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Permaculture Design Certificate @ CoSM

"Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better."

- Albert Einstein

Learn the art of design to become a more successful designer of your life, work, relationships and gardens.

Join like minded people in a uniquely creative learning adventure, a rare opportunity to learn ecological design with a small class of inspired individuals at CoSM: Chapel of Sacred Mirrors.  

Together we will learn how to design our lives, livelihoods and landscapes to save time, energy and money while living in alignment with our values. Understanding the secrets to natures success can support us to become better decision makers and designers. Journey along the medicine path with an infusion of herbalism and holistic nutrition. Spend a year becoming more design literate, pattern literate and ecologically literate.

Course Topics include:

- Design Methods

- Patterns in Nature

- Soils and Composting

- Plants & Trees

- Animals

- Water

- Climate

- Design for Cool, Tropical and Dry Climates

- Herbalism, Food Preservation and Fermentation

- Governance, Economics and Business


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Optional course readings but no tests, optional written work but no grades. The coursework features an optional year long map and design project for a business, relationship, home, garden or farm of your choice. Together the group will map and create design ideas for the 40 acre CoSM Grounds.

Missed classes can be done for no additional tuition with future groups and there is no time limit to complete the certification.

Delvin Solkinson has taught this year long course 28 times over the past 17 years, upgrading it each time. Grace & Delvin Solkinson have been teaching together for 5 years. The program includes a bespoke textbook, 230 card principles deck, in-house group design charrettes and custom 1000 card core curriculum deck. Guest teaching for this course are our bioregions most renowned permaculture teachers and herbalists. Our field trips are to the best permaculture gardens, farms and homesteads within a couple hours drive of CoSM and include plenty of direct contact with friendly animals and time spent in inspiring natural environments. Hands-on medicine making and food preservation activities led by Grace will also be a highlight. Tour the CoSM land in all four seasons and benefit from a studio visit with Allyson Grey & Alex Grey.

Permaculture Design with Delvin Solkinson & Grace Solkinson Photo by @teej_vision

Permaculture Design with Delvin Solkinson & Grace Solkinson Photo by @teej_vision

Permaculture Design with Delvin Solkinson & Grace Solkinson Photo by @teej_vision

Permaculture Design with Delvin Solkinson & Grace Solkinson Photo by @teej_vision

Permaculture Design with Delvin Solkinson & Grace Solkinson Photo by @teej_vision

Permaculture Design with Delvin Solkinson & Grace Solkinson Photo by @teej_vision

Permaculture Design with Delvin Solkinson & Grace Solkinson Photo by @teej_vision

Permaculture Design with Delvin Solkinson & Grace Solkinson Photo by @teej_vision

Permaculture Design with Delvin Solkinson & Grace Solkinson Photo by @teej_vision

Permaculture Design with Delvin Solkinson & Grace Solkinson Photo by @teej_vision


Session 1: Pretro

Group introductions

Course orientation & requirements

Group goals and guidelines

Communication (NVC and conflict resolution)

Learning styles & multiple intelligences

Learning Goals:

Set a course culture of safety, respect and organization

Create a positive & effective learning environment

Encourage active listening in groups

Value different ways of communicating and have confidence in utilizing tools of conflict resolution

Orient participants to course content

Session 2:  Foundations of Permaculture


History of Permaculture



Learning Goals:

Know the Permaculture ethics and the Transition ethic and how to apply them to conscious decision making

Learn the basis of how the Permaculture movement began, how it has grown, some of its progeny’s and how the lineage links to this course.

Gain a strong understanding of nature’s principles and how they are at the foundation of design decisions and application

Provide awareness of the world’s problems and the current situation

Shift from a place of problems to positive solution based thinking.

Feel confident in defining Permaculture clearly to others

Session 3:  Design Methods

Needs, Functions and Outputs




Learning Goals:

Understand how to do a needs & yields analysis

Gain a base understanding of closed loop systems

Observe a site, document and recognize available resources and design constraints based on analysis.

Identify energies or influences that effect a design site

Be able to create a base map including zones & sector analysis for a site

Know the basic elements included in mapping a site

Session 4: Pattern Literacy

Physical patterns, emergent patterns, fractal patterns

Functions of patterns

Patterns in time

Behavioural patterns

Application of patterns in design


Learning Goals:

Pattern recognition in nature and technology

Learn the functions of patterns in nature and how to apply that knowledge to effective design

Gain Pattern literacy and understand how to replace dysfunctional patterns with functional ones.

Know the functions of and feel confident designing guilds

Recognize that pattern literacy is fundamental in becoming good designers

Session 5: Soil

Soil biology

Soil classification and testing


Soil remediation


Soil indicators

Learning Goals:

Have a base understanding of the components of healthy soil and know the value of building soil.

Know different ways to test soil

Recognize different plant indicators and what they tell about soil health.

