Permaculture Skills Course

At The Santa Cruz Permaculture Farm

Gain skills and learn best practices to be able to successfully and confidently implement sustainable living projects! Our 6-weekend permaculture skills course focuses on developing practical skills through hands-on learning. Topics covered include:
  • Construction & Carpentry
  • Forestry & Wood heat: fire mimicry, rocket stoves, ovens, harvesting timber and non-timber forest products
  • Energy: electrical, solar, biogas, bicycles
  • Agriculture: composting, orchards and animals, no-till techniques, brush clearing, gopher trapping
  • Landscape Construction: stonework, masonry, fencing
  • Water: plumbing (especially for greywater systems), drip irrigation, rainwater harvesting

We meet 1 weekend a month for 6-months on our farm to develop practical skills needed to build and maintain common components of permaculture designs. Participants are welcome to camp onsite. The majority of our time is spent doing hands-on activities with experts to guide each project. Each weekend is centered around a group project we work on together, and a “make and take” project you build individually to take home. The overall goal is for you to learn the tools and best practices you need for building permaculture solutions in your context. Join our experienced team of instructors while we use our hands, hearts, and minds to build real-life projects.

Learning Objectives

Upon successful completion of this course you will …

  • Be comfortable selecting, using, and maintaining common power and hand tools
  • Gain confidence building and maintaining projects essential to many permaculture designs & projects
  • Have a sense of how to use onsite resources creatively and productively to achieve your goals
  • Know how to troubleshoot common problems in permaculture installations
  • Have gained a deeper understanding of the time, effort, and resources required to install and maintain common permaculture elements.

Check out our learning objectives and sessions below. If it sounds like a good fit, come join a professional team on a stunningly beautiful site for several weekends of in-depth skill development! 

Full Series: 6 Weekends over 6 Months

Full series registration is available up until the day before the first session. Late registration is available and you can make up any missed weekends with the next session. Email info.santacruzpermaculture@gmail.com with questions.

Pricing

  • Full Tuition: $1395
  • Partner / Spouse Tuition: $1095 (When one partner registers for the full course, the second gets a discount)
  • Early Bird Discount: $1295 (Register more than 30 days in advance)
  • Super Early Bird Discount: $1195 (Register more than 60 days in advance)
  • Teachers: $1095 (Special price for For K-12, College and University Teachers)
  • Youth: $1095 (Special price for ages 13-18)

Spring-Summer 2024 

  • Session 1: April 20-21, 2024
  • Session 2: May 18-19, 2024
  • Session 3: June 15-16, 2024
  • Session 4: July 20-21, 2024
  • Session 5: August 17-18, 2024
  • Session 6: September 21-22, 2024

Session Times: Saturday 10am to 5pm both days

Fall 2024-Winter 2025 

  • Session 1: October 19-20, 2024
  • Session 2: November 16-17, 2024
  • Session 3: December 14-15, 2024
  • Session 4: January 18-19, 2025
  • Session 5: February 15-16, 2025
  • Session 6: March 15-16, 2025

Session Times: Saturday 10am to 5pm both days

Individual Sessions

If you don’t want to sign up for the full course but would like to sign up for an individual weekend, you’re welcome to do so! The tuition is $295 per weekend. 

Agriculture – August 17-18, 2024

Water – September 21 & 22, 2024

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Session Descriptions

All sessions include hands-on, project-based activities. Classes run from 10am-5pm each day.

Construction & Carpentry

Learn how to use carpentry tools and work with wood to create infrastructure and beautification. During this weekend, participants will learn best practices using hand and power tools such as hammers, drills, saws, sanders, stains & paints, and more. We’ll work on projects such as worm bins, benches, garden structures with decks, walls and doors. 

Forestry, Fire Mimicry, & Wood Heat

During this weekend, participants will learn chainsaw use and maintenance, forest stewardship through fire mimicry, wood splitting/stacking, creating cob+plaster for earthen ovens and rocket mass heaters, fire-making and efficiency for home heating, and hearth cooking. We’ll build things such as cob ovens, rocket mass heaters, and firewood storage.

Energy – Electrical, solar, biogas

Learn how to assess energy needs and appropriate sources. Participants will learn to run electrical wiring for simple projects, how to hook up a solar panel, and best practices for biogas waste-to-energy. We’ll work on projects such as building a solar shower, building a small off-grid solar setup, and building a biogas reactor.

