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Course Calendar

Rancho Mastatal hosts workshops, courses and groups during all times of the year. Most but not all of these are mentioned below. They include but are not limited to activities in natural building, organic gardening, sustainable agriculture and agro-forestry, community growth, permaculture, yoga, environmental and ecological research and studies, green education and outreach, conservation and preservation, and wilderness medicine.

The schedule below helps keep interested parties and prospective visitors abreast of what is happening here throughout the year. Although space is often available, special events, workshops, and group visits can and do limit space. Please contact us prior to your visit for up-to-date details on availability and current goings-on.

This calendar is subject to change and is updated as often as possible.

For payments to Rancho Mastatal using PayPal, go to our Accommodations Rates page.

We are open and able to host small, ecological weddings, business retreats, conferences, and family reunions and getaways.  If you would like to have us host your event or use our facilities, or need more detailed information about anything below, please contact us directly at

prev 6 mo
Course Calendar

next 6 mo

  Winterline Global Skills Program   November 13 - November 22
  Greenwood College School   January 4 - January 10
  Apprenticeship in Sustainable Living   January 16 - December 15
  Wilderness Medicine Semester Course   January 30 - February 25
  Villanova University   February 27 - March 5
  SUNY-ESF Ecological Engineering Class   March 12 - March 16
  Evolve Tours Sustainability Education   March 17 - March 19
  Natural Building Intensive   March 20 - March 26
  Lakeside School   March 27 - April 15
  Renewable Energy for the Developing World Hands-On   April 2 - April 9
  Permaculture Design Certification Course   April 17 - May 1
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Course Details

Winterline Global Skills Program - Rancho Mastatal

Event Dates: November 13-November 22, 2015 Register Here

This will be our first event with Winterline.  Please see here for more information.   



Greenwood College School - RM and Evolve Tours

Event Dates: January 4-January 10, 2016 Register Here

This will be our third year working with Evolve Tours and Greenwood College School.


Apprenticeship in Sustainable Living - Rancho Mastatal

Event Dates: January 16-December 15, 2016 Register Here

Please see our website at for more information.

RM Apprenticeship in Sustainable Living

Wilderness Medicine Semester Course - RM and Aerie

Event Dates: January 30-February 25, 2016 Register Here

Please find a full description for this course at

Aerie Backcountry Medicine

Villanova University - RM and TAE

Event Dates: February 27-March 5, 2016 Register Here

Villanova University's Campus Ministry will return to the Ranch for a week-long community service program. 


Villanova University

SUNY-ESF Ecological Engineering Class - Rancho Mastatal

Event Dates: March 12-March 16, 2016 Register Here

This will be our 3rd year working with SUNY-ESF.



Evolve Tours Sustainability Education - RM and Evolve Tours

Event Dates: March 17-March 19, 2016 Register Here

This is a sustainability education focused group visit with Evolve Tours.

Natural Building Intensive - Rancho Mastatal

Event Dates: March 20-March 26, 2016 Register Here

We will be posting more information about this week-long class with a focus on earth building in the coming weeks. 

Liz Johndrow of Earthen Endeavor Natural Building will return to Rancho Mastatal to join the Ranch staff in mid-March for 7 days of hands-on and feet-in learning and classroom theory and discussion coupled with slideshow presentations and evening topic discussions. We will cover everything earth, lime, and clay from site selection, foundations and earthen wall systems, to the fine art of sculpting, Moroccan tadelakt, and finish plaster. You will want to join us for this opportunity unlike any other! The Ranch provides years of beautiful and inspiring natural building to emphasize successes and learning curves, beauty and function. And Liz brings expertise, passion, fun, and serious learning opportunities to their workshops.

Hankey Composting Toilet

About the Instructor

Liz Johndrow
Liz is founder of Earthen Endeavors Natural Building and has been building and teaching for several years. She has worked with all kinds of materials and techniques and has collaborated int the past with Kleiwerks International teaching a 4- month women's natural building apprenticeship. She also co-leads timber framing workshops with Sarah Highland of Highland Artisans and also enjoys all things mud, particularly all types of plasters. She is presently collaborating with women's organizations in Nicaragua to help increase quality of life through natural building opportunities for locals.  Liz enjoys spaces that bring her in touch with the natural surroundings. As a builder, she was thrilled to discover she could bring that contact deeper into a home experience through the choice of building materials. Since that discovery, she has been exploring the world of cob, strawbale, adobe, earthbag, earthen plasters and floor systems, and timber framing. The simplicity of these systems and materials allow for people of all ages and abilities to participate in some manner. The past several years have taken her further into the role of teacher, facilitator, instructor and co-conspirator. She is increasingly passionate about helping others learn these skills so they in turn can share their vision of beautiful, sustainable, and socially just structures. Her more recent work in Nicaragua with the women and youth in the northern pueblos has been her most challenging and rewarding work thus far. Check out her website for more of her vision and her work.



