Permaculture Food Forests

Permaculture Food Forests

Planning, Growing and Enjoying Year Round Abundance

An Applied Permaculture Practicum in Santa Cruz & Surrounding Region

Starts Every August

Do you want to gain hands-on skills and build community around growing food? Interested in learning best practices for orchard establishment and management, food forestry, designing year round productive vegetable farms and gardens, and preserving the harvest? We are pleased to offer this advanced practicum grounded in sound horticultural practices, and spiced with the delicious seasonal fruits and vegetables our region has to offer.

Before the area around San Jose was called the Silicon Valley it was known as “the Valley of the Heart’s Delight” because of its apricot, peach and plum orchards, and the delightful abundance it produced. Join us in creating and celebrating these habitats on both home and broadacre scales.


Upon successful completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Design and plant productive, resilient, and site/climate appropriate orchards.

  • Engage in seasonal care of fruit trees and perennial vegetables, including summer and winter pruning, fertility management, and irrigation.

  • Propagate fruit trees via grafting and budding.

  • Identify dozens of unique varieties of new and heirloom fruits and vegetables, and assess which ones perform well in your climate.

  • Preserve the harvest through a wide variety of canning, drying, pickling, and fermentation techniques.

  • Create a customized vegetable crop plan for your home or farm so that you meet your production goals, whether they are to realistically produce your own food or have a economically viable farm.

  • Identify organizations and events in your area so that you may plug into active learning communities, exchange free plants, and participate in annual fruit tastings.


Course Topics

Session 1: Summer Abundance 

  • Designing Food Forests Part 1

  • Stone fruits – tasting plums, peaches, nectarines;

  • Propagating plants via budding and semi-hardwood cuttings;

  • Summer pruning;

  • Planting the fall/winter garden.


Session 2: Celebrating the Fall Harvest

  • Preserving the abundance through drying, canning, fermenting, and pickling;

  • Pomme fruits – tasting apples and pears (and late plums);

  • Growing, harvesting and processing nuts and olives;

  • Integrating animals into the agroecosystem;

  • Cover cropping, fall plantings, and preparing for winter.


Session 3: Winter Pruning & Propagation

  • Designing Food Forests Part 2;

  • Pomology & tree physiology;

  • Winter pruning pomme and stone fruits;

  • Planting bare root fruit trees and berries;

  • Propagating plants by seed;

  • Selecting bare root fruit trees, varietal selection, rootstock, disease resistance, pollination;

  • Exchanging dormant cuttings, scion wood, and perennial plants;

  • Grafting.


Session 4: Subtropicals & the Abundance of Spring

  • Avocados & Citrus – planting, growing, tasting, varietal selection, propagation;

  • Berries – tasting, varietal selection;

  • Spring orchard maintenance;

  • Thinning, delayed dormant pruning, and corrections to winter pruning;

  • Public food forests & community harvests.



2021-2022 Cycle

  • Session 1 – Summer Abundance – August 14-15, 2021
  • Session 2 – Celebrating the Fall Harvest – September 25-26, 2021
  • Session 3 – Winter Pruning & Propagation – January 15-16, 2022
  • Session 4 – Subtropicals & the Abundance of Spring – May 14-15, 2022


  • You can sign up for individual weekends during this cycle, or register for the entire course and makeup what you missed in the next cycle. 
fruit tasting


Registration Options

  • $850 – Full Registration

  • $775 – Early Bird Discount – Register before July 10th, 2021 and Save $75

  • $700 – Super Early Bird Discount – Register before June 10th, 2021 and Save $150

  • $250 – One Session Only

  • $700 – Partner / Spouse Discount – When one partner registers for the full course, the second gets a discount

  • $700 – Teacher Discount – For K-12, College and University Teachers

  • $600 – Child Discount – When an adult registers for the full course, their child gets a discount

  • Give someone the gift of permaculture! Purchase a gift card.

  • Please Inquire about Payment Plans, Low-income and Youth POC Discounts

Registration includes access to all course sessions, online course reader, and fruit tastings.


Orchardists John Valenzuela & David Shaw



Frequently Asked Questions

What time does class start and end?

Class meets Saturday 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM and Sunday 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM with a lunch break both days.

How do I register?

Please use the PayPal link above. Registration includes access to all course sessions, and online course reader. There is a PayPal Handing Fee included in the price. You do not need a PayPal account to register. Clicking on the Pay Now button will take you to the PayPal site, and then once you make your payment please fill out the additional form to complete registration.

What is the refund policy?

Cancellations up to two weeks before the course begins will be refunded, excluding a $150 processing fee. No refunds are given after that date.

What if I miss some classes? Can I make them up?

Yes. Once you enroll in our Permaculture course you are a lifetime member. You can make up material you missed during the next cycle, or even just come join us again for a refresher.

What is your COVID-19 protocol?

Please read our COVID update on our Courses page here.

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