Introduction to Permaculture and Plant Knowledge Retreat

Introduction to Permaculture and Plant Knowledge Retreat

Ciclo Sustainable & Kiahkeya present:
Introduction to Permaculture and Plant Knowledge Retreat
Gaia-Connection -July 17th through 25th

This course is an introduction to Permaculture and some of its principles. Permaculture is an approach to designing human settlements and agricultural systems that mimic the relationships found in natural ecologies. (Terms where coined by Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, and stands for Permanent Agriculture, or even the broader Permanent Culture). The idea here is to reconnect with the natural world, and learn how to listen to nature’s signs again. In doing so establish a symbiosis with our planet. We can not only take, take, take. As stewards of this blue spaceship we need to learn how to take proper care of it.

In this course you will have an introduction to basic concepts of Permaculture such as rainwater harvesting, Agro forestry, Solar Heating of water and ecological construction methods such as Super Adobe and Ferro-Cement. The courses will be taught by João Amorim, Sandesh Antunes, Namaste Messerschmidt, Mariana Ayabe, Lia Bigaton, Marcos Pitombo and Julio Itacaramby.

There are optional Plant Medicine ceremonies offered before and after the workshop. We believe that taking care of the inner world is as important as taking care of the alter world, and there for we think your experience will be strengthened by being a part of those.  The ceremony will be held by Hernando Villa from the traditions of the rainforest of Colombia and his partner Kathi von Koerber from South Africa.  The medicine tunes us up to find a better relationship with our mother earth and inspire those techniques (permaculture) to use integrate into daily life.

There will be yoga sessions in the morning every day.


Ciclo is located in the Enchanted Valley, in Alto Paraíso, Chapada dos Veadeiros, Brazil.

You will be immersed in 450 acres of beautiful landscapes, surrounded by rivers, springs, Cerrado vegetation and forest. Alto Paraíso is in the Brazilian semi-arid, having a distinct rain and drought seasons. During the drought you will experience the most amazing transparent water. The wildlife is also amazing, and you can easily spot Toucans, Parrots, wolfs, Armadillos and so on…

João Amorim is a filmmaker, Product Designer and Permaculture enthusiast. He has a Bachelor of Science in Product Design from Art Center College of Design. As a filmmaker João has dedicated himself to the creation of ecologically and socially conscious movies.

João has studied Super Adobe construction method at Cal-Earth with the late Nader Khalili (inventor of the technique); João has also studied Bio construction at Eco-Center Ipec and Agro forestry with Ernst Gotsch. João has been implementing Bio-construction techniques, rainwater harvesting, Solar Showers and dry composting toilets for the last few years at their site “Grota Funda”. João is also an active member of ciclo sustainable, a NGO set up to implement regenerative design techniques in Brazil ( In 2008 his project “Sustainable unit”, which combined shelter, food production, sanitation, rainwater harvesting and energy, was a finalist at the internationally acclaimed, Buckminster Fuller Challenge.

Sergio Sandesh Permaculturalist, having graduated in 2003 through the Institute of Permaculture and Ecovillage of the Cerrado (IPEC), where for 3 years he was responsible for water and energy systems. He also taught several courses and workshops at IPEC. Currently working on the implementation of the Cooperative Builders of Chapada dos-GO, which specializes in alternative technologies and Bioconstruction.

Namaste Messershimdt is an organic farmer and researcher in agroforestry. For nine years he has been dedicated to the implementation of agroforestry systems based on natural succession of species, based on the work of the farmer and researcher Ernst Gotsch, with whom he has been implementing agroforestry systems throughout Brazil.

Currently working as the agroforestry technician for the OSCIP Oca Brazil, keeping experimental areas and production of food in Alto Paraíso. He works also as independent consultant and also teaches agroforestry courses, and acts as a technical consultant to ISA (Socio-Environmental Institute) for the recovery of degraded areas in the Capybara village ethnic Kaiba in the Xingu Indigenous reserve.

Marcos Pitombo, Is a Architect focusing on Bio-construction and Permaculture. He has been involved in the development of many projects in the region, and has used a diverse set of techniques for the construction of ecologically conscious homes. He is also a pioneer in Grota Funda, and the first of us to really call it home.


Born and raised at Brasília, since very young started travelling around and today has been in more than 30 countries. Along the way, discovered nature as your biggest passion and that your mission was to take care of it, being a guardian of our mother earth. Lawyer by degree, at the moment is a permaculture activist, trained by the Djabung Gardens Institute in Australia (PDC); Ecocentro IPEC (Bioconstruction); OCA Brasil (Agroforestry); Blue Mountains Institute (Training of Trainers – Africa 2009). Today works as the manager of one of the permaculture stations of IPOEMA ( and with social-enviromental entrepreneurship projects.

Lia Bigaton

is a permaculturalist, having graduated in 2008 through the Institute of Permaculture and Ecovillage of the Cerrado (IPEC). She has traveled all around the world, and spent much time in India learning about their ancient culture, practicing Yoga and Meditation. She is also a mother and is currently based in Brasília.

