Specialising in Ponds and Wildlife



Providing consultation, full garden designs, project management and implementation for individuals, family homesteads, community groups, schools, and retreat centers.

We specialise in ponds and wildlife but are also offering integrated animal systems, food forests, kitchen gardens, herb gardens, grey water systems, water retention landscapes education and training and more.

photo 18

Permaculture gardens are a synergistic system that can provide food, water, timber, money, sequestration of carbon, pollution treatment, education, habitat for wildlife, beauty and enjoyment and much more. They differ to conventional gardens or agricultural systems in that initial investment of time, planning and labor is often greater but the yields increase exponentially over time, whilst this investment decreases as the system becomes self-sustaining. In a conventional agricultural system or garden, the initial investment is lower but the yields decrease over time, as the health of the system diminishes, and as a result the amount of investment needed increases.

Cynefin Permaculture Project

Permaculture is a holistic practice which is most useful as a tool for regenerating degraded landscapes. Its success can be measured not only by an abundance of human natural resources but also biodiversity, that is heralded by the sound of bird song, the buzz of insects, or the sweet smell of the soil life, and the return of the wild beasts that were once displaced by human activity.DSCF2580

Symbiont gardens endeavours to create gardens that work with nature not against it, the house or dwelling places of humans transforms from a burden on the ecosystem to a key asset, by synergistically integrating it into the landscape starting with water. Waste water is recycled back into the garden and utilised and cleansed by plants and fungi before filtering down to the water table. The garden is also landscaped to harvest rainwater passively so that it can be stored in ponds, soil, plants and trees minimising the need for irrigation. Freshwater springs can even be created!

Photo May 13, 11 03 05 AM

Like in nature permaculture gardens cycle their own nutrients through beneficial plant, fungi and animal relationships, domestic farm animals can also be woven into the system to support this process and receive mutual benefits.


The gardens also take care of their own pest control by providing habitat for pest predators or diversion strategies to send them away. Pollination is also taken care of by ensuring there is habitat and food for pollinators.


As a human being within the system, your job is actually to bring a little destruction now and again once the system is established. A widely recognised principle of conservation biology states: Intermittent disturbance increases diversity. So, you as a human can do what we do best naturally, agitate nature, disturb the system.Pruning and dropping foliage, this helps stimulate growth, make more light, promote higher yields and care for the soil health, helping to keep the balance.If there are animals, moving animals around the system so they can help with weeding, pruning, pooping, eating pests, building soil and tilling. And harvesting, which is big work and often underestimated, get ready for a yield!!

IMG_1397And aside from these essential jobs, it is likely you will continue making adjustments and finely tuning your system to suit you, becoming an expert with time.

Permaculture gardens are not for you if you want to see tidy ordered edges, naked soil, neatly mowed lawns, no “weeds” no snakes, birds, lizards insects, and you don’t want to hunt for you food to a certain extent, and you do not see beauty in chaos.

Permaculture gardens are for you if you can accept humans are not the intelligence but part of an intelligence, if you want to form an intimate relationship with nature, if you’re willing to come into a place of service to nature, and are willing to recognize order in chaos by seeing the roles of the individual species within your garden. If you’re ready for the adventure of foraging for your food and want to learn how we are already in Eden. Then permaculture gardening is for you!


Symbiont gardens provides support internationally and has been operating mostly in Britain and Guatemala for the last eight years, currently we are operating in Portugal.





















But there is Hope for the Eden we Dream of!

But there is Hope for the Eden we Dream of

Nature is Self Regulating and So are We.


Nature is self regulating, animal populations naturally boom when they first appear until they exceed their available resources. This results in a leveling off, whereby they come into balance with their environment, and can be supported by the system of which they depend, whilst mutually supporting it.

For example if there was a plague of deer, they would eat plants, breed lots, expand the population and then begin to die from starvation because they had eaten away the vegetation, they may also be affected by disease. If there is a population boom of any animal, normally a predator will come in and take advantage (providing it isn’t being controlled by humans) The predator; for example a wolf, will exploit this abundant resource until it becomes over populated as well. The prey population will plummet and the predator or wolf will over take it. Then the wolves will die of starvation and the same factors that caused mortality in the deer. Then the deer will begin to thrive again, this see-sawing of population sizes will occur for sometime until it reaches an equilibrium. Then the plants can regrow and the ecosystem will thrive in harmony and balance. When this stage has been reached the population has reached carrying capacity.


