Three Week Practical Permaculture Design Certification in June 2018


Three Week PDC in partnership with University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, U.S.A – June 4th – June 21st, 2018

An an innovative PDC program, following the PRI ‘Master Plan’ template, University students from University of Wisconsin Stevens Point (UWSP) learn permaculture alongside Kenyan students, project managers and small-holder farmers at different community development projects integrating permaculture into their work. The course, which is spread out over three weeks to allow lots of time for practical implementation activities, gives ample opportunity for students to learn about implementing permaculture in a community development context, whilst providing real and long-lasting change for the orphan children and small holder farmers who are beneficiaries of these projects.

The course is led by John Sheffy who teaches at University of Wisconsin. John has worked as a Sustainable Agriculture Programme manager in both Kenya and Mexico and has ample experience of both sustainable agriculture and community based forest management in a development context. John started teaching permaculture with PRI-Kenya in Kenya and has been very inspired by teaching with Warren Brush. Together with John’s partner, Holly Petrillo, professor of forestry, entomology and pathology at UWSP, they are offering you an unforgettable PDC integrated with their students from UWSP so you really don’t want to miss out!

The three week programme offers an opportunity to spend more time in the field at the 4 different host sites that are also partners of PRI Kenya – the Drylands Natural Resource Management in Makueni, Laikipia Permaculture Centre in Laikipia, Kibwezi and Western Kenya. Hands on activities included in the three week training are installing a water tank and constructing cob buildings. You will also get to see permaculture in action using different approaches appropriate to the their region and community! So you don’t want to miss out!

Holly Petrillo, course leader and associate professor of forestry at UWSP, describes permaculture as a set of ethics and principles for designing sustainable living systems.

“We really like the permaculture curriculum because it integrates the natural resources and the sustainability aspect but also the community aspect,” Petrillo said.

Depending on the village they are staying in, the class either sleeps in tents or stays in the homes of community members. During their stay, students cook and eat with community members.

Image may contain: 1 person Image may contain: 2 people, food and indoor

Petrillo said that she is always amazed by the openness and generosity of the people they partner with. In one village, Petrillo said that each year the class has participated in a community-wide celebration including food, music and skits.

Half of the class is made up of University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point students, while the other half consists of Kenyans and citizens of neighboring African countries. The class includes group work where students from the U.S. and Kenya can work together and learn from each other.

Although the course focuses on permaculture design, Petrillo emphasized that it is not just a natural resource course and encourages any major to apply. Petrillo hopes students will finish the course with greater mindfulness and sense of community all round.



The rich cultural mix of students results in some spontaneous storytelling bonfire nights. Organized and orchestrated by the Kenyan students these nights are a mix of traditional stories, songs, and dances from the many tribes they encompassed, as well as reflections from the course activities and where people thought Permaculture was taking them, and of course a few good jokes! 😉


This three week course of intensive learning of permaculture for community development in Africa will have a focus on permaculture for food security and climate change resilience

This design course also includes a special module on Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) — a simple but wonderfully effective technique for landscape regeneration which works beautifully together with permaculture and which is rapidly being recognized as an important tool for regenerating dought prone African landscapes.

At the end of the course, students receive a Permaculture Design Certificate!


 No automatic alt text available. Image may contain: outdoor

“If people come away from the course recognizing how incredible it can be to have a strong community that would make me so happy,” Holly says.


Experience the culture of Kenya while learning permaculture techniques. Permaculture is a set of tools and ethics to help people design integrated, self-sufficient living systems. Course topics include community development, sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, and lots more!

You will get to:

• Install rainwater catchment systems
• Build fuel-efficient cook stoves
• Plant food forests, coffee farms and other agroforestry projects
• See aquaponics system designs
• Construct hoop-houses
• Develop tools for helping communities take steps toward more
ecological and healthy lifestyles
• Interact with Kenyan students and community members
• and a whole lot more!



Drylands Natural Resource Centre, Makueni

Laikipia Permaculture Centre, Laikipia


Western Kenya



June 4th – June 21st, 2018

Full days, Monday – Saturday 8:30 am – 4:30 pm (one Sunday off as well as travel time during field visits)


East African Rate – 55,000 Ksh

(all inclusive of meals, accommodation and certification)


Camping (tents provided)  and community home stay accommodation is included in the course fee.


All meals included in the course fee. We invite you to share our simple meals with us with at least 70% of the produce coming directly from the farms itself. We cook a variety of  vegetarian and meat meals, prepared by volunteers and cooks on site. A camp communal kitchen is available for use (you are welcome to buy your own produce too at some sites).


You can pay for your course now via bank transfer or Mpesa. Kindly email us at for enquiries. A 50% deposit is absolutely mandatory to secure your spot on the course. Participants’ enrollment determines the course from actually taking place so we encourage you to confirm your places as soon as your register for the course below.


Facilitator BIO

  JSJohn Sheffy graduated from UW-Madison in 2001 with a degree in Wildlife Ecology.  As an undergrad his international interests were sparked by taking Portuguese and studying abroad in South Africa.   He served in the Peace Corps from 2002-2004 as a Natural Resource Management Volunteer in Togo where he learned how to communicate in French, Ewe, and local body language.  Over the course of two years John helped start a coffee roasting co-op to improve local livelihoods and completed research for his masters’ degree at the University of Montana in community-based forest management.  Since then John has applied his Peace Corps skills both on a professional level, as a sustainable agriculture program manager in Kenya and Mexico, and a personal level, as an international community building coffee roaster.  John is currently a PhD student in the Nelson Institute of Environmental Studies and the UW-Madison Peace Corps Representative.

He has started teaching Permaculture in Kenya in collaboration with PRI-Kenya and has been very inspired by teaching with Warren Brush. He has also started Permaculture teaching and consulting for non-profits in the U.S. He is very much interested in helping start local Permaculture training centers everywhere.


  HollyHolly Petrillo is currently an Associate Professor of Forestry at the University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point, USA, where she teaches classes on forest health, insects and diseases, tree identification, and international resource management.  In addition to teaching, Holly farms with her husband and daughter in Almond, WI where they are developing a Permaculture Demonstration Site.  Holly has been teaching Permaculture with her husband, John Sheffy, since 2011.  Holly believes in learning by doing, and strives to provide practical, hands-on learning experiences in all of her classes and workshops. She has been teaching Permaculture in Kenya in collaboration with PRI-Kenya alongside John for a few years now. Sustainability is one of Holly’s passions and is grateful for the opportunities to work with, and learn from, people from all over the world and to help make a positive impact on people’s lives.


Share on FacebookGoogle+Share on LinkedInPin on PinterestTweet about this on Twittershare on Tumblr