Overview of the Homesteading and Permaculture Apprenticeships
The Permaculture Apprenticeships and Homesteading Internships near Asheville, NC are for folks who are excited to learn to live off the grid and motivated to dive into the skills and work that make self-sufficiency and homesteading possible.
The apprenticeship is a full-time program. Please don’t expect to be able to hold down a steady job while in the apprenticeship. Apprenticeship days are Wednesday-Sunday each week (a few classes include some Mondays and Tuesdays). Around 1/4 of these days are class days. The rest are a mix of the following: small group or individual focused, instructional time; learning-through-doing that comes naturally while working together; independent project work, and repetitive manual labor. Instruction outside of class time is offered by Natalie Bogwalker, Frank Salzano, Tyler Lavenburg, Allie Showalter, or others in the community who are also immersed in land-based projects and have a diversity of skills and experience.
Special Note! Please read all of the following before applying. These are serious programs that involve serious commitment and serious work. Softies (that is, anyone who has trouble with hard physical work, who has a penchant for taking things personally, or who is unwilling or unable to work through emotional issues and group dynamics in a responsible manner) need not apply.
"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves."
-John Muir, in Our National Parks, 1901
What to Expect: Learn to live off the grid
All Apprenticeships include:
- Wild Abundance classes that take place during your apprenticeship (please see our Classes for more details).
- Access to beautiful, basic, rustic accommodations at our homestead at Wild Abundance (Includes outdoor kitchen & 3 season sleeping shelter)
- A one-of-a-kind opportunity to live and learn in a gorgeous, thriving community full of folks who are excited to share their skills
- Seasonal food from the apprentice garden
- The opportunity to learn wilderness & survival skills
- A fabulous view of Mount Craggy
- Close access to trails in the Big Ivy range of the Pisgah National Forest
This apprenticeship takes place in the springtime and is focused on growing, caring for, and utilizing a plethora of wild and cultivated plants. It also focuses on learning how to establish a homestead and gardens; practicing off-grid systems with soil and water; and learning essential primitive skills like friction fire, flint knapping and leather craft.
From transition out of winter cover crop and garden bed preparation, to seeding, propagating, and nurturing young plants, springtime apprentices will gain a solid foundation in annual vegetable gardening and perennial planting and care. The Wild Abundance gardens boast many woody edible perennials and lots of medicinal herbs, which apprentices will gain familiarity with.
We will also go past the bounds of the cultivated land and learn about the bounty of wild edibles and medicinals in the rich forests of Appalachia. This program will feature harvesting, cooking, processing, and feasting upon the bounty of the wild. And the program ends with supporting and attending the Firefly Gathering, the largest Earthskills Gathering in North America, with over 300 classes.
We ask for a financial contribution of $3,000 for this program.
You’ll have the opportunity to participate in the following classes:
Earthskills and Permaculture Immersion (previously entitled “Essentials Program” (the weekends that occur March-June, which include: Planning for Abundance, Whole Systems Thinking & Bow Drill Fire Making, Living Off the Grid with Soil Care & Water Systems)
Fall Apprenticeship: Focus on Tiny House & Natural Building, Food Preservation, and Fall Gardening // August – November, 2018// $3,500 **
This fall apprenticeship starts at the height of summer and builds into the abundance of autumn. From basic carpentry to a wide range of natural and sustainable building techniques, apprentices will gain well-rounded and hands-on skill sets. We will also be harvesting and processing/canning food from the gardens and fruits/medicines/animals from the surrounding area. Fall Apprentices will also get a chance to earn their Permaculture Design Certificates through our fall Permaculture Design Intensive. The season ends in the late fall after the Cycles of Life Class and learning to tan deer hides. We ask for a financial contribution of $3,500 for this program.
** Women and trans folks have the opportunity to come early (July 25), and take part in the Women’s Basic Carpentry class and the Advanced Women’s Carpentry class for a reduced fee.