Carrying capacity growth curves showing exponential growth with time, then population leveling off as it meets carrying capacity due to balanced interaction with resources

The carrying capacity for humans is estimated somewhere around the mark of 4- 16 billion, but of course this is hard to predict as we continuously change the way we interact with our environment.

This theory of carry capacity perhaps puts fear in the hearts of those who realise we are at the top of the food chain, (unless you include parasites), so that leaves us with just killing each other, epidemics, starvation or environmental disasters to bring us to a sustainable population size. However evidence suggests that such destruction and instability result in conditions that result in a growing population for humans!.



Surprisingly it’s the opposite of what people often think is the solution to overpopulation in the face of limited resources I.e war.

As according to the theory of Demographic Transition, populations get smaller with more food, better health care, urbanisation, access to jobs and education. The conditions that result from destruction cause an absence of these things.

The theory is broken down into five stages as the graph below demonstrates. 

graph 2

Wikimedia Commons Demographic transition model showing five stages.

Demographic Transition Stages

Stage one represents a preindustrial society, birth and death rates are high and more or less the same because of limited access to food and health care. The whole world was like this until the 18th century when industrialization appeared.

Stage two represents developing countries, changes in agricultural practices mean a greater availability of food. Changes to public health care mean a lower infant mortality rate. During this period the population size rapidly increases as the birth rate is higher than the death rate.

Some middle eastern countries and many parts of Africa are going through stage one or two so they’re populations are either rapidly growing or they are stable due to a high birth and death rate.

In Stage three birth rates fall due to the availability of contraceptives, urbanisation and education and the provision of  work opportunities for women, there is a loss of value in child labour and child education become the emphasis with increased parental investment in the child, the survival rate is higher and there is less need to produce more children. During the 19th century in europe the birth rate declined despite the fact contraceptives were not available. It is important to note that the birth rate changes fundamentally because of a change in values.

Stage four represents a developed country with both low death rates and low birth rates the population size begins to level and come into balance, some scholars speculate that countries remain here, but others speculate a stage five where by Birth rates may drop well below replacement level, leading to a shrinking population size with an aging demographic. This is apparent in countries such as Germany, Italy, and japan. This is a threat to industries that rely on population growth. Death rates may remain low or increase due to diseases caused by lifestyle choices such as lack of exercise, obesity or diabetes. The mortality rate may also increase due to the aging population as the elderly die frequently..

It even looks like the world population is gradually levelling off.

Year Population Yearly % Change
2016 7,432,663,275 1.13 %
2015 7,349,472,099 1.18 %
2010 6,929,725,043 1.23 %
2005 6,519,635,850 1.25 %

Resources are Abundant But Distribution is Uneven!

There is enough food produced to feed all 7, 432 billion of us, we produce 1/3rd to ½ more than we eat and it goes to waste. A 2013 report from the British Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IME) estimated that 30–50% (or 1.2–2 billion tonnes) of all food produced remains uneaten.


Wealth distribution is another strange thing 62%  own as much as the poorest half of the world population. 1% percent own more than the rest of us combined.


There is enough food and wealth for all but the distribution is uneven.

Human Behaviour be Evolving from Self Imposed Pressure

So it seems as far as material resources are concerned we have everything we need to thrive in peace and balance, however distribution means it is not accessible to all populations. We have no natural predators keeping our numbers down, but we can come into balance and without exhausting our resources; by creating infrastructure that fosters education, health care and empowerment, particularly of women.


Perhaps the greedy and destructive nature of humanity is a throwback behaviour that is still lingering since before the turn of the 19th Century. Without a natural predator it seems we became our own predator, much in the same way lions will kill lions from other prides. Human behaviour could have evolved to be annihilating of its own species to regulate population size. And thus maintaining demographic transition stage 1 where the birth rate and death rate are more or less the same, as it was throughout the world before the industrial revolution. Now we hold much of the poorer nations and populations in stage 2 (an increasing population size with industrial development), by monopolising the resources that lead to infrastructure that fosters stage 3, 4 and 5 (where birth and death are in balance or leading towards death rates higher than the birth rate resulting in a shrinking population). We seem to be expressing primitive behaviours that are no longer suited to a species with increasing knowledge and opposable thumbs that enable it to materialise its thoughts into the outer world around it.

We have created a new paradigm for ourselves that doesn’t seem to apply to any other species; our survival is dependant on the things we create and how we affect the world as a whole, as this is how far our actions now span. We are less human beings and more often humans doing, creating and manipulating.

