Practical course work

Summer kitchen

Lunchtime on site

In the Venus flower


Mosaic dragon

Rakesh Rootsman Rak


Sabine Engelhardt

Register for the course

Two-weeks Social Permaculture Design course 12th-25th July on the Croatian Island Brač

This special social and food growing Permaculture design course at Gea Viva, Island Brač, Croatia, combines a holiday by the sea with inspirational learning.

Delving deeply into how we can use Permaculture to create rich beneficial relationships between people, communities and their surroundings, including how to grow food, build houses and create economies, while also enriching and taking care of nature, this course is internationally accredited.

Special emphasis will be put on creating a temporary community for the duration of the course, where we use social Permaculture tools to make sure everyone’s needs are met, so we can all enjoy living together in a joyful, supportive learning environment.

This 90 hour experiential workshop starts on Wednesday, 12th July at18.00 hrs, and ends on Monday, 24th July with an evening of celebration, with one day off in-between. Tuesday, 25th July is the leaving day.

What is social permaculture?
Permaculture is a design system for creating abundance in all aspects of our lives. Permaculture teaches us how build natural homes, grow our own food, restore diminished landscapes and ecosystems, catch rainwater, build communities, take care of waste and much more.

The word 'permaculture' historically comes from 'permanent agriculture' and has evolved into 'permanent culture' - it is about living lightly on the planet, and making sure that we can live in harmony with nature while sustaining human activities for many generations to come.

Permaculture is a rigorous and systematic set of tools, ecological principles and methodologies, underpinned by ethics, which help us to design and create a culture of permanence. This culture allows us to design how we cater for all our needs as well as those of the planet and all its creatures, without exploiting or depriving other humans or creatures of their needs.

The ultimate goal is to establish systems that create abundance for all humans, creatures and the earth, without exploitation of humans, animals or earth’s non- renewable resources.

With permaculture insight we can design our inner tranquillity, it can be applied to creating integrated and supportive communities, building or retrofitting houses to be more energy efficient, creating ethical businesses and livelihoods, as well as creating rich abundant low maintenance food growing spaces.

The Venue
Gea Viva is an eco base and retreat camp in a tranquil olive grove, 15 minutes’ walk from the sea and the harbour village Milna on the beautiful Croatian island Brač. Giving people the opportunity to experience living in harmony with nature, it offers retreats, events and seminars around the themes of ecological construction, permaculture, geomancy, healthy living, arts and crafts. Being completely off-grid, Its design is based on permaculture principles featuring a stone circle, a beautiful pavilion which serves as a teaching space, a permaculture garden, compost toilets, solar showers, a geodesic dome, a straw bale eco cabin, a giant mosaic dragon and a cosy Summer kitchen. There is also a dog and a donkey.

PDC Course Syllabus
The course will from day one put into practice social permaculture. We will create a community and practically explore how we ensure that everyone's needs are met, and how everyone can safely express themselves, without conflict.

Having found our inner balance and balance within our newly forged community, we then move into exploring the traditional permaculture syllabus, including environmentally friendly food growing; soil generation; water management; house building; alternate economics and livelihood, etc.

Having explored the theory of permaculture ethics, principles and approach to challenges, we will then move on to in-depth design work and practicals (hands-on work), which solidifies the theory. The emphasis remains on learning the patterns and concepts of permaculture, so you can apply these to all aspects of your life after the end of the course. Hence the practicals will be a way to deepen the theory and design work that we cover. Where and when appropriate we will visit a nearby intentional community that integrates permaculture in their design (subject to consent by the students).

The syllabus will cover the following areas
- Principles of Natural Systems - Sustainable Design Methodologies
- Patterns in Nature, Culture and Society
- Reading the Land & Understanding Natural Processes
- Large Scale Land Restoration Techniques
- Water Harvesting Technique
- Design Principles of Sustainable Human Settlements
- Grey Water Recycling
- Natural Building Strategies
- Cultivated & Productive Ecologies
- Food Forests, Plant Guilds, Gardens for Self-Sufficiency
- Energy Conservation Technologies
- Appropriate Technologies and Renewable Energies
- Urban Environment Permaculture
- Wildlife Management and Biological Pest Control
- Community Activism
- Invisible Structures: People, Community, Economics, EcoVillages
- Sociocracy; Dragon dreaming; Six thinking hats
- Community Supported Agriculture
At the end of the class, students engage in a group design project.

