practical permaculture:
Grow your own food intensive

Stay Tuned for a Spring 2025 Date!!

Design an abundant, healthy and resilient life...

A weekend workshop covering cold climate design strategies for gardeners, homesteaders, and those who are interested in learning more about permaculture! NOTE: this workshop won’t be offered until Spring 2025. 

Learn how to design a property that captures water, improves soil, and produces healthy organic food, all while regenerating the land and life around you. Participate in an intensive weekend of class sessions, tours and a design practicum to get all the tools you need to build more self-reliance for you and your family!

If you’ve been curious about permaculture and want a better understanding of what it’s all about then join us. 

Participants will get an introduction to permaculture concepts while engaging in the process of designing a homestead in Pony, Montana. 

live a life more aligned with your values.

Permaculture stands for permanent agriculture or permanent culture and is a design approach for sustainable living and land use, rooted in the observation of natural systems. If you want to be more self-reliant, grow your own food, and create a sustainable future for yourself and your family then join us for this course!

The course takes place at Sage Mountain Center, an off-grid, sustainable learning center in the Montana Wilderness, near Whitehall. Illustrating straw bale and cordwood construction, passive solar design, high altitude gardening, and wind and solar energy, the center is an ideal location for our Practical Permaculture Course.

Enjoy delicious vegetarian meals during the course and take in the beauty of the location by walking the labyrinth or hiking one of the trails. Those who stay at Sage Mountain Center will be in private ecobuilt rooms with shared bathrooms in off-grid homes powered by the sun and the wind. 


Kareen Erbe
Kareen Erbe owns Broken Ground, a permaculture education and design business in Bozeman, Montana that teaches people how to grow their own food and become more self-reliant.

She has taught thousands of people through her workshops, both live and online, and offers consultations and permaculture design services. She and her family live on a ¾ acre suburban homestead with large kitchen gardens, a food forest, a greenhouse, a pond, and chickens. Kareen has written articles for Rocky Mountain Gardening Magazine, Montana Parent Magazine, Distinctly Montana, and Edible Bozeman.

Linda Welsh, B.S.N. M.A.

Linda Welsh is co-founder and co-builder of Sage Mountain Center. Supporting the presentation of an array of workshops and lectures in renewable energy, eco-building, yoga, high-elevation food production, water-retention landscapes as well as administering Sage’s hospitality program through Airbnb, Linda is working to create a more sustainable lifestyle, community, and society.

A Registered Nurse certified in Hospice and Palliative Care, a Certified Yoga Teacher with an M.A. in Transformative Learning and Change, Linda is committed to exploring ways of living that are protective of the earth.

Thomas Elpel

Thomas J. Elpel is the founder of Green University® LLC and Outdoor Wilderness Living School, LLC (OWLS), as well as HOPS Press, LLC and the Jefferson River Canoe Trail.

He is the author of the best-selling Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification, with more than 150,000 copies sold. He has authored numerous other books and videos on topics ranging from wilderness survival and botany to stone masonry, sustainable construction, and green economics. 

Christopher Borton   
Chris Borton is co-founder, director and designer of Sage Mountain Center LLC, an award winning off-grid educational facility promoting personal and environmental awareness. 

For over 25 years Sage Mountain Center has provided sustainable living education in everything from straw bale/cordwood construction and solar/wind power to organic gardening, composting toilets and vegan/vegetarian living. As a fourth-generation home-builder, Chris is a founding board member of the Montana Renewable Energy Association and continues to consult and gives lectures and seminars to promote proven sustainable methods and techniques across multiple domains from remote villages in Guatemala to federal agencies and large corporations.

Plus these bonuses:

A comprehensive manual covering the 3 steps you can take to attract more bees and butterflies into your garden, including lists of flowers and herbs you’ll want to grow and additional resources for buying seeds and material.
A detailed checklist of what to do in your garden every season. From seed starting to planting to fall cleanup and winter pruning, set yourself up for success this growing season!

there are two options:


(includes 3 meals and lodging at Sage Mountain Center)



(includes 3 meals and camping at Sage Mountain Center)

Check out last year’s workshop by clicking the video below!

This workshop is for you if:


Check back soon for a Spring 2024 date! Please get in touch at to learn more about it. 

There is a lot of information out there about permaculture and gardening, but that’s part of the problem. It’s hard to sift through what’s relevant for your yard, your climate and your lifestyle. This workshop is not only specific to cold climates, it’s a chance to interact with instructors, to get your specific questions answered and to spend the weekend with a group of like-minded people.

Absolutely! It is always the right time to set yourself up for a little more self-reliance. Learning how to grow our own food, capture water, build soil and produce our own energy are some of the most positive steps forward at this time.

Click here to buy and you’ll be taken to a secure site where you can enter your credit card information.


Applied Permaculture: Hands-on Implementation

From theory to practice…

Participants in the Practical Permaculture weekend intensive are cordially invited to transition from Sage Mountain Center to Tom Elpel’s homestead in Pony for a three-day hands-on experience implementing permaculture principles related to the class.

Last year’s students created a permaculture plan for Green University’s River Camp campus, including a garden plan that was implemented immediately afterwards in the Applied Permaculture class. Partipants built several raised garden beds, constructed a greenhouse, enriched the soil, planted trees, and began construction of a pallet-cob chickenhouse, which was finished later in the summer.

This year’s design project will include a deep dive into the Elpel Homestead to examine previous permaculture projects, including the newly created pond project, while creating a next-generation landscaping, water retention, planting, and livestock plan to fully pimp out the homestead.

This Applied Permaculture experience is intended to give participants the opportunity to physically integrate lessons learned during the weekend class. This year’s session will include three days of hands-on homestead experience, including:

June 5: Water Projects
Water harvesting and management is key to successful permaculture in the West. This year we will install a new rainwater harvesting system, upgrade an existing one, prepare irrigation lines for summer, and fine-tune the permaculture pond with a larger, slightly higher overflow pipe.

June 6: Rainwater Garden
With a newly built rainwater collection system, we will create a postage stamp rainwater garden featuring aspens, elderberries, currants, honey berries, and more. We will prepare the soil, sheet mulch with cardboard and wood chips, and create a garden path. We will enhance the sunniest portion of the garden with a bee-butterfly-hummingbird flower sanctuary. Learn skills that will apply to any backyard garden space.

June 7: Dry-Stack Stone Retaining Walls
The final day of class includes hands-on experience with dry-stack stone masonry to finish a portion of a retaining wall along the driveway. Learn how to choose, place, shim, and backfill rocks to turn free materials into a beautiful and functional retaining wall with wildflower garden potential.

Cost: No charge for Practical Permaculture students.
Please come self-contained for camping with a tent, van, or camper.
Please bring your own breakfast and lunch.
Linda and Tom will provide dinner each night.
Come join the party!

If you’re interested in participating in this Applied Permaculture hands-on experience, please get in touch with Tom Elpel at: