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Permaculture Design Certification Course

April 19, 2015 - May 2, 2015

  • Class Description:
    oin renowned permaculture instructors Chris Shanks, Mitch Haddad, Scott Gallant 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.Topics covered include:•    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
    •    Natural building techniques including timber framing, bamboo and cob
    •    Integrated animal husbandry, including goats, chickens, fish and bees
    •    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 including 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:
    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.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.Scott Gallant
    Scott Gallant is a food system designer from small town Ohio. He graduated from Wabash College in 2008 with a degree in Economics. He and his partner Laura traveled and volunteered extensively in Latin America prior to arriving at Rancho Mastatal. Over the past several years he has become a leader in the broader Costa Rican permaculture community. Passionate about tropical agriculture, systems thinking, ethnobotany, community development, and group leadership, he is currently immersing himself in the fields of Keyline Design and Holistic Management, while working with an amazing group to build the Ranch’s food production systems. He is a principle founder of the Rancho Mastatal Design/Build Collective. When not talking about plants he enjoys running full speed on the community plaza, cycling over mountains, devouring books, and making lists.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 taught in: English and Translated to Spanish
  • Cost/Accommodations:
    Central Americans, US$850; residents and ex-pats, US$1150; foreigners (non-Central American) US$1,300. These prices include 15 nights lodging (starting on April 18), 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.
    Food Options: Email [email protected]

Driving from San José
Take the highway out of the capital going towards Ciudad Colón and Puriscal (sometimes referred to as Santiago). We recommend you drive during the day. To get to the highway from downtown San José, take Paseo Colón west, until you hit Sabana Park, then take a left, and follow the signs to Escazú/Ciudad Colón. If you are coming from Alajuela or the airport, you will have to head towards San José before picking up the highway to Ciudad Colón. A local map will be very helpful. On the way to Ciudad Colón, you will pass the town of Santa Ana.  The highway can get a little confusing just before getting to Ciudad
Colón.  Make sure that you follow the correct signs.  DO NOT HEAD TOWARDS CALDERA.  In Ciudad Colón follow the one-way streets and signs towards Puriscal. You will then climb up and out of the Central Valley, and pass through the Quítirrisi Indian Reserve. From Ciudad Colón, it’s about 40 minutes to Puriscal. Once in Puriscal, follow signs to Parrita/Quepos. Once outside of Puriscal, continue on the main road through the towns of Santa Marta, La Palma, Salitrales, and other small communities. The paved road ends about 15 kilometers outside of Puriscal. About 1 hour and 15 minutes after leaving Puriscal and soon after passing by the entrance to the administrative offices of La Cangreja National Park, you will arrive to an intersection. A small run-down bus stop and a few signs, one announcing “Mastatal”, mark the junction. Make this left hand turn, and continue for 6 kilometers until you arrive to the town of Mastatal. There is one intersection along this road. Stay left and continue down the road. As you enter Mastatal, we are the house on the left with the red roof. There is a black gate that marks the entrance to the Ranch.


April 19, 2015
May 2, 2015
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Rancho Mastatal
Costa Rica
506 2200-0920
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