With knowledge and power comes increasing responsibility and from responsibility arises the constraints for evolving wisdom.

peaceThe Millenium tree By Josephine Wall

Permaculture Design Courses, Portugal, July, August, September 2018

Join the Permaculture movement, gain practical answers and solutions for today’s global problems and immerse yourself into a transformative lifestyle that can make a real difference for you, the global community and our planet!

Permaculture is a design system for regenerative human settlements based on the principles of natural ecosystems. It provides an ethical framework and creative ways to interact harmoniously with our environment. As a worldwide movement for earth-based living and bioregional economy, it brings together a broad set of methods, technologies, and approaches for community-oriented solutions to the challenges our planet is facing today. The Permaculture Design Certificate Course (PDC) is an internationally-recognized 72-hour course that provides the basic understanding, information and ideas of how to design a sustainable and regenerative system in balance with our natural environment.

Guided by the core of Bill Mollison’s 72-hour curriculum and David Holmgren’s seven domains of permaculture action, our course participants will have the unique opportunity to learn about permaculture in an off-the-grid, community-based setting. Based on our real life experiences, this course offers hands-on applied permaculture skills immersed in our well-established educational centre, Terra Alta, located in the beautiful bioregion of Sintra, Portugal.


By attending our summer Permaculture Design Certificate Course (PDC), you will gain first hand experiences of both opportunities and challenges that arise from developing and maintaining a resilient home and land-based resource system. On this two week journey, you will share the joy of learning and co-creating with like minded people and embrace a variety of tangible and intangible skills to empower yourself, your local community, your company or your family. Together, we will work on holistic solutions and communal response to the interlinked challenges of our time. Our focus will be on practice-oriented, learning-by-doing experiences, not just concept, theory and information-based study. Therefore, we will co-create mutual learning situations with various design exercises throughout the course, which will enable you to design resilient and regenerative systems. In taking this course, you will gain the confidence and basic abilities for permaculture design approaches suited for landscapes, apartment balconies, intentional communities, company structures or personal life paths. The PDC can also be your first step in the pathway of becoming a professional permaculture designer. If you want to go on this pathway after the course, you can apply immediately to the UK diploma track of the British permaculture association. Terra Alta is a certified educational site and we certify our students through the UK association

Dates: 15th July  – 29th July  2018

Course Fee:

390 euros  ( EARLY BIRD until 1st March )

450 euros  ( after 1st March )

Plus food and accommodation – 350 euros

Early booking is recommended since our courses fill up very quickly

 For more information and to register contact at the following:



 “Permaculture is a dance with nature-in which nature leads.”Bill Mollison

The Course

  • Bill Mollison’s 72h curriculum 
  • The Seven domains of permaculture from David Holmgren
  • Internalizing the principles and ethics of permaculture
  • Permaculture design method for planning a project
  • Off-the-grid site – Terra Alta, home and land-based resource system as a teacher 
  • Appropriate technology and sustainable energy systems
  • Hands-on and solution-oriented curriculum with focus on resiliency and regeneration 
  • Community and social tools for project and personal development
  • Regenerative landscape design
  • Water retention and regeneration
  • Composting and earthworks
  • Bio-Intensive techniques for Kitchen and Market Gardening
  • Building with natural materials
  • Sustainable social structures, alternative economy
  • Urban permaculture
  • Food preservation, fermentation
  • Participatory facilitation techniques including : world cafe, open space technology, hands on, walk and talk and site tour and more.
  • Permaculture UK association certification 


Suited for :

  • Project developers
  • Students looking for practical experience and holistic perspective
  • Permaculture Designers, artists, architects, landscapers
  • Small land holders 
  • Ecologists and Restoration Worker
  • Activist
  • Designers
  • Landscape architects
  • Land developers
  • Artists
  • Farmers
  • Urban Gardeners
  • NGO-members
  • Community members
  • People in urban and settlement planning
  • Social workers
  • Environmental educators
  • School teachers
  • People looking for nature connection



