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Permaculture Design Certification Course

April 17, 2016 @ 8:00 am - May 1, 2016 @ 8:00 pm


• Class Description:

Join renowned permaculture instructors Scott Gallant, Chris Shanks, Rachel Jackson, Mitch Haddad, and Laura Killingbeck for this annual life-changing 2-week experience. The course covers the core Permaculture Design curriculum and emphasizes creating diverse multi-functional human landscapes based on ecological patterns. Utilizing Rancho Mastatal as a living classroom, the class will mix lectures and hands-on work, exploring design solutions for both temperate and tropical regions.  Putting Permaculture into practice, the course concludes with students working in teams to create their own permaculture site design. This course is applicable to anyone with an interest in designing resilient and regenerative futures as well as professionals in the fields of architecture, planning, ecology, education, farming and community development. The whole-systems design thinking outlined in the course will give participants the tools to re-design and improve their surroundings; from gardens, farms and homes, to livelihoods, relationships and communities.

Please note that permaculture is a principle and ethic based design science.  This course does not include metaphysical, spiritual, nor religious topics and practices.  For a general overview of what a PDC includes and what you can expect, please listen to this podcast from Permaculture Voices.

To learn about who this course is designed for, learning outcomes, what to bring, and much more, please read our 2016 PDC Course Information Book.

Our PDC Flyer in English and Spanish for anyone able to share the word!

Topics covered include:

  • Principles and ethics of Permaculture Design
  • Design methodologies: observation, overlay mapping, etc
  • The basics of mapping and surveying
  • Site analysis and assessment, from the tropics to temperate regions
  • Client interviews and goal setting
  • 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
  • Natural building techniques including timber framing, bamboo and cob
  • Integrated animal husbandry
  • Aquaculture and aquaponics
  • Nursery techniques, plant propagation and grafting
  • Agro-forestry and organic horticulture
  • Cultivation and use of medicinal plants
  • Soil rehabilitation and fertility strategies
  • Orchard design and maintenance
  • Alternative cooking technologies: methane bio-digesters, rocket and bio-char stoves, cob and solar ovens
  • Renewable energies and biofuels
  • Local and regenerative economics
  • Urban and suburban permaculture strategies
  • Village design and community building strategies


• Teacher Bios:

Scott Gallant
Scott Gallant is an agroforester and food system designer from small town Ohio. He graduated from Wabash College in 2008 with a degree in Economics. As the farm manager at Rancho Mastatal he works with an amazing team to cultivate 15 acres of a emerging tropical agroforest. He is the lead permaculture design instructor on site and one of the principle founders of the Rancho Mastatal Design/Build Collective.  Passionate about regenerative agriculture, holistic thinking, ethnobotany, community development, and re-skilling, he still makes time to hike and bike, read exhaustively, and work on his basketball jump shot and frisbee throw.  He and his partner Laura have traveled and volunteered extensively in Latin America, leading to a love of the culture, food, and language, which they speak.  Scott is a certified Wilderness First Responder, writes for the Permaculture Research Institute and has been featured on the Permaculture Voices podcast.

Chirstopher Shanks
A multi-talented teacher, organizer, permaculture enthusiast, and design visionary, Chris has worked with some of the finest Permaculture and ecological designers in the Western hemisphere. Fascinated with living systems, Chris has invested himself heavily into the study of whole systems design, ethno-botany, horticulture, mycology, and ecology. His interests have led him to study agro-ecosystems and cultural anthropology in Spain, the Bahamas, Costa Rica, the USVI, Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Hawai’i, as well as the temperate and sub-tropical regions of both coasts of the United States. Chris combines leading the ground team at Project Bona Fide, a non-profit research and demonstration farm in Nicaragua, with his own work in the professional design world. He works in master planning and site design with Whole Systems Design LLC and serves as their chief horticulturalist and Project Manager. Chris also founded and runs his own company, Living Systems Solutions, based in Nicaragua. When not working in the non-profit or design world he can be found masquerading as a builder, a mason, a decent plumber, a poor electrician, a sailor, a fanatic for bamboo, a lover of palms, a permaculturalist with a rock/tree climbing habit, and as an avid motorcyclist.

Rachel Jackson
Rachel holds a Masters Degree in Sustainable Landscape Planning and Design from the Conway School in Conway, Massachusetts. She has been practicing permaculture in the tropics since 2009, working in both the rainforests of Costa Rica and the dry forests of Nicaragua. She is passionate about creating harmonious, healthy relationships between humans and the landscape. From urban renewal projects in New England to food forests in Latin America, Rachel has used her skills to create integrated, whole-system designs in difficult locations. She has also worked as a garden-based youth educator, art handler, photographer and carpenter and harbors a life-goal of trying as many varieties of tropical fruits as possible.

Mitch Haddad
A dedicated community organizer and permaculture aficionado-in-training. He holds joint degrees in Latin American Studies, International Studies and Spanish from Providence College. Since joining the Project Bona Fide team in 2010, Mitch has grown into a key player within the organization. He emphasizes a community-based approach to project management and is a wealth of knowledge about the ins and outs of daily life at the farm. In addition to being an amateur builder and carpenter, he is passionate about natural building, food security and appropriate technology. When he’s not running around the farm and interacting with the local community, he gorges himself on guavas and continues to refine his jamming, fermentation, and chocolate-making skills.

Laura Killingbeck
Laura is wildly passionate about food, nutrition, and whole systems health. She has a BA in Sociology and Philosophy from the University of Rhode Island and is a current Wilderness First Responder. She worked previously as a superhero mascot, a sawyer, and a sustainability consultant. Laura spent several years traveling through Latin America by thumb, boat, bike, and bus before landing at the Ranch with her partner Scott in 2009. She spends her days concocting live culture ferments, curing vanilla, planting rhizome guilds, and living in community.


• Language class is taught in:

The course will be taught in English and simultaneously translated into Spanish.  Este curso será traducido simultáneamente al español . Se requiere un mínimo de dos hispano hablantes para ofrecer servicios de traducción.


• Cost


Central Americans, US$850; residents and ex-pats, US$1350; foreigners (non-Central American) US$1,500. These prices include 15 nights lodging (starting on April 16), all meals (except on Sunday nights when we support a local restaurant), course instruction and full access to Rancho Mastatal and its private wildlife refuge.


• Accommodations:

For more information about food and lodging please see our website at accommodations.


Course Payment:

Please follow the link for payment options.


• Directions:

Rancho Mastatal Sustainability Education Center
Mastatal, Puriscal



April 17, 2016 @ 8:00 am
May 1, 2016 @ 8:00 pm
Event Category:
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Rancho Mastatal
Costa Rica
506 2200-0920
View Venue Website


Tim O’Hara
View Organizer Website

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