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Colby-Sawyer College Offers Permaculture Design Certification Course

NEW LONDON, N.H., Nov. 1, 2011– Colby-Sawyer College will offer certification in permaculture design, an ecological design system for sustainability in all aspects of human life that teaches how to build natural homes, grow food, restore landscapes and ecosystems, catch rainwater, build communities and much more.

The course is open to students and the general public, and will be held at Colby-Sawyer College on Saturdays from Jan. 21 to April 17, 2012.

The Permaculture Design Certificate course was developed by the Permaculture Institute, which promotes sustainable, whole-system living skills through education, networking and demonstration projects. The internationally recognized course provides an introduction to permaculture design, which the institute describes as “consciously designed landscapes which mimic the patterns and relationships found in nature, while yielding an abundance of food, fiber and energy for provision of local needs.” People and the structures they live and work in are central to permaculture, which seeks to incorporate them with sustainable agriculture to create an evolving permanent or sustainable culture.

The course considers principles of natural systems and design; pattern in design; forests and trees; establishment of vegetation and trees; garden strategies; soils; and seeds and nurseries. The roles of water cycles and management; and water in landscape will be explored along with domestic animals and wildlife management; wildlife management and biological pest control. Other topics include buildings and structures; appropriate energy conserving technology; waste disposal and recycling; settlement design; and the invisible structures of settlement.

All these elements combine to provide a deeper understanding of the principles of sustainability and resilience, as well as practical benefits for homeowners and those with careers in planning, architecture, sustainability, agriculture and landscape design. The course is adapted to a variety of learning styles and presented via lectures, images, videos, group discussion, hands-on experiences, exercises and design projects. Throughout the course each participant will work on a design project for his or her own property.

Candis Whitney, a New London resident who took the course last year, says, "This course changed my life; it made it richer and fuller. As we approach peak oil, increased population and unsustainable lifestyles, everyone could benefit from looking at our world differently and making changes that bring satisfaction and sustainability. This class gives you tools, as well as knowledge, to start creating a future in collaboration with the natural world as individuals, communities and beyond."

The course is open to anyone for a fee of $900; the registration deadline is Jan. 13. Two certified instructors will follow the Permaculture Institute's certification syllabus. Graduates of the permaculture design course are designated as “trainee permaculture designers” and may go on to earn a diploma issued by the Permaculture Institute. To register, contact Tracey Perkins at 603-526-3702 or email her at

Instructor 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 a local and international educator and adjunct faculty at Plymouth State University, where he teaches environmental and community planning, permaculture and sustainability. Whitman participates in a wide range of creative grassroots efforts that promote new forms of sustainability at sites in the U.S. and abroad and has converted his in-town lot into a living model of permaculture.

Instructor Lauren Chase-Rowell has been practicing and teaching ecological landscape design, installation and maintenance for more than 25 years at the University of New Hampshire and community colleges in the state. Her classroom instruction is informed by 35 years experience in regenerative food growing, medicinal herbs and the importance of New Hampshire's biodiversity in local, sustainable landscape settings. Chase-Rowell embraces the practical application of permaculture in earth-centered living and design while simultaneously integrating the arts and contemplative practices into her teaching. She is an author and has been twice featured on “New Hampshire Chronicle” for her ecological and sustainable approach to land use and care.

"The instructors were able to present each topic so that a beginner like me could take in and apply a huge amount of knowledge, and the experienced people were challenged and interested. The instructors didn't dwell on the problems of the world but real-life solutions," says Whitney. "Steve Whitman is down-to-earth, personable and has a lot of scientific and technical experience. I like to describe Lauren Chase-Rowell as the Earth Mother with Masters Degrees - she has vast knowledge of the natural world and a passion for natural systems. Both instructors are inspirational and touch the hearts of their students. They got us emotionally involved in building community and making changes in our lives."

To learn more about Colby-Sawyer's sustainability efforts, visit the GreenRoutes site.

Colby-Sawyer College is a comprehensive college that integrates the liberal arts and sciences with professional preparation. Founded in 1837, Colby-Sawyer is located in the scenic Lake Sunapee Region of central New Hampshire. Learn more about the college's vibrant teaching and learning community at

Colby-Sawyer College, 541 Main Street, New London, N.H. 03257 (603) 526-3000