15th Annual Permaculture Design Course

March 2-14, 2020

Taught by Rhonda Baird, Albert Bates, Christopher Nesbitt, Celini Logan Nesbitt and Alex Nikech.


Through lecture, discussion, small groups, site visits, participants will gain the tools to create sustainable, ecologically based homes, farms, businesses and communities.


Tucked into the foothills of the Maya Mountains, two miles up river from the village of San Pedro Columbia in southern Belize, Maya Mountain Research Farm is a working demonstration farm and registered NGO that promotes sustainable agriculture, appropriate technology and food security using permaculture principles and applied biodiversity. With over 26 years of organic management and conversion from an abandoned citrus and cattle farm to a biologically diverse polyculture, MMRF is one of Central Americas oldest permaculture farms. Students who attend this course get a chance to learn permaculture in a venue that is the product of decades worth of permaculture design work.
Place: Maya Mountain Research Farm, San Pedro Columbia, Toledo, BELIZE


Cost: USD1500/B$3000 if paid after January 15th. Early bird discount,USD1250/B$2500

Includes organic farm fresh meals, all course materials and expeditions*, comfortable accommodation at the farm, and a certificate of Permaculture Design upon completion of the course. For details, or to register, please contact Christopher at info@mmrfbz.org.


A scholarship for this course is being offered in memory of the late Anne Bulford. Anne Bulford graduated Antioch College, was active in organic agrigulture, working at Ohio Ecological Food and Farming Association, and died in November 2008, of cancer. Applicant for this must be Belizean, working in agricultute or community development in Belize, and be a farmer, an extension officer, or a community leader.


To apply, please contact Christopher Nesbitt with a description of the work you are doing, a resume or CV, and an explanation of why you would like to take this PDC.


*fees for entry into National Parks or Maya ruins must be paid by the students.


Rhonda Baird

Rhonda Baird continuously evolves her engagement in creating a more beautiful, just, and resilient world. For twenty years, that work has woven together social justice, ecological resilience, academic work (in American History, and Religious Studies), and practical political economy with threads in the arts, community-building, home economy, and deep connection to the natural world. These years saw her organizing campaigns in both south-side Chicago and the public forests of her home region. She worked for six years on homelessness and domestic violence issues, and has more than 15 years of nonprofit work. Over the past twelve years, her work has centered on permaculture design, earning her diplomas in teaching and site design from the Permaculture Institute of North America. She serves on the Diploma Committee of PINA, the core team for the North American Permaculture Convergence, as well as the advisory boards of two permaculture-based agricultural certifications, a regional permaculture institute, and helps to coordinate her local permaculture guild.

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Rhonda’s current work is grounded in design work with clients who range from urban homeowners to congregations, municipalities, and farms. These clients range across the United States and its various ecosystems. She facilitates permaculture education for all ages from her homeschooling co-op to eighty-year olds, across informal and formal institutions including universities and regional extension agencies. Rhonda teaches regularly with the Great Lakes Permaculture Design Collaborative in Chicago, as well as her mentor, Peter Bane, and a variety of other teachers. She has also worked with Permaculture Design, formerly Permaculture Activist since 2008. She is now its senior editor. Her new adventure is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Eco-Social Design from Gaia University.


Rhonda’s roots are deep in the hardwood forests of the eastern Midwest—forests that share many migratory species with Belize. It is this love of the forest ecosystems and healthy cultures which drives her passion for learning with others to live in close connection to the Earth while celebrating re-emerging communities.

Albert Bates

Albert Bates is a homeopathic Emergency Planetary Technician. He is founder (1974) and president of Global Village Institute for Appropriate Technology (gvix.org), a non-profit scientific research, development and demonstration organization with projects on six continents. He is also Chief Permaculture Officer (2015) for eCO2, a COOL DESIGN services company focusing on commercial climate stabilization using off-the-shelf hardware and methodologies that let nature do what she does best. 

He was co-recipient of the first Right Livelihood Award (1980) for the work of his organization, Plenty, in preserving the cultures of indigenous peoples. Most recently he has joined the Cloudburst Foundation and NOAH Regen. He has degrees in political science and law and certifications in emergency medicine, amateur radio, horsemastership, permaculture, regrarian design and edible forest design. He is author of 18 books, including Shutdown!: Nuclear Power on Trial (1979); Climate in Crisis (1990); The Post-Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook (2006); The Biochar Solution (2010); The Paris Agreement (2015); Transforming Plastics (2019); and Burn: Using Fire to Cool the Earth (2019). He serves as visiting professor for Gaia University, Nanjing Agricultural University, and Gaia Education. As past president of Global Ecovillage Network (GEN), he is part of GEN Consulants, designing drawdown ecovillages, ecodistricts and economies.

Christopher Nesbitt

Christopher Nesbitt is the founder and director of Maya Mountain Research Farm. He is a farmer, and is a pioneer in tropical agroforestry in Permaculture, having lived and studied agriculture from the mid 1980s. He has been engaged in agroforestry, permaculture and renewable energy through his work on the farm and elsewhere, and and teaches these subjects.


Christopher worked for UK chocolate company from 1997 to 2004, on issues related to organic and fair trade certification and extension work. He was a founding member of both the Belize Organic Producers Association and the Toledo Agricultural Development Alliance. He has been a consultant to the Government of Belize’s Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture, and Fisheries Department. He has represented Belize in workshops in Nicaragua, Panama, Costa Rica and Guatemala.


Christopher received The Commonwealth Secretary Generals Innovation for Sustainable Development award in June of 2019 in a ceremony attended by the Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry and the Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Her Excellency Baroness Patricia Scotland  Christopher acceoted on behalf of Maya Mountain Research Farm for his work on climate change mitigation and adaptation using land use strategies that enhance food security and drawdown carbon.

He also installs photovoltaic and photovotaic/wind hybrid systems in protected areas, schools, village level water pumps.
Celini Logan Nesbitt

A former pharmacist, Celini Logan Nesbitt, left her pharmacy business after 12 years to pursue other interests. This break from the medical profession led her to hold roles in both resort management and real estate.

Celini has been supporting MMRF for nearly 10 years now, working in the capacity of manager, coordinator and motivator.  The kitchen is her territory and she coordinates every single meal, none of which are served without her stamp of approval.

Having been raised on her parents’ farm in Northern Belize, her childhood experiences of farming with her family served to establish the basis for her deep knowledge and understanding of both medicinal and ornamental plants and she provides exceptional  hands on experiential learning.

Celini has also worked extensively with women’s groups and as a teacher to young women. She is especially passionate about female empowerment and works with the local community to support young women through their education.

Celini has now coordinated eight PDCs hosted at Maya Mountain Research Farm, worked with thousands of students and has been teaching hands on permaculture design work with local, international students and interns for many years now – anyone will tell you, if you want something done, you contact Celini.

Alex Nikesch

Alex Nikech is passionate about building regenerative communities and culture. While living abroad in China, he was exploring more sustainable ways of organizing society and discovered permaculture. He studied living examples of permaculture at work in traditional Chinese rural farms and urban gardens while he was establishing his own guerrilla gardens and food forests in the mountains of Fujian. Alex also helped to build the first earthship in China, which resides in Panyu, Guangzhou. He later studied permaculture design at the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia.

After Alex moved back to the US he played an important role in establishing the Southwest Florida Permaculture Guild. Alex is currently teaching permaculture at Florida Gulf Coast University, organizing for the Southwest Florida Permaculture Guild, hosting workshops, and helping people design their properties with his company, Edulis Designs. He is also developing his own quarter acre property as an example of what can be done on a small suburban lot, instead of just planting a lawn.