Highlighted Features

  • The seven domains of permaculture action from David Holmgren are building our course outline – By including the permaculture design system flower to our course outline in addition to the standard curriculum from Mollison we believe that it meets the requirements of today’s expanded understanding of the concept of permaculture. This model shows the key domains which require transformation in order to create a more sustainable and regenerative culture.
  • Off-the-grid site – Terra Alta, home and land-based resource system as a teacher –  in taking place at our off-the-grid educational centre our students have the opportunity to learn directly from the success and failure of a permaculture site in development.
  • Hands-on and solution-oriented curriculum with focus on resiliency and regeneration  – our approach in facilitating a PDC is a permaculture principle in practice, a less academic and more intense hands-on and practise-oriented experience to offer our students those hard skills needed to start or improve their own projects
  • Community and social tools for project and personal development  – For empowering ourselves and each other to take action and responsibility towards a regenerative lifestyle, we need appropriate tools for communication, decision making, organisation and community living. For this, the permaculture principles can be applied to our social and personal life in a way which connects us with our potential as an individual and as a community. This can bring us a lot of joy and quality of life while we share our gifts. During the course you will learn and apply social permaculturetools and get the opportunity to connect with your personal gift and share it with the community.
  • Urban permaculture – after evaluating past students’ testimonials and their further pathways, we figured that many are indeed grasping that permaculture is an essential part towards building a new regenerative culture, but don’t know how they can apply it in their own situation without a garden in a city setting. This year we will have a special section on how you can become a collaborative partner in a healthy urban biosphere.
  • Biointensive agriculture – introduction into methodology, tools and techniques to grow crops successfully in a context of heightened efficiency


Teaching Methods

  • Open space
  • World cafe
  • Action learning
  • Field trips
  • Theater
  • Lecture
  • Walk and talk
  • Hands on
  • Design Project
  • Games
  • Movies
  • Group dynamics
  • Think and listen
  • Sharing circle
  • Group work
  • Participatory art

The facilitators and Hosts


1 full-15 (2)permaculture-association-certified-educator-500

Pedro Valdjiu – Facilitation and hosting

In 2008 Pedro Valdjiu had a dream of creating a Permaculture Educational Center that would be the breeding ground of a cultural movement to spread around the world. Ten years later Pedro’s dream has come true: Terra Alta has trained hundreds of people from all walks of life, from permaculture design courses ( PDC ) to sustainable house building and regenerative living solutions. The community has become a model of what off-the-grid living can look like and Pedro Valdjiu has emerged as a visionary founder, teacher and cultural regenerative agent of a movement that keeps getting bigger.

Within the Permaculture world, Pedro is a Permaculture project consultant, a certified teacher of the UK Association of Permaculture, a student of Sepp Holzer and teachings of David Holmgren and a passionate facilitator in the areas of Beekeeping, Forest Gardening, Natural Building, Eco-Village Design, Alternative Energy and Off-the-Grid Solutions.

Outside of the permaculture world, Pedro is an award-winning filmmaker and musician. He is the founder and member of the world-renowned musical band Blasted Mechanism. He is the co-founder of a Waldorf School that brings a love based education to children into the local community. And he is the father of two beautiful daughters and companion for about 24 years of lovely Rita Seixas.

 To know more about Valdjiu Click HERE
201408_05_0206 2


Henrik Ellerbrock  – facilitation and hosting

Growing up in the metropolis of Berlin, Henrik developed a particular sense of what are the urgent matters to address for establishing a global societal transformation. Through various projects for peace education and conflict resolution in southern and eastern Africa, as well as working with A. Boal’s “theatre of the oppressed” in different Berlin high schools, he understood clearly that social changes cannot be imposed from the outside, but have to grow from within.

After several years of work to create societal awareness for global political issues in Berlin he decided to move to Portugal in 2010, hoping to find a more authentic way of life. Here he met Pedro and his family and joined the Terra Alta project, purchasing the neighboring land.

Since that time he has studied permaculture intensively as well as related aspects of sustainable living. As a passionate Natural Builder and consultant for regenerative design solutions Henrik currently works as a biointensive farmer and vegetable distributor drove by the vision of creating bioregional food autonomy. Through pertinent observation, constructive ideas and an eye for detail, he became an essential part of the educational center and every day is dedicated to live the dream of an alternative regenerative life.

