Details and registration coming soon! E-mail to pre-register.

Fall 2019

10/5, 10/26, 11/16, 12/7 – 1pm-4pm

This course is being offered in partnership with Phoenixville Area Transition‘s Living Landscapes Working Group and open to the public. Learn about landscape design, culture design, community building, and future building in this 12-hour short course developed through years of teaching and observing students’ needs. Lessons will draw from experience designing and maintaining public gardens throughout the region, co-building community projects, teaching permaculture design curriculum, practicing holistic horticulture, participating in social and environmental justice movements, and spending countless hours in the woods. Some topics covered include the myriad tool and methods used in ecosystem design, an overview of permaculture design and principles, varieties of edible and medicinal perennial plants that grow well in this climatic zone, interfacing with local government, community organizing, and ways you can prioritize responsible self-care to leave this world a greener, healthier place than you found it.

There will be hands-on and lecture-based attributes to this course, and some specific activities may be determined by students once the course starts.

$200 if paid in full before 9/15
$250 if paid in full by 10/5

(1) Fill out registration form at
(2) Make $150 deposit by 10/1. **Course will not run with fewer than 11 registrants.**
(3) Remaining balance is due at the start of the first class on 10/5.

Payments are accepted via Venmo to @edenspore, PayPal to, Cash App to $robynmello, or check made out to Robyn Mello (e-mail for mailing address).

E-mail with questions.

From Bones to Bloom 2019:

An Ecological Design Course with optional Permaculture Design Certification


A class on regenerative ecology for the 21st century landscape with Robyn Mello, Wilson Alvarez, & Benjamin Weiss


This bimonthly course will embody the permaculture principle: “design from patterns to details.” Students will begin at the foundation of ecological design by understanding ecological concepts and principles, learning to deeply observe natural patterns. During the course, we’ll take students on a journey through ever more detailed aspects of ecological design, developing towards a tool-kit of land-based techniques for building a new paradigm of community and economy. This approach will enable each student to lay a foundation of knowledge and understanding upon the core design principles shared by permaculture and other ecological design modalities. We will demonstrate this new paradigm and these design concepts in the classroom as well as in wild spaces, backyards, rural farm-scapes, and urban farms.


The class will take place at several locations in south-central Pennsylvania:

  • Urban Edge Farm:
  • Horn Farm Center:
  • Susquehanna Apothecary:
  • Rising Locust Farm:
  • Green Light Plants:


Schedule: March 3rd, 16th, 17th, & 31st; April 13th, 14th, & 28th; May 11th, 12th, 25th& 26th

(Dates in italics are only for students who are doing the permaculture certification)

Arrive by 9:30am, Class 10am-5pm* with lunch from 12:30-1pm

*10-6pm on PDC Only days

Students must provide their own lunch.


Topics to be covered during the course include:

  • Basic concepts of permaculture
  • Deep ecology
  • Systems analysis
  • Species identification
  • Reading the landscape
  • Social & spiritual ecology
  • Building grass-roots social movements
  • Environmental activism
  • Sensory awareness & observation techniques
  • Climate patterns
  • Home-scale sustainability
  • Ecological entrepreneurship


Optional Permaculture Design Certification component: This encompasses three extra classes including a permaculture design practicum. This track covers the essential concepts of the permaculture design system, demonstrated through techniques for sustainable living in densely populated areas. Students will acquire a tool-kit for living in the urban and suburban environment in a way that is both self-reliant and supportive of their community and nature. The curriculum will emphasize skills that contribute to local, community-based resilience and abundance.


What to Expect from the PDC: This is a rigorous academic course with standards that exceed those of most college-level classes. Students will be expected to complete numerous homework assignments including readings, observation & design exercises, and a final design project. Students should not miss more than 1 day of class, and absolutely must be present for the final design presentations (5/25).  Students who complete the course in a satisfactory manner will receive an internationally recognized certification in permaculture design.



This course will be taught by Wilson Alvarez, Robyn Mello, & Benjamin Weiss, along with a crew of guest instructors.



