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Permaculture Design Course – Rancho Mastatal

April 25, 2017 - May 8, 2017

Rancho Mastatal - Permaculture Design Course - Upward Spirals

Permaculture Design Certification

APRIL 25 – MAY 8

 Register here


Join our diverse team of permaculture instructors Scott Gallant, Mitch Haddad, Santiago Miranda, Rachel Jackson, Sam Kenworthy, 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.

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

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


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.


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 thePermaculture Voices podcast.

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.

Santiago Miranda

Santiago is the director of Molinos Verdes de Moringa, and gives consultation and training on Permaculture. As well, he is the media creator and founder of the Costa Rican Urban Garden Network which connects and supports projects and people developing urban gardens. He co-founded  the national forum for natural construction. He participates in numerous community gardens in the central area of Costa Rica and volunteers in many national initiatives that promote community,  alternative economies. Santiago keeps discovering, learning and sharing paths for a future in harmony with nature and collaboration.

He is convinced that we can create what we believe, that sustainability should be an universal state and not a privilege, that Permaculture is for everyone, no matter their physical, economical,  or geographical situation, nor their gender or age. Taking care of the earth, the people and sharing abundance we can enjoy together this beautiful planet.


Rachel Jackson - PDC - Rancho Mastatal

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.

Laura Killingbeck
Laura Killingbeck has been working with the Ranch since 2009.  She has bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Sociology from the University of Rhode Island, and has taken extensive continuing education courses on sustainable development and agriculture.  In 2014 she also completed a Fermentation Residency with renowned fermentation author Sandor Katz.  Laura is the Ranch’s Director of Food Systems and Fermentation, and has a hand in the production of thousands of gallons of fermented vegetables, soda, herbal beer, yogurt, and vinegar each year.  She oversees the development and management of food education programs at the Ranch, and works to create replicable systems for utilizing whole foods from local foodsheds on both a community and home scale.  When she’s not at the Ranch, Laura works as a Food Systems Consultant for Round the Bend Farm Center for Restorative Community in Massachusetts.  Laura has traveled widely in Latin America, often accompanied by her partner Scott and her live microbial cultures.  She is a current Wilderness First Responder, an avid jungle bug watcher, a closet fiction writer, and a pretty scrappy Frisbee player.

Sam Kenworthy

Sam Kenworthy originally hails from North Carolina, but has been based in the tropics since 2009,  and currently resides on the southern Pacific coast of the Nicoya Peninsula. Sam primarily works with CIRENAS (Centro de Investigaciones de Recursos Naturales y Sociales), where he manages all of the permaculture and water systems on campus. Dedicated to learning and improving his skill sets, Sam is passionate about self sufficiency, water management, generating more and better yields, and well executed design for human ecosystems. Sam has experience working in a wide variety of environments and enjoys the process of designing around problematic landscapes. When not thinking about chainsaws or extending edges, Sam can be found riding his bike, surfing, or trying to find the next meal. Sam carries a B.A. in Political Science and Hispanic Studies from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.


The course will start around 8 a.m. on Tuesday, April 25.  Students are encouraged to arrive on April 24.  Lodging the night of April 24 is included in the cost of the class.


The course will end at around 5 p.m. on May 8.  Most students will depart on the morning of May 9.  Lodging the night of May 8 is included in the cost of the class.


Central Americans, US$850
Residents and Ex-Pats, US$1350
Foreigners (non-Central American) US$1,500

These prices include 15 nights lodging, 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.


Central Americans can apply here for limited scholarships.


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


Please follow the link for payment options.


To enroll in the class, please go to our Online Registration Form.  For more information please contact Tim O’Hara at [email protected] and/or call the Ranch at 2200-0920. We have a  minimum of 8 students to run the course.


Rancho Mastatal
Costa Rica
506 2200-0920
View Venue Website


Tim O’Hara
View Organizer Website

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