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May 24-June 6, 2015 - Monteverde Cloud Forest Costa Rica - Permaculture Design Course and Natural Building Workshop

May 24-June 6

Learn about permaculture design in one of the most beautiful ecosystems in the world, the Monteverde Cloud Forest of Costa Rica! 

The course will incorporate visits to the local farms and communities, hands on, group projects, and immersion in the rich ecosystem of the cloud forest as well as comprehensive take home materials for review and further study. Following the course, there will be further opportunities to learn natural building, alternative energy and the ecology of the area and to apprentice at Monteverde.



This is an ideal opportunity for those who would like to start the summer with an immersion in the subject of permaculture in a beautiful location and is the perfect launch for travels in Central/South America. The weather in the cloud forest is mild all year; this time of year is a great time to visit. College credits for this course may be possible, depending on your school's policies.

Some of the subjects covered include:

  • Permaculture ethics, tools and principles
  • Reading the landscape and pattern recognition
  • Climate and microclimate strategies, temperate, drylands, subtropical and tropical
  • Soil rehabilitation and fertility strategies
  • Water catchment, storage, filtration, and health
  • The best of regenerative agriculture 
  • Agroforestry, food forests, organic horticulture and more
  • Aquaculture
  • Integrated pest management
  • Integrative animal husbandry - cows, goats, chickens, ducks, etc
  • Plant propagation
  • Natural building techniques
  • Retrofitting - passive renewable energy in the home
  • Appropriate technologies including cooking, fuel and more
  • Local and regenerative economics 
  • Innovative economic solutions - farms, urban farms, right livelihood
  • Urban permaculture
  • Intentional communities and community building strategies

There will be an inspiring line up of instructors and tours including tours of the cloud forest and of local farms that are using permaculture, and lectures and hands on workshops given by local experts including wild edibles, reforestation, biodigesters, preserving water quality, local economics and culture, and more. Internationally known author Eric Toensmeier ("Perennial Vegetables" and "Edible Forest Gardens") will teach a segment of the course. The course will be taught in English with simultaneous translation into Spanish. 

Housing will be available in tents or in homes of local Costa Ricans. Hotels in various price ranges are also available for those who prefer that. Healthy food will be served with a vegan option and yoga classes will be available. The Monteverde Institute has a number of permaculture systems in place and continues to add systems. There will be hands on and opportunities to see existing systems. 

For those who want an even more comprehensive experience, the Design Course will be packaged with an immersive program that includes a hands on Natural Building and greywater workshop, where we will build structures for the Institute that will be used to educate locals and visitors on sustainable building practices. The natural building program is five days and will include several forms of building including cob, straw bale and more. We will build a small structure at the Institute.  

The Mission of the Monteverde Institute is to advance sustainable living at the local and global level through place-based education, applied research and collaborative community programs. 

Make a difference, while learning permaculture!

Course fee includes two meals per day (breakfast and mid-day), all field trip costs, and tent camping. There are a number of local cafes, a farmer's market and grocery stores to choose from for dinner. It is recommended that you speak at least some Spanish if you elect a home stay. It is a wonderful way to learn about the country and get to know the people! All three meals are included in the homestay price. Homestays are $23/night.

See our FAQ with info about ID needed to enter the country, what to bring, what to be aware of, etc. You will fly into San Jose and we recommend you come a day early if possible (May 23) and stay one night in San Jose, so that you can tour the famous and delightful Farmer's Market in San Jose. You will ride a bus to the site, and the bus will return you to San Jose on the 7th of June. 

Our course includes comprehensive written materials and resources list (that allow you to continue your studies with focus and direction, long after the course), hands on and team learning, and contextual immersion in the Cloud Forest and local farms, all within the context of whole systems, regenerative design. We are planning a magical and memorable experience for you! 

If you are actively working as a volunteer or for a non-profit in the area of local food, social justice, etc, or are a student majoring in a related field, please contact us for special rates. 

Once you are paid in full and registered we will send you a course materials package with study guides. It is recommended that you study as much as you can of the materials before you arrive for the course, as you will get more out of this intensive learning experience! 

For more information, contact: info @, 727-495-6145

Early bird cost for PDC, before April 24, 2015:  $1325

After April 24, the price is $1400

Natural building workshop: $495 until April 18, $550 afterwards, includes two meals and housing

Early bird package rate through April 18: (PDC plus cob building): $1795

A non-refundable deposit of $300 will hold your spot. Due to the commitments we make to our hosts and locals based on enrollment, we cannot refund your tuition unless we cancel the program in which case it will be refunded in full. But if you are unable to attend because of emergency, your tuition will always can be applied to any future service provided by Grow Permaculture including on line classes.  

For information about travel and what to bring see our FAQ here.

College credits for this course may be possible, please inquire. 

The natural building course will run from June 8 to June 12. This class will be delivered in partnership with a local farm. 

Lead instructor:
Koreen Brennan (bio)

Guest instructor:
Eric Toensmeier, food forests

Eric Toensmeier is the award-winning author of Paradise Lot and Perennial Vegetables, and the co-author of Edible Forest Gardens. Eric is an appointed lecturer at Yale University, and an international trainer, presenting in English and Spanish in the US, Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, and the Caribbean. His latest book, Carbon Farming: a Global Toolkit for Stabilizing the Climate with Tree Crops and Regenerative Agricultural Practices, will be release in 2015. Eric has studied permaculture and useful plants of the world for over two decades. 

Natural building instructor (Natural Building course):
Karen George
Build Like a Bird

Other instructors:
Aaron Bernel-Hockman
Andrea Arbetin
Sofia Arce
Victorino Molino
Willow Zuchowski
Fabricio Camacho
Patricia Jimenez

Monteverde Institute location:

See our FAQ for detailed directions, bus and taxi info, etc, on getting there from San Jose.


Images of the cloud forest:



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