Earth Activist Training | Midwest U.S.

Earth Activist Training PDC | Summer 2017

Instructors: Starhawk and Charles Williams
Dates: June 25th – July 9th, 2017 | $1600 – $2000
Locations: Pachamanka Land System, Freeport, IL

Earn your Permaculture Design Certificate in this land-based course which will give you abundant hands-on permaculture skills and practical tools for rustic living. Learn how to heal soil and cleanse water, how to design human systems that mimic natural systems, using a minimum of energy and resources and creating real abundance and social justice. Learn how to read the landscape, design integrated systems, harvest water, drought-proof your land, build soil, sequester carbon, make compost and compost tea, biochar, and bioremediate toxins. Explore the solutions to climate change, and the strategies and organizing tools that can put them in place. EAT also focuses on the social permaculture: how we organize ourselves, resolve conflicts, make decisions, work together effectively, and sustain our spirits.

Participatory, hands-on teaching with lots of practical projects, games, songs, and laughs along with an intensive curriculum in regenerative ecological design that earns a Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC).

Earth Activist Training | Freeport, IL is a 2-week intensive residential PDC course.
Cost: $1600 – $2000 US sliding scale. Unwind and re-connect by camping out on the land and sharing fabulous meals. Work trade and diversity scholarships available, please apply early (details here).
Instructors: Starhawk and Charles Williams with guest teacher Nance Klehm.

Select to register now

Earth Activist Training combines an internationally-recognized permaculture design certificate course with a grounding in spirit and a focus on organizing and activism.

We teach interactively, not just through classroom presentation but through games, songs, ceremony, guided visualizations, design practice, field trips, and lots of practical, hands-on projects.

Hands-on projects vary with weather and needs but may include mapping, water harvesting structures, graywater or roof catchment, compost, compost teas, sheet mulch, plant propagation, planting trees and shrubs, seed-starting, natural building—cob, straw-clay or plastering—and a collaborative design project. Our projects can be tailored to students of varied levels of physical ability and diverse ages and previous experience.

Who is the training for?

We firmly believe that everyone can benefit from learning the tools and insights of permaculture for earth regeneration. It’s not just about gardening: It’s about social design, public policy and survival strategies for these challenging times.

That said, our students include:

  • Young people looking for a career in sustainability.
  • People in mid-life looking for a new direction.
  • Retirees wanting new fields to explore.
  • Established professionals wanting to broaden and deepen their knowledge of sustainable alternatives.
  • People who are starting, or members of, or interested in joining intentional communities, cohousing and eco-villages.
  • Gardeners, farmers and ranchers.
  • Green business entrepreneurs.
  • Teachers, environmental educators, and youth workers.
  • Workers in school gardens and community gardens.
  • Architects and landscape designers.
  • Artists, musicians, poets, writers and dancers.
  • Community organizers.
  • Activists from many movements, including environmental justice, food justice, global justice, anti-oppression, Transition Towns, Occupy, human rights workers, and others.
  • Dreamers and visionaries.
  • And more…

You can be any age, you don’t need to have previous experience with permaculture or horticulture, and we can accommodate a broad range of physical abilities or limitations. Please contact us at if you have specific needs you’d like to discuss.

Topic list:
We touch on all the topics below—some in more depth than others, obviously, in a two-week course. But the overarching thing we teach in the course is not any specific subject, but rather how they all fit together into systems that can meet our human needs while regenerating the environment around us.

Permaculture ethics, history and principles


  • Observation
  • Reading the landscape
  • Site analysis
  • Zones and Sectors
  • Mapping
  • Design tools and processes
  • Design project
  • Broadacre permaculture
  • Urban permaculture
  • Permaculture for gatherings, mobilizations and disaster situations


  • Creating healthy water cycles in living systems
  • Water harvesting
  • Swales, ponds and earthworks
  • Keyline systems
  • Erosion control
  • Rain catchment for roofs
  • Greywater and blackwater systems


  • Soil structure
  • Soil biology
  • Soil building
  • Compost
  • Sheet mulch
  • Compost teas and ferments
  • Mushrooms
  • Bioremediation and mycoremediation
  • Biochar


