The word permaculture is a contraction of ‘permanent’ and ‘agriculture’ and the concept was first created by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren.

Find out more about our permaculture courses in Thailand here.

What is Permaculture?

The word permaculture is a contraction of ‘permanent’ and ‘agriculture’ and the concept was first created by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. Originally it was a method of designing integrated systems that provide food, shelter, energy and other material and non-material needs. The permaculture design process or method pays careful consideration to ecological systems that are sustainable and does this through an ethical and principled approach.

Ecosystem Engineering

While it might have initially been limited to the realm of small and large scale gardena and farm designs (agriculture) it has over the years expanded to consider all aspects of ecosystem engineering. This has created concepts such as ecovillage design and the transition town movement.

The Permaculture Flower

Permaculture Flower of Ethics & Domains

Permaculture Flower of Ethics & Domains

This is our representation of the permaculture flower.  One of the best places to see the full range of what permaculture is about is from David Holmgren’s website. This link is to what is called the ‘permaculture flower‘ and it shows the 7 domains of applied permaculture. Each petal of the flower links to further discussions of those specific areas. Explore around David’s page for a while and you start to get a really good idea how diverse the permaculture design system actually is.

Permaculture can be for Everyone

Because the permaculture design method has ethics and design principles that are universal in their application, permaculture is a great way for everyone to learn about applied sustainability. The science requirements of permaculture design are as basic or as complex as is required for the designer’s needs. The best thing about this is that permaculture is not a discipline with ‘experts’ and so promotes life-long learning.

Permaculture design can be used in many ways as a method to develop and implement a plan or project forcing attention to stay on ecological sustainability. It also fuses the artistic and aesthetic design process with an engineering methodology producing a wholistic method for creating both physical and social ecologically sustainable structures and concepts.

The standard introduction to permaculture design is usually a course known as the PDC. The PDC is usually 72 or more hours and is structured based on the 14 chapters of Bill Mollison’s “Designer’s Manual.” The course includes theory and design practical work. Some courses will also include varying amounts of hands-on techniques but not always so they may also be only theory and design practical work.

At Daruma Eco-farm we offer an internationally-recognized, 84-hour Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course. The Daruma PDC course provides an introduction to permaculture design as set forth by co-founder Bill Mollison with thorough inclusion of recent works in permaculture design principle application from co-founder David Holmgren.

To date, hundreds of thousands of permaculture designers worldwide have been certified through this course, and now comprise a global network of not only farmers and gardeners but educators and ecological activists who influence major corporations and individuals creating new business alternatives and groups of committed people working together to change the way we view and design into our landscapes.

The PDC course covers sustainable living systems for a wide variety of landscapes and climates. It includes the application of permaculture principles to food production, home design, construction, energy conservation and generation, and explores alternative economic structures and legal strategies supporting permaculture solutions.

The Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) Course


The foundation underpinning all of permaculture design, whichever zone, domain or field is looked at, is a shared code of ethics, and principles that guide all our decisions throughout the design process.

Permaculture Ethics:

  1. Care of the Earth (earth care)
  2. Care of people (people care)
  3. Sharing of surplus (fair share)

The Seven Domains of Action

  • Built Environment
  • Tools & Technology
  • Culture & Education (Daruma Ecovillage)
  • Health & Spiritual Wellbeing
  • Finance & Economics
  • Land Tenure & Community Governance
  • Land & Nature Stewardship

Permaculture Principles (Holmgren):

These are covered in PDC courses around the world, and are:

  1. Observe and interact
  2. Catch and store energy
  3. Obtain a yield
  4. Apply self-regulation and accept feedback
  5. Use and value renewable resources and services
  6. Produce no waste
  7. Design from Patterns to Details
  8. Integrate rather than segregate
  9. Use small and slow solutions
  10. Use and value diversity
  11. Use Edges and value the marginal
  12. Creatively use and respond to change

The PDC content can be a little intimidating for some, in its breadth and scale. From the scale of the soil microbiome where we look at EM & IMO (effective microorganisms, and indigenous microorganisms), through to plants, integrated animal systems, trees, the water cycle, regenerating landscapes, and on to learning about the part we humans play in this huge ecosystem & how we can effect positive changes, the course is both detailed, and diverse.

Other books which may be used in class, or referenced for you to investigate at your own pace, include the more traditional permaculture works by Mollison & Holmgren, looking at works that influenced permaculture such as Yeomans’ Keyline systems, A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander, all the way through to more modern works such as Milkwood by Kirsten Bradley, the Circular Economy, and Theory U by Otto Scharmer.


Permaculture has been influenced by, incorporates and develops upon important and influential works such as A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander, books on Keyline design by P.A. Yeomans, and more recent works such as RetroSuburbia by David Holmgren amongst many other volumes of knowledge that have informed sustainable and regenerative design over the years.

Each topic can be the spark for your own personal investigations and research in the future that lead you to discovering why and how you can implement your own designs, in whatever location you decide upon.

Follow this link for more information regarding our permaculture course in Thailand, including schedules and syllabus, and our RetroSuburbia-centric permaculture courses here.

You will also have access to the privately curated library during your course at Daruma, see details on the library page.