:

Alternatively, give us a 5-star review on either of these platforms:

Do you offer children’s programming? Any suggestions for integrating permaculture in schools?

Several of our alumni are geared up specially to work with children and/or schools. Grounds for Change, Regenerate Design, Plein Air Arts, and Puzzle Permaculture are just a few. We also recommend that you scroll through our Alumni Profiles to find more!

Is the PDC course eligible for tax credit? Do you issue tax receipts?

We are not 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. Therefore, our course cannot be claimed under tuition fees on your tax return 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 / course receipt when filing your taxes.

Contour Map Accuracy and Data Sources

Most people who have used the contour map generator found it an amazing tool and it has saved many of them thousands of dollars that they might have spent on a traditional survey. However, the tool uses open source data so accuracy cannot be guaranteed.

The elevation data is provided by Mapzen. The underlying data sources are a mix of open source data from around the world, as such, quality and accuracy varies from place to place. You can see the approximated resolution for your location in the map. View an accuracy map at this page for more detailed information.

Data provided by is purely informational.

This tool is based on and works thanks to products/services of the following projects, companies or people: Leaflet, D3.js, Axis Maps, Mapbox, Mapzen, OpenStreetMap, Google Maps, Danilo da Rosa and Magick Media.

Can you recommend a permaculture designer for my project?

Many of our alumni are offering professional permaculture design services (and other related-services), and many of them have been profiled in our Alumni series, which you can find here.

We also suggest that you crowd-source a recommendation on the Verge Permaculture & Friends Facebook Page.

Once I’ve registered, can I switch my registration into a different Verge course?

See our cancellation policy for more details.


What is the cost to build the greenhouse?
The cost to build a passive solar greenhouse ranges from $40- $100/sqft depending on features and finishes.
Do you do urban landscape consulting, design and/or installation?

We don’t do a lot of urban landscape consulting, unless you are looking at full site planning and associated infrastructure, such as including the design of house and/or greenhouse and looking to include elements such as power generation, water systems and food systems. To learn more, and/or discuss your project you can book a Good Fit conversation with us here.

Not also that many of our alumni are offering professional permaculture design services (and other related-services), and many of them have been profiled in our Alumni series, which you can find here. You can filter the profiles by the “Consulting” or the “Design & Installation” tags.

We also suggest that you crowd-source a recommendation on the Verge Permaculture & Friends Facebook Page.

Does the PDC course qualify for Educational Assistance Payments (i.e RESP withdrawl)?

A registered education savings plan (RESP) is a contract between an individual (the subscriber) and a person or organization (the promoter). Under the contract, the subscriber names one or more beneficiaries (the future student(s)) and agrees to make contributions for them, and the promoter agrees to pay educational assistance payments (EAPs) to the beneficiaries. For more information about RESPs visit the CRA website.

Our Permaculture Design Course can meet the requirements of “specified educational program” for the purpose of Educational Assistance Payments, as described on the CRA website. Note that a specified educational program is a program at post-secondary school level that lasts at least three consecutive weeks, and that requires a student to spend no less than 12 hours per-month on courses in the program.

However, before assuming that your promoter will provide Educational Assistance Payments we highly recommend that you contact them to find out if they have any additional requirements above those stated on the CRA website. The reason for this is that although we have had numerous students successful in requesting EAPs from the holder of their plan (i.e. the promoter), there have also been some students told by their promoter that we do not qualify.

Do you offer consulting for greenhouse design?
We offer phone consulting around the world. If you have taken the course we offered a reduced rate of $100/hr to our past students.
I am not receiving your emails, or, they are arriving in my spam. How do I change that?

First, make sure you “whitelist” emails from

Please take less than 2 minutes to follow the steps below to make sure you receive our emails:

1. Please “whitelist” this address and any other email addresses that end in To find out how to whitelist an email address, just Google “how to whitelist” and your email provider (gmail, hotmail, yahoo, etc.).

2. In addition, you might choose to prioritize emails you receive from so that they get directly to your primary inbox. You can do this by either “starring” or “marking as important” the first few emails you receive from us.

3. If you have Gmail or any other email provider that filters emails into inbox, promotions, social, etc., be sure to “drag” any of our emails to your primary inbox. See detailed instructions for doing this below!

Gmail Tabs – How To Deliver In The Primary Inbox

If you’re using Gmail Tabs in your inbox, nearly all Verge Permaculture emails will typically arrive in the Promotions tab by default.

You can adjust Gmail Tabs settings to deliver an email to the primary tab in 2 easy steps.

Two Steps to Deliver in Gmail’s Primary Tab:


Click on our email > drag and drop the email to the Primary Tab:


Click Yes when offered the option to “always deliver” to Primary.

Do you offer Scholarships for your PDCs?


