How to Handle Adaptations With Permaculture Designs When Clients Are Involved

Students of Geoff’s Online Permaculture Design Course have question-and-answer sessions where Geoff fields a number of questions every week and answers them via videos. This question was pulled from the 2021 collection. For an in-depth dive into all things permaculture, check out the free Masterclass


Geoff often talks about the adaptive nature of permaculture design, and that it can take several iterations, cycles, (i.e. years) to massage a design into its ultimate productive state. So how is a “typical” permaculture contract/relationship structured? Do we factor in a several year-long relationship starting with an initial design, with some frequency of site visits thereafter? When someone is paying us as “the expert,” how do we manage expectations to let the client know that this is an ongoing process, and not a definitive solution? I’m looking beyond “Every designer needs to figure out what works for them.” I am curious how other people have made these things work.

Key Takeaways

There is no “typical” design contract. You can always offer options. Geoff gives an assessment call, describing what he thinks is possible and determines if it is a good fit. After that, a design comes next. From there, clients may take over the implementations, or they can hire the designer to direct these steps of implementation. Once the implementation is done, it can take few years to get everything established and the system evolving. Finally, it would be about designing the ongoing, long-term maintenance. Usually, people just want you to give them a site design and some general guidance, possibly hands-on direction with earthworks. It’s always slightly different.

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About Geoff:

Geoff is a world-renowned permaculture consultant, designer, and teacher that has established demonstration sites that function as education centers in all the world’s major climates.

About Permaculture:

Permaculture is conscious, intentional design in which diverse, stable and resilient ecosystems are assimilated to help people provide their food, energy, shelter, and other needs in a sustainable way, abusing neither the planet nor the humans relying on it. Permaculture focuses on a variety of topics, including agriculture, forestry, water harvesting, renewable energy, eco-building, waste management, animal systems, economics, technology, & community development.

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