April 27th- May 17th: 3-Week PDC at Terra Alta Permaculture Center – Portugal

April 27th- May 17th: 3-Week PDC at Terra Alta, Almocageme, Sintra, Portugal with focus on social permaculture, organic gardening, and our unique design project


Dates: April 27th- May 17th, 2015 (Day Before arrival and departure that midday or the next anytime)

Location: Terra Alta, Almoçageme, Sintra, Portugal

One of the sections of the Terra Alta food forest

One of the sections of the Terra Alta food forest

Facilitators: Doug Crouch & Pedro Valdiju & Henrik Ellenbrock with guest speakers

Language used: English (with help to translate unknown words whenever needed)

Course Fee:  900€

850€ Early Bird Discount until Dec. 31st, 2014

****includes camping accommodation and all meals that are organic, delicious, and homemade ****

For more information and to register contact the following:

Pedro at terraalta.sintra@gmail.com

and to get a sense of the course

watch our PDC 2013 Movie

and check out the following pages and movies for more detailed info:







Chapter 5 Header


Increase your environmental literacy all the while taking steps towards building resilient local communities from true connection.



THE COURSE: Format and Content

The course will be an 72 PLUS Hour Permaculture Design Certificate Course spread out over 21 days. The extra week will allow to us to develop a furthered rhythm of increased hands on including almost dailyIMG_3128 organic gardening and associated lessons, exploring the inner and outer social landscape, and seeing the stunning local beaches and mountain forest of Sintra.  It’s a great format for allowing students to digest the material fully with the hands on learnings integrating the knowledge through the body, and work thoroughly on our unique final design project and presentation at Terra Alta. The course will be certified through TreeYo Permaculture as we are guided by Bill Mollison’s curriculum that comprises the 14 chapters of his book “Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual”. It also guides our TreeYo EDU project which is an Online handbook for the PDC which reflects these chapters plus the other material covered in the course like natural building and fermentation.  This online resource is an invaluable tool to reference after our courses and helps with joining in on our extended mentoring process and the TreeYo network itself.


Our schedule reflects this commitment to all 14 chapters and has a strong emphasis on how the design principles and process influence site develop and systems management while always acknowledging the people care side of it all. This course will help you gain confidence in setting up land based designs but also the inextricable link with creative integration of humans. We will cover the following topics throughout the course:

  • Ethics, Principles, and Methods of Permaculture Design
  • Pattern Understanding: Interpretation and Application
  • Climatic Factors: Broad Climatic Zones and Microclimate – Effects on Landscape and Design
  • Water: Harvesting, Conservation, Purification, and Revitalization
  • Trees and their Energy Transactions: SoilWaterTrees
  • Soils: Classification, Food Web, and Restoration
  • Aquaculture: Food Web, Aquatic Plants, Chinampas, Tyre Ponds, Water Quality Parameters
  • Animal Systems: Integrate worms, chickens, goats, and many other animals in your design
  • Strategies for Tropical, Dry-land, and Temperate Climates: Influences on Vegetation, Housing, and Earthworks
  • Introduction to Natural Building: Earth as a Building Material
  • Fermentation and Nutrition: Sauerkraut, Kimchi, Sourdough Bread and Pickles
  • Local Food Systems:  CSA-Community Supported Agriculture,  Cooperatives, Food-Coops
  • Social and Economic Permaculture: Bio-Regional Organisation, Living in Communities, Transition Towns and Local Resiliency
  • And last but not least: Lot´s of laugh, fun and happy faces, music, music, music, a sound journey, drumming, dancing – in the mud and around the bonfire, trips to the nearby beaches, yoga, group activities and lot’s of work! A Transformation of Your Life is guaranteed at this one of a kind seaside project!
Almocageme, Portugal under the moon on a walk back from the beach

Almocageme, Portugal under the moon on a walk back from the beach


The course will end with the required student design projects that will utilize the landscape around Terra Alta, which is where participants camp. By using an actual physical site for the design projects, students will gain the experience of completing a full design from walking the land during the initial assessment to mapping and measuring to client interviews and final presentations. At Terra Alta we apply a unique pattern for this exercises which really integrates the social dynamic hinging on a strong vision.