Mariana Ayabe

is 29 years old, graduated in Public Relations. Since 2001 participates in the coordination of events and sustainable practices, agro-ecological and environmental rights in various regions of Brazil and abroad. Permacultralist graduated through the Institute of Permaculture and Ecovillage of the Cerrado. Work’s currently developing urban permaculture, ecogastronomy and fair trade practices. She is also a set designer and dancer.

Alexandre Rizzo

Alexandre Rizzo is P.E. pos graduated and yoga teacher for more than 20 years. The main principle of his work is to facilitate self knowledge through the practice of yoga exercises (asanas), meditation and food habits.

Came in touch with permaculture around 5 years ago, and since then has been taking workshops in agroforests (TIBA) and biocontruction techniques (IPEC), and stablishing partnerships with permacuture centers, ministrating yoga workshops and classes.


Pollyana Marino is Eco Chef. Having graduated this past year in Gastronomy through the State University of Goias. She aims to search and find new experiences through a re-interpretation of uniting natural health nutrition and flavor to the table. She has developed her work through four years of management of the “Ecocentro IPEC TERRANUTRI restaurant” and by adding space for the production and marketing of organic foods. Considers the principles of sustainability and slow food, always using local products giving priority to family farming. A researcher of flavors, has had her last experience this year in CIDEP (Centro de Investigacion Desarrollo y Ensenanza en Permaculture) in Patagonia – where she joined the team from “Cocina naturist LOVE” with Daniel Batista Tubal organic producer, renowned for developing of a natural diet for the past twenty years.

Hernando Villa is a Colombian healer. He has been working with indigenous groups of South America such as the Camsra, Kogis, Sionas, Kofanes and the Emberas through his in depth work with the ways of plant medicine, music and ancient wisdom keeping. Hernando has been offering his music and purification with in different environments, such as prayer circles, workshops, tribal elder facilitation, indigenous preservation projects and youth leadership. His prayers are focused on around the temascal, pipe ceremonies, and medicinal cleansing sessions.

Kathi Von Koerber is a dancer/healer Germany/South Africa.

Kathi lives in Colombia with Hernando. Kathi honors the voice of the grandmother and supports the prayer of the woman and her ancient voices, through the tools and means of praying with the elements, the earth, its food, the fire and its transformation, the water and its purifying power. She has spent time with elders from Bushmen tribes in southern Africa, the Tuareg in the Sahara, the Zulu in South Africa and the Lakota, Navajo and Cherokee in the United States and the Camsra and Kogi in Colombia.


The ceremonies will be lead by Hernando Villa from Colombia together with his partner Kathi von Koerber.

Hernando Villa is a healer/ Curandero working with plant medicine for many years and the ceremony is of a universal/ Camsra descent from the Putomayo region in the Colombian Amazon.

The medicine is drunk through out the night, bringing healing to the heart and many ailments, addictions, cancer, stress, anxiety, spiritual, emotional and physical imbalances. It enables participants to receive visions for their life and deeper understanding into their livelihood. During the night sacred songs are sung and a cleansing with herbs and medicinal liquids will take place for every participant.

The ceremony starts around 9′oclock at night and will last until sunrise, and after a healthy breakfast we will have time to share. The ceremony is open to every person looking to approach in a sacred and respectful way, the understanding and medicine ways of our Amazonian ancestors. We welcome people who have never had this experience, and those with previous experiences too.

The main preparation for the ceremony is to look and find a clear intention or purpose, and start focusing and praying that the medicine and the ceremony will manifest a clear answer and solution.   It is also very important to be in the best possible disposition for the ceremony and a good body – mind cleansing will really help, so we advice that you don’t take any alcohol or drugs (including marijuana), and also make a concerted effort to stay away from disruptive influences before and after the Ceremony.

Also we recommend that you eat moderately the days before, not really salty, sugary, spicy, greasy and the day of little or no dairy, fermented goods, kambucha, miso, beans and tofu. Try to give yourself time after the ceremony to integrate this experience to the rest of your life and relationships.

Please dress for success, since you are going to be part of a beautiful ancestral ceremony. Ladies please use a long skirt; the skirt makes a circle of protection that honors the sacred womb. If you are on your moon (menstrual cycle), You are welcome too, and we honor you, please let us know so we can put some tobacco ties around your waist and have a special place in the circle for you, in order to maintain this very sacred and powerful energy in balance during the ceremony.  This is very important and delicate, so please help us informing about your sacred mooning time.

You will need you to fill out a medical form. Please be advised that if you are taking any drugs you should not participate in Plant Medicine ceremonies.

July is a celebration month in Brazil, and in Sao Jorge there is a cultural festival, shortly after the workshop. It features many native Indian communities as well as Kalungas and many regional cultural and musical performances. For more info on the festival please check:

As Part of our workshop we will spend a day at the Indigenous peoples gathering, where you will be able to mingle with people that are still today living in symbiosis with nature.

When you are in Chapada we encourage you to visit the national Park, Moon Valley, Sao Jorge among many beautiful attractions.
Full workshop with two ceremonies:
US$ 1600 -July 17th through 25th US$ 1400 till June 15th
Permaculture Workshop only –No Ceremony:
US$ 1300 -July 18th through 24th US$ 1200 Till June 15th