• Social Permaculture – Nature Connection and Building the Village


 Design for more connection in your life and community

What if everyone in your village or community knew themselves deeply, and understood how to bring their gifts and genius to the world for the benefit of all. What if everyone was supporting each other to do that, to be their fullest selves?

What would that feel like?

What would it be like for our children, growing up in a village like that…

Social permaculture shares tools, practices and design for effective, connected communities and individuals. It draws on many sources, gathering and sharing good practices, and empowering people to create their own bespoke solutions.

It uses the principles we observe in nature and that can be seen in long-term, earth-connected cultures around the world to grow more wholeness in ourselves and to strengthen our communities.


  • How You’ll Grow On This week


You’ll experience how a connected, effective culture feels and understand how to create it and weave that into your own life and community using permaculture principles and ‘8 Shields’ practices.

The exploration includes –

  • How to create welcoming and connective events and groups
  • Ways to connect with the natural world more deeply
  • How principles of nature and permaculture design can inspire wiser choices in our lives.
  • The power of good questions
  • The importance of self-care, rest, timelessness and wandering
  • Storytelling, music and bringing out our gifts
  • The importance of ‘inner tracking’ and healing practices
  • Effective ways to build a team for running wholistic, connective events
  • How to bring this all back to our everyday lives and communities

Lose yourself in the woods, find your playful side in games on the land, share in singing and music, relax by the ocean, connect with others and the group.

Be welcomed to open your heart, your mind and your senses ever more deeply.

In this week of wild Atlantic splendor, you’ll be wrapped in a fun and transformative cultural container that brings out the best in everyone, guided by Peter Cow and an international team of open-hearted, creative and wild-wise facilitators.

Dates: 17th September  – 23rd September  2018

Course Fee:

500 euros  ( EARLY BIRD until 1st June )

550 euros  ( After 2nd June )

Early booking is recommended since our courses fill up very quickly

 For more information and to register contact at the following:




Margot at Hearth

Course origins

This week draws on the power of Social Permaculture and the wisdom of the work of Jon Young and the 8 Shields Institute, and their ‘Art of Mentoring’ camp.

The 8 Shields Institute’s seven generations mission is to support everyone through effective culture building – helping people to be mindful, happy, full of vitality, focused, empathetic, truly helpful, fully alive and compassionate and loving.

For 37 years Jon Young and his team have been visiting with tribes and culture around the world to understand and gather the practices and principles that foster effective and nurturing culture and sharing those insights with the world. 

Here is Jon talking about the cultural element ‘Greetings Customs’ as part of the 512 Project:

Is the week for you?

The skills and practices from the week can support people from all walks of life to be more connected, happier and healthier.

They are especially useful for –

  • Parents
  • Teachers and outdoor educators
  • Coaches and mentors
  • Community creatives and culture designers
  • Facilitators
  • Anyone who lives and works with or collaborates with other people!
  • Project Developers
  • Activists
  • NGO Members
  • Designers
  • Community members
  • People looking for Nature connection
  • Artists
  • Social Workers





Peter Cow – Facilitation

A heartfelt and cutting-edge facilitator and culture designer, Peter’s been teaching and facilitating permaculture courses since 2007, specializing in social and personal designing.

He co-creates immersive and empowering learning experiences that connect people more deeply to nature, to themselves and to other people. Peter has worked with 8 Shields, Inner Transition and Social Permaculture trainers across Europe, including running the year-long People Permaculture Facilitator Training course with Looby Macnamara (author of ‘People and Permaculture’) for the last 5 years.

Peter has been involved with 8 Shields since 2011. He’s on the team setting up the UK 8 Shields network and runs 8 Shields introductory weekends and events around the UK and Europe. He led organized the highly successful UK Art of Mentoring camp in 2017.

In 2000, Peter co-founded Steward Community Woodland, a sustainable woodland community in Dartmoor, UK. He lived, designed, learned and played there in deep collaboration with the land and people for 7 years, exploring food forests, community living, nature connection, low impact building and personal growth.

