Two 72 hour Permaculture Design Certificate Courses being taught in the Tropics

May 14 – 24, 2010 – COSTA RICA
June 4 – 18, 2010 – PANAMA

Since the first Permaculture Design Course in 1972, this course has been taught thousands of times around the world. This internationally recognized course is based on the teachings of movement founder Bill Mollison and all chapters of the text, Permaculture: A Designers Manual. The course gives an in-depth understanding of the design process and the main elements involved. The course also gives many ideas and inspiration for further study in specific disciplines that can integrate with a productive property of any scale.

The course results in a certificate, which is a prerequisite for the Permaculture diploma that is available after 2 years of documented, applied work in the field.

Permaculture is sustainable, and reparative, land use design. The result is agriculturally productive ecosystems which are diverse, stable and meet human needs (materials, energy, shelter, food, water and more). Working with nature rather than against nature means maximizing results and minimizing work. Asking many functions from each element and providing many supports for each element creates a stable system. The land and its occupants are integrated harmoniously.

Permaculture design can be applied to any scale of project from small yard to entire countries. The beneficial relationships between the elements are emphasized. The wastes become resources. Productivity and yields increase and environments, and stability, are restored.

Topics Covered:

  • Design methods
  • Understanding patterns in nature
  • Trees & their energy transactions
  • Forest establishment
  • Food forests
  • Climatic factors
  • Temperate zones
  • Humid tropics
  • Dry land strategies
  • Islands
  • Aquaculture
  • Water harvesting
  • Waste management
  • Soil biology, creation and erosion control
  • Energy efficient architecture
  • Legal strategies and trusts
  • Earthworks & their use in earth repair
  • Strategies for urban and rural environments
  • Effective working groups
  • Money and finance
  • Bio regional organization
  • Ethical investment
  • Effective aid

Planting on swales

Meet the Instructors:

Matt Whittley
After much exploration into alternative fuels, alternative building and organic farming, Matt heard about Permaculture. The pursuit of Permaculture became an immediate obsession. Within 2 weeks Matt found himself sitting with Permaculture founder Bill Mollison in Bocas del Toro, a Caribbean island off the coast of Panama, for a Permaculture for Islands course. During this time Matt was offered a position to work with Bill and Lisa Mollison in Tasmania, Australia, an offer he could not refuse. Matt, and his wife Julia, moved to Tasmania and worked closely with Bill and Lisa, creating a 72 hour DVD series. The time spent with Bill and Lisa personally, and the exposure to the video teaching, gave Matt and Julia a truly comprehensive understanding of Permaculture.

Matt and Julia went on to work with Geoff Lawton on his next DVD about Soil Biology. They also went on several consultations with Geoff, often dealing with earth dam construction, water harvesting and site design, including a 1500 acre property.

Since leaving Australia, Matt has been working full time in the field for permaculture. He is currently living in Panama and starting a demonstration site for permaculture design and education.

With a background and passion for teaching Matt is able to relate complex concepts to people with a wide variety of backgrounds. He also has an extensive photo and video library to help demonstrate examples.

Matt and Julia mix cob

Julia Breitenfeld
Julia has spent a year travelling around Australia, working and learning directly from Bill and Lisa Mollison in Tasmania and Geoff Lawton in New South Wales. Most of her time was spent gaining practical experience in the garden and on the fields. Julia has become intimately familiar with the soil micro-universe and the importance of the soil food web. Healthy soils equal healthy plants equal healthy people.

Julia holds a Permaculture Design Certificate, from a course taught by Bill and Geoff in Melbourne. Julia now lives in Panama, Central America, with her husband Matt, and together they have dedicated their lives to designing properties to produce optimum health not only for the people but also for the health of the planet. Julia understands that the key to restoring vitality and life is incorporating fundamentals such as seed saving, appropriate technologies, water harvesting and restoring soil biology. Sustaining the soil is not enough, we need to be creating it; regeneration is the goal. Let’s make more soil together!

Julia’s enthusiastic approach is inspiring and will excite you to learn and explore more about all aspects of life; your own life and the life in the soil that supports all life around you.

Course Details:

The PDC in May will be at W.I.S.E (World Institute for Sustainability and Education). It is an intensive 10-day course (72 hours), in the beautiful Osa Mountains of South Eastern Costa Rica. Accommodations are basic cabinas with wooden floors and screened sides. Cots are provided but please bring your own bedding. All meals are provided, including snacks. Food is based on local fare, catering to omnivores and vegetarians.

The PDC in June will be at Tanglewood Wellness Center in Central Panama, 90 minutes from Panama City. This beautiful retreat is located in the mountains, a short drive to the beach. The retreat offers comfortable rooms (double occupancy) with 2 single beds, mosquito netting, a ceiling fan, locking closets, electricity and a private bathroom with shower. Organic cotton linens and towels are provided. All meals served at Tanglewood Wellness Center are Raw Vegan. You can expect simple meals and snacks with an abundance of high quality, fresh, local produce prepared by Tanglewood’s experience staff. Tanglewood is located close to a town with some restaurants for those who prefer hot breakfasts or dinners. Please note: Individuals are responsible for any meals outside of Tanglewood Wellness Center.

Laying out stakes on contour


Costa Rica – 10-day intensive course at WISE: US$1,195. Partial Scholarships are available to those booking at least 30 days in advance and submitting 500 words about how they’re planning on using their skills to help their local communities. Fees include basic shared accommodations (2 per cabina, shared bathrooms), 3 meals per day plus snacks, and a PDC. This is an intensive course so please be prepared for full days of activities and learning.

Panama – 14-day course at Tanglewood Wellness Center: US$2,295. Discounts are offered to those booking in advance. $1,995 for bookings received by April 15, $2,095 for bookings received by May 1, $2,195 for bookings received by May 15. Fees include very comfortable accommodations (2 per room, private bathrooms), 3 raw vegan meals per day plus snacks, and a PDC. Field trips will be taken to local places of interest. Lots of time for learning, relaxation and rejuvenation in the gorgeous, serene setting of Tanglewood Wellness Center.

Please contact Matt Whittley at mattwhittley (at) for more information about what to bring and how to sign up. We look forward to seeing you in the Tropics.

Click here for information on the PDC being taught at W.I.S.E., Costa Rica.

Click here for information on the PDC being taught at Tanglewood Wellness Center, Panama.


  1. Hello! I live in Panama and would be very interested in knowing more about the Permaculture course here. I tried to access the links for additional info but I dont have iCloud and apparently I cant view the pages without it. But if you could email me with more info I would very very grateful!

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