A place of permaculture experimentation and home to many Mad Scientists!
Why Wheaton Labs?
Wheaton Labs is called that because in it abides the lead mad scientist, Paul Wheaton. He's always experimenting and leading experiments to gain world domination....with world domination meaning a world full of permaculture!
Experiments at Wheaton Labs:
There's a lot going on all year at Wheaton Labs, with new knowledge and technologies created all the time. Here's some of our ongoing experiments:
- Permaculture Design Course -- Two weeks of intensive study to understand the science and art of permaculture design.
- Permaculture Technology Jamboree -- Two weeks of skill building and innovation to discover how to appropriately use energy and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.
- SKIP: Skills to Inherit Property -- A program to learn and be certified in homesteading and permaculture skills. Instead of learning through courses or books, it's learned by creating and doing a bunch of cool stuff!
- Permaculture Bootcamp is a way to learn and earn an acre at wheaton labs in about 24 months. And, you'll gain a bunch of skills in the process!
- Ant Village. This is the main community on the lab where "Ants" each rent an acre on which to build their own home(s) and food systems.
A proper Permaculture Design Course (PDC) has a well-defined syllabus. Most PDCs are crafted for beginners - and a lot of professionals get bored. Our PDC assumes that the student is desiring a course with a bit more substance and grit. This PDC is designed for scientists, engineers, educators or people with a lot of current knowledge of permaculture.
In terms of Mad Scientists, this is the course to take to give you a firm, in-depth understanding of the science of permaculture. Even if you have a lot of practical experience in various aspects of homesteading already, this PDC will move you past simply thinking in terms of isolated systems and into designing integrated, whole landscapes
What says Mad Scientist more than technological innovation? The PTJ (Permaculture Technology Jamboree) is a place for:
- collaboration, experimentation and innovation to move permaculture technology forward
- experiences for people new to permaculture technology
- building homesteading skills
Attendees can wander among all TEN of the tracks and participate or observe as much or as little as they like. They can take part in the science, or learn by watching. The mad scientists (i.e. the instructors) will see a project to completion either with or without help.
This is the event to be on the front lines of permaculture innovation, from rocket ovens to earth sheltered greenhouses to innovations in natural building to solar technology.
SKIP is a curriculum of experiences you can complete to prove you can do permaculture. While a PDC teaches you how to do permaculture design and analysis, SKIP is hands-on. You are making things.
When you complete several things, you earn a badge. Sixteen badges will make you PEP1 certified. After several years of progress, you can be PEP3 or PEP4 certified. At that point you are basically self-sufficient and can prove it. Many older homesteaders don't want their property to turn into a strip mall or subdivision. This program will connect qualified candidates with those landowners so you can skip the rat race and skip the debt.
Most Master Garden courses offered by state universities include large sections about pesticide use and safety and non-organic approaches to gardening. Not so with this course!
With the Certified Garden Master course, you will learn organic, veganic, no-till, and permaculture gardening knowledge and skills. This course will focus on soil and habitat-building for beneficial organisms and systems thinking for gardeners and farmers: how to manage relationships rather than just crops.
Our goal is to understand ecological functions and interactions within plant, soil, microorganism, and insect communities. You will learn how to identify and manage all the relationships that make up a healthy farm-garden-ecosystem--one that does not require pesticides or large off-farm fertilizer inputs.
Want to be a mad scientist at Wheaton Labs? Want to learn how build and grow in a permaculture way? Bootcamp might be an option for you! Bootcamp is like WWOOFing with benefits. It's a way to take part in epic--and not so epic--homesteading and permaculture activities. And, if you stick around, you get your own plot of land to build and grow on!
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
Lead Mad Scientist
Paul Wheaton, The Duke of Permaculture, is an author, producer, and certified advanced master gardener. He has created hundreds of youtube videos, hundreds of podcasts, multiple DVDs, and written dozens of articles and a book. As the lead mad scientist at Wheaton Labs, he's conducted experiments resulting in rocket stoves and ovens, massive earthworks, solar dehydrators and much more.
Leader of Bootcamp
Fred has led the Bootcamp at Wheaton Labs for three years now. He's directed and taught skills ranging from organic gardening to woodworking to natural building. He is the coordinator of roundwood timberframe projects and food growing systems.
