Permaculture Courses

Care of People, Care of Earth, Share the Surplus

What is Permaculture?


Permaculture stands for permanent agriculture, or more simply, permanent culture. The term was coined by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the 1970s. Permaculture is an ecological design science that compiles ancient indigenous knowledge with modern technology.

Its foundation is the three ethics of care of people, care of earth, and share the surplus. It is a way to design communities, buildings, gardens and life based on patterns in nature.

Permaculture guides us to live and design systems in a way that regenerate, rather than destroy, nature and our connection with each other.

Permaculture Design Certification Course

April 15-20 & June 6-13, 2019 (Two-Part Course)


2020 dates TBA

In the Permaculture Design course we will learn about social permaculture and other topics.

What is a PDC?

A Permaculture Design Certification Course (PDC) is a 72-hour or more training that prepares the student on the path of regenerative, ecological design and living. It covers the foundations of permaculture ethics, principles, and design methods.

The training experience offers students a formalized structure in learning to design regenerative solutions that address water scarcity, climate change, food production, sustainable infrastructure, renewable energy, social systems and more .

It is a great opportunity for those who are interested in environmental science, ecology, landscaping, farming, gardening, alternative economy, sustainable architecture, community work and sustainable living.

    PDC at the Yoga Farm

    This all-inclusive course is offered at the Sivananda Yoga Farm in the beautiful Sierra Nevada foothills in Grass Valley, California.

    The daily rhythm of the course includes morning and evening meditations, chanting and spiritual lectures. Yoga classes and high quality organic vegetarian meals are provided.

    Come connect with the earth, with yourself, and with your community. Network with like-minded individuals. Experience the great outdoors in a whole new way through hands-on permaculture practice.  Rekindle a deeper meaning in life and a new vision.


    In the Permaculture Design course we will learn about social permaculture and other topics.

    A permaculture design course teaches you how to engage with human and ecological communities in harmonious and ethical ways, trains you to see the world from an entirely new angle, and provides you with the skills to make positive change.

    PDC Curriculum


    Our unique interdisciplinary curriculum is designed to engage multiple learning styles and levels. Students will take what they learn in the classroom and apply it during hands-on activities in our garden, orchards, greenhouse, lavender fields and/or wild woodlands.

    The course is offered in two parts. Students must attend both to receive their certificate. The time in between provides space to study, integrate and apply the teachings. Students also work on final design projects, which they will present at the end of the course.

    This is an intensive training in permaculture assessment and design. We will cover water systems, soil management, renewable energy, rainwater harvesting, climate appropriate plants, earthworks, natural structures, community living and so much more.  

    The well-rounded course material is presented through the five elements:

    Soil Science & Soil Food Web

    • Fertility management including Composting, Compost tea
    • Earthworks
    • Natural Building
    • Agroforestry and agriculture
    • Ayurvedic herbalism – growing and using medicinals
    • Bio-remediation
    • Carbon sequestration
    • Land access
    • Rainwater harvesting
    • Grey water design
    • Irrigation basics
    • Storing water in the landscape
    • Aquaculture
    • Alternative currencies
    • Renewable Energy
    • Appropriate Technology
    • Fire ecology
    • Ayurvedic diet and cooking
    • Animals in the landscape
    • Site Analysis & Self Analysis (Ayurvedic Doshas, constitution)
    • Reading the landscape
    • Climatic strategies (Ayurvedic concepts of Desha, land)
    • Creating and working with microclimates
    • Mapping and map reading
    • History of Permaculture and it’s roots in traditional cultures worldwide
    • Permaculture Ethics & Yoga Ethics: Yama & Niyama
    • Permaculture Principles
    • Design strategies and Ayurvedic elemental design
    • Social permaculture
    • Community organizing and governance
    • Urban permaculture
    • International applications & opportunities
    • Permaculture connection to Yoga, Ayurveda, Vastu, Jyotish (Vedic Astrology)

    Upon completion, students receive an internationally recognized certificate issued by the Permaculture Institute of North America (PINA)

    Course Instructors

    Our facilitators are seasoned permaculture practitioners, designers and teachers. They both teach at the Regenerative Design Institute, a renowned permaculture education center in California. 

    Lydia Neilsen

    Lydia has over 20 years in permaculture design through her business Rehydrate the Earth. She has taught several bay-area PDCs and is certified as a permaculture educator through PINA.

