Permaculture Foundations Course
at the eco-institute


Join us at The Eco-Institute to explore the foundations of permaculture through presentations, discussions, field trips, and hands-on building experiences.

This in-depth course offers practical methods to help you and your yard, landscape or community garden become a part of the global movement of ecological design.

Discover new ways in which you can apply permaculture principles where you live.

Explore natural building projects, energy use practices, forest gardening, and other principles of permaculture.

Enjoy a week in the beautiful garden sanctuary surrounded by an inspiring community at The Eco-Institute.

Get your Permaculture Foundations Certification this fall and come back for the Permaculture Design Intensive certification in the spring!




  • Creating abundant food systems

  • Creating healthy water systems

  • Generating and using alternative energy

  • Natural building projects

  • Landscape design techniques

  • Fostering vibrant community life

Experiential activities
may include:

  • Field trips to 1 or 2 acclaimed permaculture gardens

  • Hands-on building projects

  • Tincture-making

  • Mushroom cultivation

  • Sauerkraut- and kimchi-making


Fall 2019 SESSION

Sundays 9/22, 9/29, 10/13, 11/3, and 11/10


The Permaculture Foundations Course at The Eco-Institute qualifies for 20 hours of Criteria II or for 10 hours of Continuing Education credits for the NC Environmental Education Certification.

If interested but unable on those Sunday dates, please click here and sign the Interest List




What is the difference between this Permaculture Foundations Course (PFC) and the more well-known Permaculture Design Course (PDC)?

Permaculture Design courses can vary widely from one another, so it's difficult to say how much a given PDC will have in common with this PFC. In general, there are a few basic differences between PFC courses and PDC courses:

- PDC courses require more class time than PFC courses to get the certification

- PDC courses require a final project, PFC courses do not.

- The above two differences are because PDC courses tend to strongly emphasize design, while PFC courses are geared more toward developing a basic understanding of the approach and method of permaculture.

Despite these differences, some PDC courses actually end up closely resembling PFC courses. This is actually why the PFC came into existence: to distinguish the designer from the more general permacultural thinker.

Why the PFC? Why not take a PDC course instead?

A PFC offers more broadly applicable knowledge than a PDC. If you want to build a career in landscape design, a PDC may be better for you. But if you are more interested in an earth-based way of life in general, a PFC is the thing for you. Rather than focusing on developing a landscape design project, the PFC covers how to apply the permacultural approach to numerous aspects of your life.

There are similar-looking permaculture courses that are taught online. What is so valuable about taking this one in person?

While online permaculture courses may be helpful to an extent, they do lack an important element: hands-on experiential learning. Learning the permaculture ethics, principles, and even some nuts-and-bolts techniques, will only get you so far. Actually applying these permacultural practices helps to solidify this knowledge so it becomes second nature. This PFC offers a healthy balance of both, conceptual knowledge and hands-on experience in the field.




Megan Toben graduated with a degree in Biology and many more questions than answers. When she discovered Permaculture, she felt as if finally humans were thinking in sane ways about how to meet our needs as communities. Megan and her husband Tim Toben co-created The Eco-Institute at Pickards Mountain as an Earth Sanctuary & Learning Community dedicated to Healing the Human-Earth Relationship, and have been raising their family on the farm for the past 17 years. Megan received her Permaculture Design Certification from NC State University’s landscape architecture professor Will Hooker Ph.D after studying and practicing permaculture for 15 years. She enjoys exploring the social and spiritual applications of permaculture, and believes that we are just getting started in our learning from the wisdom of ecological systems. What Megan loves the most about Permaculture is that it reminds humanity to learn from the wisdom of Nature, and she believes these kinds of shifts at the root of cultural worldview are critical as humanity remembers our rightful place in the Earth Community. Megan has 24 years of experience as an environmental educator and was honored with the Piedmont Environmental Leadership Award in 2015.

A native of Kansas, Dave Pollmiller left Kansas University in 2013 in response to his heart´s message to pursue his passions. He found himself working on organic farms in Hawaii and lived there for two years learning about small scale agriculture. Dave came to The Eco-Institute in 2015 for the Odyssey Fellowship program (now the Rising Earth Immersion). Fully inspired by the work of The Eco-Institute, he stayed at the farm and became Garden Manager that winter. He has been teaching The Eco-Institute's Garden Cooperative for two years and received his PDC from Will Hooker Ph.D.

Jimi Eisenstein has always held a sense of awe toward nature and its inexplicable tendency toward balance and beauty. Humanity, on the other hand, has always tended toward the opposite, making the world uglier with every action. Must this be, or can human activity align with the processes of nature? In asking this question, Jimi found Permaculture, which provided some answers to how this might come about. He took a Permaculture Foundations Course in 2016, and two Permaculture Design Certification courses, one in 2017 and one in 2019.

After completing a degree in Environmental Studies with a minor in Mathematics from Elon University, Nathan Tietbohl began a journey to understand and unpack the built environment – and the interface between it and our social and cultural practices – through conducting research, seeking experts' advice, observing, and experimenting. He has worked with both food councils and general contractors over the past several years, completed a Permaculture Design Certification with Will Hooker Ph.D. in 2018 and an Advanced Permaculture Design for Climate Resilience course through Oregon State University that same year. Currently, he is working with a Permaculture Design + Build firm as an installation supervisor installing resilient, native, edible landscapes and rain harvesting systems in the Southeast. Nate is a listener first, but ultimately an earnest learner with a passion for sharing that knowledge. He has been a part of The Eco-Institute community since he participated in the 2016 Odyssey Fellowship (now the Rising Earth Immersion).