Sustainable Living

PERMACULTURE PROGRAM |  Structural, Agricultural, and Landscaping. 

What is Permaculture?

Permaculture comes from “permanent culture” and the word refers to a set of design principles developed by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. Permaculture is a design philosophy encompassing diverse but inter-related fields, including gardening/horticulture, architecture, ecology, community design, and systems theory. Our courses are taught in fun, comprehensive hands-on workshops and are designed per age group. The students will learn the ethics, principles and practices of “permanent culture,” by exploring topics such as organic gardening, landscaping, mulching, natural building, forest farming, water retention and regeneration, erosion control, community processes. According to renowned scientist and environmental activist David Suzuki, "What permaculturists are doing is the most important activity that any group is doing on the planet.  And the good news is you can start right now - start at your nose, your room, your back doorstep...start observing and cooperating with nature."


 Nearly all indigenous tribes create medicinal remedies using plants native to the regions in which they live. These plants are treated with respect as gifts from the earth, and are used in ceremonies, dances and celebrations. These remedies are used for physical, emotional and spiritual healing. 

In this workshop, students learn about the significance of medicinal herbs in American Indian culture, by identifying and collecting plants that are indigenous to the region and preparing simple remedies.  Students will learn to utilize different parts of the plants they collect.


For example, they use the root of a wild yam for a pain relief remedy, and then use the tuber (underground stem, like a potato), for food. Each plant is respected for its various uses and healing properties, and is prepared with an accompanying story about its place in American Indian history and culture.


The New Mexico Solar Energy Association (NMSEA) is an educational 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, dedicated to promoting solar energy and related sustainable practices. Their membership includes a diverse group of citizens including interested advocates of solar energy, architects, building contractors, engineers, educators, and planners specializing in renewable energy and sustainability.

NMSEA’s Solar Energy component at The Art Ranch gives students an exciting and comprehensive overview of solar energy. Through projects like building solar ovens and remote control cars, students learn about photovoltaics (for obtaining electricity) and passive solar design (for heating, cooling, and hot water).


 Group 3 campers will hike into the wilderness and learn about the seven principles of “Leave No Trace”.  Each participant carries their own backpack with sleeping bag and minimal essentials. Leaving at dawn, the students will “walk lightly” across the land; through valleys and forests that are rich with wild life, identifying medicinal plants and herbs, their uses and applications.  At dusk, the campers set up camp for the night and make dinner. The night sky will come alive as the students sit around the campfire roasting star gazing and telling stories. 


Learning to track is a sacred responsibility. It allows the opportunity to come into the center of the lives and homes of animals. We always enter with respect. The students will learn stalking techniques, track reading; sign tracking, parts of a track, measurement, and track classification. "When was the fox here?"  "How far away is he?"  Listening, scent tracking, and various vision techniques will also be introduced.  Several field exercises will be implemented along with tracking safety and primitive survival skills.

  • Stones and twigs for labeling /markers
  • Bags for scat and bones
  • Tape measure for measuring stride, straddle, etc.
  • Small ruler to measure track
  • Small note book and pencil
  • Animal reference card