Are you ready to transform a deer hide into buckskin with your own hands?

The online hide tanning course is a video-based program that guides aspiring hide tanners through every step of tanning a deer hide using the wet-scrape brain tan method.  Your guide on this journey, deer hide alchemist Natalie Bogwalker, has led hundreds of students through the otherwise confounding process of tanning hides.

Check out the video above to learn more about the class, what it covers, who we are, and how tanning hides will enrich your life. 


What Is Brain Tanning?

Brain tanning is the ancient art of transforming a rawhide (sometimes stinky, and definitely prone to rot if you don’t intervene) into a soft, supple, useable buckskin. You actually use the deer’s brains as a key ingredient in the tanning process (don’t worry, if you don’t have brains on hand, you can use egg yolks).  A lot of skillful technique and physical effort are required, and at the end, smoke is used to preserve the softened hide that results from the brains and your brawn.

Indigenous people on every inhabited continent practiced some form of brain tanning; many of them still do.  It’s also totally natural and completely non-toxic, unlike many modern tanning techniques.

stretching a deer hide for brain tanning

Why Learn to Brain Tan?

When you know how to brain tan, a discarded deer hide becomes a valuable, useful resource. The buckskin (leather) made through this process is uniquely strong, supple, durable, breathable and  deliciously smoky smelling. It’s quite unlike anything that’s available commercially.

deer hide with hair on

Not only is the product of brain tanning wonderfully cool, the process itself is also rewarding and magical.  It’s an enriching thing to do on your own – or with friends and family – including children.   We’ve had families work on hides together, and our youngest official student was 12 years old at the time.

Brain tanning is a family affair

 

Tanning a hide deeply connects you to the natural world.  Many of our students have felt personally transformed by hide tanning, and we bet you will too!  

 

proud tanner with brain tanned buckskin

 


How the Online Hide Tanning Course Works

In a series of detailed videos, broken up into 15 very doable sections, we walk you through the process of brain tanning a hide, step by step.  The comprehensive course manual works in tandem with the videos as a written reference that includes photos and diagrams. We suggest that you use your phone, tablet or laptop to watch the classes while you are actually tanning your hide.

scraping deer hides

We’ve talked with lots of folks who have attempted brain tanning with just a book as their guide.  It generally takes them weeks’ worth of work before they get to anything resembling a finished buckskin.  Brain tanning a deer hide with the guidance of this online course can be done in 3-4 days, but you don’t have to complete it start-to-finish all at once.  

In both our course manual and video collection, we highlight points in the process when you can put your hide on pause, which means hide tanning can fit in with the rest of your life.  It’s a wonderfully unique benefit of the online course.

stretching a hide for brain tanning


What Makes This Online Hide Tanning Course Exceptional?

deer track  Amazing Quality

The videography and attention to detail are stunning.  This makes the content easy to understand and follow. Free videos on the subject tend to be poor quality and often skip over many important steps of brain tanning. Our course was finely crafted from hundreds of hours of footage.  It’s been distilled down to a much more manageable 12 hours of pertinent instruction.

deer track  Comprehensive, Quality Content

With both the in-depth videos and comprehensive manual, this course covers the bases.  It’s got all the guidance you need to be successful, starting with your first hide. Brain tanning is a tactile skill and the videos really bring each part of the process to life in a way that books and other written instruction cannot.  Because the course material is yours for life, it becomes a searchable reference for your whole hide tanning career.

deer track  Extraordinary Support

We give students more than two months of responsive, personalized support after they sign up for the course.  This will get you well through annual fall hunting season. Our support includes bi-weekly live videos in which your questions are answered by an extremely experienced tanner.  We also have highly responsive technical support.

deer track  Many, Many Years of Experience

We’ve been tanning hides for a long time.  Not only that, but we’ve been teaching hide tanning for quite a while, too.  This experience has given us much insight as to what tends to trip people up, what kinds of questions arise and how different people approach tanning.   We’ve used our knowledge, plus that of our teachers, to tailor your hide tanning experience to be crystal clear and free of mysteries.

deer track  Community of Fellow Tanners

Our students tend to be extraordinary humans.  We are honored to host online discussions amongst those who are taking the course, including photo-swapping and tip-sharing.  We welcome you to get to know each other, we know you’ll learn so much from one another’s experience.

deer track  We sell hides and gear (if you need them)

Not everyone has access to a deer hide and brains.  Don’t worry. We have a limited number of fleshed and dried hides, ready to tan, that we offer exclusively to students of our online course (for $65, including shipping to the continental US).  We’ll also sell, or can point you in the direction of, all the specialized tools that you’ll need for tanning. It’s likely you’ll be able to scrounge up these items locally for free or cheap if you have a little time to hunt around.

