Our Story

In 2008 we bought an abandoned cattle pasture, located in the middle of the jungle in the Caribbean coast of Cost Rica. We took down all the barbed wire and got busy bringing the fertility back to this heavily dreaded land. We knew one thing. In order to attain a real sustainable lifestyle, we needed to help Earth regenerate. We had one goal. How to create a productive ecosystem, that builds soil while making food and integrate ourselves into it.

We wanted to co-create our support system to provide for all of our needs. It needed to produce our building materials so we could have a modern comfortable home. We needed cheap, functional solutions to supply all of our energy and water.

We began by analyzing our diet and decided to try to produce everything we bought from the store. How do we produce all of our calories, fats, carbs, minerals, vitamins and proteins? We experimented with all the different edible plants that grow well in this soil. We identified the plants that produced lots of nutrition with little effort. Then learned to master preparing them. From flours made from roots, to coconut and avocado oils to “supplements” like leafy green powder blends. We even make our own chocolate, coffee, sugar, and process our own Caribbean sea salt! We went all out selecting the best varieties, learning all the processes and acquiring all the tools to make this a realistic cost-effective lifestyle.

With our needs met in a few short years and plenty of leisure time to just enjoy life, we realized if we were to have any impact on the world we needed to teach others, lots of them, and fast!

We got to work multiplying the system to provide for other people and developed a training center next to our homestead. We called it Finca Tierra Permaculture or Earth Farm. With the goal of teaching others how to become native to Earth and realize that with ecological design land can produce everything you need.

For the past 8 years, we have been holding on-site practical training.

These training offer students from all over the world to live with us for a few weeks while we look in depth on how to build and manage a homestead and small forest farm.

Every morning is devoted to the practical how-to’s with small class size so we make sure you leave with the skills to do this for yourselves. We prepare vegetable beds, make compost, and manage soil pH and fertility. We plant staple crops like nuts, roots and perennial grains and fatty fruits like avocados. We plant a new area of food forest start to finish. We look at building materials, home design, waste management, electricity, and water. All 100% off grid and very cost efficient.

In the afternoons we have lectures where we gain an understanding of how we can apply permaculture on a large scale and how it fits into the planetary boundaries. How to make profitable systems. We compare and contrast best practices in different climates and scales and go into detail on the technical aspects of the systems of this site. 

We also look at how to design a diet! Now that we know how to grow it, how much space we need and what species to plant; we put our effort into turning these nutritional and medicinal foods into delicious tasting plates!

The course finishes with each student designing a 1-acre sustainable homestead based on what you’ve learned.  So you will know the benefits and limitations of permaculture. How to apply it in relation to your personal context. How to grow your food with vegetable gardens and agroforestry systems at the scale of your or your family's diet. You will leave Finca Tierra with the security and competence in designing systems like this for yourself or others. With some experience under your belt, you will be able to teach others!

The real goal here is to train people. Get them into the world to be successful and inspire others to do the same. We believe that healing ourselves while harmonizing with the planet is the most important need of modern humanity and that's why we are so passionate to share regenerative solutions!

Pura Vida,

Ian & Ana



The Fundamentals of Ecological Design

Complete Course Info


Permaculture Design Course Reviews

“ A life changing experience! After being immersed in the food forest/jungle, eating the most delicious plant-based foods, and learning about Permaculture; I feel totally secure to start a profitable sustainable lifestyle. Ian and Ana have a plethora of knowledge and experience in sustainability, agroforestry and natural medicine. They are great teachers and passionate activists, plus their place is beyond beautiful. They make it so easy to understand the how to’s of eco-design. BEST place to learn about permaculture!”
— Hannah Weis, California, USA


More words from past students can be found here https://www.facebook.com/FincaTierra/reviews/


Over the past decade what began as degraded and eventually abandoned cattle pasture has been transformed into a 9-acre permaculture site. A research station located on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. Composed of natural buildings, food forest, and organic gardens. Here, students can learn about sustainable living, regenerative agriculture, ecological aquaculture, agroforestry, and ecological design through hands-on experience so that they can share with the world the new techniques for a sustainable global future.


The Location

  • Located near a small river and within walking distance of amazing pristine beaches.

  • Situated in our regenerative homestead and jungle forest farm.

  • The education center is solar powered, 100% off the grid, and harvest both rainwater and natural spring water, with gravity-fed water supply.

  • The shared infrastructure consists of a beautiful bamboo and leaf thatch kitchen, a dining area with a mud oven, class area, and lounge space.


  • Finca Tierra's exotic accommodations are both private bamboo cabinas and a bunkhouse with great views.

