Frequently Asked Questions

PINA Membership
Why should I join PINA?

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

How can I renew my membership?

Most PINA members are set up with automatic annual renewal through Paypal.  If your membership has expired due to nonpayment, go to our membership reinstatement page.

If you do not have a log-in because you have never registered on the PINA website, please use our Become a Member page as if you are a new member. This applies to all member types – regular, diplomate, or fast-track candidate.

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

How is PINA passing the torch of permaculture to the next generation?

The founders of PINA were all senior teachers and designers with developed reputations for competent work in the field of permaculture. The PINA Board of Directors believe this depth of experience and demonstrated excellence is necessary to maintain consistency with the historically developed and recognized permaculture design curriculum out of respect for the hundreds of thousands of certificate holders worldwide. PINA is designed to provide pathways for younger designers and consultants to access the experience and support of older permaculture practitioners. We believe this multigenerational partnership can skyrocket permaculture into the future.

How is PINA promoting inclusivity and decolonization in permaculture?

PINA’s Board of Directors strives for gender balance along with representation from regions throughout North America. PINA is an equal opportunity employer. We encourage women, people of color, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ folk to apply for jobs and contracts. PINA regional hubs must to be open to all PDC certificate holders in their regions, and PINA offers hubs 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 in both the USA and Canada. Read our Commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access.

Permaculture Design
What is Permaculture?
Permaculture is a global social movement centered around the grassroots training of a system of holistic ecological design. It aims to improve the lives of all people while conserving and regenerating ecosystems everywhere. The design system makes use of locational values, ecosystem models, and patterns in nature. It draws on traditional knowledge and modern science. Permaculture is also a personal practice of applying permaculture ethics and principles to one’s life, while exploring and sharing empirical findings about the natural and human worlds.
How do permaculture designers work?

After completing a Permaculture Design Course, graduates may use the term “permaculture” in pursuit of a livelihood. Some choose to enter consultancy on land-based projects or social systems design. Others build household, farm or ranch systems or launch businesses to offer products or services. Yet others develop projects for community empowerment ranging from food security to housing renewal to trade and barter economies. Individual calling and initiative is encouraged in the PDC along with a collaborative attitude, while PINA’s diploma program cultivates mastery through individually designed programs of work and study, called Action Learning.

Why would I hire a permaculture design consultant?

Before undertaking a property purchase or land development, seeking the advice of a trained permaculture consultant can avoid major and costly mistakes while revealing perhaps unseen potentials. The environmental and social analysis that takes place in a permaculture design is more comprehensive and integrated than what can be learned from a realtor, builder, or public official, as it will encompass all these perspectives and go beyond them. Moreover, a permaculture design consultant, while adhering to ethical standards, will work to help you meet your needs and aims in relation to property, housing, livelihood, and community.

It can also be helpful to engage a permaculture consultant for any large or comprehensive community development where people’s interactions with the natural world and built environment have physical, psychological, social, and economic components.

What does a permaculture design look like?
While every situation will be a little different, most consultants provide a combination of verbal advice—often delivered directly at your site, written analysis and recommendations, and drawings, maps, or plans of the system being designed. Experienced designers can provide valuable insight and guidance, and even a complete design for remote sites, but most complex designs will require one or more site visits to verify and refine map data, sample soils and vegetation, observe local conditions, and investigate the site context. Projects may be completed in a few weeks, or may extend over several years. For a comprehensive project such as a home system, farm, land-based business, or community-centered project, the design will articulate baseline conditions, potentials, and the direction of system evolution, emphasizing actions over 1-2 years that will move toward a long-term vision. It can be very useful to revisit a design at annual intervals, asking the consultant to update or adapt the plan to actual events and opportunities that could not be foreseen.
What does a permaculture design cost?
Consultancy rates in permaculture vary as in all professions, with market rates, experience, proximity to the client or site, and the nature of the work. Beginning designers may be willing to work pro bono on projects of interest to them, or may charge very modest fees reflecting their learning status. Most designers will discuss your situation and needs briefly without charge to find out if they can be of help to you. Experienced designers typically charge $50-100/hr and sometimes more for field work. Studio work may be billed at different rates. Most designers charge in addition for travel and for materials provided. Some offer an initial consulting package for smaller properties for $100-500 that will be centered around meeting at the site, a client interview, and perhaps a short written list of recommendations. For any lengthy analysis and drawings or for projects involving research, you should expect to pay upwards of $1,500 for work done by an experienced designer or team. As with architectural design, and depending on scale of the project and the nature of the deliverables, a fee in the range of 0.5-2.5% of project cost would be considered reasonable.

