Diploma review

Starting out

I began my diploma four years after doing my Permaculture Design Course and being involved in Transition Town Lewes. In the interim period, I incubated, rather than explicitly did design work, in a period of my life in which we moved to Germany and China to return to the UK in the autumn of 2011. So I began the diploma, having forgotten the details, but remembering the core ethics and principles of permaculture design.

Key learning

Key learning has been:

  • design process: Explicit application of permaculture ethics and principles, design tools and design process frameworks in all ten designs has given me experience in applied permaculture design.
  • application of principles: Deepening my understanding of permaculture principles as ecosystem principles and gaining experience of how they can be applied to create sustainable and regenerative systems.
  • systems thinking: Gaining an understanding of permaculture as systems thinking, learning to think holistically and work with complex systems.
  • land-based design skills: Gaining skills in mapping, surveying, reading the landscape, soil, plants, water in the landscape and forest gardening.
  • people-based design skills: I undertook some short trainings and gained lots of practical experience in working in groups and in an intentional community.

What would I do differently?

Main points for doing differently are:

  • start with a small land-based design, rather than the learning pathway, in order to get a feel for the design process and tools and begin gaining experience of land-based design
  • more contained design work other than pathway designs in order to get into detailed design work during the diploma – I now have many designs within designs still to do!
  • work on paper to avoid working on the laptop in terms of health benefits and a different connection to design content
  • get more practical experience of growing in community gardens to build growing experience and less sedentary community meetings!
  • go into depth in study of natural environment practically and in theory, really implement the aim of daily observation of nature (sit spots, walking).

Applying permaculture to my own life and projects

I created a timeline of design work/diploma activities linked to where these were applied to my life and work.

Detailed reflection and evaluation of each design

See the evaluation section of each design for a reflection on the design process, including how permaculture ethics and principles have been applied in each design.

Meeting the assessment criteria

I created documentation on how I met the assessment criteria for each design.


I began the diploma very inspired, but with very little explicit design experience. I value the approach to learning by carrying out permaculture design projects, and I feel the thorough application of permaculture design tools has ensured I have now gained experience in permaculture design. I have also valued working in collaboration and have learnt a great deal in practical working with others in community gardens, in the trustee setting, in group work in the intentional community where I live, in Brighton Permaculture Trust in the teaching team and in the course environment with participants. Through supporting BPT’s permaculture courses and subsequently teaching on the Introduction to Permaculture and the Design Course, I have deepened my understanding of permaculture. My next steps are to:

  • develop my work with Brighton Permaculture Trust as a tutor and convenor
  • continue implementing the Forest Garden design
  • begin the Transition design.