Tropical Permaculture

“If we lose the forests, we lose our only instructors. People must see forests as the greatest educational system that we have on the planet. If we lose all the the universities, we lose nothing. But if we lose all the forests, we lose everything.” – Bill Mollison, founder of Permaculture

Throughout the Amazon, rainforest is disappearing at an alarming rate. Among the variety of factors contributing to deforestation, swidden (or slash-and-burn) agriculture is one of the largest. As more people arrive to Iquitos, or are displaced by unusually large flooding as happened in 2012, more pressure is placed on the land and deforestation spreads.

Tropical Permaculture Learning Center and Model Farm

At Chakra Alegría de Amor, our farm and healing center serves as a learning space for sharing the potential for a harmonious and beneficial integration with nature. Instead of traditional slash-and-burning of primary or secondary forests, we demonstrate and model various methods to return fertility to the soil without losing it to erosion or weathering.

kids planting in the amazon on chakra alegría de amor Permaculture—a holistic observation and design process combining many disciplines—offers solutions to many of the difficulties experienced by tropical farmers. We utilize many principles of permaculture to increase the vitality and productivity of our farm, and model alternatives for local farmers to generate their own sustenance and income without clearing large tracts of rain forest for small-scale farming.

Our Regenerative Permaculture Design courses are based the ethics and principles of permaculture. We believe that caring for people, the Earth, and sharing our abundance is the key to building robust and healthy communities. Through long, thoughtful observation and a thorough understanding of patterns in nature, we can apply techniques and strategies to live in harmony. and our approach makes tropical permaculture applicable anywhere in the world.

Regenerative Permaculture Introductory Course and Shamanic Healing

We are excited to offer our first permaculture courses this upcoming February! The course, offered twice, is an introduction to regenerative agriculture and community development. We’ll explore practical tools for improving soil, learning how to observe and read patterns for regenerative design, and also drink the Mother Vine, Ayahuasca, three times to heighten our vibrational state and better learn in one of the greatest classrooms on Earth!

We’ll be working directly with the land to improve the production, fertility, and abundance. There will be some class and lecture time, as well as field trips and observational hikes in primary rainforest to learn how nature utilizes patterns and forms to harness the energies of our world.

Both courses will cover the same material, but we do encourage those with available vacation time to stay for both courses to receive even more experience.

Course Dates

  • Course 1: February 11th-21st, 2014
  • Course 2: February 23rd-March 5th, 2014

Course Fees

Courses are $1275 $1075* per participant which covers room/board, 3-meals daily (on site), course field trips, 3-Ayahuasca ceremonies, and transportation from Airport to center.

*EARLY BIRD SPECIAL lasts until January 9th, 2014! After January 9th, course cost is $1275.

Discounts are available for those staying the full 22-days (there is two-day break for our instructor and the center staff). Please inquire directly.

Please send any inquires to for reserving your space. We’ll be updating the site very soon, so do check back in the next week or so to learn more!

More info at end of page regarding payment, deposit, and more!


What is Permaculture?

Permaculture is a useful and practical toolbox for developing regenerative, sustainable systems for the benefit of all. It merges diverse disciplines such as agriculture, sociology, engineering, biology, art and medicine, into a handbook for addressing many of the challenges we face today on our planet.

Permaculture has three core ethics: Earth care, People care, and Share Abundance. Following these ethics are roughly 12 principles* that help guide thoughtful, holistic observation, thinking, and design that cooperates with nature rather than against it for the benefit of all life on our planet.

*Different people share perspectives on what the exact number of perspectives are, but we’ll be teaching the core 12 principles as shared by Permaculture co-founder, David Holmgren.

Why should I learn or study Permaculture?

Because it’s a fun, eye opening perspective on how we can create healthy, regenerative homes, business, and communities.

Learning permaculture ethics and principles helps you see the world in a new light, it becomes a world full of promise and possibility. We’ll introduce you to practical tools and techniques that you can use at home, at work, or on your next design project, and we’ll explore how to apply these tools in a variety of situations.

What’s unique about this Permaculture Introductory Course?