To know more about Henrik Click HERE

Catherine Griggs – Facilitation 

Catherine Griggs, BA zoology with Conservation. Catherine has been recreating and mimicking ecosystems since child-hood, her long appreciation for the natural world has given her a deep understanding of the language of animals, plants and the natural world as whole. Shepherdess turned wildlife conservationist, then permaculture consultant she discovered the tool of permaculture in 2010. Since then Cat has been combining her knowledge skills and imagination to instigate permaculture around the world. She has been taking every opportunity to learn and share with various cultures including the Quechua people of the Andes, African tribes people, the conservation cowboys of the Rockies and the Celtic mountain folk of north wales, she’s worked for a number of years in Guatemala working in a sub-tropical highland forest developing aquaculture systems and forest gardens. Her knowledge is diverse and she is adept at working with people from all walks of life. Her fascination now lies in the study of human nature in relation to the planet’s ecology; she draws upon quantum physics, shamanic wisdom and yogic teachings. As for her the outer landscape of the planet is a reflection of the inner landscape of humanity and this is where the gardening really begins.

To know more about Catherine  Click HERE



Rita Seixas – hosting

Is a deeply dedicated educator and community leader as she helps to bring transformation through nurturing children’s education and welcoming course hosting through attention to detail. She is the co-founder of Terra Alta and Escola da Terra A Waldorf School in a village nearby Terra Alta. She is highly connected to Antroposhophy, a spiritual science created by Rudolf Steiner, which frames this amazing work with the next generation. She is also a very talented artist in the areas of crafting, painting and drawing which translates into retrofitting spaces with both functionality and aesthetic beauty. Devoted mother of 2 girls, she is on the cutting edge of education in Portugal leading a School with her full heart and soul.



The Host Site

Terra Alta is an aspiring off the grid holistic education host site and gives you the chance to be immersed in a landscape of learning. It’s located in between Almoçageme and Ulgueira, two quaint villages just above the sea and situated for easy access to the amazing beaches called Praia da Adraga and Ursa. It’s easy to reach from Lisbon and Sintra and gives access to our amazing sunset cliffs and beaches. Terra Alta offers a wonderful example of small-scale intensive systems working towards being off the grid. Because the site has had several years of Permaculture management, it is easy for students to immerse themselves in the principles of landscape development and holistic infrastructure development. The following Permaculture elements and functions are on display amongst others:

  • Small-scale Earthworks to capitalise on impervious surface runoff
  • Extensive Food Forest of subtropical, temperate, and Mediterranean species corresponding with the earthworks
  • Hot & Cold Composting (Vermiculture) systems for boosting soil life, picking up on waste streams, and cycling nutrients
  • Food Preservation and supporting local economy of food production
  • Small Intentional Community focused on adult education through Permaculture courses but more importantly holistic, Waldorf and Permaculture inspired education for the children of the local area
  • Natural Building techniques utilized for dwellings and outdoor cooking and social spaces
  • Renewable Energy technology featuring solar panels – we provide charging only for mobile phones due to limited amount of energy.
  • Internet available one hour a day via Hotspot.

In case you want top know a bit more about our vision go HERE 

 And to meet our crew HERE

And to meet the land and how we apply Permaculture HERE





During the courses students get a chance to experience a permaculture garden more intimately by camping on the land. In a semi-wild area, we have created level terraces among the trees, mushrooms and stones for people to pitch their tents out of view from the rest of the garden.

There is also the possibility for some students with their own bus/camper-van to stay on the land, although space is limited; so if you are interested in bringing a bus, please get in touch and we’ll do our best to accommodate everyone!



From the outdoor communal kitchen, we provide 3 meals per day, breakfast, lunch and dinner included in the cost of the course (except Sundays when the students are free to feed themselves!)

Prepared with love, the food is always diverse, fresh, healthy, homemade and vegetarian. By that we also help to stimulate the local food economy by purchasing what ingredients are not grown at Terra Alta from the local organic “Cooperativa” and other local producers and processors.

What to do near by

In the break day you can go to Praia da Ursa, the wild beach 30 min away walking. There is so much to visit in Sintra… its a world heritage area full of incredible monuments and gardens planted with an immense variety of trees.  We have created a page with some of the local features that you can

Permaculture Design Course, 13th-27th August 2017.


Permaculture Design Course, 13th-27th August 2017, Dual Projects, The Yoga Forest and Atitlan Organics.

An Adventure that takes place within an extinct super volcano, rich with forest, hummingbirds and fireflies, we are working to co-create gentle living, develop practical skills with plants, animals and natural building, whilst sharing and learning with great minds inspired fertile.

Image result for san pedro volcano lake atitlan

The course takes place split between two unique projects, the magical Yoga Forest and  Atitlan Organics, allowing students to take the best from both worlds.

