The word “permaculture” was originated by Bill Mollison, a University Professor, and his graduate student, David Holmgren, in Australia in the 1970’s. Originally it was a contraction of “permanent agriculture” - the design and implementation of permanent and sustainable agriculture systems. They launched the idea through David Holmgren’s thesis paper, and collaborated on the 1978 publication Permaculture One – a Perennial Agriculture for Human Settlements. After that, the co-founders went in separate directions. Holmgren became more of a big picture thinker, more theoretically driven. Mollison’s perspective was more hands-on, design based and focused on field techniques. This diversity from the inception has allowed the permaculture movement to grow organically.
Mollison developed the Permaculture Design Certificate, or PDC, as a tool for teaching the basic principles and foundations of permaculture design. The PDC has become an international format for practitioners to formally begin the study of permaculture. It’s a 72 hr course, typically taught in a two-week intensive live-in format, and uses Mollison’s book, Permaculture: A Designers Manual (1988) as a framework for the PDC course.
In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, permaculture practitioners would package a summary of their work to send to Bill Mollison, to petition him for a Permaculture Diploma. Once competent practitioners became prevalent throughout the world, Mollison granted them the status to award diplomas on their own. The development of the Permaculture Diploma has been organic, in keeping with the principles of permaculture. There are numerous formal and informal programs of study throughout the world where students can earn their Permaculture Diplomas. The commonality in these programs includes:
- Completion of a Permaculture Design Course (PDC)
- Actively practiced permaculture for at least two years
- Produced ten permaculture designs, documented with a portfolio
- Mentoring by a permaculture practitioner
Competencies for Kumu Aina Permaculture Diploma