2020 Permaculture Design Certification Course

June 20 2020 - July 4, 2020

Hull Services Campus, Calgary

Become a skilled and empowered change-maker in your community!


This 72-hour intensive training is the international standard for permaculture certification and is co-taught by award-winning engineer and ecologist, Rob Avis of Verge Permaculture, Carmen Lamoureux of Urban Farm School and Takota Coen of Coen Farm. The Permaculture Design Course will provide you with the skills to design and implement living environments that are both sustainable and regenerative, in both rural and urban settings. 

Stained Tree

Workshops & Events

SEED STARTING SUCCESS for the Northern Gardener

If you're concerned about the rising cost (and decreasing quality) of vegetables and want to learn to grow food economically, learning to start your own seeds is a great first step! Instead of buying pre-started seedlings at the garden center, why not grow your own? Whether you are a beginner gardener or simply want more plant diversity, this 3-hour workshop, geared toward the northern gardener, will give you the information and tools you need for a successful start to spring! You'll learn everything you need to know to start your own veggies from seed, including seed storage and viability, optimum germination requirements, seed-starting mix recipes, specific seed-sowing dates for Calgary, and so much more! We'll discuss which plants need to be started indoors (and when) for our Calgary climate, and which seeds are happiest planted directly into your garden.  Let's get growing!

  • SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2020   10:15 AM-1:15 PM  registration full

  • SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2020   10:15 AM - 1:15 PM   registration open

  • SATURDAY, MARCH 14, 2020   10:15 AM-1:15 PM   registration open

TOMATO GROWING for the Northern Gardener

Mortgage Lifter. Pineapple. Matt's Wild. Bloody Butcher. Green Zebra. The list of amazing tomato varieties goes on and on and on, proving that the tomato is one of the most popular, and for some, challenging fruits to grow. If you LOVE tomatoes, this workshop is for you! Having been a pro tomato grower for Hotchkiss Organic Produce, I can provide you with some expert growing tips and tried-and-true tactics to maximize your tomato-growing (and tasting!) experience, AND I'll share with you my list of favorite short-season varieties and reliable producers. I want you to come away with the confidence that you absolutely CAN grow the most awesome tomatoes in our northern climate, even WITHOUT a greenhouse! Totally tomato-licious!

  • SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2020   2:00 PM - 5:00 PM   registration open

  • SATURDAY, MARCH 14, 2020  2:00 PM-5:00 PM registration open


Not everyone has a personal plot of land on which to grow their vegetables. In fact, growing in containers, whether that's on your balcony, patio or outside your front door, is rapidly gaining popularity as a way for urbanites to grow healthy food that's literally within reach! In order to successfully garden in containers, however, it's important to understand how to manage your soil and planting strategies to guarantee a good yield. In this workshop we will explore various container options, which soil mixtures work (and which don't) and various watering strategies that work well for container gardening. We'll also discuss which kind of vegetables do well in containers, and how to keep them happy and healthy!

  • SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2020   - registration open

  • SATURDAY, MARCH 28, 2020   - registration open

  • SUNDAY, MAY 3, 2020 -registration open


There's NEVER been a better time to grow a garden! Rising food costs and questionable commercial food quality make growing your own veggies an attractive and practical option. The best way to  ensure you have really high quality, nutrient-dense food is to follow nature's example and use sustainable growing practices, ones that take care of your soil and respect your ecosystem. You'll be amazed at how easy it is to get started, and how much healthy & nutritious food you can produce in your own yard! We'll take you through all the steps, from locating your garden and soil preparation to seed selection and basic planting techniques, plus a list of the easiest veggies to grow in our local climate. We'll explore raised beds and no-till gardens, as well as some creative solutions for growing in small spaces. You'll learn tons of tips for sustainably growing and caring for your vegetable plants, including the best times to harvest your bounty! 

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 29, 2020  10:15 am - 4:15 pm  - registration open


Wondering what your plants really need for robust and healthy growth? Are you concerned about producing really high-quality, nutrient-dense vegetables for your family, but not sure if your soil has what it takes? If you're confused by all of the many soil amendments available, and have no idea which ones are right for your garden, you are not alone! This highly informative 3-hour workshop will give you the low-down on what your plants actually need and use for optimal growth, and how soil conditions and soil life influence nutrient availability. We'll explore nutrient cycling as well as some of the most-used natural amendments for effectively improving the condition of your soil, so that you can grow your best plants ever. 

