Application

We are accepting apprentice applications for the Kumu Aina two-year Permaculture Diploma Program. We are located in rural Kipahulu Valley, on the SE coast of Maui. Kumu Aina is Hawaiian for “Land as Teacher”; Permaculture is a design method for healthy systems based on principles of nature. The Permaculture Diploma process was created originally by permaculture’s founder, Bill Mollison, as a formalized means to document advanced learning competency. Our school utilizes farms in Kipahulu Valley to serve as “classroom laboratories”. Two to six students are housed at each Satellite Farm, rotating to a different farm every three months. Group learning activities occur at the Central Farm.
Entering students are asked to make a two-year commitment to the program. During that two years, each student creates a portfolio with ten designs, demonstrating competency in seven domains of permaculture: Stewardship, Health, Learning, Structures, Technology, Community, and Economics. One of the 10 designs becomes the student’s future business design – created in our Business Incubator, ready to launch after graduation. Portfolios are evaluated by panels of peers, mentors and farmers. The farm work is negotiated between the host farmer, and the students living at that farm (with the support of the school staff) to meet the mutual needs of the farm and the learning needs of the students. The farms get their necessary work done, while students also design project-based work that benefits the farm and becomes integrated into their learning Portfolios. The participating farms commit to supporting student learning, to ensure a fair exchange of labor for learning.
A dozen students are selectively chosen from applicants for each year’s Cohort – with a new Cohort of twelve students added each year after the previous Cohort graduates. A typical week includes sufficient work time for meeting the host farm’s needs along with the student needs for project-based learning. A weekly Group Learning day occursat the Central Farm. A weekly Group Service Project occurs at one of the participating farms, along with a workshop/seminar provided by that farmer. The remainder of the week is for individual learning, portfolio and design work, with a day of rest. Daily personal well-being care is an aspect of the Health domain.
A Permaculture Design Certificate course is integrated into the curriculum for each Cohort, with students helping in the design and teaching, while participating as students.
Entrepreneurial ventures are integrated into the schedule, including edible landscape design/installation, value-added production, etc. Income is cooperatively distributed among the students as a form of stipend. Pilot ventures may end up becoming future student businesses for graduation.
Applicants are expected to be committed to the program for two years, to arrive with relevant skills and experiences in permaculture, farming, building, and living in community. Selection is competitive. Applicants can receive more information and application materials by submitting a letter of inquiry to Chuck Estin.