Certificate in Horticulture (Permaculture)

Certificate in Horticulture (Permaculture)

Course Code
Payment Options
Upfront & Payment Plans
Online & Correspondence
700 Hours

This course was developed for people working or wishing to work in Horticulture with a particular emphasis on the design, development and management of productive natural garden systems. The course was developed in liaison with both the Permaculture Institute and the Queensland Rural Training Council.

 “The principles of permaculture and the fundamentals of horticulture are covered in this extensive course. It creates opportunities to work as a consultant or to set up sustainable productive gardens for others.” 

This course was developed for people working or wishing to work in Horticulture with a particular emphasis on the design, development and management of productive natural garden systems. The course was developed in liaison with both the Permaculture Institute and the Queensland Rural Training Council. Half the course involves Permaculture systems, Advanced Permaculture, and one relevant elective eg: Organic plant culture. The other half provides a broad, general foundation in Horticultural practices.

The Certificate in Horticulture (Permaculture) involves two areas of work:

  • Core Studies - half of the course, involving at least 350 hours.
  • Stream Studies - stream studies in permaculture and organic growing, involving at least 300 hours of study.

Core Studies

The core units develop fundamental general skills in horticultural practices and plant knowledge. The core units cover the following topics:

1. Introduction to Plants

2. Parts of the Plant

3. Plant Culture - Planting

4. Plant Culture – Pruning

5. Plant Culture – Irrigation and Machinery

6. Soils and Media

7. Soils and Nutrition

8. Seeds and Cuttings

9. Other Techniques

10. ID and Use of Plants – Landscape Application

11. ID and Use of Plants – Problems

12. ID and Use of Plants – Indoor/tropical plants

13. Pests

14. Diseases

15. Weeds

Stream Studies

These involve 300 hours of study, and are made up of the following modules:

Permaculture Systems
Advanced Permaculture

Plus one (1) of the following electives-


Fruit and nut production 

Organic plant culture 

OR some other approved module related to Permaculture. 


Permaculture Systems -

  • Explain the concepts of natural systems of relevance to Permaculture.
  • Determine appropriate cultural techniques to use in a Permaculture system.

  • Explain the incorporation of different animals in a Permaculture system.

  • Determine appropriate plants for inclusion in a Permaculture system.

  • Select appropriate technologies for use in Permaculture systems.

  • Draw concept Permaculture plans to scale.

Advanced Permaculture

 Evaluate appropriate design strategies for a specific development site.

  • Explain the relationship between a Permaculture system and natural patterns occurring in a local area
  • Develop strategies for the management of water in a Permaculture design.

  • Determine earthworks for the development of a Permaculture system.

  • Design a Permaculture system for the humid tropics.

  • Design a Permaculture system for a dry climate.

  • Design a Permaculture system for a temperate to cold climate.

  • Determine planning strategies for the development of a Permaculture system.

  • Prepare cost estimates for a Permaculture development plan.

  • Explain alternative sustainable systems practiced in various places around the world.


  • Develop a good understanding of the scientific system of naming plants.
  • Discuss some of the aspects which play a part in permaculture.
  • Describe how permaculture is different to other forms of horticulture and agriculture.
  • Visit an outdoor environment area determine what relationships the living and non‑living things might have with each other.
  • Explain contour maps and how this information can be used to estimate potential effects on plant growth.
  • Explain weather patterns in your local area. Determine why this knowledge may be important to the permaculture practitionist.
  • Explain water within an ecosystem or permaculture garden and its application.
  • Describe the differences between the three main types of climate zones (ie: Tropical, Temperate and Desert); and briefly give your views on what major differences would need to be taken in establishing a permaculture system in each climate zone, compared with the other two.
  • Explain the importance of trees in a Permaculture system.
  • Describe how you would build a no dig garden approximately 10 X 3 metres in size.
  • Step by step work through a process of planning changes to a garden to make it into more of a permaculture system.
  • Collect and list preplanning information relevant to developing home into a permaculture system
  • Write a report explaining the five permaculture zones.
  • Create a table listing 50 different pest, disease and weed problems in one column, and an appropriate natural control method for each one in an adjacent column.
  • Make a list of companion plants. In one column, list the herb or companion plant.
  • Draw a plan for a fruit or vegetable garden which incorporates companion planting.
  • Explain briefly each of the companion planting interrelationships you have included in your plan.
  • Design a small and simple water garden for use in a permaculture system.
  • Design and build an herb spiral.
  • Design a vegetable and herb garden based on permaculture principles which would produce enough food to feed you and your family for the entire year.
  • List as many different central features as you can think of which could be used in a Mandalla garden
  • Outline how to plan and prepare garden zones in relation to animals. Provide step-by-step instructions and accompanying photographs or drawings.
  • Contact your state department of Agriculture and obtain leaflets relating to poultry which you are particularly interested in keeping.
  • Contact your state department of Agriculture and obtain leaflets (and any other publications) relating to bee keeping.
  • In no less than 500 words explain the importance of bees to horticulture and the permaculture garden.
  • Develop a 5 year plan for developing a one hectare permaculture farm utilising plants, animals and fish (aquaculture). Use drawings and diagrams where needed to assist in this report.
  • Select three different aquatic animals which would be appropriate to grow in a permaculture system. For each one in turn, explain how you would incorporate it into a permaculture system.
  • Go to nurseries and agricultural supply companies and inquire about environmentally safe pesticides. Write a report on these products.
  • Observe the construction process of a building or structure that involves some type of earthworks (eg, roads, dams, etc).
  • Take a photograph of your home or residence. Discuss your residence in relation to designing with consideration to the environment (eg. does it efficiently utilize sun and shade, is it energy efficient).
  • Describe the importance of house design in relation to location, eg. tropical region of Queensland or west coast of Tasmania.
  • Contact the local council or health department and inquire about allowable use of waste material in your area. Consider asking about grey water, septic tanks, use of effluent and animal wastes, etc. Write a report to 250 words on the task.
  • Contact and obtain information on composting toilets from a manufacturer. Compile this information and use it as a personal reference.
  • Contact a supplier of windmills and find out all that you can about the use of these devices for supplying water (ie. pumping from a river, lake, dam, ground water etc). Discover the alternatives available, the costs involved, the applications, operation etc.
  • Contact the National Parks and Wildlife department and obtain as much information as possible on wildlife corridors, conservation, etc. Contact your local council department and inquire about their wildlife corridors, etc. Are they similar or drastically different? Can you think of a reason why there may be a difference?
  • For a month period, write down all tasks performed by yourself and anyone who enters your permaculture garden. Submit this work schedule plus a brief report on how it may be possible to improve the time efficiency in the garden.
  • Write a report on where you think ‘alternative’ permaculture is heading in terms of main-stream acceptance.

DURATION: 650 - 700 hours

Graduates may find employment in either general horticulture fields, offering a Permaculture perspective to the industry. Or areas servicing Permaculture or natural gradening systems Eg Natural garden design, plant nuseries, teaching, and consulting to inspire the use of Permaculture and nautral gardening systems.

Exams: You need to sit 2 exams for the core, and one for each of the stream modules (=5 in total). Exam fees are extra to the course fees.

Not sure where to go from here? Would you like to contact one of our horticulture/permaculture experts?

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