  • SUNDAY, APRIL 5, 2020    12PM-3:30 PM -Registration open


Knowing how to grow food is a key skill for attaining a more resilient lifestyle. Understanding how to take an ecological approach to your food-growing systems allows you to not only be more sustainable, but also regenerative. Permaculture, as a whole-systems design methodology, provides a new lens through which we can gain a greater understanding of how we can provide for our needs while respecting the natural environment, using nature as our guide. In this full-day workshop, we’ll explore the fundamentals of Permaculture, how permaculture gardens build and support long-term resiliency, and how we can implement various strategies in our food-growing systems that build fertility, diversity and stability for long-term abundance. We’ll explore the fundamental importance of building living soil, and discuss which plants add value to our food-growing ecosystems.

SATURDAY, MAY 16, 2020  10:15am - 4:15 pm  Registration open


Want to get prepared for when Calgary finally allows urban chickens? Just beginning your rural homesteading adventure and want to start with chickens? If you're not sure what's involved and whether or not chickens are for you, this fun and informative introductory workshop will give you all the basics you need to get started!  We believe it's very important to be responsibly informed and educated regarding basic chicken care before making the commitment to own and manage your backyard birds. Come on out to URBAN FARM SCHOOL to tap into the expertise of our chicken guru, Jenni Bailey, where you'll benefit from her hands-on knowledge and experience with raising urban chickens. Find out all about these fascinating little critters, how to manage for optimal health, and explore the pros and cons of urban chicken management as well as which breeds are best for our climate and conditions. We'll also look at various coop styles and discuss what works and what doesn't! Whether you're on a few acres or living the urban farming dream, this is sure to be a fun workshop!  

 SATURDAY, APRIL 4, 2020  10:15AM - 1:15 PM -Registration open 


Considering a foray into beekeeping?  This 3-hour, super popular introductory course will help orient you to the fascinating world of beekeeping and help you understand what to expect in regards to responsibility, equipment, and the logistics of beekeeping through the seasons.

Join us, and our beekeeping expert Jessie Smulders of Green Box Bees, as we guide you through the basics of beekeeping, and discover for yourself if backyard bees are for you!

  • SATURDAY, APRIL 4, 2020   2PM-5PM   - Registration open


If your backyard growing system is missing it's very important edible fungal friends, this workshop will provide you with some inventive and effective ways to introduce mushrooms into your ecology...


Did you know that most of us are growing food in ways that are based on highly out-dated soil science? New and continuing developments have revealed the absolute importance of growing in living soil that is teeming with micro-organisms. Understanding this, and shifting our soil-management practices, is key to growing incredibly nutrient-dense food. In this 5 hour workshop we will dive into this fun and amazing topic and explore key strategies for building ultimate soil health, getting the most nutrients into your crops, and building and supporting those essential soil microbes! 

SUNDAY, MARCH 15, 2020  11AM - 4 PM - Registration open

SATURDAY, APRIL 11, 2020   11AM P 4PM - Registration open

Future-proof your yard by planning and planting an edible landscape! By following nature’s example, we can design abundant, productive and layered landscapes that provide for our long-term needs and have the diversity, stability and resilience of natural, healthy ecosystems. 

A FOOD FOREST, or forest garden, is a grouping of multi-layered plant species that work together to support the health of the whole system, while providing you with abundant food sources! Unlike a natural forest, however, the edible landscape is designed to allow plenty of sunlight in, anchored by trees chosen for their ability to produce fruit, habitat, or other services. Supporting these main species are a myriad of other plants that perform important ecosystem functions, provide food, support pollinators, protect the soil and add beauty. Creating beautiful, functional and nurturing landscapes that you actually want to spend time in and enjoy is the ultimate goal! 

In this 7-hour introductory workshop you will learn how to incorporate many different compatible and useful plants, including fruit trees, berries, canes, ground covers, medicinal plants and more into your growing systems in a synergistic way that helps support you, the plant community, the soil and your ecosystem!

SATURDAY, APRIL 25, 2020       10:15AM-5PM  -Registration open


Want to support your local pollinator super-heroes? Join us as we explore some of our essential native insect species and how we can provide ultimate habitat for ensuring they have the ability to continue their vital work! We'll dive into the various important plant species that are rock stars in the pollinator garden, how they take their place in the diversity-rich ecological garden, and how to plan for providing pollinator services throughout the growing season, starting in early spring through to late fall. We'll also look at various strategies for creating inviting habitat, including wild zones, insect hotels, and access to water. Join us for a fun and informative workshop!

