Permaculture Skills Course

Permaculture Skills

October 2023 – March 2024

April – September 2024

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
  • Water: plumbing (especially for greywater systems), drip irrigation, rainwater harvesting
  • Landscape Construction: stonework, masonry, fencing

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:

  • Miles Taylor, carpenter and natural builder with MuddBums

  • Leo Lauchere, renewable energy & fire mimicry specialist with EcoCamp Coyote

  • Beth Knight, pest management specialist with Gopher Gal

  • Dave Shaw, farmer and teacher with Santa Cruz Permaculture

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! 

Garden and agriculture education and classes teach students to evaluate soil health.
Carpentry classes teach students to use tools for building permaculture landscapes.
Learn plumbing for greywater systems in permaculture design

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.

Expert instructors teach skills needed for permaculture installations.

Course Topics

Weekend One: 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. 

Students learn carpentry for building sustainable backyard projects.

Weekend Two: 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.

Forest management skills are taught at permaculture course

Weekend Three: Energy – Electrical, solar, biogas, bicycles

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, best practices for biogas waste-to-energy, and bicycle maintenance. We’ll work on projects such as building a solar shower, building a small off-grid solar setup, and building a biogas reactor.

Permaculture course teaches electrical, solar, biogas skills

Weekend Four: 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.

Weekend Five: 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.


Weekend Six: Landscape Construction

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

Permaculture Skills Course 6-Month Program Fall/Winter

Individual Weekend Attendance Available

Class typically runs 10am – 5pm both days, with a lunch break.
  • October 21 & 22, 2023 – Construction & Carpentry

  • November 18 & 19, 2023 – Forestry, Fire Mimicry, & Wood Heat

  • December 16 & 17, 2023 – Energy

  • January 20 & 21, 2024 – Agriculture

  • February 17 & 18, 2024 – Water

  • March 16 & 17, 2024 – Landscape Construction

Permaculture Skills Course 6-Month Program Spring/Summer

Individual Weekend Attendance Available

Class typically runs 10am – 5pm both days, with a lunch break.

Dates TBA


October 2023 – March 2024 for full course and individual weekends

Permaculture Skills Course

Registration includes all instruction, materials, and optional on-site camping.

  • $1395 – Full Registration

  • $1295 – Early Bird Discount – Register Before September 21st, 2023 and Save $100

  • $1195 – Super Early Bird Discount – Register Before August 21st, 2023 and Save $200

  • $1095 – Partner / Spouse Discount – When one partner registers for the full course, the second gets a discount

  • $1095 – Teacher Discount – For K-12, College and University Teachers

  • $1095 – Youth Discount – Youth 18 years old and younger

  • $295 – One weekend session only

  • Give 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, and online course reader. Participants are welcome to camp on-site for each weekend of the course.

Registration Options

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I register?

Please use the PayPal link above. Registration includes access to all course sessions, optional camping onsite, and materials. 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 if I miss some classes? Can I make them up?

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

Do I need to have experience with power tools, installation or similar skills ?

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. 

Do I need to have taken a Permaculture Design Course?

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.

What is the refund policy?

If we cancel:

  • We will refund 100% if we cancel or postpone the course due to the coronavirus shelter-in-place directive, or low enrollment. 

If you cancel:

  • Up to four weeks before the course begins, you will be refunded excluding a $150 processing fee.

  • Less than four weeks before the course begins, you will be refunded 50% of your tuition.

  • No refunds are given after that date.

  • If you need to cancel but have someone who can take your place please let us know as far in advance as possible so we can begin pre-course communications with your proxy.

On the off chance that we need to cancel for some reason, we recommend booking a refundable airfare if you’re traveling from afar.

What is your COVID-19 protocol?

We follow CDC guidelines. All courses are outdoors.

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