About Our Instructors

Albert BatesAlbert Bates is author of 12 books on energy, environment and law, and two films on ecovillages, and has served as President of the Global Ecovillage Network. He has lectured and universities and government agencies and worked on natural buildings, village infrastructure, and permaculture landscapes on 6 continents.

Jason Deptula is our site engineer and heads up our biofuels co-op. Experienced in conversion of cars to alternative fuels, he is leading our research efforts on home-brewed eco-fuels, electrical generation, water-cleaning systems, and other areas of emerging interest.

Klaudia vanGool has a degree in Environmental Science and learned permaculture in the UK with Patrick Whitefield. She teaches several permaculture design courses each year, including those we host in Estonia and Palestine.

Christopher Nesbitt directs the Maya Mountain Research Farm in San Pedro Columbia, Belize where he teaches tropical agroforestry, aquaponics, solar electric systems design and integrated appropriate technologies.

Maria Antonieta Martinez Ros has degrees in psychology and gestalt therapy. She studied permaculture in Bolivia, and is the Mexican Representative of the Instituto Latinoamericano de Permacultura, Director of Ecodanza, and President of Ecoaldea Gratitud A.C., an ecovillage design program working with the state governments of Quintana Roo and Yucatan and the ejidos in the Yucatan.

Ed Eaton has been doing professional solar electric installations for 30 years, and was a co-founder of Solar Energy International (www.solarenergy.com). He now works for Our Sun Solar, doing large solar installations all over the world.

David Del Veccio is a NABCEP Certified PV Installer and founder of Solar Seed of Chapel Hill, NC. He teaches installer certification courses for Solar Energy International and other workshop sponsors.

Andrew Goodheart Brown is a well-versed, highly skilled and inspirational biologist. If he is not here teaching he may be off counting whales in New Zealand or primates in Uganda, or working in firetowers in Alaska. His wife is Chiwa, a well-known ceramic artist in Asheville, NC.

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Murad Al Khufash was a founding director of the Marda Permaculture Farm in Nablus, Palestine, and developed the heirloom seed collection project there. He now works for the Palestinian-Isaeli Peace thru Permaculture Project. www.thefarm.org/permaculture/

Starhawk is one of the most respected voices in modern earth-based spirituality. She is also well-known as a global justice activist and organizer, whose work and writings have inspired many to action. She is the author or coauthor of twelve books, including The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess, long considered the essential text for the Neo-Pagan movement, and the now-classic ecotopian novel The Fifth Sacred Thing. Starhawk's newest book is The Empowerment Manual: A Guide for Collaborative Groups.

Joel Salatin is an Northern Virginia farmer, lecturer, and author whose books include Folks, This Ain't Normal; You Can Farm; and Salad Bar Beef. The New York Times has called him "The High Priest of the Pasture."

Darren Doherty (Australia) is one of the world's most experienced Permaculture Design professionals and Registered PDC Teacher who has designed and developed over 1100 properties across 4 continents and has taught many PDC's, including with both Bill Mollison & David Holmgren (the co-originators of Permaculture).Darren spends about 40% of his working time these days in Viet Nam and managing the Viet Nam projects (Permaculture development and education projects for M&M's/Mars Inc. & ACDIVOCA) with the remaining time spent managing a 60 ha working research & demonstration farm in Southern Victoria, Australia.

Nicole M. Foss is co-editor of The Automatic Earth, where she writes under the name Stoneleigh. She and her writing partner have been chronicling and interpreting the on-going credit crunch as the most pressing aspect of our current multi-faceted predicament. The site integrates finance, energy, environment, psychology, population and real politik in order to explain why we find ourselves in a state of crisis and what we can do about it. Nicole also runs the Agri-Energy Producers' Association of Ontario, where she has focused on farm-based biogas projects and grid connections for renewable energy. While living in the UK she was a Research Fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, where she specialized in nuclear safety in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union.

Elaine Ingham is a world-renowned soil biologist and workshop leader, illuminating what life in the soil is all about and why organic agriculture “works”. With more than 35 years of experience as a biologist and research scientist, Dr. Ingham is Chief Scientist at the Rodale Institute and the founder and research director of Soil Foodweb Inc.

Paul S. Anderson is Emeritus Assoc. Prof. of Geography, Illinois State University, Normal, IL. Since retirement at the end of 2003, he has focused on clean cook stoves for developing societies. He is known affectionately as Dr TLUD (Top Loading Up Draft).

Robert "Solar Bob" Fairchild is CEO of Shaker Landing Hydro Associates, Awamu Biomass Energy Ltd., and ECOLOTECH. He has worked for more than 30 years in integrated development and appropriate technologies from Ladakh to Haiti.

