Omega Center for Sustainable Living | Workshop

Ecological Literacy Immersion Program (ELIP)

Designing for Our Regenerative Future: A 4-week Certificate Program

Jun 28 - Jul 24 2020 Rhinebeck, NY

This workshop has ended for the 2019 season. Check back later for updated information about the 2020 workshop.

Now in its 7th year, ELIP offers an innovative approach to community and landscape design to regenerate health & well-being of people & our planet.

This workshop has ended for the 2019 season. Check back later for updated information about the 2020 workshop.

Solving today’s challenges requires ecological literacy—an understanding of the patterns and principles that underlie all living systems.

This transformational 4-week residential certificate program uses the frameworks of regenerative design—a whole systems, place-based approach to problem solving that considers the connections between society, nature, and individuals—to provide participants with instruments and tools for innovation.

Using the 250-acre Omega campus as our classroom, we learn to consciously design for our learning goals, the physical and ecological landscape, and the social systems that support human well-being and carry our designs forward into the future.

While deepening our understanding of place, we examine current global challenges and learn from the solutions that exist at Omega and around the world.

Guided by experts in the fields of permaculture, regenerative agriculture, ecological engineering, water and soil science, wilderness awareness, and whole systems design, we explore the potential for building a regenerative future.

Participants in this 4­-week program will earn an internationally recognized Permaculture Design Certificate. College credit and a certificate of attendance are also available, with a separate fee. 

Tuition & Payment

Tuition for this program (course 2626-872) is $3,325 for 4 weeks and includes platform camping and meals. Accommodations may be upgraded for an additional fee. Deposit at registration is $500, Final payment is due by Friday, June 7. Register early for discounted rates.

Space is limited. Apply early to reserve your place in the course.  Applications will be considered on a rolling admissions basis. A Recommendation Form is suggested for this program. 

The following early registration discounts apply for accepted applications:

  • Register by December 31, 2018 and receive a $500 tuition discount
  • Register by January 31, 2018 and receive a $375 tuition discount
  • Register by March 29, 2018 and receive a $250 tuition discount

Limited scholarships are available for this progarm. To apply, please fill out the Scholarship Application Form, and submit a Recommendation Form.  Complete scholarship applications received by March 15, 2019 will be considered in the first round of review. However, applicants should apply early to ensure a space in the program.

If you would like to contribute to the ELIP scholarship fund, please contact


Through lectures, discussion, experiential intensives, hands-on projects, field trips, community experience, and personal reflection, we explore ecology from a social, economic, and spiritual perspective. What we learn in the process are approaches and tools that can be applied to creative problem solving anywhere. Learn more

12:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m Camper Check in
4:00 p.m.–7:30 p.m. All other Check In (Rooms available after 5:00 p.m.)
6:00 p.m.–7:30 p.m. Dinner
7:30 p.m.–9:00 p.m. Opening Session
Week 1: The Seed of Permaculture, Personal Learning & Design Process
Week 2: Regenerative Design Project: Analysis
Week 3: Regenerative Design Project: Design 
Week 4: Social & Economic Systems Design Projects
9:00 a.m.–Noon Final Session
Noon–1:00 p.m. Check Out

To see the 2018 detailed schedule click here.  The program structure and faculty will largely be the same in 2019, with a few changes still to be determined. Specific time off during the program is subject to change. Check back in coming weeks for the 2019 schedule with more information.

