Skill-Build Program

Residential Skill-Builder Program

Autumn: October 3 – November 18, 2022
Spring: March 17 – May 26, 2023
Apply on Contact Page

Do you want to nurture land into a garden of eden?

“The inspiration for this program comes from a homestead in Northwest Washington state that haunts my dreams, The Bullocks’ Homestead. Three brothers work with twelve skill-builders for an eight month duration.  Everybody living on the farm contributes $250 monthly into a communal kitty to purchase all of the bulk foods, garden supplies, seeds, fertilizer, fuel, etc. needed for the season. 

Their gardens and quality of life are out of this world.  The fruit and vegetable diversity eclipse large city farmers markets. The beauty of the gardens, outdoor living, and natural building enchant the heart. Best of all, they don’t sell any produce; it’s all for their own incredibly high quality of life!  The landscape is a testament to the latent potential in a piece of land.  When a group of people are devoted to nurturing land into the garden of eden, it is indescribably extraordinary. Inspiring. Healing. On four separate occasions, for about a month each time, I have visited to experience the magic.” – Brock

Having visited multiple other homestead sites with internship programs, we want to emulate the Bullocks’ skill-builder model.

After being WWOOF, helpX, and work-a-way hosts for years, we want to host a focused group of four to six people who want to gain solid horticulture skills. We choose the nicest seasons of the year, with local festivals, and throw a big party each season. In the spring we celebrate mulberry day, and in fall persimmon day.

Horticultural Homestead Skills You Will Learn:  

  • Permaculture
  • Plant nursery management
  • Plant propagation
  • Plant identification
  • Fruit tree grafting
  • Food forest management
  • Veggie garden planting
  • Fertilizing naturally and soil building
  • Tool use and maintenance 
  • Land and plant maintenance 
  • Low tech solutions
  • Large equipment use
  • Mushroom log inoculation
  • Foraging for herbs, mushrooms, and nursery plants
  • Food fermentation, canning, drying, and freezing
  • Herbalism basics

Learning in Program
Experiential learning is the process of learning by reflecting on the experience of doing. We share group reflection time, and we encourage participants to keep a journal. We likely won’t have power points, lectures, or spreadsheets. Cultivating one’s curiosity, keeping notes, researching, and having ongoing conversations will deepen understanding. Ask questions, lots of them; share your observations and desire for experience, and you will learn a lot.

Our Schedule
Life in our South Louisiana garden is laid back. We schedule like jazz. That is to say, our routine is characterized by improvisation.  Good communication is a must. Brock and Ellie are the “band” managers/leaders and each person participates in their own rhythm while keeping a regular beat together. The schedule may vary on weather and priorities.
Skill-builders will spend twenty-five hours of the week on Patch projects. Meal preparation and upkeep of shared spaces is done independent of Patch projects. We focus on education and growing the Patch into an eden. We want to learn together, have great conversations, eat amazing meals, and enjoy plants!

Participants will have plenty of personal time. As hosts we will do our best to create space for participants to advance a personal practice in their time: a musical instrument, a craft or art, fitness, book list, book writing, language etc. 

Autumn 2022: Oct. 3 – November 18 (7 weeks) $550
Spring 2023: March 17 – May 26 (10 weeks) $780

What you pay covers your food. Weekly we spend twenty-five hours on educational projects and creating a beautiful landscape. We accept four to six participants at a time. See contact page to apply.

We Value Diversity
We’ve hosted over one hundred twenty work-traders/volunteers in the past ten years and it has been a great pleasure engaging with such wonderful people. At The Patch diversity is valued, not only in the garden but in all respects. No matter your age, race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, or whatever, all are welcome!!

Do you think this program is a good fit for you?

An ideal candidate for this program is a good communicator, has good conflict resolution skills, confident, level headed, socially adept, should be able to lift fifty pounds, and enjoys working in a team. We have no age restrictions, but maturity is an absolute must. Related experience is not necessary, but welcomed. Candidates mental health must be in a solid place. We prefer non-smokers and non to occasional drinkers. Daily drinking and drunkenness is not tolerated.

Food and Amenities
Fresh food from the garden, preserved Patch food, and bulk pantry items are readily available. Skill-builders share a communal space of a small trailer with full bathroom, kitchen, porch, outdoor shower, mushroom lab, and washer and drier. Each participant has their own sleeping space. We have two converted buses and two camping platforms for sleeping. Older participants and couples are given priority to choose the buses as accommodation. Meals and household chores are shared and done independent of Patch projects. A greenhouse is nearby. Our library of books in the trailer has many permaculture and sustainable agriculture books for you to thumb through at your leisure. Brock and Ellie live in their own house, and their porch is a main gathering space.

The Patch is located fifteen minutes outside of Lafayette, Louisiana. Our area is culturally rich with live Zydeco and Cajun music, dancing, and local cuisine, Festival International at the end of April, and in October Festival Acadian and Blackpot Festival. There’s plenty of recreation within a short drive which include canoeing, hiking, fishing, swamp tours, etc. We are two and half hours from New Orleans.

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