PermaCamp 2020

4-Week Permaculture Intensive, June 29 - July 24, 2020

Homesteading Boot Camp

Certificate Course

In this four week permaculture intensive, you’ll gain a hands-on understanding of the interconnected systems that sustain us and the necessary skills to chart your own course as a permacultural homesteader.

This course is led by experienced foresters, builders, permaculture instructors, herbalists and homesteaders and is appropriate to anyone wishing to live with greater self-sufficiency, and in closer relationship to natural rhythms, no matter what your skill level.

Each week-long unit dives deep into four areas of study essential to living in harmony with the land; from earthworks and regenerative forestry to wildcrafting and natural building. This comprehensive program forms a blueprint for thriving on the journey ahead.

Course cancelled due to COVID-19.

Course Outline

Week One:
The Elemental Landscape

With Alex Denicola of Motheroak Permaculture

This unit deals with managing appropriate topology and water flows from the scale of several hectares, down to a single building or garden site. We explore techniques for working with the landscape for the purposes of irrigation, drainage, dry indoor environments, solar-catchment, and earth-shelter.

Working hands on in the field with earth and water, you’ll design and implement systems that maximize the human and ecological benefit of these powerful natural elements. You’ll learn how to identify challenges and opportunities in water flows and topology and how to work with these site conditions to optimize drainage and catchment, identify ideal building and garden sites, and introduce a net benefit to the wider ecosystem.

Welcome & Forest farm tour

Welcome to PermaCamp 2020! We’ll get started by touring your new home for the month and orient you to the school site and facilities.

Introduction to Permaculture

In this introduction, we’ll discuss the basic principles to be covered in-depth during the course. We will also look at the challenges posed by the industrial model and make room for us to absorb new ways of thinking about and relating to the living world.

Land & Water Systems

Beginning in the classroom and moving out into the field, we’ll explore how to read the landscape, along with ethical considerations and core design principles that guide us in the placement of elements, creating cultivated ecologies, and working with topology, water, and site access.

Mapping Workshop

Armed with what we’ve learned so far, we tour a forest recovery zone to observe and map features of the landscape to serve as the basis for this week’s design assignment.

Site design

You’ll create a site design that addresses hydrological and topological remediation to aid in habitat restoration at the Hampton Mountain forest recovery project.

Swale & Hügelkultur Workshop

Design implementation: Techniques for maximizing healthy ground water retention and natural carbon negative soil fertility.

Two Day Break

Week Two:
Regenerative Forestry

With Deryk Eagles & Adam Zinzan
of Snow Lake Keep

Beginning with habitat restoration and reversing damage caused by the outgoing industrial era and moving beyond this recovery phase into ways of life that enrich the habitats we call home, we actively rediscover our human role within the forest ecosystem.

Techniques we’ll explore include selective thinning, beneficial harvesting, biochar production, conservation zones, and ecologically integrated human systems. Students will also complete a Permaculture Forest Restoration Plan to be implemented at the nearby Hampton Mountain forest recovery project.

Introduction to Forest Ecosystems

In this introduction we cover the foundational principles for living in integrity within our forest ecosystems, using principles of permaculture, human-ecology, and techniques of earlier societies.

Regenerative Forestry Workshop Part 1

We apply hands-on techniques for forest recovery and clearcut remediation such as selective thinning, species selection and beneficial harvesting. In part 1, we focus on early-stage recovery and working with catastrophic damage such as clearcut forest.

Regenerative Forestry Workshop Part 2

We continue our work in the field, shifting our focus to management of advanced recovery and mature forest regions.

Assignment: Forest Management Plan

Beginning with a silviculture site tour and demonstrations of ecologically-sound forest management techniques, you will develop a forest management plan to be implemented at the Hampton Mountain forest recovery project.

Biochar Workshop

Today we play with fire! In this hands-on workshop we’ll learn about and produce biochar using cleared brush from our silviculture work, sequestering carbon and returning valuable nutrients to the soil.

Two day break

Week Three:
Human Habitat

With Deryk Eagles & Adam Zinzan
of Snow Lake Keep

We cover natural building for Coastal Temperate climates using the earth sheltered timber-frame method developed here on the North Mountain.