Peter now lives on a farm in Dartmoor with his partner Rebecca, where he enjoys growing salad, watching the stars, wild swimming, singing songs and bird mysteries.

Peter will be supported by a hand-picked team of experienced Permaculture and 8 Shields culture geeks, all role modeling and facilitating the week together.


Testimonials for Peter’s previous events 

“Transformational. Feels like the most important stuff I’ve ever learned about”

“Big life-changer – off the chart good”

“Ultra professional and transformative – for real. A most skillful construction of the process. Fully in line with the content that opened my eyes. A deep bow of gratitude.”

“Peter was a Co-Facilitator on a Schumacher course I took part in this year on the theme of Culture Repair. In my life, I have participated in courses and workshops too numerous to mention. The Schumacher course was seriously different in its skillfulness, authenticity, provably effective content, quality and sheer power to effect inner change in a group of human beings. Peter is the ideal facilitator with a depth of experience, life knowledge, and warmth that is truly rare, plus he has the most wonderful quiet smile that is indicative of his sheer humanity and beneficial calm. ( It should be bottled and sold as a tonic for imbibing on the less positive days ! )”

“I would really recommend strongly his work to anyone who wants their eyes opened about how they can understand themselves better and interact with others in much more connecting and concerned ways. “

“During the span of a few days, we lived the whole journey of building a village, creating a highly connected and nurturing community, and left as if we had known each other since ever. Each one of the different attributes of village building was so deeply embodied that it touched not only the mind but also the heart and spirit.



The Host Site

Terra Alta is an aspiring off the grid holistic education host site and gives you the chance to be immersed in a landscape of learning. It’s located in between Almoçageme and Ulgueira, two quaint villages just above the sea and situated for easy access to the amazing beaches called Praia da Adraga and Ursa. It’s easy to reach from Lisbon and Sintra and gives access to our amazing sunset cliffs and beaches. Terra Alta offers a wonderful example of small-scale intensive systems working towards being off the grid. Because the site has had several years of Permaculture management, it is easy for students to immerse themselves in the principles of landscape development and holistic infrastructure development. The following Permaculture elements and functions are on display amongst others:

  • Small-scale Earthworks to capitalize on impervious surface runoff
  • Extensive Food Forest of subtropical, temperate, and Mediterranean species corresponding with the earthworks
  • Hot & Cold Composting (Vermiculture) systems for boosting soil life, picking up on waste streams, and cycling nutrients
  • Food Preservation and supporting the local economy of food production
  • Small Intentional Community focused on adult education through Permaculture courses but more importantly holistic, Waldorf and Permaculture inspired education for the children of the local area
  • Natural Building techniques utilized for dwellings and outdoor cooking and social spaces
  • Renewable Energy technology featuring solar panels – we provide charging only for mobile phones due to a limited amount of energy.
  • Internet available one hour a day via Hotspot.

In case you want top know a bit more about our vision go HERE 

 And to meet our crew HERE

And to meet the land and how we apply Permaculture HERE




During the courses, students get a chance to experience a permaculture garden more intimately by camping on the land. In a semi-wild area, we have created level terraces among the trees, mushrooms, and stones for people to pitch their tents out of view from the rest of the garden.

There is also the possibility for some students with their own bus/camper-van to stay on the land, although space is limited; so if you are interested in bringing a bus, please get in touch and we’ll do our best to accommodate everyone!



From the outdoor communal kitchen, we provide 3 meals per day, breakfast, lunch, and dinner included in the cost of the course.

Prepared with love, the food is always diverse, fresh, healthy, homemade and vegetarian. By that, we also help to stimulate the local food economy by purchasing what ingredients are not grown at Terra Alta from the local organic “Cooperativa” and other local producers and processors.

What to do nearby

In the break day you can go to Praia da Ursa, the wild beach 30 min away walking. There is so much to visit in Sintra… its a world heritage area full of incredible monuments and gardens planted with an immense variety of trees.  We have created a page with some of the local features that you can visit HERE

Videos from past courses