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Permaculture and Ecovillage Immersion

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I get college credit?

Yes, on a case-by-case basis. Many colleges offer credits for off-campus internships, field studies, and/or independent study, all of which are a great fit for our program. We recommend that you consult with an academic adviser from your home institution. We are more than happy to speak with them (and you) to assist in this process.

What should I bring?

This list provides a rough overview of the essentials for participating in the Immersion program.

  • A tent (the larger the more comfortable)
  • Bedding (pillow, sheets, blankets, or sleeping bag)
  • Towel
  • Sleeping pad/cot
  • Calendar/personal datebook
  • Notebook and/or sketch pad
  • Alarm clock (battery-powered)
  • Shoes (e.g. sandals, casual shoes, rain boots, and work shoes)
  • Proper clothing for the season, including rain jacket and hat (check weather for Bat Cave, NC)
  • Headlamp and batteries (LED lights are more efficient)
  • Water bottle
  • Personal toiletries (biodegradable please) and medicines
  • Laundry soap (laundry facilities in town, not at Earthaven)
  • Natural insect repellent or long sleeves and pants to protect from biting insects

Why does the program cost what it does?

The Permaculture and Ecovillage Immersion tuition was calculated to cover the costs of running the program, with very little profit margin. Your tuition pays for Earthaven residence fees, camping, venue fees, catering, instructor and staff salaries, field trip costs, course materials, and locally sourced food for all meals. SOIL aims to create affordable, broadly accessible programs while offering instructors and staff fair wages for the extraordinary quality of their work.

We recognize that tuition is a barrier to some students who might participate if money were not an issue. We are committed to finding ways to make the Immersion more accessible to these individuals. To speak with us about payment options or discuss financial assistance, please contact us.

Are there scholarships/financial aid options available?

No scholarships are currently available, but there are financial aid options. Many of our students do their own fundraising (“Community Supported Education” via crowdfunding applications) or use the financial aid payment plan option, through which tuition can be paid in multiple installments. Visit our fundraising page for creative ways to engage your community and support this investment in yourself.

If I am physically limited, can I still participate?

Yes. We are committed to making the Immersion accessible to all who want to participate. Some activities, however, may be difficult or impossible for participants with specific physical conditions. Students spend extended periods of time moving across hilly, uneven terrain, working with the elements, and engaging as directly as possible with the landscape. If a planned activity is too physically difficult, we will do our best to work with you to create an adapted exercise that will allow you to fully participate in the learning village. Diverse experiences and abilities are part of what makes the Immersion a rich learning environment. To speak with our staff about the physical nature of the Immersion, please contact us.

Can I do the Immersion with my family? How about if I have young children?

Yes. We support families who want to share the experience of living at Earthaven together. The Immersion welcomes people of all ages and stages. However, because the program is intensively designed and scheduled throughout its duration, we encourage participants to assess what would be best for their learning journey. If you are considering coming to the Immersion with someone other than yourself, please contact us to discuss your situation so we can help you make the best decision.

Can I bring my dog/cat/bird/ferret/goat?

Earthaven has a strict pet policy that prohibits short-term residents from having pets. Certified service or therapy animals are permitted with advance notice.

Will you accommodate my diet?

Yes, if we are able. We strive to balance the needs of participants with ease and simplicity for our wonderful kitchen staff. We currently accommodate a range of food allergies, vegetarian diets, gluten-free diets, and dairy-free diets. Our menu is nourishing, varied, and omnivorous, drawing from local, organic, seasonal, and GMO-free ingredients as much as possible. If you have other specific needs, please contact us to discuss options.

Is it ok to miss some of the program if I have scheduling conflicts?

The consistent and sustained participation of every Immersion member is critical to the experience. While we strongly encourage participants to attend every session, scheduling conflicts—both planned and unplanned—are inevitable.

Please let SOIL staff know as far in advance as possible if you will miss part or all of a class. Keep us informed in case of emergencies. Repeated tardiness or absence will result in a conversation about whether you should continue in the program.

No refunds or fee transfers will be made available for absentee students, including those asked to leave the program.

Participants can receive two certifications over the course of the immersion: Permaculture Design and Ecovillage Design. Because these certifications are standards-based, we must ensure that our students gain the required information and knowledge. Missing days of the Immersion could jeopardize your receipt of those certifications. To discuss your scheduling questions and needs, please contact us.

What does living off the grid mean?

Staying at Earthaven is an adventure! Earthaven is off the grid, which means that we do not use public utilities. We derive our electricity from solar panels and two small hydropower stations. Therefore, you should prepare for noticeable differences from many communities: no outdoor lighting at night, restricted electricity use, continual monitoring of resources, and greater sharing. Please be prepared to conserve energy and resources while you are staying with us. Being in a close, direct relationship with the Earth and its resources is one of the hallmark benefits of this Immersion and of living at Earthaven. Closer relationship breeds deeper appreciation.

Do students work while participating in the Immersion?

Students usually do not hold outside employment while participating. Because of the intensive and immersive nature of the program, students usually find that they are fully engaged with their studies and the variety of opportunities that present themselves while living in the community. We encourage participants to use their unstructured time for reflection, integration, and self-care. Students often save money beforehand or take out loans to obtain the full benefits of this dynamic learning experience. We understand that work situations vary and that some people may be able to attend the program while staying on their current career path. However, we request that you contact us about these special circumstances.

Experience a developing ecovillage for yourself!

Most of SOIL’s classes take place at Earthaven Ecovillage, giving participants a hands-on, skill-building immersion within an authentic community-based, village setting. Tours of Earthaven are also available on a monthly basis, a great way to dip your toe into this long-standing, intergenerational social experiment.

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COVID 19 Response: SOIL is publishing resources and deferring all programs to 2021.Read More
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