FAQ's: Phoenix Permaculture Design Course

We’re excited that you are considering joining us for the next Phoenix Permaculture Design Course with a focus on Drylands and Southwest Ecosystems.  Committing to this course can change your life in astonishing ways, so we want you to be as excited and prepared as possible. These are some of the most common questions that have been asked about our program…


The 2025 PDC has not been scheduled.  We will update here with new dates near the end of April 2024.


The CURRENT PDC is taking place in the Spring of 2024 on 10 weekend days:

    • Days 1-2: Sat/Sun, Feb 10 & 11

    • Days 3-4: Sat/Sun, Feb 24 & 25

    • Days 5-6: Sat/Sun, Mar 9 & 10

    • Days 7-8Sat/Sun, Mar 23 & 24

    • Days 9-10Sat/Sun, Apr 20 & 21

Breaks include a half hour for lunch; brown bagging is recommended.

Attendance in all 10 days are required to graduate from the course.
Class starts at 9 am and typically runs until 5:30 pm, although we may break early on occasion.

Key Dates:
  • Day 8: Group Presentations of Research, Site Maps & Evaluation, and Discussion of Proposed Ideas with Feedback from PDC team.
  • Day 10: Group Final Presentations of Completed Designs

The course is $1295 for the full 72-hour course and includes the Introduction to Permaculture Textbook by Bill Mollison and the student binder which is distributed on first day.

    • Hold your spot for $250.
      This deposit will hold your spot in the course if received by early registration deadline. We will accept deposits only while spots available.
    • Full balance due by February 1st.
      (minus any deposits and discounts).
      • $1095 due by January 10th.
      • $1295 due after January 10th. If spots available
    • $200 early registration discount.
      Available through January 10th for that course year. 
    • Registering after January 10th requires full registration amount.
      (See next section)

SPRING deadlines and dates:

    • Early registration ends: January 25th of the course year.
    • Full balance for early registrants due by: February 1st.
    • Full price, late registrations: January 26 through February 10 – only if spots available
    • Course cancellation announcement (in unlikely event not enough participants): by January 28th
  • Spring 2024 Specific: 
    • Course starts: February 10, 2024
    • Course completed: April 21, 2024
    • A $250 deposit to get the discount rate and to hold your place in the course is available until one month before the course starts. Spots fill quickly so this is first-come, first-served.
    • Submit a payment of either the deposit or the full amount through one of the ways described below.
    • If the name on the credit card or check is NOT the participant, then an email to us is needed to give us contact information on the student.
    • The deposit is non-refundable unless the course is cancelled by us.
    • In the unlikely event the entire course is cancelled, you will receive a full refund of your paid tuition including the deposit within two weeks of the announced course cancellation. See #4 for cancellation procedure.
    • You will receive a refund if you cancel and another full-tuition student can be found to fill your spot to make a full course before the first day of class. In the event the class has not been fully filled by the first day of class, your spot will not be considered replaced.
    There are three ways to pay and/or register for the course…
    1. By Mail – Checks and money orders can be made out to GrowPHX. Please mail only checks and money orders (no cash) to: Urban Farm, PO Box 10072 Glendale, AZ 85318. Include your return address, e-mail address, and phone number, and you will be sent an e-receipt confirming your registration.
    2. By Credit Card – credit card payments go through our secure online shopping cart.  See above!
    3. In Person – You can track down Janis (Janis@urbanfarm.org) at any of our events and give her check, money order, or cash.

Cancelling the entire course requires a written communication to Janis@UrbanFarm.org.  We will apply refunds as listed here based on when the written or emailed request for refund is received:

    • 30 days or more before the course begins: Any paid funds will be refunded minus the $200 deposit*.
    • 10 to 29 business days before the course begins: We will refund 75% of what you have paid, minus the $200 deposit*.
    • Less than 10 days before course begins, or after the course has started: We will refund 50% of what you have paid, minus the $200 deposit*.
    • *However, if the course is full and a person from the waiting list takes your place, you will receive a full refund of all registration funds you have paid up to the first day of the course minus any processing fees.

Not showing up to the first day of class will count as a “no-show”. Refunds for no-shows are considered on a case-by-case basis and are only after receipt of a written request for refund cancellation. 

In the unlikely event that the entire course is cancelled by us, you will receive a full refund for any deposit and other registration funds you have paid.

Our budget is limited and many of our expenses are planned and committed to well in advance of the course start date. in order to remain sustainable we cannot promise a refund. However, we do understand that life can be complicated. We decide refunds or credit in non-emergency situations on a case-by-case basis.

