What to Expect

In each monthly class you will learn:

Permaculture principles and their applications, design strategies and tools, permaculture design zones of use and suggested plants to incorporate into the different design zones, steps to creating a sustainable, low maintenance, holistic garden design, what to do in the garden each month, plus content on composting, foraging, simple herbal preparations to make from the garden, recipes, how to use and preserve your harvests, and more! Part of each class will be spent in the classroom, and part will be spent outside in our education gardens.

Earn Your Permaculture Forest Gardener Certificate!

This course offers a certificate option. Those who complete all coursework and quizzes and attend at least seven of the eight in-person classes will earn a certificate of completion from The Resiliency Institute.

  • What You Will Learn

    This highly interactive course will introduce you to permaculture and teach you the basics of permaculture design theory and forest garden design. Learn how to transform your own yard, school, workplace, or park into an edible forest garden by developing an understanding of: Permaculture Ethics, Principles, Strategies, Tools and Techniques * Site & Human Systems Assessment * Plant Ecosystem Functions and Design Applications * Edible and Native Plant Selection & Installation to Rewild our Landscapes * Connection Between Ecology and Food Production * Sustainable Weeding, Watering, and Fertilization Methods * Harvesting & Preparation (food, medicine, value-added products) * Preservation and Propagation *Hibernation, Composting, Mulching – closing the loop *

  • How You Will Learn

    The 2022 Permaculture Forest Gardener Certificate Course will meet live, in-person from 9:00 am -12:30 pm on Saturdays once per month from April through November, for a total of 8 classes. No prior gardening or permaculture experience is needed. During this eight month course you will discover through in-class lectures and discussions and guided hands-on projects and activities how to create a vibrant, productive, ecological, edible garden or landscape. A portion of each class will be spent in the indoor classroom, and a portion will be spent in the outdoor “classroom” of our educational demonstration gardens. Also included are practice assignments that you will do on your own outside of class which will guide you step-by-step through the design process and will culminate in a final garden design project of your choice.

  • Skills You Will Acquire

    Each class session will include skill-building exercises and design practice to be completed during class and outside of class sessions. For homework exercises, expect to practice your skills for 1-2 additional hours each month outside of class. To earn the certificate, a total of 18 practice hours, which includes the time spent on homework activities, is required. Over the course, you will develop your permaculture design skills through practice exercises: Applying Permaculture Principles and Ethics * Applying Design Strategies and Techniques * Applying Sustainability Practices * Monthly Garden Planning and Hands-On Activities * Developing Observation Skills * Starting a Garden Journal and Practicing Good Garden Record Keeping to Help You Learn Along Your Gardening Journey.

Scroll to See Work-Trade Opportunities and Early Bird Pricing Options Below!

Course Details

  • Certificate Option

    Students are welcome to take this course and participate fully in all classes and activities without completing all the certificate requirements. Students who choose to earn the course certificate will complete all the assigned exercises and log 18 practice hours outside of class time, pass all 7 quizzes, participate in-person for at least 7 of the 8 classes, and present a completed design project at the end of the course. After completing our certificate program, our students have established community gardens, started urban farms and food forests, completed restoration projects and backyard transformations, and they are now also teaching and sharing their knowledge and skills with family, friends, and the community!

  • Course Schedule and Location

    Class will meet on Saturday mornings from 9:00am – 12:30pm. We will have 8 monthly classes from April through November, all meeting in-person with your instructor, Connie, on the following Saturdays: 4/23/2022 * 5/14/2022 6/25/2022 * 7/23/2022 8/27/2022 * 9/24/2022 10/29/2022 * 11/19/2022 Classes will be held in the historic Clow Education Center at our location at The Conservation Foundation's McDonald Farm in South Naperville, and in our beautiful onsite educational Edible Forest Garden, which is our outdoor classroom. We will also have access to The Conservation Foundation's onsite demonstration gardens, like raised bed gardens, a rain garden, native garden, pond garden, and pollinator garden.

