Limited number of early bird tickets available until 20th March­ €850 (includes camping, food, certification)

Who are the Facilitators?

Catherine Griggs (Course Organizer, Founder of symbiont Gardens and Educator

Catherine leads a permaculture design business creating permaculture designs, teaching courses and leading the implementation of projects.

I am a zoologist and wildlife conservationist, a permaculture consultant and teacher.

My greatest passions are teaching and facilitating earth based knowledge, with a particular love for working with water, creating ponds and lakes and watching all the animals come. Since being a little girl I have always been keenly interested in the natural eco-systems and interactions that exists in nature on all levels. Understanding of the relationships and of the language of plants and animals are one of my strengths.

I am driven by a desire to find myself in Eden, here and now and to create magic moments while following the flow. I feel the most passionate about what I do when sharing the experience of teaching and learning with people.

Having worked around the globe creating gardens, in the Celtic mountains of Wales, to the Rocky Mountains of Yellowstone park and the volcanic mountains of Guatemala.

My recent learning is how to reverse deserts with water retaining landscapes in Portugal, and that is a main project that we will be working with on this course.

I invite you to take the leap and come and join me, our lovely hosts and the three excellent guest teachers for an unforgettable time here on this beautiful land.

Our Hosts Maryann and Ugo

Ugo and Maryanne will be your hosts for this course. They have been living in Hong Kong up until this year, Maryanne working as a mindfulness coach for business executives and Ugo running an Italian food company. Now they have come to Portugal to live their dream, to provide people with spiritual and nutritional wellbeing whilst healing land and our connection to it. Creating a mindfulness retreat center designed to work with nature.

Lala Palmieri (Educator)

Laura Palmieri is a biologist, botanist, herbalist, gardener and permaculturist, with a lifetime working with plants. Lala was raised in a greenhouse in Guatemala, cultivating orchids, building living walls and aquaponic systems. She has been at Punta Mona for three years as a permaculture & herbalism educational facilitator and mentor to apprentices and volunteers. Lala co-leads the Village Witches herbal clinic at Cosmic Convergence and Envision festival with Sarah Wu, organizes free clinics for disaster relief around the world, and teaches herbalism at Punta Mona and at Fungi Academy

Sarah Wu (Educator)

The current Director and Educational Curator at Punta Mona, Sarah is leading trainings and workshops in herbal medicine, Permaculture Design Courses, Therapeutic Deep Ecology, Social Permaculture, field-to-the-plate holistic nutrition and herbal first aid. She is a clinical herbalist of 18 years, practicing planetary eclectic herbalism with a foundation in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Wise Woman Reclaiming philosophy, focusing on food-based healing and local ethnobotanical traditions. She is a passionate mentor and educator, who believes in the teacher’s role in unlocking the innate wisdom of the student. Sarah is the co-founder of the Village Witches project, Medicines from the Edge and co-producer of Envision Festival.

The current Director and Educational Curator at Punta Mona, Sarah is leading trainings and workshops in herbal medicine, Permaculture Design Courses, Therapeutic Deep Ecology, Social Permaculture, field-to-the-plate holistic nutrition and herbal first aid. She is a clinical herbalist of 18 years, practicing planetary eclectic herbalism with a foundation in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Wise Woman Reclaiming philosophy, focusing on food-based healing and local ethnobotanical traditions. She is a passionate mentor and educator, who believes in the teacher’s role in unlocking the innate wisdom of the student. Sarah is the co-founder of the Village Witches project, Medicines from the Edge and co-producer of Envision Festival.

Silvan Fey (Educator)

Silvan is a graphic designer, mushroom educator and community leader. He learned professional cultivation of gourmet, medicinal and entheogenic mushrooms in the village of the famous curandera Maria Sabina in the Oaxacan mountains of Mexico. His connection to mushroom cultivation and fungiculture started in 2013 and it has been a fulfilling journey ever since. He ejected himself out of university to immerse himself more deeply into mycology, leading him to co-found Fungi Academy in 2016

What is Special about this course?


These disciplines allow you to grow your own medicine and to heal yourself and others, an essential part of self and community sufficiency. Natural medicines also allow you to reconnect to the land and feel a greater sense of resiliency in the face of uncertain futures.


