permaculture design certification at colby-sawyer college

What is Permaculture?

The general practices of permaculture have been around for ages, but the term itself was coined by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the mid-1970's. Permaculture is a framework for working toward greater sustainability that uses ecological principles to integrate food and energy production, structures, and community. Its aim is the creation of sustainable human settlements that are harmoniously woven into the environment and that promote the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems.

According to Holmgren permaculture is "Consciously designed landscapes which mimic the patterns and relationships found in nature, while yielding an abundance of food, fibre and energy for provision of local needs. People, their buildings and the ways in which they organise themselves are central to permaculture. Thus the permaculture vision of permanent or sustainable agriculture has evolved to one of permanent or sustainable culture."

Permaculture Design Certification Course

Colby-Sawyer is one of the first colleges in New Hampshire, and one of only a few in New England, to offer a Permaculture Design Certification Course. This course is especially useful for homeowners, planners, design professionals, community organizers, farmers, and gardeners. It is adapted to a wide variety of learning styles and is presented via lecture, images, video, group discussion, hands on experiences, exercises, and design projects. Throughout the course each student will be working on a design project for their own property. The course will meet at Colby-Sawyer College, NH on Tuesday evenings with a few Saturday fieldtrips and one overnight. (See detailed dates below.) If you are working toward a sustainable future and want practical tools and applicable methodologies, then this course is for you!

Course graduates will receive a Permaculture Design Certificate.

Instructor Biographies

Leon Malan is a professor in the Environmental Studies Department at Colby-Sawyer College and he also chairs the Education Committee for the NH division of the Northeast Organic Farming Association. For the past five years he has applied permaculture principles to an historic farmstead and at the college he has been responsible for the implementation of the permaculture garden. He manages the activities of three student interns who work in the garden and together they have established an organic food garden, a food forest, edible hedge and features to capture rainwater from the roof of a large building.

Jennifer White is a professor in the Environmental Studies Department and the Director of Sustainability for Colby-Sawyer College. In 2011 she designed the GreenROUTES Permaculture Garden and Sustainable Living Laboratory at the college, which demonstrates the practical applications of permaculture and helps teach these ideas and skills to students and community members. She is one of the founding members of the Kearsarge Valley Transition Initiative and she is particularly interested in the application of permaculture principles to human systems such as food production/distribution, local business networks, health care, schools and communities. She serves on the Board of Directors for Muster Field Farm and Museum and is also on the Supply Chain Advisory Team for Farm to Institution New England (FINE).

Steve Whitman is a professional planner with Jeffery H. Taylor & Associates, focusing on community planning and sustainability issues through the lens of natural systems-thinking and ecology. He is both a local and international educator and adjunct faculty at Plymouth State University where he teaches environmental and community planning, permaculture, and sustainability. Steve's teaching is informed by converting his in-town lot into a living permaculture model, as well as time spent at sites in the US and abroad. Steve participates in a wide range of creative, grassroots efforts that promote new forms of sustainability.

Registration & Tuition

The tuition for this course is $900 and community members may register from 12/1/13 thru 1/27/14. For details about registration call Tracey Perkins at (603) 526-3702 or e-mail:

Class Meeting Dates

Tuesday evenings from 1/28-4/22/14, with a few weekend field trips: 2/15-16, 3/1, 4/12-13, 4/19

  • Tuesday, January 28th
  • Tuesday, February 4th
  • Tuesday, February 11th
  • Saturday & Sunday, February 15th & 16th
  • Tuesday, February 25th
  • Saturday, March 1st
  • Tuesday, March 18th
  • Tuesday, March 25th
  • Tuesday, April 1st
  • Tuesday, April 8th
  • Saturday, April 12th
  • Sunday, April 13th (optional make-up day)
  • Saturday, April 19th – Final Presentations from Community Members
  • Tuesday, April 22nd – Final Presentation from Colby-Sawyer Students

Tuesday's classes are from 5:30-9:00pm, with the exception of Tuesday, April 22nd, which will take place during daytime hours to correspond with Scholars' Day at Colby-Sawyer College.

Click here to see the Permaculture Design Course Flyer.