Lead Instructor
Rakesh Rootsman Rak – An experienced Permaculture designer teacher, forest garden specialist, yoga teacher, homeopath and reggae DJ. Rakesh has been designing and teaching permaculture to individuals and communities since 2009, and has taught over 170 permaculture, forest gardening, eco village design and related courses. His design portfolio ranges from a forest garden on part of a 30-hectare eco village in Croatia that he co-owned through to many urban community food growing gardens, private farms and back gardens as well as designing collaborative businesses, urban water retention systems and even computer software and documentation systems. Rakesh is also passionate about sharing his journey of self empowerment (learning how to make all the things you need for yourself rather than relying on the system to provide for you), this includes eco architecture (low impact housing); capturing and storing energy (electricity, heat, lighting, etc); fuel efficient heating systems (rocket heaters and stoves); water capture, purification and recycling systems, natural bee keeping and so on. Being vegan for health as well as environmental reasons, Rakesh does not do any animal husbandry and hence does not teach animal husbandry. Instead he believes in creating an environment where animals are free to come and go as they please. He is one of the founders of the Children in Permaculture project, as well as the youth in permaculture project, which are looking at how to engage children and youth in permaculture through schools, parents as well as through youth groups. So be prepared to go off on inspirational tangents occasionally.

Sabine Engelhardta founding member of Gea Viva, where she frequently hosts and facilitates events around the themes of permaculture, eco building and  geomancy. An eco architect, joiner, geomancer and facilitator, Sabine has developed the site design for Gea Viva, and worked with many groups and individuals on practical projects, such as building a strawbale cabin, dry-stone walling, gardening and the construction of the Summer kitchen as well as on spiritual themes. She initiated various creative collaborative processes, two of which for stone circles. Recently, she hosted the Fifth International Lifenet gathering, 'Celebrating our co-creation with Gaia', which brought together fellow earth energy workers from all over Europe. Sabine is passionate about supporting individuals in communicating with the wisdom of nature, getting in touch with their inner guidance and finding their unique expression. Known as Sacred Permaculture, she has been cultivating the connection with the unseen layers of the Earth over many years, and will offer optional morning meditations during the course to connect with one’s inner wisdom as well as nature.

There is a choice of accommodation:
1.) Camping on site for thirteen nights is 30 Euros. Please bring your own camping gear.
2.) For those who do not want to travel with tents, mats and blankets, we will also set up camping dormitories, which are 45 Euros for thirteen nights. This covers the cost of water and tourist tax.

Staying on site, gives you a deeper experience of the permaculture vibe, however, if you would like more comfort, we can book a shared room for you in the village for 195 Euros for thirteen nights (subject to us finding a same sex room mate for you), a single room for 325 Euros or an apartment for two for 455 Euros.

12-day accredited Permaculture Design Course Training Costs
The cost for the training is based on gift economy, where participants are invited to contribute what they can afford and are willing to pay. The cost of putting on the course means we need to raise on average €500 per person. However we invite you to propose how much you would like to contribute. We encourage those of you who can contribute more to do so, which should allow us to cover our costs. If there is a shortfall in the final sum (which by experience is unlikely), we will request the shortfall to be covered anonymously via a magic hat process. This is part of the permaculture ethos, which allows people to pay according to their capacity, while meeting the needs of the hosts, teachers, etc.

Food preparation and Cost
To create a deeper sense of community, throughout the course we will create teams who will take turns to cook every day. We will create a system which allows us to express what our dietary needs are, so that we ensure every meal is ideal for everyone.

To ensure we keep the food costs and quality at a level the students require, we are adopting the tried and tested self organising method. We ask you to either bring vegan or vegetarian food, which we will pool, or a mix of food and cash. This could be grains, home grown veg, preserves, etc, which will not perish quickly as we only have one fridge. The cash will go into a pot to buy additional food as required and will be managed by an elected group. We will collaboratively cook in teams. Some fresh organic veg will be contributed from the venue.

This method has proven to be very successful, as it promotes collaborative decision making and collaborative working.

Payment methods
Bank transfer to a Croatian bank account
Bank transfer to a Euro bank account
Bank transfer to a UK bank account
Cash by arrangement

To register for this course, please fill in the following form. If you have any difficulty or have any questions please feel free to contact Rakesh or Sabine.

This course is in English, however, if there is anything you do not understand, we will help you. In case there are a number of people who need a translator, please let us know and we will work to accommodate this. If this comes up, we could offer free course attendance to an experienced translator in exchange.

This course adheres to the Permaculture Association Britain's accreditation criteria for Permaculture Design Courses (PDC's). You have the choice to receive the Permaculture association Britain Certificate (€20 for the certificate and additional administration) or the one by the Roots in Permaculture Collective School (free). Both certificates afford you the same privilege, meaning you can teach intro courses (after at least 1 year or putting permaculture into action) and can also apply to do your diploma (with any association anywhere in the world). The only difference between the two is that the PAB certificate helps to pay the learning coordinator of PAB to develop and maintain their high standard curriculum.

Course and Content, please contact Rakesh:

Venue, Food and Accommodation, please contact Sabine