Meet the Teachers

  • Connor Stedman is an agroforester, ecological designer, and wilderness educator based between the...
  • Abrah Jordan Dresdale is certified in Permaculture Design and holds a Master’s degree in...
  • Laura Weiland is director of the Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL), and creator of Omega...
  • Robert "Skip" Backus is the chief executive officer of Omega Institute. For more than 20 years,...
  • Deb Habib, EdD, together with her husband Ricky Baruc, is cofounder of the nonprofit organization...
  • Ricky Baruc, together with his wife Deb Habib, is cofounder of the nonprofit organization Seeds...
  • Kaylynn Sullivan TwoTrees, artist/catalyst/educator, has spent a life at the crossroads where...
  • Steve Gabriel is an ecologist, educator, forest farmer, and coauthor of Farming the Woods: An...
  • Shabazz Jackson and Josephine Papagni are interested in building community capacity, addressing...
  • Josephine Papagni and Shabazz Jackson are interested in building community capacity, addressing...
  • Internationally recognized biologist John Todd is considered a global leader in the field of...
  • Dave Jacke, MA, has practiced ecological landscape and culture design around the world for more...
  • Martin Ping is the executive director of Hawthorne Valley Association, a nonprofit that promotes...
  • Ken Greene is a tireless advocate for seed sovereignty and the important role of art in...
  • Dina Falconi is a clinical herbalist and author with a strong focus on food activism and...
  • Mohamad Chakaki, MEM, is a planner, educator, facilitator, and writer focusing on urban ecology...
  • Kavitha Rao is a mother, facilitator, consultant, healer, and organizer.  As a daughter of...
  • Ned Sullivan is president of Scenic Hudson, a nonprofit that works to protect and restore the...
  • Sarah Urech is the acting director of the Omega Women's Leadership Center and a founding staff...
  • Caro Roszell is the education director at the Northeast Organic Farming Association,...
  • Jon Bowermaster is a writer, filmmaker, adventurer, and six-time grantee of the National...
  • Pete A. Muñoz, PE, LEED AP, cofounder of the eco-design organization SEEDS and senior engineer at...

Tuition & Fees

This workshop has ended for the 2019 season. Check back later for updated information about the 2020 workshop.

Title Price

Ecological Literacy Immersion Program (ELIP)


Tuition covers your workshop costs and time spent in class with the faculty. Please see Stay With Us below for accommodation choices—which include meals and other amenities for those who wish to stay with us. Or see Commute for those who will not be staying on campus overnight.


26 Nights Commuter Fee

If you are a commuter not staying in Omega accommodations, this non optional fee covers Omegas overhead costs, all meals, and use of the facilities, which includes optional classes, evening performances, sampler classes (during the week), the lake, walking trails, parking, and all guest services. An off-campus referral list is available.

Rhinebeck Campus

Omega reserves the right to cancel a program at any time. If Omega cancels a program, you will receive a full refund.

Refunds are available (less a $55 processing fee) up to eight days before your program or stay.

Nonrefundable credit toward a future Omega program or stay (less a $55 processing fee) is available if you give notice between seven and one day(s) before your program or stay. Credit may be applied to any Omega program or stay for one year following date of issue.

No credit or refund is available if you cancel on the arrival day; if you do not show up; or if you leave an event early for any reason. No refund will be available if you attend a program and are dissatisfied with its presentation or content.

For more cancellation policies, see individual workshops or the more detailed Omega Cancellations & Refund Policies page.


Travel Insurance

Program Insurance is available through TravMark's A+ Program Protection Plans. Get a free quote today.

Continuing Education

Certificate of Attendance$25

Camping Package

Your Room: Nature

A camping package is built into your ELIP tuition at no extra charge. 

During ELIP you will have a tent platform in a designated camping area along with the rest of your classmates. You will need to provide your own tent and all appropriate camping gear. Stoves, campfires, and recreational vehicles are not allowed on campus. Gender-specific bathhouses with showers are located nearby your tentsite.

Indoor accommodations can be purchased for an additional fee (see housing options here, and inquire about rates for 26 nights).  A few discounted shared rooms may be available to ELIP participants -- we recommend early requests for these. Contact Moira at 845.256.8144, ext. 388 or email to learn more.


For one month you get to enjoy three, mostly vegetarian meals prepared for you every day. Join other participants and staff in our communal dining hall and enjoy the bounty of the Hudson Valley. Omega staff prepares all meals using local and organic ingredients as often as possible. Much of our food is supplied by farmers right here in the Hudson Valley. Learn more about dining at Omega.

Program Components

This 4­-week curriculum in Ecological Literacy is designed to give participants a deeper understanding of natural systems and how to live, work, and design for regeneration within them. Participants will learn patterns, principles, and practices of regenerative design, and apply them to personal goals, the physical and ecological landscape, and social systems.

The program is led by experienced teachers in the fields of permaculture, regenerative agriculture, ecological engineering, botany, water and soil science, wilderness awareness, and whole systems design, among others.