We will be learning from some of the most inspired minds the region has to offer, with a number of field trips to established permaculture sites. This two week long course is practical and hands on where you will acquire useful skills such as techniques in natural building, animal husbandry and plant management.


Whats Included?


In the first week you will be staying in the yoga forest that specialises in inward work, exploring your inner nature, here you will also work within the stunning forest garden and with the soil and aquaculture.


In the second week lake you will be hosted by Atitlan Organics where you will stay in the Bamboo Guest House and learn from Shad in his permaculture homestead, focused on farm produce and sustainable livelihood.

rony_teachingYou will aslo visit IMAP The Meso American Permaculture Institute where you will learn about Permaculture for community development, Mesoamerica history,  Mayan cosmovision, food sovereignty and seed Saving.

img_4104And you will visit Quixaya a Mayan run organisation supporting around a thousand people with aquaculture, here you will receive lessons on land sovereignty, community governance, mayan cosmovision and living and biodiversity preservation.




  • Introduction to permaculture (Permaculture definition, history, Principles and Ethics, design)
  • Ecology (food chains, trophic cascades, keystone species etc)
  • Planning, Surveying, Design (SADIMET design process)
  • Soil (soil ecology and food web, the rhizosphere, culturing biodiversity)
  • Social Systems and Community
  • seed banks
  • Mayan history and Cosmo Vision (politics, permaculture in context, ancestral wisdom)
  • Climates (permaculture in different climates)
  • Food production (home scale, market garden, veg plot)
  • Sustainable energy (bicycle energy, solar power)
  • Forest gardening (ancient and new food forests, species, establishing)
  • Integrated animal systems (chickens, fish, grazers)
  • Aquaculture (tilapia and veg terracing)
  • Right livelihood (fair share people care livelihood)
  • Natural Building (bamboo building and earthen)YogaForest-bradleythomas-5937


  • Plant propagation (cuttings, division, layering, seed saving, etc)
  • Working with animals (goats, bees, fish, chickens, worms)
  • Food fermentation and preservation (lacto fermentation and culturing your inner biodiversity)
  • Composting, mulching (18 day hot compost, humanure, cold compost, horizontal composting, composting with animals)
  • Plant identification (Botanical studies, nutrient accumulators, biological indicators, insectaries)
  • Mapping contours (a frame and bunyip)
  • Water catchment in the land and plants.
  • Team work (designing together, planning and implementing projects)
  • Reading the landscape (Keylines, night hikes, Sensory explorations, animals as indicators)
  • Self observation and study (yoga, Meditation)
  • Permaculture Design and Implementation (final design projects)
  • 11836641_10156782154098125_8099830174798354181_n

What will I take from the course?

You will be a certified Permaculture designer, a certification that is internationally recognized by the Permaculture community. You will also have the knowledge and practical skills required to immediately begin designing and creating Permaculture projects and sustainable landscapes. You will be provided with links and resources to help you proceed further on your chosen path.

You will be able to form land assessments and designs, and will be equipped with skills to start you off in natural building. You will also be able to implement basic greywater and composting systems necessary for a sustainable dwelling. In addition, you will have an understanding of aquaculture, vegetable production, integrated livestock management and food preservation to begin producing your own food and designing systems for yourself and others.

Course content and training is applicable to all climate regions and is designed for aspiring design professionals, permaculturists, farmers and gardeners, architects, engineers, scientists, and all other professionals who are interested in learning and promoting a more sustainable, nature-based approach to their work.

Who are the course facilitators?



Shad Qudsi (Co-Founder Atitlán Organics)Shad Qudsi has 15 years experience in organic and commercial gardening and farming. He is certified in Permaculture Design and has over 6 years experience in holistic site development and homesteading. Shad originally set out to study mathematics and work in big business, but long ago had a change of heart. He can now be found dancing in his garden in Tzununa. Aside from all of this, Shad is an enthusiastic teacher who truly believes in the work he is doing. Human resiliency cannot be erased from the landscape and now, it is coming back with a gentle loving caress.



Catherine has been recreating and mimicking ecosystems since child-hood, her appreciation for the  natural world led her to be closer to animals and plants than humans until her late teens. After an unexpected rendezvous in the fashion world and then as a shepherdess, she went on to do a diploma in Animal Management then a Bachelors degree in Zoology with Conservation, she soon realized she could integrate all her passions as a permaculture practitioner.  She has travelled the globe extensively taking every opportunity to learn and share with various  cultures including the Quechua people of the Andes, African tribes people, the conservation cowboys of the rockies and the Celtic mountain folk of north wales. Her knowledge is diverse and she is adept at working with people from all walks of life. Her fascination lies in the study of human nature in relation to the planet’s ecology.