From a design project-2013

From the Nomad Network design project at Terra Alta-2013

The process behind the design project increases learner retention through immediate application and direct practice of learned skills while offering a means to evaluates students’ comprehension of the course.  Successful, effective, and certified Permaculture designers are accelerated in this course for a future of meaningful work and regenerative practices.

The final design project is also considered to be a direct hands-on project because students will be engaged in a process that will yield a viable design proposal and it is a design course after all. Our commitment to practicing the design principles throughout the course process itself reinforces the theory and lecture sessions. Concurrently, to bring the material alive the course is facilitated so that numerous learning styles are supported. We honor diversity as one of our teaching techniques is through design exercises that compliment the lecture material, demonstrates the design process, and adds to the fun atmosphere.

For more information about our past courses visit the following page: Previous TreeYo Courses. Be sure to take special note of the past courses at Escola da Terra/ Terra Alta.


Another integral part of the course is the hands-on segment because it integrates the techniques directly to your body. Proposed hands-on segments for the course are:

  • Hot Compost Pile Making and turning throughout the course to address fertility maintenance
  • Organic gardening and other food production techniques through integrated DSC_1001systems
  • Small-scale Earthworks to address rainwater runoff issues and feed associated plantings
  • Natural Building Project on a small scale
  • Appropriate technology to move us further off the grid
  • Plant Propagation as a way to learn different techniques to quickly fill up a site with useful plants at a low cost
  • Food Fermentation as a way to connect food production with culture with health and season extension (and we get to eat and drink them!!!!!!)
  • Final Design Project for immediate application and direct practice of learned skills


Doug CrouchWith nine courses already under our belt at the outstanding community doug bio picof Escola da Terra and Terra Alta, TreeYo Permaculture facilitator Doug Crouch will be putting on the annual course for 2014 combined with Pedro Valdiju, his long running teaching partner in Portugal.  Doug will continue as the main facilitator of this year’s course. His formal background is in ecology and has been practicing and teaching Permaculture for over eight years in different parts of the world covering all climatic zones. He holds a Diploma in Permaculture Education which demonstrates his commitment to crafting his creative facilitation style. Because Portugal is the longest running host site for TreeYo, the local support team is quite familiar with the TreeYo facilitation style and process. To view some of the presentation you can expect during the course via PowerPoint, please visit Doug’s slideshare account at the following: www.slideshare.net/DougeCrouch

Pedro Valdiju, our host and one of the leaders of the community, will be sharing with us his passion for people care and bees as well as his inspirational attitude and unique perception of life.

201407_05_9377 2

This year he will continue his evolution as a permaculture facilitator and take a more active role in teaching sessions as well as blessing us with his sound journey creation talents to enrich the overall experience.


201408_05_0206 2Henrik Ellerbock: Hosting at Terra Alta Henrik brings years of experience in developing social projects in his native  Berlin as well as developing his land at Terra Alta.  Natural buildings and food forests along with earthworks are main features there that we will see and get dirty with as well.

Guest Speakers: In every course we like to invite specialists in their area to teach topics related to Permaculture. A couple of past students will be joining us for some specialized session and the overall facilitation and hosting of the course.  Its a great way to share and exchange and see the growth of old students.

The kitchen team: Furthermore, the organic food prepared by community members is always a huge hit, not only because it is delicious and nutritious, but because three meals and two teas are freshly prepared by hand everyday with care and a smile. We also help to stimulate the local food economy by purchasing what ingredients are not grown at Terra Alta from the local organic “Cooperativa” and other local producers and processors. We have a strong focus on sourcing quality products from as many of our local producers as possible so expect a seasonal diet.


