JAN 2020 UPDATE: we’re not offering a PDC in any format this year, but if you’re keen on learning & being exposed to PC in action and some market gardening(1 month min), can work and are responsible and can follow instructions(some anyway), please feel free to contact alex.



MOP Internships: Our general aim here at Motheroak is reflected in the themes/ memes of regeneration and resilience. These apply to place, but also to ourselves as individuals, as well as to larger society. Recognizing the present serious need for these qualities in the world, we strive to create a learning experience that will prepare us to make clear, bold, compassionate and principled actions on our journeys forward. The “inner landscape” is at least as important as the “outer,” and we plan to take some time for learning in that sphere too, as mindfulness is integral to all that we do.
Over an eight week period you will be immersed in both conceptual studies, project designs and implementation, as well as daily chores, general farm work, and helping in the intensive market gardening operation(learning about and using tools a critical skill). This will be a group experience of cooperation, collaboration, and community among other interns,  and occasional visiting helpers. What you take home from this will be a direct reflection of how much you put into it. For example, although the schedule/ pace may seem intense and/ or demanding at times(there is a lot to cover) with both PC studies and work, experience has shown us that usually you absorb more through doing than you immediately comprehend– if you put in the effort to be fully present and participatory—especially with skill building work, and there are indeed many skills to learn on the path to resilience. One of our aims here is for you to become more self- reliant and therefore helpful both to yourself and others. We also ask that behavior follows the simple ethical codes of honesty, kindness, respect, and punctuality.

Besides getting exposure to systems thinking, learning/ discussing big picture type stuff like climate change, the status of oil and other dwindling resources, and of course  permaculture principles etc, some of the skills you may learn here include: milking goats, caring for livestock, moving cows(2) thru pasture rotations, making hay,  using a wide variety of hand tools in both building and gardening, splitting firewood, making cob and earth plaster, the daily art and craft of repurposing stuff, some construction and natural building including making concrete & mortar, fermenting foods, cooking in & on woodfired stoves & ovens, baking bread,  planting trees, growing organic vegetables from seeding to market, at the least some exposure to the use of a draft horse and small tractor, sitting meditation and a bit of chi gong too.

The PDC course: Over the course of eight weeks we will cover the entire course curriculum including design projects. Some subjects(ex. Gardening, natural building etc) will be longoing and integrated with our work experience, allowing for broader and deeper (and long lasting!) learning possibilities. There will be approximately 10 hours of class time per week, plus time for reading and study. Some of the presentations given will be by you! As design is the subject of permaculture, you will be asked to approach all situations as a designer! Issuance of certificates will be dependent on a minimum of 90% attendance over the eight weeks.

Work/ trade: As you may be aware, the cost for a two week PDC is generally $1,000. at the very minimum. Room and board, also valued very conservatively, are worth $5-600 mo. We consider these numbers in asking that you work approximately five hours per day, six days a week for eight weeks. There will be variations of course—some days more, some less. A crucial point in this is that we the hosts and you the interns both feel we’re getting a fair deal(we listen to feedback on this arrangement). We make a serious commitment in offering this program, and we ask you to do the same on your end. If you have some experience & skills, especially working with hand and small power tools, or are a good cook, great!—if not, we ask that your positive attitude and willingness are obvious to see!
Much of the work itself we think you’ll find both fun and interesting—from milking goats to moving cattle(we have 2), from kitchen to garden, from building to maintenance, there are many delights and much to learn, observe, and attend to. That you will be doing this in community will further enrich the experience immensely. I will mention again that we ask that phones (including headphones) be left behind without exception when working or in class time.