Wilson Alvarez is a certified permaculture designer, an inventor, gardener, skilled tracker, bowyer, nature-awareness instructor, and poet from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He has studied and taught classes and workshops on bio-intensive agriculture, regenerative technology, foraging, hunting, trapping and tracking, and wilderness survival. Wilson has created “Rebel Garden Tools,” a line of incredibly innovative hand tools for small farms, as well as other inventions such as the “Folk Mug,” a handle that turns a mason jar into a travel mug, and “The Multi,” a multi-tool wallet. He also founded Folklore Ferments, a small company specializing in the brewing of kombucha. Wilson has a Kamana II certification through Jon Young’s Wilderness Awareness School, received his PDC online via Permaculture Visions, and studied applied archaeology at Prescott College with Steve Watts.  Wilson manages the woodland rehabilitation at the Horn Farm Center.








Robyn Mello is a musician, designer, activist, organizer, herbalist, and more. She received her Permaculture Design Certification from Melissa Miles of The Permanent Future Institute in 2014, gained valuable teaching skills through the first Women’s Permaculture Teacher Training with Pandora Thomas and Lisa DiPiano, and received advanced Permaculture Design Certification through a course with Peter Bane, Karryn Olson-Ramanujan, and Jono Neiger. Much of Robyn’s permaculture education and experience was self-taught through hands-on volunteering with The Philadelphia Orchard Project (POP), helping to start a dozen community gardens with a grassroots vacant lot gardening organization she founded called Philly Food Forests, working as Gardens Manager & Nature Educator for Historic Fair Hill in North Philadelphia, organizing the Occupy Vacant Lots campaign with Occupy Philly activists interested in gardening and community organizing, starting a small organic farm in Upper Bucks County while living off-the-grid in a tiny house, and working as an Environmental Justice Researcher with The Delaware Environmental Institute. Robyn spent several years as Orchard Director for POP before moving full-time into work with Edenspore, a creative and earth-based life project showcasing her multifaceted skills and passions.



Benjamin Weiss is A certified permaculture designer and teacher, activist, herbalist, farmer, musician, and writer from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Ben studied natural building and permaculture at The Farm Ecovillage Training Center, received a permaculture teacher certification from CRMPI, studied urban agriculture at Growing Power, and has studied herbalism with Sarah Preston of Radiance, shamanic dreaming techniques with Adhi Moonien Two-Owls, and forest garden design with Dave Jacke. Ben was also the administrator and a long-time volunteer for the Lancaster Coalition for Peace & Justice, and has helped to organize many other initiatives and actions related to racial and environmental justice. Ben has facilitated PDCs and many other classes and workshops, has designed and managed four organic farms, and forages professionally. He owns and manages Susquehanna Apothecary and Urban Edge Farm.





Basic $750 Pay by 2/16/19
Early-bird $650 Pay by 12/31/18
Permaculture Certification $1000 Minimum 6 students
Group Rate, 5 people $3,250 See info below…


Registration Deposits: To receive the early bird rate, you must pay in full by December 31st, 2018. All other students must pay in full by February 16th, 2019. If there is still space available we may extend registration until the date of the first class. Nonetheless, pre-registered students must pay in full by the date above. A registration deposit of $300 may be submitted in order to hold a place in the class. This deposit, as well as full tuition, is non-refundable, however, except in legitimate emergencies.


Group Rate: Five students who sign up together as a group may each receive the early bird rate ($650 per student; $3250 total) through February 16th, 2019. To receive this group rate all five registration deposits ($300 per student; $1500 total) must be submitted as one payment, and the full $3250 must be paid by the date above.


Scholarships: We may have scholarship funding available. Contact us directly to inquire. We are much more inclined to offer partial scholarships than full scholarships, and we expect to see scholarship recipients find ways to fundraise some of their own tuition, and to be full, active participants in the class.


