Permaculture Certificate. Take longer, learn more, become better, increase career and business opportunities. Start a business or work on a permaculture farm.

Course Code: VHT002
Fee Code: CT
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 700 hours
Qualification Certificate
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Permaculture copies patterns from nature, it focuses on the way elements are placed in the landscape and in the way they inter-relate, rather then on the individual elements.


The Certificate in Horticulture (Permaculture) involves two areas of work:

  • Core Studies - half of the course, involving around least 350 hours.
  • Stream Studies - stream studies in permaculture and organic growing, involving at least 300 hours of study.

Core Studies

The core units develop fundamental general skills in horticultural practices and plant knowledge. The core units cover the followint topics:

1. Introduction to Plants

2. Parts of the Plant

3. Plant Culture - Planting

4. Plant Culture - Pruning

5. Plant Culture - Irrigation and Machinery

6. Soils and Media

7. Soils and Nutrition

8. Seeds and Cuttings

9. Other Techniques

10. ID and Use of Plants - Landscape Application

11. ID and Use of Plants - Problems

12. ID and Use of Plants - Indoor/tropical plants  

13. Pests

14. Diseases

15. Weeds

Stream Studies

These involve 300 hours of study, and are made up of the following modules:

  • Permaculture Systems
  • Advanced Permaculture

Plus one (1) of the following electives-

  • Poultry
  • Fruit and nut production
  • Organic Plant Culture
  • Sustainable Agriculture
  • Water Conservation and Management
  • Plant Ecology
  • OR some other approved module related to Permaculture.


Permaculture Systems -

  • Explain the concepts of natural systems of relevance to Permaculture.
  • Determine appropriate cultural techniques to use in a Permaculture system.
  • Explain the incorporation of different animals in a Permaculture system.
  • Determine appropriate plants for inclusion in a Permaculture system.
  • Select appropriate technologies for use in Permaculture systems.
  • Draw concept Permaculture plans to scale.

Advanced Permaculture

  • Evaluate appropriate design strategies for a specific development site.
  • Explain the relationship between a Permaculture system and natural patterns occurring in a local area.
  • Develop strategies for the management of water in a Permaculture design.
  • Determine earthworks for the development of a Permaculture system.
  • Design a Permaculture system for the humid tropics.
  • Design a Permaculture system for a dry climate.
  • Design a Permaculture system for a temperate to cold climate.
  • Determine planning strategies for the development of a Permaculture system.
  • Prepare cost estimates for a Permaculture development plan.
  • Explain alternative sustainable systems practiced in various places around the world.


  • Develop a good understanding of the scientific system of naming plants.
  • Discuss some of the aspects which play a part in permaculture.
  • Describe how permaculture is different to other forms of horticulture and agriculture.
  • Visit an outdoor environment area determine what relationships the living and non-living things might have with each other.
  • Explain contour maps and how this information can be used to estimate potential effects on plant growth.
  • Explain weather patterns in your local area. Determine why this knowledge may be important to the permaculture practitioners.
  • Explain water within an ecosystem or permaculture garden and its application.
  • Describe the differences between the three main types of climate zones (ie: Tropical, Temperate and Desert); and briefly give your views on what major differences would need to be taken in establishing a permaculture system in each climate zone, compared with the other two.
  • Explain the importance of trees in a Permaculture system.
  • Describe how you would build a no dig garden approximately 10 X 3 metres in size.
  • Step by step work through a process of planning changes to a garden to make it into more of a permaculture system.
  • Collect and list preplanning information relevant to developing home into a permaculture system
  • Write a report explaining the five permaculture zones.
  • Create a table listing 50 different pest, disease and weed problems in one column, and an appropriate natural control method for each one in an adjacent column.
  • Make a list of companion plants. In one column, list the herb or companion plant.
  • Draw a plan for a fruit or vegetable garden which incorporates companion planting.
  • Explain briefly each of the companion planting interrelationships you have included in your plan.
  • Design a small and simple water garden for use in a permaculture system.
  • Design and build an herb spiral.
  • Design a vegetable and herb garden based on permaculture principles which would produce enough food to feed you and your family for the entire year.
  • List as many different central features as you can think of which could be used in a Mandalla garden
  • Outline how to plan and prepare garden zones in relation to animals. Provide step-by-step instructions and accompanying photographs or drawings.
  • Contact your state department of Agriculture and obtain leaflets relating to poultry which you are particularly interested in keeping.
  • Contact your state department of Agriculture and obtain leaflets (and any other publications) relating to bee keeping.
  • In no less than 500 words explain the importance of bees to horticulture and the permaculture garden.
  • Develop a 5 year plan for developing a one hectare permaculture farm utilising plants, animals and fish (aquaculture). Use drawings and diagrams where needed to assist in this report.
  • Select three different aquatic animals which would be appropriate to grow in a permaculture system. For each one in turn, explain how you would incorporate it into a permaculture system.
  • Go to nurseries and agricultural supply companies and inquire about environmentally safe pesticides. Write a report on these products.
  • Observe the construction process of a building or structure that involves some type of earthworks (eg, roads, dams, etc).
  • Take a photograph of your home or residence. Discuss your residence in relation to designing with consideration to the environment (eg. does it efficiently utilize sun and shade, is it energy efficient).
  • Describe the importance of house design in relation to location, eg. tropical region of Queensland or west coast of Tasmania.
  • Contact the local council or health department and inquire about allowable use of waste material in your area. Consider asking about grey water, septic tanks, use of effluent and animal wastes, etc. Write a report to 250 words on the task.
  • Contact and obtain information on composting toilets from a manufacturer. Compile this information and use it as a personal reference.
  • Contact a supplier of windmills and find out all that you can about the use of these devices for supplying water (ie. pumping from a river, lake, dam, ground water etc). Discover the alternatives available, the costs involved, the applications, operation etc.
  • Contact the National Parks and Wildlife department and obtain as much information as possible on wildlife corridors, conservation, etc. Contact your local council department and inquire about their wildlife corridors, etc. Are they similar or drastically different? Can you think of a reason why there may be a difference?
  • For a month period, write down all tasks performed by yourself and anyone who enters your permaculture garden. Submit this work schedule plus a brief report on how it may be possible to improve the time efficiency in the garden.
  • Write a report on where you think 'alternative' permaculture is heading in terms of main-stream acceptance.