Food and Accommodations: Most of the food we will eat is grown here (all veggies, dry beans, goats milk & meat, beef, and some venison and duck) although we do buy some in (grains/ flours, some nut butters, Quebec raw organic cheeses and a little tea and fair trade coffee). We are obviously omnivores but can easily accommodate vegetarians. If you are gluten free or vegan we can discuss possibilities. You will be asked to participate in the kitchen at different tasks throughout your stay. Certain items, for example chocolate or fruit juices, you will need to provide for yourself. Usually people leave here with a very positive food experience.
We have ample bed space indoors, some private and some shared, and plenty of space for tents. Private space will be allotted on a first come first serve.R


 Motheroak Permaculture Internship agreements. Jan 2015

You ill need to agree and or sign this agreement to participate in internships.


For the sake of clarity and understanding between us,

following is a list of responsibilities and/or activities interns agree to abide by and perform during their stay at Motheroak Pemaculture Center. Although this aims to be comprehensive, there will certainly be some omissions– which we can discuss as they come up.  Please write me with any questions. For 2016 Alex will be the principal presenter/ guide, though others may also appear by the; it’s too soon to say.


Interns agree to:


Arrive and depart more or less on the dates agreed to, and/ or give a minimum of two weeks notice if these dates are to change. As of 2015 we are requesting a totally refundable(unless there are damages or you don’t show up or leave way early) $100 registration/damage deposit.


Sign a release of liability form—basically this releases us from “legal” liability if you hurt yourself—unless it was directly from negligence on our part, like a falling roof.


Communicate openly and honestly about anything that pertains to our mutual relationships and/or work during your stay here– no secrets please. We can all commit to remain open to receive and give feedback– from the heart rather than the competitive, contractive ego. Cooperation and dialogue is what we’re after, learning, and a jolly good time. We may make further agreements among the group relating to group and personal interactions and dynamics– this may seem vague but that is how it begins.


It is expected that we will all participate in house holding, ie. cooking, cleaning, washing dishes etc. and some reasonable degree of tidiness in your rooms. Willingness to take turns cooking is essential. .  I will mention that we use a bucket to compost “humanure” system here–you might check it out online


A few words on work habits: willingness + observation leads to competence and efficiency. We can all help each other by

remaining open to feedback and making adjustments. Working smart usually beats working hard, and though we are not having contests, there’s always room for improvements. A certain degree of briskness is essential in getting the day’s work done.


We also request that during work or class times, you leave cell phones and/or headphones behind. We are committed to non-violence and ask that you practice so too, we ask that there be little or no harsh language, and that “illegal” drug use remains off property, and especially none during work or class time.



Market garden:

Work approximately 30 hrs per week (some may be longer or shorter due to weather) doing market garden activities(for the 2015 PDC the 30hrs will include all other work too), some of which follows:

Help with all aspects of seed sowing, transplant care and prep, all garden/ greenhouse care& prep, weeding, harvesting, watering, cleanup, tool care etc.

Working with the draft-horse will mostly be in the garden(since my horse died 2 yrs ago there is less of this. Now we share the use of Charlie, my neighboring daughter’s horse).


Learning all this will make a significant contribution to building your food self-reliance as well as skills for livelihood possibilities.


i should add that the time allotments may not be linear, as in 1:5 everyday. For example we may have 2 full days of garden work to ½ day of pc, especially during in a crunch. We’ll do regular check-ins on this, but by the end it will definitely be 10hrs Pc studies and 30hrs work per week, more or less.


Attending the Saturday market is optional and open to possibilities, otherwise the weekends, particularly Sunday, are free time once we’ve got the chores covered.


General Farm Work

This will usually but not always fall under permaculture(pc) education. These activities include caring for/ moving livestock(2 cows), milking goats( 1or 2), cleaning stalls, fixing fences, making hay, building& equipment repair&maintenance, harvesting/ processing firewood.


Permaculture–Yes! The conceptual learning/ study time. I see study as one wing of a bird, while practice is the other wing—takes two to fly!

(Its standard in pc training to require that students not miss more than 10% of class time).


What you put into this will be reflected in what you’ll take home. Although eight weeks may seem longish, it will fly by–this is by way of encouraging you to read/ study on your own “free” time;  Observation is a skill that improves with practice–every moment is a possibility, yes?


