FAQ

Aloha! We’ve tried to anticipate as many questions as possible, but if you can’t find the answers here, feel free to contact us.

What is Permaculture?

The word permaculture was coined by Bill Mollison in the mid-1970’s to describe an integrated, evolving system of perennial or self-perpetuating plant and animal species.

A more current definition of permaculture, which reflects the expansion of focus implicit in Permaculture, is ‘Consciously designed landscapes which mimic the patterns and relationships found in nature, while yielding an abundance of food, fibre and energy for provision of local needs.’ People, their buildings and the ways in which they organize themselves are central to permaculture. Thus the permaculture vision of permanent or sustainable agriculture has evolved to one of permanent or sustainable culture.

How can I best prepare for the course?

Please review our Reading and Watching List. Once you have registered we will send you a more comprehensive syllabus of the course curriculum. Please apply yourself to the course content before you arrive in January. Enjoy!

What should I bring?
Great question!  We’ve made a printable PDF What To Bring checklist to make it easy for you. There will be opportunities to get to stores, so don’t worry if you forget something.
What will the weather be like?
Maui can be hot and dry, humid, windy, and rain like crazy!  It won’t be cold though.  Be sure to come prepared for anything.
I’ve never been to the tropics. Are there poisonous things I should know about?
Maui is VERY benign.  No snakes, almost no biting ants, no poisonous spiders, and no mammalian predators.  The only insects to be concerned about are centipedes, wasps, and bees.  There are sharks in the ocean!
It says we’ll be doing lots of hand-on projects. Should I bring work clothes and/or tools?
You will need lightweight yet durable work clothes and shoes every day. The To Bring List walks you through what you’ll need. We will provide all the tools.
Do we have time off, and what can we do?
Yes!! You will have weekends off every week. You are welcome to stay on the farm and camp / use the kitchen for meals / read a book in a hammock, and foray out for day-trips from there. Or go off on your own and explore. Maui has A LOT to see including mountain hikes to the crater, amazing beaches, whale-watching boat trips (we’ll probably arrange one), great restaurants and cafes, jungle waterfalls, zipline adventures, botanical gardens and more. Just be sure to get to our next farm location by nightfall to get set yourself up for classes in the morning.
What kinds of meals will you be serving?
All the meals will be vegetarian, with plenty of vegan options. We will have a chef, and course participants will all share in harvesting, preparing meals, and clean up. We will send out a questionnaire after you register to find out about dietary needs.
What does a typical day in class look like?

We believe in using all the different kinds of learning, so will divide the day between lecture, interactive class projects, and hands-on skills.

8:00 – 8:45 – Breakfast
9:00 – 12:00 – Lectures, guest speakers, interactive student projects
12:00 – 12:45 – Lunch
1:00 – 5:00 – Hands-on Projects
6:00 – 7:00 – Dinner
8:00 – 9:00 – Optional movie or documentary

Some days will be field trips to other farms and permaculture sites around the island. The schedule is approximate and subject to change based on location and environmental conditions.

Can I earn college credit for what I learn in this course?

Evergreen students may be able to earn credit from Evergreen if they are doing an SOS, individual study, or internship with the sponsorship of an Evergreen faculty member who agrees to review and assess their work.

Are there scholarships, worktrades, Kama A`ina rates, or discounts available?
  • We are working with The Evergreen State College for scholarship money for veterans, and Student Activity money for other students, although that will have to be initiated by the students themselves.
  • Worktrades are possible if you have a real skill to offer (CAD work, research, business plan development for a project, office and computer skills, marketing, etc.), a place to stay while you are worktrading, and your own transportation.  Please send a resume with your worktrade request, your availability, and references.
  • Kama A`ina rates are available – contact Jenny Pell through the contact form.
  • We are soliciting scholarship money from the community.  Encourage people to Donate here.
I don’t understand how the Internship program works? Can I skip the course and just do the internship?

The Internship Program is only for students who complete the month-long Permaculture Design and Sustainable Farming program. We are working with different farmers and projects all over Maui to provide 5-week internships to students who want to complete their Winter Quarter (Evergreen State College).

The host farm will provide all your meals and you will work with them on whatever needs they have on their farms. Each farm will have different requirements of you as an intern, but generally it will be 25 – 40 hours/week, some days off each week, meals with the other interns or the ohana, and basic agreements that make you a good community member! Some will have camping, others will have private or shared rooms.

We will be offering special workshops throughout the 5-week internship period, that will be open to other locals.

Jenny Pell and Spencer Oneal will be mentoring the interns, offering weekly programs and fun field trips, and serving as Field Supervisors.

Where do I fly to, and will you pick me up?

You will fly to Kahului Airport on Maui (OGG). One way tickets usually add up to the same price as round trip if you want to stay longer and not have a specific return date. Best deals are found through travel sites such as Kayak, Cheap-O Air, and sometimes at Hawaiian Airlines and Alaska Airlines.

We will have scheduled pick-ups and drop-offs on the days just before and after the course. If you come early or stay late you will be expected to find your own accommodations and transportation until the course begins! Contact us if anything comes up and you need assistance!

Can friends visit during the Program?
We prefer to have your friends come when the program is completed. We can likely have a few extra people for dinners here or there for a reasonable fee. You are responsible for anyone you invite into the group.
Is marijuana legal on Maui?
No. Please do not bring drugs to this program.
I want to stay longer on Maui. Can I do a longer internship?
Of course! If you let us know ahead of time we can work with you to find a longer-term position, and network you with different opportunities. Most farms want a minimum 6-month commitment.
I’m an older student. Is this a good program for me?
Yes! We are not age-ist in any way. This program is great for people of all ages who are reasonably fit and healthy.
Is this program a safe and inclusive environment for indigenous people, people of color and LGTBQ?
Yes!!! We recognize that most of the staff is cis-gendered and caucasian. We will be bringing many guest teachers and Native Hawai`ians to join us over the month, and promise to strive for diversity. Racist or sexist language or behavior is not welcome here. We will begin our course by honoring the land, the Hawai`ians whose ancestors lived here for generations, and will always strive to acknowledge where our knowledge originates.
Can I get a refund if I want to leave part-way through the program?
No. We will not be able to offer refunds unless there is an unavoidable emergency which we will consider on a case by case basis.
Is Maui a safe place to travel and camp?
Hawai`i has the lowest crime in the US. It is generally very safe to travel, although there is petty theft frequently at parking lots. We recommend you camp at designated campgrounds, and don’t leave valuables in your car.
Will I receive a Permaculture Certification when I finish, and what can I do with it?
The PDC is a standard and rigorous international curriculum of 72 lecture hours. We will more than cover that entire curriculum and we have dedicated half our teaching program to hands-on skills. If you complete the final design project and attend all the lectures you will receive your Certificate. We then want you to take what you’ve learned in this introductory course and apply it in the real world for at least a couple years on permaculturally-related work before you call yourself a permaculturalist. We will cover working as a design professional, permaculture and farming, using permaculture as a verb not a noun, and simply bringing permaculture into your home, community, workplace, and more.

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