Program Structure

A Typical Day

Below is only a guideline-not a rigorous schedule

  • Good morning routine as you wishPermaculture Apprenticeship Typical Day
  • Breakfast with fellow apprentices
  • 9:00 Morning Gathering
  • 9:30 – 12:30 Morning Learn-While-You-Work Session
  • 12:30 – 2:00 Lunch and Personal Time
  • 2:00 – 4:00 Afternoon Learn-While-You-Work Session
  • 4:00 – 4:30 Clean up
  • 4:30 – 5:00 Coffee/Tea while debriefing the days accomplishments and setting goals for the following day
  • 5:00 – 6:00 Daily Permaculture Lecture/Discussion with Albert Bates
  • Dinner as you wish with fellow apprentices and enjoy your evening and restful night as you sleep in your home at The Farm.


Weekends are reserved for community activities and free time to explore other opportunities at The Farm or in the region. For instance, take some personal time to play the 18 holes on our disc golf course, go biking or hiking, hang out at The Farm swimming hole, or visiting one of the small towns or Nashville. You can also engage with the larger community by joining in on a town business meeting, a potluck dinner, group meditation, yoga, or joining the community parties at the dome.

Field Trips

Permaculture Apprenticeship Field TripWe will also have a couple of field trips during the program. Possible field trips include the nearby Amish country, canoeing the Buffalo River, Earth Advocates Research Farm & bamboo nursery, Spiral Ridge Permaculture, Solar Springs, Walnut Hill Farm, Jack Daniels Distillery, caving or rafting.

Permaculture Fundamentals Course Syllabus

Ethics, Principles, and Design, The Key Permaculture Overview:

Evidence of systemic ecological and cultural crisis; derivation and evolution of ethics; spirals of degradation and the etiology of health; energy and entropy; the Permaculture innovation and synthesis; roots of permaculture knowledge; principles of energy efficient design, language and terms; exercise in observation of landscape; the nature of pattern in form, orders in natural phenomena; application of pattern to design; design process, purpose and methods.

Natural Systems:

Principles of ecology; energy flux and materials cycling; conservation and diversity; guilds; cooperation; niches; forests as organism; climate, global weather patterns, and biogeography; forest impact on climate and the hydrologic cycle; functions of the tree; landscape analysis; the nature, sources, and value of freshwater; water's duties in the landscape; water movement, storage, and purification; water in the domestic system. The soil community; oxygen/ethylene cycling and nutrient availability; soil biota regimes, mycorrhizal associations; carbon/nitrogen and other nutrient relationships; tropical and temperate soil conditions; building soil; physical properties of soils and soil testing; climate near the ground; factors in microclimatic design; windbreaks; moisture and humidity effects; modifying sunlight and capturing solar gain; thermal zones and frost pockets; limiting factors in living systems; exercise building swales, ponds, trellises, and/or brush fences; use of leveling devices.

Domestic Systems:

Design of the home system; zone and sector analysis; placement of elements for beneficial function; the domestic economy; staging of development in small permaculture systems; building design, materials, methods, and examples; conservation of energy; building as organism; nutrient cycling in the domestic system; biological treatment methods for human and animal waste: compost, constructed wetlands, biogas; urine as fertilizer.

Elements of Cultivated Ecologies:

Energy advantages of aquaculture; designing aquatic systems; water quality and species composition; animals as energy translators; their utility and efficient management; self-forage systems; intensive grazing; agroforestry systems; forest gardening and farming; alley cropping; orchards as floristic communities; principles of pruning and tree health; useful plants and planting strategies; guild assemblies; plant identification, plant families, nomenclature; Self reliance and food security; the year-round harvest; methods of food storage and adaptation to climate; garden design, establishment, and methods; exercise in sheet mulch bed preparation; tools and their energy implications; choosing appropriate technologies; favorite tools.

Community Design, Common Resources, and Larger Human Systems:

Patterns of human settlement; city and regional design; orders of magnitude; the village as building block of human community; building cooperative networks, organizations, and communities; resource inventories; business incubators; principles of economic design; how money works; the problems with present financial systems: interest, corporations, taxes, planning; community-based financial systems; the use of maps; simple methods of mapping; the integral urban house; resources in cities; appropriate scale for conviviality, economy, and security; components of village life; new village development; designing for human cooperation and interaction. Resources for further work; the permaculture movement; continuing education; how to organize locally; making a living; future visions and participant evaluations.

Apply now for our 2017 Permaculture Apprenticeship!


The Experience