Permaculture Action Skills Course Santa Cruz

Permaculture Action Skills Course Santa Cruz
June 15, 2015 Perma Action

Permaculture Action Skills Course Santa Cruz

   August 14 – 20  2015   


The Permaculture Action Skills Course teaches both hands-on techniques and social methodologies to empower you in creating greater connection and sustainability in your life, today and for future generations. Permaculture is a design science for regenerative ecological and socio-economic systems that mimic nature. In addition to physical systems implementation, this course offers methods for community organizing to bring your visions and dreams of a better world into reality.

The Permaculture Action Skills Course will highlight:

  • Permaculture Principles, Ethics and Design methods
  • Reading patterns in the landscape
  • Sector and Zone Analysis
  • Seed Saving
  • Soil Science
  • Tree Grafting
  • Compost Building
  • Rocket Stoves
  • Site Assessment/Landscape Design
  • Rainwater Harvesting
  • Water Management
  • Irrigation
  • Renewable Energy Technology
  • Cob and Natural Building Methods
  • Alternative Economics
  • Collaborative Group Dynamics
  • Decision Making Processes
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Social Change Tools
  • Community Living Design
  • Bird Language
  • Nature Awareness Skills
  • 5 Element Qi Gong and Meditation

Several other aspects of whole systems design will be explored.  With a focus on catalyzing social transformation, you will learn techniques for regenerating ecology and community building through action-oriented organizing. You will also have the daily opportunity to enhance your awareness of the natural world and human interconnection through observation of ecological patterns and those of your inner ecosystem.

This course is for people living in any ecosystem from urban to rural – students, backyard gardeners, landowners, farmers, landscapers, builders, changemakers, and social justice advocates. The course is a launching pad for people bringing integrated design solutions to the challenges we face in life, work, and the dominant social and ecological models.


With experts in their respective fields teaching Rainwater Harvesting, Compost and Soil Building, Earthworks, Natural Building, Community Organizing, and much more, this course will leave you with the practical tools to actually start building the world you want to live in.




We will be learning, living, and eating together in a vibrant land-based community project. This beautiful land in the Santa Cruz mountains is home to 12 humans, 4 dogs, 6 chickens, and many plants, trees, birds, bees, and extended community that have been gathering and growing together here for 30 years. All homes are hand-built, primarily with natural and reused materials and are completely off-grid, running on solar power and propane. This land/community has hosted many spiritual teachers and sweat lodge ceremonies, dance, yoga and meditation workshops, mini music festivals, camps for boys and girls, and people needing a place to heal. Surrounded by forest, with a view of the ocean and Monterey Bay, it is a magical place to land, listen and learn.

  Learn more at



Ryan Rising   Ryan Rising

Ryan Rising is a community organizer and permaculture educator based out of the San Francisco Bay Area. Ryan most recently organized the Permaculture Action Tour for music producer The Polish Ambassador in the fall of 2014. The tour visited 32 cities across the country, holding an Action Day in each one and bringing together up to 400 people at a time to implement projects including public food forests, edible gardens, natural buildings, and greenhouses.  Ryan focuses on creating community access to land for local food growing and regenerative living – connecting people to take direct action and transition to a resilient way of life; as well as social permaculture – the ways we make decisions, build resilience, resolve conflicts, and organize in community.

Following the Permaculture Action Tour, Ryan continues to organize Permaculture Action Days for festivals and other events, including an Action Day at the Alpha Resource Center that focused on productive, drought-tolerant landscapes, and an Action Day before Envision Festival that planted gardens & fruit trees at three elementary schools.  Ryan has taught numerous courses and workshops, including the Elemental Alchemy Permaculture Intensive before Symbiosis Gathering in 2013, the recent Permaculture Action Course in Santa Barbara, and a month-long Gaia Education certified Eco-Village Design training in Nicaragua. A certified permaculture designer with a degree in Peace and Social Justice Studies, he also co-founded a regenerative urban farm in the East Bay that distributes free produce, and now organizes with the Omni Commons – a community space and education center in Oakland, CA.