. We are international and our experience is global, a strong feminine leadership with three women facilitators, two of who come bearing the gifts of herb law. A knowledge of herbal healing mostly lost from western culture. Silvan our mycological expert is also weaving the connections in between with his fungal knowledge. And I myself am representing the animal kingdom and the elements. Together we make a beautiful synergy.


This is also an incredible opportunity to dive deep into the design process of permaculture.

This is because there is 32 hectares of degraded land that is a blank canvas. On a landscape that is seriously degraded permaculture techniques shine with their true worth. This is a great opportunity to find solutions to problems and understand the fundamentals for a regenerative design.

And you will have a fully supportive and knowledgeable team to support you.


We are also located in a stunning region, so expect beauty, wildlife, and to re-wild yourself. Swimming in the river Guadiana, and sleeping under the vast starry sky.

We have already conducted surveys, and have a conceptual plan. We have arial photographs and contour maps. But you will take it further, zooming in on your chosen area, to produce a design that will show exactly how your chosen area will be transformed into a paradise. This is a true opportunity to dive deep into the design and become confident with the techniques.

There will be intense study, but we will also play, and relax and this is a wonderful place to do that.

This is an opportunity to disconnect from society, immerse yourself in nature, fresh food, good company and form a tribe under the shared value of caring for nature.

Guadiana National Park Where you will be staying

What does the course cover?

The course covers the Permaculture research institutes curriculum of Australia and Britain, following Bill Molisons Designers Manual and some extras from the specialisms of your facilitator’s.


-Definition, history, and ethics.


-The guiding principles of permaculture set out by David Holmgren and Bill Molison.


– Theory and techniques for regenerative settlements, communities, landscapes and landscapes.


-Universal patterns applied to understanding design and relationships in nature.


– Earth works, key line design, ponds, grey and black water, aquaculture.


-Composition, biology, food web, fertility, human health and soil restoration.


-Working with wildlife, chickens, grazing animals, pigs, worms and other friends.


Food forest design, the layers of the food forest, and species for different climates and how to initiate a food forest.


Plant identification, major families, roles within the ecosystem and functions.


-Tropics, dryland, temperate.


-Reading the landscape, understanding the symbolic messages.


-Fungi and how to utilize them and grow them


Collecting herbs and making preparations and healing




We will try to make this course as practical as possible, as we believe the best way to learn is through doing.


-Hot compost and cold compost.


-Making nutrient brews for the garden.


-This is a valuable technique for preserving food, enhancing nutrition and human health.


-Taking cuttings, layering, and divisions.


-Foraging for wild herbs and food.


-inoculating logs and making cultures


-gathering herbs and making preparations

With the design process, we invite you to engage your imaginations and access the wisdom of the group and your supporting teachers to produce designs for parts of the 32 hectares where you will be staying. These designs will go towards realizing the overall vision of the land.


-You will conduct surveys, collect information and build maps and eventually designs for various projects of which you can choose between;

  1. A food forest that utilizes the grey water and catches rainfall, with vegetables and herbs, meditation spaces, ornamental flowers, pathways, beauty.
  2. An education center in the eucalyptus forest, with accommodation, clean water, vegetable gardens, food forest, well, recreation spaces.
  3. Restoring the lakes, aquaculture, food forest, vegetables and animal systems.
  4. Restoring the forest and grassland, agroforestry, mushrooms, animal grazing, water retaining landscapes, dams and ponds.

All designs are limited by water and restoring soil life in a bioregion such as this, so these designs pay special attention to these elements.

Who can benefit from this teaching? Who is it suited for?

People looking to grow a green thumb

People wanting a connection to nature

People looking into going off grid and live self sufficiently

Environmental or biology students


Environmental educators


People striving to live in harmony with nature

People wanting learn to regenerate land

The essence of permaculture is about building beneficial relationships. Permaculture design courses serve a valuable opportunity for a diverse range of individuals from completely different walks of life to come together over a shared dream, for working with nature and not against it. Expect to make lifelong friends and have a heartwarming experience.