Guest Speakers


rony-team-225x300Rony Lec – co founder of IMAP  Institute for Meso AMerican Permaculture
Rony is one of the world’s leading experts in permaculture and Mayan ancestral knowledge. Rony has spent the last 20 years teaching and implementing permaculture throughout Central, South and North America focusing on promoting food sovereignty and preserving biodiversity for the survival of Indigenous communities. Through his extensive work with Indigenous communities on traditional ecological knowledge, seed saving, native plants, local/global food movements, livelihood security, and the interaction between communities and the environment, he has made a key contribution to the empowerment of Indigenous people around the world. 



Charlie has been building houses and landscaping gardens in San Marcos La Laguna, Guatemala for eight years. He tried just about every natural building method he could before settling on bamboo and mud as his favorites. He gave his first Bamboo Building Course in 2008 and loves helping others learn how build their own houses. Originally from London, England, Charlie holds a Masters Degree in Social Anthropology, and has studied Buddhism, Yoga, business and social development in India. For several years he taught transferable skills development to postgraduates at University College London before meeting his wife and becoming technical director at her arts education project, La Cambalacha.

Course content and schedule may be subject to change depending on climate and resources etc.

For more information contact








THe Apathetic Activists Medicine BLog

For the love of earth.

The Apathetic Activists Medicine Blog.

(Sharing home truths from planet mum)

By Catherine Griggs 2016



This goes out to all those who care what is happening to us, our beautiful planet and the current species that occupy it.  This is not a doom sayers blog, although at times it may seem dark. Its an offering of perspective for the cultivating acceptance of the planetary situation, which leaves so many of us with a heavy heart. my intention is to rid apathy, so I would just like to emphasis here the difference between acceptance and passivity, Acceptance being a mind state where you are aware and engaged, passivity being a mind state where you are un-engaged and somewhat oblivious.  Among many of us, a feeling of despair and apathy has arisen from beliefs formed from observations of the state of the world . I keep hearing people say there is no hope, that we have gone past the point of no return, so they give up trying and apathy sets in. Im not saying i know what to do about it all (apart from the obvious growing your own food naturally, making habitats for wildlife and cultivating love in you heart).  

But! I lifted a huge weight that burdened me and guilt for being human when i discovered the points i will discuss later in this blog. Ultimately allowing me to love my self more and humanity in general. 


Wisdom by Mario Sanchez Nevado

What about this Man Made Extinction?


Mario Sánchez Nevado

The image above shows man heavily burdened by industry, weighed down by what he has created, walking the animals of a cliff whilst carrying the tree of the life, the tree of wisdom in his hand.

The Hopeful Dream

Many of us share the same dream; that humans could be nature’s stewards and peace tenders, guardians of the earth who co-exist symbiotically, a race of global gardeners who tend carefully and creatively to facilitate the highest expression of this planet which is nothing less than a cornucopia of abundance, where all thrive in harmony with each other and as one on this resplendent living orb we call earth.


The current situation is this.

scientist believe we are currently amidst the Holocene mass extinction; one of the big five mass extinctions in all the earth’s history. And there is strong evidence it is anthropogenic (caused by humans).

It is the worst rate of species loss since the dinosaurs became extinct 65 million years ago. And according to the fossil record the extinction rates are higher than they have ever been. Scientists estimate the normal background extinction rates are around 1- 5 species per year owing to causes unrelated to the activities of humans or commits or other great earthly disasters.. It is now estimated we are currently  losing around 1,000 to 10,000 times this.

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment calculated the extinction rate is around  8,700 species a year, or 24 a day. A more recent analysis by  U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity concluded upto 150 everyday.

Please see http://www.iucnredlist.org/about/summary-statistics for more information

A Few of the Amazing Beasts We Have Lost


Wikimedia Commons The golden toad, once abundant in parts of Costa Rica, was declared extinct in 2007.


Wikimedia Commons The Barbary lions, the last was hunted to extinction by humans either 1942 0r as late as 1960.


Wikimedia Commons The Thylacine or (Tasmanian tiger) was a dog like marsupial they were wiped out in the 20th century at the hands of man as their pelts were valuable and they were predating livestock. The last wild Thylacine died in 1930 at the last last captive in 1936.

