A Place in Transition

 The MonViso Institute 



A Real-World mountain Laboratory 

for Research, Education and Entrepreneurship 

in Sustainability Transformations and Systemic Design

Courses & Events


july, 2018

20jul01augFeatured72h Permaculture Design CourseInternational PDC in partnership with the German Permaculture Academy


Event Details

Join our full 72h Permaculture Design Certificate Course (PDC) at the Monviso Institute mountain campus in partnership with the German Permaculture Academy. Emerge yourself in the pristine surrounding alpine landscapes of the Italian Piedmont while gaining empowering knowledge and practical skills to design sustainable human settlements and food production systems.

Permaculture (from permanent agriculture) is a design method based on the principles of natural ecosystems that helps to create ecologically, socially and economically stable systems. Originally developed in the 70s by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren as a method of sustainable agriculture, the ethical and design principles of permaculture nowadays also find use in a variety of areas of life from architecture to community governance, finance and entire economic systems. At its basis, it provides an ethical framework and twelve design principles derived from the observation of natural ecosystems. When used together, it becomes a holistic approach that allows us to creatively re-design man-made systems, so they benefit both human health and provide a healthy habitat for the non-human world (e.g. animals, plants, micro-organisms).

The Permaculture Design Certificate Course (PDC) is an internationally recognized 72-hour course that will equip you with the basic understanding of how to use permaculture ethics and principles to design largely self-regulating landscapes and human settlements that mimic nature’s patterns and relationships. It will provide information and ideas how you can learn from observing the natural ecosystems and yourself become a designer for sustainable and regenerative systems on your balcony, in your garden, your school, your company, town or community. You will also gain hands-on applied Permaculture skills while you immerse yourself in the breathtaking alpine nature of the Italian Po Valley. This region is the birthplace of Slow Food, and both the MVI mountain campus as well as the wider community of Ostana offer a unique learning and experimentation field with diverse community-led initiatives and a spectacular biodiversity and wilderness to explore.

By attending this PDC you will gain first hand experiences of both opportunities and challenges that arise from developing and maintaining a resilient site and land-based resource system. On this two-week journey, you will share the joy of learning and co-creating with like-minded people. You will embrace a variety of tangible and intangible skills to empower yourself and your surrounding to grow healthy foods, live a more sustainable lifestyle and regenerate ecosystems. Together, we will apply the theoretical learning during daily practical sessions outdoors and a specific design project at the MVI Campus at the end of the course. In taking this course, you will gain the confidence and basic abilities for Permaculture design approaches primarily suited for landscapes and urban environments, but also for intentional communities, organizational structures and many other fields. Upon completion of this course you will receive the internationally recognized PDC certificate by the Permaculture Academy Germany, which can also be your first step in the diploma pathway of becoming a professional Permaculture designer.

Course content

Introduction and basics:

  • Ethics, history and context of Permaculture
  • Domains of Permaculture design
  • Landscape reading and observation techniques
  • Permaculture design principles
  • Design process and design tools
  • Low-tech mapping techniques

Land-based Permaculture:

  • Designing with topography
  • Tools for site analysis
  • Water retention and regeneration
  • Working with microclimates
  • Energy flows
  • Building with natural materials
  • Growing mushrooms
  • Permaculture gardening
  • Plant propagation
  • Urban gardening
  • Agroforestry and edible forest gardens
  • Soil building and soil regeneration
  • Composting
  • Edible and medicinal wild plants
  • Growing hemp as a construction, fiber and nutrition plant

Social and economic Permaculture:

  • Pattern Theory
  • Social Permaculture tools
  • Introduction to complexity theory
  • Community supported agriculture (CSA)
  • Indigenous wisdom and deep nature connection
  • Slow Food
  • Community building
  • Regional development
  • Introduction to Sociocracy

This course is suited for

Project developers, environmental educators and school teachers, (landscape-) architects, small land holders and farmers, ecologists and restoration workers, students, systemic designers, urban Gardeners, NGO-members and social workers, members of community organizations, activists, people in urban and regional development, people looking for nature connection.

Practical Information

Accommodation & Seminar Center

The group building of the MVI is not yet ready to host guests, but will be in the near future. Until then, we corporate with the 10-minutes walk away Seminar Center ‘Lou Pourton’ and the adjoining accommodation ‘Foresteria’. The dormitory-style Foresteria will be the main basecamp of this course due to its proximity to both the Lou Pourton – where most theoretical sessions and breakfast will take place – and the MVI campus site – where practical sessions and other meals will be enjoyed. It can be booked directly through us.

All other accommodation needs to be organized individually, but we are happy to help you finding the option that best suits your needs. There are several options in dormitory or single, double or triple rooms in walking distance to the MVI Campus as well as limited spaces for camping and camper-vans on the MVI campus. Apartments are available in the Residence Lou Batent (approx. 10min walking distance) and single, double or triple rooms at the Refugio Galaberna or the Agritourismo A nostro Mizoun (both approx. 20min walking distance).









We provide three meals per day; breakfast, lunch and dinner. The meals are biological, diverse, fresh, healthy, homemade and vegetarian. Locally hunted meat is served as a rare but conscious option once a week for BBQ if desired. Ingredients are either grown at the MVI or purchased from the local organic Azienda Agricola ‘L’orto di Ostana’, with its fields right above the MVI Campus, or from local organic producers in the valley. We buy regional whenever possible to stimulate the territories’ food economy and put great attention to nourish everybody with high quality foods during this course – also the ones suffering from allergies!