You’ll have the opportunity to participate in the following classes
Women’s Basic Carpentry (at a reduced additional fee, for women and trans only)
Advanced Women’s Carpentry (at a reduced additional fee, for women and trans only)
This permaculture internship spans the entire growing season – from early spring to late fall. Apprentices will get lot of instruction and hands-on experience planting, growing, harvesting, and preserving annual and perennial food crops, including wild foods and medicinal plants. Hands-on building instruction and experience will be a focus of the program, as well. In the fall, apprentices will learn how to humanely slaughter and butcher an animal, along with learning how to tan a hide. Through this apprenticeship, you’ll get a chance to earn your Permaculture Design Certificates through our fall Permaculture Design Course. For more details, read the above descriptions of our seasonal apprenticeships and read about all our yearly classes.
We ask for a financial contribution of $6,000 for this program.
You’ll have the opportunity to participate in the following classes.
Earthskills and Permaculture Immersion (weekend classes April – November)
Advanced Women’s Carpentry
She lives in her lovely, growing homestead nestled deep in community in the Southern Appalachians. She spends her time harvesting in the wild, building, gardening, planting, putting up food, growing, teaching, and scheming about how to introduce more people to Earth-based living, all while worshiping the beauty around her. Natalie’s love affair with with the natural world was conceived when her mother sent her out into the forest behind their house in pursuit of wild huckleberries for tarts. The joy of living as an integral part of the web of life, fed from wild plants and animals has yet to wear off, though her tastes have become more accustomed to salads and stews than to sweets, and her interests have blossomed to natural building, gardening, and more… way beyond wild foods. She teaches at the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine, the Maps meet, Earthskills Rendezvous, and has given talks at FSU, Southern Adventist University, Tulane University, Ohio University, Vanderbilt University, Western Washington University, and many other places. Natalie was also featured in Morgan Spurlock’s documentary, Freedom in America, and appeared in the National Geographic series: Live Free or Die in an episode titled “Butchers and Builders.” Natalie holds a B.A. in ecological agriculture and, more importantly, has studied with teachers who have deeply enriched her perspective, including Juliet Blankespoor, Margaret Mathewson and Frank Cook.
She lives in her lovely, growing homestead nestled deep in community in the Southern Appalachians. She spends her time harvesting in the wild, building, gardening, planting, putting up food, growing, teaching, and scheming about how to introduce more people to Earth-based living, all while worshiping the beauty around her.
Natalie’s love affair with with the natural world was conceived when her mother sent her out into the forest behind their house in pursuit of wild huckleberries for tarts. The joy of living as an integral part of the web of life, fed from wild plants and animals has yet to wear off, though her tastes have become more accustomed to salads and stews than to sweets, and her interests have blossomed to natural building, gardening, and more… way beyond wild foods.
She teaches at the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine, the Maps meet, Earthskills Rendezvous, and has given talks at FSU, Southern Adventist University, Tulane University, Ohio University, Vanderbilt University, Western Washington University, and many other places. Natalie was also featured in Morgan Spurlock’s documentary, Freedom in America, and appeared in the National Geographic series: Live Free or Die in an episode titled “Butchers and Builders.” Natalie holds a B.A. in ecological agriculture and, more importantly, has studied with teachers who have deeply enriched her perspective, including Juliet Blankespoor, Margaret Mathewson and Frank Cook.
Working and Learning Together
We will be working and learning through all sorts of tasks related to building and homesteading. These may include gardening, carpentry, building with clay and other local or natural materials, sawmill work, small-scale logging, firewood gathering and splitting, wild foods and medicine harvesting and processing, preparing for classes, and more.
Some of the jobs might not be very glamorous. Sometimes self-sufficient homesteading feels like lots of grunt work. There will be some weeks each year when Tyler, Frank, and Natalie will not be available to work with you because of the Firefly Gathering, teaching out of town and personal time off. During these times, we will either set you up with a colleague to work and learn with, or get you going on projects of your own.
