Through our 80 hour, hands-on intensive course you will learn about the core fundamentals of permaculture, sustainability, and ecological design.
Explore case studies on our 64 acre farm that has been implementing permaculture and ecological design since 2014.
Under the mentorship of your instructors, you will design and present a permaculture inspired project that applies the skills you learned.
Next Session: 14th to 28th of January, 2023
The Permaculture Design Certification Course (PDC) is a 72-hour minimum course. The Hawaiian 2 week intensive Permaculture Course includes 8 extra hours to allow for practicums, workshops, tours and permaculture farm experiences (total 80h). The Permaculture Certificate is globally recognized throughout the world. The holder of a Permaculture Design certificate has achieved a working understanding of ecologically based site design, planning and management as well as an understanding of principles, strategies and techniques available to inspire directions toward community resiliency, economic stability and personal growth.
Throughout the entire course you will be engaged in learning and experiencing an empowering way of living in the world, surrounded and supported by like-minded people and instructors. Our goal is to make you a part of our farm community (Ohana). Activities may include making an “A frame,” laying out and digging a water harvesting contour swale, sheet mulching, pruning, seed planting, plant propagation, bed preparation, compost pile making, water harvesting techniques, natural building, herbalism, Hawaiian culture, clearing existing food forest, community garden service and more.
Penny Livingston’s PDC curriculum is the culmination of more than 35 years of teaching permaculture design to students from all over the globe. To be successful at implementing permaculture design, most students need more than the basic curriculum. Our 80+ hour courses is crafted to include the following elements to help launch students on a successful journey:
- The classic permaculture curriculum, with founding principles and techniques developed by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren
- A diverse range of hands-on activities with experienced instructors (Kumu’s) during the program in various aspects of the living classroom of the farm
- Tools for cultivating our inner ecology to break through old patterns and barriers that hold us back from success
- Ethno cultural program to better connect with nature (Āina) according to time and circumstances
- A globally recognized Permaculture Design Certificate upon completion of the course.
While no two courses participate in exactly the same activities, each course includes classroom and/or hands-on activities in the following areas:
- Permaculture principles and ethics
- Reading the landscape
- Pattern and pattern application
- Water harvesting
- Swale building
- Zone and sector analysis
- Climate and micro climate strategies
- Urban permaculture
- Land access
- Community building
- Plant guilds
- Soil Carbon Sequestration and Biochar
- Food forests and agroforestry
- The design process, principles, strategies, and techniques
- Bird language and nature awareness
- Soil building and sheet mulching
- Earthworks and natural building
- Grey water systems
- Renewable energy systems
- Forest management
- Watershed management
- Economy and Equity
- Group work on a conceptual design project
Sustainability has a prominent place in public discourse as a complex synergy of social justice, ecological integrity, and economic vitality, applied across present and future generations. Beyond Sustainability is a shift to an ecocentric, regenerative paradigm.
Permaculture is a set of values and principles conducive to the harmonious integration of people, plants, and animals within an ecosystem. It is the conscious design of cultivated ecosystems that have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural systems. “Permaculture is a design discipline based on the foundational ecological principles of nature.” It’s a process of taking one’s observations of natural systems and applying the lessons learned to the human-based environment. Permaculture is something we “use” to discover what to “do”. It is a road map to finding our small place in the world as an integral part of the whole planetary system. Permaculture is a harmonious integration of the natural landscape design with human culture, providing food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable, resilient, diverse and stable way. Permaculture works with, rather than against nature.
Biodiversity is the term given to the variety of life on Earth. It is the variety within and between all species of plants, animals, and microorganisms and the ecosystems within which they live and interact. It also refers to the multitude of different ecosystems in which species form unique communities, interacting with one another and the air, water, and soil. All species depend on other species for survival. Ecosystems vary in size. A large stand of forest or a small pond can each be described as an ecosystem. Ecosystem diversity refers to the variety of ecosystems in a given place. Within any broader landscape, there is a mosaic of interconnected ecosystems. To conserve biodiversity, conservation at the landscape level is critical. This enables the protection of a representative array of interacting ecosystems and their associated species and genetic diversity.
Environmental Sociology advocates for a shift to an ecological paradigm that recognizes human-ecosystem interdependence and biological limits to societal phenomena. Many people around the world see great danger in our current social paradigm’s desire for constant unconstrained growth. It is clear there is not an endless bounty of resources and that growth should not be the driving force. Through “development” and globalization, people around the world are using more resources than the earth can renew, and therefore it is becoming clear that if we continue at current rates we will expend all our natural resources in trying to sustain our overpopulated world. Many environmentalists and activists see the current crisis we face in overpopulation and environmental destruction of land and want large-scale changes in countries’ policies and institutions. Consumers are identifying that they must take responsibility for their consumer choices and buy only what they truly need, recognizing that the process of manufacturing, products brought into the store and then quickly thrown away must change. In short, we need to shift to a new paradigm where we give back more than we take. Permaculture offers a scalable system of personal empowerment for individuals, organizations, communities, cities, provinces, countries, etc. to shift to an ecological, regenerative paradigm.