This course is unique because you’ll have the opportunity to study and learn regenerative and sustainable design strategies in the Amazon rainforest, the Earth’s most vibrant classroom! Our farm and land also offers ample hands-on experience for learning permaculture principles and pattern design. The course is taught with a bit more flexibility than a Permaculture Design Certificate course and allows the instructor to tailor content to the students’ interests and needs.

Our course is kept small (9 students max, or less!) to ensure that each student gets ample time to learn, participate, and fully absorb our course material.

You’ll also have the opportunity to participate in three Ayahuasca healing ceremonies. Participation is not required, but we do encourage students to sit with “Abuela” (grandmother)—as Ayahuasca is known in the Amazon—and open up to her teachings and unique insights.

Our center’s Shaman comes from a long lineage of verduristas and tabaqueros and is intent on preserving the indigenous shamanic path for future generations. In addition to shamanic ceremonies, we’ll also spend time learning from him about the many varieties and uses of Amazonian medicinal plants.

Who’s teaching this course?

This course is taught by Rick Pickett, a Permaculture Design Certificate graduate from the San Diego Sustainable Living Institute. In 2009, Rick discovered The Barefoot Architect and it shifted his perspective regarding human potential to sustainably cooperate and thrive together. Delving deeper into sustainable design, Rick encountered permaculture and immediately resonated with its ethics and practical, simple tools for creating healthy food and communities. Inspired to learn more, he organized a bicycle trek through Ecuador and Perú to learn permaculture, first hand, by volunteering and working on sustainable and organic farms.

Rick worked in variety of climates and on farms ranging from small volunteer-run organizations all the way to a large-scale Amazonian commercial permaculture farm. A two-month permaculture apprenticeship near Iquitos cemented Rick’s love and appreciation for the Amazon. He continues to volunteer with non-profits dedicated to rainforest preservation in addition to working with Chakra Alegría de Amor.

Rick currently lives in San Diego, California where he practices permaculture design for home-scale and farm-scale projects alongside his wife Foxy, a totemic oracle and curator of, and their wonderful son.

What will we be learning?

We’ll cover the principles of permaculture design, with a strong focus on observational skills and pattern analysis. This course will focus on practical solutions that you can apply to your own home site, or small scale garden.

The course includes classroom and hands-on learning. We’ll cover a brief history of civilization’s evolution, our rise to consumer status, and how our societal trajectory impacts ourselves and the living systems of Earth. But we’re not all about doom and gloom: permaculture comes to the rescue! We’ll explore the ethics, principles, and real world applications of permaculture design and implementation. We’ll cover a variety of topics; including water harvesting, soil ecology, plant biology, sustainable construction, keyline design, and permaculture economics.

In addition to classroom time, we’ll take excursions and field trips to explore and heighten our observation skills as permaculture designers. Our class will further the center’s evolution by assisting with on-site projects which may include water catchment, sustainable building, planting, soil amendment, and community development.

As a healing center with an on-site shaman, we’ll also be learning about uses and preservation of medicinal Amazonian plants.

How are class days structured? Is there time off?

Our rough itinerary is as follows:

Day 1: Travel day. All students will be picked up together in the morning in Iquitos and transported to the center. We’ll give a tour of the center, eat lunch, and spend time socializing, settling in, and acclimating to life in the jungle.

Day 2: We’ll cover an introduction to permaculture, its principles and ethics. That evening we’ll be sitting in ceremony with Ayahuasca.

Day 3: Morning is dedicated to reintegration, meditation, and self-reflection. The ceremonies are powerful tools for introspection and self-healing. In the afternoon we’ll go on a jungle hike and discuss the functions of a tropical landscape, followed by a sharing circle of our experiences from the ceremony.

Day 4: Delving deeper into permaculture by exploring and learning Zone and Sector analysis.

Day 5: Climate, Patterns, and Landscape Observation will fill out our day 5, followed by another ayahuasca ceremony.

Day 6: Morning reintegration followed by Amazonian Medicinal plant walk with our Shaman, Pedro. Ceremony sharing circle following.

Day 7: Water harvesting and earthworks introduction. Hands-on project will include swale design and construction.

Day 8: Field trip to nearby Permaculture site to see their progress and see other functioning regenerative systems. Class will cover plant ecology, soil and composting during the trip and upon return to CAA.

