Permaculturing in Portugal

One family's attempts to live in a more planet-friendly way

Permaculture Design Certificate Courses

Our Permaculture Design Certificate Courses comprise the internationally-recognised 72-hour Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) syllabus. It’s an introduction to rethinking far more than just the way humans work with land. As a framework and set of principles, it represents a paradigm shift, profoundly transforming ingrained cultural perspectives on the way we conceptualise and experience life itself, and our relationship with it and with each other.

Quinta do Vale’s PDC courses are 2 weeks long with an optional 1-week Post-PDC Practical course immediately afterward.

A 2-week residential course such as this is a fully-immersive, intense experience where you will be literally living and breathing permaculture during every waking moment. Many people find it an inspirational and life-changing event.

During this course, we invite you to …

  • RETHINK … while you gain a comprehensive grounding in the theory and practice of regenerative land stewardship, whole-systems design, integrated climate and context-appropriate strategies for growing food, designing and engineering sustainable infrastructure and creating low impact human communities.
  • RELATE … as you settle in to becoming part of a diverse group of people, most of whom have never met each other before but who, by the end of 2-3 weeks together, will feel like family and may even become friends for life.
  • RECALIBRATE … under the guidance of a team of instructors/facilitators who not only have academic backgrounds in a comprehensive range of the subjects covered in the syllabus, but also the practical experience of walking the talk, living the principles.
  • REGENERATE … as you come down to earth, surrounded by these mountains and their 1000 year-old stone-built terraces and waterways, on a site committed to regeneration, featuring countless examples of sustainable living strategies and techniques but which, far beyond that, is a living, breathing, intelligent living system which will hold you in its quiet, gentle, but uncompromising embrace and perform its human-whispering magic on your being.

We are continually evaluating our courses to look at where we can improve them. As we’re taking a break in 2023 and 2024 (to complete building projects and fire recovery, and for family and other commitments) we’ll be using the opportunity to take a good look at the PDC as well and will be back in 2025 with new developments.



This course requires no prior knowledge or experience in any of the areas it covers. It is an introductory course in biomimicry and circular systems design.

Our Permaculture Design Certificate courses are accredited through the Permaculture Association UK. On successful completion, students will receive certification which offers the possibility of a career progression in permaculture, whether to practice as a designer or to embark on a teaching career through the next phase of study which is the Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design.

Registration is limited to a maximum of 12 students. This small class size ensures more individual attention for each student, a more intimate group dynamic and a more comfortable classroom experience.

The particular challenges of this steep mountainside location mean the course is unsuitable for people with any mobility issues and we don’t recommend you apply.


The teaching team on Quinta do Vale’s PDCs have been working together since 2019.

For July only, we’re also very excited to welcome James Chapman to the quinta with his considerable experience as a permaculture teacher in Scotland.

Courses are taught in English.

Instructors will be James Chapman, (July only), Liselotte Wuite, Adriana Garcia Aparicio, Sophie Bastable and Wendy Howard. And not forgetting Quinta do Vale itself.

Permaculture Design Course at Quinta do Vale

PDC practical session – sheet mulching to create new growing beds


Our Permaculture Design courses follow the curriculum laid out in Permaculture co-founder Bill Mollison’s Permaculture – A Designer’s Manual, integrating co-founder David Holmgren’s Seven Domains of Permaculture Action.

Each course covers a wide range of subjects including …

  • principles and ethics of permaculture
  • permaculture design philosophy
  • concepts, themes and methods of design
  • pattern understanding
  • climatic factors, major climate zones and appropriate design strategies
  • circular systems design
  • land and soil regeneration
  • soil science and botanical families
  • earthworks and water harvesting
  • grey water recycling
  • natural building
  • food forests and guilds
  • energy conservation
  • appropriate technology including the quinta’s own vermicomposting toilet systems
  • food production and storage, including foraging wild foods and fermentation
  • renewable energy
  • urban permaculture
  • social structures

… but yet is still only an introduction to what can easily become a lifetime’s study of nature-inspired design. Nevertheless, the course provides a solid grounding in how to develop sustainable human settlements, and how to work with and enhance natural systems, including human ones.

The content is delivered through a mix of theoretical classroom lectures and practical sessions. In addition, we include two visits to other permaculture-rooted projects in the area: one to a new project in its initial stages of development and the other to a more mature project on a very different site.

The course aims to utilise the collective intelligence of the group with engaging participatory classes. Students work in teams to develop projects and designs to illustrate what they’ve learned, with a final design project based on part of the quinta itself.

In addition to the information given in the course itself, students will also have lifetime access to the quinta’s new online Student Forums with an ever-growing library of permaculture-related resources, Q&A forums and the opportunity to keep in touch with fellow students.

You can view a typical course timetable here. The schedule gives a general idea of what to expect but will vary course to course.

Permaculture Design Courses at Quinta do Vale


Please see the Accommodation page for details.



Permaculture Design Courses at Quinta do Vale

Students working on design exercises


€800 camping (please bring your own tent or camper van). The deposit payable at the time of registration is €100. The balance will be due on arrival.

Caravan supplement is €100/week. The rate for the caravan is the total rate and is the same regardless of whether 1, 2 or 3 people occupy it. The deposit is €15/week, also payable at registration, with the balance payable on arrival. (See Accommodation for more details.)

There is a special non-resident rate of €750 for people living locally ONLY. Registration deposit is still €100. We encourage you to consider staying onsite though as evening activities are an integral part of the course … not to mention great fun.

Prices include all meals (breakfast, mid-morning break, lunch, mid-afternoon break and dinner). Please be sure to let us know of any special dietary requirements on the registration form.

If you would like to stay on for the 1-week Post-PDC Practical course, you can apply on the same form. The total fee then becomes €1100 with a €160 registration deposit.



Because of our small class sizes, our courses tend to fill up quickly. We do maintain waiting lists, but once the courses are advertised as full, it becomes much more difficult to find people to replace cancelled registrations, particularly the closer we get to the course dates. So please note that if you have to cancel for any reason other than government-mandated restrictions on travel we will refund 75% of your deposit provided we can fill your place. The refund can only be made once we’ve done so. Should travel restrictions prevent you attending, we will refund your deposit in full.

We make learning opportunities and the facilities at the quinta available in good faith, but at your own risk. Accidents happen so please make sure you have adequate and appropriate health and travel insurance and are covered against injury to others as well as yourself.


Beyond the quinta, there’s a lively international social scene in summer revolving around the river beach and local cafés. There’s lots of music, local markets, events, workshops, parties and lots of opportunities to meet locals and the sizeable community of eco-immigrants in the area.

Benfeita river beach

Nearby walks


Getting to Quinta do Vale

See the Getting here page.

We will send out everyone’s contact details prior to arrival so participants can arrange car shares and pickups for getting here.

Should you need to be collected from the nearest long-distance bus stop at Catraia de Mouronho, which is half an hour’s drive from the quinta, we ask for a contribution of 15€ per journey.



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