Leiah Lauren Borowsky   Leiah Lauren Borowsky


Leiah Lauren Borowsky, L.Ac, LMT, CYT is passionate about connection between all beings, living in harmony with each other and all of nature, and holistic approaches to healing and living on the planet now, and for generations to come. She is a Licensed Acupuncturist, Massage Therapist and Craniosacral Therapist, as well as a Certified Yoga Instructor and Qi Gong Teacher. She has lived in intentional communities and worked on Permaculture farms/projects in both the United States and Israel, and she is passionate to learn more.

She is organizing this course because of her love of nature and people – the calling to be in service to something greater than herself, which is the land and the community where the course takes place, and every student and teacher who participates and brings this information and these skills out into the world and their communities.

Leiah will be facilitating daily morning Nature Awareness meditation and Five Element Qi Gong and Yoga practice, as well as shorter embodiment and movement practices throughout the day to facilitate awareness of our inner ecosystems.


David Shaw  David Shaw

David Shaw is an educator, facilitator, ecological designer, farmer, and musician living in Santa Cruz, California. His focus is building connections – with ourselves, with each other, and with nature. David has been teaching sustainable living at UC Santa Cruz since 2004, and in 2012 founded the Common Ground Center, offering a suite of programs for social justice, economic resilience, and sustainable living. Additionally, he works for the Regenerative Design Institute as a core instructor for their 4 Seasons Permaculture Design Certificate Course. David is also active in the global World Cafe Community, a group dedicated to hosting inter-generational dialogue on questions that matter. David holds a MS in Integrative Eco Social Design from Gaia University, and continues his community based action-research on the theory and practice of social justice and sustainability. In order to meet the challenges of today, he is creating an urban farm and inter-generational learning center that fosters hands-on farm and wilderness skills, cultural competence, entrepreneurial spirit, conversational leadership, and collective action. He lives happily and humbly on a 2-acre homestead in Santa Cruz.


Lydia's bio pic Lydia Neilen
Lydia Neilsen is a gardener, educator, soil builder, and earth lover. She grew up near Cleveland, Ohio and in 1995 earned a BA in Studio Art and Biology from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. In 1996 she moved to Santa Cruz where she earned a certificate in Natural Science Illustration from UCSC. From 1998 to 2008 she was the co-designer and manager of the Westside Permaculture House in Santa Cruz, a demonstration garden for the use of home-scale permaculture design. From 2008 – 2015 she was the Garden Teacher and Garden Manager of the one-acre permaculture and biodynamic garden and small orchard at the Santa Cruz Waldorf School, where she brought permaculture to the children, the campus, and the community.

Since 2007 Lydia has been working with Penny Livingston at the Regenerative Design Institute (RDI) at Commonweal Garden in Bolinas where she is the Program Manager and a core teacher for the Four Seasons Permaculture Course – a once a month year-long PDC. Lydia has also been a student of many RDI courses including the Ecology of Leadership and the Ecology of Awakening. Lydia is dedicated to the development and implementation of beautiful regenerative designs and practices on a do-it-yourself scale. She believes that animals and animal husbandry are a critical element in landscape, human, and planetary health. Lydia specializes in soil building, greywater, integrated poultry systems, water harvesting earthworks and productive water conserving landscapes, polyculture and efficient uses of limited space. Contact Lydia by email or phone: 831 247-5767


Giovanni Marden  Giovanni Marden
Apprenticing with European masons in the early 80’s, he was introduced to the natural building trade by old world craftsman, responsible for igniting his passion for stonework. With over 25 yrs experience in the Masonry & Hearth industry, coupled with a passion for all things aesthetic, Giovanni has been building and installing fireplaces, inserts, and stoves throughout the Bay Area. After many years in the construction industry, working in various mediums from block construction to brick work, from industrial to landscape, new construction to restoration, Giovanni found his niche in fireplaces. He is often heard saying, “the hearth is literally the heart of the home,” something given deep consideration when working on a design with a client.