  • Plant needs
  • Plant guilds and polycultures
  • Cover crops
  • Agroforestry
  • Food forests
  • Plant propagation
  • Tree care: pruning and planting, choosing varieties
  • Sustainable forestry


  • Animals in our systems
  • Raising and feeding “microherds”—healthy soil microbial communities
  • Beneficial insects
  • Bees
  • Worms
  • Humane treatment of animals
  • Poultry
  • Livestock for the homestead
  • Holistic management grazing systems
  • The role of predators
  • Wildlife habitat
  • Alternatives for vegans


  • Climate change and strategies for adaption and mitigation
  • Microclimates
  • Windbreaks
  • Drylands
  • Tropics
  • Wetlands
  • Cold climates


  • Alternative and renewable energy: evaluating and designing systems
  • Active and passive solar
  • Wind
  • Microhydro
  • Alternative fuels and biogas

Natural Building:

  • Insulation and thermal mass
  • Sustainable forest products
  • Cob, straw-bale, light-straw-clay
  • Plasters

Social permaculture:

  • Personal regeneration and self-care
  • Site design to support social aims
  • Urban redesign
  • Group dynamics
  • Communication tools
  • Governance structures for collaborative groups
  • Ecovillages and community design
  • Meeting processes
  • Meeting facilitation
  • Alternative economics

Organizing and activism:

  • Strategic organizing
  • Pro-active and prefigurative movements
  • Campaign planning and organizing
  • Power mapping
  • Organizing in diverse communities


  • Connecting to the spirit in nature
  • Creating ritual and ceremony
  • Grounding and centering
  • Sensing and shifting energy
  • Drumming, dancing, singing and meditation
  • Daily rituals
About the Place 
Pachamanka means ‘Earth Pot’ and was named such as ‘a place to cook ideas’. It is located in the southern most reach of the Driftless region is hilly, with streams, grasslands, small woodlots and abundant wildlife. Many natural areas easily accessible by walking or bicycling.
Agroecological principles are followed on site – annual and perennial food production and preservation, fruit and nut orcharding, growing of medicinal plants, prairie restoration, native plant cultivation and native tree/perennial plantings, soil amendment creation and mushroom production. Bobwhite quail husbandry and beekeeping are also practiced.
Pachamanka has two barns, a large hoophouse, a large kitchen garden, a cordwood sauna, a 4.5 acre prairie, and edged by oak and black walnut woodlands. Brush Creek runs through the eastern side of the property. This remote location gives you the opportunity to take time away from technology to enjoy a quick morning plunge in the creek, afternoon break paging through books in the extensive permaculture library, and summer evenings around the campfire.
Accommodations for this course is camping out in one of two lovely designated camping areas, one close to the classroom and kitchen, the other a few minutes’ walk away into the trees. The homestead is easily accessible by car; we strongly encourage carpooling and will organize a shuttle for people taking transit to the site. Transportation details will be finalized closer to the course date.

Almanac for Summer 2017
June and July are the height of the growing season and temperatures will be comfortably in the 70’s and 80’s. The new moon coincides with the start of our course, growing toward fullness toward the end of our time together, so we will plan a waxing moon ritual on one of the last few days of the courses.

EATers eat well. Our classes are catered by professionals. All food is fresh, plentiful, and substantial. Teas and coffee are available at all times.

Please use your registration form to request special meal choices. Vegan variations are available at every meal. Options such as no-dairy and wheat-free are also possible if requested in advance. While we make every effort to accommodate food needs, those with highly specialized diets may need to bring some of their own food. Please check with the EAT coordinator if you have any concerns about the food, and to make special arrangements.


Earth Activist Training – Summer 2017

June 25th – July 9, 2017

9669 North Bellevue, Freeport, IL United States
Cost: $1600 – $2000 sliding scale, includes all meals and camping.
Work-trade and diversity scholarship information available here.

To register for this course, please fill out our registration form here, then make your payment below.

Cost: $1700-$2200 sliding scale