Essentials of Homesteading and Permaculture

It is more important than ever to learn skills for self-sufficiency and living off the grid. This one weekend a month class can help you gain confidence and competence with these skills.

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What to Expect:

The Essentials Program is a permaculture design certificate program, but goes way beyond any other PDC, including a wild foods backpacking trip, a natural building class, primitive skills, and much more. 

Because of its format of one weekend class per month, students have the opportunity to delve deeply into the content, integrating what they are learning into their lives. 

Our instructors are top-notch and teach their specialties and passions, infusing the classes with a wealth of experience, inspiration and engaging teaching styles.

Hours are generally Saturdays: 9:30am  – 1pm; 2-5pm, and 6-8:30pm, and Sundays: 9:30am – 1pm, 2pm – 5pm

Schedule varies on extended weekends.

Special Note: If you are unable to attend one or two weekends, not to worry!   There will be opportunities for you to make up classes by attending other Wild Abundance classes, self study, or attending the classes you miss next year.  

Permaculture Design Course and Homesteading Class

March 18 – 19, 2017: Planning for Abundance

Presentation of knives, introduction to permaculture and permaculture principles, making knife sheaths from buckskin, herb gardens, organic gardening with healthy food, and seed starting.

April 15 – 16, 2017: Whole Systems Thinking & Making a Bow Drill Fire

Fire by friction, permaculture mapping, early spring gardening and how to grow your own food, edible mushroom cultivation, knife sharpening, and organizing Permaculture Design Course Certificate groups.  We’ll review plans for helping you get your permaculture certification.

May 5 – 7, 2017: Wild Foods Hike

Backpacking trip focused on identification and uses of wild food, medicinal plants, botany, foraging edible weeds, and wild foods cookery.The forest will introduce us to plant guilds, holistic forestry, climates, bio-geography, microclimates, and reading the landscape.

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June 3 – 4, 2017: Soil Science, Water Systems – How to Live off the Grid

Soil science, water systems, earthworks, compost, waste, budgets, learning to make a living with permaculture and earthskills, fostering independent living, preparing for fall gardening, all of which will teach you how to live off the grid and have a self-sufficient homestead.

July 1 – 2, 2017: The Firefly Gathering

A weekend pass to the Firefly Gathering (the largest primitive skills gathering in the US), which hosts dozens of classes on permaculture, eco-homesteading, and primitive skills taught by some of the most knowledgeable and experienced instructors in our field. Think of this as time to explore electives. Laura Ruby will guide you through class decisions and will facilitate a check-in each day to ground these electives within the container of the whole course, if you choose. The rest of the event can be added on at a reduced rate.

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August 25 – 27, 2017: Carpentry Classes – Tiny Houses and Natural Building

During the Tiny House and Natural Building workshop, we’ll take a tour of local homesteads, have an overview of natural building and do hands-on natural building projects. Students can choose to attend just for the weekend, for 4 days, or can add on the last 3 days for the workshop for a small fee.

September 23 – 24, 2017: Animals, Farming, and Fruit

Playing with pasture management and larger-scale gardening, holistic orcharding, working with contour, planting fruit trees, and going on an urban farm tour.

The Cycles of Life

September 30 – October 1, 2017: Preserving the Abundance [Optional but highly encouraged!]

Learning food preservation (canning, learning how to make cheese and fermented food), making bone broth, and preparing for catastrophe.  You’ll also learn homestead economics, and have time to meet with your design groups and discuss preliminary design presentations with instructors.

October 14 – 15, 2017: Health of Body and Mind and Our Relationship with the Earth – Living Off the Grid Overview

Final permaculture design presentations, human nutrition, tools of the homestead, holistic forestry, introduction to using chainsaws, introduction to hunting and stalking, and learning flintknapping.  We’ll review how to go off the grid.

November 4 – 5, 2017: Cycles of Life – Learn how to slaughter and butcher a sheep

Learn how to humanely kill a sheep.  You’ll also have the opportunity to get hands-on experience (optional) butchering and preserving the meat.

