Frequently Asked Questions

Organization of PINA
Permaculture is widely recognized as the most adaptive and durable framework for transforming culture and agriculture in the post-industrial world.  To strengthen and support this critical effort, PINA has established a professional organization, based on principles of peer review and mutual responsibility, transparent standards, and multiple center of initiative for recognizing achievement and mastery in the field.  
Combined of both individuals and regional hubs, PINA supports its members’ development as permaculture professionals.  PINA’s individual members provide the lifeblood of the organization, while its regional hub members engender a permaculture communications network that spans the continent.  PINA members serve on various boards, panels, committees, subcommittees and other teams, and may also work as field advisors and mentors for diploma candidates.  PINA’s current Board of Directors–a small group of long-time permaculture professionals–will eventually rotate off the Board as they are replaced by representatives from the regional hubs.
PINA is incorporated in Oregon as a not-for-profit mutual benefit corporation with the mission of supporting professional development.  Tax-exempt donations may be made to PINA through our fiscal sponsor, Association for Regenerative Culture (ARC), which is a 501(c)3.
Annual membership dues, fees for the diploma program and other services, donations by nonprofit groups and individuals all support the work of the organization.
PINA Membership
When you join PINA or renew your membership you are connecting with a growing network of permaculture professionals throughout North America.  The work each of us is doing to care for the earth and her people is vital now and for future generations.  By working together with a common vision and in mutual service we grow stronger, more resilient and have a greater impact.

The well being of our families and communities is inextricably bound to the health of our land, our cities and our planet.  Permaculture offers hope of profound societal transformation.  Supporting PINA through your membership is a low cost, low effort step you can take to significantly increase the connected yield of our permaculture efforts. Membership Overview

Most PINA members are set up with automatic annual renewal through Paypal.  If your membership has lapsed due to nonpayment, you can find the Reinstate Button on the Welcome Page which appears when you log in.

If you have joined PINA without setting up auto-pay renewal through Paypal, you can reinstate your membership as described above if you have a log-in.

If you do not have a log-in because you have never registered on the PINA website, please use our registration page as if you are a new member.

If you are a PINA diplomate who has never registered on the PINA website, please use our renew diplomate membership form.

If you have any other problems with your membership, please use the Contact form to get in touch with our administrator.

The founding members of PINA were made up exclusively of senior teachers and designers who have a developed reputation for competent work in the field of permaculture.  The PINA Board of Directors believe this is necessary to maintain consistency with the historically developed and recognized permaculture design curriculum out of respect to the thousands of certificate holders worldwide.  PINA is designed to provide a pathway for younger designers and consultants to access the experience and support of older permaculture practitioners and skyrocket permaculture into the future.
PINA’s Board of Directors strives for gender balance along with representation from regions throughout North America.  PINA is an equal opportunity employer and encourages women, people of color people with disabilities and LGBTQ to apply for jobs and contracts.  PINA regional hubs are required to be inclusive of all PDC certificate holders in their regions, and offers guidance and mediation for internal conflicts.  PINA accepts donations earmarked for support of certain classes of people and projects.  We currently have funds for the support of membership and regional hub development for areas east of the Mississippi.
Regional Hubs
The design for PINA calls for a decentralized structure based in a group of regional hubs (affiliated permaculture membership organizations) spanning North America and Hawaii.  The hubs are in various stages of development in different regions.  Hubs that have become operational provide local access to training and mentorship programs.  Field Advisors from the regional hubs guide candidates through PINA’s diploma process.   Hubs will have a role in reviewing diploma candidate portfolios.  Over time, the regional hubs will come to control PINA’s central agency by nominating representatives to serve on its Board of Directors. Regional Hubs 
PINA wants to be sure there is sufficient energy in each region to support our programs.  As most of the regions are quite large, they may subdivide once there is more energy and participation in the organization.
PINA requires its associated regional hubs to have some type of legal incorporation, a mission statement and by-laws, however the legal structure, decision making processes, projects and protocols of each hub are determined locally. Regional Hubs, although largely autonomous, in affiliating with PINA, the hub agrees to work within PINA’s defined process and requirements for granting diplomas. Regional Hubs 
PINA’s organizational design calls for the Board of Directors to evolve into a representative group of members elected in rotation from the regional hubs.  The PINA Board operates on a democratic process articulated in its By-laws posted on the website.  The By-laws include a process by which hubs elect representatives to serve on the PINA Board and has provisions for the organization to grow and develop and adjust policies and procedures as deemed necessary by members.
Permaculture Design Course
PINA encourages those seeking a Permaculture Design Course to consider that not all certificate courses are equal because not all teachers have equal competency or offer the same amount of training.

A residential course will provide a greater immersion experience, building bonds with your learning community.

A weekend course will generally involve primarily local participants, can build ongoing local connections and is more convenient for those working weekday jobs.

Longer courses will generally offer additional benefits through hands-on experience, multi-season observation, extended immersion in community and additional time to process information.

On-line courses do not offer the same level of instructor interaction, group support, hands-on training or group design experience as a face to face PDC.  That being said, due to geographic location, time or financial issues, some people may only be able to take an on-line PDC.  As with other courses, PINA recommends taking an on-line PDC from an instructor with a high level of competency.

PINA recognizes any Permaculture Design Course taught by any teacher for purposes of becoming a member of PINA, as well as fulfilling the pre-requisite to begin work on the diploma.  For the diploma, additional training may be required by the Field Advisor based on evaluation of the candidate’s individual strengths and weaknesses.  This may include remedial work if the original PDC did not cover the full curriculum.
PINA diplomates have demonstrated a high level of competency in the field of permaculture, and we recommend them as instructors.  See the list of PINA diplomates in Education.  PINA has criteria for quality of teaching that includes teaching the approved PDC curriculum, having taught the required number of courses for a diploma, and teaching in a range of situations, plus the design practice itself.

