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Permaculture Design Course – VerdEnergia

July 21, 2020 - August 12, 2020

Join us this season for an immersive educational experience in the Costa Rican rainforest! Our 21-Day Permaculture Design Course (PDC) goes above and beyond. We offer more instruction hours, experiential learning, and subjects covered than a typical 14-day PDC, all within our beautiful and rustic ecovillage setting. Our instructors draw on an extensive 178 acres of agroforestry projects in various stages of regeneration and production for lessons in applying permaculture to large scale projects. 

Our experienced teachers have thoughtfully designed a unique, engaging and effective couseflow and curriculum. Clear, practical instruction, based on years of experience and hands-on field work, help students learn about living more sustainably at the home scale.This includes a garden-to-table lifestyle,using renewable energy, greywater recycling, and green building. We place a great emphasis on making sure that what we teach includes the principles and deep ways of thinking that can be applied to any climate, anywhere in the world, including temperate or tropical. Our course also includes lessons and daily practice in mindfulness, yoga, healthy communication, and nature connection to support our personal wellbeing.

Not Your Typical Permaculture Course

In addition to permaculture, agroecology informs many of our lessons. Agroecology is the study of ecological processes applied to agricultural systems. Well recognized in Latin America and academia, the United Nations Environmental Programme calls for a shift to agroecology to solve the climate crisis and combat poverty. This combination of permaculture and agroecology is a necessary evolution for permaculture courses to increase their relevance to the complexities of today’s global challenges. 

At the community scale, we learn about group facilitation, rural community engagement, tools for creating ecovillages, ecocities, and regional planning. Through facilitated classroom conversation, we explore the broader cultural shift needed for an ecologically and socially healthy world. We learn ways to engage with social, political, financial, and cultural challenges and opportunities related to creating broadscale sustainable, regenerative culture. 

Being immersed in rural Latin America provides a necessary context for students as global citizens, professionals and consumers for the rest of their lives. Our courses are geared to train tomorrow’s leaders in fields such as policy, economics, non-governmental development work, environmental science, agriculture, natural resource management, and green business. We hope to foster the development of more realistic, effective, and holistic practitioners in those fields.

VerdEnergia Permaculture Design Course Student Testimonials from Spenser Gabin on Vimeo.

Why Our Course?

Our extended course length provides a considerable advantage for our students. Due to the time constraints that regular 14-day PDC’s have, the format is long lectures with limited time for discussion or other activities. This is typically very grueling and tiresome. Learning retention drops off dramatically in full-day lecture formats. Instead, we have built our course out to a 1/3rd longer time frame and use the science of learning acquisition to allow for a more effective learning experience. We provide a blend of lectures, activities, discussions, field work, and demonstrations to ensure maximum understanding of the material with minimal fatigue. Our extended course length also allows for our teaching style to be much more interactive and field-based. 

A defining feature of a PDC is the final design project, where students get to use their knowledge in a real-world design process. While many PDC’s devote less than a day to the design project, our course gives facilitated design project sessions spread out over more than 5 days. This includes instruction on project management as it relates to design, information gathering, client interviews, proposal forming, and implementation. These topics are important for learning to work on larger projects, and often not included in other PDC’s.


Steven Ganister

Steven serves as the Onsite Director of various educational programs at VerdEnergia and a lead instructor for our Permaculture Courses. His work with VerdEnergia is in conjunction with his role as the Land Manager at Blacksheep, where he is working to regenerate almost 200 acres of land into a restored jungle and productive food forest. Steven’s management approach uses principles and techniques found in the fields of agroecology and broadscale permaculture. He also oversees construction projects for Blacksheep and VerdEnergia, using his considerable experience in building.

Marc Tobin, MCRP

Marc serves as VerdEnergia’s Educational Director, a lead instructor for our Permaculture Courses, and a project coordinator with Blacksheep. He also maintains his own practice as a consultant in project management, leadership, community and urban planning as well as education for other regenerative and sustainable projects. Marc contributes his skills in a great variety of realms, such as regenerative agriculture and ecovillage projects, organizational development, sustainable urban design, and community music and arts. He uses a whole systems approach to look for leverage points that can help bring ecological and social health to wider populations.