“Natalie and her team of instructors thoughtfully constructed a comprehensive PDC program that includes a wide breadth of practical, theoretical and hands-on instruction... I would recommend the program to anyone, but especially to individuals who are looking for a program that covers applications for permaculture design principles beyond basic site design. This PDC thoroughly covers design of both rural and urban sites and includes applications for homesteading, forestry, entrepreneurship and intentional community development... If you have any interest in taking a permaculture design course, you'd be doing yourself a favor by signing up for this one.” (a PDC 2015 student)


Natalie Bogwalker Wild Abundance Instructor

Natalie Bogwalker

Laura Ruby Bio

Laura Ruby

Juiets bio

Juliet Blankespoor

Chuck bio

Chuck Marsh

Chuck Marsh is a co-founder and co-designer of Earthaven Ecovillage, near Black Mountain,NC. There, he lives off the grid, cultivates abundance and serves future generations as a permaculture nurseryman with Useful Plants Nursery. Chuck has been teaching and practicing permaculture for 20 years.


Alex Kilgore

Alex Kilgore has been learning, practicing and teaching primitive and traditional living skills since 1995. Alex lives in a straw-bale house that he built on his off-grid homestead in the Blue Ridge mountains. He is a jack-of-all-trades who specializes in carpentry and off-grid living.

Ben Portwood Bio

Benjamin Portwood

Barron Bowl

Barron Brown

Barron Brown is a truly amazing jack-of-all-trades.  He learned timber framing, post-and-beam construction, log cabin construction, and much more from his grandparents when he was a child and teenager. He currently works as a sculptor, welder and builder, as well as teaching carving, blacksmithing and building.  Barron is a joy to learn from, as he weaves together his many talents with deep intelligence and a great ability to explain concepts to anyone.   Barron has taught at Firefly since its beginning and has been an instructor with the Earthskills Rendezvous for more than 20 years. He lives on a homestead with his family in Yancy County, NC.

Cailen Bio Pic

Cailen Campbell


Local Accommodations:

While some locals prefer to commute to Wild Abundance from Asheville, students from the area and out of town are welcome to pitch a tent in one of our flat camping spots in the woods or field, or to tie a hammock in the forest on our seven-acre property.  We strongly suggest bringing a very warm sleeping bag and bedding.  We do have a fully functioning outdoor kitchen and bathroom, though in extremely cold weather, sometimes one or both are out of operation due to the water freezing.

If you prefer something more conducive to creature comforts, we suggest browsing Airbnb or checking out some of the local motels and B&Bs within a 10-15 minute drive to Wild Abundance.

Below are a few local accommodations you might find to your liking:

Mountain Light Sanctuary

Comfort Inn in Mars Hill, NC

Classes will take place at Wild Abundance and at the Ruby Roost, both of which are fantastic examples of permaculture in action and are each about 20 minutes north of Asheville.  One is nestled in community, and the other is a multi-generational homestead.

Registration Info Register Now WA

Payment plans and worktrade opportunities are available.  Please let us know if you are interested in these programs when you fill out the application form.  For more info, email:, or click here to see our policy on refunds, payment plans and work-trade opportunities.

Also, feel free to read our Frequently Asked Questions.

This class will change your life.  The community formed in the context of sharing 9 months of learning with other students makes this a very comfortable and welcoming class for anyone to take on their own.  We also encourage couples, friends or other groups of folks to register together.  Couples, landmates, or friends who are interested in designing for land together, or who just want to study together, who register together for this program can each receive a discount off their tuition!  Email our Assistant Director, Emily, for more info at

Late Bird Price: $3000 (March 2 – March 17 , 2017)

*Please note that meals are not included in the price.

Expect to receive a confirmation email within one week of sending payment. Additional emails will cover logistical details as the adventure approaches.  


Class starts in March.
Register now, and sign up to change your life.
Early bird pricing ends soon.