Permaculture course participants gardening in an organic garden.

Permaculture Immersion

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The Permaculture Immersion

Based on the Central Coast of California, the Permaculture Immersion is a ten-week outdoor transformative journey of skill building, deep nature connection, and empowerment within a supportive community.

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The Learning Journey

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Nature Connection

Agroecological Farming & Gardening

Herbalism, Health, and Wellness

Forest & Watershed Regeneration

Mammal Tracking

Bird Language

Primitive Skills & Ancestral Arts


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Farming & Agriculture

How to grow your own food/start a farm/homestead

Value-added products (pickling, preserving, flowers)

Propagation from seed/cuttings




Soil & water

Cover crops


Managing weeds

Farming profitably

Educators/School gardens

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Project, Professional, and Personal Development 

Project & professional development. Coaching and individualized mentoring to support your project work such as developing a business plan, a garden or new homestead, projects you are working on to build your portfolio, project management, or professional skills. We will draw from many well-known tools and best practices to support you. 

Personal development. Some people come to the program seeking greater clarity and empowerment in their lives, while others do not. If you are wanting to grow in terms of communication, emotional intelligence, public speaking, leadership, collaboration, or cultural competence (such as social justice work regarding race, class, gender, age, and nationality) we can provide guidance. 

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Fall: September 27 – December 8, 2022

Winter: January 10 – March 16, 2023

  • The 10-week learning journey cycles through the four seasons, with spring and summer 2023 dates to be announced

  • We’ll meet on the farm Tuesday through Thursday.

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What is a week in the permaculture immersion like? 


You wake up on the farm to the sound of hermit thrushes on Ano Nuevo Creek and join your fellows for a delicious meal. 

After breakfast, you head to a top-secret special forest with Caitlin Rose Wild for a foraging and plant identification class. That afternoon you come back to the farm to make medicines with your wild finds.

You relish a hot shower before dinner, nourish yourself with an abundant, organic meal, then share music and stories around the campfire as the stars come out.


Wednesday morning you join Dave Shaw on the farm to harvest blackberries, then have a discussion about home-scale and farm-scale composting.

After lunch, you help build a vermicomposting system for the farm and vermicomposting systems to take home, enjoying the opportunity to ask in-depth questions about soil health and repair.

That night some folks keep playing tunes around the fire while you take a night off to read books from our library


After enjoying some crisp, fresh coastal air during breakfast, you join Della Duncan for embodied activities from the Work That Reconnects that help you integrate what you’ve learned this week.

After lunch, this is followed by a group coaching session to move forward with a personal project. Some of the students take off that night, but you decide to stay overnight to catch some stargazing time before heading out for the weekend.

You leave the week with that “good tired” feeling one gets from a job well done, some reading and listening materials, and a couple simple next steps to integrate before next week.

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Program Details

Update, April 20, 2022 from Dave Shaw. As stated in the video above, Santa Cruz Permaculture became stewards of an 18.5 acre farm adjacent to Año Nuevo State Park two days ago.  This will be not only a production farm but also a site for our new course that’s been decades in the making, The Permaculture Immersion. While the vision for this Immersion has been brewing within our community for awhile, as those who have taken courses with me know, the details are still being worked out now that the location has been set. Therefore, this site is intended to provide enough richness for you to sign up to join our inaugural cohort in July yet it’s also a work in progress that will continue to evolve.  Here are important details and please read the FAQ for more.

Skill building. What skills and practices do you and your communities need as we transition towards a life-sustaining society? The farm provides the perfect environment and practice space for re-skilling. We plan to practice what skills you’ve expressed a desire for such as farming, watershed & forest restoration, tools & appropriate technology, health & wellness, education & culture, economics & social entrepreneurship, and strategies for combatting social injustice.

Personal empowerment & Coaching. The program is very student-centered in its design. Our goal is to support you with further identifying and delivering your unique contribution, your gift, and becoming even more who you truly are. Each week of the program includes empowerment practices that we hope you’ll incorporate as tools on your personal transformation tool belt. Additionally, one-on-one coaching is built into the process to support you with your personal, professional, and/or political project work.

Top-notch guides and community partners. We’re blessed to have a rich network of changemakers and  community leaders eager to support you. Furthermore, the guides in our network are each deeply engaged in their communities. We aim to amplify our movements through exposing you to the best people, places, and communities we know of so that you’ll have a rich support network to engage long after the program ends.

Stunning and accessible location. The farm and surrounding forest and beach are awe inspiring. It feels good to be there and the natural beauty will enhance our experience. Furthermore, the farm is only a 20 minute drive from the Westside of Santa Cruz.

Community. The friendships and professional networks you’ll join through the program will last your lifetime. We have over 1,000 alumni from our programs and make great efforts to support life-long learning and community engagement.