It should be emphasized that the savings to be realized from good permaculture design advice will return many times the cost of the consultant’s fee.

How do I find a permaculture design consultant?
Some multi-principal firms have been established who work over a wide area and even internationally, and most senior designers are willing to travel outside their immediate area for projects of interest, but you will be best served by finding someone working within a few hours travel of your location. This will make it easier to communicate and for the consultant to visit your site or meet with you. It is fair to say that most small towns do not yet have a resident permaculture consultant, while most major metro areas and regions will offer several. If there is a permaculture design course being offered near you, it may be possible to engage one or more of the teaching team to consult on your project in conjunction with the course—either before, after, or during. If a course has taken place in your area recently, some of its graduates may be seeking design experience, or may even have established a consultancy.

PINA’s diplomates in Site Design are listed on our website. Each has sound training, extensive experience, a good professional process, and we recommend them. More diplomates are being trained and added to our roster each year. Most working designers have established a web presence and you should be able to conduct a search online for services in your region. We recommend checking for professional credentials. You should not be afraid to ask for a sample portfolio, professional resume, or references.

Permaculture Design Course
How do I go about choosing a 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.

In a good course, senior or lead teachers work with newer teachers and diverse guests to ensure that multiple voices represent permaculture, the curriculum is fully presented, and the team can properly support all the students. Courses led by a single instructor, unless that person is deeply experienced, are likely to convey the material less effectively. Though many formats are legitimately offered, it is difficult to convey the full 72-hour curriculum in less than 12 days. Courses of shorter duration may rely on evening sessions or the use of recorded materials prior to the actual class, or may put most project design time outside the bounds of the course. In a PDC, students should expect to encounter the fruit of lived experience as well as research and study, and to engage with practitioners of the design system. Film and video can be entertaining and informative, but are not a substitute for teacher – student interaction.

PINA diplomates in Education teach the international standard curriculum, which was published following the 1st Intl. Permaculture Convergence in 1984, based on the original work of Bill Mollison, and has been stewarded by his successors for nearly 40 years. You may view it on our website.

A residential course will provide a greater immersion experience, building bonds with your learning community. Many people enjoy combining a PDC with travel to an inspiring place. There is much to recommend taking the course with instructors who know the region where you expect to live and work.

A weekend-format course will involve primarily local participants, can build ongoing local connections, and is more convenient for those working weekday jobs. It can also delve more deeply into uniquely local issues and potentially provide better access to resources of immediate concern to you.

Courses longer than 12 days will generally offer additional benefits through hands-on experience, multi-season observation, extended immersion in community, and additional time to process information. Bill Mollison’s initial PDCs ran 21 days, but it was soon recognized that 1) this was impractical for too many, and 2) that the need for extensive presentation of the evidence for global problems has diminished as public awareness of the crisis has spread. As a result, the course was affirmed in its present 72-hour framework by delegates to IPC-I.

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 their location, time constraints, or financial issues, some people may only be able to take an on-line PDC. As with other courses, PINA recommends studying with an instructor who has a high level of competency.

Do I need to take my Permaculture Design Course from a PINA certified instructor?
For purposes of becoming a member, as well as fulfilling the pre-requisite to begin diploma work, PINA recognizes any Permaculture Design Course taught by any teacher. That does not mean all teachers or all courses are equal or even adequate. 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.
Who is qualified to teach the PDC and how do I find one in my area?

PINA diplomates in Education and PINA-recognized instructors will generally have a minimum of six years experience and will have taught 10 or more PDCs, or they will be working with a senior teacher who has. Based on research by PINA staff and other colleagues in the field, PINA’s diplomates in Education have led about half the PDCs offered in North America since instruction began in 1980. They 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 include teaching the approved  PDC curriculum,  having taught the required number of courses for a  diploma in Permaculture Education , 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 instructors.  We look forward to offering a calendar of courses offered by PINA recognized instructors in the future.

