Community Supported Education (CSE)

Have you heard of  Community Supported Agriculture ( C S A ) where households or individuals pre-purchase shares in farm produce direct from a grower? They are popular for many reasons, including ensuring the farmer of income, ensuring the purchaser of a quality product that has been locally produced, keeping dollars in the local economy and the satisfaction of building a relationship with your producer.

Community Supported Education is very similar!

Imagine you want to learn more about Permaculture Design but are finding the course fees a barrier. Rather than struggle to come up with the funds yourself, or ask for loans, you contract with friends, family or community groups to provide a product and/or service in exchange for support to attend the course. People are not donating money to you... they pre-purchase a service that you provide, just like when consumers buy a CSA share and look forward to the vegetable boxes that will arrive later.

As this course is about Permaculture design, we are encouraging you to offer services that relate to the understanding and implementation of Permaculture in your area. The service packages we suggest will have the following impacts:

a. Support your attendance at the Permaculture Design Certification (PDC) Intensive

b. Increase Social and Ecological awareness in your community

c. Increase the number of people planning or installing Permaculture projects in your area

d. Get your certificate

e. Give you opportunities to conduct multiple site assessments, schematic designs, and possibly detailed designs which you implement on site.

If you have a background or aptitude in training, leading or speaking to people, you might also include services such as:

  1. Running weekend courses on aspects of Permaculture

  2. Public talks on the merits of Permaculture (or similar topics)

  3. Running actions on public land or in communities.

The range of services you can offer is not limited to the above, so brainstorm others!

Multiplying course impact

CSE is a great way to involve your transition, relocalisation or permaculture group in the content and processes you learn during the PDC Intensive. Because they have a vested interest in what is happening, they are more attentive to what the course is all about and what you are going to learn. Because you have a commitment to returning specific benefits to your community after the course, you have a clearer focus on practical implementation and your next steps as a Regenerative designer. Everyone benefits!

This CSE pack gives you general guidance on how to approach others. If parts of it are not clear, please contact us with questions. If parts seem not to apply to your situation, please also get in contact and have a chat about ways to vary the CSE model.

Setting up a CSE opportunity

In making an approach seeking CSE support, you are professional and prepared. People have confidence in you because they see you making a serious submission and you will deliver on what you are offering. We suggest the following steps in increase your likelihood of success:

  1. Prepare a permaculture resume

    Your resume should be a single page that includes ONLY information relevant to your role as a Permaculture designer. Be sure to mention qualifications (accredited & non-accredited, but only those relevant to your CSE submission), experience (paid, volunteer & at home), community group work/leadership and future aspirations. Include referees, especially if they are well-known or well respected in the community. Photographs are OK, as long as they are relevant.

  2. Identify the characteristics and priorities of the people or group/s you plan to approach

    Are you approaching individuals or groups or both? Are you making the same offerings to each sector? If not, have a slightly different resume and/or CSE package. What are the key values and priorities of your target market? What is their ability to fund your work? Propose a package that allows them to recoup their investment or even make money off it.

  3. Make a formal, business-like approach and EXPECT that they will say yes

    Although email is now the dominant form of communication in the business community, a hard copy letter still commands more respect and is often taken more seriously than an email. Write to your prospective clients. Include a short covering letter where you state clearly that you want them to contract with you for the delivery of certain services post course, and attach a listing of each package and the related investment.

    If you already have a good relationship with someone, you might not need to write to them. You could call, explain the concept and set up a meeting. You already know that the package you are proposing is good value, so have the expectation that they will be interested and likely to say “yes”. Practice basic sales skills: don’t raise objections or obstacles unless they do, but be ready with an appropriate response if negatives come up. You are not ‘hard selling’ – you are offering a good deal which some people will be keen to grab. If they are not interested, thank them politely and ask if they know anyone who might like to be involved. (Don’t take rejection personally; there are many different reasons why individuals or groups might not be able to take up your offer).


Suggested CSE packages


Permaculture presentation

A half day presentation open to your sponsor and a small group of their friends (5-6 people). This involves a lecture and some kind of demonstration of Permaculture principles and ethics.
(The actual value of such a presentation, beyond the obvious benefits of learning, is equivalent to above $500 if each guest were paying the usual minimum fee)


●  One day consult (6 hours) plus

●  schematic design, plus

●  Introduction to Permaculture

One day consult includes goals articulation, site analysis & assessment, client interview responding to client brief completed by client and presentation of general design concept. Schematic design includes bubble diagram of general design concept (not-to-scale), including general recommendations for implementation.


Two day course titled “Introduction to Permaculture” which could be run on weekend, either as a free course for group members, or at a charge to the public, which would allow group to recoup investment.


One day consultplus

●  schematic design plus

●  detailed design plus

Detailed design includes a to-scale base map, accurate plant and infrastructure design added to base map, plant list and implementation suggestions (e.g. implementation stages or options)


Two day course titled “Introduction to Permaculture” which could be run on weekend, either as a free course for group members, or at a charge to the public, which would allow group to recoup investment.


●  One day consult plus

●  schematic design plus

●  detailed design plus

●  installation of a system

Installation means 6-8 hours work managing the installation of the system. This installation may be part of the detailed design, or may be separate to it. Installation may include negotiating with suppliers, site preparation, collecting additional materials.