  • Regenerative Design: Principles, Skills, Frameworks
  • Reading the Landscape and Ecological Systems
  • Agroforestry and Forest Garden Design
  • Soils, Compost, and Land Regeneration
  • Nature Awareness and Naturalist Studies
  • Water Systems in the Landscape
  • Renewable Energy and Zero Waste Living
  • Social Systems Design: Personal Development & Leadership; Financial Permaculture & New Economic Paradigms; Engaging Across Difference & Diversity


Throughout the program, students will engage with a mix of facilitated classroom sessions, outdoor field experiences, design practice, and hands-­on learning opportunities. We will use the Omega campus and OCSL as our living classroom for observation, learning, and design. Course design practicum includes:

Three Design Projects

Personal Learning Design Process
Week 1 (and implemented throughout the program)

Participants will familiarize themselves with the design process while reflecting on their personal learning goals, styles, and strategies for the course.

2­-Week Permaculture Design Project
Weeks 2 & 3

Participants will engage deeply with the land­-based process of regenerative design. Working in teams, students will complete landscape site analysis and assessment for a specific area of the Omega campus, and develop design solutions to address the challenges and opportunities of that site.

Social & Economic Design Process
Week 4

Moving beyond the physical landscape, participants will apply the design framework to social and economic systems, while exploring possibilities for implementation within their own lives & communities.


Participants will present their landscape designs at the end of Week 3 for classmates, instructors and members of the wider Omega community.  In Week 4, they will present their social/economic design projects for classmates, alumni, and instructors.


Throughout the program we will explore practices and protocols for engaging with multiple layers of difference (across identities, species, dimensions, cultures, ideologies and more), as we focus on a future that is centered around whole and healthy relationships.



We will explore differing methods of composting during this course.

Hot composting is a fast, efficient, high­ temperature, composting technique, which can produce high quality compost in 18 days. It has the benefits of killing weed seeds and pathogens, and breaking down the material into very fine compost.

To complement the hot piles, we will also learn about static, aerobic piles based on the biointensive method at a residential scale. Biointensive composting emphasizes the health and diversity of the microbes that break down and become a part of the compost. Thus, relatively cooler composting is practiced, with plant materials being preferred over animal materials. Soil is often combined in this process to inoculate the pile with microbes.

Mushroom Cultivation & Farming the Woods

We will learn the benefits of cultivated mushrooms and inoculate substrate with various methods and mushroom varieties. We will also have an opportunity to “shock” and harvest shiitake mushroom logs prepared by previous students.

Weekend Intensive in Micro­-Farming

The Grow Food Everywhere workshop on July 5­-7, 2019 led by Ricky Baruc and Deb Habib, is included in the 4­-week ELIP schedule at no extra cost.

Through discussion, contemplative practice, and plenty of hands-­on experience, we gain skills and techniques to establish beautiful gardens and grow abundant, delicious food as nature intended, with minimal labor and energy. We create raised beds, and learn season­ extension practices that prepare us to take the lessons learned immediately into our lives and communities.

Those new to gardening return home with enough knowledge and skill to grow their own food. Experienced gardeners learn new techniques to enrich their current gardens. We all gain ideas, methods, and inspiration to transform our gardening, communities, and lives.

Perennial Crop Horticulture & Food Forest Design

During the design process, Dave Jacke, author of Edible Forest Gardens, will join us as we learn the properties and propagation methods of many useful plant varieties.  We will spend time looking at plant guilds and perennial garden design as we work in Omega's growing food forest demonstration area.

Seed Stewardship

Seeds are time travelers, and can whisper to us about our ancestors, the present moment, and future generations. To receive these teachings, we need to gain a deeper understanding of our role as seed stewards. Hudson Valley Seed Library founder Ken Greene helps bring us closer to the spirit of seeds through basic seed saving skills, and an exploration of how we can get involved with our regional seed sovereignty whether we are gardenars or not.


To practice ecological design, we must also practice ecological awareness and build deep relationships with the places where we live, work, and design. The Ecological Literacy Immersion Program’s holistic learning approach includes a consistent process of observing and studying the natural world.

Through practicing routines of nature awareness, naturalist studies, and inquiry into the history and stories of a place, our landscape analysis and design work is grounded in an understanding of natural systems and in comfort and familiarity with wild nature. Students leave with tools and practices to deepen lasting relationships with the natural world and their local environment wherever they may go.


