2017 Appropriate Technology Course in Montana

June 12th - 23rd, 2017

UPDATE! We videoed all of the permaculture design course and the appropriate technology course. All 177 hours of video is now available HERE!

While this web page will be out of date for a few more weeks, we are selling super earlybird ticket for the 2018 PDC.

Following the Permaculture Design Course, the Appropriate Technology course, led by Tim Barker, takes the permaculture principles to the next level by applying some crafty science and engineering to basic life essentials like hot water and water catchment. With this course, you'll cover a wide range of topics and get real life experience building the systems you'll need to live comfortably and sustainably

The location

Missoula, Montana

The cost


The PDC and ATC Combo



1. Solar - (passive, heating, cookers, ovens, dryers. Panels, charging, storage, lighting, mobile powered units).

2. Heating Temperate shelters - rocket stoves ( dimensions, materials, uses (hotwater, oven, cooking, mass heating). wood stoves, solar, thermal mass, insulation, floors, composting. Thermal mass greenhouses

3. Cooling Tropical shelters - shade, wind, ground cooling ducts, orientation, thermal mass, roofs

4. Water - filtering, purity, potibility, design, pumps, swales, ponds, air wells, drilled wells, collection systems, storage, IBC's, Grey water (recycling, uses, low cost methods, legal, productive uses)

5. Sustainability - energy audits, home, farm, food security - measurement

6. BioChar - production and use

7. Compost Toilets - Types, designs, Humanure, urine, safety, regulation, reality.

The instructors

A great group of experienced instructors. Learn more.

The site

Lots of really cool Appropriate technology and natural buildings. Learn more.

The accommodations

While tent camping is included, you can pay a bit more to stay in one of the cool buildings. Learn more.

The food

Oh god! Did I mention the food. Wow! Learn more.

The people

You will probably learn a huge amount from other participants just as they will from you. Many friendships last long after the PDC is finished.


Questions about this course and the atc can be asked in this thread on permies.com

Register Now!


Energy concepts

The aim of the Appropriate technology course is to give students a more fundamental understanding of Energy so that they can make informed choices about the technologies they use

Solar thermal strategies and techniques

Students will learn about solar passive design including natural building concepts, solar cookers, solar dryers, and solar cooling

  • solar dehydrator
  • solar oven


Students will learn about rocket stoves and pyrolysis stoves

  • Rocket Powered Oven
  • top lit up draft (tlud) stove

Human powered devices

Small scale electrical generation

Students will learn about solar photovoltaic, hydro, and wind


Students will learn about composting toilet systems, grey water, and bio filtration.

Tool use

Students will be taught how to use a range of hand and power tools. This includes an introduction to welding.

2017 Homesteaders PDC (Permaculture Design Course) in Montana

Preceding the ATC, there will be a PDC. The aim of this PDC is to teach you the Permaculture process of design with a homesteading flavor. Once you have a deep and fundamental understanding of the design process, you can design for any situations: urban or large acreage, dry or humid climate, tropical or cold, etc.

The homesteading flavor comes from the opportunity to learn about really cool appropriate technology and homesteading infrastructure, and techniques used on site: rocket mass heaters, solar ovens, natural buildings, hugelkultur, and much more. Learn more...


Tim Barker - 2017 ATC Instructor

tim barker 2017 pdc

Tim has come a long way since his days as a diesel fitter mechanic, and now spends his time between Australia and New Zealand (and sometimes the US) as a semi professional pyromaniac and mad scientist teaching people how to burn stuff and make really cool machines and devices for low carbon living. He currently teaches Appropriate Technology for the Koanga Institute in New Zealand and Very Edible Gardens (VEG) in Melbourne, to name a few.

He has previously been farm manager for the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia, power station operator/mechanic, adventure guide and professional turtle wrestler. His rocket stove and char making powered hot water systems, ovens and cookers reflect his passion for elegant simple and durable combustion technologies. Other projects include gravity powered water pumps, solar thermal cookers and dryers, pedal powered washing machines, cargo bikes, hovercraft, wooden boats and aquaponics, to name a few. When he is not tinkering he can be found on Macleay Island off the coast of Queensland Australia, where he and his family live and are currently in the process of building a rammed earth house (with maybe a little sailing thrown in).

He is particularly well known for his safe and effective rocket hot water heating system.He brings practical, hands on experience with some truly fascinating projects to the table - this from the Koanga institute:

"He has the practical knowledge and skills to construct almost any project with limited resources."

We're thrilled to have him instructing at our facilities!

  • The Rocket Powered Oven
  • Better Wood Heat: DIY Rocket Mass Heater Videos pdc site
  • Triple threat RMH oven getting first use
  • Tim Barker talks through a rocket stove hotplate/oven unit
  • Rocket Stove Combustion defined by Tim Barker
  • permaculture and managing holistically
  • rocket stove - hot water!
  • The solar dryer


ATC: $1400

PDC: $1850

Both: $3050

Note: 80% refunds up to two weeks before the event starts. If you are not comfortable with being recorded, please do not attend.

