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Learning Calendar: Costa Rica
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January 25, 2015 - February 21, 2015
Permaculture Apprenticeship & Cultural Experience
Session 1 January 25 – February 21
Practical implementation of permaculture design techniques|
and permaculture philosophy
Following Lunar rhythms utilizing biodynamic methodologies to maximize productivity and health. Learn and work directly with expert permaculture designers
and organic gardeners at Punta Mona while diving into the cultural experience with a homestay!
All activites and modules are easily used in various climates!
This apprenticeship is not just for those interested in the tropics!
Monday – Friday students will learn and work at Punta Mona, encorporating the below lessons through out the weeks.
Work day starts at 8 am – 4 pm with a 1.5 hour lunch break.
Saturdays will be spent at your homestay family’s farm working the land along side them and working on your design plan.
Sundays are a free day to explore the surrounding areas such as the Gandoca Lagoon, Puerto Viejo, the waterfalls of Bribri, or just come and kayak the day away at Punta Mona!
Cultural immersion is the best way to grow and cultivate a broad world view. Living with a rural famliy in our neighboring Gandoca you will get to experience a lifestyle very different from your own. You will get to work along side your family on their farm and in their gardens. Many homes have their own horses, pigs, goats and cows, while all homes have their own flock of free roaming chickens.
Families speak Spanish almost exclusively with occasional members knowing some English. This is a great opportunity to increase your understanding of the Spanish language!
Students will walk ~ 45 minutes along the beach to Punta Mona each day from Gandoca, 5 days per week.
If your homestay lives far from the beach, you will be provided with a bicycle to shorten the walk.
You will eat breakfast and dinner with your homestay during the work week and 3 meals each day over the weekends. Your family provide you with traditional style Costa Rican fair and if you need anything special such as vegetarian, vegan, gluten free meals, these can be provided.
Lunch will be provided at Punta Mona during the work week.
Part of your curriculum will be to co-create a potential project for this town utilizing the principles and ethics of permaculture.
Not all projects will be implemented, but a part of your tuition will go toward a fund to help put certain star projects into place.
There will be two students in each homestay, sharing a living space with in the family home.
Permaculture Design Process:
Learning the key strategies, ethics and principles of permaculture to create design plans during your apprenticeship. Your design plan will be presented at the end of your apprenticeship and will go into a file for potential projects in Gandoca. If your project is chosen for implementation you will be notified and invited back to help see the project through.
We know that many people are interested in learning about alternative building. To make this happen in a timely manner, each session students will construct their own composting toilet, harvesting the bamboo grown on site. This building will also encorporate a mini water catchment system and small grey water treatment. The following sessions will then de-construct the previous session’s humanure system and reintegrate the material back into the land, closing the cycle of human waste.
Green House Management:
Caring for a green house is an integral process in maintaining a healthy and productive farm or garden. Learn how to save and plant seeds, transplant and graft andairlayer trees.
Bio-Fertilizers & Bio-Pesticides:
Make Efficient & Mountain Micro Organisms, Bokashy and various Compost Productions & Teas to nourish the ecology of the soil and enrich the plants.
Biological Pesticides are a safe and easy way to manage pests on an organic farm. These techniques are non-toxic and easily replicated.
Learn the basic of soil structure and ph testing to ensure healthy plants and underground ecosystem, use mulch to protect the soil from erosion and sun damage. Make plenty of biochar from fallen trees to sequester carbon, but also create a nutrient rich source of fertilizer for the garden beds. Create Hugelkultur beds to remediate poor soil conditions and make a self sustaining feeding system for the plants.
At Punta Mona we have a large and very diverse chinampa system, where you will be working almost every day! In this constructed wetland you will learn about how to slowly and efficiently move water through the landscape as well as learn how to build and identify the need for swales and plan for peak rain events.
Rain Water harvesting will also be explored through the design and implementation of a rain catchment system on the student built compost toilet.
We will also look at the various ways we can treat grey water through ground filtration and simple mechanisms such as slow sand and terracotta filters.
Various techniques in construction of plant beds will be taught for annual and perennial plants. Learn about the many plant guilds and how they are used to maintain soil health. Explore agro- and analog forestry techniques to create and care for food forests through reforestation, pruning and maintaining jungle cooridors.
We will also innoculate and wildharvest mushrooms and learn the basics of mycology.
Help out with our large flock of chickens, ducks, turkeys and quail. Care for their coop, collect their waste to compost into useful material for soil mixes and in fertilizing trees. Make a chicken tractor and learn how we can put these funny animals to work for the gardens.
Learn how to make feed using materials mostly from the land, getting away from grain based diets.
For those who are interested, there is also an opportunity to slaughter, clean and butcher a bird for the lunch meal. You may also have an oportunity to do this at your family’s home.
Care for the tilapia at Punta Mona, work with aquaculture systems and engage in the process of using fish bi-product to fertilize the gardens.
Work with worms, feed them and learn about all the ways they can be integrated into the permaculture farm to increase productivity and health of the soil.
Farm to Table:
You will be in direct contact daily with the kitchen staff of Punta Mona and will help with the harvesting of foods for the farm.
Once per week, you will participate in a farm to table meal, cooking exclusively over fire.
We will also explore the variety of ways to process and preserve your harvest through canning and fermenting foods such as kimchi, vinegars and kombuchas. Through this module we will also discuss value added products and how a farm can benefit by selling in local markets.
You will get two modules of Plant Medicine, where we will cover basic energetic priciples from a Tradional Chinese Medicine and Wise Woman perspective.
We will make medicines such as tinctures, medicinal honeys, teas, salves, poultices and compresses.
Basic materia medica of the tropics, basic plant botany and human anatomy will also be covered.
Field Trips to Neighboring Permaculture Projects and Organic Farms
Full Moon Celebrations
Please fill out the application by copy and pasting the questions into
the body of an email and send it to:
This apprenticeship is NOT for the weak or lazy…
please consider the Permaculture Design Course
if you would like
mostly intelectual stimulation.
This program is for those who learn through doing.
All apprentices must have a strong work ethic, `high physical stamina and a motivation to learn.
This is a very physical program and you are expected to be on site and prepared to work each day, rain or shine from 8 am – 4 pm,
with an hour and half lunch break inbetween.
Prior permaculture, farming or gardeing knowledge/experience is not required, but we expect you to read up on the above modules and be prepared to jump right into the process.
Basic Spanish language skills are not required, but it is helpful if you study before arriving to Costa Rica.
All activites at Punta Mona are taught in English and Spanish, you will be speaking Spanish at your homestay.
For those interested in participating in a Permaculture Design Course at Punta Mona, this is a great way to
jump start your experience, then dive deep into the practical application.
We offer a 15% discount to those who would like to do both
the apprenticeship and the PDC
Sessions 1 & 5 are available for this option.
$1500 for a 4-week session
All activities, workshops, field trips, meals, lodging at a local home
* Transportation is not included for boats to Punta Mona, airfare, buses, taxi’s, etc…
* Meals during field trips are also not included, please bring a packed lunch or have some extra money to buy a lunch
Contact: Sarah Wu, Co-Director, [email protected]
Session 1 January 25 – February 21
Session 2 March 15 – April 11
Session 3 April 26 – May 23
Session 4 May 31 – June 27
Session 5 July 19 – August 15
Session 6 August 23 – September 19
Session 7 October 11 – November 7
Session 8 November 22 – December 19
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