Come get Dirty with us!
at our 3 month Permaculture internship!
The Farmcraft Internship
Work with the energies of the sun, soil and water and partner with land, animals, microbes and fungi to create regenerative systems that heal the land while providing abundantly for you and the environment.
- Earn your Permaculture design certificate through hands on application
- Explore small scale farming, modern homesteading & radical homemaking as a livelihood or a lifestyle
- Learn to live simply, in community, connected to nature
- Experience the cycles of a working textile farm from birth to yarn
- See how permaculture ethics and principals are manifested in a working farm
This program will give you the confidence and knowledge you need to work your own land by providing you with hands on experience and mentorship in Permaculture design, small scale farming, food production, fiber processing, animal wifery & traditional homesteading skills.This land was designed to teach integrated land management, because we believe you must live it to learn it. this course will help you become empowered land stewards and to develop the skills you need to manage integrated living systems.
Upon completion of the course you will receive your Permaculture Design Certificate from the Dirt Rich School.
This program is for you if…
- You want to grow your own healthy food in a way that honors the land and increases fertility.
- You feel the need to work with animals in a way that is compassionate and confidant.
- Want to create healthy lifestyle, and make a living doing it.
- You read about modern homesteading & simple living and want to make it your life style.
- You want to learn about permaculture design not just in a class room, you want to apply your knowledge as you learn it .
- You’ve done a Permaculture Design Course but still don’t know how to apply it, or are wondering what’s next.
- You want to learn radical homemaking skills to give depth and quality to your home and lifestyle.
- You don’t just want to be a consumer, you want to be a producer.
- You feel powerless when you think about food scarcity, soil erosion and water pollution because you want to be part of the solution not part of the problem.
- You crave a community of like- minded people to share your passion for a regenerative future.
The Dirt Rich School is a great place to gain direction, learn new skills and emerge empowered. Whether you are a beginner, or an experienced practitioner, we believe that hands-on experience will give you the confidence to create your own sustainable future.
If you are exploring the idea of farm/gardening as a vocation or a land based lifestyle or just looking for a skill based education this is the program.
- Community housing with beds: rustic, simple, and off grid
- WI-FI and electricity available in reference library
- Shared outdoor kitchenette
- Beautiful outdoor shower house with hot and cold water
Food and Community:
- Produce from the garden is available in season
- Self-organized meals in a shared kitchen
- Community life consisting of impromptu group meals, bonfires, social time, dancing, music, yoga, etc.
Your work day:
- Farm week is Monday through Friday from 8:30am-5:00pm
- Monday, Wednesday and Friday: Hands on farm and garden management and greenboard lectures
- Tuesdays: Modern homesteading workshops and group projects
- Thursdays: Whiteboard permaculture design lectures
- Interns are accepted twice per year
- Spring term runs April 3rd-June 30th
- Fall term runs July 26th-October 27th
- Hosts maximum of 10 interns, which ensures personal attention
$1500 for the 3 month intensive.
- Complete this application
- Attach three letters of recommendation
- Leave phone number to be contacted for interview
- After acceptance:
- Only 10 spots, apply now to reserve yours
- The program is first come first serve and space is limited.
You don’t need to have a PDC to join.
Applied Permaculture Design
taking you out of the class room and into the landscape. We focus on hands on learning by immersing you in the demonstration site. You will be working daily with the elements of soil, plants and animals honing observation skills and using simple technology to create a personal and empowering learning environment. (You will probably forget you are learning.) Class room time will be used to teach design, invisible structures and other skills best suited to the indoor environment.
- Permaculture design
- Ethics and principals
- Invisible systems
- Appropriate technology
- Green building
- Community building
Small farm production and management
This program is hosted by a working permaculture farm and homestead that allows us the opportunity to “share the surplus” and support our community with high quality food and other products from the land. These skills are an empowering part of this education program allowing you to extend your knowledge and skills out into the community and see the return. You will see firsthand the opportunities and challenges it takes to developed and maintain productive integrated systems.
- Farming Skills:
- Land stewardship
- Farming using simple technology
- Sustainable urban farming techniques
- Harvest and market preparation
- Homestead butchering
- Green housing
- Culinary herbs
- Fruit & vegetables
- Live stock
The compassionate and grateful exchange of resources made possible by living with, caring for and communicating with our domesticated animal communities.
You will learn: basic animal care, animal social dynamics, to listen and identifying their calls and communications, how to communicate with them through calls and behaviors, observe there foraging choices and to improve them, to honor the complexity of social structures and how family units strengthen the health and survivability of the group.
- We will be working with small animal systems and the benefits they provide:
- Icelandic sheep, working with primitive breeds from birth to yarn.
- Chickens, cleaning the barn and converting pests into eggs
- American buff geese, how to use birds for weeding and mowing.
- Muscovy ducks, meat production from your lawn.