Permaculture Design magazine publishes a quarterly calendar of PDC offerings across North America.

I heard that if you take a PDC, you can teach the PDC, is that true?
In the early days, 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 on offer, so expectations for the level of a teacher’s experience have gone up.

Teacher training courses are now widely available and are considered important for those planning to teach the PDC.  Teaching permaculture is an artisanal activity requiring multiple skill sets, deep intelligence, and a strong heart.  It is best learned by modeling superior practitioners and by practice.  The sober advice of veteran teachers to new ones is to start by teaching introductory classes and co-teaching with an experienced teacher.  After one has taken the teacher training, in most regions, local teachers are open to a request to audit for additional experience with other teachers, teach a module in their course,  or co-teach with them.

It is also 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 and that you practice doing designs.

As a PINA diplomate, can I offer the PINA certificate at a PDC where I'm not present the whole time?
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
What is the difference between the PINA diploma and other permaculture diplomas?
PINA has established 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 organizations such as the Permaculture Association in the U.K. Holders of the diploma issued by the Permaculture Academy of Britain may apply to PINA for recognition of their diploma status if they are working or living in North America.

What is the difference between a Field Advisor and a Mentor?
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 relevant to the Action Learning Plan who has knowledge or understanding sought by a diploma candidate.  Candidates are encouraged to seek out mentors of their choice.

On average what is the entire fee for going through the diploma process as a newly certified permaculturist?
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 our diploma candidates.  Fees for mentorship and costs for training would be in addition to PINA and Field Advisor fees. Remember that candidates make their own contractual arrangements with Field Advisors and mentors, so while we can recommend fee levels, we cannot control or foresee them.

How does PINA evaluate the teaching of diploma candidates?
PINA diplomates have been evaluated by peers, students, advisors, and senior colleagues. They are awarded the professional diploma when they demonstrate excellence in the field.  During their candidacy, over several years, they are in regular touch with their Field Advisor, whose inquiries and feedback help to reveal weaknesses and opportunities for learning. PINA Education diplomates are expected to have taught with a senior teacher on at least four occasions, and to have taught a minimum of 10 PDCs. They have to demonstrate that they understand and have prepared lesson plans and outlines for all units of the standard curriculum. They are expected to participate in all aspects of promoting, organizing, and presenting a PDC. They must submit sample evaluations from students along with references from colleagues. They must present the contents of their portfolio to at least one and sometimes two review panels made up of peers and elders, and they will be expected to summarize in those settings their learning experience as an apprentice teacher.

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

Can I apply for diplomas in Site Design and Education at the same time?
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.
What is a qualified design for purposes of a regular PINA diploma?
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.

What does the requirement of 'taught with/under a senior teacher' mean?
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.
What is a PINA-recognized Advanced Course?
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.
How can I apply for a regular diploma or see the Application Form if I can't log in?
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.
How can I apply for a Fast track diploma if I'm already a PINA member?
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.

Organization of PINA
Why do we need a North American permaculture organization?
Permaculture is widely recognized as the most adaptive and durable framework for transforming culture and agriculture in the post-industrial world, but our movement is far less effective than it needs to be to address its historic mission. 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 centers of initiative for recognizing achievement and mastery in the field. Professional achievement plus collective organization and solidarity will empower permaculture graduates to make a much greater positive impact on society.
Who makes up PINA?

Made up of both individuals and Allied Organizations, PINA supports its members’ individual and collective development as permaculture professionals. PINA’s individual members provide the lifeblood of the organization, while its other organizational members provide services and educational opportunities that span the continent. PINA members serve on various boards, panels, committees, subcommittees and other teams, and may also work as field advisors or mentors for diploma candidates. PINA’s Board of Directors is composed of a small group of long-time permaculture professionals that serve terms of 3 years with a limit of 5 terms. Please contact us if you would like more information about volunteering on the Board.

Is PINA a nonprofit?
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.
How is PINA funded?
Annual membership dues, fees for the diploma program and other services, donations by nonprofit groups and individuals all support the work of the organization.