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Qualification - Proficiency Award in Permaculture

Course CodeVSS109
Fee CodePA
Duration (approx)500 hours
QualificationProficiency Award

Learn more about permaculture in theory and practice.

This course is useful for anyone interested in permaculture and sustainable agriculture.  Sustainability is important today as the world’s population grows and new methods of producing crops and animal products are important.

If you would like to study permaculture as a business or for yourself, it is a great way to live in a sustainable, ecologically friendly way.

This course provides you with the tools to develop your knowledge in the area of sustainable agriculture and permaculture.

What is Required to Complete this Course?

To complete this course you are required to take two core modules - Advanced Permaculture and Permaculture Systems.You also complete one elective module from the list given below. You are also required to complete 200 hours of industry based research or experience. Find out more below. Graduates may qualify for a Permaculture Design Certificate


Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Qualification - Proficiency Award in Permaculture.
 Industry Project BIP000
 Industry Project II BIP001
 Permaculture Systems BHT201
 Advanced Permaculture BHT301
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 1 of the following 4 modules.
 Permaculture I (Permaculture Foundations) VSS104
 Permaculture II VSS105
 Permaculture III VSS106
 Self Sufficiency I ASS100

Note that each module in the Qualification - Proficiency Award in Permaculture is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.


This course is designed to make you more proficient than the average permaculturist. It goes well beyond the scope of a PDC (Permaculture Design Certificate). You will learn about a wider variety of plants and animals than you have encountered before, greatly increasing the scope of what you can achieve in a permaculture garden.

As you explore plants in particular, you will discover things you might not have previously considered growing, and begin to see ways they may contribute to a sustainable ecosystem.

Example: Consider Coffee (Coffea sp.)

Coffea plants are small trees or large shrubs with reddish fruits that contain 2 seeds, The seeds are roasted to produce commercial coffee. There is considerable potential to grow coffee across a wide range of environments from warmer temperate areas to tropical locations.

Wild all coffee grows in shaded situations, but commercial yields tend to be greater without shade. They can be grown as an understory in a rainforest or in the open, provided not exposed to very cold conditions. Pest and diseases can often be more of a problem in open plantings.

Coffea sp. will adapt to a wide range of soils but prefers moist, fertile and highly organic soil with lots of mulch and manure, and a pH range of 5.5 to 6.0.

A very light breeze can provide beneficial ventilation, helping to reduce fungal problems, but strong winds can readily damage the plants and fruit. Ideally provide some form of wind protection.

Coffea sp. tend to prefer frost-free subtropical climates. Most types of coffee grow best in climates with daily maximum temperatures of 18 to 25 degrees Celsius (18 in winter, 25 in summer). All coffee varieties are killed if exposed to temperatures of 0 degrees C, for very long (Coffea canephora is even more sensitive). Temperatures below 7oC and above 33 degrees can slow growth and reduce production.

For most of the year even rainfall/irrigation is beneficial. To maximise efficient harvesting and good yields, in areas with dry winters and spring, aim at achieving a water-stressing period for the plants then a heavy watering. Mechanical harvesting is aided with a dry winter.

Coffee has a very high demand for fertiliser in commercial production. Leaf tissue analysis will keep farmers on track once deficiencies begin to occur.

Major pests and diseases do occur in some parts of the world but not others. Less significant problems may include green coffee scale, mealy bugs and grasshoppers. In general, coffee plants have the potential to be quite productive, with little attention in a polyculture, permaculture landscape.

Pruning of plants can be done but is not essential and heavy pruning may reduce the yield in the subsequent year.

There are around 70 species, but the two main species grown commercially are Coffea arabica, and Coffea canephora (syn. robusta).

Research has developed many different cultivars and hybrids.


Commercial yields are not expected until the third year after planting. Better yields will be achieved in the fifth year.

Growers may select two different harvest techniques to produce different grades of quality:

  • Dry - when fruit are black (over-mature) they are harvested then sent off to be air dried (10-12% moisture content), and hulls removed which leaves a green bean.
  • Wet - when fruit is red (ripe) they are harvested, pulped to remove the two halves, then fermented, dried (11% moisture content), skinned, then hulled and polished leaving a green bean.

The Wet method produces the higher grade product. It takes about 6-7kg of ripe cherries/fruit to produce 1kg of green bean coffee. Any unripe beans processed with the other beans will reduce the overall value of the bean product.



What Next?

 Studying permaculture offers you many options to improve your own quality of life or run your own business in relation to permaculture.

Permaculture is a growth area and there are more and more opportunities available.

Learn more about permaculture design, permaculture systems and much more.

Permaculture is not just a hobby, it often becomes a passion with the people who become involved in permaculture. A way of life.

If you would like to learn more about permaculture, why delay? Enrol today.