“This course is a life-changing mind-altering journey that is more than swales and compost, it's community organization and redesigning the way we look at creating solutions for society.”
— Andrea Schrier, Online PDC participant

Online Permaculture
Design Course

Earth Care. People Care. Fair Share.
Currently in session

What is this course?

This 24-week course offers you the tools to create meaningful change in yourself and your communities through permaculture: a system of sustainable design, based on observation of the natural world and land-based ways of learning.

Why learn with Quail Springs?

You will benefit from Quail Springs’ two decades of experience developing a sustainable off-grid human settlement and regenerating an ecosystem in the high desert.

Gain insight into our lived example of low-cost, community-based and small-scale solutions.

This course is a 72-hour curriculum that culminates in a Permaculture Design Certification upon completion of the course and design project.

Your participation directly supports our changemaking work in research, advocacy, and grassroots community outreach work in the underserved Cuyama Valley.

More than 1,000 students have gained their Permaculture Design Certification with us and have gone on to do change-making work in their communities and in their own lives.

“The Online PDC lit a fire in me. It showed me that I can be an element of good and cultivate life.”
Laura Bean
Online PDC participant

Together, and Online.

Quail Springs is committed to community-building as a core value of this course, even when we are sharing space virtually. This learning package centers on connecting and uplifting the world's greatest resource: YOU.

You will have access to our online Slack platform to deeply connect with specific instructors and peers and follow up with questions that come up as you go through the curriculum. The live sessions will include group breakouts and time for questions and sharing.

“This was really the best course I have ever taken! The videos were perfect and really enjoyable to watch. I didn't want the course to end.”
Robert Redecker
Online PDC participant

Our instructors have combined decades of experience in working and practicing what they teach.

They transform conventional farms into regenerative ones

Implement integrated animal management systems

Teach and support regenerative land practices internationally

Lead bioregional water advocacy and educational efforts

Spearhead natural building and advocacy initiatives

Focus on cultivating community through social permaculture practices

and so much more!

Take action. Enact change.

Constant exposure to stories of environmental and social crises can leave us feeling immobilized and unsure of how we can effect positive change in our world. Many of us are left feeling as if our actions towards positive change aren’t enough under the weight of these ongoing crises. This course focuses on providing you with practical tools to take action and enact real change.

“This PDC was educational, moving and full of heart. It's changed the way I see and interact with the world and enlivened my creativity. I'm inspired to further my studies in the fields of Permaculture"

Online PDC participant

Drylands now cover over 40% of the earth’s surface and will only continue to expand.

This course emphasizes dryland practices and techniques, but is certainly applicable to all environments. You won’t find this emphasis in many other Permaculture Design Courses, yet we’ll all need to better comprehend dryland practices for our future.
"The course content and community that was created exceeded my expectations and I’m sad it’s come to an end, but I’m excited for what the future brings."
Online PDC participant
Online Permaculture Design Course being filmed


37 hours of potent video lessons
12 months access to all content

6 months of instructor support

12+ live Zoom sessions

Companion text to all video lessons

List of resources and books

Preview of the course curriculum

WEEKS 1 – 7

Permaculture Foundations

  • What is Permaculture?
  • Permaculture Ethics and Principles 
  • Why Permaculture
  • A Canopy View 
  • Patterns in Nature 
  • Pattern Application in Design
  • Permaculture Processes in Design 
  • Design Methods 
  • Design Case Studies
  • The Permaculture Design Process and Project
  • Permaculture & Science

Climate and Climate Characteristics

  • Introduction to Climate and Climate Characteristics


  • Water in the Landscape
  • Water Ethics
  • Rainwater Harvesting for Home and Growing Systems


  • Earthworks for Rainwater Harvesting and Resilience
  • Earthworks in the Field

WEEKS 8 – 15


  • Living Soils
  • Living Soils Slide Deck
  • Compost

Cultivated Ecologies

  • Gardening 101
  • In the Quail Springs Garden: How-To’s Bundle
  • Urban Agriculture
  • Energy Transactions of Trees & Forests
  • Food Forests
  • In the QS Food Forests
  • Pruning Trees
  • Rooftop Farming
  • Introduction to Broadscale Landscape Design
  • Agroforestry
  • Bonus: Seed Saving as Culture Keeping
  • Bonus: Introduction to Fungi for Food, Medicine, and Ecological Services


  • Integrated Animal Systems
  • Introduction to Quail Springs Animal Systems
  • Introduction to Beekeeping 

What About Waste?