Event Coordinator & Rental Manager
Lara became interested in Permaculture while living and teaching English in Japan. She worked on an organic vegetable farm in her hometown for two years after returning to the U.S., and then fulfilled her longtime dream of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. After participating in Wheaton Labs Bootcamp in September 2020, she returned to Missoula in February 2021 to take on the role of Event Coordinator and Rental Manager for Wheaton Labs. She is excited to learn more about gardening, natural medicine, photography & videography, and building.
Assistant bootcamp leader / videographer
Josiah cobbled together a diverse background in commercial agriculture, horticulture, market gardening, raising livestock, homesteading, and other general build/fix skills before landing at Wheaton Labs in 2019. Since moving to the labs, he has taken to working with roundwood timber framing, earthen plasters, videography, rocket contraptions, and any other inventions he can get his hands on.
Assistant bootcamp leader
Jennifer Richardson is a former cattle rancher and current resident of Wheaton Labs. She helped build Allerton Abbey, the first wofati, and is now testing the thermal inertia of the structure. You can find out more about her recent activities on her permies.com thread.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Where exactly is Wheaton Labs?
Wheaton Labs is less than an hour away from Missoula, Montana, USA. Since this is the private residence of Paul Wheaton, and he--like most people!--would like to not post his address online. But, you will be given detailed location information and directions after purchasing your ticket.
If I really love it at Wheaton Labs, can I stick around?
There are many options for continuing your stay!
- You can continue to rent one of our accommodations as part of our SEPPers Program - Seriously Excited About Permaculture Pampering
- Get Deep Roots. This is an alternative to buying land at Wheaton Labs (sorta like lifetime rent)
- Or Shallow Roots - 3 years - acreage rent of a shorter time frame
- Become a Boot! Permaculture Bootcamp - boots to roots is a way to learn and earn an acre at wheaton labs in about 21 months. And, you'll gain a bunch of skills in the process!
- Join Ant Village. This is the main community on the lab where "Ants" each rent an acre on which to build their own home(s) and food systems
Can I bring my kids &/or spouse? Do I have to pay extra for them?
You are more than welcome to bring a spouse. If they also pay for a ticket, they can join in all the activities. However, if they do not pay, they will not be able to take part in the classes. But, they are welcome to stay at your rental, or explore the vast expanses of wilderness.
As for kids, they are welcome, too. But, they need to be watched and cannot take part in innovations or classes, especially if they have not paid for a ticket. Please note that Wheaton Labs is not childproofed, and with all the experiments and innovations, it's important to keep an eye on your children. You can find out more about kids at Wheaton Labs HERE.
What about my dog?
In a perfect world, we would have systems set up for dogs here at Wheaton Labs. We would love a Dog Village. Alas, we are currently not set up for dogs unless you can insure that they will be super well-behaved (find out more about that here). Perhaps building a permaculture Dog Village here at Wheaton Labs is a project you would like to undertake!
Smokes? Booze? 420 friendly?
Wheaton Labs is a tobacco, vape and, drug-free campus. We don't mind folks have a little hooch from time to time, provided that they pack out the bottles or cans. And we do ask that you go very easy on the hooch -- due to some past events we would like to forget.
What other things are nearby?
There's all sorts of things to do, from organic groceries to theater to bars and hot springs. There's a lot more detailed information HERE.
What should I wear/bring?
Here's some ideas!
- dress for being outside in whatever Montana weather might bring! Layers, hats and boots are recommended
- average temperatures in June range from 46°F to 77°F (or 8°C to 25°C) and June can be our rainiest month!
- bring your own water bottle, travel mug, etc. to stay hydrated, and/or sunscreen
- bring your favorite gloves, safety glasses or tools as you wish - we will have limited amounts available (though be prepared for the tool monster to eat your tools)
- if you are camping on site, bring your camping gear and your own towel for our outdoor rocket-stove-/compost-heated-hot-water showers
- flashlights are recommended!
- (if applicable) bring/use only biodegradable, natural soaps and other toiletries (low to no scents are appreciated, too)
Ask them here on permies.com !
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