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Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) Collaboration Courses with Atitlán Organics

2-week Intensive Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) Course in collaboration with Atitlán Organics. One week in hosted in San Marcos la Laguna at The Yoga Forest, and one week in Tzununá at Atitlán Organics. Led by Permaculture teacher, designer and Atitlán Organics Co-Founder Shad Qudsi and guest teachers.

Studying Permaculture in Central America offers amazing opportunities to learn from indigenous cultures, rich natural patterns, and enormous diversity. Permaculture in Central America is representative of the edge effect or Edge Valuing Principle of Design. As one of the world’s centres of biodiversity, Central America attracts people from all over the world interested in learning through nature. Permaculture practices can be seen in action via the surviving indigenous traditions that are common in Central America. 

"Be the change that you wish to see in the world" - Mahatma Gandhi

upcoming training dates

august 7 - 31, 2020

august 8 - 22, 2020

[First week of the training is held at The Yoga Forest followed by the second week held at Atitlán Organics]

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 grey water 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.


Topics Covered;

  • 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)


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Practical Techniques;

  • 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)


Field Trips;

IMAP - The Meso-American Permaculture Institute where you will learn about Permaculture for community development, Mesoamerican history,  Mayan Cosmovision, food sovereignty and seed Saving.  

Quixaya - a Mayan run organisation supporting 64 families with aquaculture, agricultre and forestry, learning about land sovereignty, community governance, Mayan cosmovision and living and biodiversity preservation.


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Shad Qudsi (Co-Founder Atitlán Organics)

Shad has 14 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. After graduating from Johns Hopkins University with a double major in Applied Mathematics and Psychology, Shad and his now-wife, Colleen, moved to Central America with only vague goals of farming at some point in the near future. In January of 2010, Shad and Colleen moved onto a very small piece of land located in the traditional Mayan village of Tzununá, which is on the north shore of Lake Atitlan, in Guatemala. Shad has since developed the land into a small but profitable farming enterprise focused on salad and cooking greens, goat dairy products, and Agrotourism. Recently, Shad has been hired as an Agriculture Consultant for a development project being carried out in the Tzununá Valley. Now, he oversees four community gardens and is implementing two sustainable locally-run businesses based on the production and local marketing of clean organic food. 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 vengeance.

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Jeremy Fellows, (B.S. Sustainable Food And Farming)

Jeremy grew up with a fascination for the workings of nature. Enchanted by plants and their relationships with the soil, Jeremy took many classes on horticulture and plant identification in the Northeast US. Beginning work in landscaping, he soon learned about the great Permaculture gurus like Bill Mollison, Geoff Lawton, Sepp Holzer, and David Holmgren. This revelation created a new dimension in his love of botany; function and plant relationships, mycoculture, animal husbandry, agriculture and a study of natural and sustainable building.

Guest Facilitators

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Rony Lec (Co-Founder IMAP)

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. 

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Charlie Rendall, (M.A. Social Anthropology)

Charlie was the Natural Building Project Manager of The Yoga Forest throughout its construction, Charlie has been building sustainable houses and landscaping in San Marcos La Laguna, Guatemala for since 2004. He has tried just about every natural building method he could before settling on bamboo and earth as his favorites. He gave his first Bamboo Building Course in 2008 and loves helping others build. He now runs regular bamboo and natural building courses through his organisation Return to the Forest.




We provide shared accommodation in our beautiful traditionally built cabanas constructed from bamboo, adobe, clay and wood from sustainable Guatemalan plantations. With palm roofs to match the natural setting that surrounds us and windows that overlook one of the most stunning views in Guatemala; Lake Atitlán and its volcanoes. Private rooms and circus tent options are also available. Learn more about the accommodations at The Yoga Forest here.

If you would like to arrive early and/or stay later than the course dates, please check our availability online or by emailing


What other attractions are in the area and in Guatemala?


At first sight San Marcos La Laguna is a sleepy village with a few simple hotels and restaurants, but it has much to offer hidden between its winding paths. Massage and therapy centers offering treatments and short courses, Meditation centers, Mayan spiritual centers, traditional ceremonies, Mayan saunas, yoga classes, chocolate ceremonies, a gym, walking tours, lake tours, Spanish schools, salsa classes, a variety of excellent restaurants and bars, waterfront activities such as kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming, Internet cafés, shops selling imported food, various humanitarian and ecological volunteer projects, and a diverse community of residents and tourists.

We will gladly help you arrange tours to other towns either on the lake or further afield. Popular destinations on the lake include Panajachel, Santiago and San Pedro, all of which have fun local markets and a wide selection of restaurants. Panajachel and San Pedro also offer a more active nightlife for anyone seeking live music or a dance party. We can also arrange Spanish lessons.

Beyond the lake's sanctuary there are many more attractions: the colorful artisans' market in Chichicastenango, the former colonial capital of Antigua (from where you can climb the live volcano Pacaya and get up close to real lava), the Mayan ruins of Iximche, bird watching and canopy tours in San Felipe, Monterrico on the Pacific coast for big waves and black sand beaches, and Quetzaltenango (Xela) for trekking, hot springs and city culture.

Further afield, you can explore the lost Mayan jungle cities of Tikal, Yax'ha and El Mirador, swim in the paradisiacal pools and caves of Semuc Champay and Lanquin, trek in the remote Cuchumatan mountains and boat down the Rio Dulce from Lake Izabal to the Caribbean coast.

If you would like us to arrange tours or transport before or after the course, then we will be happy to help - just let us know what you're looking for.


Course Cost


US$1495 staying in shared accommodation at both sites

US$1795 staying in private accommodation at both sites

Includes tuition, certification, three vegetarian meals daily and morning yoga classes during the week hosted at The Yoga Forest, with outings and field trips to other amazing sites. 

Ready to register? Use the button to sign up with a non-refundable US$300 deposit. You have until the day of the course commencement to settle your full payment, please email to settle your balance once your deposit has been made.

Please contact SHAD if you have any further questions at