To register:

1. Email Robyn Mello at

2. Give us your name & phone number (in case of emergency cancellations).

3. Indicate whether you are registering for the optional permaculture certification.

4. Tuition is payable via:

  • PayPal (
  • Square Cash ($robynmello)
  • Venmo (@edenspore)
  • Check/Money Order (contact us for mailing address)


Preparedness for the Class:

Students should come fully prepared to be outdoors for extended periods in varying weather, and to participate in hands-on activities including walks through rough terrain. Not all of the classrooms we’ll be in are ADA compatible but we will happily make any accommodations that we can in order for students with specific needs to participate. Please notify us of any pertinent allergies or physical limitations before the class begins. Roughly 30 minutes will be provided during each class session for lunch, as well as periodic breaks between sessions throughout the day. Students should bring their own food and water. Each student will be asked to sign a “media sharing form” to ensure that everyone who participates is legally allowed to utilize media captured during the class for further educational or promotional purposes. Please notify the instructors if you plan to miss  class, and take responsibility for catching up with course content. Other things to bring include :

  • notebook
  • sketch pad
  • writing/drawing utensils
  • compass
  • camera
  • any preferred field guides
  • pocket knife or multi-tool
  • work gloves
  • sketch pad
  • lap-top/ tablet/smart-phone
  • bug spray
  • sunscreen
  • sturdy shoes/boots
  • rain gear

*Students will be notified of any other required materials as the course progresses.


The Syllabus:

Here is a simplified syllabus. A more detailed syllabus will be given to students on the first day of class or shortly prior…


March 3* Susquehanna Apothecary: Intro to Permaculture (10am-6pm)

  • Definition, philosophy, and history of permaculture
  • Permaculture ethics and principles
  • Deep awareness/observation techniques



March 16 Horn Farm Center: Intro to Ecology

  • Orientation – getting to know one another and the land we occupy
  • Observation skills
  • Principles of ecology
  • Reading the landscape
  • Winter species identification
  • Fundamentals of design for wild spaces


March 17 Horn Farm Center: Intro to Wild Ecosystems

  • Local/temperate climate ecology
  • Basic primitive skills: tracking, fire-making, finding clean water, building a debris hut
  • Elementary land stewardship techniques
  • Deer management & reforestation
  • Financial, legislative, & organizational support for wild lands


March 31 Rising Locust Farm: Rural Ecological Farming

  • Soils, soil health, and soil building
  • Silvopasture: livestock & agroforestry
  • Ecological livestock management
  • Community governance
  • Broad-acre ecological farm design
  • Myco-remediation & mushroom farming


April 13* Susquehanna Apothecary: Intro to Permaculture (10am-6pm)

  • Analyzing ecological niches
  • Mind-mapping
  • Permaculture zones, sectors, & vectors
  • Intro to permaculture design practicum


April 14 Susquehanna Apothecary: Working with Water

  • Water conservation, the hydrologic cycle, riparian ecosystems, ocean ecosystems
  • Water politics
  • Water harvesting, designing landscapes for water retention, greywater systems, keyline design, berms and swales


April 28 Green Light Plants Nursery & Homestead: Ecological Micro-Enterprise

  • Ecologically minded homesteading
  • Forest gardening
  • Bio-char
  • Plant propagation
  • Integrative ecological design
  • Local economies & small-scale industry


May 11 Field Trip to the Forest!

  • Deep observation
  • Riverine ecosystems
  • Foraging
  • Identifying pollution, erosion
  • Tree tracking
  • More primitive skills


May 12 Urban Edge Farm: Ecological Design for Cities

  • Business planning using permaculture
  • Twelve forms of capital
  • Beekeeping Intro
  • Pollinator protection
  • Intensive micro-farm design
  • Financial, legislative, & organizational support for urban agriculture


May 25* Susquehanna Apothecary: Permaculture Design Presentations (10am-6pm)


May 26 Susquehanna Apothecary: Self-care, Social Justice, & Environmental Activism as Ecological Design

  • Seasonal/cyclical living & eating
  • Herbalism Intro
  • Community building strategies
  • Design of ecological social movements
  • Intersectionality of oppression & ecological degradation
  • Plans of action for students as individuals and group

*Required Permaculture design certification classes. All students may join.



To register:

1. Email Robyn Mello at

2. Give us your name & phone number (in case of emergency cancellations).

3. Indicate whether you are registering for the optional permaculture certification.

4. Tuition is payable via:

  • PayPal (
  • Square Cash ($robynmello)
  • Venmo (@edenspore)
  • Check/Money Order (contact us for mailing address)