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Permaculture Design Course at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute


Pierce Cedar Creek Institute is excited to be working with Josh Shultz to offer a Permaculture Design Course in 2017. Unlike in previous years, the course will be offered as a number of one- or two-day workshops held on weekends throughout the year. The goal is to make it easier for individuals with work commitments and tight budgets to participate. The independent workshops also allow individuals who are only interested in specific topics to participate without having to commit to the entire course. Additionally, the course can make visits to field sites throughout the year, taking advantage of seasonally appropriate topics.


What is Permaculture?


Permaculture is a way of providing food and building cultures based upon ecological principles. Originally developed by Bill Mollison, an Australian scientist, and his student David Holmgren, permaculture applies a set of core environmental and social principles to the design of human systems. These principles are briefly summarized as: care for the earth, care for the people, and the return of surplus. From its Australian roots, permaculture spread around the world into different ecosystems and climates, inspiring people to think differently about their farms, homesteads, and lives.


About the Instructors


Josh Shultz is one of the local residents that took an interest in permaculture and became a local leader and educator in permaculture systems. He was first introduced to permaculture in 2007 during an internship at the Cape Eleuthera Institute in the Bahamas. Through his work there and further study of permaculture, Josh began to realize the intensity of energy use and environmental damage associated with industrial agriculture. He also felt a responsibility to help others learn about the ways of providing for needs that do not foster environmental degradation.  

For the past several years Josh has served as Western Michigan University Office for Sustainability Permaculture Coordinator. He has worked with students on several research projects aimed at testing integrated methods of resource management. One project uses black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) to consume waste food from the dining halls and turn it into a liquid fertilizer and fish feed.  Another project has students working on a water heater powered by a woodchip compost pile that produces heat for a greenhouse during the winter. A final project has students working on an indoor aquaponics system that tests various lettuce growing techniques while raising ornamental fish for the pet trade. Ultimately, the hope is to integrate these three projects into a single system where the water is heated by a compost pile while food waste from the dining halls is turned into fish food through BSFL composting.


About the Permaculture Design Course and Workshops


The Institute is offering ten core and two supplemental workshops throughout 2017. Individuals who participate in all core workshops are eligible for a Permaculture Design Certificate. There are two options for participating: participants are welcome to sign-up for individual courses or sign up for all of the courses at a discount rate.

All full-day programs include lunch.

Overnight accommodations are available at the Institute for $75 a night. Contact Chef/Hospitality Coordinator Paul Vugteveen (269) 721-4410 to make a reservation.

Courses will take place at several different locations in Southwest Michigan. Participants will get more information on the locations after they register. If you have any questions about the Permaculture Design Course, please contact Field Station Manager Matt Dykstra at (269) 721-4473.




Principles of Natural Systems and Design

Saturday and Sunday, January 21 and 22 

9 am – 4 pm both days


This program is the introduction to the Permaculture Design Course and provides an overview of the concepts of permaculture. The program will take place at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute and Fair Lake Farm.


Members $200  |  Non-Members $220


Aquatic Systems for Farms and Homesteads

Saturday, February 18 

9 am – 4 pm


This class introduces participants to specialized aquatic systems like aquaculture, aquaponics, and mariculture. These unique systems can extend the season and the types of foods produced at a homestead or farm. Program will take place at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute and Fair Lake Farm.


Members $70  |  Non-Members $90


Soils and Plant Propagation 

Saturday, March 18 

9 am – 5 pm


Proper soil management is the cornerstone of growing healthy and productive plants. This workshop will cover the basics of soils, how to build soil health, and an introduction to plant propagation. The workshop will be held at Oikos Tree Crops.


Members $85   |  Non-Members $105


Urban Permaculture and Gardening Strategies

Saturday, April 15 

9 am – 5 pm


Permaculture designs can transform small city lots into amazingly productive areas. This program will highlight small permaculture lots in Kalamazoo and outline strategies of making the most of small areas. It will also cover how to create and maintain successful garden areas. The workshop will be held at Lillie House Permaculture in Kalamazoo.