Please make every effort to memorize Holmgren’s design principles(see his book or, and we’ll discuss variations too. We can interlize them as we go. There are no quizzes or tests–but there are presentations(longer&shorter) and feedback, for all of us. We will be doing many small designs and implementations, and will perhaps have time for a more developed one in the last days.


There is a strong conceptual side(like learning how things/processes work) to pc, and it requires much study & contemplation to master–so there will be “bookwork,” presentations & much discussion.  Sometimes you will lead/present on whatever topic we’re discussing–and this requires preparation time. i will have the books here, but a copy of Bill Mollison’s “Pc: A designer’s Manual” and David Holmgren’s “Pc: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability”(I’m also highly recommending Ben Falk’s book”The Resilient Farm & Homestead”) would be helpful for you to own and bring along, if possible, tho certainly not mandatory. It is important to note that though there will be some personal study time during work days, a good portion of it you’ll have to do before or after work or during lunch break, which is usually 1 1/2 hr. Ok?


Projects and activities

Covering all the required modules of the PC design course

Living and working cooperatively as a small community for eight weeks–identifying what works and what doesn’t, and why

Lots of observation exercises

Identifying design problems and solutions onsite

Building with cob,earthplaster, wood & some conventional materials

Making ferments and more

Giving tours to visitors(some longer&some shorter!)

Last but not least learning/ practicing working with our minds! We will offer a daily sitting meditation/ mindfulness time if possible.


We’re all going to have to be good at time management to pull all this off

and have fun doing so! Punctuality is a must!





Motheroak  agrees to do and provide:


*All food(with some exceptions for extraneous stuff) and lodging for duration of stay.

Sleeping quarters vary. We have an bunkroom in the main building that can comfortably sleep four, a truck camper for one or to, a somewhat primitive but quite workable shed for one or two, and of course space for tents. We will cook and eat communally in our spacious kitchen. Though omnivores ourselves(most meat grown here), we can easily accommodate vegetarians: if you are vegan or gluten free, we should chat ahead of time. All vegetables and dry beans(totally organic) are grown here, and we source organic breads, eggs, and cheeses.

* Limited internet access. We do it mostly thru our phone, tho there is cable available nearby you could access at certain times.

*Laundry soap and ways to wash it.

*Instruction and support in all areas of market gardening, including harvest and ferment preparation.

*Instruction and support in all of the required modules of the pc design course, leading to a

Permaculture  Design Consultant certificate upon completion of internship.

*Instruction in care and use of a work horse—now limited as per above.

Instruction in the use of tools, and in whatever construction&green building we do.

*Sharing of  knowledge re agriculture in general, and ecological farming in particular.

*Access to our library.


I have a laptop i’m willing to share, but would prefer you having your own if you really need one during these eight weeks.


Generally my aim is to provide as best i can a situation wherein you will gain meaningful firsthand real life experience in permaculture design and practice, and that you leave here feeling empowered to help yourselves and others in designing for

and constructing a much saner, thrifty, and resilient world. Also that you will have the confidence and abilities needed to grow abundant gardens, as well as keep some livestock. And finally that you’ll be able to clearly articulate the meaning of “top down view, bottom up action,” regenerating a site,

and to have a beginning foundation in reading the landscape.


Things to bring:


Work clothes, rubber boots, raingear, a headlamp/ flashlight, bug repellant(tho they’re not so bad here) house shoes, swim gear, towels, toiletries, pillow case, pocket knife(imp’t!), a large and a pocket notebook.


the address here is 1217 Belmont rd. RR2 Newport, NS  B0N2A0

my cell is 902-792-7041


If you are arriving by plane, bus, or train, we can arrange to pick you up, though we may ask for a contribution for petrol.


Please let me know if i’ve left something significant out, and/or whatever other concerns or questions you may have. The work and learning we will be doing embodies the intention and possibilitiy of helping our fellow sentient beings and planet in these difficult times, and doing it with good cheer can only make it better. i’m grateful and honored and humbled that you’ve chosen to come, and really looking

forward to it.