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Permaculture Design Certificate Course – Finca Tierra

October 28, 2018 - November 11, 2018

Permaculture Design Certificate Course

The Fundamentals of Ecological Design

Permaculture is a conscious, integrated design system based on ecological principles. It provides a framework for creating landscapes that mimic the patterns found in nature, which delivers diversity, stability, and resilience. Permaculture creates abundance of shelter, water, energy and food, to address local needs in an efficient, cost-effective and productive human environments; while reducing our ‘footprints’ on Earth.

Course Description

Finca Tierra offers the international standard curriculum of 72-hour permaculture certificate course. The course covers the fundamentals of ecological design with a special emphasis on perennial woody polyculture food systems or food forests. This course goes beyond the theoretical and focuses of real world situations in this food forest and has a strong emphasis on hands on application and practical skills. It offers the experience of learning in an immersive setting from mature systems with which students have daily interactions. The methods and techniques will transfer directly to any climate. The accommodation is in natural buildings and the food is from our farm and other local organic farmers. With completion of the course, a Permaculture Design Certificate will be issued by Finca Tierra. While the information serves as general education in permaculture this course offers an in depth examination of the function of the homestead and farm and is designed to inform students who will gain the skills and design thinking to implement and manage a system. This is a very hands-on course, mornings are usually devoted to practical applications and afternoons are dedicated to course lectures.


Course Topics

  • Principles and ethics of permaculture design
  • Site analysis and design, from the tropics to temperate regions
  • Landscape master planning and microclimate design
  • Reading the landscape and pattern recognition
  • Design for climate change
  • Regenerative land management and stewardship
  • Water catchment, storage, filtration, and distribution
  • Biologically based treatment of greywater and blackwater
  • Using greywater in the landscape
  • Natural building techniques and vernacular architecture
  • Plant propagation and grafting
  • Organic horticulture
  • Medicinal plant propagation, usage and preparations
  • Biointensive gardening and seed saving
  • Soil rehabilitation and fertility approaches
  • Orchard design and maintenance
  • Renewable energies
  • Local and regenerative economics
  • Urban and suburban permaculture tactics
  • Ecovillage design and community building procedures
  • Strategies for creating an alternative nation

Hands-on Application

Mornings are dedicated to hands on application and useful skills

  • Blade and knife sharpening
  • Land clearing with scythe or machete
  • Plant identification
  • Food forest fundamentals
  • Clearing and planting new disturbance in agroforestry systems
  • Techniques in small scale vegetable gardening
  • Tree planting fundamentals, support species and broad scale fertility management
  • Plant propagation fundamentals, including propagation and planting of seeds, rhizomes, cuttings as well as various forms of grafting.
  • The construction of thermal compost and its use in hot water heating
  • Nursery management including making in house potting soil
  • Soil pH testing and techniques to balance pH
  • Leveling for application of swales, hedge rows and techniques for finding keypoints and keylines
  • Food processing skills including lactoferments of vegetables, nut milks, milk kefier and mead.

Off Site Visits

The second week includes an off site trip to visit local highlights. First visit, to Don Joni that will teach us about Cabecar indigenous cosmovision, traditional land use management and how he interacts with the land to produce his building material, food and medicine. Also, prepare for a good swim at the river! The second visit, will be to Seed Ecovillage, to learn about community scale design and animal management.

*Because of weather conditions and other factors we can’t guarantee the off site trips. However, nothing has stopped us yet, so be ready for it!


About your Instructors

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A forest gardener, visual artist and social entrepreneur. Ian is a native of Ohio in the United States. He holds a BFA Magna Cum Laude in visual art from Wright State University, and is experienced in geographic information systems (GIS), urban planning, sustainable community design and natural structures. Growing up, Ian spent the summers visiting Native American archeological sites in the United States. He’s also traveled in Asia and Europe.

Ian enjoys exposing students from around the world to Finca Tierra’s permaculture design science approach, which integrates biological systems with human structure. He’s a consultant for ecological design, tropical food, organic farms and home gardens, and is active in the local community promoting practical and sustainable garden design solutions. Ian received his formal permaculture education from Geoff Lawton of the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia. Ian has taught dozens of PDCs and certified more than one hundred students from North and South America as well as Europe, Africa and Asia.

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Ana is a lawyer of Costa Rican and Spanish heritage. She studied Sociology, holds a degree in Law and a Notary Masters. Ana has worked with the United Nations, Food and Agriculture Organization, and served as legal advisor for policy making in Costa Rican Congress. She is a certified trainer of Nonviolent communication 8 hour course by the UN Peace University and a certified Permaculture teacher. She is a co founder of Informate Caribe magazine and co creator Informative festivals in the Talamanca region, as a way of informing people through celebrations. She has also worked as community organizer of public assemblies and cultural events in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca.