- Khaki Campbell ducks, making eggs from slugs and snails.
- Turkeys, meat production and pest management
- Bees, pollination and honey from a Perone hive
- Bella and Miss Mew, keeping down the mice and watching for the UPS man, very important farm jobs.
Fiber production and processing
Our small herd of Icelandic sheep shed their wool in spring allowing us to hand harvest it using a traditional method called rooing that has been practiced in northern European for many centuries. We will work together to process the fiber that will be sold in the fall to hand spinners.
- Hand harvesting wool
- Sorting and washing
- Picking and carding
- Explorations into Knitting felting crochet & weaving
- Felted pelts
Perennial and annual food production
“I want to grow my own food” is a powerful statement and one I have often heard recently. Have you ever wondered why our culture has lost our most basic homesteading skills and how you can acquire the knowledge needed to live a simple sustainable lifestyle? Here at the farm school we are passionate about giving you back those skills and the confidence to teach others what you know. It’s not enough to grow our own food we need to empower our neighbors and our children so they will not have to ask where there food comes from, they will know.
- Growing a garden for personal food production
- Orchard management and guild planting
- Cultivating herbs for medicinal and culinary purposes
- Hot and cold composting
- Soil building/fertility farming
- Seed saving
- Perennializing annual crops
- Extending the season
- Water sequestration
- Greenhouse production
- sustainable harvesting
- polyculture planting
Working with local plants
- In our gardens we work with, not against our local plant populations. We will teach you how to reduce weeding time, increase fertility, and improve your diet using the plants that grow all around you.
- The value of weeds: “chop and drop” composting in place and living fertilizer
- Partnering with local weed systems to benefit your garden and diet
- Living mulch
- The 80/20 rule of weeding
- How to create a Hit List
- Uses of native plants and plant identification
“Eat what you grow, and grow what you eat” my mom would say. In our northern cold climate we have more to eat in the summer and fall and less in the winter so let’s “put it up” we will teach you new & traditional ways to preserve your harvest so you can enjoy the fruits of your labor year round.
- Root cellar storage
Passing on the chain of knowledge from generation to generation
There are many beautiful traditional skills that have been passed down from generation to generation, and many that have been lost and reclaimed. Our lives are full of books, internet, videos and podcasts but it desperately lacks mentors, and hands on experiences guided by practitioners & skill masters. Like the old man next door who could show you how to hold that ax a little looser and to adjust your feet to make the job easier. We want to be that guide that can help you turn your knowledge into mastery, to own the skills and to be able to pass them along to the next generation
- Proper use and care of tools
- Knife sharpening
- Rope making
- Building with sticks
- Harvesting the woods
- Working with hand tools
- Natural building
- A-frame level/micro swales
- Wood chopping and kindling
- And other tricks of the trade
Living in community
All of us bring knowledge and wisdom with us as we come together in community. We learn by teaching and we increase our knowledge base when we share our stories. Building community and creating a sense of place is important to building this new cultural paradigm and it comes from with is. So please come share and build with us.
- Sharing knowledge
- Sharing meals
- Fire gatherings
- Music and singing
- Story telling
- Leaving it better than you found it
- Growing space for others
Please keep in mind our spring and fall terms come with unique opportunities as the natural cycles of the seasons change.
Who’s that girl?
Kateen Fitzgerald is the founder and director of the Dirt Rich School. Where you will find her working in the garden, sharing her experience in modern homesteading, holistic animal wifery, regenerative food systems and working with the weeds. When not outdoors, she is in the class room teaching Permaculture design & how to be a lazy farmer.
Kateen Fitzgerald, Chief, The Lazy Farmer & Garden Guru
Here is what people are saying about her skills as a teacher and mentor.
I met Kateen Fitzgerald eight years ago through our mutual love of farming. We have collaborated and supported one
another over the years on creating business plans and designing her farm. I have ran a small market garden, worked on
and managed several farms, and pursued a M.A. in Environment and Community with Kateen’s support and
encouragement. Kateen has stayed committed to her dream of teaching others how to grow food, homestead, and create
community while supporting and managing a small farm and raising her three children on her own. Her passion for her
work is obvious in her determination and devotion to creating a place where others can learn how to live more sustainably.
I highly recommend her as a mentor and educator for the Cultivating Success program. She has the unique ability as a
teacher to balance her skill as a leader with her skill of compassion. She sees the innate gifts in others and creates a place
where they can feel safe to pursue their passions.
Farmer and Permaculture Designer
I first met Kateen as a WWOOF intern on Compass Rose Farms. My background was far from farm ready—I grew up in the suburbs and had spent the past year working in retail; but Kateen welcomed me, and my novice skillset, with open arms. In a situation that could have been wildly uncomfortable or even a bit scary, I immediately felt safe and that I was in the presence of someone who genuinely knew and loved what she was doing.
