2016 Permaculture Design Course (PDC)

Join Us this Spring for Two Inspiring Weeks of Permaculture In Action!

For questions or to sign up, send us an email

or sign up now:

Buy Now Button



Dates: March 18 (evening) – April 1

Location: White Oak Farm and Education Center, Williams, Oregon

Instructors: Andy Fischer, Marisha Auerbach, Taylor Starr, Don Tipping

Cost: $1,250 (Non-Refundable Deposit of $500 holds your spot)

Discounts: Student – $1,100, Couples or Friends – $1,200, Local (no camping) $1,100

College Credit: ask us!


About the PDC

IMG_6359This two week course will feature “Permaculture in Action!”   Lectures, Slide shows, Discussions, Hands-on Projects, Tours and Student Design Projects will seek to highlight ways to incorporate permaculture principles into practical sustainable living.  Our teaching philosophy focuses on providing students with the permaculture principles, techniques, and skills needed to actually create homesteads, farms, businesses, and lifestyles that are functional, profitable and sustainable. 

IMG_2152Our diverse teaching team has combined experience in running organic farms and seed companies, nurseries, landscape design/contracting businesses, an ecological forestry non-profit, eco-village start-up, and an environmental education charter school.  White Oak Farm is itself a 14 year living laboratory of practical permaculture on 62 acres of pasture and forest land.  Our south-east facing slope is home to a biologically diverse mixed conifer forest that we are managing for forest health, fuels reduction, wood products and recreation.  Irrigation is provided by our system of springs, ponds, swales, and drip lines.  The farm also boasts numerous working examples of natural buildings, animal systems, orchards, hedgerows and shelterbelts, berries, alley cropping, food forests, and compost systems.  In addition to the White Oak site, we will also tour a commercial organic herb farm, an organic bakery and permaculture community, and a working permaculture seed farm.  Southern Oregon is a hub of the permaculture, natural building, herbal medicine and organic seed movements, and as such is an incredible place to see functional established examples of Permaculture in Action!


IMG_1490Spring is the perfect time to get your hands dirty in our Mediterranean climate of mild wet winters and hot dry summers.  Hands-on projects will be incorporated in the curriculum to demonstrate principles and teach practical skills.  Spring is also beautiful in our biologically diverse region of majestic old growth forests, wild rivers, and snow capped ridges.  Come see for yourself this incredible corner of the planet, and experience first-hand the many examples of folks working to live well on the land!

Featured Hands-On Projects


  • Perennial Plant Propagation
  • Eco-Forestry
  • Hedgerows and Shelterbelts
  • Food Forest Plantings
  • Cob and Light-Straw-Clay Chicken Coop
  • Rainwater Catchment and Graywater
  • Individual/Group Design Project




Tentative Schedule

8am    Breakfast
9-12    Lecture/Discussion/Design Activities
12-1     Lunch                                                                         1-4      Hands-on Projects/Outdoor Classroom              4-6      Lecture/Discussion/Slides
6-8      Dinner
8-10    Design Session/Slide Show/Guest Speakers

Accommodations and Meals

102PDC participants have their choice between numerous shady campsites among the trees and ponds on the Farm, or sleeping in our dorm style canvas wall tents. There are hot showers, compost toilets, and swimming ponds.  There is also the possibility of renting private lodging on site for an additional fee: please ask.

Three organic home-cooked meals are provided daily by White Oak Farm cooks.  Meals are vegetarian, and other diets can be accommodated with advanced notice.   Meals are one of the highlights of our workshops as they feature as much locally grown fresh produce as possible, and combine health, great flavors, and lots of variety.


White Oak Farm is situated in the foothills of the Siskiyou Mountains in beautiful Williams, Oregon. The farm is 7 hours north of San Francisco, 5 hours south of Portland, and 1 hour West of Ashland and Medford, Oregon. There is air and bus service to Medford from many major cities across the US. We are happy to arrange shuttles to the farm from the airport or bus station. Because of limited parking space and our desire to decrease consumption of fossil fuels we encourage participants to use carpools, public transit, bicycles, and other creative means of travel. Please contact us to help arrange carpools.