Esteban Jiménez

Esteban is the Farm and Operations Coordinator at Blacksheep, where he works as a technician in organic productions on multiple Blacksheep projects in the Puriscal region. He has worked with VerdEnergia since 2017, where he serves as an assistant for Verde’s Permaculture Courses, Internship and Worktrade Apprentice programs.

Katrina Cantu

Katrina offers a blend of Vinyasa, Kriya, Kundalini, and Sattva yoga into her classroom at VerdEnergia. Over the last 20 years, Katrina has traveled around the globe, absorbing Yoga practice from many different cultures and ways of life. She caters her classes to each student to help facilitate success and restoration. Her teaching style connects the teachings of permaculture to yoga. She also often supports students in their individual processes, as they discover themselves more deeply through community living and time in nature.

Subject Areas:

  • Regenerative Agricultural Systems
  • Basics of Botany and Horticulture
  • Plant Propagation and Pruning Techniques
  • Composting Systems
  • Soils
  • Scale of Permanence (Decision Making for Landscape Design)
  • Rainwater Catchment and Water Storage 
  • Buildings and Appropriate Technology
  • Agroecology, Agroforestry, Food Forest Systems
  • Ecovillage Design
  • Community and Regional Planning
  • Social Permaculture and Invisible Structures
  • Identifying Patterns in Nature Applied to Ecological Design
  • Group Facilitation
  • Project Management
  • Grassroots Community Development and Activism
  • Urban and Suburban Sustainable Transformation
  • Assessing Priorities for Sustainable Development
  • Environmental Issues related to Costa Rica 
  • Observation and Mindfulness
  • Optional Daily Yoga and Guided Meditation

Daily Schedule

Students meet for an early morning session before breakfast and another before lunch. Early afternoons are for relaxing and reflecting before another afternoon class session, just after the heat of the day has passed. Dinner is served just before dark. Our meals are taken in the garden around our spring fed swimming pool. Select evenings are reserved for movies and documentaries that explore topics discussed in class in further detail.

During time off you can go for a swim in our river, waterfall or pool; walk jungle trails; enjoy the views from one of our beautiful vistas; do yoga or dance in our studio; make art; play music; check out a local soccer game; or simply relax in a hammock with a good book from our farm library. 

Farm Fresh, Local Food

Each meal features farm-fresh, local ingredients; many of which are grown on the farm. We are proud to highlight traditional Costa Rican cuisine with a few twists.

All of our animal products come from locally-raised, pastured animals. Reasonable accommodation for vegetarians, vegans and those with food allergies can be made. Please indicate your needs in your registration and upon your arrival.


We have a range of accommodations available, including dormitories, camping spots, and private rooms. Our dormitories are comfortable, bright, and open-air, with mosquito nets, ceiling fans, dry storage boxes, and bunk beds. Camping is only available for January courses. Fully furnished, open-air private rooms are available for an additional cost. 

Course Prices, Upgrades, and Discounts

All courses include farm-fresh meals and daily yoga classes. A non-refundable $400 deposit is due upon your registration. (This is not an additional fee). We’re happy to offer a 5% discount to those who pay their total now. Please take note of our refund policies and our Frequently Asked Questions

We offer partial scholarships to Costa Ricans and other residents of Latin American countries. Please contact us for more information. 

January Course – Camping Accommodation: $1950
January Course – Dormitory Accommodation: $2100
January Course – Private Room Accommodation: $2500
July Course – Dormitory Accommodation: $2100
July Course – Private Room Accommodation: $2500

Interested in a longer, more in-depth experience? We also offer a 5-Month Internship that includes this course. Taking the full internship is the best way to experience this course and get to practice and learn more.

Or for shorter visits, see our Community Participation Program.


July 21, 2020
August 12, 2020
Event Category:


VerdEnergia Pacifica
Puriscal, Costa Rica
View Venue Website

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