For more information about the Verge Permaculture Scholarship Fund, and how to apply, click here.

Would you like to make a donation to our scholarship fund? 100% of donated amounts are directly handed out in the form of tuition reduction to deserving students. Learn more at the link above.

Are you available for a site check for my greenhouse?
At the moment we do not offer site visit to anyone outside of Calgary, Edmonton and Central Alberta.
What do I need (i.e. the technical requirements) in order access / view / stream the E-Course or webinar?

Accessing our E-courses and associated online material is easy. If you’ve played a video on your computer from Youtube or Vimeo before, then you’ve got all you need participate!


  • A desktop or laptop computer
  • An up-to-date internet browser (Internet Explorer 8.0 or above, Firefox 2.0 or above, or Safari 3.0, or Chrome 4.0 or above)
  • Speakers/headphones
  • A broadband internet connection (for a reliable viewing experience at medium quality we recommend a downstream connection speed of at least 400-700 Kbps. You can test your connection speed here)


We use an online platform called Zoom for our live webinars. It is similar to Skype, but simpler. All you need to join (from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android) is to click on a url that we will provide to you on the Student Dashboard.

The full system requirements for the webinars, including operating system requirements, supported tablet /mobile devices, supported browsers, and bandwidth requirements can be found here. (Note that you only need to meet the requirements for “Webinar Attendees” – no camera is required).

Don’t have high speed internet? You can also call in via phone, but note that toll rates may apply.

What is the Permaculture Design Certificate (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 have temporary online access to during class as a part of your course package.

Offered in a 12 week online format, our Permaculture Design Certificate, or PDC, is a course for people who want to make permaculture a way of life or create a livelihood doing earth repair. We’ve gone above and beyond the requirements of the standard 72 hour curriculum by incorporating our own expertise from sustainable design projects around the world, additional products and resources, and teaching our own special step-by-step design process.

Is the Comprehensive Passive Solar Greenhouse course suitable for Cold/Hot/Dessert climates?
It is possible to design a greenhouse for high altitude deserts where night time temperatures would get very cold. Hot deserts need shade structures more than greenhouse structures.
I want to receive (more/less) emails from you. How do I update my email preferences?

At the bottom of every email we send you, there is an option to update your email preferences OR to completely unsubscribe from receiving our emails.

Please note that if you opt to completely unsubscribe you will also not receive any emails about the products, programs or courses you may have purchased or be enrolled in.

Is there a pre-requisite for the PDC?

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

Can I run the Passive Solar Greenhouse excel tool on Mac/PC?
At this point the sheet works best on PC, however it runs great in Office 365 online. Past students that have this issue have purchased a one month subscription to Office 365 to complete the course.
I Didn’t Get an Email from You. Help!

If you are anxiously awaiting a webinar confirmation, product receipt, welcome email, or any other email from us but nothing seems to be showing up in your inbox, junk mail, or other email folders, it is likely that at some point you completely opted out of all email communication from Verge, and therefore we can’t send you anything, even if you want us to.

To change this, please fill out the form below:

Will I still receive my PDC certificate if I have to miss a class?

A student may miss up to, but no more than 2 full days of the in-person PDC course, and still receive their course certificate. Students in the Premium package are eligible for unlimited refresher courses, and may attend later PDC classes to make up for missed time. Students in the online PDC will have access to all lectures and can watch at a different time. We recommend you watch the class you missed before the next class begins.

What’s the difference between the PSGH Case studies, The Comprehensive course and The Intro course?
The Case studies will inspire your imagination and show you what’s possible along with an overview of what worked well and what didn’t work so well. This will inform your final design.
The Introductory Course gives you all the essentials you need to get started on your own passive solar greenhouse.
The comprehensive course is a 10-module course, where Rob will walk you through each step of the process he uses to design world-class passive solar greenhouses for his clients. You will walk away from this course with completed plans for your greenhouse.
How do I login in to your website and/or re-set my password?

To Login Or Create An Account

To login, click on the Portal menu item and select LOGIN if you already have an account, or CREATE AN ACCOUNT if you need to create one:


Lost your password?

If you’ve lost your password, visit the password reset page.


What time committment should a PDC student be ready to commit?

Our Permaculture Design Certificate includes a 5-hour Introduction to Permaculture video course (The Permaculture Primer) that all students are expected to watch prior to the first class. It is accessible to students the moment they register.

Time commitments vary depending on which PDC format you’re registering for. Our Spring PDC is stretched over 7 months where online classes happen only 1 long weekend per month. During that long weekend, class time commitment is around 15 hours (5 classes of 3 hours each). During the rest of the month you are able to complete optional assignments and review any content at your leisure – 4 hours throughout the rest of the month should be more than enough to complete assignments.

