permaculture bootcamp - learn permaculture through a little hard work

This program is for:
  • folks that wish to build hands on knowledge and experience
  • folks that have experience with other rural programs and like this style better
  • folks that long for community living
  • folks that are done with the rat race and wish to live here for a while, or maybe forever
  • folks that have a dream of homesteading someday, but they would like to get a feel of whether it is really for them
  • folks that have a powerful need to hang out and do permaculture/homesteading stuff with like minded folks for a while
  • folks that are bonkers about permaculture and want to build good things rather than be angry at bad guys
  • folks that know about what all we are trying to do here, and wish to throw their shoulder in to see it happen

February 2020:  there are currently two open spots!

A recent bootcamp project:

A recent winter bootcamp project:

Experiences include:

      - growing food, organic and better

               * using techniques that replace irrigation with permaculture

                     - hugelkultur
                     - mulching
                     - polyculture
                     - lots of taprooted species started from seed (instead of transplanting)
                     - building rich soil
                     - raising humidity for more morning dew
                     - terraces, berms, TEFA
                     - paddock shift systems
                     - diversity and edge
                     - strategic shade
                     - food forests and perennial systems

      - natural building

               * roundwood timber framing
               * wofati
               * cob, straw bale, slip straw
               * junkpole fence
               * willow feeder
               * natural plasters
               * earthen floors
               * green woodworking
               * conventional carpentry

      - alternative energy

               * rocket mass heaters (we currently have 12 operating rocket mass heaters)
               * solar - PV, experience using 12v vs. inverter systems
               * solar - food dehydrator
               * haybox cooker
               * rocket stoves, rocket cooktops, rocket griddles, rocket ovens, rocket kiln and slow cooker

      - food preservation

               * solar drying
               * fermenting
               * canning

      - earthworks, ponds, water management

      - more.  much, much more.

permaculture interns internship wwoof

Five days a week would be:

    7:00am - Everybody starts making breakfast.
    7:50am - Everybody has eaten and cleaned up.
    8:00am - On the job
    Noon - Everybody makes lunch.
    12:50pm - Everybody has eaten and cleaned up.
    1:00pm - On the job
    5:00pm - Everybody starts making dinner.
    7:00pm - Everybody has eaten and cleaned up.

That's 40 hours per week working on projects.  Most of this work is something interesting to people interested in Permaculture.  Some of this work is simply chores that need to be done.

permaculture apprentice interns

Come for a few days or a week

This is just for dipping your toes in and getting a feel for it. You might love it, or you might hate it. If you’re not sure whether a longer commitment is for you, this is the best place to start. Experience natural building, gardening, wildcrafting, green woodworking, rocket mass heaters, hugelkultur, earthworks and more. See how you feel about the seriously hard work involved.

Come for weeks, months or years

Build your skills to the point that you can build your own shelter and create your own permaculture paradise.   After a month, we will set you up with your own "ant village" acre to play with.  After four months, you can leave the bootcamp and have ant village rent covered through the end of December 2020.  After two years in the bootcamp, we will give you "deep roots" - a lifetime of rent on an acre.  

permaculture internship

a little jingle in your pocket

COIN-1: After a few weeks (once fred thinks you can do stuff on your own), talk to Jocelyn about some bounties for coin.  She has several little projects she is willing to pay for.   A person could earn about $100 to $200 per month on evenings and weekends.

COIN-2: Several boots have harvested hundreds of dollars by posting pics and videos of theirs experiences here in the BRK program.

COIN-3: And if there is a special tool or bit of warm clothes you would like to have, the gapper love and ant love programs have proven to be quite generous.

COIN-4: When people need a ride to and from the airport a person with a rig could harvest pick-up and drop-off bounties.  (Normally $35 one way during normal hours and $55 for crazy hours)

COIN-5: When a boot is here long enough, they can harvest some coin giving tours.

COIN-6: Sometimes we have a rush and there is a need for people to help with rentals - and that pays money!

COIN-7: Some ants and deep roots people have paid for help with their plots - building and gardening.

COIN-8: We have a neighbor that sometimes needs some construction help and has paid for that on evenings and weekends.

COIN-9: Some residents in the past have set up patreon accounts and made a few hundred bucks a month posting videos and pics.  

COIN-10: When you have a plot to play with, you can build a fence and some gardens and a structure.   And then you can sell those improvements to somebody else.  

