Permaculture Design Certification Course
Design for Sustainable Places and Regenerative Agroecology
Design for Sustainable Places and Regenerative Agroecology
January 24-February 7, 2023
72 Hour Curriculum
- $800 : Costa Rican citizens
- $1175 : Residents of Costa Rica (non-citizens)
- $1450 : General
Join us this season for an immersive educational experience in the Costa Rican rainforest! Come learn to create sustainable places, lifestyles, and communities at our beautiful and rustic forest farm and developing ecovillage.
Permaculture courses at VerdEnergia are a convergence of dynamic people coming together to deeply share from their diverse range of experiences. We welcome you to join our unique learning community and connect with our expansive teaching team, whose experiences span multiple continents and cultures.
VerdEnergia is a multicultural outpost that serves as a unique hub of cultural exchange and ecological conservation within the rural campo of Costa Rica. Our farm is situated within 170 acres (69 ha) of reforested jungle, thus providing an ideal setting to observe multiple stages of permaculture design and the convergence of the reforestation process.
Our project is rare in the permaculture world because of its emphasis on economically productive agroforestry and the production of natural food products for market. Crops grown in our fields become part of a larger supply chain of regenerative agricultural products, which are processed and sold in partnership with our sister company, Blacksheep.
We also harvest much of the food we eat from the land, which includes familiar cultivated crops and wild harvested jungle plants. In all, we’ve been working with our neighbors since 2006 to regenerate land, bolster our local economy, and provide access to experiential permaculture education to people from all over the world. Taking your PDC with us connects you to the work and team of Blacksheep, so those wanting to start or join regenerative projects can learn about valuable potential collaborations.
In addition to exploring our own food forest, we will also have opportunities for in-depth discussions of other real world examples of permaculture implementation. While this course is taught in English, one of our main instructors is fluent in both Spanish and English, so students with medium English language skills but strong Spanish can also attend.
Whether you’re from a temperate or tropical climate - anywhere in the world - our course will provide relevant knowledge for location appropriate design.
The standard permaculture design certificate is based on a globally established 72 hour curriculum. Before the course, we provide students with written and video content to review independently. This ensures that students arrive with some basic knowledge, allows us to progress at a higher level than most PDC’s, and leaves more time for experiential activities on the land.
Our course is a great match for anyone interested in using permaculture in their own life and is applicable to many professions that benefit from experience with holistic sustainability. The United Nations Environmental Programme calls for a shift to agroecology to solve the climate crisis and combat poverty and food insecurity. We draw extensively on lessons from agroecology that expand beyond common permaculture techniques.
- Philosophy, Ethics, and Principles of Ecological Design
- Multi-Cultural Worldviews of Nature
- Site Analysis and Master Planning for Sustainable Homesteads
- Natural Pattern Identification and Use
- Regenerative Agricultural Systems
- Basics of Botany and Horticulture
- Plant Propagation and Pruning Techniques
- Soils Fertility and Composting Systems
- Decision Making for Landscape Design
- Rainwater Catchment and Water Storage
- Green Building, Renewable Energy, and Appropriate Technology
- Agroecology, Agroforestry, Food Forest Systems
- Community and Ecovillage Design
- Urban Planning Applications for Sustainable Cities
- Social, Political, and Economic Permaculture
- Design Project Management
- Temperate, Tropical, Drylands Climates
- Wellness, Mindfulness, Spirituality, Plant Medicines, and Natural Healing
- Career Opportunities in Permaculture and Related Fields
Not only did I learn so much about permaculture and get my hands dirty and feet muddy... I learned how to live in a community
Living in paradise with 30 other people... it feels like vacation, but you're getting this incredible education, and it's really a launchpad for the rest of your life
Our instructors come from the U.S. and Costa Rica, and bring with them a huge range and depth of educational and professional backgrounds. Among our teaching team is experience in farm management, ecovillage design, community planning, deep ecology, urban sustainability planning and grassroots organizing, forest protection, environmental policy, project management, directing non profits, and working with indigenous land based cultures. Our teachers also have a range of skills in other areas of life, such as music, meditation, adventure traveling, and group facilitation.