From site and building function analysis, to design, to materials selection, through to construction, you will be working hands-on with each of these key stages in the building process through the completion of a timber-frame structure on site. Following on from our Regenerative Forestry instruction, you will gain experience with tree selection, timber milling, carving and frame raising, as well as the basics of slipform stone construction, passive solar design, rainwater collection, and solar 101 for off-grid power systems.

Natural Building Systems & Project Overview

Introduction to earth sheltered timber-frame building for home and farm. Building tours and theory including; materials selection, thermodynamics, passive solar, earth shelter, and integrated rainwater collection.

Overview of course project: the design, carving, and assembly of a timber-frame cafe structure on site.

Stone Slip Form & Workshop

Learn hands on what you need to know to construct extremely durable, locally sourced, cost-effective foundations and berm walls using concrete-reinforced stone slip forming.

Timber Frame Design, Joinery, Tools & Safety

Design and planning for timber frame construction; materials selection, structural constraints, ease-of-build, and building performance. Overview of tools use, maintenance, and safety.

Timber Frame Workshop

Hands-on timber frame carving workshop. Upon completion of the finished components we will prep for frame raising day.

Frame Raising

Frame raising has a long history of bringing communities together to make light work and celebrate the addition of new sheltered space and its occupants. We will all work together to raise the frame completed during the course, complete with a spruce bough on top.

Two day break

Week Four:
Food & Medicine

With Lisa Blackbird of Hobo Crow Herbs &
Paul Hoepfner-Homme of Snow Lake Keep

We round out the complete homesteader’s tool-belt with a healthful (and tasty!) week-long food and forage fest! Guest instructor Lisa Blackbird of Hobo Crow Herbs along with our own resident cheesemaker Paul Hoepfner-Homme take you on a journey of wildcrafting, home dairy and natural medicine.

We’ll also review essencial cold-climate permaculture animals, poultry and animal care.

Goat Dairy & Cheesemaking Workshop

Take part in goat dairy and cheesemaking from udder to hors d’oeuvres. Learn from an experienced cheesemaker how to prepare and enjoy fresh and aged cheeses. We will also cover the basics of keeping goats for meat and dairy.

Wild Edibles & Medicinals, Tincture Making Workshop

Herbalist Lisa Blackbird takes you on a medicine walk, foraging for wild edibles and medicinals. After the hike, we prepare herbal tinctures with our foraged finds.

Garden & Greenhouse

Forest gardening and other forms of ecosystem integrated home-scale agricultural. Techniques for natural soil fertility, pollinator support, garden bed and greenhouse construction, nutrient flows and irrigation.

Woodstove cooking & preserves

We spend a delicious day creating one of  our favourite preserves at Snow Lake Keep. We will learn techniques for food preservation and canning using a wood-fired cook stove.

Preserving Herbs

In this hands-on herbal remedy workshop you will make your own infusions, decoctions, and salves using local plants harvested during the week.

Daily Schedule

Workshops will proceed rain or shine, with indoor space available for both classroom and hands-on instruction. Below is a typical daily timetable. Our daily schedule will vary slightly from day to day based on course material.

8:00 am Breakfast
9:00 am Morning Workshops
12:00 am Lunch
1:00 pm Afternoon Workshops
4:00 pm Free time, option to volunteer for course support
6:00 pm Dinner

Meals & Accommodations

Meals will be prepared during the course using local ingredients by course chef, Cindy. Let us know in advance if you have any food sensitivities or dietary restrictions and we will do our best to accommodate.

Tenting sites are provided and small RVs/campers are welcome. These options are free of charge and include wifi access, solar device charging, and bathing at nearby Foster Lake.

For participants interested in a more luxurious stay, additional accommodations are available for rent which include additional amenities such as hot showers, private kitchen facilities and comfy beds. Some cottages are equipped with full kitchens, wood cookstoves and propane stoves, and hot showers, others are more basic and include a small woodstove and bed. Please contact us for availability.

The course is hosted on an active permacultural forest farm, which you will have the opportunity to explore during your stay.

Your Instructors

Deryk Eagles

Deryk studied architectural design at The International Academy of Design in Toronto and is a professional timber frame builder and market gardener. In 1990, he returned to his home-territory in Nova Scotia and began work building his first farm from the ground up. He has been active in natural building and permacultural farming ever since.