SATURDAY, MAY 2, 2020    10:15AM - 1:15PM

SUNDAY, MAY 31, 2020    10:15AM - 1:15PM


With 72 hours of classroom and hands-on instruction, this course is the international standard for permaculture certification and is taught by award-winning engineer and ecologist, Rob Avis of Verge Permaculture, Carmen Lamoureux of Urban Farm School, Takota Coen of Coen Farm and Michelle Avis of Verge Permaculture. The Permaculture Design Course will provide you with the skills to design and implement living environments that are both sustainable and regenerative, in both rural and urban settings.

  • JUNE 20, 2020 - JULY 4, 2020      -registration open


Want to come and snoop out our gardens here at the Urban Farm Permaculture Project? Here's your chance! We're opening our garden gate so you can come in and explore all the wonderful ways we implement sustainable strategies on our property, including our large-scale rainwater harvesting set-ups, front yard edible (and very pollinator-friendly!) garden, back yard full-on veggie-growing gardens, our famous "tomato-tower of power", our innovative hail-protection strategies, and so much more! And you will discover that yes, permaculture can be both functional and beautiful! 


Want to get the REAL dirt on composting? Nature's been doing it, well...forever, and there's really no reason she should have all the fun! We'll de-mystify the wondrous, magical processes that turn your yard and garden wastes into black gold, and learn how to truly turn "trash into treasure"! We'll explore various composting strategies, including how  to produce super high-quality thermophilic compost teaming with beneficial micro-organisms, why that's important, and how to actually customize that for your growing conditions. This workshop will teach you all you need to know to get started composting, including bin styles (what works and what doesn't), compost ingredients and recipes, and basic rules-of-thumb to ensure that you will enjoy the sweet smell of composting success!


What exactly is a "permaculture plant"? In this workshop we'll explore some of the many useful plants, shrubs and trees commonly used in a permaculture-centered design, and how they add value to  humans, the landscape and the local ecology.

We'll look at how to choose species that are right for your location, soil and climate, as well as selecting for multi-functionality. 

We'll also tour around the URBANFARM Permaculture Project and look at how and why we've integrated some of these into our design, whether they be edibles, medicinals, pollinator plants, dynamic accumulators, nitrogen fixers, shade providers, living mulches or simply because they add beauty!  


Understanding rainwater harvesting & management is absolutely key to building resiliency and planning for drought conditions. During this informative...


Most of us are unaware that beneath our feet lies a vast world absolutely teeming with life! As the foundation for all life on the planet, our lives completely depend on this valuable resource that we call SOIL. Understanding the fundamentals of healthy, fertile, living soil is absolutely essential to growing high-quality, nutrient-dense food sustainably. Join us as we explore the amazing soil bioverse during this full-day workshop intensive. Prepare to be amazed by the intricate and function -specific roles filled by various soil micro-organisms, and the incredible diversity of collaborative, mutually-beneficial relationships forged underground! We'll cover soil nutrition and also discuss various methods of building and maintaining soil fertility, including compost, compost teas & extracts, as well as cover crops. If you are keen on building really healthy soil as the basis for a truly resilient urban homestead, this in-depth and super-informative seminar is a must.


Want to find out just why this awesome style of composting is becoming so popular? Join us for this fun workshop as we discover how these little squirmy guys can help you divert a good portion of your food waste...


Before seed companies existed, gardeners around the world saved seeds from their crops to grow the following season. New varieties arose out of careful selection...


If you want to get really good at growing your own mushrooms, this one's for you! Our mushroom cultivation expert, Malika Hamel,  will be offering this full-day, advanced-level course on how to cultivate...


Over the years I've had so many friends and students ask me about my northern climate food storage pantry- what I've got in it, how I keep it organized, and how best to store various products for long-term resiliency and food security. I'm always mindful of how easily we take our food supplies for granted, and how much my family actually eats, so I plan ahead...


Practiced, honored and documented by many ancient peoples, companion planting techniques have, through the ages, evolved as a useful tool for improving the health and vigor...

Please reload


Deeply rooted in natural ecosystem design and science, permaculture is a world-wide, positive-solutions approach to sustainably providing for our needs...

Please reload

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

  • Grey Facebook Icon
  • Grey Twitter Icon
  • Grey Instagram Icon

Tel: 403-978-1294

© 2013 by Urban Farm School