Social & Vegan Permaculture Design Course – PDC 2023 – October 6-22

Social & Vegan Permaculture Design Course – PDC 2023 – October 6-22

kr.9.600 kr.

This course dives deep into how we can use permaculture to create rich beneficial relationships between people, communities and their surroundings, including how to grow food, build houses and create economies, while also regenerating nature. Everybody who completes the course receives a PDC certificate.
Language: English with Danish translation where wanted. 

This course may be taken separately or as part of the 12 week course, Health, Happiness and Green Living. Special emphasis will be put to creating a temporary community for the duration of the course, where we use social permaculture tools, especially sociocracy to make sure everyone’s needs are met, so we can all enjoy living together in a joyful, supportive learning environment. 

The program:

Days marked with * are open as one day courses for people who cannot make the full course

  • Sat October 7: Collaborative working (Sociocracy)*
  • Sun October 8: Basics of Permaculture*
  • Mon October 9: Water management + Mapping*
  • Tue October 10: Enriching the soil*
  • Wed October 11: Meeting the needs of plants*
  • Thu October 12: Day off (site visit?)
  • Fri October 13:  Putting it all together into a design
  • Sat October 14: Forest gardening*
  • Sun October 15: Low impact / Off grid living + Urban permaculture*
  • Mon October 16: Creating ethical Livelihoods* (half day)
  • Tue October 17: Day off (site visit?)
  • Wed October 18: Structures (Eco building)*
  • Thu October 19: Design
  • Fri October 20: Design
  • Sat October 21: Presentations
  • Sun October 22: Next steps

Arrival: between 4 and 6pm, October 6th
Last teaching session ends at 4pm, October 22

What is social and vegan permaculture?

Permaculture is a design system for creating abundance in all aspects of our lives. Permaculture teaches us how to build natural homes, grow our own food, restore diminished landscapes and ecosystems, catch rainwater, build communities, take care of waste and much more.

The word ‘permaculture’ historically comes from ‘permanent agriculture’ and has evolved into ‘permanent culture’ – it is about living lightly on the planet, and making sure that we can live in harmony with nature while sustaining human activities for many generations to come.

Permaculture is a rigorous and systematic set of tools, ecological principles and methodologies, underpinned by ethics, which help us to design and create this culture of permanence. A culture that allows us to design how we cater for all our needs and the needs of the planet and all its creatures, without exploiting or depriving other humans or creatures of their needs.

The ultimate goal is to create systems that create abundance for all humans, creatures and mother earth, without exploitation of humans, animals or earth’s non renewable resources.

The design principles of permaculture can be applied to design our inner tranquillity, create integrated and supportive communities, build or retrofit houses to be more energy efficient, create ethical businesses and livelihoods, as well as to create rich abundant low maintenance food growing spaces.

What is sociocracy?

Sociocracy is a whole system governance and decision making method which is based on and encourages equivalence, transparency, and effectiveness in an organisation. It encourages collaborative innovation, minimises lengthy governance meetings, and helps everyone participate in shaping the decisions that affect them. Sociocracy ensures that everyone’s voice is heard and that all our individual and collective needs are met. During the PDC we will put sociocracy into practice on a daily basis. 

PDC Course Syllabus

The course will from day one put into practice social permaculture. The first full day of the course, we establish what every person wants from the course, from which we derive a common vision. We then create a mission and aim on how to achieve our vision. We then embed a feedback mechanism to check if we are meeting these aims, so we can keep adjusting our collaboration every day. We will learn sociocracy to create a community and practically explore how we ensure everyone’s needs are met, and how everyone can safely express themselves, without conflict. Having found our inner balance and the balance within our newly forged community, we then move into exploring the traditional permaculture syllabus, including environmentally friendly food growing; soil generation; water management; house building; alternative economics and livelihood, etc.

Having explored the theory of permaculture ethics, principles and approach to challenges, we will then move on to in depth design work and practicals (hands-on work), which solidifies the theory.

The emphasis remains on learning the patterns and concepts that are applied in permaculture, so you can apply this to all aspects of your life after the course has finished. Hence the practicals will be a way to reinforce the theory and design work that we cover.

Where and when appropriate we will visit nearby intentional communities and projects that integrate permaculture in their design (subject to consent by the students).

The syllabus will cover the following areas

  • Principles of Natural Systems
  • Sustainable Design Methodologies
  • Patterns in Nature
  • Reading the Land & Understanding Natural Processes
  • Water Harvesting Techniques
  • Design Principles of Sustainable Human Settlements
  • Grey Water Recycling
  • Natural Building Design Strategies
  • Food Forests, Plant Guilds, Gardens for Self-Sufficiency
  • Energy Conservation Technologies
  • Urban Environment Permaculture
  • Wildlife Management and Biological Pest Control
  • Community Activism
  • Invisible Structures: People, Community, Economics, EcoVillages
  • Sociocracy; Optionally Dragon dreaming and or Six thinking hats
  • Community Supported Agriculture
  • At the end of the class, students engage in a group design project.

