Earthskills and Permaculture Immersion

April 26 - November 3, 2019

Equip yourself with the tools you need for self-sufficiency and sustainable living in this unique Permaculture Design Course

One 3-day weekend a month, April-November
Plus exercises and projects to work on at home

This class might be the deepest permaculture design course out there.  That’s because in addition to the 72 hours of content required for certification, we include more than 100 hours of additional classes and instruction.  In order to help you build a strong foundation, we integrate multiple modalities into the program.  Specifically, it covers skills that we believe are indispensable for sustainable living, such as:

Foraging for food and medicine, friction fire, natural building, community dynamics and communication, whole-systems thinking, preparing for catastrophe, human nutrition, water management, homestead economics, and much more.

The Earth Skills and Permaculture Immersion Course grew out of our “Essentials” course. We’ve added a whole day of instruction each month, plus some amazing new guest instructors (see below).

What to Expect in this Permaculture Design Course:

teaching permaculture design through mapping

Students will have the opportunity to delve deeply into the content, integrating what they are learning into their lives. To do this, we meet for one three-day weekend intensive per month. Each weekend has a theme and covers a group of topics and skills. The design projects each student will create in a small group (part of the requirement for permaculture certification) will be informed by months of learning, observing and reflecting. Class time will be a dynamic mix of hands-on projects, site visits to observe principles in practice, group discussion, lecture and supported design time.


Schedule of this Intensive Path to Permaculture Certification

Special Note: If you are unable to attend one or two weekends, not to worry! There will be opportunities for you to make-up classes by attending other Wild Abundance classes, self-study or attending the classes you missed next year.


Hours are generally
Friday: 9:30am-1pm, 2-5pm and 6-8:30pm
Saturday: 9:30am-1pm, 2-5pm and 6-8:30pm
Sunday: 9:30am-1pm and 2-5pm


working on permaculture design map in beautiful landscape

Learn from Seasoned Homesteaders in and around Asheville, NC, plus a few Visiting All-Stars

gathering garlic scapes in a permaculture garden

We are lucky to live in a hotbed of modern day back-to-the-landers and homesteaders living with ingenuity and creativity.  Asheville is known as a hub for organic gardening, natural building, intentional community development, earthskills, and permaculture.  Our instructors are some of the area’s finest in their fields. They teach their specialties and passions, infusing this permaculture design course with a wealth of experience, inspiration and engaging teaching styles.  

Along with our local legends, this year we are excited to welcome a few extra-special instructors from further afield, including:

Eric Toensmeier, award-winning author, Yale lecturer, international trainer, and best of all, brilliant permaculturist with two decades of practical and theoretical experience.  A perennial vegetable and carbon farming expert, Eric will help us learn to survive and thrive in the face of global climate change.

Ben Falk lives permaculture every day at his Vermont homestead, a testing-ground for ideas and projects that he shares with the wider world through teaching, consulting, and writing. He’s the author of the award-winning book “The Resilient Farm and Homestead.” This guy walks his talk!

Brad Lancaster is an expert in the field of rainwater harvesting and water management. He authored the book on these subjects, “Rainwater Harvesting,” and he has created a verdant oasis at his home in Tucson, AZ, where rainwater is often less than 12 inches per year!

See more about individual instructors at the bottom of this page.  

Dates and Details of the Immersive Permaculture Design Course

learning about guilds in a permaculture design course

April 26-28, 2019: Wild Foods Hike, Nature as Teacher

Backpacking trip covering identification and uses of wild edible plants and mushrooms, medicinal plants, botany, foraging edible weeds and wild foods cookery. The forest (and our team of naturalists and botanists) will introduce us to plant guilds, holistic forestry, climates, biogeography, microclimates and reading the landscape.

sprouting sweet potato slips for a sustainable homestead

May 17-19, 2019: Sowing Seeds and Lighting Our Fire, the Journey Begins

Fire-by-friction, early spring gardening and garden planning, seed starting, knife sharpening, permaculture principles, knife sheath making, and more. We’ll review the process for getting your permaculture certification.

firefly gathering earthskills festival event

June 28-30, 2019: The Firefly Gathering, Earth Skills and Community

A weekend pass to the Firefly Gathering (the largest primitive skills gathering in the US), which hosts dozens of classes on permaculture, eco-homesteading, and primitive skills taught by some of the most knowledgeable and experienced instructors in our field. Think of this as time to explore electives. Laura Ruby will guide you through class decisions and will facilitate a check-in each day to ground these electives within the container of the whole course, if you choose. The rest of the event can be added on at a reduced rate.

compost pile for sustainability

July 26-28, 2019: The Languages of Living Systems

Soil science, permaculture design tools and techniques, making permaculture maps, water systems, earthworks, compost, waste, budgets, fostering independent living,  and more…

timber framing natural building

August 23-25, 2019: Structure and Function, Tiny Houses and Natural Building

During the Tiny House and Natural Building workshop, we’ll take a tour of local homesteads, have an overview of natural building and do hands-on natural building and carpentry projects. Students can choose to attend just for the 3-day weekend, or can add the rest of the workshop for a reduced fee.

jersey cow animal husbandry

September 20-22, 2019: Farms of All Sizes, Integrating Animals and Preserving the Harvest

Urban Farm Tour, playing with pasture management and larger-scale gardening, holistic orcharding, working on hands-on permaculture designs, greywater systems.


hand carved spoons

Designing for Community, plus Spoon Carving

[Optional but highly encouraged!]