The pathway to becoming a teacher of the PDC is a matter of some debate in the movement.  There are excellent teachers of the PDC who have not gone through the PINA diploma process.  Please investigate the background and experience of your prospective PDC instructor.  We look forward to offering a calendar of courses offered by PINA certified instructors in the future.

In the early eadys, Bill Mollison told people that they could teach permaculture if they had taken the PDC.  His goal was a rapid grassroots spreading of these ideas.  At this point, there is no lack of permaculture courses available, so expectations around the level of a teacher’s experience has gone up.

There is now a teachers training that is widely available that is considered important for people planning to teach the PDC, and there is an expectation that new teachers will start by teaching introductory classes and co-teaching with an experienced teacher.  After one has taken the teachers training, in most areas, local teachers are open to a request to teach a module in their course, audit for addition experience with other teachers or co-teach with them.

It is important to gain experience with permaculture design before putting oneself forward to teach others.  If you have recently taken the PDC and want to start sharing what you’ve learned, we recommend that you start by teaching short courses in areas where you have particular expertise.

PINA’s policy is that you may not offer the PINA certificate unless you are present for the whole course.  This means that you are supervising co-teachers and guest teachers unless they are also PINA certified.
PINA Diploma
PINA offers a much more stringent competency based criteria for awarding its diploma than some other organizations.  It is our hope and intent that the PINA diploma will be held as a meaningful standard for excellence in the field.

Some organizations offer a diploma that Bill Mollison designed which requires only one documented project over 2 years of self-study, a much lower standard.  There are also diplomas with high standards offered by other organization such as the Permaculture Association in the U.K.

A diploma candidate will have one Field Advisor and, possibly, many mentors.  The FA guides the diploma candidate through the process from beginning to matriculation, co-developing the learning action plan, reviewing portfolios and working with the regional hub and PINA.

A mentor is an expert in a specific field who has a permaculture background and knowledge sought by a diploma candidate.  Candidates are encouraged to seek out mentors of their choice.

We know this is an important question in your decision about going through the PINA diploma process.  Each individual will require a different level of service from their Field Advisor and mentors.  We estimate that it will take 3 years if you do not have much previous experience in permaculture.  See the Diploma Fee Summary.

In addition to the PINA fees listed in the summary, expect that most candidates will have a monthly meeting with their Field Advisor lasting 1/2 to 1 hour.  Those who are more self-directed may not need that level of assistance.  We hope to be able to answer this question better as we gain experience with out diploma candidates.

PINA diplomates have been evaluated and awarded the professional diploma when they demonstrate excellence in the field.  The PDC is unlike teaching grade school, high school or college.  It has its own demands, some of which overlap with other classroom and pedagogical experience.

If you have long-term teaching experience but just started teaching Permaculture, PINA expects that your experience will shine through in the diploma process and other aspects of professional development.  The Field Advisor evaluates the diploma candidate’s capabilities and determines credit for any past experience which could be applied toward PINA criteria.

It is possible to apply for diplomas in more than one specialty at the same time, however it will be more work and take longer to complete.
Qualified designs need to address real sites or business or community enterprises, and should show evidence of a good site analysis, development of goals, vision and solutions to identified problems.  The scope of designs should extend over land, structures and social influences, or in the case of a design for a business or community group, should characterize the ecosystem of relationships that sustains it.

Site designs should demonstrate the complexity and multi-dimensional nature of a permaculture approach.  While we say that permaculture design can be applied to anything, the designs we are asking diploma candidates to base their portfolio upon should have the complexity of living and working venues for households and communities surrounded by productive landscapes.  These can be small or large, but should involve yields from land, conservation of natural resources and the meeting of real human needs.

We are looking to see that diplomates understand design methods and process, can work with others, and are applying permaculture ethics and principles to transform the culture.  The design does not have to get implemented, though it’s nice if at least some of those in any portfolio are built.  We do not require every qualified design to have full scale drawings and a lengthy report.  There should, however, be clear evidence that the candidate has done such work repeatedly.

A senior teacher is a PINA diplomate or someone from the PINA list of senior invitees.  An exception may be made at the discretion of the application reviewer for one of the instructors if they have a strong reputation teaching in other countries.  “Taught under/with” means that both the candidate and the senior teacher were present at the whole course together.  The intent is that the candidate was under observation and received feedback on their presentations, as well as learning additional perspectives, information and teaching techniques by attending the modules taught by the senior instructor.
An advanced course in permaculture should provide deep insight about permaculture and insider tricks of the trade. For purposes of completing the requirements for a PINA diploma, a PINA-recognized course is one taught by a PINA diplomate or someone known to be comparable due to their national or international reputation. Your Field Advisor will make the decision on whether courses taught by instructors who are not PINA diplomates are comparable or not.
You are required to become a member of pINA before you can apply for a regular diploma.  If you became a member without registering on the website, please use the Contact form to get in touch with our administrator for assistance.
Because most of the people invited to use the Fast Track diploma process were not already members of PINA, we set up the form to include new member registration and it will not allow you to use the same e-mail address.  If you are already a registered member of PINA with a log-in, you will find a link to the Fast Track Diploma Application on the Welcome page that appears when you log in.

If you became a member of PINA without registering on the website, please use the Fast Track form to register as a new member at the professional level.

Our administrator will refund any overlapping membership fees when she processes your application.