Andy Fischer 

andyAndrew Fischer is the owner and lead designer of Sacred Earth Design based in Ashland, Oregon. Andrew is a trained ecologist and designer who has worked on large scale forestry projects and farms as well as homeowner’s landscape designs. He knows the ecosystems and the plants of the Northwest as well as horticultural design and construction.

Andrew has traveled and taught permaculture design courses in the US and  in many parts of the world. He worked for three years as the lead designer and land steward for 100 acre property in Boulder Colorado that included greenhouses, organic vegetable production, fish ponds, bee hives, and solar photovoltaic power. Currently he is interested in promoting ecological design and installations in Southern Oregon from home to farm scale. Sacred Earth Design is committed to creating more demonstration sites in public and commercial spaces where people can see how ecological design systems can provide beauty, functionality and long term ecosystem resiliency.

Andrew has a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Temple University (1985) and a Masters of Science in Environmental Studies/Landscape Arch. from the University of Oregon (1993).  He worked for 15 years as a Forestry Contractor with the USFS and BLM.  He has advanced Permaculture Design Certificates in teaching and agroforestry, and is a licensed Landscape Contractor.  Andrew has taught PDCs in Ashland, the Bay Area, Boulder, Lost Valley Education Center, Naropa University, Kenya and Peru.  Check him out online at: sacredearthdesign.com.

Marisha Auerbach

MarishaMarisha Auerbach is a permaculture teacher and consultant based in Portland, OR.  She has been actively practicing, studying, and teaching Permaculture in the Pacific Northwest for over a decade, specializing in food production, seedsaving, ecology, and useful plants. Her practical experience has been gained while living in both rural and urban locations.  Currently, Marisha teaches at Portland Community College, Bastyr University, Pacific University, and offers an online permaculture program through Oregon State University.  She also works with a number of non-profit organizations including The City Repair Project, Aprovecho Education Center, Lost Valley Education Center, Fertile Ground Community Center, Planet Repair and White Oak Farm & Education Center.

Marisha is committed to sharing her passions for food security, regenerative design, biological diversity, seedsaving, permaculture, ecology, cottage industry, and positive futures. She has developed several permaculture based businesses including a plant nursery, providing edible flowers and other gourmet specialty food items to restaurants, plantable greeting cards, and herbal medicines.  Marisha has offered permaculture work from the forests of Vietnam to the Rocky Mountains of the United States to the stressed conditions of Haiti.  She holds advanced permaculture certificates in Permaculture Aid Work and Keyline Planning.

Marisha graduated from the Evergreen State College in 1998 where she focused on ethnobotany, ecological agriculture, and sustainability studies. She currently resides in Portland, OR.  Marisha can be found online at www.permaculturerising.com.  Visit Marisha’s garden blog at:  http://marishabee.wordpress.com.

Taylor Starr
Taylor is the co-founder of White Oak Farm & Education Center in Williams, Oregon. He has been the Farm’s Director since 2002, and has been involved in all aspects of the Farm’s design, construction, management, and programs from 2002-2016. White Oak serves as a working organic farm, children’s education center, and host for adult workshops in natural building and permaculture. The Farm is a 14 year living laboratory of practical permaculture.  Taylor has worked to design and install systems including: ponds, swales and water catchment; perennial plantings of herbs, berries, nitrogen fixers, fruit trees, insectiary plants, and basketry plants; shelterbelts and hedgerows, food forests, animal housing and forage for chickens, turkeys, sheep and goats; annual crops systems including alley cropping; and much more.

Taylor graduated from UC Berkeley with an interdisciplinary  degree in Holistic Ecology in 2000.  He studied permaculture with the Bullock Brothers on Orcas Island and in Hawaii from 2000-2001.  Taylor has spent the last 17 years farming, homesteading, teaching, and building. He has worked with cob, straw bale, light straw-clay, earthen plasters and floors, and round wood to construct buildings ranging from saunas and farm stands to cabins and a large community building.  He has taught natural building to hundreds of workshop participants from around the world. Taylor believes working in community to grow food and create shelter should be empowering, inspiring and fun.