 

brain tanned buckskin in the garden


 

What our Hide Tanning Students Have to Say

 

Brain tanning class student

“As a hunter, the hide tanning class offered by Wild Abundance gave me the skills needed to fully utilize the animals I harvest.  I’m no longer troubled by the fact that I’m wasting a valuable part of the deer. I tan my own hides now, and, thanks to Wild Abundance, I have the confidence, ability and knowledge to do so in my own backyard.”

(Austin Hall, firefighter and hunter, Canton, NC)

Brain tanning class student

“Natalie gives very clear instructions and lots of support along the way, and by the end I was SO proud of my finished hide!”

(Rachel Watersong, psychologist and homesteader, Cedar Grove, NC)

Brain tanning class student

“This class – with all its subtle tips and tricks – made the process of brain tanning extremely clear and concise. Natalie’s expertise is incredible, as her insights surely saved me many hours of work and much frustration. The class was an absolute pleasure, as there is nothing quite like learning to turn a rotting deer skin into a soft, supple, extremely tough piece of buckskin!”

(Owen Doll, student from Hillsborough, NC)

Apprenticeships and Internships

Permaculture, Primitive Skills and Natural Building Apprenticeships and Internships
near Asheville, NC

Becoming a permaculture apprentice will equip you with the skills you need to live with the web of life: Natural Building & Tiny House Construction, Foraging & Wildcrafting, Hide Tanning & Basket-Making; Permaculture Design & Organic Gardening; Herbalism & Nature Connection; Functional Communication & Community Living, Storytelling, Deep Ecology and much, much more!  

 

 

Come back to your roots…

Our apprenticeships are on-site residential immersions at Wild Abundance, located near Asheville, NC.  They are the most intensive and intimate programs we offer, and are our humble attempt to welcome a small group to our land every year to venture into the relational process that involves living on the land, building community, renewing culture, developing earthskills, mentoring & personal growth!  Through these immersions, we share the depth and creativity of how we live and the richness of the real life challenges, opportunities and abundance that make up our family, community, home and lives.



Learn to live off the grid as a homesteading and permaculture apprentice

All of our Apprenticeships include:

  • A selection of Wild Abundance classes that take place during your apprenticeship (please see our Classes for more details).
  • One day a week (Wednesday – Friday) of small-group hands-on instruction on core curriculum: primitive skills, nature connection, gardening, permaculture, natural building, personal development, regenerative culture and community building, deep ecology, herbalism, traditional crafts and eco-homesteading.  Schedule varies on weeks when there are Wild Abundance classes
  • 1-1 ½ days a week of facilitated independent study and apprentice garden time
  • One day per month of of meeting with your mentor one-on-one.
  • Access to beautiful and simple rustic accommodations at our homestead at Wild Abundance. This includes a spacious communal outdoor kitchen, permitted outhouse and shower, and your own private 3-season sleeping shelter.
  • Seasonal food from the apprentice garden
  • A breathtaking view of Mount Craggy from your communal kitchen (for real, it’s an amazing view!)
  • Close access to the wildlands and trails of the Big Ivy section of the Pisgah National Forest
  • Living at ground zero of the homesteading and Earthskills cultural renaissance! A one-of-a-kind opportunity to live and learn in a gorgeous, thriving community of folks in the hinterlands of Asheville, NC; it is about a 20-25 minute drive to downtown.