  • Reflect on what you’re learning with your classmates during free time
  • Join a pickup game of basketball, tennis, volleyball, or Ultimate Frisbee
  • Network with and get to know classmates and other Omega participants during meals in the Dining Hall or snacks in the Omega Café
  • Take a daily optional yoga, tai chi, meditation, or movement class with other staff and participants
  • Enjoy evening talks, films, performances, or other activities on the schedule of campus events at Omega
  • Share your talents with your classmates during the course and at the final talent share on the last evening
  • Bring a small gift that is meaningful to you such as a book, a card or something from nature for the gifting circle at the end of the program


An important part of ELIP is time spent in contemplation. Contemplative practices are practical and transformative and help develop concentration, empathy, creativity, communication, attention, and compassion. The calm centeredness generated by time in reflection is helpful when exploring larger concepts like meaning, purpose, and values—ideas we look at deeply in this program. You have the opportunity to take daily classes in yoga, tai chi, meditation, and movement. Journaling is encouraged throughout the course. There are also hiking trails and boats to take out on the lake if time in nature is how you get centered. Whichever practice you choose, it will help balance your full days of study and enhance your learning process.


Please note that field trips are subject to change based on our hosts' availability. 

Hawthorne Valley Farm
Hawthorne Valley Farm is part of the nonprofit Hawthorne Valley Association.  Since 1972, it has produced high quality, Biodynamic and organic foods and provided farm-based learning experiences for children and adults. The 400-acre Biodynamic farm includes dairy cows, steer, pigs, chicken, sheep, horses, vegetables, a creamery, organic bakery, and sauerkraut cellar. On this visit we will explore a new form of agriculture that requires a radically enlarged context of sound farming principles, new economic forms and parameters, and renewed recognition of the role of agriculture and agriculturalists in our culture and society.

Hudson Valley Seed Library
Ken Greene started the Seed Library in 2004 while working as a librarian at the Gardiner Public Library in Gardiner, New York. Having developed a strong interest in preserving heirloom seed varieties, he decided to add them to the library catalog so that patrons could "check them out," grow them in their home gardens, and then "return" saved seed at the end of the season. The program was a small but successful endeavor—one of the first of its kind in the country. After four years of running the program at the library, Ken and his partner Doug decided to turn the library into a mission­ driven, homestead­ based small business, which it still is today. Producing hundreds of pounds of seed each year, the staff explores new varieties for their catalog, as well as undertaking breeding projects in the traditional methods of plant breeders.

Visit to Dina Falconi's Homestead
We will explore an inspirational example of a functional site design with mostly no­-till permanent garden beds covered with year-­round mulch. Dina and her partner Tim steward over two hundred diverse species of annuals, perennial herbs, bushes, trees and vines, along with poultry. Dina also focuses on wild flora, which are welcome and encouraged in the gardens. Her gardening techniques work with nature to create lively, productive, beautiful gardens requiring less work. Another site goal has been to maintain the gardens without the use of any chemical inputs: pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides, which has been successful throughout the gardens' lifetime. The homestead serves as an herbal teaching site and botanical apothecary.

Walkway Over the Hudson & Scenic Hudson Office Visit
Scenic Hudson is the region’s powerhouse land trust, bringing to bear expertise and capabilities in preservation, land use planning, advocacy and park management to connect people with the region’s most important natural asset—the Hudson River. Having celebrated its 50th anniversary, Scenic Hudson is credited with launching the modern environmental movement. It has stood up to major utilities and industrial giants—and won great victories on behalf of the environment. The organization has created almost 60 parks and preserves along the mighty Hudson, preserving nature and numerous working farms, cleaning up contaminated industrial waterfronts, and partnering with other organizations to create magnificent parks including Walkway over the Hudson.

Course Credit

All students who complete the Ecological Literacy Immersion Program (ELIP) and present their design projects will earn an internationally recognized Permaculture Design Certificate.

The following information about college credit is from the 2018 course, and will be very similar in 2019.  Check back for updated pricing and syllabus coming soon.

For those that would also like to earn college credit during this program, you can register through the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF). Some extra course work and fees apply. Graduate credits are also available on a case by case basis.

The 3-credit undergraduate course (EST 496) is offered through SUNY ESF’s Environmental Studies Department. The cost per credit for New York state residents is $286, or $858 total for 3 credits. For non-residents of New York State, the tuition cost per credit is $694, or $2,082 total for 3 credits.  Additional Fees apply. To offset this cost, students taking the college credit program are eligible for a $500 tuition discount from Omega.

These discounts take the place of any early registration discounts, and are offered on a first come, first served basis while available funds last-- apply early. Please contact Laura Weiland for more information.