Facilitated design time, ecovillage and neighborhood design, and preparing for catastrophe.  You’ll also learn homestead economics, and have time to meet with your design groups and spoon carving.

presenting a permaculture design map

October 4-6, 2019: Going Deep: Permaculture Design Presentations, Hunting, Nutrition, Tools and Basketry

Final permaculture design presentations, human nutrition, tools of the homestead, deep ecology, harvesting materials for baskets, starting baskets, introduction to using chainsaws, introduction to hunting, stalking, and flintknapping.  

basket weaving

November 1-3, 2019: Weaving It All Together: Getting to Know Ourselves, Communication Skills and Bringing Seeds to the Future

Focus on figuring out where to go from here.  We will look at gifts and abilities, and help each other find our paths and identify the obstacles standing in the way.  We will finish our beautiful baskets, and learn seed saving and fruit tree pruning.

“Natalie and her team of instructors thoughtfully constructed a comprehensive PDC program that includes a wide breadth of practical, theoretical and hands-on instruction… I would recommend the program to anyone, but especially to individuals who are looking for a program that covers applications for permaculture design principles beyond basic site design. This PDC thoroughly covers design of both rural and urban sites and includes applications for homesteading, forestry, entrepreneurship and intentional community development… If you have any interest in taking a permaculture design course, you’d be doing yourself a favor by signing up for this one.” – (a PDC 2015 student)


Natalie Bogwalker

Founder and Director of Wild Abundance; Instructor for Hide Tanning, Permaculture & Gardening, Homesteading, Foraging & Medicine Making, Carpentry & Natural Building, Rewilding, and Women’s Empowerment Natalie is the founder and director of the Wild Abundance.  She’s passionate about teaching and sharing skills that are essential for living harmoniously within the natural systems of the ...

Laura Ruby

Instructor for Permaculture & Gardening Laura earned her Permaculture Design Certificate in 2002 from Crystal Waters EcoVillage in Australia. Since then, she has been implementing permaculture systems on her own urban property in downtown Boulder, CO, and for her clients in the area. She recently moved to Western North Carolina and is designing and implementing ...

Barron Brown

Instructor for Carpentry and Natural Building Barron is a truly amazing jack-of-all-trades. He learned timber framing, post-and-beam construction, log cabin construction, and much more from his grandparents when he was a child and teenager. He currently works as a sculptor, welder and builder, as well as teaching carving, blacksmithing, and building. Barron is a joy ...

Becky Beyer

Instructor for Rewilding, Women’s Empowerment, and Foraging & Herbal Medicine Becky started her crazy love affair with all things homesteading while growing up on a farm in central New Jersey. After getting her B.S. in Plant and Soil Science from the University of Vermont, she moved to Asheville, NC, to explore all the amazing work ...

Ben Falk

Instructor for Permaculture & Gardening Ben Falk lives permaculture every day at his Vermont homestead, a testing-ground for ideas and projects that he shares with the wider world through teaching, consulting, and writing. He founded Whole Systems Design, LLC as a land-based response to biological and cultural extinction and the increasing separation between people and ...

Cailen Campbell

Instructor for Homesteading and Permaculture & Gardening After dropping out of college in 1994, Cailen completed a permaculture design course and year-long natural building and permaculture apprenticeship at the Ecovillage Training Center at The Farm in Summertown, TN, followed by a year-long apprenticeship with Eustace Conway at the Turtle Island Preserve, where he learned a ...

Eric Toensmeier

Instructor for Permaculture & Gardening Eric Toensmeier is the award-winning author of Paradise Lot and Perennial Vegetables, and the co-author of Edible Forest Gardens as well as a contributor for Drawdown. He is an appointed lecturer at Yale University, and an international trainer, presenting in English and Spanish in the US, Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, and ...

Laura Lengnick

Instructor for Permaculture & Gardening Laura Lengnick has more than 25 years of leadership experience using design and planning to move sustainability values into action in businesses, community organizations and government policy and programs across a diversity of scales from local to national. Check out her company, Cultivating Resilience, LLC.

Luke Cannon

Instructor for Foraging & Herbal Medicine and Permaculture & Gardening More than a botanist, Luke is a long-time pursuer and teacher of the magic and medicine of plants. His passion to study and understand the beautiful ecological intricacies of the natural world have led him throughout the Americas and across the globe. An avid naturalist, ...

Tyler Lavenburg

Instructor for Rewilding and Homesteading Nose to the grindstone (sometimes literally), Tyler lives for unraveling the mysteries of the Earth. He first fell in love with Southern Appalachian ecology as a student at Warren Wilson College, graduating with a degree in Environmental Education. Beginning as Natalie’s first apprentice in 2009, he has since traveled around ...

Local Accommodations

While some locals prefer to commute to Wild Abundance from Asheville, students from the area and out of town are welcome to pitch a tent in one of our flat camping spots in the woods or field, or to tie a hammock in the forest on our seven-acre property. We strongly suggest bringing a very warm sleeping bag and bedding. We do have a fully functioning outdoor kitchen and bathroom, though in extremely cold weather, sometimes one or both are out of operation due to the water freezing.

If you prefer something more conducive to creature comforts, we suggest browsing Airbnb or checking out some of the local motels and B&Bs within a 10-15 minute drive to Wild Abundance.

Below are a few local accommodations you might find to your liking:

Comfort Inn in Mars Hill, NC

Registration Info