School of Living has been at the forefront of alternative/appropriate education and technology for half a century. Permaculture is a comprehensive ecological approach to creating human settlements that has been around since the early 1970s. For over 40 years School of Living has been one of the few American organizations to embrace this approach and encourage its spread. Permaculture is one of many programs at SoL that attempt to foster fairness and ecological responsibility.

What is Permaculture? Permaculture is often described as “applied ecology.” Permaculture seeks to design and implement human and natural systems that are self-perpetuating and abundant. It started as an alternative agricultural approach that advised replacing ground level mono-crops with vertically stacked “food forests.” It has expanded to address social systems like money exchange and community governance.

Why practice Permaculture? The modern consumer culture is degrading Earth’s ecosystem, and in the short or medium run can not continue in its present form. It provides a rich lifestyle for the privileged few, at the expense of poor people alive today and generations to come. Permaculture offers an approach that provides for human needs without compromising the health of the planetary ecosystem, or lowering the quality of life for other people.

What sorts of Permaculture programs does SoL promote? SoL has sponsored Permaculture from Nepal to Pennsylvania. Each SoL Land Trust Community is informed about Permaculture, and to one degree or another has implemented the approach. The Julian Woods community has one of the first meso-scale wetland water treatment facilities in the nation. Common Ground Community has built several state of the art composting toilets, and is a model of governance by consensus.  Ahimsa Village is developing a permaculture orchard/garden site, features a strawbale composting toilet building, two owner-built yurts, and hosts workshops on nonviolence. Heathcote Community has emerged as one of the most active Permaculture locations in the country. Located in northern Maryland, Heathcote hosts an annual “Design Course” in July and several smaller workshops during the Spring and Fall. Heathcote has also become the informational hub for the Eastern Permaculture Teacher’s Association (EPTA). SoL also uses Permaculture criteria in assessing the relative merits of proposals for funding alternative building projects through its Building WithOut Banks (BWOB) program.


Heathcote Community’s Permaculture Education Page provides information on Heathcote Community’s active permaculture education program. The site provides an introduction to permaculture and information on courses offered at Heathcote, a School of Living Community.

Ahimsa’s Permaculture Page highlights permaculture projects at Ahimsa’s School of Living property near Julian, PA. Ahimsa’s site includes many useful free articles.

Alliance for Sustainable Communities Permaculture Webpage Information on the permaculture projects on-going in the greater Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania. Includes a link to recommended books and videos on permaculture.

Permaculture Activist supplies “…information that enables people everywhere to provide for their own & their communities’ needs for food, energy, shelter, & to design decent lives without exploitation or pollution & from the smallest practical area of land. ”

Permaculture Institute of North America (PINA) is “a professional organization designed to support students and experienced practitioners of permaculture in North America.”

Where can I find out more about Permaculture and SoL? Use the links provided on this page to find out more, or call the Heathcote Community at (410) 343-3478 (DIRT) or email Karen at

As you continue your journey towards a brighter future, 
please, use all the resources that School of Living has to offer!!!