top of page

Join us August 11th-21st, 2022 for our annual
Permaculture Design Certificate Course!

@ Fern Hollow Farm in Somerset, Ohio

"Permaculture encourages the restoration of balance to our environment through the practical application of ecological principles. In the broadest sense, Permaculture refers to land-use systems, including human settlements, which utilize resources in a sustainable way. From a philosophy of cooperation with nature and each other, of caring for the earth and people, it presents an approach to designing environments which have the diversity, stability and resilience of natural ecosystems, to regenerate damaged land and preserve environments which are still intact.

Permaculture is a practical concept applicable from a balcony to the farm, from the city to the wilderness, enabling us to establish productive environments providing our food, energy, shelter, material and non-material needs, as well as the social and economic infrastructures that support them.

Permaculture is a synthesis of ecology and geography, observation and design. Permaculture encompasses all aspects of human environments and culture, urban and rural, and their local and global impact. It involves ethics of earth care because the sustainable use of land and resources cannot be separated from lifestyle and philosophical issues.

Permaculture draws from the wisdoms of sustainable indigenous and traditional cultures and synthesises these with contemporary earth and design sciences. Permaculture is growing and being constantly enriched by the experiments, insights, creativity and experience of the individuals and communities that practice it. Permaculture is design – a conscious process involving the placement and planning of elements, things and processes in relationship to each other. As such it is a way of thinking, and it is our thought patterns that determine our actions, so permaculture becomes a way of living."  --- Robyn Francis


The Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course is an internationally recognized training program with a minimum of 72-hours of instruction covering key elements of permaculture practice and design. PDCs are attended by people all around the world, from all ages and walks of life, and from many different career and interest paths. Our PDC course is currently offered as a 11-day intensive format here at Fern Hollow Farm, which has been intentionally designed to be a teaching and demonstration site and a living laboratory for permaculture design. Our curriculum reflects the original PDC materials set forth by founders Bill Mollison and David Holmgren as well as recent guidelines issued by the Permaculture Institute of North America and is presented using a diversity of interactive teaching styles and methods while maximizing opportunities for hands-on demonstrations and activities.

Course topics include: principles and ethics of permaculture; zone and sector analysis; climate patterns; soils; water and earthworks; food forests and integrated plant systems; natural gardening methods; natural building; ethnobotany, community conflict resolution; alternative energy; integrated agriculture systems; livestock management; urban and suburban planning; design tools and methods, and more

In addition to the standard curriculum, our course places special emphasis on climate change mitigation and adaptation, social permaculture, and practical design skills. We strive to create a course culture that is inclusive and empowering. We find that often it is the community and friendships that are formed among the group that end up teaching and impacting us the most.













Testimonials from former PDC students: 


“Attending the PDC at Fern Hollow has been truly a transformative experience. I feel like I’ve made lifelong friends and been given a foundation for a life connected to nature, my fellow humans, and myself…. Fern Hollow is magic – a place for healing & growth.”

FullSizeRender (2).jpg

“I have not only learned more about permaculture, but see it as a framework for living that has been missing from life. I am so glad I took the leap and signed up for this course”


“I was blown away by the information. We covered so many subjects!... I am so grateful for all of the love and support from this team. I plan to take this new knowledge and skills and make a difference in the natural world and in people’s lives.”


“I feel what I’m getting most out of this course is the connections I’ve made with the community we created here…. “

FullSizeRender (6).jpg

"The farm is magical! This being Olivia and Erik’s home gives students an opportunity to see first hand the processes of building a permaculture property.”


“I’m much more at peace with the world and myself than I have been in years”

Registration for our 2022 PDC is now open through August 6th.

PDC Course Dates: Thursday, August 11th - Sunday, August 21st.

Full registration cost for the PDC Training is $1,500 and includes:

  • Full PDC Course Curriculum & Design Practicum Experience

  • Farm-to-table meals and snacks for course duration (30 meals)

  • Farm Camping & Amenities

  • Post-training Educational Materials 

  • Certificate of PDC Completion 

We ask for a course deposit of $300 to secure your registration. Course cancellations received 30 days prior of course start date will receive a full refund and cancellations received within 30 days of course start date will receive a full refund less $300. Once the course has commenced, there will be no refunds available for cancellations or withdrawals. 

Our teaching team is currently working on a crowd-funding campaign to raise scholarship funds for potential students who may be facing financial barriers. We will keep this site updated with more details as they unfold, but please write to us if this may be an option to helping you attend. We also offer payment plans and group discounts - please inquire directly for more information. 

To register - please email or call (740) 591-7585 - we will follow up with our official registration form and deposit payment information to secure your seat.

We acknowledge (and honor) that attending a PDC is an important investment of your time and money and in consideration of this we would like you to have all of the information you may need to be confident in your decision to enroll and attend. If you would like to schedule an exploratory phone call please fill out the contact form below and we will promptly connect you with one of lead instructors and farm hosts, Erik, who will be able to answer any questions you might have. 

Get in touch

Meet Our Teaching Team


Sharon Bagatell

Sharon has been studying and practicing permaculture for the past twenty years in both temperate and tropical climates. Building on her extensive background as an environmental educator, she received a design certificate while living at Earthaven Ecovillage, a teaching certificate through Midwest Permaculture in Illinois, an advanced design certificate in Designing for Climate Resilience through Oregon State University, and a Home Horticulture Certification also through Oregon State.

