The Living Centre - Eco-Spiritual Education Sanctuary

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Four-Season Permaculture

Our Approach
Course Options

Four-Season Permaculture Design Course (PDC)


four seasons treeThe Four-Season Permaculture course is an internationally recognized, 72-hour training in the ethics, principles, methods, techniques, and practices of Permaculture Design + 24 extra teaching hours + 24 hours group/independent work, makes this a 120 hour certificate course.

Permaculture is a complete design system, based on principles of ecology and sustainability that can be used to create resilient, economically stable, and productive landscapes, home and communities. Permaculture designers make their imprint on Earth, culture and economy a positive one.

Learn about Permaculture throughout the four seasons, with a focus on Temperate climates. This exciting and innovative Design Course covers the standard 72-hour PDC curriculum commonly taught all over the world, and includes bonus information tailored to the temperate climates. As well, practical, hands-on modules to deepen active learning about permaculture processes and design through the various climates of the year.

What is Four-Season Permaculture (PDC)

To meet the challenging cultural, environmental and energy-supply changes that face us, this hands-on, skill based program helps you develop the knowledge and skills to bring sustainability and regenerative practices into your personal and professional lives. Learn ways to design thriving neighbourhoods, regenerate environments and accelerate positive community change The four-seasons format allows you time to implement what you have learned and bring your experiences and questions back to the training for feedback and discussion. 

 “The ultimate goal of Permaculture is not only of food, medicine and new energy sources, but also the cultivation and excellence of fresh new ways of seeing, of thinking, of acting and being in the world.” ~Dave Jacke 

four seasons

Course topics may include:

We will draw on observation skills, indigenous wisdom, modern science  and the wisdom and teachings of each of the Elements – Air, Fire, Water, Earth & Ether.


  • Foundations of Permaculture
  • The History of Permaculture
  • Permaculture Principles & Design Science
  • Principles & Ethics of Permaculture
  • Ecosystems: The Models of Nature
  • Pattern Thinking in Design & Strategy
  • Building Community
  • Plant based Permaculture
  • Deep Ecology & Living Systems theoryforest gardening
  • Universal Imperatives
  • Bioregionalism & Re-localization
  • Earth Wisdom Practices & Elemental meditation
  • Introduction to Edible Food Forests


  • Understanding Permaculture Design Principles
  • Concepts & Themes in Design
  • Mapping & Design Exercises
  • Observation, Pattern Recognition & Site Analysisthe harvest
  • Reading the Landscape & Climatic Factors 
  • Food Forests, Guilds & Ecosystems
  • Designing Edible Forest Gardens
  • Understanding the Soil Food Web
  • Growing Organic Soil Fertility
  • Why Vegan Permaculture
  • Enhancing Nutrient Flow
  • Bioremediation: healing soil and water with beneficial bacteria, compost teas, fungi, & plants
  • Creating Microclimates of Peace
  • Planting Annual Polyculture Gardens
  • matThe Art & Science of making a Hugelkultur Bed
  • Appropriate Technologies that support these changing times
  • Alternative Energy Systems - from small to large
  • Cold Climate Energy Conservation
  • Ecosystem Dynamics & Social Strategies


  • Foraging and Plant Identification 
  • Edible Landscape Management
  • working in the gardenTools & Appropriate Technologies
  • Building Design using Local, Natural and Recycled Materials
  • Urban Permaculture
  • Ecosystem Dynamics & Social Strategies
  • Re-Wilding the Self
  • Nature Awareness Techniques
  • Thinking Like a Watershed
  • Water Ecology & Preservation
  • Roof Water Harvesting
  • teachingWaste Water Systems


  • Inner Permaculture 
  • Deep Ecology & Eco-philosophy
  • The Transition Culture
  • Ecovillages, Community & Thinking Globally
  • Wild Edible Foraging Practices
  • Nutrition, Food Harvest & Storage  
  • Sustainable Green Economics & Right Livelihood
  • Local Trading Systemsin the forest


  • Day One – Putting it Together - Team Design Project Presentation
  • Day Two - Questions, Feedback & Where to from here?
  • Evolutionary Leadership
  • Receiving Certificates

The course includes hands-on projects, lectures, discussions, slide shows, field trips and design projects.