Marc Tobin (He/Him)
Marc has been designing and teaching permaculture and ecovillage design courses since 2004. Some of the areas that he focuses on include systems dynamics, social permaculture, urban planning, ecological impact assessment, community and ecovillage design, project management, mindfulness, non-violent communication, and group facilitation. He has been connected with VerdEnergia and spending time in Costa Rica since 2015.
From 2014-2017, Marc was the Executive Director of The City Repair Project, in Portland, Oregon, a leading organization transforming public space through community engagement, village building, arts, and regenerative design. Before that, Marc directed the Ecovillage and Permaculture Education program for Lost Valley/Meadowsong Ecovillage. He has also worked in appropriate technology, renewable energy, forest protection, and environmental education for children.
Marc holds a Masters degree in Community and Regional Planning from the University of Oregon and a BA in Environmental Studies from Naropa University. He took his first PDC in 1996 in Boulder, Colorado. Marc is also an avid musician with live performance experience and during his visits he often shares his music and facilitates jams.
Jose Pablo Fernandez (He/Him)
Jose Pablo Fernandez is a Permaculture designer, environmental educator and artist from Costa Rica. His journey started as a nature guide learning about the wildlife of the rainforest and the cycles and dynamics of nature. Jose Pablo is trained in organic and regenerative agriculture, forest gardening, ecosystem regeneration, ecological landscape design, sociocracy and sustainable eco-communities.
He has over 15 years of experience designing and teaching Permaculture in Ecuador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and throughout Costa Rica. Living and being the steward of projects like Finca La Flor, Finca Paraiso Verde, Finca Inspiracion, Posada Natura, Punta Mona Center and other community based initiatives.
Jose Pablo is a member of Red Permanezca, a Costa Rican permaculture network dedicated to share and spread permaculture methodologies and lifestyle through events like workshops, seed swaps and work parties (mingas). He has co-organized with the network several PDC courses taught in Spanish with focus on local people and two nation-wide Permaculture Convergences. He is the founder of Holograma Permacultura, design and education for sustainable living.
Guest instructors will vary for each course.
Jean Pullen (She/Her)
Jean Pullen is a multi-talented artist, gardener, cook, musician, writer, and entrepreneur. Jean is founder of Regenerate Your Reality, founding partner & director at Jungle Project, a Soil Advocate at Kiss the Ground and volunteer for Sustainable Harvest International. In her travels to Europe, Mexico, and Central America over the past five years, Jean has had the opportunity to co-create, volunteer and visit various permaculture projects. Before redesigning her reality, Jean worked in corporate finance.
Esteban Jiménez (He/Him)
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, and is a graduate of Verde’s Permaculture Design Course.
Esteban grew up in Colon, Costa Rica. After being part of a project in La Cangreja National Park, he was inspired to help change the agricultural practices and economic status of the Puriscal region. Esteban holds a degree as a technician in organic productions at the Instituto Nacional de Aprendizaje with a specialty in organic agriculture.
Christina Sasser (She/Her)
Christina is the CEO and visionary force behind the Vital Leaf Hemp CBD Wellness line, where she crafts artisan quality CBD products including organic, fair-trade, regeneratively sourced Chocolates, Oil drop Elixirs, and other specialty superfood charged edibles.
Christina has been working in the natural foods industry for 20 years, including a career as a caterer, food product formulator, holistic chef, and educator. She creates unique culinary experiences that draw inspiration from global and ethnic flavors using organic, local, and seasonal ingredients, plant-based cuisine, and old-world methods updated with a modern superfood twist. Christina ran her own artisanal catering, personal chef, and artisanal live-cultured products company, Activation Foods. She believes that "work is love made visible" and has been a shareholder and visitor to VerdEnergia for many years.
