Advanced Farm and Homestead Design

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Advanced Farm and Homestead Design: 5-Day Intensive

May 22-26, 2014  ·  Memorial Day Weekend

VersaLand Farm, Iowa City, IA 52240


Every workshop participant receives a FREE autographed copy of The Resilient Farm and Homestead with course registration!

Are you SERIOUS about designing your farm or homestead for optimal use and enjoyment?

Advanced Farm and Homestead Design is a 5-day intensive workshop about creating awesome homesteads.  Lead  instructor Ben Falk is equal parts Landscape Architect, Builder, Designer, Author, and Homesteader.  For those familiar with his award-winning book The Resilient Farm and Homestead, this workshop will expand far beyond what the book can contain.   Every attendee will receive a FREE autographed copy of Ben’s book (You can make notes in the margins with all the real-world knowledge in this course)  Along with Ben, adjunct instructors include other leading practitioners, farmers, and do-ers, covering topics from fermentation to Keyline design.

This course presents advanced material beyond a typical Permaculture Design Course (PDC), and is focused for those who will live with functional farm and homestead ecosystems.  

This course is for those who want to live a resilient, rewarding life on their own abundant homesteads.  The Advanced Farmstead Design course teaches a broad scope of skills and concepts you MUST HAVE.

  • Buildings Home and farm site selection, energy systems, construction, insulation, and building integration.
  • Energy on and off grid from wood heat to solar, passive to active.
  • Materials Evaluate building materials for your climate and geography – from timber to stone, modern to traditional.
  • Water for landscapes, people, and livestock.  Plan and survey ponds, swales, and terraces.
  • Infrastructure Roads, fencing, pipelines, and power.  Where, why, and how.
  • Food Production Food, medicine, and fuel in a real-world production system.
  • Keyline Design Hosted on-site of one of North America’s largest developing Keyline systems.
  • Resiliency Learn the tools and techniques that cultivate self reliance, vibrant livelihoods, and resilient health.
  • Food Preservation including fermenting, root cellaring, butchery, and drying.
  • Health Medicinals, herbs, and food medicine, wildcrafted and cultivated health for you and your family.
  • Polyculture Crops Silvopasture and agroforestry.  Fruit to nuts, apples to seaberries.
  • Mushroom Production Inoculate logs for mushroom production – learn multiple systems of production (and how to generate your own spawn)
  • Tools Resilient methods and tools for harvesting and building including chainsaw, axe, scythe, and more.
  • Appropriate Technology from low tech to high tech.
  • and more…

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Site & Setting

145-acre VersaLand Farm in Iowa City, IA.  A rare example of successfully transitioning an Iowa corn farm to perennial polyculture.  See mature fruit and nut trees in a savanna alongside a newly established silvopasture of chestnuts, apples, persimmons, pawpaws, hazelnuts, haskap, and seaberries.  Indoors, there is a large comfortable classroom with a commercial kitchen and restrooms.  Outdoors, VersaLand is one of the largest developing Keyline properties in North America, making use of GPS technology, keyline swales, Yeomans plow subsoiling, and diverse cropping systems.  We’ll travel and visit other area sites as well for site evaluations and design review.


So…you wish you had the skills of an architect, engineer, plant breeder and scientist.  Don’t we all?

The fact is, if you spend quality time with these folks, they’ll teach you the portions of their knowledge that yield the greatest results in remarkable time.  A crash course over several days can often get you well on your way to learning new concepts.  That’s what this course is about: maximum benefit in minimal time.  New skills, new viewpoints, a clear path.

What’s that mean?  Design tools and techniques that you’ll pick up quickly, with or without a computer.  Site surveying methods to communicate with a builder or contractor effectively and easily.   Advanced topographic maps and GPS, design ponds, swales, and Keyline layouts.  Food preservation and medicinal plants so your family will have healthy food year-round.  Infrastructure related to selecting and maintaining a resilient water supply, power, and heating.  Fruit Tree Grafting will be taught hands-on, and each participant will receive an apple rootstock to take home.  Prepper & Permaculture skills of all sorts for those that value true resiliency.  Finally, we’ll wrap things together by combining the built with the biological,  demonstrating unconventional topics such as living fences, electric tractors, and compost systems – on-site in real life.

Evening Events  Learn the resilient tools of your choice with hands-on demonstrations of Austrian scythes, arrowhead flint knapping, and butchery.

Investment and Leisure  

This workshop brings together like-minded people from across North America (and beyond) to learn and prepare for a bountiful and resilient future.  You’ll make new friends near and far, and confidently learn new skills.  Five FULL days of coursework, 8-5 each day with ample breaks for food and refreshments.  We’ll share recreational opportunities in the evenings from bike rides to swimming holes, as well as trips to local sites and sounds.


Enjoy abundant, nutrient-dense food as a consistent highlight of this course. Meals are provided as part of the course, grown locally and organic when available.  Our chefs and their crew of prep cooks and producers do a wonderful job. Enjoy fresh organic greens harvested just a few feet from your table.  Paleo, gluten-free, and vegetarian diets are all accommodated with the utmost care and fulfillment, let us know your preferences and we’ll take care of you.

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Accomodations & Lodging  

Hotels and bed & breakfasts are available in nearby Iowa City and Coralville.  We’ve negotiated heavily-discounted rates for workshop participants ($55-92/night).  Budget to luxury hotels.  Free camping is permitted on the farm, with some access to power and water.  We ask that campers leave their pets at home, local pet sitters are available if necessary.

Plans & Deliverables

This course presents advanced material beyond a Permaculture Design Course (PDC).  Participants will go home with the skills to create a self-directed plan for developing their farm or homestead for maximum resiliency.  You’ll leave this course with new friends, new skills, and extreme confidence to create your own vision.

Curricular Credit

 50 Hours of Coursework  University credit can be arranged through your own school.  Ben Falk (M.A.L.D.), course instructor can sign off on studies completed, even if the sending school requires a Master’s degree of instructors.

Registration & Tuition

$295 non-refundable deposit.  $1,000 balance due before April 15th, 2014  ($1,295/person total)


Join us over Memorial Day Weekend this May, 2014

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Video with Ben Falk of Whole Systems Design

Whole Systems Design, LLC Firm Overview from Ben Falk on Vimeo.

 Keyline Silvopasture Installation at VersaLand

INHABIT: Whole Systems Design – Earthworks from Costa on Vimeo.

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