Further Activities

On the break-day or during free time you can join a climbing course for beginners offered by the MVI team (rental equipment available), take a bath in the various mountain river basins, explore the spectacular hike along five pristine mountain lakes at the foothill of the Monviso (part of UNESCO Biosfera Riserva Monviso), explore the Rio Martino Cave in the neighboring Crissolo, or visit the birth place of Slow Food and enjoy the Italian culinary culture in Cuneo. Or simply just rest, join a local yoga session and enjoy the Piedmonts’ sun whilst leaning against the warm stonewalls of a typical mountain cottage. It is the perfect place with various possibilities for outdoor sports enthusiasts and culinary lovers that will let you combine a unique learning experience with an energizing holiday hideaway.


Course Team


Sarah Daum

Sarah is a geoecologist and Permaculture designer. During her studies in geoecology, she researched the water quality and sustainability of the water retention landscape of Tamera ecovillage in Portugal. She took part in Permaculture projects around Europe and in India, started a Transition Town initiative in Tübingen and founded a community garden at her University, which now is an educational center for Permaculture, climate farming and urban gardening. Over the last years, she led the set-up phase of the Permaculture education center at the Swiss ecovillage Schweibenalp and is now teaching Permaculture, herbal medicine, wilderness awareness and deep nature connection around Europe. She offers Permaculture design and consulting services and is engaged in the German Permaculture Academy.


Adrian Sina Vollmer

Sina is a Permaculture Designer, cultural anthropologist, human geographer, mediator and consultant. Sina’s work has recently concentrated on addressing organizational problems of nonprofit Organizations and the creation of enabling environments based on Sociocracy, complexity theory and pattern theory. He is part of the executive board of the German Permaculture Academy and holds a lectureship on Social Permaculture at the Universities of Goettingen and Tuebingen (the last one together with Sarah Daum).


Facilitation and hosting

Anna Rodewald

Anna is an expert for sustainability in the outdoor sports and textile industry and currently in the second year on the diploma pathway to become a professional Permaculture designer at the Permaculture Academy in Germany. She brings over 25 years of experience in the textile industry, worked for 18 years as a product and quality manager at Gore, and is guest lecturer and senior consultant for system innovation and responsible management in the textile and sporting goods industry. Since 2017 she moved from Munich to Ostana and helps to build up the permaculture system at the Monviso Institute. 


Melanie Rottmann

Melanie is responsible to build up the permaculture system at the MVI. She holds a double-degree in tourism development with a focus on intercultural management and sustainability and is currently doing her Master degree in Sustainable Food and Natural Resources in England. She worked in the sustainability department of an international group of mountain sports brands and currently leads a project on industrial hemp use in the outdoor textile industry. She gained her PDC at the Austrian Permaculture Academy and is currently on the Permaculture diploma pathway at the Swiss down to earth Academy.


Guest lecturer

Prof. Dr. Tobias Luthe

Originally a forest scientist, Tobias is founding director of the MVI and professor for sustainability science with a focus on regenerative design and social-ecological systems. He lectures at ETH Zurich in systemic design, at University of Lugano in resilience of mountain economies, and at University of Freiburg (D) in sustainability management. Tobias is a mountaineering guide and founder of Grown, an outdoor creativity lab designing essential outdoor tools and offering design thinking mountaineering trips. He has been doing research in integrative building design and helped design and build a number of buildings, amongst others the Swall Institute in the high desert of California.



Visit our gallery and building journal to further explore the course location.














July 20 (Friday) 17:00 - August 1 (Wednesday) 12:00


MonViso Institute


Permakultur Akademie Deutschland

Ticket Section Title

EARLY BIRD ticket price 750€ until 30.4.18

Price 850.00 750.00

How many tickets? - 1 +

06oct10:0017:00Building with hemp and natural binder/cement/lime stone - from field to houseLearn to use hemp as a building material

20oct(oct 20)12:0023(oct 23)14:00View from AboveFly drones and learn to use critical systems thinking to tackle sustainability challenges in a wonderful alpine setting

20jul01augFeatured72h Permaculture Design CourseInternational PDC in partnership with the German Permaculture Academy

27oct(oct 27)8:3028(oct 28)17:30FeaturedDe-Conference RSD7A slow-down and connecting weekend right after RSD7 conference in Torino

Innovation for Sustainability



Our Topics




Integrative Building Design

Renewable Energy Systems

Sustainability Transitions

Community Resilience

Alpine Urbanism


Circular Economy

Regenerative Design


Responsible Tourism

Co-Design of (Forest) Ecosystem Services

Outdoor Sports and Education

A mountain observatory for environmental data monitoring 

Scientific collection and monitoring of environmental and social-ecological data

as part of a global mountain observatory network

Want to be part of this transition?


Test and showcase your sustainable building materials and products in this innovative setting to a targeted audience

Become a MVI partner

We are transforming this abandoned place to an innovation and communication hub

Your contribution helps to bring new life to Serre de Lamboi

Come along, engage in various types of activities, make new friends, and contribute with your skills

The campus transition process is multi-faceted, full of learning, exploring and joy

Do you want to stay at the MVI campus?

Once finished, the MonViso Institute can host groups of various kind and occasions.