Get your hands in the soil and your body in the rhythm of the seasons

Students and instructor laugh during permaculture apprenticeship

Becoming a permaculture apprentice will equip you with skills to nurture reciprocity with the web of life.

Join us for one day each week, throughout the growing season, in the Wild Abundance gardens and orchards. You’ll get the experience of living and working with natural rhythms through in-depth tours, clear and hands-on guidance about what needs doing and when, and the practice (not just theory) of how to do it. The permaculture apprenticeship includes access to our comprehensive Online Gardening School, along with additional online instruction in permaculture. This way, you get to learn the concepts and put them into action, in a flexible online/in-person setting.

  • March 19 – November 19
  • One 7 hour day each week for 9 months
  • Non-residential program

What our students say

What to Expect:

Permaculture Plant Care and Organic Gardening

This season-long, one-day-a-week permaculture apprenticeship will give you a deep understanding of how to grow food in the Southern Appalachian bioregion; it’ll also give you a framework for doing so elsewhere. We’ll work in the well-established annual gardens and food-forest edges at the Wild Abundance campus. Throughout our time together, you’ll get a chance to learn and do every step along the way for the full growing season. As a result, you’ll harvest knowledge of sowing, tending, pruning, feeding, and caring for dozens of annual and perennial food crops.

The homestead on which the permaculture apprentices will work

Our permaculture apprenticeship days will have this general flow:

  • Arrive; tour of annual garden; talk about what’s going on there
  • Instruction on the things that need doing, and doing the things that need doing — with discussion and inquiry
  • Lunch break
  • Tour of perennials; talk about what’s going on with them
  • Instruction on the things that need doing, and doing the things that need doing — with discussion and inquiry

*Subject to change due to weather and tasks at hand; we’ll start with perennials the then move into annuals during the hottest part of the year.

This permaculture apprenticeship is all about learning by doing

A man practices pruning fruit trees in a permaculture and gardening apprenticeship at Wild Abundance

Throughout the season, you’ll be guided by folks who have been growing in this area for a long while.

Tasks you’ll learn and do together include:

  • Bed preparation, planting, thinning and weeding
  • Mulching, trellising, pest and disease management,
  • Planting and managing cover crops
  • No-till techniques
  • Season extension techniques
  • Pruning, mulching, shaping, troubleshooting, harvesting perennial crops
  • Plus whatever else comes up as the season unfolds!

Please note: the permaculture apprenticeship includes real work. You’ll be bending, stooping, using tools, carrying heavy loads, pushing wheelbarrows on uneven ground, climbing ladders, and working in varied weather. Nobody will be pushed beyond their own physical abilities, but everyone will be expected to “pull their own weight.” If there is a serious deluge, we will skip a week; however, we will gather and work in gentle rain, wind, and hot sun. Before you apply, be sure that you’re up to the physical and mental challenge of working hard outside for a full day each week. If you have specific physical limitations, but still want to participate, reach out to us so that we can discuss if it’s a good fit. 

Get into the rhythms of the seasons!

Berries on a tree during the permaculture apprenticeship

Cultivating food in an ecological way is all about timing. Indeed, by working with the natural rhythms, we generally don’t even need to till the soil in an established garden. Through this program, you will come to understand the flow of the seasons in your bones, and get a feel for the right timing of all of your food-producing activities. You’ll have a chance to take a shortcut through past years of trial and error, and instead learn through guided study and hands-on practice how to collaborate with ecological rhythms.

The Permaculture Apprenticeship includes:

Apprentices smile up from mulching tasks in the wild abundance perennial garden beds

  • Weekly vegetable gardening instruction with hands-on learning and doing
  • Weekly instruction and hands-on learning and doing with perennial fruit and nut trees, as well as shrub planting, pruning, and care
  • Unlimited access to the Wild Abundance Online Gardening School, that you get to keep after the apprenticeship is over

Please note: this program does not include a weekly share of vegetables. During abundant times of year, apprentices will be sent home with veggies and fruits to enjoy, but food is not considered part of the program.

This program can stand-alone, or be a compliment to your at-home gardening and permaculture projects.

Over the years, we’ve seen that people learn gardening best when they’re able to tend their own plots at home, along with learning by our side. So, if you’ve got the space and inclination, we encourage you to plant some things at home, too, and apply your learning right away with them.

Schedule and Timing of the Program

We generally meet each Tuesday, with some breaks and flexibility around weather. During the March 19th–November 19 timeline, approximately 27 of the 36 Tuesdays will be apprenticeship days. Within that time frame, four Tuesdays will be skipped for breaks, and we can expect that some days will be rained out. If you have obligations that prevent you from coming for a few Tuesdays, don’t worry about it. Most students will miss a few days, but we expect you to attend at least three apprenticeship days per month. 

The garden and permaculture food forest in peak growing season at Wild Abundance

Starting in March, we’ll meet from 9:30am-4:30pm. 

As the weather gets hot, we’ll change the timing to 12pm-7pm. 

This shift means we can do the sweaty work of annual gardening in the cooler afternoon and early evening during midsummer. As it cools down in the Fall, we will return to the early spring timing (9:30-4:30), to make the most of the warm part of the day.

