School Profile: Santa Barbara City College

Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) has a 5-credit full 72-hour PDC that is usually offered 3 times a year. It is a requirement for the 2-year Landscape Design course and the 1-year Restoration Certificate in the Environmental Horticulture Dept. The course has been running since 2008, and graduates around 90-120 PDC grads per year. Last year an Advanced PDC semester course was added. SBCC has a permaculture-influenced LifeScape Garden as well as permaculture gardens & plantings on the SBCC grounds, fully supported by the director of Landscape & Grounds. The Environmental Horticulture Program offers two permaculture courses:

Permaculture Design Course (EH 109)

This is based on the international PDC curriculum, gleaned mostly from numerous permaculture courses the instructors have participated in, from Mollison’s permaculture designer’s manual, and from the Permaculture Research Institute’s materials. This is a semester-long course covering all the basic topics covered in a 2-week PDC, and much more. This course can be taken stand-alone, or as a requirement for our Associates Degree in Science, for Environmental Horticulture (Landscape Design, Restoration Ecology and Landscape Contracting emphases). Passing the course, plus attending the one-weekend field trip to a local permaculture farm (Quail Springs Permaculture Farm, Cuyama, CA) enable the certification of the student in Permaculture Design. This course is co-taught by two experienced, engaging instructors: Daniel Parra Hensel and Michael Gonella, both with long-standing experience and expertise in permaculture, in complementary areas.

Advanced Permaculture Design (EH 109B)

In the basic course, described above, students learn how to design a permaculture system, on paper. In the Advanced course, they implement many of the elements and systems that they designed in the basic course. The Advanced course is field-based–the majority of the time spent in field exercises where the methods and tools involved in a permaculture system are practiced and used. Field trips to local sites that utilize permaculture design are also a large focus of this course. By the end of this course, and the basic course, the student is ready to begin designing and implementing permaculture systems in a professional setting.
For more information about this program, please contact Mike Gonella ( or Daniel Parra Hensel (

Photos from Santa Barbara City College


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