permaculture INternship

Learn to design a sustainable lifestyle + eat healthy + immerse yourself with a hands-on experience in a tropical food forest.

From $1,500


Enrollment open - Winter: Monday, January 21 – Saturday, February 16, 2019

Enrollment open - Spring: Monday, March 25 – Saturday, April 20, 2019





Practical Permaculture Experience

Twice a year, following the Permaculture Design Course (PDC), a 4-week Permaculture Internship Program is offered.  We go in depth on a hands-on experience looking at the management and development of the established systems at Finca Tierra. It provides you with the skills and experience as well as a frame of reference when you start or work on another project.

*Please note that Interns must have taken a Permaculture Design Certificate Course from Finca Tierra or other permaculture education program to participate in the internship.


Course Description

The Internship program is comprised of two themes,

Designing and managing a regenerative homestead and forest farm (Farm Management)

During the internship, we look at how the whole farm functions, focusing on hands-on work. Connecting theory to practice. Essentially, the participants will fully understand how to operate Finca Tierra. We will manage food forests, for-profit vegetable gardens, fruit and nut orchards, chicken and fish systems as well as look at natural building and infrastructure. Finca Tierra developed this internship as a month-long immersion program for PDC course participants that want to get more confidence, experience, and the necessary skills to fully apply the knowledge from the course. This is a great way to see where your interests are and how land-based enterprises are right for you.

Diet design and farm-to-table (Food Management)

At Finca Tierra we LOVE cooking! We have researched and studied the nutritional values and medicinal properties of our food, and assembled amazing recipes for a balanced and super healthy plant-based diet with local seasonal ingredients. Wild harvesting and foraging, as well as looking at what are the most appropriate foods for this bioregion, are part of our yearly nutritional planning. We harvest and dehydrate plantains, breadfruit and cassava root in our solar dehydrator, to then blend them and create our own gluten-free delicious flours to make bread and cakes. Some of our other homemade products are cold press coconut oil, fermented banana vinegar and other fermented foods, hot chili sauces, herbs and spices mixes, cashew nuts vegan cheeses, milk kefir to prepare medicinal smoothies, cheese, and sourdough bread. Also, gluten-free pasta made with a variety of very tasty roots and farm cereals, bean -to- bar chocolate, ghee, marmalade, sugar cane juice and caramel (used as sugar), different nut milk, and fresh medicinal teas.  We are always making new plates and experimenting with the possibilities of food, textures, and flavors for all kinds of palates. At the beginning of the internship, participants will learn the how to's of homemade Finca Tierra products and will receive a variety of delicious recipes to take over the farm kitchen. The creation of healthy, fresh and tasty dishes farm-to-table on a daily basis, is an important practical skill and a big take away from the internship.


Week 1: Food Forest


Food forest fertility maintenance

  • Installing nitrogen and biomass accumulating species
  • Chop and drop mulching
  • Food forest succession
  • Natural fertilizer application

Tree management

  • Planting fruit trees from seed
  • Grafting  fruit trees
  • Potting up fruit trees and potting mix
  • Planting trees in the field
  • Pruning fruit trees

Farm Access

  • Path and access maintenance
  • Installing ground covers

Week 2: Intensive Vegetable gardens


Intensive Vegetable gardens

  • Seed saving
  • Vegetable nursery
  • Bed preparation
  • Transplanting and seeding
  • Composting
  • Fertilizing
  • pH and soil life
  • Biochar production



Week 3: Natural Building and Sustainable Infrastructure


Natural building

  • Bamboo production
  • Natural building techniques

Renewable energy systems

  • Domestic photovoltaic systems

Waste systems

  • Black water
  • Grey water
  • Kitchen waste

Cooking systems

  • Top lit up draft stoves
  • Pit kilns

Week 4: Staple Crops & Chicken and Fish



Main Crops

  • Planting staple crops
  • Greens, grains, and tubers
  • Hedgerows & trellises

Fish and Chicken systems

  • Aquaculture 
  • Laying hens

Diet design and farm-to-table

Instruction and application throughout the 4-week program

Food Preparation

  • Learning farm recipes
  • Preparation of farm homemade products
  • Cooking and cleaning is done in shifts by the interns

Food processing


  • Making flours from roots and other gluten-free starches
  • Fermented yuca bread
  • Sauerkraut / Kimchi
  • Winemaking
  • Marmalade, pickles or chili hot sauces *Seasonal
  • Vegan cheeses
  • Bean-to-bar chocolate *Seasonal

Daily Schedule

Monday through Friday, mornings are filled with hands-on application in the gardens and forest farm. Afternoons are varied, ranging from kitchen instruction, a continuation of morning lessons, experimenting in the kitchen other aspects of farm life and free time to go to the beach or immerse yourself in our large permaculture digital library.

