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frequently asked questions

Q: Does EAT give a permaculture certificate? What does certification mean? How could I use it?

A: Yes, regular EAT courses issue a valid permaculture design certificate on completion. It's proof that you've taken a standard 72-hour permaculture course from recognized teachers. This doesn't mean you're now an expert. It does means that you have the foundation to begin a lifetime of study and work. Like any other certificate, it can be used in resume building, job and school applications, nonprofit grantwriting, and so on. If you're requesting college credit, your school registrar may want to see it. Permaculture certification is de rigueur in some fields, and can be one of your credentials if you run a green business. We also offer many short courses that are not certificate programs.

Q: Why does EAT costs so much? Shouldn't it be free, so we can all help save the planet?

A: This is where idealism meets reality. There's no getting around the fact that producing something of this size and scope takes money. But true to our idealism, EAT offers many scholarships and work-trades for each program.

The actual average cost per student for a two-week residential training is about $1800 (and going up every year). The low end of EAT's sliding-scale tuition, $1650, is less than our cost—an automatic scholarship. We make up the difference in fundraising and from those lovely people who pay a bit more than the minimum. (You can contribute now to the EAT scholarship Mycelium Fund by clicking "Donate" on the bar above.) Our costs include facility and accommodations rental; quality food; class materials; teachers', organizer's, and cooks' fees; equipment rental; transportation; insurance; advertising; administrative costs, and so on. We decline to "strip-mine" our teachers and staff by asking them to work free or next-to. Nor is this "Permaculture of the Rich and Famous." Any income over expenses goes back into the scholarship fund.

EAT gives numerous work-trades and occasional scholarships, for full and partial tuition. Currently between 40-50% of our students receive financial assistance. This is real money that EAT teachers and staff go out and raise. We would love to find more scholarship funds—and funders—and thus offer more assistance to potential students. Meanwhile, if you're interested in EAT but can't afford it, we invite you to apply for work-trade, and invest your own time and effort to "Create Your Own Scholarship."

student in garden
Rio in the garden

Q: Are there age limits? Teenagers, elders?

A: The regular EAT courses are programs designed for adults. The youngest EAT students have been in the range of 16-17 years old. Such motivated and focused young people are welcome. This is not the place for troubled, aimless teens, though. If under 21, a parent/guardian must give written permission and sign our liability waiver. Most EAT participants are in their 20's to 40's, and usually there's a wonderful small group of 50- to 60-year-olds. (We're waiting for our first 80-year-old to sign up!) You need to be reasonably healthy, but many elders have some physical limitations; remember you can always opt out of activities like digging swales. (Let the youngsters show off with the shovels.) We occasionally offer other courses for families and youth, when there's a demand.

Q: You're doing classes in January??! What about the weather?

A: We've found that our January classes in northern California are surprisingly popular. Those who work in gardening, farming, and building trades are "off" in the winter, and college students and teachers can often fit EAT into winter break. The weather here in Northern California is milder than most of the country, but it can be cold. It is rainy season, and a big storm is possible, but most years we've had good luck. January here usually gets stretches of sunny days, with crystalline air, daytime temperatures around 40-50F, possibly frosty at night. It's the beginning of our green time of year. Outdoor and hands-on sections may be shifted in response to rain. If you bring sufficient warm clothing and rain gear, you should be quite comfortable.

Q: When will future EATs be scheduled? Are there regular, annual dates?

A: We schedule EAT sessions around the needs and calendars of our teachers. The January EAT in northern California is the only recurring, regular date. In the past, we have held EAT sessions in US in winter, spring, and fall; and Canada occasional summers. Get on our e-list to find out for sure.
student presenting
Flute presenting at the first EAT class, 2001

Q: I'd like transportation info, please.

A: Details and directions are in our confirmation packet, sent to enrolled students. It will vary for each location, of course. Some general guidelines:

Don't book a flight without considering the lag time to travel from airport to the class site—and back again, plus check-in! Some students coming from far away have arranged an extra travel day on either end, stayed overnight in the city, and next day caught a carpool or bus to the EAT site. People considering a train or bus have similar time lags.

Driving: If you have a car, we appreciate your offering a ride to others. If you don't have a car, we will help coordinate carpools for each residential course.

Q: Can I arrive at the EAT site a day early? Stay a day late?

A: The prime permaculture answer to almost any question is: It depends! For the January courses at Black Mountain Preserve, we often offer the opportunity to come a bit early or stay afterwards, camp on Starhawk's land, and help with setup, cleanup and ongoing projects. Work traders often fuflill their work requirements in this way, and others are welcome to join. For other courses—it depends on the site, the timing, and other factors.

Q: Can I just come for some days and leave for others?

A: Preferably not. We occasionally allow a student to come for one or two special sessions, and we generally have several evening programs open to the local community. But we encourage everyone who signs up to make the space in their life and attend from start to finish. Some of the class lectures will be confusing if you didn't hear the earlier material, and the teachers will not be able to take class time to update you on what you missed. It's also difficult to hold the integrity of the circle if people drop in and out. We'll all get much more out of it if you're there consistently; and your affinity and design groups will be better able to do their work. EAT is a priceless experience, take advantage of it!

Q: How about communications? Can I call home, friends, and clients? Is there a place to check email? Get regular mail?

A: Yes. Most of our EAT course sites have a phone available for outgoing calls, but you must bring your own phone card. Computer access is also available. At most sites, wireless internet access is available if you have your own laptop, although it may be limited. You can always bring your own mobile phone, although it may not work from remote locales. Of course you can receive emergency calls and messages through the facility or EAT office. You can receive snail mail, also, and we'll have someone taking outgoing mail to post office.

Q: May I tape record the lectures?
A: For personal, private use, yes.

Q: Can I bring my cat? my dog? my kids? my partner? my friends?

A: Here are our guidelines on guests, whether of four- or two-footed variety.

Pets: Please leave all beasties at home or with a good friend. Do not bring your dog, cat, or python.

Kids: All EAT courses except those designated "Family Friendly" or "EAT with childcare" are for adults. There is no childcare at EAT courses other than ones we specifically tell you about. In the future, we hope to offer more family-friendly courses and courses with childcare, but that is dependent on the facilities we use, the funding we receive, and student interest.

Adults: We don't allow drop-ins or visitors into regular class time, unless you make arrangements beforehand with the teachers. Our course always offers a few evening sessions that are open to the local community, and your guests are welcome to join in at that time.

Q: Can I camp outside? Is it cheaper?

A: It depends! Check the specifics for the course you're interested in.

Q: I can't make this session, but would like to be informed of future EAT sessions.

A: Send us an email to EarthActivistTraining(at)gmail.com and ask to be put on the e-list to be notified. (This list is never used for any other purpose, and your e-address is kept private.)

hands in mud privthi from India loading rocks

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