You will have use of an outdoor kitchen space with a great view, an official permitted privy, and a 3 seasons sleeping shelter. We suggest everyone bring a nice roomy tent as well as a tarp or fly that can protect the tent and supply some covered private space to store personal items. We also suggest bringing ample and comfortable bedding. You may prefer to simply sleep under a tarp, in a debris shelter or in a hammock. Go as primitive as you want! These are all fine options, but please consider your own needs and make sure that you are able to provide for them in such a way that you will be comfortable living for an extended period of time in a communal environment that might not necessarily offer you the creature comforts and personal space to which you might otherwise be accustomed.
We have some access to electricity, both on-grid and soon to be off-grid. This power can be sparingly used for charging phones (only US cellular, Republic Wireless and Verizon phones work here), etc. We tend to have a no laptop rule in the outdoor kitchen. We don’t live in an Internet cafe; we live in the woods, but there will be a designated time for limited internet usage. If you want to use the Internet more frequently or want to get away, you are totally welcome to go to town.
Democrat, NC, has a gas station, a beer store and a diner, and good swimming hole, and is ¾ of a mile away. Barnardsville has a post office and a couple of thrift stores and is 2 miles away. Weaverville is 11 miles away, and has a library, laundromat, grocery store, fancy bakery, and more. Asheville is 18 miles away, takes 22 minutes to reach by car, and has dancing, health food galore, a movie theatre that sells pizza and beer, great music venues, craft stores, and many fun folks.
The first step is to fill out the appropriate application form (for the program you are interested in) and to pay your application fee and deposit. We need to receive both an application form and a deposit in order to move forward. After we receive these things, we will contact you within 2 weeks and set up a phone interview during which any additional questions can be answered. After that, if possible, we will schedule a working interview and make a decision soon thereafter. If a working interview isn’t possible, we will make a decision soon after the phone interview. Click here to complete an application form
Application Fee and Deposit
We ask for a $50 application fee for the apprenticeship, along with a $250 deposit (a total of $300 when applying), without which we cannot consider your application. The application fee covers our administrative costs and the time it takes to process your application and is not refundable. The deposit goes toward your total financial contribution, if you are accepted, and can only be refunded if we do not accept you into the program. Upon acceptance into the program, we ask for the first $1,000 of your contribution within two weeks. Your total financial contribution may be paid in installments but must be paid in full by one month before the apprenticeship starts.
The first two weeks of the apprenticeship will serve as a trial period. This is a chance for us to make sure that the apprenticeship is a good fit for you and for us. After the two-week trial period, we will have a meeting and if the apprenticeship is not working for either party, we will discuss issues and try to work through them, or make a clean break. Your deposit may be returned at this point.
Folks applying for Apprenticeships are encouraged to come to Wild Abundance for a working interview with Natalie as a part of their application process. This is not a requirement (especially if you are coming from a great distance), but it can be a great way for everyone to “feel out” the reality of the apprenticeship work-space and living space and to see if it is a good match.
Click here to pay your $50 processing fee and your $250 deposit
We require that all apprentices provide their own transportation. This means you will need your own car.
You will have your own outdoor kitchen space and we request complying with the following:
- Safety with fire. We request a high level of care with anything involving fire (rocket stove, lanterns, candles, etc.)
- Clean up after yourself, and a little more. If you are cooking for others, please make a verbal agreement about who will be cleaning up the cooking mess.
- Each apprentice will have one day each week to be responsible for “super-cleaning” the kitchen. On this day, you will wash any stray dishes, clean counters, oil cutting surfaces and sweep. We find this helps make everyone happy!
Alcohol, Tobacco, etc.
We ask that everyone who lives here maintain a balance with substances. We are not at all saying that there is any issue with occasional enjoyment of libations. While we are working together, we prefer that no one is under the effect of anything that may affect their work or safety. I ask that everyone keeps this in mind and makes wise decisions.
We have a preference that folks not smoke around us. Please let us know if you do smoke, so that we can look at some strategies that support us keeping our lungs pink and happy and un-tempted by tobacco and you feeding your habit in a way that is not terribly inconvenient to you.
We live in a community that has very restrictive covenants regarding pets. Because of this, we am not currently accepting canine companions of apprentices.