Permaculture Family Camp

Learn about Permaculture and Homesteading as a Family - Grow, Connect, and Delight Together

A Family Camping Experience Like Nothing Else

July 20 - 28, 2019

Permaculture Family Camp is the summer camp that families attend together
Nine days of camping and connection with like-minded folks who are into
permaculture, homesteading, and holistic parenting

The best part is, while you’re learning and having fun, your kids are right there too.

During your learning sessions, kids are doing their own fun learning
about nature, and getting their hands dirty the forest school way 
with specialists in nature education

And the other best part (okay, there’s a lot of best parts) is healthy organic whole food that we make together.
All food is provided, and we connect with each other while preparing it.  Some cooking will be done over the fire –
in some cases, right from the garden to the table.

And the other other best part is – camping at Willow Creek Farm. We’re located just southwest of London, Ontario. Just over two hours from Toronto, and just under two hours from Windsor/Detroit.

Our farm is super quiet (at first we couldn’t believe how quiet), and the stars you can see on clear nights will amaze you.

We’ll be having loads of campfires,
even cooking multiple meals on them

If you don’t want to attend a session, or if your partner isn’t into permaculture,
there are trails through our creek valley and past our ponds, back to the forest,
and no shortage of little nooks
where you could escape and read a book in peace. 

Sound exciting?

Keep reading and learn all about what makes Permaculture Family Camp 
such an awesome idea for this year’s summer vacation.

So, What is Permaculture?

Originally permaculture was about farming in nature’s image (and still is). Since it got going in Australia in the 1970s, permaculture has grown into a global movement to design all human systems to behave more like natural systems. This applies to our food and health, buildings and infrastructure, and ways of living more in sync with nature’s rhythms.

Living abundantly with less of a carbon footprint.

At Family Permaculture Camp you experience how to apply the beautiful principles
of permaculture and systems thinking to modern-day homesteading, parenting and family life.

Is Permaculture Family Camp Right For You?

Adults who want to

  • learn more about modern-day homesteading, and approaches to parenting
  • meet like-minded people
  • grow skills and confidence
  • relax on the farm and wander the trails 
  • have campfires under the moon and stars

Kids who want to: 

  • identify and learn about plants and animals
  • go barefoot through a creek
  • play nature connection games
  • make crafts with simple natural materials 
  • make friendships that could last a lifetime

Need more info to help you decide?

The chart below has a lot of detail about what goes on at camp.
And every category could easily have “AND MORE!” added to the end!

Learn

  • Permaculture Principles
  • Permaculture Design Fundamentals
  • Systems Thinking
  • Holistic Management
  • Mindful Parenting Strategies
  • Natural Building - Cob and Cordwood
  • Sustainable Food Management - growing, foraging, processing and storing
  • Homesteading Skills
  • Primitive Skills
  • How to apply these concepts to your homestead and family systems

Grow

  • Spend time listening to nature
  • Try new things
  • Discover new ways of thinking and being together
  • Meet new people who share your interests
  • Live in community
  • Challenge the edges of your comfort zones
  • Slow down to find clarity
  • Develop a vision for your family
  • Mindful presence

Connect

  • Spend quality time with your family
  • Meet new people who share your interests
  • Renew a commitment to your values
  • Commune with farm animals
  • Fully inclusive environment
  • Spend time in nature - alone and in community
  • All ages integration
  • Experience the process of taking a live duck to table (optional)
  • Transformative daily BONDfires
  • Community celebration

Delight

  • Freedom to choose which activities appeal to you
  • Enjoy time with others
  • Daily child-centred programming
  • Relaxed pace
  • Shared Responsibilities
  • Discover the rural landscape and enjoy the farm
  • Gaze at the stars
  • Harvest, prepare and enjoy farm-fresh organic whole foods
  • Peaceful quiet of the countryside

Home-made Organic Whole Food

At Permaculture Family Camp, we cook together. 

Our outdoor covered cooking area features everything we need to prepare delicious organic food. 

The food will be a mix of things from our gardens (beyond organic), our animals (see below), and organic food ordered from Pfennings, an Ontario producer and wholesaler that we support.  We will prepare interesting yet simple food that makes the most of local ingredients. 

Adults in your family will be assigned times when they will be on food preparation or clean-up, and rotating camp leaders will guide you through the preparation of the meals. 

A few meals will have meat, but it will strictly be meat from our farm or local producers we trust to have excellent animal welfare and ecological animal-rearing practices.  All meals will have vegetarian or vegan options.

If you have other dietary concerns, ranging from allergies or sensitivities to religious diets or paleo preferences, let us know at registration, and we’ll do everything we can to accommodate. 

A draft menu for the camp will be posted soon. 