Students will have the opportunity to connect to a global network of Permaculture, regenerative design, and nature awareness contacts and projects. 

"A life changing experience! The PDC helped me to develop skills, but also a better understanding of the world and a vision of how I can become an element of positive change on this beautiful planet." ~ Nancy

About The Course

tree happiness

The Level One Foundations PDC course takes place over 14 days, with a total of four 3-day weekends and one 2-day weekend from March to November.

Throughout the course, students work in small groups between sessions, to incorporate what they are learning into real-world permaculture design projects. The course culminates in the presentation of each group's design project. Upon completion participants become certified as a Permaculture Designer and receive a Permaculture Design Certificate recognized worldwide

This course is a 'principles in practice' approach to offer students a much greater opportunity to advance their hands-on expertise and design development.  Each weekend will include Edible Forest Gardening design and application, with a balance of classroom time, hands-on experimental learning and nature connection 

NEW - We are pleased to present three options for our PDC training. Please see - 'Course Options'

Creating Resilient Community Leaders

Permaculture is an invaluable tool for homeowners, homesteaders, small farmers, urban and rural gardeners, educators, landscapers, architects, bioregionalists, city planners, foresters, reclamation specialists, transition networks , neighbourhood organizers and those seeking a career in Permaculture Designer.

Recommended Reading - but not required  

* Permaculture: Principles & Pathways Beyond Sustainability (Holmgren Design Services, 2009)
research time
* Permaculture: A Designers Manual(Bill Mollison, Tagari Publications)
* Introduction to Permaculture: (Bill Mollison, Tagari Publications)
* Forest Gardening: Cultivating an Edible Landscape (Robert A. De J. Hart)
* Edible Forest Gardens: Volume One: Vision & Theory (Dave Jacke withEric Toensmeir)
* Edible Forest Gardens: Volume Two: Design & Practice (Dave Jacke with Eric Toensmeir)
* Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture (Toby Hemenway, Chelsea Green, 2009)
* Creating a Forest Garden (Martin Crawford, Green Books)

"Though the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple"

~Bill Mollison (co-originator of the Permaculture concept)

Our Approach

The Four-Season permaculture course offers a unique and incomparable opportunity to experience hands-on permaculture and forest gardening skills immersed in one of Canada’s most diverse permaculture educational and demonstration sites.

Participants will engage and experience how to live and create a resilient lifestyle. 

These will include systems such as:

- A temperate climate educational centre, forest garden nursery and homestead with well established 30 year-old forest gardens.


  • Mature berry/fruit, orchard and nut production
  • A high performance Earthship greenhouse
  • Year-round small-scale micro-greens and sprouting operation
  • A root cellar and time-honored food preservation practices
  • Established medicine gardens and medicine-making methods

This course is an immersion in how numerous systems actually have been working at The Living Centre over the past few decades. It's proof of concept

Participants have the unique opportunity to immerse in a working educational centre and homestead and see exactly what opportunities and challenges arise in developing and maintaining a productive and resilient home, business and land resource system. Our site demonstrates various cutting edge design concepts for increasing a self-reliant, enlightened lifestyle adapted for the temperate climate. This course incorporates the standard certificate curriculum but goes beyond the typical Permaculture Designer's Certification course by applying the experience of skills-based trainings offered through The Living Centre, and is packed full with practice-based, learning-by-doing experiences. You will learn:

  • How to plant polycultures
  • Propagating techniques of herbs and berries
  • Design on-contour swales, build and plant them
  • Perform small scale earthworks, harvest water and inoculate mushroom logs 
  • Learn herbal medicine, preserving, and innumerable other hands-on skills. 

spiral garden

Course Highlights 

  • Immersion and practice in one of the most established permaculture/forest garden sites in Canada  
  • Incomparable Carolinian Canada through the seasons with its full diversity.
  • Locally sourced (and site grown) fresh, local organic vegan meals of the highest quality.  
  • The foundation and resources of an eco-spiritual educational centre est. 1983
  • Lorenna and Shantree’s 45 years each of practice and experience
  • A well-developed, skills-based permaculture curriculum focused on transition, resiliency and regeneration.  

What Practical Skills and Practices may you Experience? 

