Permaculture Design Course
26th Jan - 8th Feb 2020
What is it?
Project Bona Fide’s annual Permaculture Design Course (PDC) is a 2-week hands-on training experience in permaculture design principles and practices. Our courses offers the standard PDC curriculum with a special emphasis on forest gardening in the tropics.
Although the course is held in a tropical setting, many of the techniques will transfer directly to any climate. Students will receive resources and plant lists for many climates as part of their course content.
This 14-day course is ideal for anyone interested in taking an active role in building a regenerative future, as well as anyone with a focus on agriculture, architecture, ecology, gardening, landscaping, experiential education, or community development. NO prior permaculture experience is necessary.
At the end of the course, all participants will receive a certificate of completion of 72 course hours plus 20 additional hours of skill-building workshops and hands-on work experience.
All meals during the course are included. Dinner the night before the course starts and breakfast the morning after the course finishes too. Food is a mix of local cuisine, farm-fresh food, and a variety of tasty treats at our favorite local cafe. Weare happy to accommodate dietary restrictions- let us know of any before you arrive.
Accommodations - we have limited space available in the PBF dorms and camping spaces. All the sleeping facilities are rustic, open-air, cabañas with bunk spaces. Bedding and mosquito nets provided. These spaces fill up quickly. Farm spots are filled on first-come-first-serve.
If you are looking for more private, upscale accommodations during the course, there are several guesthouses on the property available. The guesthouses are about a 5-minute walk from the area where the course is taught. All of the guesthouses include a queen bed, desk and chair, private bathroom and shower, with hammocks, and breakfast served each morning. Some have hot water and volcano views. These suites are also filled on a first-come-first-serve basis.
Project Bona Fide
Project Bona Fide is an internationally recognized 26-acre demonstrative permaculture site that has been in development for almost 20 years. Located in Balgúe, Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua, Project Bona Fide has become an important center for education and community development. The project has been featured in various permaculture publications including “Sustainable Revolution”.
Our infrastructural systems include natural buildings built with local materials, terraced vegetable & medicinal plant gardens, an extensive nursery, seed bank, mature fruit and nut orchards, food forests, native timber forestry, timber bamboo plantings, water-catchment systems, drip irrigation and ferrocement technologies, renewable energy systems, and composting toilets.
Past and present Project Bona Fide community collaborations include providing educational opportunities in ecological agriculture, community reforestation efforts supported by our seed bank and nursery, local seed and plant exchanges, a community center and breakfast program, and backyard gardens and cob ovens. The developing site, interwoven with the support we have received from our local community, allows Project Bona Fide to be fertile ground for cultural exchange on the island and beyond.
Chris Shanks Agricultural Director & consultant, Living Systems Solutions
Chris has had a lifelong passion for the natural world and her patterns. During his time at university he was introduced to many ideas and concepts concretized into different fields of Ecological design and Natural sciences. In 1999 he was introduced to Permaculture Design by Ben Falk. Since that fateful time Chris has passionately pursued a life of work, design, self-study and right livelihood by teaching, practicing and creating businesses that espouse the principles and ethics of Permaculture Design.
Chris has practiced Permaculture Design year after year faithfully on his home site, Project Bona Fide and Selvista Guesthouses since late 2002. He was a young junior teacher and part of Bona Fide’s first PDC in 2003, an apprentice teaching with Douglas Bullock, trained by Bill Mollisson himself.
Chris has taught over 30 full Permaculture Design courses, founding PDC programs at Project Bona Fide, Nicaragua, The Island School, the Bahamas and Rancho Mastatal in Costa Rica. Chris has been fortunate to lead/guest teach at sites in Thailand, Hawaii and at the Green School/Kul-Kul farm in Bali, Indonesia.
Chris’ primary expertise lies in the tropics and encompasses all manners of site design from homestead to institutional scale. Chris has built and advised in the design and build of many farms, eco-boutique hotels, BnBs and educational institutions all over the tropical belt of the world.
Chris in addition has extensive ethno-botanical plant knowledge, Permaculture Business Development skills as well as water systems and self reliance skill sets.
He loves dogs, all types of berries and is an aspiring pirate/sailor
Ben Falk, Whole Systems Designs, Vermont
Ben is the author of the award-winning book the Resilient Farm and Homestead (Chelsea Green, 2013).
Ben developed Whole Systems Design, LLC as a land-based response to biological and cultural extinction and the increasing separation between people and elemental things. Life as a designer, builder, ecologist, tree-tender, and backcountry traveler continually informs Ben’s integrative approach to developing landscapes and buildings. His home landscape and the WSD studio site in Vermont's Mad River Valley serve as a proving ground for the regenerative land developments featured in the projects of Whole Systems Design. Ben has studied architecture and landscape architecture at the graduate level and holds a master’s degree in land-use planning and design. He has conducted more than 300 site development consultations across the US and abroad, and has facilitated dozens of courses on property selection, permaculture design, and resilient systems. He has given keynote addresses and presented dozens of workshops at venues ranging from Bioneers to the Omega Institute. Ben is the author of the award-winning book the Resilient Farm and Homestead (Chelsea Green, 2013) and serves as an Advisory Council for the international regeneration group Ecosystems Restoration Camps.