The course is suited for all levels, no previous experience needed, but previous experience is also beneficial as the teachings provide an essential frame work that can be applied to all levels of experience.

About the farm

Quinta Marugo formally named Monte Portela Nova is a hotel that had been empty for around the last 15 years. It was recently purchased along with 32 hectares of land by our host Maryann and Hugo. The vision is to create a refuge for spiritual growth and healing, supported by meditation, good wholesome food and harmonious relationships with nature and natural farming practices.

The 32 hectares surrounding the property although beautiful, is suffering the onset of desertification like much of southern Europe, as the desert is spreading north. This shows by many of the trees dying and erosion, leaving little to no top soil. This is the unfortunate result of unsustainable farming practices.  Interestingly this region is characterized by drought and flood. The many hills mean there is great opportunity for water catchment and storage within the landscape itself. And indeed, there are people doing a wonderful job of regenerating areas of Portugal and elsewhere in the world with Keyline design and holistic grasslands. The rapid spreading of deserts is one of the greatest challenges we face in our time. But as the father of permaculture Bill Molison said “the problems are complicated but the answers are embarrassingly simple”

The dream is to use these techniques to turn this land back into a thriving woodland, but at the same time provide a livelihood for those that are restoring it, through honey, herbs, fruits, grazing animals and also the offering of education and retreats.

The dream is to make a closed loop system, whereby all human activates feed back into the land, so our interaction is not a burden but a benefit.

For example, all waste water will be filtered by fungi and sent to fruit trees, all kitchen scraps composted and fed to crops. Animals will be employed to regenerate the grassland with mob grazing, mimicking natural grazing patterns of wild animals. The lakes will be regenerated with animals and plants. And the landscape will be turned into a water harvesting landscape with earth works, swales, terraces, ponds and dams. Tree and herbs will be planted on contour and with time the yields of this labor of love will be expressed by the crowning feature of biodiversity.

About the region

Alentejo is famous for its many rolling hills, ponds and streams and cork oak trees. Fragrant herbs thrive in this region, lavender, rock rose and fennel and the eucalyptus combine to lace the morning mist with a beautiful fragrance. Wild boar is a plenty and lynx can also be found here. There are many wild birds and otters also.

We are sited on the edge of Guadiana national park. Named after the great river half an hour walk away. The river is full of fish and otters and birds and crayfish, and has many rapids and water falls, interesting geology, with caves and caverns. There are also wonderful areas for swimming where you can spend your free time.


Camping spaces are provided by the pond under the trees. Students need to bring their own tents, sleeping bags and any camping equipment needed to enjoy a comfortable stay.

Hot showers are available to use in the main house during your stay and there are ordinary toilets and compost toilets too, and washing machine to use if you need to.

There is also ample parking space for students coming in their vans.

What to bring

Expect temperatures to reach around 35 degrees Celsius in the day and around 15 in the night, bring a sun hat, flash light, shoes for working in or hiking, warm top as well as cool clothes for the day. Sun cream, your normal toiletries and also a note book and pens. We will be producing designs so you can also bring along any paints or anything else you feel will be useful for drawing.

There is also places to charge laptops and phones so please feel free to bring these as they will be useful for research.


Three vegetarian meals are served per day, with our own fresh garden produce, organic fruits and local olive oil and cheeses served by our resident Italian chef and host, Hugo.

What does the daily schedule look like?

We will send me details on this as the time draws nearer, but typically breakfast will be at around eight, with a couple of hours break and lunch in the middle of the day. And then finishing around eight at the latest before dinner in the evening. Sunday is day off!

Classes will typically be around an hour long each, each day mixed with working outside on the land or studying class time. About 1/3rd of the course is self-led, whilst working in part of a team for the final design project.

Transport to and from the site, to be arranged closer to the time.

Traveling by land

The site is located just 10 minutes from Serpa in southern Portugal, the Alentejo region in Portugal. A bus from Lisbon can be taken directly to Serpa from the company Rede Express.

You will then be collected from Serpa and driven to the site.

If you are arriving by plane, you can fly into Lisbon or Faro and then take a bus to Serpa.


Catherine Griggs



Please pay through this link

Best wishes


Comments are closed.