  • Design process in the context of practicing designerspond
  • Herbal medicine production and making from our in-house nutritionist and herbalist
  • Wild Nutrition: Eating on the Wild Side
  • Pruning fruit trees and berry bushes
  • Mushroom log inoculation on site 
  • Hand tool sharpening: pruners, scythes, sickles and shovels
  • Forest garden management practices
  • Fruit, berry and wild edible harvesting 
  • Putting up and processing foods and medicines via various methods
  • Many other rural living and homesteading systems simply by living on the active educational centre site through the seasons

Participants are encouraged to bring tools to practice with and skills to share in the group. There will be sufficient time for group skill sharing as past courses were filled with experts in various disciplines relating to permaculture.

How is this course unique? 

  • Four-Distinct Seasonal Weekends
  • Established Forest Gardens (1983)
  • Local Permaculture Educators with 45+ years experience
  • Unique DVD Adobe Reader
  • Forest Gardening e-Book Manual 
  • Permaculture Design: A Step-by-step guide -Aranya
  • A copy Bill Mollison's "An Introduction To Permaculture" An Edited Transcript of a PDC
  • Nature & local plant identification
  • Vegan Permaculture made easy
  • Earth Wisdom Teachingspoppies
  • Deep Ecology & Living Systems Theory
  • It is hosted along with other professionals in this field of practice from professional designers, forest gardeners who love to share their passion - to help you design your future of a regenerative lifestyle.

Our team of instructors bring decades of experience in cold-climate Permaculture and a passion that inspires!


lorenna and Shantree


Shantree Kacera, D.N., Ph.D. and Lorenna Kacera are founders and directors of The Living Centre and Living Arts Institute (est. 1983). Together they blend their over 40 years each, of experience to offer programs that support individuals in the practice of conscious living. Lorenna and Shantree are visionaries, authors,  regenerative educators and world peace activists.

Shantree Kacera D.N., Ph.D. is an author and Certified Permaculture Designer and Educator, an Ayurvedic Live-Food Nutritionist, Therapeutic and Shamanic Herbalist with a specialty in Forest Gardening with over 40 years experience. Shantree's deep spiritual connection to the Earth has drawn him into the teachings of shamanic and earth wisdom practices as well as Carolinian Canada native plant preservation and studies. He is a passionate edible forest gardener, and well known for his unique circular medicinal-wheel garden and medicine trail with over 1,000 species of edible and medicine plants and trees through the 50-acre botanical sanctuary. Since the mid 1980's Shantree has been applying permaculture practices Learn more>

Lorenna Bousquet-Kacera is a Certified Permaculture Educator with a specialty in evolutionary regeneration at the personal, ecological and spiritual levels. She is the founder of Shamanu: Earth Wisdom Teachings, practices that support an earth-based cosmology, teaching visionary and practical solutions for personal and social change. Her years of training in the fields of Inner Permaculture and Deep Ecology provides individuals with the skills to reconnect with the 'original instructions' revealed to us through nature. These skills awaken the potential to bring active, practical solutions for personal, community and environmental benefit. Learn more>


Brad Peterson is an ecologist, farmer and environmental landscape architect with over 25 years of experience in sustainable land management, environmental design and landscape architecture. Mr. Peterson has particular strength in application of permaculture principles, design and management of sustainable landscapes and organic production systems with application to smart growth, planning policy and organic standard. Learn more>  


Rob Read spends his time outside his day-job as Administrative Assistant in the Rotman Institute of Philosophy at Western University between permaculture, writing, and his family. Rob's passion for forest gardening and permaculture began when he came across Robert Hart's book about his forest garden at a used book fair. This dovetailed nicely with his concern over our current food production system, and made perfect sense based on his many years as a naturalist and amateur ecologist. Since 2008 he has been enriching his experience of permaculture through extensive research and trainings, including workshops with leaders in forest gardening, holistic management, and rocket mass-heaters. He is co-founder of Artemisia's Forest Garden Nursery, a nursery that specializes in plants suited for forest gardens. He is also a co-founder of the Carolinian Canada Forest Garden Guild, and has been a planner for the annual Forest Garden Convergence since it's inception in 2013. After several years of practical focus on forest gardening, Rob is actively expanding his knowledge and experience in natural building. 