We expect each participant to attend ALL TEN of the scheduled classes, as this is what is required to completed the 72 hours of the course. The design project and final presentation of this course depends on group participation and having a group member fail to pull their weight puts an undue burden on the rest of the group. 

We understand unexpected events come up. Missing class time and student exercises will need to be made up in order to secure a successful completion of the course. Missing more than two days of classes will result in the need to retake the course later date. Missing a group design project exercise or the final presentation will result an incomplete for this course and will require the participant to retake another course in full.

It is up to you to request any make-up work and you may have to schedule time to meet with the instructor who was teaching during the missed period if he or she is willing to go over the material. In some cases scheduling make up one-on-one tutoring is not feasible and you may have to wait until next year’s course to make up the material and get your certificate.

Partial scholarships may be available on a limited, case-by-case, basis and proposals must be submitted in writing prior to 30 days before start of course. 

Pay It Forward Scholarship Committee

The Pay It Forward Scholarship Committee has been created to review applications and determine scholarship amounts. This committee will assess the need and worthiness of applicants, and then assign available scholarship funds. This committee is made up of past graduates who are committed to seeing future PDC Students have access to the course.

Any PDC Graduates willing to grant scholarship funds to future students can reach out to Janis for more details.

The 72-hour course follows a standard Permaculture Design Course outline with the added elements of Dryland topics.  A general day-by-day outline and syllabus is presented on Day 1.

We will be teaching in classrooms, residences, and a few outdoor settings in locations around the valley in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale and North Peoria and on one day we will be taking a field trip to see permaculture examples in the valley.

This course leads to a Design Course Certificate in Permaculture. While this certificate is not recognized directly by most universities and colleges, many of our students have been university or college students, and have worked with their departments at the University of Arizona, Prescott College, and Pima Community College to obtain independent study credit for taking this course. It is up to the individual student to work out arrangements with his/her college and his/her department. Prescott College students have often taken this course for credit.

This Permaculture Design Course is a standardized course (with additional emphasis here in the Southwest Dry lands) given around the world since 1981, and there are currently over 300,000 graduates working in over 100 countries on sustainability issues. Our seasoned team of teachers have been giving this course for over fifteen years together; and as a whole, the teaching team has decades of experience in core Permaculture topics, sustainable development, and other specialized areas of sustainability. It is up to you to determine with your educational institute if this would apply for credit.

For registration, payment, and timeline questions, send an email to Janis@UrbanFarm.org and be sure to use “PDC REGISTRATION”  or appropriate topic in the subject line.

For course content questions, send an email to permiedon@gmail.com and be sure to use “PDC CONTENT” or appropriate topic in the subject line.

The REQUIRED books would be

  • Intro to Permaculture by Bill Mollison (included in the registration price)
  • How Green am I by Don Lotter (included in the registration price)
  • Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands Vol 1 by Brad Lancaster (available at most libraries and HERE at Brad’s website)

Other suggested reading will be included in the syllabus and in class discussions.

Suggested videos and other forms of media will be discussed in class as there is plenty of good permaculture information out there.

There will be group activities, as well as a group design project and presentation on the last day to showcase your design planning. The class will be divided into groups by Day 2, as regionally located as possible. Group project planning and homework is expected. The more you meet with your group outside of class to study or work on your project, the more you will get out of this course.

Key Group Work dates in the course:
  • Day 8: Group Mock Presentations of Research, Site Maps & Evaluation, and Discussion of Proposed Ideas with Feedback from PDC team. (You will present your group project multiple times that day and get feedback to help you as you work towards your final design.)
  • Day 10: Group Final Presentation of Completed Designs. This is the culmination of all your study into a presentation as if the audience was your ‘client’. 

Regarding couples and group work: 

Most of our class time is spent in large settings with opportunities to learn and explore permaculture concepts together. However, for the group projects, we strive to split couples into separate groups to allow for more individualized learning. We recognize this may pose a transportation difficulty if groups plan on meeting outside of class time; and hope that our couples can give a honest effort to evaluate their ability participate in these separate groups before asking to be placed in the same group.  The couples who have experienced the class in separate groups have told us they very much appreciated the format.


We will extend a $50 per person discount for couples who register at the same time.

We do offer an optional additional $40 discount to couples registering at the same time and are willing to share the Intro to Permaculture by Bill Mollison textbook. Each student will get their own course manual, and will be expected to do their own homework.