Understand a multitude of different ways to remediate and build soil.

Apply different composting techniques in appropriate situations.

Identify key plants that bring nutrient to the soil.

Session 6: Trees

Ecological function of trees in relation to earth, water, air and energy



Forest gardens and food forests

Plant and tree identification

Plants as soil indicators

Design for trees

Learning Goals:

Understand the ecological functions of trees and recognize them as a keystone species in the ecosystem.

Learn the stages of succession and how to intervene at appropriate times.

Know the layers in a forest garden and different plants for each layer that grow locally

Identify local plants and trees and see the difference in characteristics between species.

Be able to integrate trees adequately and appropriately in design.

Session 7: Animals

Design for wild and domestic animals

Animal care

Integrated pest management

Learning Goals:

Recognize the intrinsic characteristics, functions and outputs of animals

How to meet the needs of animals on site

Learn techniques for integrating animal systems

Understand effective and healthy ways to handle pests

Know how to safely and ethically live with wildlife

Session 8: Water, Aquaculture & Earthworks

Water facts

Water conservation

Water strategies & techniques

Waste water treatment

Water harvesting & storage



Learning Goals:

Understand how global water issues can affect us on a local level.

Learn how to do a water audit.

Recognize multiple ways in which to conserve water.

Feel confident in applying strategies and techniques to capture, store, treat and release water safely and appropriately.

Know how to calculate roof water catchment amounts.

Session 9:  Climate

Climatic Zones

Climatic factors


Design for Climate

Learning Goals:

Understand climate on a global scale and how we may design to moderate climatic factors

Be able to identify, create and design microclimates

Learn how to understand climate and its elements (light, wind, water)

Session 10:  Cool Climate

Cool climate characteristics

Cool climate design challenges and strategies

Cool climate design elements and techniques

Learning Goals:

Be able to identify characteristics of cool climate and appropriate strategies and technologies to work with them in the home, garden, farm and community.

Session 11: Tropics

Tropical climate characteristics

Tropical climate design challenges and strategies

Tropical climate design elements and techniques

Learning Goals:

Be able to identify characteristics of wet, wet dry and monsoon tropics and appropriate strategies and technologies to work with them in the home, garden, farm and community.

Session 12: Drylands

Dryland climate characteristics

Dryland climate design challenges and strategies

Dryland climate design elements and techniques

Learning Goals:

Be able to identify characteristics of drylands and appropriate strategies and technologies to work with them in the home, garden, farm and community.

Session 13:  Social Permaculture

Client interview & designer checklist

Community building (group processes and asset mapping)

Governance (sociocracy and consensus decision making)

Land access

Right livelihood

Legal structures


Learning Goals:

Gain confidence in the consultation and design process for clients.

Be able to map assets and resources and identify community needs.

Understand different models of decision making and how to apply them.

Learn tools to provide for healthy group dynamics and efficient process.

Recognize opportunities for land access locally.

Become aware of ethical and effective business models and legal structures that support local economy

Know ways to relocalize and create resilient communities.

Session 14:  OS Permaculture


Permaculture economics

Urban renewal strategies and design

Learning Goals:

Able to identify risks and mitigate disaster using Permaculture design tools and techniques

Know the steps in building a emergency preparedness plan and engaging local community in the process

Learn a variety of different economic strategies and the value of utilizing multiple currencies and tools

Feel confident in utilizing place-making tools, techniques and Permaculture strategies in urban environments

Session 15:  Graduation

Next steps (setting up a permaculture practice, further education, community involvement, goal sharing)

Education (accessibility, open source, alternative education)

Mapping and design presentations

Talent show


Learning Goals:

Think about niches in permaculture and practice effective goal setting

Gain experience presenting to groups and receiving feedback

Understand how to help others share their gifts

This is an extraordinary way to evolve your life and work while making an uplifting contribution to CoSM that is creative, fun and educational.

Email for more details.

Permaculture Design, Visionary Permaculture @CoSM with Delvin Solkinson & Grace Solkinson - Photo by @teej_vision

VPDC Testimonials from Past Participants

"It has been 10 years since the Permaculture Concept was first introduced to me and in that time I have been engaged in intensive self study and applications of the design science. While a determined individual can learn a great deal about Permaculture by picking up books and researching and experimenting on their own, I thought it was important as a teacher to get an official certificate. I chose to engage in the CoSM Visionary Permaculture Certification Course after I was approached by Delvin Solkinson about presenting a mycology unit for the first class. While my intentions were primarily to go through the course just for the certificate I never would have imagined I would gain as much as I have out of the class. The course both solidified the foundation I had, filled in the gaps and help me consider how I would teach the material to others. Dina Falconi’s contribution on wildcrafted herbs and medicinals was of great use to my own work this year focussing on fortifying the Perennial systems of my homestead. Now looking back at the yearlong learning journey I can not imagine that any Certification program that tries to jam the same content into a 2 week intensive would come close to the effectiveness of the methodology of spacing the sessions between the four seasons; allowing a year for reading the accompanying texts while observing and mapping a site through 4 seasons. Not to mention the time with Alex and Alyson Grey and the CoSM staff is an inspiring part of the journey."