COIN-11: When a boot is here long enough, they can harvest some coin helping with events on weekends.

the tie-in to the PEP program

As I write this, we are wrapping up our first ever PEP1 event.   The estimates are that a person participating in the bootcamp might get PEP1 certified in about 10 to 12 weeks.   We're thinking half of the BBs would be harvesting during project labor and the other half would be on evenings and weekends.   More about the PEP program here.

Some things to keep in mind

Food staples will be provided, although it is hoped that boots will eventually provide food for themselves and future boots by setting up garden systems.

Either party can end this relationship at any time.

The 40 hours per week is called "project labor".   All boots are expected to chip in to the cooking for the boots and cleaning up after the boots.  Plus four to eight hours per week of "nest labor" that would include shoveling snow, deep cleaning, maintenance, garden harvesting ...  things of short term benefit to the boots.  (planting a garden to feed people months into the future falls into "project labor", harvesting from a garden to feed yourself and other boots in the next few days falls into "nest labor")

Limit of six boots at any time.

permaculture intern wwoof

An interview with people that had been in the bootcamp program, about the bootcamp program

audio only.  

Bits and bobs that might be of interest to new boots:

A summary of all things Wheaton Labs
ant village
deep roots
the Wheaton Labs forum
177 hours of video of the 2017 PDC and ATC
The 2019 Permaculture Design Course
The 2019 Appropriate Technology Course

wwoof intern

How to become a Boot

To get in, you must pay the non-refundable fee of $100 for the first person and $20 for each person after that.  So a couple would pay $120.   (reminder, this is a drug and tobacco free campus)

This paypal thing takes plastic and a bunch of other stuff:

How many people are coming to wheaton labs?
Buy Now

If you are into bitcoin: 177pNU2a9iCpUXQwXX9EbtA2UwZpgeqcMT

Once we receive payment, we will contact you to start sorting out the particulars.

First come, first served. Once the permaculture bootcamp program is full, we will start a waiting list.  In other words, if you send money when the bootcamp is full, we will continue to fondle your money until there is an opening for you.  We will try to keep this thread updated on whether there are currently openings.


7:00 in the morning is a little too early.  Can we start a little later?

Yes, you can start at 7:50am, but you won't get any breakfast.

I'm just really not a morning person.   I would prefer that we start at a time more like 10 or 11.  Surely we can do that and it can all be worked out. ??

I think you would like ant village better.   You rent a plot and live your life according to whatever schedule you prefer.  

Or maybe you would like our Sepper program - rent a structure here and join in on bootcamp activities whenever you feel like it.  

I guess the bootcamp is for people that are cool with being a morning person or are feeling like they would like to have more structure in their lives.  A lot of homesteaders and farmers work 12 to 16 hours a day starting at 5am.  And they work seven days a week.   So this is already a lot easier than that.

I enjoy weed once in a while, how can I enjoy my weed and still be respectful to your weed-free campus thing?

I suspect a few people have done that.   They go on road trips to washington state for a weekend.  That way they aren't bringing any here.

farm intern

Will I get a luxuriant room, with a private bathroom that includes a jacuzzi tub and a personal valet named Jeeves?

Through the winter, all boots definitely get a bunk in a heated space.  During the warmer months, most boots get a bunk if they want one - although sometimes (rarely) all the bunks end up spoken for during an event and the boots make do with tents.  We found that most boots prefer to tent it during the warmer months so they can have a private space of their own rather than sharing a bunk space.  All boots get full access to the fisher price house kitchen and bathroom year round.

Can I bring my kids?

We have had people with kids here and it has worked great.  And we have had people with kids here and it was a mess.  So I guess it thoroughly depends on you and your kids.

The first element to figure out:  With one person, there is 1 unit of work and 1 unit of resources consumed.   With a couple with three kids, there is one unit of work and 5 units of resources consumed.   We did have a lovely family of five here last year, and it worked great.  The deal they worked out was that they would provide all of the food for all five people.  The parents took really good care of the kids and the kids were super respectful.   It worked great.  

And we have had people that thought my house was "unsupervised child storage" and the children would destroy my house and the parents would say "yeah, kids do that - you should child proof your house."

(Brooks was great - here he is acting as a biological sawdust control unit)

Can I bring my dog?

If your dog is nice, then it's all good.   Full details on what "nice" means here.

We have so many people coming through with dogs, and so many different ideas of what "nice" means, I really want to solve it all with the dog village idea.  Just a paddock that's about 40x40 that has a dog house and other dog goodies.  Then, by default, dogs can hang out there. But we still gotta build it.  Maybe somebody with a dog would come here and build it on weekends or something.