Appropriate Technology Course only is $1400 per student

Permaculture Design Course only is $1850 per student

both courses are $3050 per student

Or via bitcoin: 177pNU2a9iCpUXQwXX9EbtA2UwZpgeqcMT

Lots more details, FAQ, discussion, etc. on this thread at permies.com

Location Information

These courses will be taught at Wheaton Labs, a learning facility located west of the Rocky Mountains, in the Missoula area of Montana.

Established in 2013 by the founder of permies.com and richsoil.com, Paul Wheaton, the expansive property features a spectacular sampling of natural buildings, eleven rocket mass heaters, eight rocket cook stoves, hugelkultur garden beds, earth berms, showers heated by compost, a variety of solar power systems, sustainable horticultural practices, and a broad collection of projects and experiments intended to shape the future of permaculture.

Wheaton labs is actually two pieces of land: “base camp” which has a few buildings on it already, and “the laboratory,” which started as bare timber land. It is surrounded by beautiful mountain views and expansive coniferous forests, and nearly a thousand acres of federal Bureau of Land Management land. Wheaton labs is truly surrounded by beauty!

This “farmer laboratory” fosters innovations and experiments such as wofatis, poopers, hugelkultur, polyculture food systems integrated with holistic management-style animal systems, a different style of community, aquaculture, and earthworks for privacy, water retention and frost protection. The ultimate goal is the least toxins possible.

Note: For the security of our residents and staff, the exact location of Wheaton Labs is only revealed to paying customers. You will receive detailed location information and directions upon receipt of payment.

For Those That Fly to the Event

If you need a ride from the airport, we can arrange for somebody to pick you up.

  • Between 8 am and 9 pm: $15 per ride
  • Outside of those hours: $35 per ride
  • Please be ready to pay driver in cash

For those that may not be able to fly with sleeping bags and tents, there are a limited quantity available to rent for a small fee; and of course, you can always rent the Tipi, Wofati, or other structures for your stay to lighten your luggage.

A few people have shipped a box of this sort of thing here. And a couple of those have left tents and sleeping bags for future people attending these events.


Everybody must be okay with being photographed or filmed; and people are encouraged to take video and photos of the course. Details here.


Tent camping is included with the courses.

We have a few formal tent pads with a sand bottom, to give you a soft, level surface for setup. First come, first served. Some people last year came a week early.

Once you are registered, we will give you information on local hotels, lodges, campgrounds, etc. - we have had several people that prefer that sort of thing.

We have had some people arrive with a van or truck to stay in - that's fine. Some people want to bring a camper - please coordinate with the registrar about that - there is no fee, but we need to put you in an appropriate spot. We don't allow plugins or the use of a generator. Solar panels are okay.

You are welcome to harvest some of the food we have growing here, just be respectful, and leave some foods behind to reproduce.

Slumber Party at Cooper Cabin!

Cooper Cabin is also known as "Wofati 0.8". The structure is not quite done yet, but people have been living in it since August of 2014. This spacious structure has plenty of room for large groups.

We will be allowing up to twelve people to throw a sleeping bag down on the floor of Cooper Cabin for a small fee. This requires a seperate registration.

A step up from camping - rent one of these

Course instructors will be occupying most of the structures we have, but there are a few structures with bunks still available. (We will try to update this page to reflect availability)

The Tipi with Rocket Mass Heater

You probably won't need to fire up the rocket mass heater, but you could if you wanted to. This is the tipi and rocket mass heater that was part of the great rocket mass heater experiment in the winter of 2013/2014. Most people want to stay in it during the winter to fully appreciate the function of a rocket mass heater.

You can learn more about the tipi with the rocket mass heater here.


Workshop food will generally be an omnivore diet and might have paleo, gluten-free, dairy/casein-free, and/or vegan or vegetarian options at many meals. Note that this means it might be often or some times, but not always. Due to budget and staffing constraints, we are not accommodating special diets at this workshop. If you have a special diet, we recommend bringing back up foods just so you don’t go hungry.

The Cook, Katelin Ginther

It was the joy of cooking and entertaining for friends and family, that led Katelin Ginther to become more serious about the culinary field. Katelin has honed her skills through cooking meals from scratch at home, hosting dinner parties, and catering for various permaculture/sustainability events such as: Gathering of the Guilds-MN, Rocket Stove-Mass Heater Workshop, MT, etc .

She lives in Lemmon, SD with her husband Weston, and son Tristan. Together they operate "Sandstone Gardens", a greenhouse business where they provide "beyond organic" produce for their local farmers market and themselves. In the future, they plan to expand the business to reach a wider community, selling to restaurants and various establishments.

Katelin aspires to have her own food truck, and ultimately run her own restaurant someday. She will be taking cooking classes with Gordon Ramsay this coming year, and attending various workshops and events. Along with a passion for cooking, Katelin enjoys singing (performing in a 90's cover band occasionally), traveling, herbalism, playing card games (especially cribbage), working on the ranch, and being a mother.

"It's easy to impress me. I don't need a fancy party to be happy. Just good friends, good food, and good laughs. I'm happy. I'm satisfied. I'm content."