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 and our human-built systems and structures are faltering. Now is the time to develop practical skills in creating intensely local food systems, resiliently resourced communities, and to become allies of the Earth.


Beginning in September of 2021, we are again holding programs on the land in the Commonweal Garden, and are offering a practical, permaculture-based course in developing and applying the skills needed to grow food and plant medicine, in harmony with living systems. 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.

This course is designed to support you in your own journey toward skillful, ecologically-attuned gardening, over a nine month arc through the seasons. We will begin in September and conclude in May. Topics covered, by season include:


Elemental Site assessment, Integral design: reading the landscape, designing with elements

Planning and starting your winter garden

Seed sowing, tending seedlings, soil mixes

Tools and tool care

Preserving the harvest

Herbal medicine making

Composting, mulching and sheet mulching

Cover crops

Aquaculture and aquaponics

Rainwater harvesting: 

  • roof catchment with rain tanks

  • rain gardens

  • swales:finding contours and digging swales



  • ​carbon sequestration

  • deciduous fruit tree selection, pruning, grafting, selection

  • permaculture plant guilds

  • perennial plant propagation


  • garden design

  • maps and map reading

  • drafting skills

  • working with climate and microclimate


  • Thermophilic compost 

  • Actively aerated compost teas

  • Seaweed 

  • Microorganisms

  • Biochar making and using

  • Vermicomposting


Annuals and Perennials:

  • growing annual veggies

  • companion planting

  • building raised beds


  • Fruit thinning

  • Early summer pruning

Animals in the Garden:

  • Supporting pollinators, working with bees

  • Integrative Pest Management

  • Animals on the Farm

Watering the Garden Wisely:

  • Greywater systems

  • Irrigation basics

  • Bioremediation

Dates, Fall 2021 through Spring 2022

Fall: September 25, October 30, November 20

Winter: January 22, February 26, March 12

Spring: April 2, April 30, May 21

The course is being offered as one complete journey together. We hope you join us!

(Registration for 2021-2022 has closed; stay tuned for 2022-2023 dates!)

Discounted Ticket Tier: $750

Actual cost Ticket Tier: $850

Full price + supporting another registrant: $950

**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!