Permaculture, Sustainability & Activism Semester in the USA

Video and Photos

Wheelbarrow crew posing at the tea house gardens
Wheelbarrow crew posing at the tea house gardens
Herb spiral group photo
Herb spiral group photo
Group from 2018
Group from 2018
Girl in garden
Girl in garden
Jenn flower permaculture garden
Jenn flower permaculture garden
Relaxing with music and books
Relaxing with music and books
Mud building earthen home
Mud building earthen home
Dave milks Annabel smiles
Dave milks Annabel smiles

About

Is climate change a big deal for you? Are you wondering how you might live your life in a way that actually enhances the state of the world?

Are you seeking an educational experience that links social justice, the environment, the economy, and your development as an individual?

The Rising Earth Immersion (REI) is a residency at The Eco-Institute for change-makers ages 18-28 who are seeking to live in balance with the Earth by engaging in personal, cultural, and ecological healing and transformation.

While living in dynamic community on an organic farm and Earth sanctuary in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, learn how to leverage the transformative power of permaculture for social contribution, environmental leadership, and the creation of a more just world. Live simply while tending the land, growing and preparing fresh food in community, learning homesteading, activism, collaborative leadership, and mindfulness skills, gaining a Permaculture Certificate, and more!

Highlights
  • Grow your own organic food while caring for an educational farm
  • Learn homesteading skills from farmers, fermenters, natural builders, and more
  • Participate in workshops with leading thinkers in alternative economics and climate justice
  • Collaborate with a group of inspired allies in planning activism trips on a regional and national scale
  • Explore the beautiful lands of the Piedmont regions, the dynamic community of Chapel Hill, and the academic district of North Carolina's Research Triangle

2020 Dates Announced!

After another full fall semester, we are excited to offer a SPRING INTENSIVE in 2020 as well as our FALL IMMERSION for young adults ready to step into a world of peace, justice, and contribution. Click to see our dates, and join the interest list to learn more!

Questions & Answers

Reviews

98%
based on 5 reviews
  • Housing 9
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.8
  • Value 9.6
  • Safety 9.6
Showing 1 - 5 of 5
Default avatar
Nevin
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

best decision I've ever made!

The love and support that is grown at the Eco-Institute (alongside all of the delicious fruits and veggies) has absolutely changed my life. It has taught me to grow as well, in countless integral and invaluable ways.
I graduated high school in the spring of 2019, and when I began this program I was unsure of what next steps I wanted to take in my life. I arrived hoping to find direction, and I am walking away with that and so much more. I have never in my life felt as grounded in my heart's deepest pulls or as sure of my path as I do in this moment. This program not only gives you the tools to look inward and find your truest self, but also gives you the support system to build the confidence it takes to follow your heart. I feel so incredibly lucky to have received this gift at eighteen, as many do not get to feel this freedom and deep knowing until much later in life. This program has been the best possible beginning to my journey into adulthood.
My time at the Eco-Institute also opened me up to a world of knowledge that I am so excited to continue exploring. Rising Earth Immersion really is the perfect title because everything from agriculture and permaculture, to communication, emotional literacy, and community living are taught in an immersive, hands-on way. We had our hands in the dirt out in the garden, we each played an equal roll in creating the norms for our community, we were all committed to honest, open communication, and much more. I can say without a doubt that everyone who comes here will learn something new about themselves, the world, or a new skill each and every day. And will learn in a way that is engaging, gratifying, and long-lasting.
I cannot say enough about the Rising Earth Immersion and its impact on my life. It has been the best experience of my life and I deeply recommend it to any person who feels pulled to find deeper connection with themselves, the Earth, and community. <3

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
If you feel at all drawn to what you have read on this page, I encourage you to take a look at the website. Trust that pull and apply! What you will find at the Eco-Institute is growth and love, and it will not fail to deepen the fullness of your soul.
Jimi
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A Glimpse Into a More Beautiful World

My experience here was really beautiful. Ten weeks living in community with 10+ other people with earth-oriented values brought me to rethink what it means to be human. Sleeping in yurts in the forest, cooking meals together, learning about how to practice earth regeneration in tangible ways, sharing deep parts of ourselves with one another, were all facets of a beautiful (and I believe possible) way of life.

