Ecological Gardening
Practical Permaculture for Resilience and Regeneration
Taught by Spencer Nielsen

We are living in a time in which a collective realization is dawning: our future is uncertain. Now is the time to develop practical skills in creating intensely local food systems, resiliently resourced communities, and in becoming allies of the Earth.


This spring we are offering a new, intensely practical course in developing and applying the skills needed to grow food and plant medicine, this growing season! If you've been contemplating designing and installing a veggie garden but have been uncertain how and where to start--join us! Are you looking for community in sharing plant-growing knowledge? Interested in bringing an ecological awareness to your land stewardship and gardening practices to have an ever-more positive effect on the land? This course is for you.

The course will cover:

  • Ecological and Permacultural principles

  • Garden design:

    • "site analysis"

    • "reading the landscape"

  • Soil 

    • soil ecology, chemistry, biology

    • anaerobic ferments

    • cover crops

    • sheet mulching

    • carbon sequestration

    • compost, compost tea, worm bins

  • Water:

    • rainwater harvesting, swales

    • irrigation systems

    • earthworks

We will be exploring this in a hybrid model of on-line content and in-person hands-on experiential learning. While everything you need to know to get your garden growing will be covered on-line, the hands-on sessions grounds the learning in the earth, the real. 


We've separated registration into two parts: our online content covered over the course of six Saturdays, three hours each day. (See dates below). The hands-on experiences will be held over three Sundays, in four hour sessions. While the hands-on sessions will complement the online content, they are open to community members wishing to drop in for skill-building, too.

Core Educational Content (On-line, via Zoom, with supportive video content)

Saturdays, 9am to noon with a 15 minute break

Dates: February 20, March 20, April 3, April 17, May 1, June 5

(Registration now closed)

Hands-on Skill Building! (in the Commonweal Garden) 

Sundays, 10 am to 2 pm with one hour lunch break (please bring your own lunch)

Dates and Skills: 

April 18: Plants: Sowing seeds, transplanting seedlings, planting perennials and trees. Agroforestry: pruning and grafting, propagation by cutting and division, layering. Habitat gardening for pollinators and pest management. Basic botany.

May 2: Soil: compost making, compost tea, anaerobic ferments, vermicomposting, bed prep, soil testing, plants for fertility and cover-cropping

June 6: Water: rainwater collection systems: calculations, basic plumbing. Greywater: design, plumbing, troubleshooting. Irrigation essentials. Landscape ponds. Swales: finding contours and digging swales.

  • Plants:

    • sowing seeds​: directly and in greenhouse

    • propagation by cutting, division and layering

    • transplantation

  • Agroforestry

    • planting trees

    • pruning and grafting​

  • Plant guilds, companion planting and ecological niches

  • Integrative Pest Management

  • Habitat Gardening

Hands-on Skill Building Registration: 

Discounted Ticket Tier- $30/session
Full Price Ticket Tier- $45/session
Full Price & Supporting Another Registrant Ticket Tier- $80/session
**We have limited capacity to further discount pricing for those in need. Please reach out to info@naturainstitute.org; special priority given to BIPOC, elders, single mothers, students, and those working in the nonprofit realm. Please reach out before registering!