The apprenticeship is a mostly full-time program. Please don’t expect to be able to hold down a full-time job while enrolled.  However, there is the space in your schedule to take on a part-time job, if you so desire. Apprenticeship days are generally Tuesday through Saturday, although this varies during weeks when there is class.  These days are spent with us, and occasionally guest teachers, and some with your other apprentices doing a mix of:

  • Practical homesteading and permaculture projects
  • Intensive garden learning and doing time with Natalie
  • Crafting with natural materials and hands-on learning
  • Interactive small group exercises and discussion
  • Naturalist excursions and ecology hikes
  • Exploring “soft-skills,” storytelling and inner development
  • Facilitated independent study and apprentice garden time   

We take the balance of hard work, personal growth and enjoying life very seriously and routinely have check-ins during which the instructors and the apprentices collaboratively create priority lists of how we’ll spend our time together. In general, in any given week, we strive to spend half our personal instruction time getting our hands dirty and working hard and half our time hiking, group discussion, crafting and engaging in fun learning activities!

permaculture apprentice

 

gardening apprentices trellising tomatoes

 

apprentices gathering wild food and herbs

 


poplar bark hut and primitive skills apprentice

Our Comprehensive Curriculum Goes Way Beyond Permaculture Training:

The Apprenticeship Program curriculum is made up of a combination of the Wild Abundance classes and small group apprenticeship days. The weekly content and instruction are determined by balancing what the apprentices are most interested in learning with the real world needs of the land, infrastructure and projects here. There will not be time to cover every single aspect of the skills we have to offer at Wild Abundance in one apprenticeship (we end up covering about ⅓ of the following during the Spring Gardening Apprenticeship, and ⅓ during the Fall Natural Building Apprenticeship , for a total of about ⅔ of the 9-month Permaculture and Natural Building Apprenticeship .


Permaculture & Gardening

  • Forest Gardening
  • Seed Starting & Transplanting
  • Permaculture Design Certification
  • Animal Husbandry
  • Holistic & Paleo-Nutrition
  • Fermentation & Food Preservation
  • Plant Care & Feeding
  • Tree Crops & Agroforestry
  • Climate Change Resiliency
  • Annual & Perennial Staple Foods
  • Food Preservation & Canning
  • Diagnosing & Treating Plant Pests & Diseases
  • No-Till Gardening & Soil Science
  • Seasonal Garden Planning
  • Appropriate Technology & Solar Design
  • Rain Water Catchment
  • Mapping & Holistic Landscape Design
  • Homestead Gardening & Plant Propagation
  • Mushroom Cultivation

permaculture design mapping with apprentices


permaculture apprentice creating a species list

Tiny House, Green & Natural Building

  • Tiny House Building (you will leave with the skills to build your own Tiny House!)
  • Earthen Plaster & Earth Paint
  • Round-Pole Construction & Timber Framing
  • Cob, Slip-Straw & Waddle-and-Daub
  • Living Roofs
  • Basic Carpentry & Framing
  • Power Tools 101 & Tool Safety
  • Foundations, Walls & Insulation Alternatives

Primitive Skills & Crafts

  • Willow and Kudzu Basket Weaving & Tulip-Bark Baskets
  • Hide Tanning & Leatherwork (including Buckskin Clothing!)
  • Bow-Drill & Fire Tending
  • Debris Shelters
  • Humane Slaughtering & Butchering
  • Survival Skills
  • Bow Making
  • Knife & Sheath Making
  • Cordage & Fiber Arts

woman using a hatchet


hands and smudge stick ritual

Community Building & Cultural Renewal

  • Vision Quest & Fasting
  • Seasonal Ceremony & Earth-Based Spirituality
  • Nonviolent Communication
  • Myth & Storytelling
  • Ancestral Healing
  • Vedic Astrology
  • Sweat Lodge & Sauna
  • Cooperative Meals & Games
  • Medicine Wheel Paradigm
  • Social Justice & Collective Liberation

Personal Transformation

  • Learning How to Live Your Dream
  • Exploring Your Gifts & Realizing Career Niches
  • Forgiveness & Gratitude Ceremony
  • Grief & Shadow Work
  • Holotropic Breathwork
  • Inner Guides & the Imaginal Realm
  • Cultivating Vulnerability & Humility
  • Discovering & Healing Core Wounds
  • Understanding Fate & Destiny
  • Nature-Based Human Growth Model
  • Telling Your Story & Empathic Listening

permaculture apprentice learning from elder


herbal medicine apprenticeship processing elderflowers

Nature Connection, Herbalism, Foraging, & Deep Ecology

  • Botany & Ecology Hikes
  • Naturalist Notebook & Journal Exercises
  • Herbal Medicine Making
  • Deep Time & Understanding Appalachia
  • Wild Foods & Ethical Wildcrafting
  • Animal Tracking  
  • Gaea Theory, Evolution & Earth Systems
  • Following Golden Threads of Earth Poetry
  • Bio-regional Herbarium