 Julie Walter is a stay-at-home mother, educator and blogger.  After having her own children she decided to leave her day job as an elementary school teacher and librarian in favour of educating her three children. She has a deep rooted interest in preserving the planet for future generations, finding guidance for how to proceed in permaculture. She aims to integrate the principles of permaculture into all aspects of daily life and parenting in particular.  She writes about her journey in her blog Family Yields ( Her interest in permaculture has dawned slowly, learning about it by proxy as her husband Rob shared excitedly about his own learning.  With an undergraduate degree in Sculpture, it was not surprising for Julie to be drawn to natural building. She has gained practical experience through a natural building workshop and during the construction of a cob oven, turning now toward the exciting potential of earthen buildings! 

John Miller is an electrical engineer who has been following the alternative energy field since his university days. He has a strong background in industrial automation and electrical system. He is current studying renewable energy systems, from solar thermal to geothermal system. John has completed a PDC and his interests extends to the world of “free energy” as well. What did Tesla know about tapping the energy of the ethers, or Myers in splitting water into hydrogen and running a car on it? John will share his knowledge and insight of the energy that we see as a corner stone to our future.  

Jayme Cannon didn’t fully understand what she was getting herself into when she signed up for the Traditional Herbalist program at The Living Earth School of Herbalism in the year 2000… little did she know that her decision would forever change the way she saw and experienced her world.

Jayme’s herbal training began with a strong focus on local, sustainably wildcrafted medicine. Much of her dispensary has been harvested from forests, so when she discovered Permaculture and Food Forests, she knew she had found a path that would further deepen her connection with the plant world. She took her Permaculture Design Certificate at The Living Centre in 2011, and has studied with Lorenna and Shantree for the last 5 years. Recently, she has taken on a 3-acre Pear Orchard Rehabilitation project at The Living Centre with her partner.

As care taker of the Forest Garden Farmacy, she enjoys providing people with locally grown and sustainably wildcrafted edibles and medicinals. 

MatMat Redsell is an energy expert who has been experimenting with sustainable living design that is cost effective and designed for the every day person. He brings knowledge to the areas of solar electric systems, windmill construction, hot water systems, biodiesel, recycling, composting toilets, heating systems and more. He is a 'warehouse' of information and knowledge and believes strongly in 'learning by doing'. 

** And other local instructors to support your permaculture journey


“A life changing experience! The PDC helped me to develop skills, and also a better understanding of the world and a vision of how I can become an element of positive change on this beautiful planet.” ~ Nancy (2015)

“This 4-Season PDC has enabled me to absorb the information I was hungry to learn, in an unhurried fashion. It allowed time for this new knowledge to filter in a manageable and meaningful way into my life.” ~ V.S. (2015)

“For anyone interested in learning Permaculture and developing one’s own sense of relationship with this planet, I highly recommend this course.” ~ J. L. (2015)

"The PDC course strengthened my views of how to work with the Earth, as well as connected me to a conscious community.  It’s given me the tools and knowledge of how to design smart, efficient, regenerative systems, a skill that is in great need in our current world situation. The time spent on the Inner Permaculture was a key part of my learning.  Because the course was spread out over a period of four seasons there was time to integrate the teachings in our lives and it really felt like a journey we were all on together. I learned a great deal about myself and my path in taking this course.  Especially doing the projects each session." ~ Jeremiah (2012)

“Permaculture is a movement. I am excited to be one of the bodies who can move us into our productive and healthy future.” ~ H.M. (2015)

“This Permaculture course is a life altering opportunity. I have learned so much about myself and my relationships with others and the planet.” ~ T.S. (2015)

*Doing our individual presentations – I learned much here!  How to process and really ‘reflect’ on what was being asked and making the TIME to actually ‘observe it, feel it, understand it, stay focused and do it’! Feeling ‘heard’ on many levels and aspects throughout the course.  You do this well with all your participants.  No question or comment was a silly one! Learning such simple practices in terms of forest gardening/permaculture.  A nice balance between the energy of ‘dreaming about creation ideas’ & the act of ‘doing and manifesting’.  *Everything was in perfect choreography!  You two are an amazing team! You’ve created a lovely balance between you with both outer and inner permaculture! I especially respect how you don’t try to teach all the aspects of permaculture but make it a community project by bringing in others with their expertise. Your permaculture course has truly been a ‘life changer’ and wonderful mirror of hope and possibilities! Thank you!" - Lea (2014)