- Martin Bridge

"Spending my days with Delvin amongst the Wappinger Falls New York landscape at CoSM will be something that I will cherish forever. His passion and ability to cultivate our awareness was extraordinary. I now see ecology in a way I could’ve never imagined before I attended the course. The CoSM Community was accommodating and inspirational. I have since started talks with the Pittsburgh, PA mayors office about implementing Permaculture principles. My journey has received a huge gift to compliment the natural beauty surrounding us everywhere. Cheers to the Legacy that Delvin has sprouted, and to all those students supporting this vision. We have developed an immense amount of inspiration and creativity while learning among Delvin Solkinson & Martin Bridge, at Chapel of Sacred Mirrors during our Permaculture learning guild, presented by Gaiacraft. Delvin’s organization allowed us to have fun and be efficient.. Visionary teaching among visionary space and humans. We are currently implementing our permaculture wisdom on a 3 acre dome site just north on Pittsburgh Pennsylvania."

- Gene Stull

"Participating in the Visionary Permaculture Design Certification with Delvin Solkinson has been a radically life changing experience, both professionally and personally. The knowledge and inspiration gathered in the course has been an immeasurably valuable toolset that I will carry through out my path. Learning to observe, integrate and apply the brilliant lessons of nature towards building systems of ethical effectiveness in my personal and humanitarian endeavours has been humbling and exhilarating. Applying the tools of observation and assessment, followed by creative applications of permaculture design principles to the operations at my work has produced both qualitative and quantifiable results. On a personal level, being introduced to the principles of permaculture has positively rewired my worldview and approach to problem solving. Realizing that nature is always taking the best possible course and learning to look for the intelligent solution in each situation has been empowering and trust building. Gratitude to Delvin, all of the Permaculture teachers, indigenous wisdoms and benevolent brilliance of Nature herself for illuminating the way."

- Genevieve Wood

"Over the time I spent taking the Visionary Permaculture Design course with Delvin at CoSM, my life has gone through a major growth spurt. Delvin is such an inspiration to learn from and with, always reminding us that we're all students as well as teachers (which was a recurring theme throughout the course). An unforgettable aspect of the course for me were the multiple pilgrimages to inspiring permaculture sites and teachers. These experiences gave us the ability to integrate the concepts we were learning into a variety of real life examples throughout the four seasons. As well as the many teachers that came to CoSM to share their wisdom via skype or in person. I found learning from so many different permaculturalists gave me a more holistic perspective at the many different ways one may go about working within the permaculture design methods. Delvin and Grace are amazing space holders and create a ritual container each class session, giving us the space to ground in, observe what has occurred in our lives since our previous class, and set seeds of intention for what we'd like to accomplish. I am infinitely grateful for all this course has given me (too much to to express in one paragraph) and am eager to share this invaluable information with as many people as I can!"

- Kayla Kronsberg

"Delvin brings a full and direct lineage from the who’s who of permaculture elders to his teaching.  There’s probably no other person on the planet who has studied directly with the likes of Geoff Lawton, Toby Hemenway, Larry Santoyo, The Bullock brothers, Rosemary Morrow, on up to permaculture founders Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. Delvin has taken the teachings of these masters (and many more) and condensed them into a rich, well-planned course. I now feel inspired and energized, and I feel like I’ve got a new perspective of living on this planet — the abundance of it, and the problems we face and ideas on how to solve them. A bonus benefit of the course that I wasn’t expecting was the awesome hands-on herbal medicine making workshops from Grace. They really opened my eyes to the possibilities of the plants we’re surrounded by.  I loved the schedule of the course — taking a two-day time out from regular life every two or three months and making a pilgrimage to CoSM, reconnecting with each other, with ourselves, and being nurtured by the beautiful environment of CoSM.  The schedule also allowed for a nice and relaxed pace of doing the readings, and allowed for the information to sink in. Spending time with Alex and Allyson Grey was so valuable and inspiring!"

- Jesse Stacken

"The course being over a year has ‘permy’ permeated life in many  ways from the practical to the spiritual. Such an inspiring teacher in Delvin and in Grace with her healthy healing remedies. Such inspiring hosts in Alex and Allyson Grey in such an inspiring setting in CoSM. Accompanied by such incredible fieldtrips to some of the most inspiring local leaders in permaculture. Has given me tools to care more for myself, my people, my planet and the future we all step into."