Day 9: Class covers home site orientation, passive solar design, natural building techniques, and appropriate technologies. We’ll also cover agroforestry systems and broadacre approaches using permaculture. Our last ayahuasca ceremony is this evening.

Day 10: Reintegration and free time. Afternoon class we’ll recap the topics we’ve covered and give participants time for sharing regarding their specific insights during the course and how it’ll impact their lives going forward. Ceremony sharing ceremony and course closing ceremony.

Day 11: Pack, breakfast, and travel back to Iquitos.

For standard days, our rough course schedule is:

7:30AM: Breakfast
8:30AM-11:30AM: Class
11:30AM-3PM: Lunch + Siesta + Personal Time
3PM-5:30PM: Class
6:30PM: Dinner

Each day will end with relaxed time for reading, socializing, or just meditating on the awesomeness of the jungle.

On days where we participate in an Ayahuasca ceremony, we will have a normal full-day of class, but the following day will be for rest and reintegration. We’ll be flexible if scheduling adjustments are needed following the ceremonies.

We like to keep the class fluid and flexible, and yes, you’ll have down time, but due to our location and compact schedule, there are no free days to travel off the site. Please plan any extraneous travel for before or after the course.

What is the importance or significance of blending permaculture with ayahuasca?

Both permaculture training and ayahuasca ceremonies are great teachers and healers. Permaculture students have come in with prior conceptions, or no information at all, about how many systems function in the natural world. Permaculture teaches them that there are beautiful models and patterns to learn from that we can apply to our own lives, individually and communally, to (re)build a rich and fertile Earth.

Ayahuasca helps shed the layers of ego, individualism, and separation and helps your human soul and psyche reunite with Source/Creator/Gaia (whatever it means to you). Ayahuasca shows you that you are a worthy and loving being with the divine purpose of continuing the beautiful cycle of life.

By drinking the medicine and also delving deep into studying living systems and the ethics and principles of permaculture, much more can become illuminated for the participants which helps to deepen their knowledge and understanding of how we can turn problems into solutions for ourselves and the world at large.

But I just want to learn permaculture and not drink, can I do that?

Yes, of course! The Shamanic Healing portion of the course is optional. If you only want to be with us as we learn and practice permaculture, you’re more than welcome to join and hold space with us.

Drinking Ayahuasca and sharing in her visions, lessons, cleansing, and healing is not a journey to be taken lightly. While it is safe at our center, we do understand fears and preconceptions surrounding the medicinal plant. We encourage and welcome you to learn more about ayahuasca to help answer any questions you may have.

Where is the center located?

Our farm is nestled 3km away from the highway that connects Iquitos and Nauta. You’ll be living and studying directly within the vibrancy and majesty of the Amazon. All living and learning spaces at Chakra Alegría de Amor are lovingly and thoughtfully crafted with comfort, healing, and aesthetics in mind.

Our permaculture course participants sleep in double-occupancy bungalows (tambos).

Total Cost and Deposit Schedule


Registration is completed and submitted via our online form. Please contact us directly to sign up as our new site is built!

Deposit & Payment

A non-refundable deposit of $400 secures your place in class.

Payment in full is due 2-weeks before class starts.

Total course fees:

Early Bird Special (through January 9th, 2014): $1075 ($1125 for PayPal payments)
Regular: $1275 ($1375 for PayPal payments)

Payment Accepted Via

  • Preferred: Check or Money Order (make payments out to “Omar Gomez”)
    • Rainforest Healing Center
    • P.O. Box 2092
    • Oak Park, IL 60303
  • Direct Bank Transfer (Please contact for more info)
  • PayPal (due to PayPal processing fees, we charge an additional $50)

Course Fees Include

Transportation from our Iquitos meeting spot to Chakra Alegria de Amor + the return trip to Iquitos, Regenerative Permaculture Introduction & Design instruction, three meals daily, lodging in our tropical bungalows (tambos), and course field trip transportation.

Course Fees DO NOT Include

Airline tickets; lodging or transportation in Iquitos before or after the course (we have recommendations for all price levels); meals, transportation, and activities outside of this 10-day course.

Cancellation Policy

Refunds are only available if the course is canceled by CAA. Attendance is the responsibility of all course participants, so please plan in advance!

Enrollment Deadline

Classes are available for enrollment up to one week before course start date.