Sample Spring Schedule On A Non-Class Week

9:30am-1pm 2:30pm-6pm
Monday Free Time Free Time
Tuesday Free Time Apprentice Garden Time
Wednesday Naturalist Notebook Independent Land Stewardship Project
Thursday Free Time Apprentice Garden Time
Friday Foraging and Ecology Hike Gardening with Natalie
Saturday Naturalist Notebook Free Time
Sunday Free Time Free Time

Sample Spring Schedule On A Class Week

9:30am-1pm 2:30pm-6pm
Monday Free Time Free Time
Tuesday Free Time Apprentice Garden Time
Wednesday Naturalist Notebook Time Independent Land Stewardship Time
Thursday Free Time Free Time
Friday Wild Foods & Medicine Backpacking Adventure Wild Foods & Medicine Backpacking Adventure
Saturday Wild Foods & Medicine Backpacking Adventure Wild Foods & Medicine Backpacking Adventure
Sunday Wild Foods  & Medicine Backpacking Adventure Wild Foods & Medicine Backpacking Adventure

Sample Fall Schedule On A Non-Class Week

9:30am-1pm 2:30pm-6pm
Monday Free Time Free Time
Tuesday Free Time Shelf Construction in Personal Shelter
Wednesday Naturalist Notebook Free Time
Thursday Free Time Free Time
Friday Applesauce Canning Planting Hazelnuts
Saturday Community Work Party Apprentice Garden Time
Sunday Free Time Free Time

The Holistic Nature of the Apprenticeship

Our apprenticeship program is an ambitious attempt at a holistic curriculum. You may find yourself more interested in certain aspects of the program and less interested in others, which is only natural. We ask you to trust the big picture and the entire process. Oftentimes, people get the most out of activities in which they are initially less motivated to participate.

At first, you may be most interested in natural building and bored by developing your communication skills or participating in a gratitude ceremony, only to find out later that those “softer skills” truly transformed your personal character in the long run.  Likewise, you might show up wanting to spend all your time studying botany and learning how to live in community, and years later may find yourself feeling much appreciation for having gained carpentry and permaculture mapping skills when you are locating, designing and building your own house!

Trust us: If it’s something we want to share with you, it will most likely be important at some time in your life journey.  We strive for a healthy balance of diversity and depth among all the threads that can be woven together to create a resilient and soulful tapestry of life skills that are supportive to living here on Earth in these unique times. The apprentices will have a lot of input about how we spend our time together, and through active participation, we will personalize our time together to create a journey that is transformative for everyone involved.

learning how to live off the land sustainability apprentice learning to carve a spoon


natural building apprentices on living roof

gardening apprenticeship teacher

This is Real Life!

These are serious programs that involve serious commitment and at times serious work. Anyone who has trouble with hard physical work, who has a penchant for taking things personally, or who is unwilling or unable to work through emotional issues and group dynamics in a responsible manner need not apply.

We are asking you to come with an open mind and an open heart and to check your ego at the door, to be vulnerable and present, and to be motivated by that rich space of humility and gratitude that supports our collective humanity.

Through this program, we are opening our home to you. We will come to know each other very well. By the end of the year, we generally consider our apprentices part of our family, and you will become the inner circle of our young daughter’s social life. We ask that all apprentices maintain the day-to-day flexibility and adaptability that is essential to any organic, evolving process. Be real with us, and we will be real with you.  Life happens…daily plans change at times…there are hospital visits, rainy days, neighbors suddenly needing help, people getting sick, etc. This program is real life and has all the beauty, struggle, adventure, surprise and mundane moments that make up the human experience!    

This apprenticeship is a living, breathing, growing creature.  It changes every year as we do, and we strongly appreciate your feedback when you are here. We strive to create a safe space to communicate, and there will be ample opportunity to give us feedback.  Please come here ready to embrace a reciprocal relationship of accountability, communication and empowerment!   