Alan Del Pozo (He/Him)
Alan Del Pozo draws from his roots in tribal cultures to bring people in the western world closer to nature. He leads agroforestry consulting, design, and management. Alan originally studied to become a civil engineer in his home country of Mexico. Once he finished his studies, Alan began to travel in order to "expand his vision of the world," thus beginning a series of adventures where he became immersed in the spiritual world of plants and spent time living with different indigenous groups.
Alan was introduced to permaculture in one of the largest projects in Central America called Las Cañadas, where he spent two years as a volunteer. Later, he began a trip through Central and South America for almost 5 years where he continued collaborating in diverse projects ( Punta Mona, Essence Arenal etc.) and indigenous groups.
Steven Ganister (He/Him)
Steven has years of experience consulting, designing, and overseeing the installation of agroecological and permaculture systems at both home scales and larger commercial scales. He is a skilled builder/carpenter and holds a landscape contracting license in Oregon. Steven studied Permaculture under Rick Valley at Lost Valley Education Center, worked as a farm manager at at Punta Mona in Costa Rica, and Land Steward at Schiller Farm in Portland, Oregon. He holds degrees in Environmental Studies and Geography from Florida State University.
Logan Oliver (He/Him)
Logan’s professional farming career has included managing a vegetable delivery company, working with large scale animal rotation systems, as well as managing fruit tree and vegetable productions systems. His experience runs from consulting for a variety of home gardeners to managing over 1000 acres of range land, planting over 2000 fruit trees of varying species, implementing design on large scale using earthwork machinery, and managing all aspects of a fully sustainable farm. He started growing his own food in 2012 and has kept a healthy daily flair and passion for food production, creation and consumption.
Logan’s work in a broad range of climates allows him to bring a unique aspect to his teachings. He is the founder of Regenerative Design Co., which offers a unique niche in the teaching world by providing online Individual Personal PDC Courses for students abroad. He has also run and taught different weekend courses, including Introduction to Permaculture Courses, Chi Qong and Yoga. Logan holds a Business Strategy degree, as well as a Permaculture Design Certificate Course he took in his home town of Cape Town, South Africa
Przemek (“SHEM-eck”) Kowalczyk (He/Him)
Przemek has been an Education Program Coordinator at Verdenergia for 2 years. His experience of living 10 years in the humid tropics, knowledge of local flora and fauna, building skills, systems comprehension, and fluency in Spanish are all part of his dynamic contribution to community. After his initial 6 month volunteer experience with Verdenergia in 2010, he was inspired to commit to more long term farm and garden development projects, design and building of infrastructure, and becoming a community shareholder through investment.
Outside of Costa Rica he stays active in his home state of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest with various permaculture land development endeavors, from urban gardening to repurposed construction. He has studied, visited, and volunteered at many regenerative farms around the world. He received his PDC certificate in 2016 under the guidance of Larry Korn, an apprentice of Masanobu Fukuoka. The Natural Farming technique developed by Fukuoka inspires Przemek in his holistic approach to the land. In 2018 he received his 500 hr Yoga Teachers Training Certificate from Sattva Yoga Academy in Rishikesh, India. He teaches Yoga and other forms of exercise and movement, including firedancing and prop manipulation.
Chris Garrison (He/Him)
Chris has been a part of the Verde team since 2010. Over the years, he has taught personal growth and community building workshops, been the head chef at large events, and led land and building projects onsite. He has also been trained in facilitation and meditation. Chris entered the world of permaculture in 2003 and received his permaculture certificate in 2016 and has been applying it to his life ever since. After 17 years of living in communities, Chris believes deeply in cultivating strong, healthy relationships while sharing a cooperative way of life.
Chris worked for a vegan ice cream company (Coconut Bliss) for 13 years. His roles there included: production manager, sales manager, marketing events manager, quality assurance manager, demo coordinator and research and development. Chris also worked in the restaurant industry for 16 years. He has managed the front-of the-house in fine dining restaurants and worked for 8 years as a sushi chef. Chris is inspired to teach and share his love for healthy, high quality, delicious food.