The intra- and inter-personal growth has been immense, and I cultivated a sense of closeness with those around me that this loneliness-stricken culture longs for. This is in part due to the specific people who came, but it is also due to the kind of social environment the program's structure encouraged. We share things in circle. We learn and use healthy communication tools. We play silly games. We sometimes process grief together. The tools I've learned in this program I use in all my relationships to this day.

The practical skills aspect of the program is abundant as well, and contributes to the wholesome lifestyle here. We dabbled in a little of everything: foraging, fermentation, natural building, animal care, and lots more. The garden we help out in (and learn a LOT from) overflows with food, and provides for me a feeling of utmost fulfillment: being connected to the source of what goes in my body. We also learned the principles of permaculture, an approach and method to human collaboration with natural ecosystems. No longer do humans need to exploit the planet to thrive---quite the opposite. Healing natural ecosystems is actually the most conducive to human well-being. I once understood this as an abstract concept, but during this program I could feel it with the wholeness of my being.

This program feels both like a training ground and a blueprint for how we could run the world in a beautiful way.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
If you are a little afraid about this step into the unknown, I recommend leaning into that discomfort a little, making a decision that is at the edge of your courage. You might form connections here that are pivotal for your life path. There is no guarantee, but it is possible, and has happened before.
Default avatar
David
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Life Changing Program

"I've never felt so a part of a community in my entire life. I'm so grateful for all of you." I said, tears pouring down my face at one of my birthday celebrations at the Eco-Institute. Standing in a pre-feast circle with many of the people who have become closest to me.
With an intense desire to go deeper into organic agriculture & permaculture I came to the Eco-Institute in 2014 to participate in the Odyssey Fellowship Program, now the Rising Earth Immersion. After working as a farm hand on organic farms for two years prior, I was thirsty for a more formal education in agriculture, and that's exactly what the Eco-Institute was able to provide. I wanted to learn the skills necessary to sustain myself through holistic agriculture practices on a homestead of my own, and after my education at the Eco-Institute I feel confident that I can fulfill my homesteading dreams.
What I didn't expect was the education in emotional health and awareness. This gained awareness into my feelings has been the single greatest gift I've ever received in my life. I feel more connected to myself, to my romantic partners, to my family, and friends. I feel more complete and authentic and accepting of myself and others in my life. The agriculture piece is more quantitative, a hard, tangible skill. The emotional piece is all qualitative, a soft, intangible skill. I was shown that both are equally in important.
Few programs exist like this one in the world. On such a beautiful piece of land and beautiful community surrounding it. My tears flow every year on my birthday at the Eco-Institute for the overwhelming gratitude I have and will always have for the life changing experience I've had there.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
Raw goat's milk and homemade goat's cheese was unfamiliar to me and so so delicious!
Default avatar
Taylor
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A Semester to let go and give in

The experiences that you will find during the Rising Earth Immersion are made from your own hands. It is this kind of educational experience that I feel young adults dream of and wish they had in higher education. The land at Pickards Meadow is meant for you to explore and go deep into the realms of your choosing. With the support of community members, teachers, and the land itself these all surround you and hold you as you go deep into your inner worlds. There is plenty of practical studies and again the community is there to help you and give you resources to access your gifts if you haven't already. Finding time to slow down is a piece that you have the ability to learn from in this immersion. The greatest gift though is what the group manifests in their time and each program is of its own and never looks like the one before it. To me that is where the beauty happens and the tough and real experience's of learning how to live in community. Its not always easy and pretty that is where you can practice and grow as a human.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Don't expect to be served an experience that is curated and served to you in a pretty way. This is not that kind of eco-adventure-tourism program, there is beauty and adventure but it is much deeper than that.
Default avatar
Abigail
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Influential and Empowering

What would I say about the EIPM's immersion program? what do you do?
Living on a farm, working the garden, preparing farm-to-table dinners, sharing in the harvest, swimming in the lake, meeting new friends... those are a few of the invaluable experiences that you will partake in.

Living and learning with a community of individuals who share a similar vision of the environment and humanity was very empowering and enriching for my soul as I was searching for my life's purpose. Megan and Tim Toben, their family, friends, community members and elders are a wealth of knowledge, wisdom, and guidance who have been phenomenal teachers and role models for me. Their genuine love and mindfulness for everyone and the earth has given me the positive example of how to carry myself with poise and integrity.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Keep an open-mind. Have a willingness to learn new skills. Be ready to work the land.