Members $85   |  Non-Members $105


Large Scale Permaculture and Managing Water in the Landscape

Saturday, May 20 

9 am – 5 pm


Permaculture principles can be applied to large farms as well as landscapes. This program will focus on how to manage larger areas for productivity, particularly in regards to managing and conserving water within the landscape. This program will take place at Earth Smith Farm and Fair Lake Farm.


Members $85   |  Non-Members $105


Food Forests

Saturday, June 17 

9 am – 5 pm


Managed forests within a permaculture landscape can produce food, fuel, and organic compost. Learn how to integrate trees and forests to improve the productivity of landscapes and homesteads. This workshop will take place in Kalamazoo.


Members $85   |  Non-Members $105


Animals in Permaculture Systems

Saturday, July 15 

9 am – 5 pm


Just as animals are an important part of natural ecosystems, animals can play a critical role in the healthy functioning of a permaculture landscape. Learn how to integrate domestic animals into a permaculture system to produce healthy foods and maintain productivity. Program will take place at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute.


Members $85   |  Non-Members $105


Preserving the Harvest *

Saturday, August 19 

9 am – Noon


In temperate areas like the Midwest, food preservation is an important way of enjoying the products of a permaculture landscape throughout the year. Chef Paul will demonstrate a number of methods of preserving food including freezing, canning, and pickling foods. Program will take place at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute.  


Members $20  |  Non-Members $27


Natural Building and Energy Efficiency

Saturday, September 16

9 am – 5 pm


Shelter plays an important role in the sustainability of a homestead or farm. This workshop will cover ways of building energy efficient buildings utilizing simple, inexpensive, and locally sourced materials. This workshop will take place at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute.


Members $85   |  Non-Members $105


Nutrient Cycling and Waste Disposal

Saturday, October 21 

9 am – 4 pm


Wastes from both the home and farm can be valuable sources of nutrients. Learn how to safely handle wastes so that they can be converted into valuable nutrient sources for the landscape.


Members $70  |  Non-Members $90


Wood Burning and Woodlot Management *

Saturday, November 11

9 am – 12:30 pm


Wood burning can be a sustainable way of home heating. Learn how to manage woodlots for firewood production and how to efficiently heat homes with wood. Program will be held at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute and Fair Lake Farm.


Members $45  |  Non-Members $60


Homestead Design Practicum**

Saturday and Sunday, December 9 and 10 

9 am – 4 pm both days


The Permaculture Design Course ends with a practicum in which student teams design a permaculture landscape. This workshop helps participants bring all of their new knowledge together in a useful way as they design their own landscape. Program will take place at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute.


Members $200  |  Non-Members $220

*Programs are not part of the core and are not required for a certificate.

** Participants must have attended Principles of Natural Systems and Design and at least three of the core classes to participate.


Environmental Issues Forums


Pierce Cedar Creek Institute offers a forum on local environmental issues on a quarterly basis. The forums are oriented around issues facing the local Barry County community and designed to provide good, science-based information to community leaders and interested citizens. During the forum the speaker will provide background on the topic, but the program is designed to allow program participants to ask questions.


Water Quality in Barry County


On January 21, 2016 over 30 people attended the Environmental Issues Forum on water quality in Barry County at the Barry Community Enrichment Center in Hastings. Patricia Norris of Michigan State University offered a presentation on water usage and the state's water program in the context of the Great Lakes–St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact, and the Coldwater River Watershed Council discussed the damage done to the Coldwater River in 2015 and also provided an update on the situation.

Patricia Norris's presentation, "Agricultural Irrigation and Water use Policy in Michigan," was recorded and is available through YouTube:


Tip of the Mitt Watershed
Hydraulic fracturing information

Chemical disclosure information

Clean Water Action