  • Class Supplies

    Supplies NOT included in the course tuition but that you may want in order to complete the design project assignments include: * A Nature Journal or Notebook * Graph Paper * Ruler * Colored Pencils * and at least one book of your choice from the following (your instructor will provide an overview of these books so you can decide which is most relevant for you): 1) Introduction to Permaculture, Bill Mollison *** 2) Gaia's Garden, Toby Hemenway *** 3) Food Not Lawns, H.C. Flores *** 4) The Food Forest Handbook, Darrell Frey and Michelle Czolba *** 5) Creating a Forest Garden, Martin Crawford

Your Instructor

Permaculture Design and Gardening Instructor

Permaculture Design and Gardening Instructor

Connie Kollmeyer

Connie has been an organic gardener for 25 years and specializes in natural, sustainable, and regenerative growing systems that produce an abundance of food, flowers, and herbs in relatively small spaces. She runs her own small-scale suburban farm, Copper Fox Farm, using her years of experience and learning, including knowledge gleaned from her 2014 Permaculture Design Certificate (hosted at The Resiliency Institute) and her Master Urban Farmer training through the University of Illinois Extension. You may have met her at local farmers markets selling fresh heirloom produce, herbs, and flowers, plus foraged items and herbal preparations. To broaden her foraged and herbal knowledge and offerings, she completed The Resiliency Institute’s Edible Wild Plants Certificate and Bioregional Herbalism Certificate. Connie also owns and manages Plot Twist Permaculture, growing gardens for others in their own outdoor spaces and coaching them to become successful organic gardeners on their own. Connie is a Master Naturalist, Environmental Educator, Adjunct Sustainable Urban Agriculture and Study Abroad Instructor at College of DuPage, and recently earned an International Permaculture Teaching Certificate after completing training in Spain. She is a volunteer in local natural areas as well as gardens and seed libraries dedicated to increasing food security, sovereignty, and community resilience. She has a small flock of backyard hens, and as a lifelong learner, she is currently learning beekeeping as well, and is pursuing her master of science degree in regenerative organic agriculture.

Photography and Social Media Work-Trade

Do you enjoy photography, graphic design, and social media?

This option involves taking photos during class, uploading them to The Resiliency Institute’s shared drive, creating graphics and social media images in TRI’s Canva account, and sharing a monthly post on your own social media platforms about a class experience or topic that appealed to you and tagging TRI in your post(s). Professional training is not required; amateur/hobbyist and student designers are welcome to apply! Work exchange entails approximately 2 to 2.5 support hrs/mo. for 8 months.

Forest Garden Friends Work-Trade

Would you enjoy sharing time outside with a group in TRI’s Edible Forest Gardens?

This option offers a student an opportunity to host a Forest Garden Friends gathering on an evening or weekend each month in TRI’s Edible Forest Garden at McDonald Farm in Naperville. This student will host social time in the garden and share a concept learned in class with the group. Work exchange entails approximately 2 to 2.5 support hrs/mo. for 8 months.

Early Bird Pricing options

The early bird gets the best deals! Save on the regular price of this immersive, resiliency-building design course by registering early! The earlier you register, the more you will save! Register with one of our high-value, low-cost early bird registration options through March 31, 2022! Regular pricing will be effective in April.

Did you miss the early bird pricing? In April, register with a friend or family member and you will each save $20 on your registrations! Use code Friends20 at checkout.


  • What if I have to miss a class session?

    Just let your instructor know. It may be possible to make up a quiz, just try not to miss more than one class if you are working toward earning your certificate.

  • How will I receive my certificate?

    After course completion, we would like to have a celebration and graduation gathering where we will present certificates. If this is not possible or you cannot make it, we will mail your certificate to the address you provide.

  • What is the refund policy?

    Full refunds are available prior to the first class session. After the class has begun, a pro-rated refund can be requested until the second class date. After the second class, no refunds can be provided, however a donation letter for the amount paid can be provided for your tax purposes.