Seasonal Activities in the Annual Garden and Food Forest

Following is a very generalized outline of what we will be doing when. Throughout the season, you will take part in a great many of these. These are broad brushstrokes, but know that you will have the opportunity to work with and learn the rhythms of dozens of species of fruits and vegetables — both common garden varieties and more unusual types.
Hand pruning a tree during permaculture apprenticeship

Spring

March: Prune and mulch trees to optimize production; plant berries and trees; start seeds in flats; cut some cover crops to prepare beds for spring planting, plant other cover crops; harvest weeds for eating 

April: Prepare garden beds (no tilling or digging); plant out frost-hardy plants in garden; transplant up some vegetable starts into larger pots; weed recently sown beds; mulch and tend perennials

May: Plant out frost-sensitive plants; weed recently sown beds; mulch and tend perennials; start sweet potato slips; weed and mulch annuals and perennials; identify and squish bugs

A younger and an older female smile and talk as they transplant starts into the garden during spring as part of a gardening and permaculture apprenticeship program at Wild Abundance

Summer

June: Harvest berries; second planting of frost-hardy plants and cool-sensitive plants; build trellises; make and use plant-based “tea” fertilizers; weed and mulch annuals and perennials; squish bugs; harvest greens; prune suckers on fruit trees; shape fruit trees

July: Start seeds for late summer plantings; harvest berries and fruit; weed and mulch annuals and perennials; harvest vegetables

August: Plant crops for fall and winter harvests; harvest berries and fruit; weed and mulch annuals; prune berries; harvest lots of vegetables.

closeup of hands picking ripe raspberries in a permaculture food forest

Fall

September: Continue to plant crops for fall and winter harvest; sow cover crops; harvest storage crops; weed and mulch

October: Winterize garden; harvest storage crops; put up hoops with row cover

November: Prune fruit trees; plant fruit and nut trees; plant overwinter root crops

A woman looks up from a garden bed of kale she is keeping protected with row cover for growing food over winter

Online learning compliments in-person permaculture apprenticeship days

The “lecture” aspect of this program is done totally online, through watching our online class materials. The in-person portion is completely hands-on, and you should expect to really get things done in the garden! You will be helping to tend fruit trees and bushes, and to grow vegetables. Questions are welcome as we are getting our hands into the soil, in order to deepen and clarify the content that’s been shared online. We ask that every apprentice watch the assigned online portion of the program before the in-person days, so you can arrive with a baseline understanding of what we’ll be doing. This way, our discussions can be much richer and apprentices can utilize in-person time to deepen their knowledge.

online gardening school instructors Natalie and Chloe on multiple devices

Apprenticeship Size

We will be welcoming a maximum of 8 apprentices into this program. If you are interested, please register as soon as possible.

An older and younger woman apprentice laugh as they work on trellising in the garden

Learn small-scale, non-mechanized food production

This class is about growing food on a human scale, without the use of machines; it’s not about commercial production. We will be tending the garden and food forests at the Wild Abundance campus (and possibly other nearby places), not working on a large farm. The skills that you learn here will be focused on growing a variety of foods for yourself, your family, and a small community. If your goal is to start a farm and grow food professionally, we suggest you find a farm-based apprenticeship program.
Chestnuts lay on the ground

 

 


Instructors

Natalie Bogwalker

Natalie Bogwalker

Natalie (she/her) is the visionary behind Wild Abundance, as well as the founder, director, and a primary instructor for many classes. She also dreams up new classes, is a big part of curriculum development, manages the campus, designs buildings, and takes beautiful photos for the website. Natalie is passionate about teaching and sharing skills to ...
Frank Salzano, instructor of Permaculture

Frank Salzano

Frank (he/him) grew up in the hill country of the Allegheny Plateau of southern West Virginia. While in college in Shepherdstown, WV, he was elected to local government and became the youngest city councilman in the history of West Virginia. Since then, he has spent his life extensively practicing and studying temperate climate permaculture and ...

Chloe Lieberman

Chloe (she/her) is the co-instructor the the Online Gardening School. She also writes for Wild Abundance’s blog, newsletter, and website. In addition, jumps in to help out with management and strategy as the co-visionary for the business as a whole. These roles give her a welcome outlet for the knowledge and excitement she perpetually cultivates ...

Lewis Blake

Lewis Blake (he/him) loves plants! He’s been growing and tending both annual and perennial crops for many years. He and his family grow berries and salad for market at their farm, Bear Necessities, based out of Weaverville, NC. They also bring potted, perennial plants and fruit bushes for edible and otherwise “useful” landscaping to Asheville-area tailgate markets. ...

This class is held near Asheville, NC, at the Wild Abundance Sanford Way Campus

Wild Abundance’s original home campus is on Sanford Way in Barnardsville, NC. It boasts many gorgeous and functional features, including a leaf-shaped organic permaculture garden; a food forest; a log cabin built out of trees from our own growing forest with a light straw clay addition; a cob oven; an outdoor classroom topped with solar panels, and a stunning wattle and daub outdoor kitchen.

Please note: our campuses are all unconventional, with rustic amenities and uneven ground. Read more about our campuses here.

Facilities
You are welcome to prepare your lunch or other meals during apprenticeship days in the lovely outdoor kitchen equipped with a stove and hot and cold running well water, plus pots and pans, knives and cutting boards, bowls, plates, and utensils. If you want to rinse off before going home, you are welcome to use our outdoor shower (with hot and cold running water). An inviting, clean outhouse is also available for apprentices.

Regular Pricing: $2,400 – $4,800

Please pay what you can afford.  The median price is suggested to help cover the full cost of hosting this class. Please select the low end of the sliding scale if you are low income. If your household income is over $115,000/year, please select the maximum fee. Please place yourself in this range where you deem appropriate, based on your income.

Course Date:

  • Mar 19 to Nov 19, 2024