Terra Alta, the host site, is the next evolution and extension of the Escola da Terra project. It’s located in between Almoçageme and Ulgeria, two quaint villages

Praia De Ursa

Praia De Ursa

just above the sea and situated for easy access to the amazing beaches called Praia da Adraga and Ursa. The on-site Terra Alta team is a great addition to this course by ensuring unmatched hospitality and stellar curriculum support. Terra Alta offers a wonderful example of small-scale intensive systems. Because the site has had several years of Permaculture management, it is easy for students to immerse themselves in the principles of design and how sites evolve. The following Permaculture elements and functions are on display amongst others:

  • Numerous Earthworks to capitalize on impervious surface runoff
  • Extensive Food Forest of subtropical, temperate, and Mediterranean
    A summer 2013 Harvest

    A summer 2013 Harvest

    species corresponding with the earthworks

  • Hot & Cold Composting (Vermiculture) systems for boosting soil life, picking up on waste streams, and cycling nutrients
  • Food Preservation and supporting local economy of food production
  • Small Intentional Community focused on adult education through Permaculture courses but more importantly holistic, Waldorf and Permaculture inspired education for the children of the local area
  • Natural Building techniques utilized for dwellings and other infrastructure including the cob oven
  • Appropriate technology measures to get us off the grid in terms of electricity including a large solar array
Cork Oak Campground at Terra Alta

Cork Oak Campground at Terra Alta


Our courses here at Terra Alta have a special focus on the people care element as the change externally has to be met with a community wide process we believe.  Additionally, we aim to support peoples connection to the earth and through this a rebounding of spirit occurs.  We use interactive exercises to facilitate community building and impart skills to take back with you to begin to engage your local community. Permaculture is largely about people as mobilizing our neighbors, friends and families is just as important as a good compost pile.

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One of the many beautiful trees at the Palace which we will visit in this unique three week course

Almoçageme is a unique village in that it has an urban feel at its smallcompact center but is surrounded by field and forest making nature only a short walk away. Sintra means “Mountains of the Moon” due to its lushly forested rising topography. These mountains are a wondrous sight to behold but they are also an excellent example of how forests create a unique micro-climate when combined with topography. The difference in temperature between Sintra and the capital, the concrete jungle of Lisbon, is remarkable.

Meanwhile Sintra summers are cooler and mild in comparison because the vast forest draws in the humidity from the nearby ocean and offsets the drying hot sun. This area of Portugal is a very special place that allows for diverse planting due to the topographically affected climate. Citrus to medlars, pears to white sapote and plums to pineapple guava all thrive in the undulating landscape in and around Almoçageme.

The village of Almocageme is easily accessible from Lisbon via the magical, historic town and forest of Sintra. A 45-minute train ride takes you from the center of Lisbon to Sintra, where you take a bus for half an hour that drops you off directly in Almocageme. The site super accessible with public transportation, so there is not much hassle to get here if you are coming from abroad!

Pure magic this beach!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Two beautiful beaches are in walking distance! After the first week of the course we will have a day off, which you can spend all day long hanging out at the beach and we even take a field trip to one during class!

 Many Reasons to Come Join Us!

The Escola da Terra project and Terra Alta offer a great location and context for learning Permaculture!

  • Come and be part of a community that is dedicated to giving children a true education. Get a feeling of living in an intentional community with other permies!
  • The site is extremely accessible to the city as well as amazing beaches and places to visit!
  • The forest at Sintra, intermixed with a palace and castle, is something all should see in this lifetime!
  • The water that pours from the mountain is delicious and some say even the fountain of youth!  Natural springs are one of those gifts covered in the course that are fundamental to the objectives of Permaculture!
  • The Confidence to be a Permaculture consultant and practitioner in the future is one of the most valuable qualities that students will develop during the course due to the numerous site applications, international staff, creative solution successes and varied micro-climates. The world needs YOU!
Chayote, a perennial vegetable in our garden connected to our greenhouse shower greywater

Chayote, a perennial vegetable in our garden connected to our greenhouse shower greywater

So please come join us in sunny Portugal for what is going to be a great community experience, an adventure and an awakening to the natural world around us that is ripe with possibilities for connection and interaction.
After all, it will be a fun learning experience sure to give a new perspective on everyday surroundings and bring inspired solutions to the table. Let Permaculture be the systematic approach to make change in the world and your local community alike. Learn to turn Problems into Solutions, to Work with Nature not Against, and how Everything…yes every THING…gardens!!!!!

Past PDC Recaps:

  1. July 2009
  2. December 2009
  3. July 2010
  4. July 2011
  5. August 2011
  6. August 2012
  7. August 2013
  8. July 2014
  9. August 2014

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