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Permaculture Design Course

Permaculture Design Course2021-11-12T15:25:34+00:00

Permaculture Design Course

January 7 – 21, 2022
Machuca Valley, San Mateo
Costa Rica

Permaculture is a philosophy and practice of ecological design that doesn’t tell you what to do – it teaches you how to think. In the study of Permaculture, we challenge the current paradigm of where our food and water come from, the way we are constructing our villages and towns, and how we live our day-to-day. Our Permaculture Design Course graduates have gone on to become change-makers all over the world, designing their own land projects, founding eco-communities, redesigning their businesses, spearheading policy change, and continuing to teach the permaculture principles and ethics.

The Permaculture Design Course is the foundational curriculum to all regenerative practices. This 2-week course covers all the basic principles of the earth sciences in relation to human impact, reviews bioregional strategies for ecosystem rehabilitation and resilience, concepts in environmentally appropriate home design, and tools for individual and community development.

The course covers strategies for all ecosystems, while hands-on projects will be location specific. The PDC teaches pattern recognition as well as evaluation tools for impact. Rooted in the Core Ethics and Principles of Permaculture, these concepts can be applied to all areas of life, including wellness, business, education, spirituality, the arts and of course food production.


Course Topics


  • Ethics & Principles
  • Site Analysis and Assessment
  • Base Mapping
  • Design Process & Methods
  • Zones and Sectors
  • Urban/Suburban/Rural Permaculture Strategies

Horticulture and Regenerative Agriculture:

  • Perennial Agriculture
  • Polycultures and Plant Guilds
  • Food Forests and Edible Forest Gardens
  • Soils and Compost
  • Propagation Techniques and Plant Care
  • Integrated Pest Management
  • Small Animal Care

Ecological Design:

  • Rainwater Harvesting: Catchment and Storage
  • Alternative Energy and Appropriate Technology
  • Greywater and Aquaculture
  • Climate Appropriate Design
  • Adaptive Strategies for Housing and Agriculture
  • Earthworks

 Social Permaculture:

  • Alternative Economies
  • Facilitation & Decision Making
  • Ecovillages & Community Design Process
  • Collaborative Group Dynamics

Hands On, Field Trips & Activities:

  • Compost Making
  • Gardening
  • Plant Propagation Practicum
  • Site Observation
  • Tours of Tacotal and Alegria eco villages
  • River Time
  • Fires & Cacao

Facilitation Team

Sarah Wu is a passionate educational curator, facilitator and mentor dedicated to adult learners of all backgrounds. A representative for Mother Nature as a writer and teacher of Deep Ecology, Therapeutic Ecology and whole systems design through the lens of Herbalism and Permaculture. Sarah Wu has 21 years studying the science, art and craft of Planetary Eclectic Herbal Medicine. Her foundation is in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western Wise Woman Tradition, actively practicing clinical herbalism in the Neo-Tropics for 11 years. With 27 and counting, 75+hour Permaculture Design Courses in her portfolio, Sarah teaches full length and specialized Permaculture courses and workshops tailored to community dynamics, event production and holistic health. Sarah is the friendly Village Witch, co-founder and producer of Envision Festival, where she curates the educational offerings and founded the unique Herbal First Aid Clinic Training. She founded and produced Medicines from the Edge: A Tropical Herbal Convergence, dedicated to bridging the eclectic healing traditions of Latin America, produced the Permaculture Plaza and Village Witches at the Oregon Eclipse, is a regular faculty member at the Punta Mona Center for Regenerative Design & Botanical Studies, is a faculty member of the Permaculture Women’s Guild and a regular contributor to organizations such as NuMundo and United Plant Savers. She has studied with numerous leaders in the Western Herbalism renaissance, such as David Winston, Rosemary Gladstar, Paul Berger, and 7Song and has worked in relief efforts in Guatemala and at Natural Doctor’s International on the island of Omatepe, Nicaragua.