Landscape Construction

Participants will learn a broad spectrum of practical hardscaping installation methods, including fencing, retaining walls, and building methods and practices. We’ll work on projects such as building decks and awnings, installing appropriate fencing, laying out paths and roads, and building simple farm/garden buildings.

Agriculture

Let’s grow some food! Participants will learn agricultural techniques applicable at both farm- and home- scales including composting, orchard maintenance, garden perennialization, no-till growing methods, brush clearing, and gopher trapping. We’ll work on projects such as making compost piles and worm bins, compost teas, orchard establishment and pruning, soil-building, and fertility maintenance.

Water

Water resilience is essential in a permaculture system. During this weekend, participants learn plumbing skills and best practices, drip irrigation installation, rainwater harvesting setup, installation, and maintenance, and system troubleshooting skills. We’ll work on projects such as rainwater tank integration, infiltration basins and trenches, setting up drip irrigation, and gutter installation and adjustment for design needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, you can make up material you missed during the next session.

Please use the registration button above.

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

Participants are welcome to defer their enrollment to the next session of the course.

Most classes are held on our 26-acre farm north of Davenport, CA, 20 minutes north of the Westside of Santa Cruz and 1 hour from San Jose or San Francisco. Participants are welcome to camp onsite for the weekend of the course and enjoy the gorgeous natural surroundings and beach access.
Course participants are very welcome to camp at the farm Friday and Saturday of the course weekends. Our facilities are rustic, but comfortable. Building community around the campfire is a wonderful bonus! The farm is a gorgeous place where you will feel immersed in nature and enjoy spectacular stars at night and walkable beach access. There are restaurants and markets nearby in Davenport and Costanoa.

Class meets Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm with a lunch break. We typically have potluck lunches both days. On rare occasions the group may decide to end earlier. We never end after 5:30pm.

You don’t need any installation skills. This course will teach all participants the basic skills they need to create projects typical in permaculture designs. You’ll finish the course with a breadth of skill and know-how to scope out, prepare and install typical permaculture home and landscape projects. Whether you’ve never held a hammer, want to skill up to power tools, or have some installation experience you’d like to expand upon, this course is for you.
You don’t need to have a certificate in permaculture design. However, we won’t be teaching design concepts or the principles behind design features in this course. Do register if you’d like to gain the manual skills and best practices to create and install projects. If you want to understand how to choose what projects to install on a given site, consider taking our permaculture design course first or concurrently with permaculture skills.

Full Series: 6 Weekends over 6 Months

Full series registration is available up until the day before the first session. Late registration is available and you can make up any missed weekends with the next session. Use the next cohort registration and select the class you’d like to join on our registration form. Email info.santacruzpermaculture@gmail.com with questions.

Pricing

  • Full Tuition: $1395
  • Partner / Spouse Tuition: $1095 (When one partner registers for the full course, the second gets a discount)
  • Early Bird Discount: $1295 (Register more than 30 days in advance)
  • Super Early Bird Discount: $1195 (Register more than 60 days in advance)
  • Teachers: $1095 (Special price for For K-12, College and University Teachers)
  • Youth: $1095 (Special price for ages 13-18)

Spring-Summer 2024 

  • Session 1: April 20-21, 2024
  • Session 2: May 18-19, 2024
  • Session 3: June 15-16, 2024
  • Session 4: July 20-21, 2024
  • Session 5: August 17-18, 2024
  • Session 6: September 21-22, 2024

Session Times: Saturday & Sunday 10am to 5pm

Fall 2024-Winter 2025 

  • Session 1: October 19-20, 2024
  • Session 2: November 16-17, 2024
  • Session 3: December 14-15, 2024
  • Session 4: January 18-19, 2025
  • Session 5: February 15-16, 2025
  • Session 6: March 15-16, 2025

Session Times: Saturday 10am to 5pm both days

Your Guides For This Course

David Shaw

David Shaw

Farmer and teacher with Santa Cruz Permaculture

Miles Taylor

Miles Taylor

Carpenter and natural builder with MuddBums

Leo Lauchere

Renewable energy & fire mimicry specialist with EcoCamp Coyote

Ben Lacy

Landscape Construction

John Vandomoer

Water Solutions

Lydia Neilson

Water

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