Some of the Familiar and Much Loved Faces Under Threat of Extinction


Time to Flip the Perspective

What if Biodiversity Decimation is Biodiversity Facilitation?

A mass extinction happens around every 26 million years and this one is right on time, and it’s apparently because of us.

This is very sad, but could biodiversity decimation of gargantuan proportions be our natural role as a species? As a catalyst for actually enhancing and perpetuating life on earth?


 ©2012-2016 ady2fast

After each great extinction a new species regime evolved, mammals only evolved because the dinosaurs died out giving way to ecological niches that mammals could then occupy, thrive and diverge.

We call ourselves separate from nature but how can we be?, we are nature, we are of this earth. And even if we aren’t as some people speculate, then we are of this universe and that is nature too.

And as for being biodiversity facilitators, what more could we do than bring on the next great species shift?; A divergence of a new species regime.

So although in the present and short term we appear to be greatly diminishing biodiversity, in the long run we are enhancing it. We are a keystone species acting for evolution itself.

 In conservation biology there is a principle that intermittent disturbance increases diversity. For example; like a herd of cows going over a muddy field and making hoof holes, seeds get in by the wind, from the animal’s fur or maybe they lay dormant in the soil waiting to be exposed, when they grow the area is diversified. If the cows keep on treading the ground and creating disturbance which is not intermittent then the area will become less diverse. Disturbance is relative, we are not giving nature time to recover now, but in the long run even heavy disturbance increases diversity. All is relative to scale and time.

Our Existence is Reflected in Eternity

There is no way we can predict how we will influence the future, although it would seem we have made good conditions for genetic mutations to occur on a cellular level.

We’ve polluted with so many agents that trigger genetic mutation; radiation from war and nuclear, pesticides and chemical warfare and plastic in the seas that has broken down to small enough particles that it can now interact with dna when ingested. We have emitted greenhouse gases that have damaged the ozone layer allowing more of the sun’s radiation to penetrate the earth, now it bombards the DNA of organisms everywhere with greater ferocity.

We have isolated populations of animals through habitat destruction so they can no longer migrate or find mates causing them to inbreed and go through genetic bottlenecks, which although this leaves them vulnerable to disease it also facilitates mutations that sometimes are beneficial. Selection pressures are high because resources are limited for mates, food and habitat. The best adaptations are being selected by nature in the evolutionary arms race to survive and procreate. The conditions are ripe for species divergence.


Cyanobacteria  By Matthew J Parker – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Wikimedia Commons

Around 2.5-million years ago cyanobacteria where the first living organisms on earth. They absorbed carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and released oxygen. Eventually they evolved into plants and enough oxygen was released into the atmosphere to support animals. Now today each out breath of an animal is matched by the in breath of a plant.

As Tom Chi rightly pointed out “If those early cyanobacteria had the capacity to think. They would not be able to imagine how they could affect the world today with just their breath”.

In time all the things we worry about not decomposing; like plastic, will have vanished, even the radiation. One day It is highly likely there will be no trace of us at all. The earth transforms all, she’s the ultimate alchemist. All that may be left of us will be the species that evolved in response to the selection pressures we influenced in a time long forgotten.

So it seems good and bad are two sides of the same coin and which is which can only be decided by the perceiver of the circumstance.  Through all this suffering we are facilitating the next great shift, the sixth mass extinction and thus the sixth species regime. Chopping and Composting the biodiversity of planet earth to fertilise the next bloom.


Courses and Workshops

worm farm

All the courses and workshops I facilitate  have a strong practical element, with a focus on key techniques to enable  graduates to feel confident working with their hands as well as their minds.

With the full permaculture design course the techniques may include 18 day hot composting, worm farming, heating water and green houses with compost, making compost with chickens, seed saving, propagating and grafting, food fermentation, plant guilding, natural building, animal husbandry, making wild medicines and working with willow .

My specialism is in working with wildlife whether in the soil, on the land or in the water, wildlife conservation is central to my teachings and the ethical principle of working with wildlife not against it. I facilitate this knowledge enabling students to create attract wildlife and get nature gardening for you.

The teaching incorporates all learning styles with a strong focus on working with peoples natural abilities and strengths.

Students use the permaculture design techniques from the start of the course to the end when they will present there final design which they have designed for an actual client.

I provide full support for students after they have finished the course to help them with their projects and networking.