Weekends are free! You can stay and chill at the farm, eat some goodies, or go to the river nearby, a 10-minute jungle walk from the farm. Or you can go jungle hiking, horse riding, have a beach day, kayak, surf, snorkel, dive or just get some sun. Nightlife in town is great. If you like dancing in the beach with drums and bonfires this is your town! There are calypsonians and many other musicians playing live at the bars next to the beach with delicious dinners, fire shows, and more...

About the Location

Finca Tierra is a 9-acre permaculture homestead and a food forest located in the lush jungle of the Costa Rican Caribbean Coast. Finca Tierra has become an important demonstration center for permaculture education and sustainable development activism. Our infrastructure includes natural buildings constructed from local materials (bamboo, leaf thatch and onsite timber), renewable energy systems, biological flush toilets, rainwater catchment, organic vegetable gardens, a plant nursery, a seed bank, medicinal plants, food forest, bamboo woodlots and native trees.

What began as an off-grid homestead on degraded cattle pasture, has been developed in the past decade into a productive agroforestry system consisting of hundreds of varieties of fruit trees, staple crops and integrated animal systems. Due to the local and global interest, Finca Tierra started offering education courses and internships for ecological design, the good food movement, and sustainable living.




Four bamboo cabinas were built in a mix of indigenous and local Afro-Caribbean style. The materials were harvested from our farm and surrounding forest, then cured and constructed with hand tools. They offer orthopedic queen beds. The walls and floors are bamboo, and we supply large mosquito nets.

Also, a bunkhouse built with the same construction techniques and up in the air on stilts. It holds 8 single beds and great views, it's like camping under a roof above the forest.

The bathrooms are located near the accommodations and have biological flush toilets. The showers are supplied with warm rainwater by a biothermal heating system.

We supply sheets, pillows, towels and biodegradable organic shampoo and body wash.

* Accommodations are provided on a first come, first serve bases. The first students to pay the totality of the payment are accommodated in the cabinas, then bunkhouse beds.


Bamboo cabin exterior.jpg
Bamboo cabin interior.jpg
Bunkhouse interior.jpg



We love to cook! Food abundance is what we want everyone to experience at our farm kitchen. We promote the good food movement, and therefore most of our fruits, veggies, greens, roots, and spices are fresh from our permaculture farm. We process many of our foods like plantain and yuca flours, coconut and cashew milk, coconut oil, banana vinegar, fermented foods, mead, kefir and more. We have a plant-based diet but we also have free range chicken eggs and the aquaculture system provides fish and river prawns. Some other products, like oils, raw honey, cheeses, yogurts and other fruits we buy at the local organic market.

 All farm meals during the Internship are catered by interns. 

Plates are typically vegetarian, we can also cater to vegan and gluten-free diets, please let us know when you register.  



  • Internship instruction
  • Lodging: Private bamboo cabins OR a shared bamboo bunkhouse 
  • Sheets, pillows, blankets
  • Biodegradable soap, shampoo, and laundry detergent 
  • Solar lamps
  • Three organic meals daily
  • Field trips
  • Internet access (see the below section INTERNET AND ELECTRONIC DEVICES  for more info)

Words From Past Students

Testimonials can be found here


Course Information, Fee & Enrollment

Tuition $1,550

Early Bird Tuition $1,400  ($150 discount when you complete your full payment 30 days before course start date.)

Deposit $400 - Reserve a place now with a $400 deposit & pay the balance of $1,100 30 days prior to course start date. We will email you an invoice for the remainder showing the due date.

Please register early, as the course can fill quickly and space is limited, only 12 seats available.   Tuition does not include airfare or travel to/from Finca Tierra.  The $400 USD deposit required to reserve your space is non-refundable.  Final payments are due 2 weeks before course commencement.  Tuition is refundable until 30 days before the course start date.  The program is taught in English. Academic credits / partial or full grants are sometimes available to undergraduate and graduate students (ask us for more information). 

* Private cabins are appointed to the first four students to make full payment. There is no additional fee.




If you have questions about this design course please contact us at  

Logistics and Planning info can be found here