Listen to an overview of his ideas on his TEDx talk.
An introduction to Ben Falk and some of the work at the Whole Systems Design farm from Costa on Vimeo.
The course begins with an intensive introduction to the principles, philosophy, and ethics of permaculture design: what is permaculture, how it is applied, and the main design and thought paradigms used. Course participants will be introduced to the Project Bona Fide farm systems and facilities as a teaching and demonstration tool.
The next several days will be dedicated to specific aspects of permaculture design, including water systems, energy use and efficiency, natural building, and agroforestry. These course days will include lectures, on-site examples, and hands-on experience putting all of the information into context. Several hours in the afternoon are dedicated to skill-building workshops and more intensive work projects on the farm. The end of the course brings everyone together in a final group design project that is presented on the final day of the course.
The course spans 14 full days, and includes a half-day or full-day of free time to relax or explore the island about halfway through the course.
A typical day:
7:30 AM Breakfast at the hostel/farm 8:30 AM Arrive at the farm, daily intro 9:30 - 10:45 AM Break (Coffee and farm fresh snacks) 11 AM - 12:30 PM Class time 12:30 - 2:00 PM Lunch, free time to relax/read/study 2 - 3:30 PM Class time and field exercises 3:30 - 5:30 PM Work projects and/or workshops (ex. Compost making, plant propagation, fermentation, natural medicine) 6:30 PM Dinner at local café 7:30 - 9 PM Evening session (lecture, slideshow, movie, group work)
The standard course price is $1575 USD.
This includes 3 meals per day for all 14 days of the course, as well as dinner the night before the course and breakfast the morning after.
Lodging on the farm during the course, including the night before the course
All course materials and fees
Airfare is NOT included Expats are offered the course with a $300 discount (total price of $1275 USD)
Citizens of Central America are offered more than a 50% discount (total price of $750 USD). There are also limited partial and full scholarships available for citizens of Central America. Contact for details.
Upgrades to comfortable guesthouses here at La Bambouseraie are optional with limited availability. Contact us for options..
Couples receive a 10% discount.
$100 Early Bird discount for registering before Sept 30th 2019.
How to Reserve your spot
To reserve your spot in the course:
1. Complete the online registration form https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScbmv0lsibwhGiGNTmT9ULwSOLPgJvi1iC3ETzSTqN0XDD5wQ/viewform
2. Submit a non-refundable deposit of $500 USD
Your spot will only be reserved after Project Bona Fide has RECEIVED the $500 deposit. Once registered, you will receive a confirmation email from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remaining tuition balance is due by January 1st, 2020. Failure to pay the full tuition balance by this date may result in losing one’s spot in the course.
You may submit a tuition payment by bank transfer, PayPal, or Venmo.
If a participant cancels or withdraws from the course...
-On or before January 1st, 2020, Project Bona Fide will refund the amount paid so far to the participant (excluding the $500 non-refundable deposit) --On or after January 2nd, 2020, Project Bona Fide will retain all course fees that have been paid. We cannot offer any refunds less than 30 days before the course start date. If for some reason the course is canceled, Project Bona Fide will refund all course fees, including the $500 deposit. (However, we have never to date canceled a course in the 15 years of organizing this!
contact email@example.com with any further inquiries
● Comfortable clothing that you can move around in
● Long-sleeved shirt and long pants for sun/bug protection and those random nights were it gets a little cool
● Light rain gear
● Covered shoes or boots, as well as sandals/flip flops
● Hat, sunglasses and sunscreen
● Towel or sarong
● Bathing suit (there are great swimming holes on the island, and we’re located in the center of a huge lake.)
● Toiletries, shampoo, conditioner, soap (biodegradable if and when possible)
● Bug spray (optional - chemical free if poss)
● Water bottle to refill from our local, spring source
● Headlamp or flashlight (very, VERY useful!)
● Something comfortable to sit on in class, ex. Crazy Creek-type chair or sleeping pad
● Notebook and pen/pencil
● USB drive for uploading electronic resources at the end of the course
There are two scholarship positions available for the course for Cenral Americans.
Please write to us @ courses@projectbonafide outlining:
Whether full or partial scholarship is required
If/whom you are sponsored by
Why you want to participate in this course
What you plan to do with the course certificate upon completion
Formal education history
Where you’re from
If housing and food will be required