“By the time you graduate you will have a better understanding of who you are, what you really care about, and how to design and implement our collective future. Also, the family you become a part of is priceless. I recommend this course for anyone interested in anything. It applies to all aspects of life.” – Jaime Longoria, Attorney at Law

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Core Instructors

  • Dave Shaw – Lead Program Facilitator

  • Della Duncan – Lead Facilitator of The Work That Reconnects & Right Livelihood Coaching

  • Caitlin WildLead Facilitator of Wilderness Healing & Counseling

Guest Instructors

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Super Early-Bird Discount – $2,995 or 3 payments of $1172. Register before August 1, 2022 to save $400.

Early-Bird Discount – $3,195 or 3 payments of $1398. Register before September 1, 2022 to save $200.

Full Tuition – $3,395 or 3 payments of $1465. 

Can’t pay all at once? Inquire about Payment Plans.

Payment Options

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Frequently Asked Questions

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The Permaculture Immersion is an outdoor, highly collaborative learning program to help people develop skills and personal practices for healing and regenerating nature, themselves, and communities. We think of it as Jedi training for the complete cultural renaissance needed today as communities walk away from systems of ecological and social devastation, and walk towards systems that serve all life. We always have a diverse group of participants of all ages from 14 to 80, and varying backgrounds.

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Dave Shaw is the lead instructor throughout the learning journey, with Della Duncan and Caitlin Wild as core instructors each week. Additionally, the guides we’ve been working with for years in our other courses will be core and guest instructors, in addition to new folks. 

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The Permaculture Immersion is new but Santa Cruz Permaculture is not. We have over 1,000 alumni from all stages of lifes. Participants have taken tremendous inspiration and practical learning from our programs to further their careers as farmers and gardeners; landscape contractors, arborists, and tradespeople; healers in a wide range of holistic modalities; community facilitators and teachers; anti-oppression activists; elected representatives and policymakers; and more.

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We meet Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays for about 24 hours per week. We spend almost all of our time outdoors; the farm, garden, woods, and ocean are our classroom. Each day includes a blend of activities to engage our head, hearts, and hands. See above for an example week in the Immersion.

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Most of our time is spent at the beautiful Santa Cruz Permaculture Farm and surrounding wilderness. We’re located across the street from Año Nuevo State Park, 20 minutes north of Santa Cruz on Highway 1.

This location is the traditional and unceded territory of the Quiroste Tribe of the Awaswas Nation, part of a larger homeland known as Popeloutchom. Today these lands are represented by the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, who are the descendants of the Awaswas and Mutsun Nations whose ancestors were taken to Mission Santa Cruz and Mission San Juan Bautista during Spanish colonization of the Central Coast.

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The curriculum for our learning journey aims to synergize structure and emergence. By that we mean there is a plan however there is a lot of spaciousness built in so that we can customize the experience based on what emerges in the group and the individuals. 

There are three anchor points setup throughout the program: at the beginning, the middle, and the end. At these three points students will revisit and revise their learning goals, have one-on-one coaching sessions, and group sessions focused on surfacing the collaborative wisdom of the group (i.e. “hive mind”). We’ve found this pattern to be not only transformative for individuals but also deeply moving for the group.

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We offer supplemental suggested reading and resources throughout the course that you may use to investigate topics in more depth. These readings are not required, but encouraged.

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Folks of all backgrounds are welcome here. There is no prerequisite to the Immersion course. It may help if you have taken a Permaculture Design Course previously, but it is not required. Please contact us if you have any questions about your unique situation.

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Our courses are very intergenerational. We are happy that our courses attract a wide variety of folks – youngers, middlers, and olders alike.

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Yes, international students are welcome and encouraged. Participants are welcome to camp from Monday night through Friday. For the off-farm days between class, we encourage you to explore our region, which is filled with beautiful parks and preserves, many with campgrounds. Alternatively, Santa Cruz, 20 minutes south of the farm, and San Francisco, 50 minutes north of the farm, offer many accommodation options.

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A Permaculture Design Certificate is not required prior to enrolling in the course. Our curriculum covers many topics that are discussed in our PDC, but delves deeper, providing you with a more in-depth knowledge. We also cover many topics not present in the PDC as well. Many participants will find that having already completed a PDC will enhance their ability to engage with the topics.

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Yes, we highly encourage participants to consider coming back for additional quarters. The arc of our learning journey covers the annual cycle and each quarter will focus not only on seasonal aspects of farming and ecology, but on varying cultural and creative components.

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Absolutely! This program will provide you with practical hands-on skills, as well as relationship and communication skills for the Great Turning. The Permaculture Immersion engages collaborative learning in service of transitioning from industrial growth society to a life-sustaining society. Whether you would like to start a permaculture farm, education program, or something else entirely, the Immersion will help you gain the knowledge and personal wisdom needed to go forth with those goals.

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Yes. Santa Cruz Permaculture is setup to offer internship credit through the Environmental Studies Department at UC Santa Cruz.

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Check the website for early bird discounts. Full tuition is $3,395 and includes an option to camp onsite.

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We are happy to offer payment plans to anyone who wishes and can be flexible about the payment schedule. Please inquire at for more details about payment plans.

While we do not yet have an active scholarship fund, we invite you to inquire about our application for financial support for youth, people of color, and people with minimal financial wealth. Our invitation is for us to both think creatively and partner together in order to make something work.