    Spencer Nielsen

    Spencer has over a decade of experience farming, landscaping, and gardening. He co-teaches multiple PDCs and integrates elements of Yoga, Ayurveda, Herbal Medicine, and Vastu.

    Get Involved

    We are seeking dedicated volunteers who are interested in yoga and who have practical skills in permaculture, gardening and/or landscaping for the ashram’s upkeep.

    If you are interested in volunteering with us, please read the full Karma Yoga or Seva Study page before filling out the application. Make sure to specify your skills and financial needs on the form.

    We are committed to being in positive relationship with nature and community.

    Hands-on Learning

    Come learn practical permaculture in the beautiful Sierra Nevada foothills of California! In addition to our PDC we offer several other classroom and hands-on permaculture courses and workshops throughout the year.

    In these courses you will learn through participatory, experiential activities in our garden, greenhouse, orchards, lavender fields and woodlands. Monthly Permaculture Service Days are offered as an opportunity for people to come experience the Ashram schedule, learn through hands-on service on the land, and join a free 1-hour permaculture workshop.

    Upcoming Dates

    Dates Program Name Price see more... Register
    November 3, 2019 Permaculture Service Day
    November 22 - 24, 2019 Permaculture Weekend: Social Permaculture and Community Building $160.00
    December 8, 2019 Permaculture Service Day


    Teacher profile image

    Lydia Neilsen

    Through her business Rehydrate the Earth, Lydia Neilsen works on a practical and consciousness-based level to teach and implement techniques for ecosystem revitalization. Lydia educates individuals and communities in the creation of stunning regenerative designs including do-it-yourself scale earthworks for water infiltration, productive water conserving polyculture landscapes, soil building, greywater and other Earth healing strategies. She listens to the land and its inhabitants to facilitate the creation of vibrant, energetically alive, functionally beautiful habitats.  In addition to Rehydrate the Earth, Lydia teaches as part of several Bay Area Permaculture Design Courses and is a certified Permaculture Educator through the Permaculture Institute of North…

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    Spencer Nielsen

    Spencer Nielsen is a guide to Nature inside and out, in the wild lands, gardens, and consciousness.  He is a permaculture designer and educator based in Fairfax, California.  He has studied Ecology, Environmental Education, and Eco-Social Design, as well as Permaculture, Yoga, Qigong, Ayurveda, Daoist medicine, and Planetary Herbalism.  With over a decade of experience farming, landscaping, and gardening, Spencer currently teaches permaculture at the Regenerative Design Institute in Bolinas.  He is a perennial student of herbalism and Ayurveda, currently with the East-West School of Herbology and the American Institute of Vedic Studies.  Spencer has worked on international projects helping to design…

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    Ryan Rising

    Ryan Rising is a community organizer and permaculture educator based out of the San Francisco Bay Area. After organizing Pushing Through the Pavement: a Permaculture Action Tour with The Polish Ambassador in the Fall of 2014, Ryan co-founded the Permaculture Action Network and has worked with festivals and artists like Lightning in a Bottle, Rising Appalachia, Burning Man, and Beats Antique to mobilize concert-goers and festival attendees to install permaculture systems and create community spaces that move us further on the transition to a just and regenerative world. www.PermacultureAction.org  

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    Dwayne View

    Dwayne received his Horticulture Degree in 1996 and recently received his SmartScape and Qualified Green Gardener certification to further his plant knowledge. He currently works as the Nursery Operator in the Outdoor Garden Center at Emigh Ace Hardware in Sacramento. He has written multiple educational workbooks on topics such as gardening, permaculture, horticulture and has designed landscapes for yards, gardens, river-friendly purposes and more. If you have a plant related question, Dwayne is your guy!

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    Colin Eldridge (Krishna Das)

    Krishna Das (Colin) is a trained Sivananda Yoga instructor and Permaculture Designer. He teaches and helps coordinate Yoga and Permaculture programs at the Sivananda Yoga Farm. He teaches participatory and interactive workshops around topics such as Yoga, permaculture, art, social justice, and ecology. He has taught at many events and with many organizations such as The NorCal Permaculture Convergence, The Sivananda Yoga Farm, San Francisco Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center, Divine Grace Yoga Ashram, Hampshire College, The Great Basin Institute, and more. . Website    Email    Facebook    Instagram    Youtube    LinkedIn    Google+ click here to view past courses with…

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    Our Sivananda Yoga Farm Permaculture Blog has more information, updates, transcripts, videos, and articles.

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