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I came to big island farms in August of 2022 excepting to just learn about the land and premaculture. I did not expect to learn so much about the community, make connections and relationships with both the land and people, learn so much about the history of Hawaii and much more. Jordan created the most amazing 10 day series that is jam packed with knowledge and experiences. This is such a spiritual place to connect to yourself and the land if you are open for it. Everyone on the farm is welcoming and truly a family. I loved it so much I decided to stay and wwoof for two more months. I can’t wait to meet more people, build relationships and give back to the land!
The Learning in Paradise internship was a highlight of my life that I will carry with me always. The leadership team not only carry immense knowledge, but also lead by example in the way they have created a deep connection with the entire community. This experience reminded me to listen into my heart first as well as to strengthen my ears and my mind. The priorities here are straight and not to mention the food brought a new energy to my body that I have never felt before!!! I love you farmily, you have made me better.
I attended the 10 day mini workshop series at Big Island Farms in August and still cannot explain how much this short time there meant to me. Everything from the people, the farm, the detail behind every workshop, the food was more than perfect and i’m still so happy about the people I met there. Every single person i met on my journey there was full of knowledge and was genuinely just such a wise and genuinely kind soul. You truly come back as a changed person in the best way possible! 💛
I wanted to reach out and say thank you for the fantastic tour earlier this week with Shannd. It was a wonderful experience for my husband, myself, and our four year old and one and a half year old. We tasted amazing things, learned so much, and saw incredible beauty. We left with our taste buds refreshed and our curiosity sparked! The tour was a magical balance of laid back and hands-on while being so informative and eye-opening in regards to regenerative farming. My four year old is still talking about the carrot and pineapple she harvested and telling people that bananas are herbs. My one and a half year old ate three apple-bananas on the tour! A triumph all around. THANK YOU.
I wanted to say thank you to everyone again for sharing your space, energy, and gifts with Ayesha and myself. It honestly was the highlight of our trip!
Easily the most beautiful place I’ve ever had the opportunity to visit. The staff is very knowledgeable and during my stay I learned a lot about organic agriculture and permaculture that I have been able to utilize in my everyday life. I also really enjoyed the food on the farm. It was very fresh, delicious, and unique and has inspired me to cook more unique dishes back in Kentucky. I would highly recommend visiting to anyone who enjoys the outdoors and wants to be involved in an organic agriculture system.
Big Island Farms offers much more than any other farming experience on Hawaii Island. Kitchen, internet, and onsite showers and toilets are sustainable and eco-friendly, and the amazing views, food forests, cabanas, and a natural landscape that includes a stream and waterfall brings comfort and a sense of connection to the land that will teach you to take care of yourself through taking care of the land.
I just finished the 2021 summer internship and I highly recommend for first and second year college students. I learned so many things you can’t get in a regular class. The farm is beautiful! Healthy food forests that are amazing to roam and lovely trails along the mac nut forest. The living space was comfortable, clean, and spacious. HOT WATER! All you need is on the farm. Wifi isn’t the best but why be on your phone anyway. Expect rain but it makes you more appreciative when the sun’s out. Make sure to voice your interests and ask questions. The directors are a wealth of knowledge.
I booked a tour last week for me and my 8 year old son, and it was absolutely fantastic. Jon’s passion, knowledge, and over all wonderful personality made it so fun and educational. My typically very shy little boy even felt comfortable enough to ask lots of questions. We loved the one on one private attention that we were able to experience. We are now back home in Arizona longing for more island time as you can imagine. Our family talked quite a bit about the tour, and are eager to get started on our own garden again (even though I have a black thumb, I really want to learn more, and try again & again until I can get it right). I feel after learning so much from Jon that it is so important to live as sustainable as possible in the middle of the city where we live.
I highly recommend the Big Islands Farms internship program to anyone considering an internship that i) fosters connection to yourself and the land on which you live; ii) provides you with new skills and a deepening of knowledge; iii) shift your perspectives and iv) IS IN THE MOST BEAUTIFUL LOCATION!
My time as an intern at Big Island Farms can be summed up by an abundance of compassion, inspiration, and thrill. No one greater than another, and no one absent in any moment throughout my whole experience.
My time here at Big Island Farms has been nothing but a blessing in my life. I have not only learned so much here but I have grown as a person in so many unexpected ways. I want to say a big thank you to the directors. They are amazing people and made my stay here even more amazing!! I will miss this farm and everyone in it!
BIF provides the ultimate atmosphere of acceptance and support while incorporating a wide range of hands on learning. Highly recommend for anyone looking to get out of their comfort zone and try something new, this is the perfect opportunity for growth in all areas of mind, spirit, and body!