FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What are your Covid-19 policies?
To ensure a safe space for all, we invite each student to present a negative Covid test result, taken within 24 hours of arrival.
REGISTRATION & CANCELLATION
Is the registration fee part of the course fee?
Yes, the registration fee is a deposit. You subtract this amount from the course fee and pay the remaining balance when you arrive.
How fast will I know whether I'm accepted into the PDC or not? Is there a waiting list if it's full?
You will be registered immediately after completing the registration process and receive a confirmation email. If the course is full, please contact us to be put on the waiting list.
What is the refund policy?
- more than 2 months before the course start date, you will get a full refund of your registration fee (minus bank/PayPal transaction fees)
- less than 2 months before the course start date, we will refund 100€ of the deposit
- 1 month or less before the course start date, you will not be refunded.
Extenuating Circumstances Policy
In the event of unforeseen circumstances beyond normal control, such as war, civil or political unrest, executive actions taken by governing authorities, strikes, natural disasters, epidemics or other serious threats or highly unexpected circumstances, Terra Alta may cancel scheduled courses, and any deposits received will be reimbursed minus transaction fees required by your bank/credit card/PayPal.
Do you run courses in winter?
All active course dates can be found on our Permaculture Courses page. Our season runs from May to October and we do not currently run PDCs in the winter.
TRAVEL, ARRIVAL & CAMPING
How do I get there?
You will receive an email a few weeks before the course starts with all details on how and when to get to us. We will pick you up in Ulgueira (the closest village near us), on the arrival day, Sunday.
Can I park my car/van at Terra Alta?
We do not have any parking onsite, so we ask anyone coming in a car to park in Ulgueira (the nearest town, 15 minutes walk away) for the duration of the course. If this is a problem for you, please find an alternative way of getting to Ulgueira.
If you are travelling in a van, please contact us before arrival so we can advise you.
I live in Portugal. Can I sleep at home, off-site?
You are welcome to sleep off-site if you prefer, as long as you adhere to our class schedule (see below). Please note there will be no reduced fee if you sleep off-site.
Can I come earlier or stay after the course?
To give our crew well-needed time to rest and prepare between courses, we ask that you do not plan on arriving or staying outside course dates.
What should I bring if I'm attending a PDC?
This is our recommended packing list: a notebook and pen, working clothes/shoes, camping gear (tent/sleeping bag/sleeping mat), toiletries, eco-friendly soap, a hat, towel, swim gear, warm clothes (seriously, trust us, it gets cold!), a rain jacket, and a head torch. We have a few tents and mats to rent - you can select when registering.
Do the rental tents include mats and sleeping bags?
The standard rental tents come with a self-inflating camping mat, but no sleeping bag or pillow - please bring these with you.
The bell tents and A-frames include all bedding, so you do not need to bring a mat, sleeping bag or pillow.
Can I camp with just a hammock or do I need a tent?
We get quite a bit of rain in Sintra, so we’d recommend a tent or at least a tarp if you are using a hammock.
Is there a place to do laundry?
There is a self-service launderette in Almoçageme, which is a 20 minute walk from Terra Alta. You can wash and dry your clothes here. We do not have laundry facilities onsite.
Can I bring my electronic devices and charge them?
We have limited access to energy considering we live off the grid and produce our own solar energy. Therefore we will manage the charging flow of students’ needs.
We strongly advise leaving laptops at home. Not only is it a good opportunity for a digital detox, but it'll help the community in making sure we have enough energy for our basic needs (including charging mobile phones).
Will I have access to the internet?
Yes, but limited to the basics. This means no video streaming. There are cafes in town with WiFi.
If I am allergic to some foods, will there be an option for me?
We provide a vegetarian & vegan diet. Please inform us of any food allergies during the registration process. We do not cater to specific diets, but we are confident everyone will have plenty of food (even if you need to exclude things you don't eat). If your diet is gluten-free we recommend bringing your own bread and pasta with you.
Can I bring my own food and prepare it at the land?
We provide 3 meals a day for everyone on the course, and students will not have access to the kitchen outside cooking times. Feel free to bring snacks with you, these can be stored in a designated cupboard.
Are the courses taught in English?
Yes, all our courses are conducted in English.
What is the course schedule?
The rough course schedule is as follows:
9-1pm: Classroom/hands-on sessions
1-2pm: Lunch then one hour resting time
The facilitators/crew members have changed since I last checked. Why is that?
Terra Alta reserves the right to change crew members & facilitators at any time, without notifying students. That being said, this will not interfere with the course, and we do our best to keep all information on our website updated and to maintain a committed crew.
