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FAQ

Q: Can I use drugs and alcohol during the course?

A: 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.

Q: How do I get there?

A: There will be 2 pick-up times from Ulgueira (the closest village near us), the Sunday before the PDC starts. Students receive an email a few weeks before the course starts with details on how to get to Ulgueira, the scheduled pick-up times, and other important information.

Q: What should I bring if I'm attending a PDC/Apprenticeship?

A: This is our recommended packing list: 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.

Q: Can I live at Terra Alta?

A: No, because for what we want to accomplish with our events, as well as our ongoing journey in revitalizing 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.


Q: Can I come and volunteer at any time?

A: We release all volunteer opportunities on our website’s volunteer page and on social media--keep an eye out!


Q: Can I drop by anytime to visit?

A: No, you have to write us to arrange a visit. We are not a drop-in project.


Q: Do you know where we can find land in Portugal or Sintra?

A: For this, you may contact a real estate agent.


Q: WIll I be refunded if I cancel the course?

A: If you cancel...

  • 3 months before the course start date, you will get a full refund of your registration fee (minus bank/PayPal transaction fees)


  • 2 months before the course start date, you will lose 50 euros


  • 1 month before the course start date, you will not be refunded



Q: Are the courses taught in English?

A: Yes, all our courses are conducted in English.

Q: Do I need a PDC to join the Apprenticeship?

A: There are no prerequisites needed (PDC not necessary) to join, though as the Apprenticeship is experience-based, participants should be eager to farm and be an active part of community living.

Q: What is the difference between the Apprenticeship and the PDC?

A: The main difference is that the PDC is more social and the Apprenticeship is more intensive. You also have the opportunity to have individual mentoring sessions during the Apprenticeship for guidance in implementing your own project. The Apprenticeship covers core topics and themes you would find in a PDC and can be thought of as an extended PDC. We offer accreditation for the Apprenticeship though it's not a PDC certificate (so if you need a PDC certificate as a prerequisite for further learning this wouldn't be a substitute).

Q: The facilitators/crew members have changed since I last checked. Why is that?

A: 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.


Q: Is the registration fee part of the course fee?

A: Yes, the registration fee is a deposit. You subtract this amount from the course fee and pay the balance when you arrive.


Q: How fast will I know whether I'm accepted into the PDC or not? Is there a waiting list if it's full?

A: You will be registered after completing the registration process. That includes a registration fee that has a refund policy. If the course is full there’s a waiting list.


Q: 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?

A: Students must attend all lectures and successfully complete the design project in order to gain the certification. In special circumstances where students have to leave prematurely, exceptions may be made if at least 80% of classes have been attended.


Q: What will I get from completing this Permaculture Design Course?
A: You will receive a certificate offered by the UK Association of Permaculture giving you the right to add "Permaculture Design" to your professional description, offer Permaculture Design counseling, and it enables you, as a pre-requisite, to take teacher training courses and other advanced permaculture training. You are not automatically a certified permaculture designer, however, from taking a PDC. It's just the first step in becoming a permaculture designer or educator.

Q: Does Terra Alta offer any online courses/supplementary learning material online?

A: We are working on a post-PDC pathway for students that involves online guidance/mentoring. We will also make course materials online available even after the course is over.


Q: 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?

A: We run a PDC based on the international curriculum created by Bill Mollison, the permaculture founder. All PDCs cover the core 72-hour curriculum. No two permaculture farms highlight the exact same features because the nature of permaculture and regenerative design revolves around the unique environment of the place. Ours centers around small intensive systems and bio intensive farming.


Q: I've read that some PDCs are spiritual, does Terra Alta have a special vibe/spiritual element to it?

A: This course is made of people, their connection to each other and the land. If it is a spiritual experience or not simply depends on each person. Permaculture is free of rituals, dogmas or spiritual practices.  


Q: I would like to know which teacher/host will be teaching what-where can I find info.?

A: 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.


Q: Does Terra Alta's PDC address all major climactic zones?

A: Yes, and all PDCs, in general, should cover all climatic zones in the theory part of the course.


Q: What should I bring if I'm attending a PDC?

A: This is our recommended packing list: working clothes/rainproof shoes/boots, camping gear (tent/warm sleeping bag/sleeping mat), toiletries, eco-friendly soap, a sun hat, towel, swim gear, warm clothes (seriously, trust us, it gets cold!), a rain jacket, and a head torch.

Q: Is there a Terra Alta alumni-network for students to stay-in-touch?

A: Past PDCs have formed groups on Facebook/Whatsapp and have found ways of keeping-in-touch/updated on each other's projects/experiences after the PDC.


Q: How is Terra Alta funded?

A: We are a non-profit organization.


Q: What do I need to bring to the courses?

A: After registration, you will receive a document with what you need to bring in detail. Camping gear is a must--a tent, a sleeping bag, and a mattress. Terra Alta has a few to rent. Inquire by email for more information.


Q: Can I come earlier or stay after the course?

A: Due to the fact that we need time to prepare the courses and to rest after they are finished, we ask that participants do not plan on staying outside course dates.


Q: Can I volunteer on the land after or before the courses?

A: We have limited volunteer positions. Please inquire via email for that.


Q: Is there insurance in case I have an accident or feel sick?

A: 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.


Q: Can I bring a friend or family members to the course?

A: In order to experience a PDC to its fullest, we don't recommend bringing relatives or friends to the course.


Q: Can I bring my van and sleep on the land?

A: We do not have any options for parking on the land so you’ll have to find a place nearby for that. Please note this will not give you a discount on the course fee.


Q: Can I bring my own food and prepare it at the land?

A: We prefer not to have students cooking their own meals as we provide food for everyone in the course and the cooking crew needs access to a clean kitchen at all times.

Q: If I am allergic to some foods, will there be an option for me?

A: We provide a vegetarian diet. In case you are celiac, gluten intolerant, or vegan we do provide a menu for you. There may be an additional fee for that, depending on what you need, and you need to inform us during the registration process.


Q: Can I bring my electronic devices and charge them?

A: 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 loads in making sure we have enough energy for our basic needs (including charging mobile phones).

Q: Will I have access to the internet?

A: Yes, but limited to the basics. This means no video streaming.


Q: Do I need any prior knowledge before taking the course?

A: No, the PDC is an introductory course.


Q: Will I have time to visit the local area?

A: Yes, you have the Sunday and evenings off which you can use to visit our surroundings.


Q: Can I design my property during the course?

A: During the course, we will be fully engaged in hands-ons and design work, but for the brief we give you. You can design your own property after the course with the information you will receive.


Q: Can I bring my dogs or cat?

A: Please don’t as we have our own pets and don't have the capacity to host more.

Q: None of my questions are here...can I write you?

A: Yes, please do. Contact us using our form on our Contact page or email us at terraalta.sintra@gmail.com.