Additional Presenters

Don Tipping

Don CornDon Tipping has been offering hands on, practical workshops at Seven Seeds Farm since 1997.  We are a small, organic family farm in the Siskiyou Mountains of SW Oregon; situated at 2,000 feet elevation on a 7,000 tall-forested mountain with rushing spring fed creeks flowing through the land and nestled among old growth forests.

Here we produce fruits, vegetables, seeds, herbs, wool, eggs, and lamb.  The farm has been designed to function as a self-contained, life regenerating organism with waste products being recycled and feeding other elements of the system.  Lauded as one of the best examples of a small productive Biodynamic and Permaculture farms in the northwest by many, Seven Seeds helps to mentor new farmers through internships and workshops. We have produced certified organic vegetable, flower and herb seeds for over a dozen national scale seed companies.  Seven Seeds has also been active in USDA Western SARE, Organic Seed Alliance and other seed initiatives to advance the development of open pollinated organic seeds.   In 2009 we began Siskiyou Seeds, a bioregional organic seed company operated from the home farm.  Don helped to found the Siskiyou Sustainable Cooperative, which manages a 300 share CSA, commercial seed growing, and an equipment co-op and internship curriculum among 12 cooperating farms.  He also co-founded the Family Farmers Seed Cooperative, a seed grower, marketing and distribution cooperative comprised of 10 western organic farms. More recently we created the Southern Oregon Seed Growers Association (SOSGA) to advocate for and support a bioregional seed system. With this group and Our Family Farms Collective (OFFC) and Oregonians for Safe Food & Families (OSSF) we successfully banned the growing of GMO crop in Jackson & Josephine Counties.

Don helps people focus upon helping people build their skill sets in sustainable life skills such as permaculture, biodynamics, organic gardening, eco-forestry, seed saving and other traditional arts that help to build regenerative culture. He has co taught with a wide group of widely respected people in the both the seed & Permaculture movement including: Tom Ward, Larry Korn, Michael “Skeeter” Pilarski, Bill McDorman, Dennis Martinez, John Navazio, Andrew Milleson, Frank Morton, Harald Hoven, Jude Hobbs, Becky Bee, Rowen White and more. He sits on the board of the Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance and is a regular contributor to the OSU Small Farms educational programs, The Seed Academy is a 5 day intensive in organic seed production and plant breeding that occurs at Seven Seeds Farm with guest instructors including Rowen White, Bill McDorman, Belle Star, Andrew Still, Sarah Kleager and Jonthan Spero. Don is also a charter member of the Open Source Seed Initiative (OSSI) as a plant breeder and a seed company advocate. He also sits in an advisory role with Top Leaf Urban Farms in Oakland, CA. Don is regularly sought out as a teacher, collaborator and consultant in the Pacific Northwest. www.sevenseedsfarm.com www.siskiyouseeds.com

Samantha Sweetwater

IMG_5087 copySamantha Sweetwater’s life-work is the co-creation of regenerative culture, design and community, in both rural and urban contexts.  She is an educator, mentor, sacred activist and ceremonial guide.  She brings 25 years of experience helping people to resource soul purpose from embodied self-knowledge and to connect their inner passion with the calling of the world as vital brands, businesses, initiatives, projects and collaborations.  As the founder of Dancing Freedom, she has trained hundreds of people to bring movement medicine to local communities as a technology for healing, earth connection, human intimacy and celebration.  Permaculture is a context, mindset and design science that she seeks to embed in everything she does.  She is an ambassador for Reinhabiting the Village and is currently working on a project to co-create land based community in the Rogue River Valley.  www.SamanthaSweetwater.com

Suggested Reading

Practical Permaculture Design by Dave Boehnlein and Jessi Bloom

Introduction to Permaculture by Bill Mollison

Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway

The Earth User’s Guide to Permaculture by Rosemary Morrow

Syllabus (TBA)

2 IMG_1453 IMG_1447

For questions or to sign up, send us an email or sign up now:

Buy Now Button