Does Terra Alta offer any online courses/supplementary learning material online?
Yes! All students will have lifetime access to our online knowledge base which contains information from the core curriculum presentations, plus additional resources to enhance students’ post-PDC self-learning path.
I see a lot of "special topic" PDC courses out there--aren’t PDCs supposed to be all the same? What focus does Terra Alta's PDC have?
All PDCs cover the core 72-hour curriculum, but no two permaculture farms highlight the exact same features. We run a PDC based on the international curriculum created by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, two permaculture pioneers. Our course centres around small intensive systems and bio intensive farming, as well as social permaculture. It is a highly interactive programme with a lot of activities and embodied learning methods.
I would like to know which teacher/host will be teaching what-where can I find info.?
During the introduction on the day of arrival, students will be introduced to the course schedule. Beforehand, we prefer not to put-up a binding class timetable as changes happen, particularly months before a course and we think it wiser to reveal details closer to the date.
Does Terra Alta's PDC address all major climactic zones?
A: Yes, and all PDCs, in general, should equip students with the tools to work in all climactic zones.
Do I need any prior knowledge before taking the course?
A: No, the PDC is an introductory course.
I've read that some PDCs are spiritual, does Terra Alta have a special vibe/spiritual element to it?
Terra Alta is made of people, their connection to each other and the land. Whether or not it provides a spiritual experience or not simply depends on each person. Permaculture is free of rituals, dogmas or spiritual practices.
Can I use drugs and alcohol during the course?
We've been hosting dozens of PDCs over the years and know that everyone enjoys their experience much more when we ask that students not bring alcohol or drugs back to our land. In order not to promote social pressure and missed lectures we prefer no bottles around the fire circle. If you wish to have the occasional wine in town though, we might even join you.
Will I have time to visit the local area?
Yes, you have Saturday afternoons and the whole of Sunday and evenings off which you can use to visit our surroundings.
What will I get from completing this Permaculture Design Course?
This is an introductory course certified by the UK Permaculture Association, the first step in permaculture education. You will receive a certificate of attendance, and from here you can further your studies with advanced PDCs or teacher training courses, and eventually offer permaculture design counselling. You are not automatically a certified permaculture designer from taking a PDC.
What happens if I'm sick one day/have to leave a day prematurely. Is there a minimum time requirement/must I attend all the classes?
Students must attend all lectures to receive their certificate of attendance. In special circumstances where students have to leave prematurely, exceptions may be made if at least 80% of classes have been attended.
VISITS & VOLUNTEERING
Can I live at Terra Alta?
No, because for what we want to accomplish with our events, as well as our ongoing journey in revitalising and learning how to co-evolve with the land, we believe we have found a happy medium when it comes to the number of people living here and don’t have the capacity to host.
Can I come and volunteer at any time?
We release all volunteer opportunities on our website’s volunteer page and on social media--keep an eye out!
Can I drop by anytime to visit?
No, you have to write us to arrange a visit. We are not a drop-in project.
Can I volunteer on the land after or before the courses?
We have limited volunteer positions. Please read about how you can become a volunteer on our Get Involved page.
Can I bring a friend or family members to the course?
In order to experience a PDC to its fullest, we don't recommend bringing relatives or friends to the course.
I have a baby/child and want to take the course - is it possible?
Our site isn't suitable for children under 6 y.o. unfortunately. We are also not able to host any extra people other than the attending students and crew members during the courses. We recommend renting accommodation in the town nearest us (provided you are able to have someone looking after your child while you attend the course).
Can I bring my dogs or cat?
Please don’t as while we love animals, we have our own pets and don't have the capacity to host more.
Do you know where we can find land in Portugal or Sintra?
A: For this, you may contact a real estate agent.
Is there a Terra Alta alumni-network for students to stay-in-touch?
Yes! The online platform "Mighty Networks" hosts our alumni-network "Terra Alta Pollinators" to which you will gain access after completing the course.
How is Terra Alta funded?
We are a non-profit organization (part of the Waldorf Association of Sintra).
Is there insurance in case I have an accident or feel sick?
It's imperative that you have a health or travel insurance that covers Portugal. We have a general insurance that has a minimum coverage plan in case of an accident but are not liable for any losses or injuries (we hope there are none) incurred during your stay.
Can I design my property during the course?
During the course, we will be fully engaged in classroom and hands-on sessions. You can design your own property after the course with the information you will receive.
None of my questions are here...can I write you?
Yes, please do. Contact us using our form on our contact page or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.