  • Greywater Systems
  • What about Human Waste?
  • Waste & Bioremediation

WEEKS 16 – 24

The Built Environment 

  • Appropriate Technology at Quail Springs
  • The Built Environment
  • Passive Heating & Cooling Site Example
  • Natural Building Methods and Materials
  • Housing Advocacy and Building Code
  • Designing for Catastrophe: Fire Resilience in Our Built Environment
  • Building Adobes and Rocket Stove: Natural Building Practicum
  • Naturally Built Structures at Quail Springs

Conscious Social Design 

  • Introduction to Conscious Social Design
  • Elements of Community Design
  • Regenerative Economics
  • Permaculture Network & Projects to Watch

Final Live Sessions

Design Project Submission


It is part of our mission to actively dismantle the social and ecological imbalances forced upon communities of color and people with lesser means. Therefore we offer a sliding-scale pricing model to increase accessibility to those who need it, as well as providing the opportunity to ‘pay it forward’ to those who can afford to sponsor others in need.


In addition to the sliding-scale pricing model, we offer scholarships on a case-by-case basis. BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) and historically underrepresented students will be prioritized.


for those who can afford to pay the standard tuition cost.



for those who can afford to partially sponsor another person's tuition.


for those who can afford to fully sponsor another person's tuition.
reserved for participants with lower relative wealth.