Students should plan on arriving to Rancho Mastatal the evening before the start of the class.  This night is included in the cost of the course.

Costa Ricans:  $500
Expats in Costa Rica:  $600
Foreigners:  $800

Cost includes 8 nights lodging starting on the night before the start of the class, all meals, course instruction and full access to Rancho Mastatal and its private wildlife refuge.  A $250 deposit will secure your space in the course. 

Ceiba Wall

For more information about food and lodging please see our website at accommodations.

Course Payment
Please follow the link for payment options.

To enroll in the class, please go to our Online Registration Form.  For more information please contact Tim O’Hara at and/or call the Ranch at 2200-0920. We have a maximum of 15 openings for this workshop and a minimum of 5 students to run the course.

Lakeside School - Rancho Mastatal

Event Dates: March 27-April 15, 2016 Register Here

Lakeside's GSL program combines on-site service learning with cultural immersion in mostly rural areas in the developing and near-developing world. A global pre-trip curriculum, in addition to service learning projects at home and abroad, enable Lakeside students to better understand other cultures by experiencing them firsthand and appreciating them on their own terms.

Lakeside School

Renewable Energy for the Developing World Hands-On - RM and Renewable Reality

Event Dates: April 2-April 9, 2016 Register Here

Renewable Energy for the Developing World-Hands-On

REGISTER on Renewable Reality's website HERE.

Rancho Mastatal (, Costa Rica * April 2-10, 2016
$1,325 includes program, food, dorm lodging, and in-country travel

Learn the basics of six renewable energy technologies and their application for the developing world while helping local families. We'll study solar cooking, solar hot water, solar-, wind-, and hydro-electricity, and methane through installing three systems, as well as classroom and field labs. Our Costa Rican partners bring local enthusiasm and expertise. This is our 14th year with this successful program that will help you understand renewable energy concepts, and could change your perspective on life. It's an eco-educational vacation where you get your hands, brain, and heart involved.

You can see lots of photos of past years' REDWHO program HERE and HERE:

REGISTER on Renewable Reality's website HERE.

Renewable Reality

Permaculture Design Certification Course - Scott Gallant

Event Dates: April 17-May 1, 2016 Register Here

Join renowned permaculture instructors Scott Gallant, Chris Shanks, Rachel Jackson, Mitch Haddad, and Laura Killingbeck for this annual life-changing 2-week experience. The course covers the core Permaculture Design curriculum and emphasizes creating diverse multi-functional human landscapes based on ecological patterns. Utilizing Rancho Mastatal as a living classroom, the class will mix lectures and hands-on work, exploring design solutions for both temperate and tropical regions.  Putting Permaculture into practice, the course concludes with students working in teams to create their own permaculture site design. This course is applicable to anyone with an interest in designing resilient and regenerative futures as well as professionals in the fields of architecture, planning, ecology, education, farming and community development. The whole-systems design thinking outlined in the course will give participants the tools to re-design and improve their surroundings; from gardens, farms and homes, to livelihoods, relationships and communities.

To learn aobut who this course is designed for, learning outcomes, what to bring, and much more, please read our 2016 PDC Course Information Book.

Our PDC Flyer in English and Spanish for anyone able to share the word!

Topics covered include:

  • Principles and ethics of Permaculture Design
  • Design methodologies: observation, overlay mapping, etc
  • The basics of mapping and surveying
  • Site analysis and assessment, from the tropics to temperate regions
  • Client interviews and goal setting
  • Landscape master planning and microclimate design
  • Reading the landscape and pattern recognition
  • Design for climate change
  • Regenerative land management and stewardship
  • Water catchment, storage, filtration, and distribution
  • Biologically based treatment of greywater and blackwater
  • Natural building techniques including timber framing, bamboo and cob
  • Integrated animal husbandry
  • Aquaculture and aquaponics
  • Nursery techniques, plant propagation and grafting
  • Agro-forestry and organic horticulture
  • Cultivation and use of medicinal plants
  • Soil rehabilitation and fertility strategies
  • Orchard design and maintenance
  • Alternative cooking technologies: methane bio-digesters, rocket and bio-char stoves, cob and solar ovens
  • Renewable energies and biofuels
  • Local and regenerative economics
  • Urban and suburban permaculture strategies
  • Village design and community building strategies

The course will be taught in English and simultaneously translated into Spanish.  Este curso será traducido simultáneamente al español . Se requiere un mínimo de dos hispano hablantes para ofrecer servicios de traducción.


