Community Permaculture Calls

Practice permaculture each week at our ‘village campfire’ of ongoing interactive group calls.

Next call series begins October 6, 2020!

Hosted by experienced permaculture mentors including Santa Cruz Permaculture founder David Shaw. 

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The Village

We’ve found that people thrive when practicing permaculture from within a supportive community container. This ‘village’ based learning is at the heart of our ethos at Santa Cruz Permaculture. The village provides a place for sharing and catching each other’s stories, forming connections and deep friendships, making commitments and accountability loops about what matters, and learning about the mysteries of nature and culture. 

We will build and co-evolve our learning village through the process of weekly community calls and our interactive website (call participants gain free access to the website during the call series). For the village-builders, or those culturally creative folks who want to develop community in their own neighborhood and bioregion, we will also provide the opportunity to build bioregional community in the place you live should that be a desire of yours. 

The Focus

The goal of this program is to create thriving and resilient individuals and communities. We do this through supporting people to connect with nature, community, and themselves more deeply, and use permaculture as the vehicle for doing so.

Each call includes a keynote talk on a relevant and seasonal topic. This is followed by a small group conversation for reflection, and a whole group conversation and Q+A. We close the calls with invitations for how you can apply what you’ve learned in your home and community. The next call begins with a check in about how it went applying what you learned. 

Our curriculum is ever evolving, changing with the seasons, and influenced by the topics people want to cover. It is dialogical and co-creative. We include and also transcend the topics covered in our permaculture design course, listed here just to get the flavor of typical topics. For example, during a 10-week cohort we may spend two weeks on composting (home or commercial), two weeks on no-till agroecology and food forests, a week on habitat and pollinators, a week on designing disaster resilience (personal and neighborhood), a week on economics and right livelihood, and a week on policies to support ecological living. Overall, our goal is to help you and your community thrive using a community based approach to permaculture as the means.

Fall Cohort Topics

Composting: We’ll explore various home composting systems (including worm composting!) so that you can turn food scraps and organic materials into black gold for your permaculture garden.

Mulch: Learn about the different kinds of mulch, the benefits, and how you can start using mulch right away in your garden.

Fire Preparedness: With the recent fires, this topic is on a lot of people’s minds. We’ll explore how to design a plan to mitigate disaster from fires for homes and properties of all types and sizes.

Simple Rainwater Harvesting: Do you know how much rainwater you could be collecting from your roof and landscape? Let’s find out and learn about some simple projects you can do at home to prepare for the coming rainy season.

Orchard Design and Maintenance: From small potted trees on your apartment balcony to a homestead orchard, we’ll talk about fruit tree selection, siting your trees, how to plant, and how to maintain your orchard for seasons to come.

And More! We hope you can join us!

What is Permaculture?

Permaculture is an ethically based whole-systems design approach that uses concepts, principles, and methods derived from ecosystems, nature connected communities, and other time-tested systems to create human settlements and institutions. It’s also been called “saving the planet while throwing a better party.” Click here for more.

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Why ‘Mentoring’ ?

Our process of mentoring is a long term commitment whereby both parties care about the positive outcome of the other and are self-aware that they are each learning from the process. In that sense it is always ‘co-mentoring’ and reciprocal

For the most part practicing permaculture is a deep, slow, and steady process. To be sure there are times when things move quickly, like when the food must come in or the fire be put out, though we’ve found that the best permaculture practitioners and sites are made through an ongoing and iterative process of think-trial-reflect-do. Mentoring works best when focusing on what really matters in a person’s life, and this takes time.  

Community Mentoring

Being immersed in a mentoring village of fellow practitioners provides greater surface area for storytelling, learning, feedback, exchanging plants and farm products, mutual aid, and so much more. The power of community cannot be overstated for human development and learning. In particular, intergenerational collaboration offers us the opportunity for greater wholeness and community in today’s fragmented world through maximizing the unique gifts of each generation. By creating a mentoring village together we not only each benefit individually from the wellspring or connections but also serve the greater good by building something powerful, durable, agile and resilient.

Guest Instructors

The weekly calls are hosted by Santa Cruz Permaculture founder David Shaw. Guest instructors shift each cohort but frequently include Lydia Neilsen, John Valenzuela, Paula Grainger, and others. Learn more about our team of instructors here.

Get Started

Our weekly calls are Tuesdays at 7:00-8:30 PM Pacific.

We align our calls with the seasons using a 10-week cohort model:

  • Fall 2020: October 6 to December 8

  • Winter 2021: January 5 to March 8

  • Spring 2021: March 30 to June 1

  • Summer 2021: July 13 to September 14

Free Open House Call
We offered a free “Open House” call on Tuesday, September 22 on “Design for Mitigating Disaster.” Watch the recording of the free call here.

Consider the disasters that are most likely to affect your home community. Whether your home is susceptible to wildfire, earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, or hurricanes, we all know we should be prepared. But what does effective preparation look like and how can permaculture design help us to think beyond our individual household emergency kits? How can we design and prepare our landscapes and neighborhoods to mitigate disaster? Join us for this free 1.5 hour call to learn more, engage in discussion, and begin to create a plan for your home, landscape, and neighborhood. 

Sign Up

These are setup as ongoing subscriptions that you can cancel before beginning the next cohort. Participants receive a subscription to our interactive community website for the duration of their subscription, and recordings of the calls. 

  • Super Early Bird Discount. $20 per call, $200 for the series. Sign up by September 10.

  • Early Bird Discount. $22.50 per call, $225 for the series. Sign up by September 20.

  • General. $25 per call, $250 for the series. Sign up by October 6.


Payment Options



Technology Requirements

Our sessions are held on Zoom though we will not always use the video function. Participants are encouraged to join the meetings through their telephones so that you can be hands-free and outside or walking around should you choose to be. Some people find they get more out of the sessions when sitting around the fire with family or friends, preparing a meal, or working in their garden.

Mentoring lineage

Santa Cruz Permaculture founder David Shaw wishes to thank the following mentors and communities of practice for informing this approach to mentoring: Juanita Brown, David Isaacs, Amy Lenzo and the World Cafe Community and Wiser Together initiative; Penny Livingston and James Stark of the Regenerative Design Institute; Mark Lakeman, the City Repair Project and Village Building Convergence; Jon Young, the Art of Mentoring, and 8 Shields; Liora Adler, Andrew Langford and Gaia University; Orin Martin, Christof Bernau, Nancy Vail, Tim Galarneau and the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems at UC Santa Cruz; Bill Plotkin, Palika Rewilding and the Animas Valley Institute.

Our courses & services are still happening thru a mix of on-site and on-line learning.

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