Duck to Table 

At Willow Creek Farm we raise animals for food. We also believe in the humane treatment of animals up to and including the time when they are used for human consumption.  It is easy to shy away from the processes our food goes through before it reaches our table, but we feel it is important to be part of the whole process.  For this reason we will be offering an introduction to respectful duck harvest as part of our camp.  Those who wish to participate will have the opportunity to slaughter, pluck, and butcher a duck in preparation fire-roasted duck.  As we realize this may be a difficult edge to push for some, alternative off-site programming (blueberry picking) will be offered during the afternoon this is taking place at the farm.  Please note that there is no pressure to participate and that we respect and understand vegetarianism and veganism (our camp leaders are all either former or current vegetarians).  We aim to be an inclusive environment where all view points are accepted and honoured.

Our Learning Approach

For the adults, we believe in balancing lecture-style sessions with experiential sessions and practical sessions. This means sometimes we’ll be talking with you, other times you’ll be involved with group activities, other times you’ll be on site tours, other times you’ll be building or making something. Information heavy sessions will tend to be in the morning, with more active and experiential sessions after lunch. The learning will not be like reading a book, it will be like living the lifestyle you desire, and learning how you could integrate aspects of that into your day-to-day life when you go home. 

For the kids, we are influenced by forest school and outdoor school models. Our wonderful leaders have over two decades combined experience working with kids in a variety of settings, with their favourite form being outdoor nature-based learning for all ages! Sessions will be active and interesting and be punctuated by exciting learning moments.

We have purposefully kept the active learning sessions to just four hours per day, so there is plenty of time for just living together in community, and sharing what everyone brings to the table. 

What's Our Perspective?

Modern Homesteading and Holistic Parenting could mean a lot of things. Here’s what they mean to us. 

Modern Homesteading

Our approach to homesteading at Willow Creek Farm is based on applying permaculture design to our entire 50-acre farm, but this type of design is completely scalable to any size of land. The farm we are working towards will produce a great deal of the food for our family, with a surplus of resources for sale. Our diet is based on plants we can grow, and animals we raise ourselves. Our farm also hosts many areas set-aside for wild nature. We have strong interest in appropriate technology, DIY and fix-it-yourself solutions, and finding ways to solve problems that use the least embodied energy, without giving up on basic human comforts. We have our intentions set on obtaining our livelihoods through enterprises based on our land by producing and making use of the abundance our land can provide, while also leaving the land better for the future. Our influences include the nameless multitude of traditional ancestors of all cultures, who developed many of the techniques adapted into permaculture. Besides our local mentors, such as Shantree Kacera and Lorenna Bousquet-Kacera of the Living Centre, we are influenced by many contemporary writers and online teachers such as: Bill Mollison, David Holmgren (the originators of the term permaculture), Mark Shepard (author of Restoration Agriculture), Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeier (authors of Edible Forest Gardens), Allan Savory (originator of Holistic Management), Ben Law (author of The Woodland Way), Geoff Lawton (excellent teacher and video host), Sepp Holzer (an independent originator of permaculture), Paul Wheaton (popularizer of permaculture, host of online Permies forum, podcast host and video-maker).

Holistic Parenting and Family Life

A growing branch of permaculture includes social and cultural applications of the principles. When considering our home systems, we feel that they provide the best arena to make meaningful and lasting change in the world. When we start with small changes in our own lives, they can take hold and influence further emergence of the family life and world we desire. We wish family life to reflect the sustainable values of permaculture. Our approach to parenting is to use systems thinking to inform parenting decisions from the system level down to the details of daily living. There are too many 'experts' in the world, especially within parenting. The best experts on your family are those that belong to it. Using holistic systems thinking and by applying the principles of permaculture we can create a framework which is individuated to your vision for your family. The fundamentals of this approach include mindfulness, deep listening, objective observation and radical trust in how nature manifests itself through our family. Some key influencers in our parenting model include Looby Macnamara (social permaculture writer), Starhawk (social justice activist and permaculturist), Brene Brown (authenticity, shame and vulnerability researcher), Kim Jon Payne (Simplicity Parenting), Dan Siegel (No-Drama Discipline), Gordon Neufeld (Hold on to you Kids) and Laura Markham (Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids).

A Chance to Leave it All Behind

Smoking, alcoholic drinks, and (non-prescription) drugs are not allowed at Permaculture Family Camp. If these are things you normally do, why not make camp a fun detox? Alternately, leaving the property to smoke is fine, but intoxication on property will not be allowed. 

Cell phones are discouraged at camp, other than for emergency use.  We understand you may need to use your phone or other device, but we encourage you to make a pledge to either go cold turkey, or reduce your usage of your device during camp, to get more from the experience. If you can’t, that’s okay – but please keep your use of your device discrete. 

Unfortunately, because we have gardens and vulnerable animals, we can’t allow any pet visitors.

A Welcoming and Inclusive Environment

Everyone is welcome at Permaculture Family Camp – we are an inclusive environment based on mutual respect and deep listening. We are open to people of any race or religion. People from anywhere practicing anything compatible with letting others practice what they want to. We are open to people of any gender identity or sexual orientation.  

