How To Start a Home-Based Permaculture Design Business

Permaculture is an approach to the design and maintenance of landscapes and communities that seeks to mimic the relationships found in natural ecosystems. The permaculture system was developed in the 1970’s by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, though elements of permaculture design have been used by different cultures around the world for thousands of years.

Permaculture has always placed a strong emphasis on sustainability and environmental responsibility. The permaculture method has been used successfully around the world to restore degraded agricultural lands and ecosystems in ways that benefit humans, wildlife, and the environment. For example, in the following video Geoff Lawton, a protege of Bill Mollison and founder of the Permaculture Research Institute, demonstrates his conviction that “you can fix all the world’s problems in a garden” by turning a desolate plot of land in Jordan into a productive and self-sustaining “food forest”:

As interest in sustainable landscaping increases, interest in permaculture is on the rise, and there is a growing need for qualified permaculture designers. Offering permaculture design services is not only a good way to build a more sustainable future for humanity, it can also easily be run as a home-based green business.

Permaculture Design Courses and Other Certification Options

Though permaculture shares many of the same principles and techniques as other sustainable landscaping approaches, such as xeriscaping and edible landscaping, it tends to take a more holistic approach, incorporating elements of green building, urban design, and general green living. Because of this holistic approach and the broad base of knowledge it requires, permaculture is a great career choice for self-motivated, curious learners eager to go above and beyond the minimum educational requirements of their chosen career.

A number of organizations and individuals offer permaculture design certification (PDC) courses and other certification programs. Most are based on the permaculture design courses offered by Bill Mollison until his retirement. Currently, permaculture education works primarily on the honor system. Anybody can take a permaculture design course and call themselves “certified permaculture designers.” Likewise, anybody can take a permaculture design certification course and go out and teach their own course.

Because of the lack of oversight, it is very important to thoroughly research any permaculture design courses you are interested in taking to ensure that they are taught by legitimate and knowledgeable permaculture designers. As a permaculture design professional, you may also be called upon by potential clients to offer proof of your experience and expertise before hiring.

Traditionally, permaculture design certification is followed by a period of intensive self study and experimentation before offering design services to the general public. Due to the importance of establishing credibility in the permaculture field, an experimentation and demonstration garden can be an especially effective tool to help attract clients.

Three Permaculture Design Services Making the World a Greener Place

Sierra Permaculture Design is located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Northern California and offers a range of permaculture design services from organic vegetable garden installation to design and installation of food forests, greywater systems, and more. Sierra Permaculture Design also offers three hour permaculture site consultations for homeowners.

Sebastopol, CA based Permaculture Artisans is a licensed landscaping company with an emphasis on permaculture design, maintenance, and education. Services include water harvesting, food forests, soil building, integrated pest management, pond installation, and more. Permaculture Artisans also offer maintenance services to help their designs establish successfully, and courses in permaculture design.

EcoScape Environmental Design is based in Boulder, CO and offers permaculture design services in addition to edible landscaping services, xeriscaping services, ecological restoration, fire-resistant landscapes, water harvesting systems, and hardscapes. In additional to their range of sustainable landscaping services, EcoScape puts a number of other green business practices to use, including composting all organic waste matter from landscaping projects, powering their office with wind energy, using biodiesel powered trucks, and more.


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