During our Fall PDC format there are 3, three-hour online class sessions per week. Including optional weekly assignments, dedicating 10 hours a week to the PDC in this format will ensure success, but even dedicating 6 hours a week will keep you up to speed throughout the 11-12 weeks of the course.

In each one of our PDC classes in both Spring and Fall formats, 2 hours are dedicated to lectures from the instructors and 1 hour is dedicated to Q&A from students. We recommend that you attend live (see the course schedule for dates and times), but you can also watch the recordings if you happen to miss a session (see the FAQ about catching up on missed sessions here). The Q&A portion of each session is optional.

Both the spring and fall courses finish with 1 month of Office Hours and final project work. During this time, there are no lectures but students have access to their Design Mentor for support with their final design project. Students must complete and submit a Final Design Project before the final due date in order to be awarded a certificate in Permaculture Design. For more questions about the Final Design Project go here.

I need help…what are my options?

Having troubles with your map? Need a hand? No worries, book a time slot below to have Mitch, the man behind the CMG course, guide you through whatever issues you may be having. Consults are online and 1-hour in length via Zoom.

How Do I Find The Portal and My Online Materials?

When you register for a course or webinar, you will be prompted to create a login account on our site and will receive an email confirmation with a direct link to our Portal page.

Alternatively, simply visit the url:

Note that you will be prompted to Login to the website in order to view any material you have access to.

When is your next PDC offered?

All current PDCs open for registration can be found on the PDC Listing Page. The best way to find out about new PDC announcements is by signing up for our mailing list.

How do I search your blog?

You can enter keywords in the Search field at the top of our site, or search our Blog using the categories and tags in the right sidebar. If you find a page or blog entry on your topic of interest, post a comment or question in the Comments field at the bottom. We’re pretty good at responding there, and your question will help others!

Can I upgrade at a later time? When is the last date I can upgrade my package?

If you are registered for the Permaculture Design Course you can upgrade until the last day of classes – please check the course dashboard for exact dates.

Who have you taught for in the past?

Our past guest teaching engagements include:

  • Olds College, Olds, AB
  • Medicine Hat College, Medicine Hat, AB
  • Southern Alberta Permaculture, Lethbridge, AB
  • ESAGE (Edmontonians Supporting a Green Economy), Edmonton, AB
  • Riverdale Community Group, Edmonton, AB
  • Permaculture Research Institute Saskachewan, Saskatoon, SK
  • Green Calgary, Calgary, AB
  • Nanton Horticultural Society, Nanton, AB
  • Mountain Waters Retreat Centre, Nelson BC
  • Okanagan Centre for the Environment, Penticton BC
  • Element Eco Design, Vernon BC
  • Grand Prairie Regional College, Grand Prairie, AB
Please update my email address or other profile information.

If you are looking to update the information that we have on file for you (including your email address) – input your current email below & we’ll send what we have & instructions on how to make any updates / changes!

Input your email & we'll send you the information we currently have on file.
You'll be able to review & update from there. 
What can I do with a PDC? How will this training help me?

Many of our students develop businesses or projects leveraging their permaculture training. We think the best way to get an idea of the wide range of possibilities is to peruse the 50+ alumni interviews, profiles and blogs, found here.

Can I hire you to teach a private course?
Maybe. We book up well in advance and we do a limited number of private courses – so make you sure you contact us early.
I didn’t receive my username and password. How can I login?

When you enrol in an online course or program on our website, we automatically create a user account for you on the website based on the email you provide upon enrolment.

If, for some reason, you do not receive the user account email that is generated by our system you can easily regenerate / resend the user account email by visiting the password reset page and inputting your email.


Can You Accept Payment Plans for Your Permaculture Design Courses?

Yes, we have payments plans for our Permaculture Design Courses.

The payment plans are set up as an automatic charge against your credit card (usually 3 – 6 equal payments) spread out over one month intervals. There is a non-refundable administrative surcharge of $100 for all payment plans.

During checkout, look for the following in order to enable a payment plan option:

How can I hire you to speak at my event?

Send an email directly to us ( with “INVITATION TO SPEAK” in the subject, and include answers to as many of the following questions as possible:

  • What’s your name and what organization are you representing?
  • Is there a title or website for your event?
  • When and where is the event taking place (date, city, and nearest airport)?
  • What would you like Rob to speak about?
  • How long is the time slot that you have in mind?
  • What is the expected attendance and seating capacity of the room?
Do you take volunteers on your farm? Can you recommend somewhere to volunteer?

We take Willing Workers on Organic Farms (i.e. wwoofers) on our farm in Central Alberta!

For more information, see the page here.

We have several other recommendations for finding volunteer opportunities:

Do you have an Online PDC?

In April 2020 we will launch our first online PDC. After the live program has ended you can purchase the recorded version. Get more info…


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