We invite the participants in the Permaculture Design Certification, which includes several SEMIS members,  to start a discussion about how permaculture has opened up new insights into creative design with nature, and empowered them to take action in their communities!  The unique focus of this group is teaching permaculture in educational settings, both formal and informal.

The Permaculture Design Certification for educators, parents and community organizers is now meeting the second Saturday of the month at various locations throughout Washtenaw County to explore permaculture concepts in action.  The purpose of the group is to teach the foundations of permaculture design, from agriculture and gardening, the most well known, to aspects of appropriate technologies, city planning, biomimicry and green building.  Using the Earth Users Guide to Permaculture by Rosemarry Morrow  as the core textbook, the teaching team of Jesse Tack and C. Milton Dixon will lead the course from January 2015 to October 2016.  All 35 slots are filled for this course, there are similar distance learning courses through Cornell University Extension:  http://hort.cals.cornell.edu/extension-outreach/distance-learning.

There is so much valuable information in permaculture that can extend to many areas of place based education. Here are the 12 design principles that are explored in permaculture with examples:


  1. Observe and interact – like soil and water monitoring, and adjusting conditions to support healthy ecosystems
  2. Catch and store energy – examples include solar power, berms and water retention systems
  3. Obtain a yield – like an edible forest garden that provides sustenance for both current and future use
  4. Apply self regulation and accept feedback – monitor progress, both positive and negative, and incorporate feedback loops into the design of a system
  5. Use and value renewable resources and services – such as valuing trees for shade, water retention and fruit
  6. Produce no waste – incorporating recycling, composting, and sustainable fuel sources into waste systems
  7. Design from patterns to details – such as using the forest system as a pattern for sustainable agriculture
  8. Integrate rather than segregate – each ecosystem element supports multiple functions and and is supported by many elements
  9. Use small and slow solutions – local, small agriculture systems over industrial agriculture systems; composting verses fertilizer
  10. Use and value diversity – diversity of form and function, like companion planting, to support  healthy ecosystems
  11. Creatively use and respond to change – adopting successful innovations in communities, similar to pioneer species that start a path to mature ecosystems in natural succession

If you want to delve deeper, check out The Essence of Permaculture, by David Holmgren, one of the founders of the Permaculture certification curriculum.   We look forward to a great discussion about the value of this perspective to students throughout the network!


Below is one funding resource through partner Plant Wise that can help you fund your gardening projects! 2015 PlantWise Grant Application