Frequently Asked Questions

You read the FAQ but still have a question?
Contact Us Here

Meet Your Instructors

Abudu Nininger - Online Permaculture Design Course
Abudu Nininger
Project Showcase: Akwaaba Urban Food Forest in LA
Abudu is a urban farmer, natural builder, garden artist, lover of fungal dominant compost & collective liberation. Specializing in fruit tree care, he spends most of his days working with the Fruitsitute, and tending land & community at Wildseed Farm. He is passionate about helping to restore & re-energize a conscious relationship between people, plants, soil & our many relatives of diverse expressions. Akwaaba Urban Food Forest is his current community empowerment project. You can watch the video and read more about the Akwaaba project on the fundraiser page here.
Brad Lancaster - Online Permaculture Design Course
Brad Lancaster
Project Showcase: 1/8 acre urban permaculture site in Tucson
Brad Lancaster is the author of the award-winning Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond and co-founder of DesertHarvesters.org. Since 1993 Brad has run a successful permaculture education, design, and consultation business focused on integrated regenerative approaches to landscape design, planning, and living. In the Sonoran Desert, with just 11 inches of annual rainfall, he and his brother harvest about 100,000 gallons of rainwater a year on an eighth-acre urban lot and adjoining right-of-way. This harvested water is then turned into living air conditioners of food-bearing shade trees, abundant gardens, and a thriving landscape incorporating wildlife habitat, beauty, medicinal plants, and more. The goal of his book series and overall work is to empower his clients and community to make positive change in their own lives and neighborhoods—by harvesting and enhancing free on-site resources such as water, sun, wind, shade, community, and more. It’s catching on, as evidenced by tens of thousands of practitioners and demand for Brad’s work around the world.
Brenton Kelly
Water Ethics, Water On The Landscape, Earthworks, Living Soils, Compost, Beekeeping
Brenton Kelly was born in Lusaka, Northern Rhodesia. By his first birthday he saw the peaceful liberation and birth of the nation of Zambia. By his tenth year he had witnessed a variety of civil & revolutionary conflicts across Africa. His father was a Voice of America radio corespondent who then took his family over to Southeast Asia to cover the communist insurgency in Vietnam. The world was as big as domesticated elephants and was filled with sustainable handcrafts like the banana leaf to-go wrappers around the fresh roasted squid being sold from the bicycle powered street vendor in our neighborhood. These were some of the last truly functional subsistence economies and culturally intact communities seen by the open eyes of youth. The world population has more than doubled since then but Brenton still seeks inspiration from those impressionable experiences in Africa and Asia. In 1980, Brenton came to Southern California to attend UCSB. With a BA in Environmental Studies & Studio Art, he went forth to make beauty of the world. The Isla Vista Recreation & Park District proved a great place to practice the art of land stewardship. For ten years he managed the IVRPD grounds crew and 30+ acres of organic public open space; including a public events theater, community gardens, beach bluff top play grounds & passive use conservation lands with a State funded vernal pool restoration project. In 1998 Brenton, with old friend Matt Buckmaster, bought Island Seed & Feed from founder (and their good friend) Phil Boise. Island Seed and Feed is the south coast organic (read: Permaculture) headquarters for the farm & garden. For the next ten years it served well as an outlet for Brenton’s desire to share the knowledge behind least toxic low impact human activities. He became a self proclaimed compost evangelist. “Let there be a worm box for every kitchen & classroom”. Island always had the best customers; all looking for healthy solutions, not toxic chemistry for their homes & landscapes. Then Warren Brush & Paul Swensen came in with the news that they had closed on 450 acres in the Cuyama Valley. A Store account was opened in the name of Quail Springs and very good things have come of the relationship. In 2008 Brenton and his wife, Jan Smith, moved to Quail Spring to help advance the food production systems and program offerings, by farming and teaching. Brenton has served on the Board of Directors of Quail Springs as Treasurer and is the bookkeeper for the farm. He brings to his teachings over 30 years of experience in soil building, gardening, non-toxic land management and animal husbandry. His passion for land regeneration has led him toward the work of Bill Zeedyk and Craig Sponholtz, and in 2011 he studied with Craig, and began to implement this work through projects and course offerings at Quail Springs Permaculture, and the Quivira Coalition. “It’s our responsibility to understand and mimic the patterns and the processes of the natural world and to integrate this into our ethics and behavior.” –Brenton Kelly
Daniel Parra Hensel
Teaching: Permaculture Design, Permaculture Foundations
Daniel Parra Hensel is a full-time permaculture educator, consultant and designer. In 2015 Daniel joined the Environmental Horticulture department as an adjunct faculty member at Santa Barbara City College where he teaches two permaculture design courses. Daniels' work is focused on teaching political agroecology which explores the political, economic and ecological challenges in our food system and society. His passion lies in ecological justice and aims to co-create mutually beneficial alternatives, strategies and solutions to local challenges that fall at the intersection of ecological degradation and social inequity. Daniel co-teaches two classes in the Environmental Horticulture department; Permaculture Design: Resilient Community Design and Advanced Permaculture: Ecological Landscape Design and Regenerative Agriculture. Both courses explore ecological literacy, social justice analysis and community organizing. Daniel has a passion for place based pedagogy with a teaching philosophy focused on disability justice, thoughtful communication and conversation, and practical application of concepts taught in his courses. Daniel is a first generation North American with his family heritage from Colombia, Argentina and Spain. Daniel has had the privilege of traveling to and experienced many parts of the globe, shaping his core values and the way he connects and empathizes with others. His unique background, and immersement in different languages and ways of life has been the main driver for his dedication to a career in service and advocacy. This has led him to international development work in Kenya and Uganda, to permaculture design programs in Australia, Colombia and California, and to coordinating a Santa Barbara based youth ecology and social justice empowerment program. From 2016 - 2019, Daniel was a Board Director for Quail Springs Permaculture and operated as their Vice Chair from 2018-2019. In 2019 he was accepted into the Leading From Within Kathrine Harvey Fellowship, 2019/20 Cohort. Daniel is grateful to be an active participant in the global justice and ecology movement and fully embraces the opportunity to work with a diversity of people from around the world.