Scott Gallant
Scott Gallant is an agroforester and food system designer from small town Ohio. He graduated from Wabash College in 2008 with a degree in Economics. As the farm manager at Rancho Mastatal he works with an amazing team to cultivate 15 acres of a emerging tropical agroforest. He is the lead permaculture design instructor on site and one of the principle founders of the Rancho Mastatal Design/Build Collective.  Passionate about regenerative agriculture, holistic thinking, ethnobotany, community development, and re-skilling, he still makes time to hike and bike, read exhaustively, and work on his basketball jump shot and frisbee throw.  He and his partner Laura have traveled and volunteered extensively in Latin America, leading to a love of the culture, food, and language, which they speak.  Scott is a certified Wilderness First Responder, writes for the Permaculture Research Institute and has been featured on the Permaculture Voices podcast.

Chirstopher Shanks

A multi-talented teacher, organizer, permaculture enthusiast, and design visionary, Chris has worked with some of the finest Permaculture and ecological designers in the Western hemisphere. Fascinated with living systems, Chris has invested himself heavily into the study of whole systems design, ethno-botany, horticulture, mycology, and ecology. His interests have led him to study agro-ecosystems and cultural anthropology in Spain, the Bahamas, Costa Rica, the USVI, Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Hawai’i, as well as the temperate and sub-tropical regions of both coasts of the United States. Chris combines leading the ground team at Project Bona Fide, a non-profit research and demonstration farm in Nicaragua, with his own work in the professional design world. He works in master planning and site design with Whole Systems Design LLC and serves as their chief horticulturalist and Project Manager. Chris also founded and runs his own company, Living Systems Solutions, based in Nicaragua. When not working in the non-profit or design world he can be found masquerading as a builder, a mason, a decent plumber, a poor electrician, a sailor, a fanatic for bamboo, a lover of palms, a permaculturalist with a rock/tree climbing habit, and as an avid motorcyclist.

Rachel Jackson
Rachel holds a Masters Degree in Sustainable Landscape Planning and Design from the Conway School in Conway, Massachusetts. She has been practicing permaculture in the tropics since 2009, working in both the rainforests of Costa Rica and the dry forests of Nicaragua. She is passionate about creating harmonious, healthy relationships between humans and the landscape. From urban renewal projects in New England to food forests in Latin America, Rachel has used her skills to create integrated, whole-system designs in difficult locations. She has also worked as a garden-based youth educator, art handler, photographer and carpenter and harbors a life-goal of trying as many varieties of tropical fruits as possible.  

Mitch Haddad
A dedicated community organizer and permaculture aficionado-in-training. He holds joint degrees in Latin American Studies, International Studies and Spanish from Providence College. Since joining the Project Bona Fide team in 2010, Mitch has grown into a key player within the organization. He emphasizes a community-based approach to project management and is a wealth of knowledge about the ins and outs of daily life at the farm. In addition to being an amateur builder and carpenter, he is passionate about natural building, food security and appropriate technology. When he’s not running around the farm and interacting with the local community, he gorges himself on guavas and continues to refine his jamming, fermentation, and chocolate-making skills.

Laura Killingbeck
Laura Killingbeck has been working with the Ranch since 2009.  She has bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Sociology from the University of Rhode Island, and has taken extensive continuing education courses on sustainable development and agriculture.  In 2014 she also completed a Fermentation Residency with renowned fermentation author Sandor Katz.  Laura is the Ranch’s Director of Food Systems and Fermentation, and has a hand in the production of thousands of gallons of fermented vegetables, soda, herbal beer, yogurt, and vinegar each year.  She oversees the development and management of food education programs at the Ranch, and works to create replicable systems for utilizing whole foods from local foodsheds on both a community and home scale.  When she’s not at the Ranch, Laura works as a Food Systems Consultant for Round the Bend Farm Center for Restorative Community in Massachusetts.  Laura has travelled widely in Latin America, often accompanied by her partner Scott and her live microbial cultures.  She is a current Wilderness First Responder, an avid jungle bug watcher, a closet fiction writer, and a pretty scrappy Frisbee player.

Other Information:


Students should plan on arriving to the Ranch no later than 8 a.m. on the morning of April 17 and are encouraged to arrive on the evening of April 16 (the night of April 16 is included in the cost of the course). We will hit the ground running on the morning of April 17 with an orientation and tour. The course will wrap up on the evening of May 1. 


Central Americans, US$850; residents and ex-pats, US$1350; foreigners (non-Central American) US$1,500. These prices include 15 nights lodging (starting on April 16), all meals (except on Sunday nights when we support a local restaurant), course instruction and full access to Rancho Mastatal and its private wildlife refuge.


For more information about food and lodging please see our website at accommodations.

Course Payment

Please follow the link for payment options.


For more information and/or to enroll in this course please contact Tim O’Hara at, call the Ranch at 2200-0920 or sign up Online Here. We have a maximum of 20 openings for this workshop and a minimum of 8 students to run the course.