“Lorenna and Shantree are very passionate and knowledgable. They are growing and experimenting, and they teach from their experience. A very wholistic approach.” ~ J. (2015)

“The 4-Season Permaculture was an amazing and valuable experience. The guest speakers were amazing, Shantree possesses an infinite wealth of knowledge about Forest Gardening and ecology, and Lorenna grounds it all with the Inner Permaculture work.” ~ M.P (2015)

“I feel that the balance between the practical and inner aspects of Permaculture really helped me to understand the concept of what Permaculture really is.” ~ A. (2015)

"This course provided a wealth of knowledge in different areas of the broad field of permaculture.  It provided for a holistic understanding, integrating the diverse aspects of forest gardening, sustainable economics and local money alternatives, alternative energy sources, creative landscape and architectural design, and social and inner permaculture.  This approach left the door wide open for students to pursue in detail the aspects that each found most interesting and appealing.  I appreciated the creative and hands-on approach to involving students in the learning process." - A. (2011)

"The Forest Gardening aspect of the course was surely a highlight.  Shantree has a wealth of knowledge and passion for his plant family that is a rare gem, and I could happily spend many more hours learning from him. I appreciated the recognition that the paradigm shift to a permaculture lifestyle requires an inner shift – inner permaculture." - Robby  (2011)

"The personal sharing among our group from the first day on was an important aspect of the course for everyone, as were the frequent meditation and movement sessions.  I believe that Permaculture without Inner Permaculture is not really Permaculture at all; the necessary paradigm shift cannot happen without doing the hard work inside.  It is a spiritual journey of reconnecting to the inner essence of all that is." - Maurice (2014)

"The 12 principles and 3 imperatives are examples of systems structures on which we can hang our experiences and observations; they help us understand the changes we affect by our actions and evaluate what adaptations are needful based on that new awareness. Thank you again for a great weekend and for bringing yourselves fully present." - Laura (2014)

"I feel very blessed to have shared with you and our group such a rich and full experience. I believe that both of you were very effective in providing a safe environment which brought a high level of trust and ease amongst our group. I think this was achieved in the creation of sacred space and the rituals you brought to us. I am very grateful to have shared this experience with you, and my new friends, at such a deep level." - Paula (2013)

"First, I would like to say that I think the land and the space you provide for teaching is absolutely beautiful and the most crucial aspect for learning. I think the food that you provided during the course was one of everybody's favourite parts! I think it was very important that you provided fresh, raw, vegan, organic meals so that it can really hit home for people that a lot of the motivation to get involved in Permaculture comes from wanting to live a healthier lifestyle and having those options available. all of the field trips were very informative and fun! I enjoyed all of the guest speakers and think that it was great that you found people from different areas of specialization in Permaculture to help you with teaching us new skills! I can relate to your approach with Permaculture from a "deep ecology" perspective and have a lot of respect for both of you with being able to maintain that throughout your daily lives." - Erin (2012)

Course Options

butterflyParticipants in our PDC range from students have ranged from home gardeners to community activist; from organic gardeners to farmers; from artisans to career-changing entrepreneurs. After years of teaching and student feedback we have come to the conclusion that there is no one size fits all! So we now offer these options.

Level I  - The Foundation 

Total Value $1,799
You Save $200
Your Price $1,599

An internationally recognized, 72-hour training in the ethics, principles, methods, techniques, and practices of Permaculture Design + 24 extra teaching hours + 24 hours group/independent work, a 120 hour certificate course.

Total Value Includes:

  • Five-Distinct Seasonal 3-Day Trainings (Total of 16-Days, incl. Introduction workshop)
  • Established Forest Gardens (1983)
  • Local Permaculture Educators with 30+ years experience
  • Forest Gardening e-Book Manual – Complied by Shantree Kacera 
  • Permaculture Design: A Step-by-Step Guide – Aranya
  • Essence of Permaculture Manual – David Holmgrem
  • An Introduction To Permaculture - Bill Mollison's, An Edited Transcript of a PDC
  • Unique DVD Adobe Reader - The Living Centre's Note Package & Resource Library (Priceless)

Level II - The Specialized Option 

Total Value $5,099
You Save $500
Your Price $4,599

Increase your Permaculture experience in the regenerative application of deep ecology and forest gardening design.  Level II provides you with all of the Foundational PDC features of Level I, plus a 14-Day Forest Gardening/Ecological Herbalism Mentorship Program, a whole systems design approach. 