Please also check out our Spring Herbalism, Wildcrafting and Gardening Apprenticeship, Fall Tiny House and Natural Building Apprenticeship, as the Spring-Summer-Fall Combination Apprenticeship, which will equip you with the skills you need to Live off the Land and Live off the Grid.


sustainable permaculture homestead gardenThe Blue Ridge Mountains and Asheville, NC

The area surrounding Wild Abundance is breathtaking!  We live in a community of dozens of amazing and like-minded folk, 5 minutes from a decent swimming hole, 10 minutes from the Pisgah National Forest, 20 minutes from some of the most biodiverse forests in the temperate world, and 20 minutes from Asheville, a decent-sized town which one past apprentice deemed “the hippie hotspot of the East Coast.”

Earthskills and Permaculture Immersion

Equip yourself with the tools you need for self-sufficiency and sustainable living

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

Earn your Permaculture Design Certificate

We also offer an intensive Permaculture Design Course that is 12 consecutive days.


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). Not to mention, the class now lets you earn your permaculture design certificate.

What to Expect in this Permaculture Design Certificate Course:

permaculture course student eating elderberries

Students will delve deeply into the content, integrating what they learn 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. Throughout the course, students will work on a permaculture design project in small groups. This is one of the requirements of permaculture certification. In addition, it gives students a chance to integrate and engage with the nine months of learning, observing and reflecting. Class time is a dynamic mix of hands-on projects, site visits to observe principles in practice, group discussion, lecture and supported design time.

 

Schedule of this Unique and Intensive Permaculture Course

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: 9:30 am – 1:00 pm, 2:00 – 5:00 pm and 6:00 – 8:30pm
Saturday: 9:30 am – 1:00 pm, 2:00 – 5:00 pm and 6:00 – 8:30pm
Sunday: 9:30 am – 1:00 pm and 2:00 – 5:00 pm

 

permaculture teacher and students

Learn from Seasoned Homesteaders in and around Asheville, NC

Plus a few Visiting All-Stars

gathering garlic scapes in a permaculture garden
We’re lucky to live in a hotbed of modern day back-to-the-landers and homesteaders. In fact, there are many folks around here living with ingenuity and creativity as they apply permaculture principles into their lives. 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’re 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. He’s got two decades of practical and theoretical experience and is 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. It’s 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!

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


Dates and Details of the Immersive Permaculture Design Certificate 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, 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 and friction fire kits to take home, early spring gardening and garden planning, seed starting, permaculture principles, leather knife sheath making, and more. We’ll review the process for getting your permaculture certification and get started on design projects.


firefly gathering earthskills festival event

June 14-16, 2019: The Firefly Gathering, Earth Skills and Community

Earthskills and Permaculture Immersion students will get a free three day weekend pass to the Firefly Gathering. It’s the largest primitive skills gathering in the US and hosts dozens of classes on permaculture, eco-homesteading, and primitive skills. Think of this as time to explore electives. In the past the Earthskills group has camped together and shared some of their meals, creating their own supportive community within the bigger container of the gathering.  


permaculture soil building

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

An exploration of soil science, delving deeply into 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 some 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. We will kick off the weekend with preliminary design presentations.


jersey cow animal husbandry

September 13-15, 2019: Farms and Gardens of All Sizes, Integrating Animals and Preserving the Harvest

Designing professionally, urban farm tour, playing with pasture management and larger-scale gardening, holistic orcharding, permaculture plants for the south, fall gardening, working on hands-on permaculture designs, food preservation.

 


hand carved spoons

September 21, 2019: Designing for Community and Tools of the Homestead, plus Spoon Carving

[Optional but encouraged!]

Social Permaculture, tools of the homestead, facilitated design time, ecovillage and neighborhood design, and preparing for catastrophe.  You’ll also learn how to carve spoons, and you’ll get to make a beauty to take home.


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.  


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 any obstacles standing in the way.  We’ll also finish our beautiful baskets, and learn seed saving and fruit tree pruning.

Wild Foods Hike – Edible Plants in North Carolina

Three Days of Foraging Wild Edible Plants in North Carolina’s Appalachians

Immerse yourself in the breathtakingly vibrant world of the Southern Appalachian springtime. Learn to forage for wild edible plants. During this three-day adventure near Asheville, NC, we’ll spend some time hiking and a lot of time learning, plucking and nibbling. You’ll learn plant identification, responsible harvesting, and how to use wild medicinal and edible plants and fungi. Seasoned experts guide the group.