From sheep and chickens to herbs and vegetables, Kateen shared valuable knowledge and hands-on experience. I learned comprehensive histories, best practices, and key facts that I honestly cannot compare to any other experience in my life.
The entire time I was on Compass Rose Farms I witnessed tireless dedication from Kateen. She created and continues to implement an educational program that fosters the success of sustainable farming practices and introduces a world embedded with these techniques to as many people as she can.
I never once felt like “free labor,” in fact I felt so unbelievably fortunate to be spending time with Kateen, learning how to manage a farm and empower myself.
I cannot think of a more valuable mentor for participants to receive hands-on experience in all aspects of sustainable farming—from production to marketing and beyond. Even today, I dream about going back to Compass Rose Farms. Kateen is an absolute fountain of well-researched knowledge and I highly recommend her for the Cultivating Success Program.
Ally Power | Marketing & Editorial Assistant
I met Kateen Fitzgerald in March of 2013 when I started WWOOFing on Compass Rose Farms. When I arrived, I was a clean-cut city kid with very little knowledge of how to garden or raise animals; all of that quickly changed. I fell in love with the farm and Kateen’s holistic methods of farming and teaching.
I am now a permanent farming partner of Kateen’s at Compass Rose Farms. Working with Kateen continues to be the most enlightening experience of my life and I cannot imagine doing anything else. The knowledge I have gained from Kateen throughout the past year will be with me forever and I am still learning from her every day.
In observing Kateen teaching, I have never seen her fail to empower others with complete and comprehensive information. Kateen is eager to see others succeed and is willing and able to do anything that makes that possible. Kateen’s ability to adapt her lessons and teaching methods to individual’s needs and learning processes is all too rare in our world’s leaders.
In regards to the Cultivating Success mentor and education program, there is no one I would recommend more highly than Kateen. Her dedication to empowering others is a gift to the world. Providing her with a chance to teach even more young farmers would not only benefit those with the privilege of learning from her, but would benefit all the communities those young people are a part of.
I was a client of Kateen Fitzgerald from may 2014 to november 2015. The product: an education in permaculture / biointensive food systems. She was a phenomenal educator for a litany of reasons.
Her availability/openness as an educator is mind-blowing, especially in an industry that is known for people who are recalcitrant, taciturn, and hermetic (i.e. farmers). She will interrupt what she is working on to entertain a student’s questions, and offer copious responses that yield a deeper comprehension than what the questioner was even anticipating. She is an adept delegator but also shows solidarity with students, often working alongside them doing the physical tasks of a given activity, and doing them with a focus and a resolve one wouldn’t expect from a longtime veteran. There are many styles of teaching, but Kateen offers a personal and direct style that puts students at ease and encourages a richer dialogue.
Another quality about Kateen that makes her an excellent educator is her bottomless intellect and curiosity in her field. She has the sharp eye of a seasoned worker, with the conceptual capacities of an academic. Also, unique to a farm, she has an extensive library of texts on a wide variety of disciplines and discourses. An aspect of Kateen’s intelligence that i find amazing is that she is primarily an oral thinker. She thinks at her best when she is having a dialogue with another person who is trying to learn. That’s an incredible skill.
I think that the resounding quality of any great businesswoman is the courage to lead. Kateen has a strong belief in herself as an agent of positive change in the world, and this confidence is infectious. It has always been the x-factor in leadership, and it is no secret that she has the verve to organize and inspire people.
So yes, I was thoroughly pleased and inspired by my tenure as a student at Compass Rose Farms, and my education in permaculture and bio-intensive food systems continues to inform my daily life. I built my first raised garden bed this past week, and i knew what to do and felt empowered to do it myself because of Kateen.
Compass Rose Farms Class of ’14 + ’15
Through my experience with Kateen Fitzgerald I have had the pleasure to be acquainted with her as a fiercely active farm owner, permaculture instructor, and homesteader in the Discovery Bay area of Washington state. She is steadfast with her drive to actively learn as much as she possibly can about permaculture practices involving both animal husbandry and meticulously planned gardens, applying those concepts to the land that she lives on, and departing that knowledge to the numerous interns that have worked on her farm. Kateen shows true integrity in regard to organic permaculture practices, as well as personal creativity in the dynamic management of her verdant and thriving homestead. I personally had the joy of working with Kateen on her farm where each day is a work day, regimented, and extremely intentional. I also taught a class on mycology (the study of the kingdom “fungi”) in an introductory sense on the farm, relating more intimately to fungal/plant interactions and applications of fungi in permaculture practice. Kateen seemed happy for me to give the talk and was well prepared with a very professional teaching space on site at the homestead. Kateen offers a very valuable opportunity for interns at her farm, exchanging classes for labor, making the labor hurdle of a permaculture farm more manageable whilst giving interns the knowledge they require to successfully design permaculture farms of their own and showing them the realities of small scale farm work.