This Program is For:
Why Permaculture Bootcamp:
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 gain skills in the process! And, if you stick around, you get your own plot of land to build and grow on!
Growing food, organic and better.
Using techniques that replace irrigation with permaculture.
- 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
- roundwood timber framing
- cob, straw bale, slip straw
- junkpole fence
- willow feeder
- natural plasters
- earthen floors
- green woodworking
- conventional carpentry
- rocket mass heaters (we currently have 12 operating rocket mass heaters)
- solar: PV, experience using 12v vs. inverter systems
- solar: food dehydrator, cookers
- haybox cooker
- rocket stoves, rocket cooktops, rocket griddles, rocket ovens, rocket kiln and slow cooker
- solar dehydrating
Earthworks, ponds, water management
more. much, much more.
Here's one of our recent projects:
Come for 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.
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.
Five Days a Week:
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.
Here's one of our recent winter projects:
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")
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)
One person to join Bootcamp!
Two people joining Bootcamp!
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.
You can see the current amount of openings HERE.
Leader of Bootcamp
Fred has led the Bootcamp at Wheaton Labs for five years now. He's directed and taught skills ranging from organic gardening to woodworking to natural building. He is the coordinator of timber-frame projects and food-growing systems.
Duke of Permaculture
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.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Where exactly is Wheaton Labs?
Wheaton Labs is about an hour away from Missula, Montana, USA. Since this is the private residence of Paul Wheaton, 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.
What is "Ant Village"?
Ant Village takes place at the Lab, which is beautiful, forested, hilly land with deep, fertile soils. There are 12 plots set out for Ants.
Each plot will be close to 1 acre (209 feet square) or 3 acres in size. First come, first serve. (For size reference, a typical urban plot is a quarter of an acre.)
Start with an acre of raw land. Build a fence, plant a garden, build a crappy shelter. Use your new skills to build a better shelter next year. In time, have a nice shelter, a magnificent garden. You have food and shelter. Optimize your permaculture systems. In time, can you feed more people? Do you have permaculture-based income streams? Is your plot so complete that there gets to be a point in time that six months have passed and you have not left ant village?
To find out more about Ant Village and availability, look HERE!
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.
Waiiiit, how many months do I need to be in Bootcamp to get land?
How long do they have to be in bootcamp to get an acre to play with?
One month. This continues to be your play space as long as you are in the bootcamp. If you are going to be away for a week, then you can keep the play space. But if you leave for longer, somebody else might take that acre as their playspace.
Some boots do a LOT with the acre, and others not-so-much.
If a person is planning on exercising the ant village option, and they are thinking that they want their playspace plot to be their ant village plot, then they would be wise to start off with an ant village plot. On the other hand, if they are certain they will not exercise the ant village option, then they could choose any acre. And, of course, a person could change their mind later if they want. So maybe their playspace is in ant village, and later they choose a different plot. As long as the new plot is available, that's fine.
How long do they have to be in bootcamp to have a year of rent paid?
It will probably be more than a year and the plot must be an ant village plot.
4 months in the bootcamp to get your initial ant village plot rent and deposit covered.
How long do they have to be in bootcamp to get Roots?
Deep roots is lifetime rent.
2 years in the bootcamp. (Less for hard work)
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 stay in my camper or RV?
Some people want to stay here in an RV (land whale) or trailer-camper or something similar.
We have had some people come and park and they don't need to connect to electricity or run a generator. That always seems to work out fine. I guess what they bring is like a huge box that has beds in it and all their stuff.
Sometimes people bring a few solar panels - that has worked out great too.
And we had somebody come and they wanted to connect to our power. And they used a LOT of power. I suppose I don't mind if they throw in some huge gob of money that is way bigger than what it will add to my electric bill. Like maybe a hundred bucks. But we aren't really set up for that right now. Maybe in a year we can have some spots to plug in that wouldn't be so dancy. So, for now, let's just say "no" to plugging in.
Next, we had some people that ran some noisy, stinky generators. Let's just say "no" to that also.
I think the best bet, at this time, is to set up on timber company land. There are lots of spots nearby and folks can run their generator as much as they like.
If people want to park here and just be a dark box, or use some solar panels, I'm fine with that.ext here...
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.
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.
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)
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 should I wear/bring?
Here's some ideas!
- dress for being outside in whatever Montana weather might bring! Layers, hats, 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)
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: https://permies.com/pp/500/bootcamp-guaranteed-spot
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.
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.
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.
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.
Is this an internship or apprenticeship?
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.
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.
a little jingle in your pocket:
COIN-1: Several boots have harvested hundreds of dollars by posting pics and videos of theirs experiences here in the BRK program.
COIN-2: 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-3: 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-4: When a boot is here long enough, they can harvest some coin giving tours.
COIN-5: Sometimes we have a rush and there is a need for people to help with rentals - and that pays money!
COIN-6: Some ants and deep roots people have paid for help with their plots - building and gardening.
COIN-7: We have a neighbor that sometimes needs some construction help and has paid for that on evenings and weekends.
COIN-8: Some residents in the past have set up patreon accounts and made a few hundred bucks a month posting videos and pics.
COIN-9: 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-10: When a boot is here long enough, they can harvest some coin helping with events on weekends.
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 contact fred.
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".
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.
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.
Have questions about Bootcamp? Ask them on this thread HERE on permies.com!
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