DURATION: 650 - 700 hours

Learn to Create Productive, Sustainable Landscapes

Sustainable land management is the key to preserving our natural resources: soil, water, natural environments and their allied biodiversity, in a healthy state for the enjoyment of all, for cultural, social, recreational pursuits as well as agricultural and other commercial uses now and into the future. With an ever-growing world population, improved land management is vital to our future.

Land management for permaculture is far broader than just sustainable farming practices within the boundaries of the small piece of land you live on.
It needs to consider the sustainable management of urban regions, peri-urban regions, rural regions, coastal regions, forests, parks and wilderness areas; because everything is interconnected. Permaculture is about harvesting the land of course, but it is also about a social and environmental responsibility. Among other things it encompasses:

  • Protection of health of our natural environments.
  • The sustainable use of soil and water.
  • Harvesting only measured and sustainable levels of produce.
  • Maintaining or improving water quality.
  • Improved health of the soil and protection from erosion, salinity, acidity, disease and weed infestation.
  • Protection and reintroduction of biodiversity – the flora and fauna (including soil life e.g. microorganisms and insects).
  • Retention and protection of isolated stands of vegetation and soil ground cover.
  • Fire management
  • Increasing resilience to change such as climate variations.

Many economies depend on primary production and to ensure sustained production, this must go hand in hand with wise management of the land.

Where land has been degraded or its use is not sustainable, rehabilitation is required to improve or restore the land to good health and ensure future sustainability. Land degradation occurs through both natural and human induced processes, with many problems arising from poor human management of this resource.

Why Would You Study This Course?

The more you learn, the better prepared you will be to create and manage areas of land according to the principles of permaculture.

There are of course many shorter permaculture courses that can be studied with us and elsewhere. They can give you a good foundation; which can be added to with additional study and practical experience. Learning more right from the start though gives you a faster track toward where you eventually might be. Beyond permaculture; this course also gives you a broad based foundation in general horticulture, which is an extremely useful advantage for any aspiring permaculturist.

We at ACS have been teaching the principles of permaculture since the 1980's. We developed and obtained accreditation for this course in the 1990's under a now defunct accreditation system. The course has continued to evolve since that time and our team of expert permaculturists together with agriculture and horticulture professionals, are continuing to revise and improve what we offer our students every year. Hundreds have studied permaculture with us and many have gone on after their studies to develop successful careers or businesses.

Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

Bob James (Horticulturist)

Bob has over 50 years of experience in horticulture across both production sectors (Crops and nursery) and amenity sectors of the industry.
He holds a Diploma in Agriculture and Degree in Horticulture from the University of Queensland; as well as a Maste

Maggi Brown

Maggi is the classic UK "plantswoman". She can identify thousands of plants, and maintains her own homes and gardens in the Cotswolds (England), and near Beziers (in Southern France). Maggi is regarded as a leading organics expert across the UK, having w

Diana Cole

Dip. Horticulture, BTEC Dip. Garden Design, Permaculture Design Certificate, B.A. (Hons)-Geography, Diploma Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development
Diana has been an enthusiastic volunteer with community garden and land conservation projects sinc

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