Permaculture with Cindee Karns

June 13-15, 2014

Permaculture is a branch of ecological and environmental design and engineering that develops sustainable architecture and self-maintained agricultural systems modeled from natural ecosystems.

The art of living sustainably has nearly been lost in our modern lifestyle. It’s time to use nature as our guide to create a more permanent culture. During this intensive weekend retreat, you will get an overview of the 72 hour Permaculture Design Course, which will be enough to get you started on your own permaculture path: caring for our planet’s ecosystems, caring for people who live here, and sharing the excess.

Over the weekend participants will learn: 

  • Foundations of permaculture (permanent culture)
  • Using nature’s systems and patterns to design
  • Water:  Collecting, storing, reusing, and moving it
  • Growing local food in the far north: Soils, plants, food forests, companion planting, compost and compost teas
  • Designing for climate and culture: root cellaring, food preservation, natural building, rocket stoves
  • A revolution disguised as gardening

After the weekend each participant will leave with the e-book:  Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway to be able to continue learning.

 Cindee's permaculture roof garden

Cindee's permaculture roof garden



 Instructor Cindee Karns

Instructor Cindee Karns


Cindee, a retired Middle School teacher, spent most of her life in and around Fairbanks, but she's lived in South-East Alaska for 9 years, and now South Central for 6 years. Living sustainably has been a passion since she was very young: going out to the cabin, imagining what it would be like to stay there year round, and growing her own food.  After retirement Cindee devoted her time to the sustainable cause, by living in the state's only Bioshelter, getting her Permaculture Design Certificate in 2010 and her Permaculture Teaching Certificate in 2012.  She runs workshops through the bioshelter and teaches Permaculture Design Courses as often as she can.  


Participants should plan to arrive in McCarthy in time to get settled and enjoy dinner at 6 pm on Friday, June 13th. Come prepared to have a 2 hour class after dinner. The workshop will continue all day Saturday and end after dinner on Sunday, June 15th.

Location and Venue: 

 Lunch at the Old Hardware Store

Lunch at the Old Hardware Store

TThe WMC is a private nonprofit institute whose mission is connecting people with wildlands through art, science and education in the Wrangell Mountains. The course is based at the WMC's headquarters in the Old Hardware Store in McCarthy, Alaska. The town of McCarthy is set in the heart of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, the largest national park in the U.S. Over 23% larger than Switzerland, Wrangell-St. Elias is world renowned for its wild landscapes, high peaks, massive glaciers and rivers, healthy ecosystems, and dramatic scenery as well as its unique cultural history.

McCarthy is approximately a seven-hour drive from either Anchorage or Fairbanks. It is possible to fly or arrange shuttles from Anchorage to McCarthy, and occasionally we can help arrange carpools for students, though we make no promises. McCarthy and neighboring Kennecott, a national historic landmark, are situated within the Kennicott Valley (note the different spellings between the natural features and historical features.) McCarthy and Kennecott serve locals and travelers alike as a gateway to world-class backcountry opportunities and amazing front country hikes and walks (including access to the Root Glacier); the Kennicott Valley also provides a window into some of the most unique chapters in Alaska's history and an authentic, lively contemporary community.

Meals and Accommodations:

Lunch and dinner will be provided and shared communally; workshop participants are responsible for the breakfast meal, except on the last day. Breakfast can be purchased from a limited number of local vendors or participants can bring breakfast provisions to store and cook in the Hardware Store facilities. Hot water will be provided for coffee and tea. Every effort will be made to accommodate dietary needs and restrictions with advance notice. Primitive camping is available at no cost to workshop participants. The private site is located just a short walk away from the Wrangell Mountains Center campus. Those who camp are welcome to store gear and food, borrow bear barrels, and use our rustic shower and other facilities at the Hardware Store. WMC staff will direct you to the campsite and orient you there upon your arrival.

Other lodging options within McCarthy include the full service McCarthy Lodge and Lancaster's Backpacker Hotel, located just down the street. The Kennicott River Lodge and Hostel is another great option outside of town; it's a short bicycle ride or twenty minute walk each way. If you bring a vehicle with you, Currant Ridge Cabins is located on the McCarthy Road about three miles from the road's end; it's about a half mile walk between the parking area there and the Old Hardware Store. Free shuttles run between the river and McCarthy on a rotation with limited hours. If you bring a camper in or would otherwise like to camp out with your vehicle, there are two commercial campgrounds near the end of the McCarthy Road that will accommodate you without advance reservations.

Cost: $225/person if you register by May 1, 2014; $255/person after May 1st. Current WMC Members receive a 10% discount (not applicable to the early bird discount). The workshop price includes lunch, dinner and optional camping and food storage facilities. 

Register: To register for this workshop, please fill out the attached form with a $75 deposit. If you prefer you may also mail in your registration and a check (download .PDF). Balance is due 30 days prior to workshop start date. Write to or call 907-242-0515 with any questions.

Each registered person will receive a list of tools and supplies to bring to the course for hands-on activities by June 1st.