Giovanni’s vast network of artisans, craftsman and hearth appliance vendors, along with a thirst for knowledge, has led him to study various old world techniques as well as modern state of the art applications. With a passion for green building and a strong emphasis on form, function and all things aesthetic, Giovanni loves what he does.


Tali Weinberg    Tali Weinberg

Tali hails originally from the flatlands of the Canadian prairies. Motivated by her passion for food justice, seed security, and a deep love and respect for life, Tali has spent much of the past 10 years with her hands in the earth.  She worked as the farm manager for the Adamah fellowship in the Berkshires in 2006 and 2007 and coordinated the Tel Sheva Desert medicine project in the Northern Negev desert, while working for environmental justice organization BUSTAN.  Working with a team of Bedouin women in the township of Tel Sheva, she helped to design and found a garden which demonstrates the richness of traditional knowledge that exists within the Bedouin community around local desert plants as food and medicine, as well as the traditional cob building techniques that stem from their community.   In 2008 she moved to Salt Spring Island, B.C. where she worked as field manager for the Salt Spring Center for Yoga and the Salt Spring Seed company. Developing an increased interest in permaculture, she spent 2 years living at the Bullocks Permaculture Homestead, as both intern and intern coordinator.  In 2011, She moved to the Bay area to work as farm manager for Urban Adamah, where she co-designed and founded the project’s food bank farm in West Berkeley in the initial year of the project.  Tali currently teaches workshops on sustainability and permaculture and is studying Chinese medicine at the Acupuncture Integrative Medicine College in Berkeley.


Participants have the options to camp outside or to sleep communally in a large yurt, which will also be our classroom space. If you sleep in the yurt, you will have to pack away all bedding when we have indoor learning sessions. There is ample camping space around the land, and also a large deck surrounding the yurt.

We will eat our meals on the upper part of the land, at the communal kitchen. Friday night will be a potluck, so please bring a meal and drinks to share. Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be provided, but please bring extra snacks and food for yourself during the day. Please also bring your own plate, bowl and cup. There will be vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options at each meal. Please let us know if you have any specific food allergies.
The closest grocery store is about 7 minutes away. There will not be much time to go to the store, but if you decide to go, please carpool as much as possible, as we want to minimize traffic on and off the property.


The weather on the mountain is often foggy and somewhat chilly in the mornings and sunny and hotter in the afternoons. So, bring clothing for both!  Warm layers, clothes you can get dirty, solid walking shoes or hiking/work boots. Bring warm layers for sleeping too! The fog rolls in at night, so bring a rainfly to keep you dry!

Bring a headlamp or flashlight, a yoga mat if you have/want one, instruments you love to play for times around the fire, extra food/snacks for yourself, a potluck dish for Friday night, a bathing suit if you want to join us for our final day hike down to the creek.  Please bring a dish and/or bowl, utensils, a water bottle, and cup or mug.  Bring a notebook and pen/pencil, work gloves, and any bedding you need to stay comfortable and warm at night.


Limited to 25 participants!

Price for Registration:      $475 until July 20th  (Early Bird!)

$525 after July 20th, until August 10th

$25 off for every friend you refer.  Register now and receive a $25 back for each person who signs up and references you as how they found out about the course

Some work trade available.  Contact us to inquire.

Registration includes:

  • 3 Home-Cooked Local, Organic Meals a day!
  • 5 Days of Instruction, Implementation,  and Community Building!
  • 6 Nights Sleeping Under the Stars in the Majestic Santa Cruz Mountains


Weekend Only Course Intro $225.00

Registration includes:

  • 3 Home-Cooked Local, Organic Meals a day!
  • 2 Days of Instruction, Implementation,  and Intro to Permaculture Design
  • 3 Nights Sleeping Under the Stars in the Majestic Santa Cruz Mountains
    (You can arrive Friday night and stay through Sunday dinner, or sleep out Sunday evening and return home Mondaymorning, whichever you choose)



Get in touch!   We’re happy to answer any questions or concerns; or just drop us a line to let us know you’re coming and to tell us more about you!


Call:      Leiah at 510-816-8027




Email:   PermCourseSC @   
Share this link with friends to tell them about the Permaculture Action Skills Course!