Sharon lived at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage for 10 years where she and her partner built a timber frame straw-bale home with a gardenable roof.  Natural building is in her bones and was one of the teachers of their Natural Building Workshops. Sharon is presently living in Durham, North Carolina, and is passionately involved in citizen advocacy on climate change. She is the author of a permaculture curriculum for children and a step-by-step permaculture manual for low-literacy Malawian farmers.


Olivia Miller-Peterson

Olivia has been studying and working within the sustainability and Permaculture field for 10 years. She earned a degree in Environment, Economics, Development and Sustainability and during her studies contributed to thesis work on deforestation, climate change policy, and the Permaculture movement. After completing her PDC in Athens, Ohio, Olivia and Erik moved off-grid and began designing Fern Hollow Farm, their own 10-acre Permaculture oasis.

She completed her Permaculture Teacher Training with Midwest Permaculture and returned to Ohio State to complete a Masters in Social Work specializing in Mental Health and Community & Social Justice and enjoys bringing this “people care” lens to her Permaculture design work and teaching. Olivia spent several years working as a therapist in the community specializing in horticulture and nature-based therapy, somatic psychotherapy, and trauma while continuing to work with regional food projects and teaching permaculture. Presently, Olivia works full-time on the farm and farm programs, and assists with permaculture design and installation projects.


Erik Peterson

Erik first encountered Permaculture in 2012 while working at Community Food Initiatives, a 501 (c)3 non-profit focusing on regional food security through community and school gardens, and farmers’ market programs. Erik received his PDC at Solid Ground Farm in Athens, Ohio in Spring of 2014, where he also met Olivia, then went on to earn his Permaculture Teachers Training through Midwest Permaculture (MWP) in the summer of 2015.

Erik accepted an offer to become a Teaching Apprentice with Bill and Becky Wilson of Midwest Permaculture. Erik co-taught 15 Permaculture Design Courses with MWP across the US and Canada. This course will be Erik's 20th PDC to date. Erik splits his time between working on the farm and leading the permaculture and design installation wing of our business, centering around native and edible plants, rainwater systems, earthworks, masonry, natural building, playgrounds, and more.

More about Fern Hollow's PDC Course:

What makes Fern Hollow Farm a special place to take your PDC course?

Well, we do think it's pretty cool that Fern Hollow Farm was born out of a PDC! Erik and Olivia met each other at their training in 2014, and shortly after set off on a cross-country road trip to visit and learn from various farms, seed savers, herbalists, and community organizers. Upon return, they planted the first apple trees and began this Permaculture-oriented farm on family land in Somerset. For the past eight years, they have been in relationship with this special piece of land, observing and designing, planting and building, experimenting and learning, and growing community in their corner of Appalachia. To say that taking a PDC changed their lives would be an understatement, and it continues to be their mission and purpose in life.

With this, Fern Hollow Farm was designed as a teaching site, specifically to teach Permaculture design principles and practices making it a unique, living and breathing classroom. The farming system includes a 3/4 acre forest garden, 1/4 acre vineyard, 1/4 acre market garden, two large high tunnels, several beehives, medicinal herb and mushroom cultivation, rotational grazing sheep, chickens and ducks, earthworks and rain-water catchment, a super-adobe style, earth-bag roundhouse, solar power, and a 30' yurt that Olivia and Erik call home. It's common for PDCs to take a completely chalkboard and powerpoint approach, but the farm and our teaching philosophy invites these topics to be explored up close and interactively. In addition to these elements, Fern Hollow is a quiet green oasis, tucked in the rolling foothills of the Appalachian mountains and the course takes place at one of our most abundant times of the years. 



What to expect for the PDC course

Most notably, this is primarily an all-outdoor course, meaning you will be immersed in life on the farm. Rising with the roosters, sleeping under the stars, and with full days in between. With that, please be prepared for all kinds of weather and bring what you need to feel comfortable.

Course sessions will begin at 8:30am and conclude most evenings around 8:30pm, with an hour for lunch and a longer break for dinner. Though we schedule additional short breaks periodically throughout the day, please prepare for these to be intensive days. In order to receive a certificate of completion, we ask that students be present for 90% of course content. We understand that there may be periods throughout the course where you need to prioritize self-care and rest and we encourage that as well. 



What to expect for PDC course lodging

Farm camping is included for all registrants with several private and shared camp sites spread across our farm and forest with two outdoor, passive solar showers and clean Port-O-John toilets on site. If a soft bed, air-conditioning, and a flushing toilet is more your style, we have one private room and bathroom available (single or couple), up the street at one of our family member's homes, available on a first-come, first-serve basis for an additional $150 to your registration fee. If you are seeking hotel-lodging, Lancaster and Logan will be your closest options, about a 30 minute drive.

View recent photos.jpeg

What to expect for PDC course meals

Much love and attention goes into our course meals. Almost all ingredients are organic and we source the bulk of our produce from our farm, as well as other local farms and producers for a full farm-to-table course experience. We prepare omnivore and vegetarian options for all meals and can accommodate most other dietary preferences and restrictions with ample notice. If you are vegan and/or gluten-free, please indicate that in your registration, as well as any food allergies. If we are unable to accommodate your dietary needs (ie: severe allergy, very specific requirements), we will let you know asap and adjust your course fee accordingly. 

In that case or for any other reason, if you prefer to provide your own meals and snacks, $300 can be deducted from the full registration cost. We will have extra propane-camp stoves available but please bring all other essential cookware, as well as any coolers and ice that you may need. 

IMG-2487 (1).jpg
bottom of page