We’ll pause by the trail to meet delectable weeds, edible mushrooms and native healing plants in their natural habitats. There, we’ll learn about the nutritional and medicinal properties these biodiverse mountains have to offer. All of this while practicing sustainable harvest techniques as we gather the abundance. In the evenings, the group will prepare the edible plants we’ve gathered over an open fire. Then, we’ll feast upon the tastes of the wild! Throughout the hike we’ll touch on wilderness survival.

Get to know and enjoy the abundance of edible wild plants in North Carolina. 

wild morel mushroom


Appalachian trail hiking gathering wild edible plants

Students learning about edible plants in North Carolina

What to Expect: Foraging, Plant Identification, Wilderness Survival Skills

This trip is an amazing opportunity to deepen your knowledge of and relationship with wild plants and.  What’s more, it’s a chance to learn wilderness survival skills. Our instructors are engaging, entertaining and incredibly knowledgeable.

Participants need to be in good physical condition. You provide your own snacks, lunch food, sleeping gear, backpack, and tent or other shelter. Dinner food is provided.

We will meet in Weaverville, NC, and caravan to the trailhead at 9am on Friday, April 26. From there, we’ll be in the woods until Sunday, April 28 at 6pm.

During this foraging class, you’ll learn North Carolina plant identification. Over the course of the weekend you’ll become familiar with tasty weeds, edible mushrooms and wild medicinals.

Learn how to forage for edible plants and feed yourself during a wilderness survival situation.

Women’s Basic Carpentry

April 4-7(FULL), April 18-21(FULL), July 11-14, OR August 8-11

We’re offering a few class sessions this year. Students only need to attend one of these sets of dates. If none of them work for you, but you’d like to attend, you can get on the waitlist near the bottom of the page to hear about more dates as we add them.

Why Women’s Carpentry?

Lets face it. In this culture, it’s much more likely for male-bodied people to be more comfortable with tools and carpentry than female-bodied people. Year after year during our natural building class, we received feedback from women that it would be super-helpful to have a class specifically geared towards getting women acquainted with tools and basic carpentry. Our bodies are different, our backgrounds are likely different, and so we need a class just for ourselves! This class is intended to get ladies up-to-speed on basic building skills, working with wood, and using hand-tools as well as power-tools.

Focus is placed on creating a safe, comfortable, relaxed and fun learning environment in which students with beginning to intermediate skill levels can thrive. We focus on helping each student learn rather than the progression of projects.

line drawing of fabulous woman carpenter

Ladies, prepare to tame those mythical beasts (power tools) and make them part of your building repertoire.


women building sawhorses for woodworking

What to expect: Learn Basic Carpentry Skills

During this four-day workshop, we will cover basic carpentry skills and the fundamentals of choosing and using the right tools for different jobs, as well as the maintenance of everything needed to complete a carpentry project. And you can expect this wealth of information to be tailored specifically for women and women’s bodies.

Note: Participants who are camping are encouraged (but not required) to arrive on the evening before class starts to get settled in.


woman using a power drill to do carpentry and build bench

Day 1: Tools, Tools, Tools & Women’s Empowerment!

Our theme of the day is women’s empowerment and helping you learn the essentials of a basic carpentry class. We’ll have an overview of how to learn carpentry, tool choices, ergonomic use and maintenance. Whether you are building a bird house, bathroom shelves, a bike shed or a log cabin, the right tools make all the difference.


female using a circular saw in women's carpentry class

Day 2: Carpentry Basics – Get Competent with Tools

Practice making cuts; using levels, speedy squares and other tools; fastening boards; and working together getting your hands, mind, and bodies on projects around the land.


attaching floor beam in womens carpentry class

Day 3: The Next Level – Building Designs and Personal  Projects

Go to the next level with group projects and improve your understanding of simple building design. Design and start your personal project.


using a measuring tape to do carpentry

Day 4: Putting It Together – Carpentry Training and Hands-On Woodworking Project

Build your own simple project to take home! We ask students to decide what they want to make before the class so that we can have materials waiting on-site. You can make your very own rustic and simple shelf, bed-frame or other simple project. Materials for these projects will be offered to students at-cost.

Because Sunday is a personal project day, so students are done with class when they finish their projects. Typically they finish sometime between noon and 3:30pm. We close up shop at 4:00, so everyone must be done by then (class ends Thursday- Saturday at 6:00pm). If you have time constraints, you can make it more likely to leave on the early side by choosing a simple project like making sawhorses or a small bookshelf.


women carpenters learning to build