Wildly raveled, Ana has also lived and worked in Spain, China and the United States. As both an activist and attorney she was specialized in indigenous rights and has long been a community organizer in local development projects focusing on excluded communities, local autonomous development, business alphabetization and social self organizing methodologies. Ana is passionate about Finca Tierra’s ability to contribute to the food security of the local community by supporting traditional uses of plants as food and medicine in the region as well as a center for sustainable development activism. She believes Talamanca region is a green face of Costa Rica, and is raw enough to develop in a sustainable way being the example for the rest of the country and the world. She is actively involved with the development planning of it.


About the Location

Finca Tierra is a 9-acre permaculture homestead and a food forest located in the lush jungle of the Costa Rican Caribbean Coast. Finca Tierra has become an important demonstration center for permaculture education and sustainable development activism. Our infrastructure includes: natural buildings constructed from local materials (bamboo, leaf thatch and onsite timber), renewable energy systems, biological flush toilets, rainwater catchment, organic vegetable gardens, a plant nursery, a seed bank, medicinal plants, food forest, bamboo woodlots and native trees.

What began as an off grid homestead on degraded cattle pasture, has been developed in the past decade into a productive agroforestry system consisting of hundreds of varieties of fruit trees, staple crops and integrated animal systems. Due to the local and global interest Finca Tierra started offering education courses and internships for ecological design, the good food movement and sustainable living.

About the location.jpeg



Four bamboo cabinas were build in a mix of indigenous and local afro caribbean style. The materials were harvested from our farm and surrounding forest, then cured and constructed with hand tools. They offer orthopedic queen beds. The walls and floors are bamboo, and we supply large mosquito nets.

Also, a bunkhouse built with the same construction techniques and up in the air on stilts. It hold 8 single beds and great views, it’s like camping under a roof above the forest.

The bathrooms are located near the accommodations and have biological flush toilets. The showers are supplied with warm rain water by a biothermal heating system.

We supply sheets, pillows, towels and biodegradable organic shampoo and body wash.

* Accommodations are provided on a first come, first serve bases. The first students to pay the totality of the payment are accommodated in the cabinas, then bunkhouse beds.

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We love to cook! Food abundance is what we want everyone to experience at our farm kitchen. We promote the good food movement, and therefore most of our fruits, veggies, greens, roots and spices are fresh from our permaculture farm. We process many of our foods like plantain and yuca flours, coconut and cashew milk, coconut oil, banana vinegar, fermented foods, mead, kefir and more. We have a plant- based diet but we also have free range chicken eggs and the aquaculture system provides fish and river prawns. Some other products, as oils, raw honey, cheeses, yogurts and other fruits we buy at the local organic market.

All farm meals during the course are catered.

Plates are typically vegetarian, we can also cater to vegan and gluten free diets, please let us know when you register.

Breakfast table.jpg

Course Includes

  • 72-hour Permaculture Design Course (PDC)
  • Certificate as a Permaculture Designer
  • Lodging: Private bamboo cabins or a shared bamboo bunkhouse
  • Sheets, pillows, blankets
  • Biodegradable soap, shampoo, and laundry detergent
  • Solar lamps
  • Three organic meals daily
  • Field trips
  • Internet access (see the below section INTERNET AND ELECTRONIC DEVICES for more info)

Why do your PDC at Finca Tierra

We live what we teach

Permaculture is Ian and Ana’s life. Finca Tierra started as an off grid homestead and due to local and international interest they created the Finca Tierra permaculture education center, to be able to share with you the knowledge of a resilient, peaceful and sustainable future that integrates human life with Earth.

The farm

Finca Tierra is a vibrant permaculture farm where you will gain hands-on practical experience, directly from mature onsite systems and immerse in a completely off the grid self-sufficient space and productive small farm. Eating delicious organic farm-to-table meals. Surrounded by food forest and jungle, close to amazing beaches and rivers. Half of all class time is outside in systems on the farm looking at the function of mature systems to understand the strengths and weakness of systems and how they have evolved as well as seeing the strategies and techniques used in production. We are not just studying concept, we are looking at observations and interaction over the past decade.

Passion to action

We seek students that are inspired to learn about practical application of permaculture. The course is designed to provide you with the confidence to apply permaculture from the homestead to a profitable farm scale.

University Credit

Many university students have received full or partial grants and academic credits have often been available from their university. Meet with your academic advisor or professor about receiving internship or independent study credits. 4 semester credit or equivalent. (see the below section UNIVERSITY CREDIT for more info)



Course Information, Fee & Enrollment

Tuition $1,650

Early Bird Tuition $1,500 ($150 discount when you complete your full payment 30 days before course start date.)

Deposit $400 – Reserve a place now with a $400 deposit & pay the balance of $1,100 30 days prior to course start date. We will email you an invoice for the remainder showing the due date.

Please register early, as the course can fill quickly and space is limited, only 12 seats available. Tuition does not include airfare or travel to/from Finca Tierra. The $400 USD deposit required to reserve your space is non-refundable. Final payments are due 2 weeks before course commencement. Tuition is refundable until 30 days before the course start date. The program is taught in English.

* Private cabins are appointed to the first four students to make full payment. There is no additional fee.




October 28, 2018
November 11, 2018
Event Category:


Finca Tierra
Play Colces, Puerto Viejo, Limon Costa Rica
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