Permaculture Skills Center


Our 5-acre demonstration site is located in Southern Pomo and Coastal Miwok territory nestled in the Laguna de Santa Rosa watershed near the town of Sebastopol, in Sonoma County, California. This site was a neglected invasive grassland when we began the restoration in 2012.

We have installed more than 2,000 feet of water- harvesting earthworks; 4 habitat ponds with constructed wetlands; and 2 acres of edible forest garden and native primary forest including more than 300 fruit and nut trees with hundreds of medicinal, soil-building, pollinator-friendly, and edible plants as an abundant understory.

The land also features 1 acre of vegetables and cut flowers (stewarded by incredible women farmers), an outdoor classroom, and a market stand.




Erik Ohlsen


As Permaculture Skill Center’s Executive Director, Erik is the main instructor for our flagship Eco-Landscape Mastery (ELM) School—an online program that offers advanced training in ecological design, landscaping, farming, and land stewardship. He’s also the founder of Permaculture Artisans, a fully licensed firm specializing in design and installation of ecological landscapes and farms throughout California.

Erik is an internationally renowned certified permaculture designer, practitioner, and teacher. He is author to several books and a seasoned activist organizer, working within social and environmental movements since 1998.

Erik has worked throughout the world with a focus on Mediterranean climates. He has extensive experience with projects that range from small urban lots to large broadacre scale design and implementation. His decades in the field have led to a deep knowledge of all aspects of ecological design and land development. He’s a specialist in water harvesting systems, food forest design, community organizing, vocational education, and more.

Erik lives in Northern California where he enjoys writing, managing his homestead, and raising his family. www.erikohlsen.com 

To heal the land is to heal ourselves; to solve ecological crisis is to solve social crisis. This is the great work of our generation.


—Erik Ohlsen

Lauren Ohlsen


Lauren is a California-credentialed elementary school teacher and has worked as a teacher naturalist and a visiting artist at schools. She taught kindergarten to third grade at a local Sebastopol private school for 5 years where she served as the science, math, yoga, gardening, and PE teacher. Lauren is also the founder of Solstice Yoga and Farm Camp. She loves to create a space where children can have the opportunity to feel calm and nurtured in their body, spirit, and minds.

Currently, Lauren is focusing on raising her 2 children and has been a core part in creating Permaculture Skills Center with her husband, Erik. At PSC, she works to help provide a space for education and growth in the community. She serves as General Coordinator and oversees the property.

Lauren also runs her own jewelry business, Hannahleyah Designs, where she crafts handmade beaded earrings and pendants inspired by the patterns and colors of nature. Click here to check out her shop.

Denise Decker


Denise has fulfilled the dual responsibility of Business and Financial Manager for both Permaculture Skills Center and sister company Permaculture Artisans since 2016. She brought with her more than 30 years of experience in business management and bookkeeping, including running her own business for 17 years. Her passion lies in setting up organizational systems, streamlining processes for efficiency, and financial business management. She feels fortunate to be immersed in the beauty of community at PSC and PA and strongly believes in strengthening natural ecologies and systems.

Originally from Marin, Denise has raised her family in Sonoma County for the past 32 years. She loves to spend time with her family, which now includes two beautiful grandchildren.

Lift Economy


Since its inception, Permaculture Skills Center has worked with the team at Lift Economy to help design and craft our businesses and curriculum. LIFT’s mission is to create, model, and share an inclusive and locally self- reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life. www.lifteconomy.com

HONORING Toby Hemenway

April 23, 1952 – December 20, 2016

The Toby Hemenway Memorial Library here at Permaculture Skills Center was created to honor the widsom and gifts of our mentor and friend. In February 2017, we transitioned Toby’s library from his home to its permanent location at PSC. One of Toby’s students commissioned a beautiful inkpad stamp and with it, we marked each book and created an inventory of his extensive collection of permaculture books.

Normally, the library is available to the public by appointment only. However, due to the pandemic, the library is temporarily closed to visitors. Once restrictions lift, we will re-open the library!

We planted a tree guild on the land to commemorate Toby. He loved the work he did at PSC, and left a lasting mark on our curriculum and pedagogy. We aim to continue to be a resource and do the work that Toby so deeply believed in: Spreading permaculture principles wherever he went.


Do you offer an in-person PDC or in-person classes?

The Permaculture Skills Center no longer offers in person programming for the foreseeable future. If you’re looking for an in-person permaculture design certificate course, you could do no better than the permaculture design course at the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center or the Earth Activist Training.

What online PDCs do you recommend?

Making a recommendation for an online permaculture design course is difficult. Due to Covid-19, many Permaculture programs around the world have taken their classes online. Without experiencing these programs ourselves we can’t recommend nor discourage you taking one.

The one online permaculture design course we recommend is the Oregon State University online permaculture course. It is an established and well-reviewed program featuring many teachers who are esteemed colleagues of the Permaculture Skills Center. See Resources for more information.

I’d like to ask Erik to be a mentor. Is that an option?

Due to Erik’s health and family situation, his mentorship services are currently limited to only his one-on-one virtual coaching packages. Click here to see his coaching services.

I’d like to invite Erik to be a speaker or to participate in my event.

Erik only participates in a select few events per year. If you would like to inquire further about having Erik speak at your event, click here to fill out this questionnaire.

We just bought land in the area and would like to get Erik’s advice...

Feel free to book a one-on-one virtual coaching session with Erik by clicking here. You can also contact Erik’s design/build company Permaculture Artisans to book a consultation with their highly trained and experienced design team. Click here to contact Permaculture Artisans.

I’ll be in the area soon. Can I stop by to get a tour of the land?

The Permaculture Skills Center is open to the public Monday through Friday, 9 to 5 to all visitors. Due to Covid-19 however, we have severely limited the amount of on-site tours that we offer. If you visit the land, please practice social distancing protocols and wear a mask. Dogs are not allowed off their leashes! Please call the office at 707-824-0836 or email admin@permacultureskillcenter.org for more information.

Can I rent your space to host my event or class?

We host very few events on the land. During the COVID 19 pandemic all events are canceled. You may send a request to outreach@permacultureskillscenter.org once the pandemic is over.

I’m looking for a place to stay. Can I pitch a tent on your land?

Unfortunately, we cannot accommodate camping at the Permaculture Skills Center at this time.

I’m looking for an internship. Do you hire interns or apprentices?

We do not offer any internships or apprenticeships. We are currently understaffed and these programs take a significant staff time. 

I’d like to get experience working on the land. Do you work with volunteers?

We do not host volunteer days at this time. Once the Covid-19 pandemic has passed, we may open up for volunteers who want to help tend our acres of gardens and food forest.

Do you lease any part of your land to farmers?

We do lease farm land at the Permaculture Skill Center, but we are currently maxed out with farmers.

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