The syllabus will not cover animal husbandry as Rakesh is vegan and doesn’t teach what he doesn’t know. 


Lead Instructor

Rakesh Rootsman Rak – An experienced Permaculture design teacher, forest garden specialist, yoga teacher, homeopath and reggae DJ. Rakesh has been designing and teaching permaculture to individuals and communities since 2009, and has taught hundreds of permaculture, forest gardening, eco village design and related courses. His design portfolio ranges from farm scale forest garden and permaculture designs to many urban community food growing gardens, private farms and back gardens as well as designing collaborative businesses, urban water retention systems and even computer software and documentation systems. 

Rakesh is also passionate about sharing his journey of self empowerment (learning how to make all the things you need for yourself rather than relying on the system to provide for you), this includes eco architecture (low impact housing); capturing and storing energy (electricity, heat, lighting, etc); fuel efficient heating systems (rocket heaters and stoves); water capture, purification and recycling systems, natural beekeeping and so on. 

He is one of the founders of the Children in Permaculture project and Youth in Permaculture project, as well as  the Roots n Permaculture learning community, which is a network of people who have studied with Rakesh and who want to continue to learn from each other for free. So be prepared to go off on inspirational tangents occasionally.

Read testimonials and feedback from previous courses

Assistent Instructors

Helena Marchenko – Land management and cadastre engineer. Permaculture designer. Teacher of permaculture. Member of the board of the association “Permaculture in Ukraine”. Before the war leader of the the permaculture counseling team of Ukraine. Since 2016, she has been decorating the earth with smart and sustainable gardens that are cared for by nature itself. Her biggest hobby is growing trees from seeds.

The course structure

The first evening we will get to know each other. There will be 14 full days of teaching and two full days, where you are off or on excursion. On the free days and evenings, the group or the venue may organise permaculture relevant activities such as complementary subjects, movies, practical work or what this particular group is inspired about. 

The venue

The venue belongs to the aspiring ecovillage, Avnø Oasis, which is in the process of growing 3 legs: A co-housing community, regenerative enterprises and Avnø Højskole, who’s focus is on health, lifeskills, sustainability & regenerative enterprises.  The next door neighbour is Avnø Naturcenter and the whole area is protected. A phenomenal environment to learn about design and practice sustainable living. Read more about the venue here. 

Food organisation and quality

To create a deeper sense of community, throughout the course everybody will participate in practical chores such as cooking lunch, dishwashing, and keeping our environment neat and clean.

Avnø Højskole supports a healthy and stimulant free culture. Therefore sugar and coffee are not served. The bulk of the food consists of organic whole grains, beans, seeds & local vegetables, complemented with smaller amounts of fruits, nuts, seaweeds, (optionally fish & eggs), herbal teas and grain coffee, all prepared using macrobiotic principles. Avnø Højskole has a small shop where you can buy healthy snacks.

Site visits and other costs 

There will be a list of potential sites we can visit. Some will be free, some will have a cost. In any case transportation to the site will need to be covered. We will use sociocratic decision making to decide, which sites are optimal for this course and how to cover the costs. Participating in site visits are optional. Expenses will be 100-1000 DKK.


All classes will be in English, however Danish translation is available upon request. As part of our community culture, we will create a process, which ensures that words or sentences you do not understand, will be addressed immediately. 

To help prepare for the workshop, you are encouraged to use this list of permaculture, forest gardening, sociocracy and plant names that have been translated into many languages.


This course adheres to the Permaculture Association Britain’s accreditation criteria for Permaculture Design Courses (PDC’s). However due to the rising cost of the certification and in order to make the course affordable we consulted with the Permaculture Association Britain (PAB) and concluded to give the participant the choice of being accredited via the Permaculture association Britain (€20 for the certificate and additional administration) or by the Roots n Permaculture Collective School (for free). The Roots n Permaculture Collective School certificate affords you the same privilege as the certificate from PAB, meaning with this certificate you can still teach intro courses (after at least 1 year or putting permaculture into action) and it also applies to do your diploma (with any association anywhere in the world). The only difference between the two is that the PAB certificate helps to pay the learning coordinator of PAB to develop and maintain their high standard curriculum. 

If you have any questions please feel free to contact us

Course and Content, please contact Rakesh:
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Accommodation, directions, etc 
  • Avnø Højskole +45 45571500
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Type of room

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Type of course

Full PDC, Single day, weekend