Scott Gallant is a permaculture designer and educator with nearly a decade of experience working in Central America. He is the co-founder of Porvenir Design, a landscape design firm specializing in productive landscapes. He graduated from Wabash College in 2008 with a degree in Economics. He was the farm manager at Rancho Mastatal for nine years, and has worked with diverse projects such as VersaLand, Open Source Ecology, Project Bonafide and many more as he has developed his skill-set in permaculture design.
Passionate about regenerative agriculture, holistic thinking, ethnobotany, community development, and re-skilling, he still makes time to hike and bike, read exhaustively, and work on his basketball jump shot and frisbee throw.  He has traveled extensively in Latin America, leading to a love of the culture, food, and language, which he attempts to speak.  Scott writes for the Permaculture Research Institute and has been featured on the Permaculture Voices and Abundant Edge podcasts.
Stephen Brooks has over 25 years of experience working on the creation of thriving ecological communities, beginning in 1995 with The Punta Mona Center for Regenerative Design and Botanical Studies, which has become a world leader in tropical permaculture and an extensive botanical collection of useful plants. Tens of thousands of students have visited and have been inspired by this rotating community of change makers.   In 2006 La Ecovilla was founded as a world model for sustainable living, made up of of 45 families from 22 countries. Ecovilla’s roads are made from recycled plastic, the septic is treated by one of Central America’s largest methane digesters and large communal gardens and orchards feed the residents. In 2008, up the street from La Ecovilla, Stephen co-founded Tacotal which is co owned by 33 families and is 70 acres on the same river as La Ecovilla.  His most recent addition is Alegria Village which neighbors La Ecovilla and is 170 acres and will include 140 more lots!
Stephen co-founded the annual Envision Festival, an educational and conscious celebration on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica featuring music, workshops, art installations and a host of activities designed to build community and inspiration around creating a sustainable world. Nearly 10,000 people attended the Envision Festival in 2020.

Tuition, Location & Other Info:


$1995 USD for double occupancy glamping tent

$2495 USD for single occupancy glamping tent (very limited availability)

$1495 USD Bring Your Own tent

We ask for a $500 non-refundable deposit to hold your space, with final payments due December 15.
All course content, classes, activities and materials, lodging in shared Glamping tents and all meals.
Not Included:
Flights and ground transportation
Libertad, San Mateo, Alajuela
Costa Rica
MachuCampo is a oprivate riverfront sanctuary glamping campground situated directly beside the Machuca river. Tranquil and lush, nestled in nature on 3 acres of land, with easy to follow trails and rock staircases that create access to the toilet house, kitchen, laundry and parking.  Experience living on a food forest farm in a tent village immersed in dense jungle with pools and waterfalls, monkeys, tucans and a myriad of other wild creatures, Machucampo offers an ideal atmosphere for inner quests and connecting with nature. The song of the river caresses your soul…everywhere you look there is nature’s beauty and embrace. MachuCampo is an experiment in how close and integrated we can live with the natural world while taking care of our human needs and comforts in the simplest most satisfying ways.

Just an hour west of the San Jose International Airport, Machucampo is easily accessible by car, taxi and bus, no 4×4 needed. Students can either hire a taxi for $50 or take the bus to Orotina and from there taxi to the location.

On the grid, yet away from it all, the space is comfortable, relaxing, inspiring and accessible.

Laundry service on site, limited cell service and no wifi.

Costa Rica and Current COVID-19 Policy

Costa Rica, while open to tourism is still suffering the effects of COVID-19, with almost all hospital beds full. To enter the country you need to either show a current vaccination card or if you are not vaccinated you need to purchase a travel insurance policy that covers hospital stay and housing for the duration of your stay in Costa Rica.

While a COVID-19 test is not required to enter the country, all participants are required to email us proof of a NEGATIVE ANTIGEN test 48 hours prior to arrival to Tacotal, and we ask that all participants also practice social distancing and all social responsible practices before coming. You can get a COVID-19 test at various clinics around Costa Rica for $50. Look up labs like LABIN. If you are landing in Costa Rica and coming straight to us, then you can submit your test from your home country.

All deposits are non-refundable in any case of illness, country closure or other personal reasons, yet, if you have paid the full payment, you will be reimbursed all except the $500 deposit.