Does Permaculture have to be so expensive???

CtopherP at CtopherP at
Wed May 12 14:49:13 EDT 1999

at certain times I have answered this question by replying that courses are 
not nearly expensive enough!

some observations from new mexico and 7 years teaching permaculture design 
courses privately and for a local community college:

1) to echo much of what has been said previously, no one is making much 
money, or being adequetely compensated for their time in the courses we teach.

2) we charge US$450 for a complete 72 hour design course. 

3) we cut costs by hosting the course at one of the participant's homesites. 
this has distinct disadvantages from my point of view: sites are not pc sites 
so have little to demonstrate, sites are not learning centers so lack so much 
in the way of really supportive learning environments, sometimes people's 
houses are not clean (very bad for those of us with allergies!) or toxic to 
some of the participants (once got driven out of a place because of the smell 
of moth balls).

4) my experience has been that no matter what the cost of the course is, 
somebody will complain that it's too expensive. some will argue that it 
should be free, this violates my understanding of the law of return: the user 
must pay.

5) one point that has not been mentioned is the inevitable process of burnout 
that accompanies volunteer work. this does not lead to good courses, 
improving teachers, or the furtherance of permaculture, as far as I can see. 
it also violates our ethic of care for people. 

6) according to marketing research, price is pretty low on the list of 
considerations for making a purchase. perceived benefit is at the top. if 
people value what we're offering, price is much less of an issue.

someone once asked me in a course why people say "penny for your thoughts," 
but when you offer your opinion you say "my two cents worth." supply and 
demand, perceived benefits versus need. this is at the core of what we're 
discussing. so, that's my $.02 worth. (US, by the way)

with regards,
christopher peck
santa fe, new mexico USA

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