It is not the expense of PDCs. I am learning permaculture on my own time, without buying anything extra. I read a lengthy post by a woman on a permaculture forum a while back complaining bitterly about the “expense of learning permaculture”. Permaculture design courses are all so expensive! Books are so expensive! This is nonsense.
First, permaculture design courses are an expression of free market value. If people are willing to pay the price for the design course, then it isn’t “too expensive”. Something is not “too expensive” just because you can’t afford it. It means you can’t afford it, or you’re not willing to sacrifice what it would take to afford it. The teachers have hopefully taken multiple design courses and invested significant amounts of time, cash, and energy implementing and learning. (Remember- There is no “official” permaculture anything, there is no oversight, no accreditation. This lack of oversight puts the responsibility on the student to thoroughly investigate the credentials of permaculture teachers.) Experienced designers deserve to make a profit teaching.
I am learning permaculture by myself. We have one of the most wondrous institutions in the world here in America- a public library system. This system is paid for by our tax dollars. We all own it and we should use it. Dozens of permaculture books, videos, and magazines are available through the public library system, if not more. We have already paid for them. The vast majority of my permaculture “book knowledge” came from library books. I am thankful for those shared resources because learning about permaculture requires knowledge in systems design, organic gardening, native plants identification, horticulture, drafting, and landscape design- and I borrowed those books from the library, too. Paying for access to the internet means I also have almost unlimited blogs, videos, magazines, and even books on permaculture available to learn from, whenever I want to access it. You could probably get a complete permaculture theory education from videos on youtube.
Learning the theories of permaculture design is easy to do through books and videos, but applying it is all about hands-on experimentation. It’s about observing your environment, making lists, sketching ideas, and then giving it a try. It’s about getting your hands in the dirt, planting trees, trying new seeds, making compost, eating weeds, taking long walks in the woods. Hopefully soon it will also be about hiring a professional permaculture designer to come and look at what I’ve already done, what I want to do, and give me suggestions.
PDCs are for people who want to become professional permaculture designers, to start their own businesses as permaculture designers. That’s not what I want to do. I use permaculture design in my own home and garden (and hopefully soon, my own farm) because I can see the right of it, I can see the benefits. Will I ever take a PDC? Maybe! If there were a PDC course that was close to home and offering specialist subjects that I needed (landscape mapping, for instance) and worked with my hectic schedule? I would probably take it!