Rob Read

Adult Program

Rob is a home-schooling dad, writer, and permaculturalist. For over a decade, he has been researching and trying various homesteading techniques. From growing  vegetables and fruit trees to raising poultry,  to inventing and making time-honoured fermented foods, a great deal of Rob’s time goes into both improving the design of Willow Creek Farm, and finding efficient ways to manage it. Rob is the owner, with Shantree Kacera, of Artemisia’s Forest Garden Nursery, which specializes in rare and unusual edible and medicinal plants, shrubs, trees and vines, and bulk hazelnut and chestnut trees. He is a co-founder of the Carolinian Canada Forest Garden Guild (currently inactive), and as part of that, co-organized two very successful Forest Garden Convergences in 2015 and 2016.  Rob has published numerous small-press publications, as well as O Spam, Poams (2005), a book of poetry based on spam emails. He is currently at work on a young adult science fiction novel called Sacred Cows, which imagines a future world where it is illegal for people to grow their own food. 

Julie Walter

Adult Program

Julie Walter is an educator, artist, blogger and social thinker.  She is particularly interested in bringing the elements of Permaculture together with social systems, particularly within the realms of parenting and education.  She writes a blog entitled Family Yields where she explores what personal growth looks like through the lens of our family systems.  Her passion is in identifying patterns within systems and finding ways to push the edges of their limits to create incrementally small but lasting changes.  She currently works part-time teaching Gifted students for the local school board. Last year she taught a pilot Forest School program within the school board.  Her strength as an educator is in bringing big concepts to life through hands-on and practical application of learning.  She also enjoys creating a variety of art, allowing her to apply her degree in Visual Arts.  Julie particularly enjoys natural building; working in cob and cordwood.  Julie loves people, nature and making connections.

Julie Read

Children's Program

Julie Read is an outdoor educator and a certified elementary school teacher with a background in social justice and community-building.  Julie was the Community Programs Coordinator and Naturalist Teacher at the High Park Nature Centre in Toronto for four years.  Julie has led nature programs, guided hikes and forest therapy walks for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities.  She is a member of the Council of Outdoor Educators of Ontario (COEO) and has facilitated workshops on environmental education for colleagues, teachers and caregivers.  Julie is also a member of the Ontario College of Teachers and is currently teaching with the Thames Valley District School Board.  She is passionate about helping children foster a deep connection with nature, improving their health and well-being, along with hopefully inspiring them to become lifelong environmental stewards.

Claire McCann

Children's Program

Claire is a certified Ontario teacher with over 10 years experience in early years and Primary education in Montessori schools, daycares and public schools.  Claire led environmental programming for children as a Nature Interpreter at High Park Nature Centre in Toronto.  Claire has also facilitated workshops on connecting young children to nature for Early Years Educators and caregivers.  Claire coordinated outdoor education programming at a Montessori School in Toronto and supported weekly excursions for Elementary children to the p.i.n.e. Project.  In her home country of Scotland, Claire volunteered as the Community Outreach Coordinator with South Seeds, an organization that helps local residents build community gardens in a low income neighbourhood in Glasgow.  She is a member of The Ontario College of Teachers and The Council of Outdoor Educators of Ontario.  Claire loves spending time outdoors and helping children connect to the natural world.

How Does a Permaculture Family Camp Compare?

Permaculture Family Camp

Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC)

Other Family Camps

  • Learn About Permaculture
  • Fully Family Friendly
  • Content Type
  • Content Approach
  • Certification
  • Hours of instruction
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Practical, Real Life Application
  • Balanced Integrated learning
  • No
  • 32
  • Yes
  • Not Usually
  • Design Process and Theory Heavy
  • Usually Lecture-style, Deep Learning
  • Yes
  • 72 (minimum, often more)
  • No
  • Yes
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • No
  • N/A

If you think a Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) would be a better fit for someone in your family,
we list some offered locally by people we trust to give an amazing experience on our About page. 

Your Investment

What's included in your fee?

  • 9 Days of Programming
  • 3 Whole Food Home Cooked Meals a Day
  • Child, Adult and All Ages Experences
  • Tent Accomodations, Outdoor Washroom, Shower and Cooking Facilities
  • An Unforgettable Experience for Your Whole Family

All fees are in 
Canadian Dollars.

0
Single Child
  • Ages 4 – 14
  • Children under 4 are free and must be accompanied by an adult at all times. Children 4 and over are supervised by parents outside of programmed sessions. 
0
Single Young Adult
  • Ages 15-18
  • Can attend adult programming or children’s programming
  • Must be accompanied at camp by an adult
0
Single Adult
  • Ages 18+
  • No need to bring children
  • Freedom to attend programming (or not)
0
Family of Four
  • BEST VALUE
  • Must have at least one adult attending
  • Maximum 2 adults
  • Other slots are usable for children or young adults
  • More packages available for larger families

REGISTER NOW

Space is limited, so reserve your spot today. Prefer to register offline? Have any questions before you register?

Give Rob and Julie a call at 519-762-3398, or send us an email at info@willowcreekpermaculture.com. 

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