2015 Savanna Gardens Design Course, August 8-16



This summer, we’re proud to be hosting our third annual Permaculture Design Course (PDC) at Mastodon Valley Farm August 8 – 16, 2015!

Humans evolved in savannas – grasslands with scattered trees and grazing mammals – the most diverse, productive, and functional ecosystems on Earth. We believe that savannas offer the ultimate model for a healthy, sustainable, and permanent agriculture and food system. As modern humans with unprecedented access to genetic and natural resources, we are capable of designing, planting, and maintaining abundant, beautiful and productive planet-healing ecosystems. Whether you call it farm-scale permaculture, regenerative agriculture, or restoration agriculture, this is a very different type of land management than any since the dawn of agriculture, and requires a new (or very old) way of observing, relating to, and behaving in the natural world.

This is a 9-day PDC and farm-immersion course that will get you up to speed on the ecological theory and practical skills you need to design and manage regenerative savanna agro-ecosystems. More questions? Check out our Course FAQ.


UPDATE: Course is now full and registration is closed. We’ll be announcing several future courses shortly, so sign up for our email list on the right of the page for continued updates. 


Course Highlights:

  • Certified Permaculture Design Course
  • Experienced team of instructors with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives
  • Indoor lodging included with hot showers and full kitchen
  • Local, beyond organic, and regeneratively grown pastured meats and veggies, expertly prepared into paleo-friendly meals
  • Classroom and Lodging on the scenic Kickapoo River
  • Spend time on a working permaculture farm and off-grid homestead
  • Develop your own designs and receive feedback from other participants and instructors
  • Hands on work – surveying and laying out keylines, digging swales, etc…
  • Observe and participate in the beginning stages of development at Mastodon Valley Farm.
  • Women in Permaculture – An excellent group of leading women in permaculture will be sharing their stories
  • New Forest Farm

    Tour New Forest Farm with Mark Shepard to observe and learn from his maturing system, twenty years in the making.

  • Tour Beyond Vineyard and Winery with mIEKAL aND and taste the excellent small and unusual fruit wines from his permaculture orchard
  • Meet amazing people doing amazing things. This is always the highlight of our year. We think it’ll be the highlight of yours, too.
  • Join a growing network of regenerative agriculturalists providing continuing education and support

Course Topics:

  • Permaculture Design
  • Site assessment and reading the landscape
  • Keyline Design
  • Perennial crop establishment, maintenance, and breeding
  • Integrated rotational multi-species grazing
  • Holistic Management for farm and family decision-making
  • Appropriate technologies and renewable energy
  • Marketing and logistics
  • Land access and acquisition strategies
  • Farm start-up and cashflow strategies
  • Nested enterprises and entity ecology



Peter Allen

Peter is an ecologist-turned-farmer and applies his background in ecology towards the design, restoration, and management of diverse and agriculturally productive savanna ecosystems. He and his wife Maureen founded Mastodon Valley Farm, a 100-acre farm in Southwestern Wisconsin where they are developing an off-grid homestead, planting lots of trees, and grazing lots of animals.


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Maureen Allen 

Maureen is the Mastodon Valley homestead czar, chief creativity officer, farm organizer, and chef. She will share insights on getting a farm and businesses off the ground, and how she transitioned from city life to farm life by building an off-road, off-grid homestead. She may even explain how she built the yurt that Peter and Mo lived in their first season with nothing more than some sticks, canvas, a 1940s sowing machine, and a solar panel.



Mark Shepard

Mark Shepard founded New Forest Farm in Southwestern Wisconsin, the 110-acre perennial agricultural savanna considered by many to be one of the most ambitious regenerative agriculture projects in the United States. New Forest Farm is a planned conversion of a typical row-crops grain farm into a commercial-scale, perennial agricultural ecosystem using oak savanna and successional brush land as the ecological models. Trained in both mechanical engineering and ecology, Mark has developed and patented equipment and processes for the cultivation, harvesting and processing of forest derived agricultural products for human foods and biofuels production, and in 2013 authored the best-selling book Restoration Agriculture. Mark will be joining us for several days of the course, giving us lengthy tours of his farm, answering questions, and giving us the lowdown on his latest endeavors, Restoration Agriculture Development and Restoration Agriculture International.


Grant Schultz

Grant is the Founder of VersaLand and known in some circles as the “Mad Scientist of Permaculture”.  As a farmer-hacker-artist, Grant develops new tools and techniques for creating and managing agroecosystems, including GPS Keyline technology, custom tree planters, and electric tractors.  Leveraging a background in agricultural and commercial land management and brokerage, Grant will share innovative ways to gain land access, design a diverse farm, and create a broadacre permaculture farm that yields abundant rewards.


Dayna Burtness 

Dayna has spent the past 10 years farming and working on local food issues in the Midwest. She is the founder of Laughing Loon Farm, an award-winning Chef Supported Agriculture farm in Northfield, MN. As a passionate farmer and communicator, Dayna will be helping with facilitation and logistics during the 9-day course as well as sharing her experiences and strategies for cultivating relationships with buyers (aka marketing!).



Lindsay Rebhan

Based out of Minneapolis, Lindsay designs permaculture systems from urban lots to broad-acre farms. Since 2005 she has worked with Ecological Gardens designing, implementing, and managing integrated edible working landscapes. Her current work involves consulting on issues of land use, creating perennial crop systems, and establishing whole farm management plans. After a year of working on permaculture farms in Guatemala including I’jatz Cooperative and Instituto Mesoamericano de Permacultura (IMAP), Lindsay became Program Director at Permaculture Research Institute Cold Climate. For more than ten years, she has worked with farmers, local foods nonprofits and chefs in Minnesota to organize and strengthen cold climate permaculture networks. You can find Lindsay teaching her children how to grow food in their own gardens as well as on Twitter and Instagram.


Brandon Bless

Brandon is an agroforester and educator with more than a decade of farm and land management experience. He engages and supports people and organizations in active restoration of functional landscapes and healthy guts and minds. At Sterling College, Brandon delivers experiential education in restoration agriculture, agroforestry, permaculture, and food systems to empower the next generation of keystone species.



This year we are partnering with our friends and neighbors at Nature’s Nook Retreat on the beautiful Kickapoo River for classroom space and lodging. Beds are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. The cabins and classroom all have electricity, water, showers, and kitchen, with wifi available in the classroom. Camping is available at no extra charge.




A non-refundable deposit of $300 is necessary to secure your spot for the course. Earlybird tuition for the 2015 course costs $1595 and covers:

  • 9 full days of class room and hands-on learning and experience
  • Lodging and amenities
  • Permaculture Design Certification
  • Best Food Ever. Seriously. We know because we grow it – veggies, fruits and nuts, and pastured meats. Let us know your dietary needs and we can accommodate. 3 meals/day.
  • Access to an extensive library of permaculture, ecology, and agriculture books and resources during your stay.
  • Continuing support and education
More Questions? Check out our Course FAQ


Michelle Ovans

We are interested in attending the course, but we are wondering if there is a couples prices so that both of us can attend. We have 40 acres with 7 acres being leased for rotational crops in Northcentral WI that we are seriously trying to replace the 7 acres with restoration agriculture practices.


Yes, we can provide a $250 discount on the combined tuition for two folks registering together that don’t mind sharing a bed 🙂