The Eco-Institute at Pickards Mountain is dedicated to healing the Human-Earth relationship. Our educational farm and regenerative learning center offers a unique community residential program for young adults, healing retreats for non-profit leaders and activists, community gatherings and celebrations, workshops and courses.

Apply to the Odyssey Fellowship Program today, where young adults are redefining the collective story of our time. 


Are you feeling disconnected from your spirit, from the spirit of community, and from the spirit of Earth? 

Do you find yourself dreaming of the possibilities of a new world? 

Are you ready to step into your fullest expression and play your role in the co-creation of that world?

The Odyssey Fellowship Program is a ten week residential immersion for people in their Odyssey Years of life, or the wandering time between adolescence and adulthood, that offers foundational permaculture understandings, skills, and inner development- cultivating one’s unique gifts and passions to be offered towards the healing of our world.

The goal of this program is to cultivate an authentic, dedicated, growing community of young adult leaders who hold a vision of a future that is ecologically resilient, socially just, and spiritually fulfilling for all beings.


*Space still available*

The Eco-Institute is offering many Natural Building workshops in 2016!

Join us to learn more about natural building methods such as Straw Bale and Slip Straw, Natural Plastering, Building with Cob, and more. We will be touring the Mud Dauber School of Natural Building and local, permitted natural homes!



Permaculture Design Certification- with Will Hooker

Apr 23 - Apr 29, 2017Maximum capacity: 15 people
Food included
2pm Sunday, April 23 - 5pm Saturday, April 29

9am-5pm each day

$860 per person + $60 camping fee

Includes three fresh, healthy meals a day, dinner Sunday through lunch Saturday


* You wish to hone your design skills to create your own home, school, or business permaculture landscape

* You wish to gain the skills to market yourself as a permaculture designer

* You wish to eventually teach permaculture design skills to others

* You have completed either a previous PDC or an introductory Permaculture Foundational Course (PFC)


* Review site analysis and mapping techniques

* Learn and practice brainstorming and schematic design techniques

* Learn and practice drawing and rendering techniques

* Focus on creating spaces that are not only productive, but ones that are also beautiful and enjoyable

* Graduate with a Permaculture Design Certification from one of NC's most respected teachers

Sessions will take place in the Eco-Institute community kitchen, barn loft, lakeside gazebo, yome village, and/or other outdoor spaces. Visit eco-institute.org to learn more about us!


“If a space is well designed to function seamlessly for its intended use, it will be used; if it is used, it will be loved; and if it is loved, it will become beautiful.” -Will Hooker

The course will focus on this process of design. And as such, this is a true permaculture design course. It is open to anyone who has completed either a previous PDC or an introductory Permaculture Foundational Course (PFC). The course will focus on creating spaces to easily and unconsciously accommodate whatever activity is intended. To this end, it will rely heavily on the thinking contained in Christopher Alexander’s book, A Pattern Language; a book that describes all the best spaces for any of the activities that we might engage in during our lives. It will cover both the elements and principles of design, as well as going over the tools and methodologies of creating a design. Participants will have the opportunity to complete a series of designs for projects on or near the Eco-Institute.

Permaculture, as defined by one of its founders, David Holmgren, is a design system for sustainable living and land use. We will offer a week-long Permaculture Design Certification (PDC) course which will better enable you to design your home, school, or business landscape employing the principles of permaculture to their best advantage. As Toby Hemenway, author of the best selling permaculture text, Gaia’s Garden, says, “It’s always puzzled me that a course that must include huge segments on soil, water, earthworks, energy, shelter... can be called a design course when so little about the process of designing things can possibly be a part of a course to make room for all those other fascinating topics.”

To design a space that will be useful, it is necessary to imagine, to visualize, how that space might be used. Seeing in the mind’s eye how that space might be populated with people going through their activities allows a designer to understand how that space might best be arranged. This act of visualizing is like a meditation– getting lost in the vision is a timeless experience, one that is often the biggest reward to take away from doing designs. In this course we will explore the meditative act of visualizing.


Prof. Will Hooker was raised near Lake Ontario in NY, obtained an undergraduate degree in Landscape Architecture from SUNY College of Forestry at Syracuse University in 1967, and a masters degree from NC State University in 1979. In the years between the two degrees, he practiced in professional offices in Raleigh, Durham, and San Francisco, obtaining his Landscape Architect license in North Carolina in 1975. Will is currently an Emeritus Professor, retired from the NC State Horticulture Department where he taught small-scale garden design for 34 ½ years in a nationally renowned program which he built and oversaw starting in 1979. He was recognized for his excellence in teaching by being inducted into the Academy of Outstanding Teachers at NC State, has been involved in award-winning landscape designs in private practice outside the university, and is also recognized as an accomplished sculptor, building mostly ephemeral bamboo structures with students and community groups in the Carolinas and Australia.

As if that wasn't enough, in 1995, pursuing his interest in ecologically based sustainable development, Will became certified as a Permaculture Designer & Instructor, and when PINA (Permaculture Institute of North America) was instituted in 2016, Will was among the first 50 to be recognized by the organization. He has achieved recognition for his work in sustainable practices from NC State University, the City of Raleigh, and the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association. In 1998, he taught the first university-based permaculture course on the East Coast, and in 1999-2000, with his wife, Dr. Jeana Myers, and their 2-year old son, Eli, he completed a ten-month, around-the-world fantasy adventure, wherein he visited over 250 sites in eleven nations, studying primarily permaculture and sustainable practices. Will and his wife’s home garden is a model for permaculture design, recognized as such by being the cover photo for the international best selling book on permaculture by Toby Hemenway, Gaia’s Garden, 2nd Ed. Will’s mission and contribution to permaculture design is to bring beauty, as well as productiveness, to each space and place with which he works.

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Key Stats.

Year founded


Size of project site

15.4 hectares

Dry season

March to November

Languages spoken

  • English

People on site

12 - 30

Wet season

November to February

Living Conditions.


  • hammocks
  • shared rooms
  • tent camping

Omnivore Food

  • communal kitchen access
  • communally cooked meals


  • medium: voice calls (no video)

Ongoing classes

  • permaculture
    3-5 times per week
  • yoga
    1-2 times per week


The Eco-Institute at Pickards Mountain is currently offering the following opportunities:

  • ODyssey fellowship scholarship
  • odyssey permaculture fellowship
  • natural building workshops

Contact The Eco-Institute at Pickards Mountain.

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