  • We have biological flush toilets where the black waters go to a biodigester, and the waste is processed to be sent back into the food forest system, making it a perfect closed loop nutrient cycle.

  • Our showers hot water works with a thermo-composting system, providing hot water for students as well as providing high-quality compost for the organic vegetable gardens.



Farm -to- table

We LOVE cooking!
• Our food forest and organic gardens supply most of the produce and products used in our plant-based, tropical farm-to-table meals.
• Enjoyable dining experience + an essential leap into your wellness journey: Exotic foods many of you have never heard of, are prepared every day considering their high nutritional content and medicinal properties.  After all, "we are what we eat!"
• Farm-to-pharmacy: Ethnobotanical healing tonics, medicinal wines, tinctures, and nutritional blends, are handcrafted in our kitchen with organic farm products and wild sacred plants, to boost your immune system.




   "We live with nature in the rainforest. First, we built our home at Finca Tierra, and then, began developing the surrounding 3.5 hectares (~9-acres) site into a regional center for permaculture education and community development. The ever-evolving programs at Finca Tierra are intended to serve both our regional community and the greater international community.  We are promoting ways to locally live sustainable while spreading the global principles of permaculture worldwide". 


Ian is a visual artist, social entrepreneur, eco-consultant, permaculture designer, off-grid pioneer, organic farmer and gardener.

A native of Ohio, United States, Ian holds a BFA Magna Cum Laude in visual art from Wright State University. 

He has experience in geographic information systems (GIS), urban planning, sustainable community design and natural structures.  Growing up, Ian spent the summers visiting Native American archeological sites in the United States, Asia, and Europe.

Ian enjoys exposing students from around the world to Finca Tierra's permaculture design science approach, which integrates biological systems with human structure.  He's also a consultant for ecological design, tropical food, organic farms, and home gardens,  and is active in the local community promoting practical and sustainable garden design solutions. 

As a sustainability specialist, Ian has taught dozens of PDCs and certified hundreds of students from North, Central and South America, Europe, Africa, Oceania, and Asia. He received his formal permaculture education from Geoff Lawton of the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia.


Ana is a lawyer, an environmental activist, social entrepreneur, organic farmer, and off-grid pioneer.

She is a Costarican native. She has worked as a legal advisor for policymaking in Costa Rican Congress.  Experienced as a community organizer in local development projects focusing on excluded communities, autonomous development, and social organization. She is currently working in a Bioregion plan for Talamanca.

She is certified as a trainer on Non-Violent Communication by the United Nations' University of Peace. Also, certified as a permaculture designer. 

 Ana is moved about sharing the knowledge of how to live a sustainable lifestyle, and passionate about Finca Tierra’s ability to contribute to the food security of the local community by supporting nutritional and medicinal uses of plants in the region. 


Forest Farm

The production mimics natural forest secession, incorporating annual foods (tomato), short-term perennial foods (banana), as well as understory trees (avocado), and canopy food producing trees (coconut). Like any ecosystem, animals like chicken play a vital role in the management.


Organic Gardens

We employ both contemporary techniques and traditional local indigenous knowledge. Organic vegetable gardens rotate in the space available between perennial crops of bushes and trees. A diverse variety of vegetables in the understory provides food for students studying agroecology and permaculture.



Beyond supplying the farm kitchen and student community the farm commercially produces a variety of tropical greens as well as wines produced from sugarcane (raw rum) and honey (mead).

An ecosystem is nature's market and pharmacy.



Tropical Greens

We cultivate a variety of perennial foods that are richest in phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals and grown in diverse polyculture ecosystem.


Moringa Perennial Green
Gotu Kola Perennial Green


Ethnobotanical healing tonics, medicinal wines, tinctures, and nutritional blends. Handcrafted with organic farm products and wild sacred plants. Farm-to-pharmacy.


Finca Tierra is located near the village of Cócles, a lush Caribbean beach-rimmed jungle community not far from Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Limon Province, Costa Rica. The fabulous tree-lined sand beaches south of Puerto Viejo are a ten-minute drive or thirty-minute walk from Finca Tierra.


Prepare for kayaking in the rivers, jungle night walks and turtle/ animal/ bird watching! Turquoise beaches to snorkel, scuba dive and surf.  A town with a wild variety of yoga and spiritual centers, many great alternative healers and doctors. A spotlight for organic chocolatiers, organic coffee shops, and fantastic restaurants to enjoy delicious meals. This is a multicultural region with indigenous and Afro-Caribbean heritage, calypso music and bonfires by the beach, mixed with the natural wisdom of indigenous cosmovision. A magical place where people from all around the world gather to enjoy, connect and dance!


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