Students receiving three credits through SUNY's College of Environmental Science and Forestry will create a final portfolio representing the breadth and depth of their experience in the four-week Ecological Literacy Immersion Program at the Omega Institute. The portfolio will include daily journal entries where students reflect on and extend upon experiences over the four weeks. Entries may take the form of narrative, poetry, photography, illustration, or other creative ways of expression. The portfolio will also include representations of projects created for each of the four weeks. A final reflection will tie together the portfolio by providing participants with the opportunity to synthesize their experiences by relating them to other educational and life experiences, as well as imagining how this course will affect their lives and perspectives moving forward. Students will submit their final portfolio by Monday, August 6, 2018.

Download the 2018 ELIP/SUNY ESF course syllabus here.

For more about EST 496:

For more information about the SUNY ESF Summer Semester schedule visit:

And registration information for visiting students (i.e. non-SUNY ESF students): Note that this page has links to the registration form and to the Visiting Student Guide to ESF courses.

If you have questions or want to inquire about receiving a certificate of attendance from Omega, or credit for ELIP through your own college or University, please contact Laura Weiland.

Who Should Apply?

Educators, design professionals, natural builders, non­profit leaders, students, entrepreneurs, community organizers, activists, herbalists, and many others engaged with positive world change have attended ELIP in past years and experienced powerful growth, learning and transformation through our month together at Omega. ELIP’s frameworks and design practice provide powerful instruments and tools that can be used to add a regenerative perspective to any profession, projects, and future studies.

All levels of experience and prior study in ecological design and permaculture are welcome. Through a combination of lectures, discussion, hands­-on projects, field trips, community experience, design projects, presentations, and personal reflection, you will apply what you learn from faculty and each other, while opening your heart to the beauty and wisdom of nature. Prospective participants must be 18 or older to apply on their own.  Young people under 18 may be accepted into the program if they are accompanied by an adult in the course.  

To inquire about bringing children with you to this program, please contact Laura Weiland at for more information. 

Application, Recommendation & Scholarship Forms

Applications for ELIP will be considered on a rolling admissions basis. A recommendation form is suggested for this program, and required for scholarship applicants.

Download the Application Form.

Download the Recommendation Form.

View the online Scholarship Application Form. For more ideas about self-financing your program costs click here.

This program has limited space. Apply early. Registration will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. Payment in full must be received no later than Friday, June 7, 2019. Please send appliaction and forms to and copy

Information for ELIP Alumni/ae

Apply to be an ELIP Program Assistant

For ELIP alums interested in joining us as a program assistant in 2019,  please find application information here.

This is not a paid position, but will give you a chance to sit in on the course again, assist others, and deepen connection with faculty & other alumni.  PA’s will receive a tent platform & meals free of charge for the month. 

Join the first annual Winter alumni/ae network call in 2019

We will email you details and a zoom invite for a call in February or March. The face to face gatherings with alums in July are always wonderful, and there was a consensus that it would be great to have another touch point in the year that anyone could access virtually.  

Join us at the ELIP Reunion July 24-26, 2019

Each year we invite ELIP alumni/ae back to Omega during the final week of the program to gather with classmates and colleagues across all years of the program.  There are several evolving goals for this gathering:

  • A reflective pause as we look at where things are in the world and how we are choosing to bring the best of who we are to the work at hand.
  • A look at your current personal, professional & community level work
  • A chance to re-engage with regenerative frameworks within the ELIP community to help you reflect and evolve your thinking & design approach for various endeavors, and support others in doing the same
  • Working together on the development of the ELIP Alumni Network (resources, network potential, capacity for self organization etc.)
  • Time to relax, connect, and catch up with others within the network


Arrival option 1: Tuesday, July 23 afternoon/evening
Arrival option 2: Wednesday, July 24 morning (by 9am)

Wednesday (reflections, regenerative frameworks, thinking partners & project support)
9-12 Session 1
2:30-5 Session 2 
Evening: Hang out with other alumni/ae and/or check Omega campus schedule for evening entertainment

10-12 Session 1: Attend ELIP 2017 final presentations 
2:30-5 Session 2: Collective Work Session - Alumni Network Development 
6-7:30 Dinner Celebration with Graduating Class 
Evening: Talent Share & Celebration Continued…

9-12 Final Session: Full Group - alumni, new graduates & ELIP faculty

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