Can I pay the $100 now and hold a spot for the future?

Sort of.  If you are ready to come out and there are openings, then yes - that all worked out great.   But if you say "I'm ready to come out next week" and we are full, then we will say "we will let you know when a spot opens up."

Normally the bootcamp is first come, first serve.  And there is a waiting list that has people that are wanting to come later (or right away).  But once the bootcamp is full of people that are actually here, then it is full.   You must wait until there is an opening, and we don't know when that will be.  When there is an opening, we will email the folks on the waiting list.  After 48 hours, we will select one person that replied.   The criteria for selection will be mostly "who has been on the list the longest" followed closely by "who responded first" and "who can be here the quickest."

BUT!   We understand that there are some people with a variety of schedules to sort out and would like to arrive on exact date in the future - but they don't want to plan their life around this if there is not a spot.   So we devised a guaranteed-spot-ticket.   If you would like a guaranteed spot for some point in the future, pay $500 with this link:

If I come out and decide I don't like it, can I leave?

Yup.  No problem.  And if we don't like you, we can ask you to leave too.  

Can I get a ride from the airport (or bus station)?

Yup.  At this time, a one way ride during normal hours (8am to 9pm) is $15 and during crazy hours is $35.

And if you are giving somebody a ride, wheaton labs subsidizes the rides for $20 each way.   So if you give somebody a ride, you end up with $35 for normal hours and $55 during weird hours.

When i am there, can I use a vehicle sometimes?

Yes.  Sorta.  Sometimes recycling needs to go to town or other errands in town need to be done.   If you have a valid drivers license and won't crash my stuff, then the trade is that you run the errands and you get free use of a rig.  Just fill it up in town.    And if there are no errands to be run - stuff can often times be figured out (some other sort of exchange, or somebody else with a rig can give you a ride, etc.)   In the end, it seems that we haven't had a shortage in this department in the past.

If I'm there working as a boot, can I hang out for the workshops?

Sorta.   Usually, you'll be working during the workshops.   (Unless you did a bootcamp trade for a workshop - in which case you are a student and not a boot during the workshop)  As you work during the workshop, a lot of the work that needs to be done involves the workshop.   So you kinda get to be hip deep in the event as it happens.  

I heard that you are a monstrous douchebag asshole, so why on earth would I want to subject myself to that?

Ah, the joys of sharing really weird information, and then making yourself open to the world for discussion about those weird (sometimes controversial) things.  

First, I need to point out my writings on "Wheaton's Law of Reflective Douchebaggery." (and something similar: "Don't be a Dick; Be a Dick")   I seem to have caught the attention of a few million people.     Many people contact me and tell me how I have to live my life.   I say "no thank you."  They then proceed to tell me "obey or else"  and it turns out that "or else" is that they will call me names.    

So now you have a cheap and sleazy squabble.  My word against the word of thousands of others.  Fortunately, for every person that thinks I'm awful, there appears to be a dozen that think I'm awesome.  So you might want to do your research before coming out here - do your standards paint me as "monstrous" or "awesome"?  

The number of people telling me how to live my life "or else" is so massive, that I created this thread several years ago.  Another. Here's "Paul Wheaton is Impossible to Work With."  If you want, I bet I can find a dozen more threads like those.

The important thing is that every wicked thing said about me is utterly true - from a certain set of standards.  And these expressions make it clear that my standards are different from those standards.  Hence the ... uh ...  frustration?  

So I do as much as I can to share my values.   That way, dumbfucks people with values different from mine, will choose to not come here.  And the people with values similar to mine think I am fucking awesome and they very much like the idea of coming here.  

I think the best way to get an idea of what I'm like is with my podcasts.   But a lot of people have told me that this video of me giving a keynote presentation is pretty helpful:

If the people that are telling you that I'm a douchebag appear to have lovely values, then definitely don't come here.   If their values seem questionable, then I suggest you do your research about me before coming out.  

Do you live under a ten foot thick block of ice through the winter?

This last winter, the ground was bare quite a lot.  Snow would fall and then melt off.  I'm not sure if we even had one day where the temperature got below zero. More details here.

Can you tell me more about the food?

We provide staples like oats, flour, beans and rice, peanut butter, bread, eggs, coconut oil, fruits and vegetables ...  all organic or better.  So vegans are well covered.  Vegetarians are probably pretty happy.  Folks keen on meat will either need to bring their own or read the section "a little jingle in your pocket".  No problems with cooking meat here, but we generally aren't providing it for the boots.  Although we do get a lot of awesome company coming through and they will often bring meaty-bits.   More on food in the bootcamp here.

permaculture intern projects

I am looking at the "boot to ant" program.  After four months do I have to keep working in the bootcamp program?

