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Low Cost Permaculture Design Course, Missouri

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(Low Cost) Permaculture Design Course, October 11-24, 2011


We invite you to join us at Singing Prairie Farm for a certified 76 hour Permaculture Design Course (PDC) taught by Permaculture Master Ethan Hughes. Ethan is the co-founder of the Possibility Alliance, an educational permaculture center and intentional community in Northeast Missouri. He has over 10 years experience in permaculture and sustainability, drawing from a rich diversity of knowledge spanning from Aprovecho Research Center and Lost Valley Educational Center in Oregon to The Ark in southern France and Ruskin Mill in England.

The 76 hour certified Permaculture Design Course will be held at Singing Prairie Farm in La Plata, Missouri. (Approximately 2 miles from an Amtrak train stop in La Plata.) Course Description This course will focus on temperate climate Permaculture and living out Permaculture’s ethics and principles. If you are planning to practice permaculture in North America or Europe and want to embody this incredible ecological science, then this course is for you. This course is not for hobby permaculturist, but rather for people who sincerely want to learn to meet their needs for food and shelter from the land. The 76 hours of course work required to receive a Permaculture Design Certificate will be covered over a two-week period, mixing hands-on and classroom study. All students are required to be present for the full two weeks if they wish to receive a certificate. All major topics of Bill Mollison’s book on Permaculture Design will be covered including:

  1. Philosophies and Ethics underlying permaculture.
  2. Basic permaculture principles.
  3. Patterns in Nature and how to use that in design
  4. Methods of design. How to go from a damaged piece of land to having a plan for moving forward with it.
  5. Climatic factors. We will focus primarily on the temperate bioregion.
  6. Trees, forests and why we want to mimic their systems.
  7. Water catchment, usage, importance and conservation.
  8. Soil, minerals, microorganisms, building new soil and preventing erosion.
  9. Earthworks: how to shape the land and help it achieve the goals we are aiming for.
  10. Aquaculture
  11. Natural Building
  12. Alternative systems: community living and other was of choosing to live that benefit both people and the planet.


Teaching Staff

Ethan Hughes is the primary teacher for the course. He is the co-founder of the Possibility Alliance, an educational permaculture center and intentional community in Northeast Missouri. He is currently pushing the boundaries of bioregional permaculture at the Possibility Alliance (P.A.), which is petroleum and electricity free. In addition, they practice the ethics of permaculture through using biological resources such as draft animals, aquaculture, wild edibles, goats, chickens, ducks, bees, food forests, gardens, grains as well as human power in the form of hand tools, bicycles, bike-powered grain mills, and a hand-crank blender. He has been teaching about ecology and conservation since 1990 and is excited about sharing the cutting edge of permaculture.

Sarah Wilcox-Hughes is the co-founder of the Possibility Alliance and has a wealth of knowledge about gardening, wild edibles and orcharding. Her experience includes living at Lost Valley Educational Center in Oregon, Ruskin Mill in England and The Ark in Southern France. She lives with Ethan at the Possibility Alliance with their daughter Etta and other community members. Keren Ram is lives at the Possibility Alliance and trained at Sand Hill Farm and Community in Rutledge, MO. Jerry Jones is the founder of the Kirksville Permaculture Educational Center in Kirksville, MO.

Course Site and Accommodations

The course will be held at Singing Prairie Farm in La Plata, Missouri. Singing Prairie is an organic family farm run by John Arbuckle, a ninth-generation American farmer, and his wife Holly and their two children, Noah and Zea. Singing Prairie is a working farm and an experiment in low-input sustainable agriculture. It utilizes a pasture-based system of multi-species grazing. In its second year of operation, it is in the process of implementing permaculture principles. The farm will be a living classroom for the course, examining how to meet needs for food production from the hilly, clay soil while preventing erosion. The farmhouse on the property was formerly owned by the Amish and is still electricity free. Singing Prairie Farm produces organic pasture raised eggs, broiler chickens, Thanksgiving turkeys, apple-fed pigs, small grains, Indian corn and vegetables. They practice simple living through food preservation, fermentation, and cheese-making and use vehicles run on used vegetable oil. In keeping with the radical simplicity principles, the accommodations will be rustic. Each participant will bring their own tent, (in the event of storms, the farmhouse will be available.) Food will be local and organic whenever possible. Please let us know in advance if you have special dietary needs. Participants are encouraged to bring their own bicycle (if possible) for visits to neighboring farms and projects. If you would like to attend this course, but need different accommodations, you may book a room at the Depot Inn in La Plata. (Obviously, this cost in NOT included in the fee for the course.) The Investment Singing Prairie Farm and the Possibility Alliance (home of Permaculture teachers, Ethan Hughes) are examples of simple living and sustainability in practice. To that end, the course is being offered by Singing Prairie at a lower rate than most two-week Permaculture Design Courses in North America. The fee includes mostly organic meals and a place to camp. If you commit, please plan on coming for the full time, noon on Oct. 11 until noon on October 24th. The Early Bird fee (registration prior to September 1, 2011) is $650.

The Regular fee (registration between September 1-October 11) is $725. In keeping with the vision of creating systems that are abundant, 10% of the profits of the course will be donated to programs supporting the urban homeless in St Louis. A non-refundable $200 deposit is required to secure your place for the course. Please make a check or money order payable to Singing Prairie Farm. Please mail it to: Singing Prairie Farm

30552 Lantern St

La Plata, MO 63549 Questions? Please contact John or Holly Arbuckle at 660-332-4020.




“The truly wise person kneels at the feet of all creatures.”

–Mechtild of Magdeburg

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