Courses/WorkshopsFood Forests

Subtropical Edible Forest Gardens Design Intensive with Eric Toensmeier

What: Advanced Permaculture Design with Eric Toensmeier, author of Perennial Vegetables and co-author of Edible Forest Gardens with Dave Jacke
When: April 5-10, 2013
Where: Hosted by Earth Learning in Homestead, Florida, USA
Instructor: Eric Toensmeier

You will learn how to design and plant a food forest, hands-on!

Edible forest gardens produce delicious food while imitating natural forest ecosystems. Trees, shrubs, herbs, vines, groundcovers and fungi can combine to form healthy edible ecosystems. Design and plant selection help provide fertility, control of weeds and pests, and more.

How can you design an edible garden that works like a healthy ecosystem? Learn simple guidelines, based on real experience, for designing mixed-species polycultures of useful perennials. Small-group design exercises will give you the tools to create productive harvests and positive relationships between plants in your forest garden.

The weekend portion of the course will introduce basic concepts, the design process, useful species including underutilized natives, and take on a planting project in Earth Learning’s newly established food forest. This introductory portion of the course can be taken as a stand-alone class.

The course continues through Wednesday, addressing more advanced topics. We will look at the carbon-sequestering potential of perennial agriculture, and address considerations for commercial-scale operations. We will look to the pinelands and hardwoods hammocks of south Florida as a model and a source of inspiration and useful species, including ecosystem mimicry exercises in the Everglades. A new module has been added to practice financial modeling for commercial edible forest garden enterprises. Those who already have a Permaculture Design Certificate can choose to take this class as an Advanced Permaculture Design Course and gain an Advanced Design Certificate.

An optional half-day pre-course field trip will visit Homestead’s remarkable Fruit and Spice Park, a 35-acre world-class collection of edible trees from around the world. The park features over 160 mango varieties, and yes, the course will be at the beginning of mango season. We will also see hundreds of other fruit tree species, plus perennial staple crops and perennial vegetable trees.

Note that this course is about gardening like a forest, not necessarily gardening in a forest. Useful plants for truly full shade are somewhat limited even in the subtropics, though there are some great ones. Both courses involve practice (forest walks, hands-on gardening) and theory (ecology and design).

Registration Options:

  • $550 for the full course (including the Immersion and vegetarian meals)
  • $275 for the weekend portion (including the Immersion and vegetarian meals)
  • $45 Perennial Immersion at Fruit & Spice Park

Early bird pricing, before March 15, 2013:

  • $500 for the full course (including the Immersion and vegetarian meals)
  • $250 for the weekend portion (including the Immersion and vegetarian meals)
  • $35 Perennial Immersion at Fruit & Spice Park

Location: The Farm at Verde Gardens (12690 SW 280 Street, Homestead, FL 33032)

Register Now! Early Registration until March 15 — Space is limited!

Questions? Contact: events (at)

About the Instructor

Eric Toensmeier (author profile) has studied and practiced permaculture since 1990. He has spent much of his adult life exploring edible and useful plants of the world and their use in perennial agroecosystems. He is the author of Perennial Vegetables and co-author of Edible Forest Gardens with Dave Jacke. Both books have received multiple awards.

Eric’s recent work is to promote perennial farming systems as a multipurpose carbon-sequestering strategy. He is a founding Board member of the Apios Institute for Regenerative Perennial Agriculture and recently founded the Bosque Comestible project, an online Spanish-language user-generated database of useful perennials for Mesoamerica and the Caribbean, with an international team. Eric started and ran the Tierra de Oportuniades urban farming project for Nuestras Raíces Inc. in Holyoke Massachusetts, providing immigrants and refugees with start-up farming opportunities and creating a cultural agritourism destination.

Eric teaches and consults in English and Spanish in North America, the Caribbean, Central America, and Europe. His lively style and practical experience have won teaching awards. He has taught in advanced permaculture trainings including the Carbon Farming Course and Financial Permaculture.

His urban backyard is a model of how to apply permaculture to a small space with poor soils, featuring over 200 useful perennial and self-seeding species on 1/10 of an acre.

Eric Toensmeier

Eric Toensmeier is the award-winning author of Paradise Lot and Perennial Vegetables, and the co-author of Edible Forest Gardens. He is an appointed lecturer at Yale University, a Senior Biosequestration Fellow with Project Drawdown, and an international trainer. Eric presents in English, Spanish, and botanical Latin throughout the Americas and beyond. He has studied useful perennial plants and their roles in agroforestry systems for over two decades. Eric has owned a seed company, managed an urban farm that leased parcels to Hispanic and refugee growers, and provided planning and business trainings to farmers. He is the author of The Carbon Farming Solution: A Global Toolkit of Perennial Crops and Regenerative Agricultural Practices for Climate Change Mitigation and Food Security released in February 2016.

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