In 2004, Deryk established Eagles & Company, specializing in sustainably-sourced timber frame structures. Deryk is the founding member of Snow Lake Keep homesteading community where he currently lives and works teaching permacultural techniques for producing food, creating shelter, and living in healthy relationship to our forest ecosystem.

Lisa Blackbird

Lisa Blackbird is a folk herbalist, wild food aficionado, writer, homesteader and mama. She is passionate about mindful wild-crafting and medicine making, and has run Hobo Crow Herbs for 7 years with her partner, doing farmers markets and workshops, as well as offering Nova Scotia’s only wild food & medicine CSA (community supported apothecary).

She is grateful of the path she walks with the plants, who are her greatest teachers. Lisa resides on the North Mountain on the Bay of Fundy with her family, goats, and cat.

Alex Denicola

Alex practices and teaches at Motheroak Permaculture in West Hants, NS, and has been organically market gardening & homesteading for over thirty years. Besides a passion for resilience-building, regeneration, and personal inner work, he brings a wide range of skills, knowledge, experience and multiple integrated perspectives and practices to our collective journey of healing people and places.

Paul Hoepfner-Homme

Paul is resident cheesemaker at Snow Lake Keep, making delicious cheeses – both fresh and aged – using milk from our herd of alpine goats.

Paul is also a seasoned market gardener with over 15-years experience growing organic local produce for market stalls in the Kootenay Valley BC, Southern Ontario, and here in the Annapolis Valley.

Rick Ketcheson

Rick Ketcheson was raised on a family farm in Saskatchewan and studied mechanical engineering. He has worked in Canada, the US and France. After retiring in 2012 his interests turned to food security, community gardens, permaculture, forest gardens, soil biology, and regenerative agriculture. He studied permaculture in Cuba, and food forestry and the soil food web while in British Columbia. He has been making and using biochar for enhancing soil health for more than five years. He lives in Annapolis Royal where he and his partner are currently building a small urban food forest next to their home.

Cindy MacDonald

Cindy is an experienced chef, currently cooking up local eats at The Temple on Queen. She is known for creating incredible, farm to table meals using local ingredients grown right here in the Annapolis Valley. All meals prepared during the course will celebrate local food, incorporating the best of what this region has to offer – with an extra helping of produce from the gardens at Snow Lake Keep permacultural farm.

Adam Zinzan

Adam has a background in design and brings his 20-years of experience with the design process to homesteading and natural building. He has designed and built several off-grid cabins, making use of salvaged materials and self-harvested timber. He is an experienced timber frame builder, self-taught draftsperson, homesteader, and visual artist. Adam lives and works at Snow Lake Keep homesteading community.

Getting Here

North Mountain Permaculture1056 Arlington Rd HamptonNova Scotia B0S 1L0 Canada Directions

“Thorough explanations, heaps of patience …overall the most informative course I’ve ever attended.”

Christine Waugh, Student

No matter what your skill level, this four-week course will equip you with the confidence and know-how to create a thriving and resilient homestead from the ground up. Students who successfully complete the course will receive certification in Permaculture Design.

We strive to create a learning environment that is supportive, welcoming, and inclusive. If you have any questions or concerns please contact us using the form below.


Registration is not yet available. Please stay tuned!


Are courses cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic?

We are anticipating the pandemic to be in the containment phase by late June here in eastern Canada. We are planning to run the course as scheduled, while taking recommended precautions to put safety first. All course registrants will be informed in the event the course must be rescheduled or cancelled, and any registrant who cannot attend as a result of course cancellation or inability to attend will receive a full refund of course fees, less a $100 nonrefundable transaction processing fee.

What should I bring?

A full packing list will be sent out in our course welcome email, to be sent out in mid-May. In general, packing requirements will be similar to a week-long camping trip. Additional items will include: a notebook and work gloves. Optional items will include: tape measure, tool belt, and steel-toe boots.

Can I bring a camper or RV?

Yes! We have plenty of space for campers and RVs. The sites are ‘unserviced’ but are within short distance to potable water and solar power charging.

Can you accommodate pets?

We love animals and as an active permaculture farm, the safety of our farm animals is our priority. While bringing pets is not encouraged, please use the form below if you need to discuss bringing a pet and we may be able to accommodate on a case-by-case basis.