"Rancho Mastatal is an education center and community rooted in environmental sustainability, meaningful, place-based livelihoods and healthy caring relationships.

We provide powerful educational opportunities through our inspirational, experiential programs and onsite network of integrated, working systems. 

Our practices are appropriate to our rural, tropical, environment; are replicable; and embody competencies and philosophical tenants which are also applicable in other regions of the world. Our programs reach a cross-generational, cross-cultural audience and are accessible to a range of demographics.

Our dynamic community encompasses the people of our region, the Ranch team, and many of the people that participate in our varied programs. Our core team is able to provide for itself through agricultural, food-based, building, and educational activities, which simultaneously create and strengthen a viable web of local economies and healthy, sustainable, products and services. Our own financial livelihoods both contribute to and are dependent upon these local economies.

The Ranch provides its local staff with secure, well-paying jobs, educational opportunities, and a caring workplace. A well-organized financial structure allows us to make fiscal decisions that support our members and community while preparing for an increasingly challenging global environment.

Rancho Mastatal takes into consideration environmental concerns from a personal to a global perspective and develops models, techniques, and solutions that are regenerative, regionally appropriate, and maintainable. We are committed to sourcing our food and building materials locally while maximizing the utility of our diversified farm. We promote community resiliency by supporting regional efforts to assure clean water, healthy food, fertile agricultural land, and safe, naturally constructed buildings.



The Hooch

Maximum capacity: 4 people
Food included
This is one of Rancho Mastatal’s most interesting and in demand structures and is built almost entirely out of bamboo. It provides guests with an intimate experience with the nature that abounds around it.  This magnificent private building sits high amongst the trees with dramatic vistas out towards the forest.

The Hooch is outfitted with one double bed and two single beds on two floors and sleeps up to four people. It features a beautiful bamboo floor. Guests staying in the Hooch share two beautiful showers and an awesome composting toilet with with our apprentices in a nearby, separate structure. This option is appropriate for those guests looking for a unique experience and is not appropriate for people uncomfortable going up and down ladders or families with children under 6 years old.  Due to the nature of bamboo's flexibility, the Hooch does move a bit as you do.  The Hooch has perfect access to many of our trails, swimming holes, forests and waterfalls.

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Permaculture Design Certification Course

Apr 25 - May 08, 2017
Food included
Join our diverse team of permaculture instructors Scott Gallant, Mitch Haddad, Santiago Miranda, Rachel Jackson, Sam Kenworthy, 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.

For complete information on the course, including instructor bios, schedule, accommodations, etc, please see our website here:


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The Art and Practice of Live Culture Fermentation

May 12 - May 15, 2017
Food included
Learn how to ferment foods wherever you live!

Chefs, doctors, and scientists around the world are now saying what our grandmothers have always known: fermented foods are a delicious way to stay healthy, restore the immune system, and improve digestion.

Fermentation is an ancient technique for cultivating natural strains of probiotic microbes, while simultaneously transforming food into some of the world’s favorite delicacies.

In this intensive four-day course, learn the basic theory of the fermentation process and practice making a variety of fermented foods, including pickled vegetables, kimchi, herbal sodas and beers, ginger beer, vinegar, dairy kefir, dosas, and local starch sourdough. Immerse yourself in the Ranch’s beautiful facilities, take a tour of our farm and unique natural buildings, and visit a local chocolate factory to learn how cacao is fermented, roasted, and made into bonbons. Take home time-tested recipes and starter cultures, and begin to revitalize the art, practice, and delicious flavors of live-culture fermentation in your own home!

For more information on this course including instructor bios, accommodations, and curriculum please see our website here:


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Natural Building - Earthen Walls, Plasters and Artistry

Apr 04 - Apr 15, 2017
Food included
Join prominent natural builders and artists Athena, Bill and Benito Steen and the Ranch crew for an unforgettable and unprecedented collaboration of 2 weeks of earthen building, plasters and artistry at our wonderful facilities on the edge of the rainforest. We will cover wall systems, clay and lime plasters, earthen floors, sculpting and more during this unique, comprehensive and life-changing course.

Rancho Mastatal has been hosting transformational natural building workshops since 2002. The Ranch has become a regional leader in the realm of natural building with focuses on earth (wall systems, plasters, floors, and finishes), bamboo, and timber frame construction. Our campus has numerous examples of relevant building styles in our climate and has become a model for those interested in building in the tropics and beyond. We hope that you’ll consider joining us for this incredible opportunity to learn from the Steen’s and our competent team of natural builders.

For more information on this course, accommodations, scholarships, etc please see our website here:


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Key Stats.

Year founded


Size of project site

120 hectares

Dry season

January to August

Languages spoken

  • English
  • Espanol

People on site

12 - 40

Wet season

September to December

Living Conditions.


  • entire house
  • shared rooms
  • private room


  • Omnivore
  • communally cooked meals
  • over 80% locally sourced


slow: emails only

Ongoing classes

  • permaculture
    1-2 times per week
  • nutrition/cooking
    multiple times a day


Rancho Mastatal Sustainability Education Center is currently offering the following opportunities:

  • Permaculture
  • natural building
  • Agroforestry
  • Whole foods processing
  • beekeeping

Contact Rancho Mastatal Sustainability Education Center.

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