Kirk Gadzia has become the foremost Holistic Management (HM) Certified Educator in the world. With over 25 years experience in the field across 6 continents, Kirk has worked closely with HM founder Allan Savory and is an associate of the Savory Institute. Kirk has formal qualifications in Rangeland Management and has co-authored several books, the most notable being 'Bullseye! Targeting you Rangeland Health Objectives', which land managers around the world use as a primary resource. Kirk is a thorough and engaging trainer and together with his wife Tamara Gadzia, Publications Director of the Quivira Coalition, makes HM easy.

Janine Björnson is a natural building educator, practitioner, and consultant. She has a passion for holistic, healthy environments and natural building allows her to live out her passions while educating others. She has worked and studied in the natural building field since working with The Cob Cottage in 1996. Since then, she has taught workshops in Canada and the United States, assisted in organizing 2 Natural Building Colloquia, and is the natural materials cyber panelist for: www.greenhomebuilding.com .

Brad Lancaster is the author of the best-selling, award-winning books Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volumes 1 and 2, and creator of the information-packed website www.HarvestingRainwater.com.

Greg Ramsey, a principal of Village Habitat Design, comes from a 30 year family tradition of conservation planning. For his work in developing a methodology for ecovillage master planning he was 2002's recipient of the United Nations World Habitat Award and the American Institute of Architects 2001 National Award for Sustainability Design. An American, he spent the first 13 years of his life in France where his father, professor of architecture at the Ecole de Beaux Arts in Paris, taught sustainable design and construction. You can view some of their recent projects at www.VillageHabitat.com. He likes projects which redevelop "brownfields;" old industrial sites of the type that litter the outskirts of St. Petersburg, Warsaw, and Bucharest. He lives in one such old brownfields site in Atlanta, which now grows bamboo, apples, and squash where there used to be a railroad cinderyard.

Diana Leafe Christian is author of Creating a Life Together: Practical Tools to Grow an Ecovillage or Intentional Community, editor of Communities Magazine and lives in Earthaven Ecovillage.

Wendell Combest teaches pharmacology at Shenandoah University in Virginia. He has doctorates in herbology, pharmacology and chemistry.

Cliff Davis has worked as an arborist, edible landscaper, permaculturalist, and natural builder for over 5 years. His intention is to help in the healing of Mother Earth and her people.

Andy Langford is a pioneer teacher of Permaculture in the U.K, founder of the Permaculture Association of Britain, chief designer of the Permaculture Diploma WorkNet, and co-founder of Gaia University. 

Liora Adler is an activist with the Global Ecovillage Network and bioregional congress. She is co-founder of Huehuecoyotl Ecovillage and La Caravana Arcoiris por la Paz. She is a co-founder of Gaia University and trainer in facilitation, communication and consensus. 

Scott Horton is a permaculturist, eco-artist, writer, teacher, and editor of the Permaculture Activist. He annually travels to Tlaxcala State in Mexico, where he is a designer and partner renovating a 16th century hacienda into a permaculture center for the region. He has taught permaculture workshops to groups ranging from pre-schoolstudents to MBA candidates. 

Valerie Seitz has a Masters in Architecture from Austria and the Netherlands with focus on green and social aspects of architecture and urban planning. Since 2006 she has been involved in Gaia University where she is working as a advisor, developer and graphic designer and is co-founder of Gaia Southeast.

Matthew English is a bamboo artisan and farmer. He has spent the last 20 years studying bamboo cultivation and utilization (from crafts to construction), natural building, permaculture and other ecological land-use systems. He is co-founder of Solar Springs, where he established a small-scale bamboo plantation and agroforestry system and offers consulting and workshops in the multitude of appropriate technologies.

Luke Staengl is an expert in the areas of biomass and ethanol, and president of Pesco-Beam, an international company converting biomass to bio-fuels, fiber, feed and other high value products. He has led and directed the design, construction and operation of several plants which produced fuel ethanol from corn and industrial wastes. Mr. Staengl is experience with farm scale and industrial biofuel plants. The company has over 50 installations from Australia, Antiqua and India to the USA. Luke was a founding member and served as president of the Virginia Ethanol Association for 8 years. Luke is also an expert in industrial solvent and oil recovery with international recognition in the field of skid mounted solvent recovery systems over a period of 14 years.

Pat Therrian has been working with Luke for over 22 years, as an ethanol plant technician, solvent recovery plant manager, and project coordinator. Pat also has 10 years experience working as the manager of a seven state rural community assistance program which provided direct technical assistance and support for the development of sustainable and restorative environmentally based economic development projects.

Jonathan Cloud is a UN-Environment-Award winning social entrepreneur, community organizer, and lifelong environmentalist, Jonathan Cloud is currently Entrepreneur in Residence at Fairleigh Dickinson University's Institute for Sustainable Enterprise, where he is responsible for creating and managing the Institute's Sustainable Business Incubator program.