Nope.  In fact, I suspect that you will then spend all of your time working on your own plot.  Maybe you will want to continue with the bootcamp program in winter to cover your rent for a future year.  Or maybe, some day, get deep roots.

Are there animal systems there now?

We have had residents with their own animals in the past.  Cattle, goats, pigs, chickens, ducks, etc.   I choose to not raise animals myself until the animals can get 90% of their food from what we grow and we have a paddock shift system in place.   Otherwise, the deer and wild turkey obliterate all that we try to grow.  

As I write this, there are bees at the bee hut and there are some paddocks created and some under construction.  This could be the year when have permanent animal systems started for all the boots that are passing through.

Can I call you and talk to you for a few hours about my mom's cat, Miss Stephanie?


How about if I call you and talk to you about being a boot and I don't mention the cat?

We used to do this sort of thing and we still ended up hearing about way too many cats.  "And as long as I got you on the phone ..."   So what we do now is:

A:  ask you to please post your questions to this thread.

B:  once you have paid the bootcamp fee, then we know you are serious.  If you really need to have a phone chat, you will be able to talk to Fred.

C:  once in a long, long while, a person needs to ask a question via email instead of a forum for a very good reason.   In that case, I ask that you can contact fred.

Is this a permaculture internship program?

A permaculture internship would require an affiliation with a university.  Probably with the university ag school.  And nearly every ag school is on the leash of a chem-ag company.  And we don't want any part of that.  So we are proud so say that this is definitely NOT an internship.   Outside of that, I suppose there might be some similarities between this program and an internship program.  

Is this a permaculture apprentice program?

An apprentice program is going to guide somebody toward a trade where they will eventually make a greater income because of years of experience.  While it might be possible that some boots would think of it that way and, therefore, think of this as something that smells like "a permaculture apprentice program", the end goal is more like what is described in the article are there millions of permaculture millionaires where the hero, Gert, has a small home with a large garden and fully realized the permaculture dream.  Not of working 40 hours a week in a trade, but in having a fully symbiotic relationship with nature.  That said, within the natural building world, there are apprentices and the bootcamp does include a huge amount of natural building.  But our mission is to guide people to building their own stuff, rather than turning it into a job.  

How does this compare to the WWOOF program?

Nearly all WWOOF stuff is seasonal.  During the warm months.  So when the fall rolls around, it is time to move on.  While people can be part of the bootcamp seasonally, we hope it will eventually fill up with people that are seeking a very long term experience - ending with an acre of land here and living here for decades.  

Most WWOOF sites are not as intent as we are with natural building.

Most WWOOF sites are not as intent as we are about permaculture gardening techniques like hugelkultur and polyculture.  

A lot of WWOOF programs are about pulling weeds.  We have a lot more natural building and developing a relationship with "weeds".

So I guess the bootcamp program would appeal to folks looking at wwoofing.  I like to think that what we are offering is far better than any of the wwoof offerings in many ways.  Richer experiences, the potential to stay very long term.   Some boots get a full ride to PDCs and other workshops.  Some boots get an acre of their own to play with.  

Will I get PEP BBs while in the bootcamp?

Some boots have done that.   They simply take pictures of what they are working on during project labor and then post them to get the BB in the evening.  

Further, several boots have taken advantage of their time here on evenings and weekends to knock out a lot of BBs.  

I think that with the regular bootcamp project labor and a few evenings and weekends, a person could get PEP1 certified in 10 to 12 weeks.

Can I go home for the holidays and keep my spot?

Yes, for a week or two.  All worked out with Fred.   But if you don't come back when you say you will ...   a lot of people have said they would be back in a week and never came back, so there is a gray area of "it depends".

Why don't you just pay people to do this work?

We have run the math a few dozen times.  Every time we see that it would be cheaper for us to simply pay a pro to do this stuff.  But our greater missions include:

    - infect more brains with permaculture stuff

    - build community

And the biggest mission of this property:   grow the future leaders of permaculture.   To do that, we need to find people that have not yet bonded to a piece of land, teach them permaculture, hope that they stick around for decades, eventually teach and expand what permaculture means.  It all starts with people that are interested in building permaculture experiences.

If you have any more questions, please ask in this thread.