Total Value Includes:

Level III - The Professional Option

Total Value $6,099
You Save $1,100
Your Price $4,999

Total Value Includes:

For those who are serious about establishing a permaculture and/or Forest Gardening career, this option is the best investment to support you in guaranteeing your success.

  • Everything from Levels I and II 
  • Onsite Forest Gardening Assessment of Your Property – 4 hours 
  • One-on-one Mentoring (Six-One Hour Sessions with Lorenna or Shantree) 
  • Unlimited Refresher Courses (Priceless) 

Level III provides you with all of the features of Level I and Level II, plus, on-site and mentoring support, along with unlimited continuing education. This ensures a successful start-up and the ability to fine tune and keep your skills and knowledge up to date. As this option requires in-depth personal attention we limit the spots to four students per course.

Dates Four Season Permaculture 2017:

sacred garden

Winter - March 25 - 27 
Spring - May 20 - 22
Summer - July 28 - 30
Fall - September 9 - 11
Design Project Presentations & Graduation Ceremony  Nov. 11 & 12 

Daily Flow

9:00 - 9:30 Nature Awareness practice
9:30 - 11:00 Session
11:00 - 11:20 Nature Break
11:20 - 1:00 Session
1:00 - 2:00 - Lunch
2:00 - 4:30 - Session
4:30 - 5:00 Integration 


flowerCost: $1599.00 Canadian

Includes all classes,  DVD Adobe Reader Permaculture Course Manual. Delicious organic living food lunches will be served the first weekend. Subsequent weekends, the first day only will be potluck style. Does not include tax, transportation or accommodations.

  • Alumni - Those who have participated in a full PDC course - $799. (please contact us)
  • Partner/Spouse Discount - Partners who take the course together get the second tuition at an additional $200 off of the regular price
  • Student Discount – Full-time students $200 off of the regular price
  • Family Discount - Two adults who would like to take this course with a son or daughter between age 16 - 19 receive a 50% discount off their child's tuition ($800) off the regular price
  • Scholarships - Limited number of scholarships are available. Please contact us for details.


Work exchange can occur before and during the course period. You do not lose any teaching hours during the exchange. This great opportunity allows you to gain hands-on experience in Permaculture skills, and participate in a regenerative lifestyle. Please inquire. 

Payment can be made by Paypal (below), e-transfer or certified cheque.
Please make cheques payable and send to:

The Living Centre
5871 Bells Rd., London, ON., Canada, N6P 1P3

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!

For questions or additional information, please call or email - 519-652-9109 and 519-652-0230, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

We have just launched a few new educational mentorship experience for 2016 
Herbal Mentorship: Practical Applicational of Nutritional Medicine
Forest Gardening Mentorship: Ecological Regenerative Design
Shamanu: Earth Wisdom Mentorship

Where can I stay?

Cancellation Policy

It is important to consider that enrolling in the 4-Season Permaculture Course is both a commitment to yourself, to each participant and the group as a whole. To support you, we ask you to reflect on whether you are ready to commit to this 8-month journey, which includes all of the above plus assignments which you will do on your own or with a partner. 

The cancellation policy is designed to support you in what you are saying “yes” to and support a smooth running of the program. 

  • To receive the early-bird price, full payment must be made by February 15, 2016
  • Full refund, except for an administration fee of $100, will be issued if notice of cancellation is issued 45 days before the start of the program
  • In the case that cancellation is 45 days or less before the start of the program a credit of 75% of payment toward another Living Centre program will be issued, less administration fee of $100.
  • There will be no refund or credit issued if cancellation is 14 or less days prior to the program

If an agreement has been made with a participant to miss a portion of any one of the sessions (highly discouraged), the participant must still pay for the full amount, and can return the following year to make up the weekend missed. This is applicable to one weekend only during the course.

Please note that we require a minimum amount of registrants for the program to happen. In the case that we do not receive minimum registration you will be notified three weeks prior to the start date and a full refund will be issued for the amount paid up till that point. 

Click here to request more information