Ethan Roland is a permaculture designer, teacher, and researcher practicing regenerative design from New York to Azerbaijan and beyond. He holds a M.Sc. in Collaborative Eco-social Design from Gaia University, and builds resilience for local and global communities through the ecological design firm AppleSeed Permaculture.

Catherine Austin Fitts is an investment bank and financial software developer, currently CEO of Solari Investment Advisory Services, former president of The Hamilton Securities Group, Assistant Secretary of Housing in the Bush adminsitration and former member of the board of Wall Street firm Dillon, Read & Co. Catherine has designed and closed over $25 billion of transactions and investments to-date and has led portfolio and investment strategy for $300 billion of financial assets and liabilities.

Carolyn Betts is an attorney from whose practice focused on legal aspects of corporate finance, real estate, securities and small business and business ventures. She advised various government agencies, both as an investment banker and an attorney, and currrently serves as general counsel for Solari Investment Advisory Services.

Phil Cubeta currently serves as Chief of Staff for a national financial services organization located in Dallas. In January of 2009 he assumed the Wallace Chair of Philanthropy at Bryn Mawr.

Jennifer Dauksha English is a permaculture designer, charitable development officer, yoga instructor/herbologist/cook/gardener. She is founder of the Center for Holistic Ecology, the Gaia University Learning Center in Tennessee, Sonnenshein/Transition Town Hohenwald and Solar Springs ecological retreat.

Katey Culver is a permaculture designer and partner in Ecoville Architects, an architectural firm providing design, consultation and training to the owner-builder and construction crew in straw bale and earthen building techniques and natural plasters. For over 10 years Katey has been teaching and designing low-impact buildings with a focus on ecological systems. Ecoville Architects can be found on the web if you need a consultation on your building project.

Howard Switzer is an architect with Ecoville Architects specializing in straw bale construction, natural building and historical restoration. For more than 30 years Howard has designed passive solar homes with sustainability and health in mind, utilizing preindustrial methods and materials. Howard brings a wealth of knowledge to his work, from historical to technical, and a working familiarity with building codes.

Adam Turtle is a bamboo nurseryman with 20 years experience in fine furniture making and joinery. He and his wife Sue publish the Temperate Bamboo Quarterly from the nearby Earth Advocates Research Center.

Eric Toensmeier, is a permaculture designer with extensive experience in the tropics and co-author of Edible Forest Gardening Volume One and Two. He currently serves a faculty for our financial permaculture series.

David Jacke is a world-respected permaculture instructor and the other co-author of Edible Forest Gardening, the bible of temperate agroforestry.

Robert Waldrop is the president and general manager of the Oklahoma Food Cooperative , the founder of the Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House, and the director of music at Epiphany of the Lord Catholic Church. He completed a permaculture design course with Barking Frogs Permaculture, and is a teaching assistant for the Barking Frogs Online Permaculture Design Course. He was born and raised on a farm in southwest Oklahoma. He lives near downtown Oklahoma City, and grows more than 100 different varieties of useful or edible plants on the former lawns of his 1/7th acre house site. He produces bulgar wheat products which he sells through the Oklahoma Food Cooperative. He instructs business ecology as part of our financial permaculture series.

Eric and Christina Wagner have been sustainably growing heirloom vegetables for the Athens, Georgia market since 2002. In addition to selling at traditional markets, their farm was also one of the founding members of the Locally Grown Cooperative. This has evolved since then into Athens Locally Grown, which Eric & Christina also manage. Athens Locally Grown is a farmers market where over 60 growers from the Athens area sell through an innovative website that offers many advantages over traditional farmers markets, CSAs, and other buying clubs. The software behind ALG, written from the ground up by Eric, now powers 30 other markets throughout North America. www.locallygrown.net, www.boannsbanks.com

Frankin Sanders operates a gold and silver brokerage in Dogwood Mudhole, Tennessee, and publishes The Moneychanger. He has written or co-authored six books on finance.

Susan Johann's work is part of the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institute’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC. She has been seen in a solo shows in numerous metropolitan galleries.

Jason Eaton is an ecologist focused on socially responsible investing, including community investing, micro cap stocks of sustainable businesses, global political economy, and innovative investment strategies for social change.

Wade Austin is a natural builder with skills in strawbale, cob, bamboo, adobe, CINVA-ram, waddle and daub, clay/straw slip, zacatlantiloli, round pole, timber frame, stone, cordwood, earth plasters and alis, living roof, compost toilets, microclimate, and integrated permaculture design.

Nathan Moore works with natural, organic, permacultural and biodynamic garden production and agroforestry. A former staffer at Lost Valley Education Center, he brings expertise in soil building, composts, EM, biodynamic preps, raised beds, deep-dig, square-foot, lasagna, hothouse, mushrooms, vertical, biochar, terraces, and food forests.