Our teachers implement multiple teaching modalities for different styles of learning. We provide a blend of lectures, activities, discussions, field work, and demonstrations to ensure maximum understanding of the material with minimal fatigue. A defining feature of a PDC is the final design project, where students get to practice design. In this final project, students have the opportunity to go through the stages of site analysis, client interview, brainstorm, design decision making, creating compelling graphics for a master plan, presenting the design to a group, and receiving feedback.
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.
A Day in the Life
Catch a glimpse of one of our PDC students, Shivani, reflecting on her observation walk, a typical activity in a day in the life of a student.
Included in your stay is a bed in our shared dormitories. These freshly renovated spaces are screened in, comfortable, bright, and open-air; they include ceiling fans, bunk beds with personal lights and storage shelves. We provide a pillow, sheets and a light blanket. Camping is an option if you want more privacy during certain times of the year (costs are the same), but you will need to bring your own gear and bedding. Please check with us before planning to camp. We also have limited upgrades to our fully furnished, open-air private rooms for an additional cost.
Your stay includes all of your meals on site. We are proud to highlight traditional Costa Rican cuisine with a few twists and eat farm-to-table as much as possible. We rotate cooking responsibilities using food that we've grown on our own farm or purchased locally, with a preference for high quality organic. Our typical meals are vegetarian and gluten-free.
All of our animal products come from locally-raised, pastured animals. Reasonable accommodation for vegans and those with food allergies can be made. Please indicate your needs in your application and upon your arrival.
Transportation & Travel
Transportation to the site isn’t included in your registration cost, but we need to help you navigate here! We are in a remote location that requires you to coordinate your arrival with the team onsite. Transportation on and off the farm must be arranged in advance. Please note that we are about a 2.5 hour drive from the SJO Airport.
Pricing & Timeline
Students are asked to be on site by 2pm on the first day of the course, and asked to leave the site by 11am on the last day of the course unless other arrangements are made. This all-inclusive experience includes lodging in our shared dormitories, meals, and access to all facilities.
- $800 : Costa Rican citizens
- $1175 : Residents of Costa Rica (non-citizens)
- $1450 : General
We have limited upgrades to private lodging available for +$420 for the duration of the course. Interns for our January-April program are offered a discounted rate of $600.
A non-refundable $400 deposit is due upon your registration to secure your spot in the course. (This is not an additional fee). In addition to the cost of the course, students are responsible for buying/bringing personal supplies like flashlights, work gloves, boots, etc. Students are also responsible for paying for personal transportation to and from the farm, as well as housing and food when off site.
Please take note of our refund policies and our Frequently Asked Questions.
Our tax-free payment options include:
- Paypal (friends and family option)
- Zelle transfers
- ACH transfers to our US bank account
- Checks mailed to our US office
- Local transfer to our Costa Rican bank account
Our payment options with processing fees include:
- Paypal (business)
If you can, please give an additional amount to our scholarship program. Scholarships allow people to attend who would not otherwise be able to and benefits everyone from an increase in diversity of experiences. The suggested scholarship contribution is on a sliding scale of $50-$400.
As a community that values equality and diversity, we offer the ability to apply for partial or full scholarships, and we give preference to candidates from the following categories. Please contact us for more information!
Costa Rican citizens who intend to use what they learn in our course to help Costa Rica’s environment and people.
Environmental and Community Building Activists or Grassroots Organizers, especially those working in the Global South and/or with marginalized communities.
Applicants that are from historically marginalized groups, such as indigenous/First Nations peoples and people of color.
Applicants with a particularly compelling reason why they will add something special to the group, as well as financial need.
With the principles of Permaculture as our guiding tool, we seek to transmute the challenges facing our communities into replicable solutions. Our work enables us to find right livelihood through the regeneration and gentle cultivation of the forest we are honored to call home.