- Andy Baldwin  

"The Value of this course transcends from the garden into every aspect of life. Permaculture Principles learned here can apply in layers of ways and meaning. I have been enriched."

- Stephanie Johnson

"I got a lot out of the Permaculture Design course! Not only did I gain a more clear idea of what permaculture is, but I also enjoyed coming to the classes and experiencing the journey of the course. Delvin does a great job of teaching the golden nuggets of wisdom he has received from his teachers in a digestible way. Lots of written content (worksheets and handouts to have as a resource) & interactive activities that help ingrain the knowledge into my mind. I loved going on all the field trips to existing permaculture sites & witnessing a variety of first-hand examples of ways people have implemented the permaculture principles. Loved making medicines with Grace. I am thankful for this educational opportunity. & container that Delvin offered to CoSM staff. Learning ways and identifying the natural systems within the organization that are already permaculture examples of permaculture. Now I am more aware of these patterns, ideas and terminologies, and have the ability to share this applicable info to anyone that is interested in learning. Thank you for enhancing my personal life design and for this profound, important gift to CoSM that will ripple out into the world."

- Caren Charles

"The gifts of your dedication, knowledge, wisdom, time and energy are so authentic and pure, they are prime examples of why there is hope for healing in this world. Rest assured that your work inspires on the deepest level, and our time together in community lends rocket fuel to our dreams."

-  Karen Bryant

"Permaculture is the new counter culture movement. Instead of working against systems, you observe, apply ethic and integrate them into your being and community compassionately. Delvin is an incredible and engaging teacher, shamaning you through the various permaculture pathways. CoSM’s 40 acre classroom is a serene adventure, it offers diverse seasonal insights and support for the continuation of your creative and spiritual and learning path."

- Haya Baumstark

"Taking the Permaculture design course at CoSM was a life changing event, and has unraveled a greater awareness of myself and the planet as well as providing an amazing toolkit that I will use in many facets of life."

- Michael Cox

"Thank you for your excellent leadership and guidance over the past year! The course definitely changed my life in a way that liberated myself from the norms of society. The people I have met while at CoSM, the knowledge and experience I have gained, and the ability to replace fear with love have been most valuable in this time of transition!"

- Brian Dickinson

"The Visionary Permaculture Design course taught by Delvin Solkinson at CoSM is an eye-opening and life-changing experience. Long before finishing the course, I found myself making positive life changes, big and small, and getting involved in highly rewarding local projects. In addition to the valuable skills and practical tools for re-imagining and re-shaping my immediate environment, I came away with a fresh perspective that continues to enrich nearly every aspect of my life. The atmosphere was relaxed, the content was engaging, and sessions were highly collaborative, which enabled our diverse group of participants to learn as much from each other as we did from the course itself. The connections made in this course have become some of my most treasured relationships. Delvin is a master facilitator. All throughout the year, during our meetings and in the months between, I knew what to expect and what was expected of me. He was hyper-organized and always had a plan, but made subtle adjustments whenever needed due to changing logistics, weather, or the needs of our group. He arranged for us to learn directly from experts on a variety of subjects, from beekeeping to herbalism to mycology and more, all in settings that were as inspiring as they were beautiful. There are tons of options for learning about permaculture or earning a PDC, but Delvin’s Visionary Permaculture program at CoSM is so much more. I will forever be grateful for the experience and look back on it as one of the best investments in myself, my family, and my community that I’ve ever made. If you have the opportunity to participate in this incredibly unique and inspiring program, do it. I can’t recommend it highly enough."

- Niki Gallo Hammond

"There are intensive courses from which you can get your PDC in just a couple of weeks, and that’s totally cool, so why did I choose a year long course? One of the first things I read in the designers manual was to spend at least one full cycle observing. Also, I know myself and how I learn best I need time to integrate new info before adding more. Delvin Solkinson is a true visionary teacher who teaches how to read models, and then models how to teach. His influence gives me confidence that I can take what I have learned, and continue to learn, and share it with others on my journey. The Chapel of Sacred Mirrors is a magical place, and this time tuition will include meals AND rooms that is meals crafted by the staff chef (who I adore) and rooms and classes in surroundings saturated with visionary art and history. It is an opportunity to not only enrich your own life, but also to inform the possible designs for the future of CoSM! I am so glad I took this course and wouldn’t trade this experience for anything! As a person who just finished the 2014 Visionary Permaculture Design Course at CoSM, I believe this could possibly be the best experience of your life if you choose to take this class."

- Mackenzie Nikol Greenwood

"Realizing that giving the gift of growing our own food and sharing knowledge and skills with others is how to create the change I want to see in the world, I enrolled in the Visionary Permaculture Design Course at CoSM. I believe it was the best decision I ever made. I plan to organize many public displays of farming and edible gardening while encouraging leadership and Love within our communities."

- Eli Blank

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