Six week Earthship and Permaculture internship, July 20 – August 28 2014

An integrated permaculture and earthship building experience at Higher Elevation is an incredible way to get your hands dirty with Permaculture work.  This internship has an incredible teaching team in Geoffroy, Taiga, Christian and Bright Sky.  Awesome opportunity for any aspiring permaculturalist.

July 20 – August 28, 2014

We invite you to join in this six-week Earthship and Permaculture Internship at Higher Elevation Permaculture Education Center.  This summer provides a unique opportunity to get involved in many permaculture related projects in the early stages of development at Higher Elevation.  From setting up rotational grazing systems for sheep, pigs and chickens, to building earthen walls, from cooking organic pizza in and earthen oven, to building perennial garden beds in the new zone one of the earthship, this internship offers a great variety of activities packed into six weeks, all of which will build on the permaculture and building knowledge you already possess.


An incredible set of experienced and passionate facilitators.

Just off of their appearance in Seeds of Permaculture documentary, Christian Shearer and Geoffroy Godeau will be the primary facilitators for the internship.

Christian has ten years of permaculture experience all over the world, and is know for his passion and inspiring teaching style.  He is also the founder and co-owner of Higher Elevation Permaculture Center, as well as works professionally as a permaculture teacher and consultant with Terra Genesis International.

Geoffroy Godeau is coming all the way from Belgium to help with the course.  He has spent many years working as a designer, educator and natural builder at the Panya Project in Northern Thailand, as well as recently starting a foundation focused on the spread of permaculture in Belgium called Roots Culture.  He has recently been doing consulting work in Malorcca on an eco-resort with Surplus Design.


In addition to these, Bright Sky, an incredibly passionate and enlivening permaculture teacher from Austin, Texas will be helping to assist with the internship as well.  She brings a deep personal appreciation for the spirit of upliftment and the underlying well being of all people that is both the goal and the path for the permaculture movement.

Taiga Marthens will be helping along the way too.  She is the other co-founder of Higher Elevation, and has years of experience with natural building, organic gardening and nature-inspired landscaping.


Please come join us for these six weeks.  Last summer we had a great time with the group of people that was on the land, and this summer we look forward to even more.

Earthship Building

This past year we did tons of work to get it to the point you can see in the photos below, and then early in the spring of 2014 the plan is to complete the tire work.  Then in June and early July we will be working with a crew of volunteers and experienced framers to do a lot of the work to frame in the house, put the roof on, put the windows in and generally get it more feeling like a house.


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We don’t know exactly what stage the house will be at when you arrive for this internship, but there will certainly be lots of interesting stuff to do.  There will be more wood work, framing, windows, doorways etc.  There will be plumbiming.  There will be the grey water system to work on.  There will be lots of earthen work to do, like building the interior walls with cob and rammed earth.  There will be plastering the tire walls, and starting construction on the interior, like the kitchen, pantry, root cellar, bathroom and others.

Here is a list of some of the things that need to happen:


  • We need to excavate the building site (will be renting heavy machinery for this, and will hopefully have this mostly done before volunteers arrive.  DONE!
  • Pour the foundation, and insulate.  DONE!
  • Build the rammed-earth tire walls (this is going to be some hard work, but with a solid crew it is possible to get it done in a couple weeks). IN PROGRESS!
  • Install all the plumming. PARTIALLY DONE
  • Start Framing the South wall and interior walls where needed.  FOUNDATION DONE
  • Put on the Roof Trusses
  • Sheet the roof and lay in snow-melting solar heated piping
  • Put on the Metal roof
  • Build the Grey water treatment beds
  • Install the windows on the south side of the house.
  • Build the sun room
  • Mill wood for the ceiling (We have a wood-mizer portable saw mill, and will be milling up beetle kill pine for the ceiling, window sills, etc.) PARTIALLY DONE
  • Install the ceiling
  • Install interior walls (earthbag, cob, adobe bricks)
  • Install kitchen, pantry, root cellar, bathroom,
  • Install electricity.  PARTIALLY DONE
  • Blow in the cellulose for ceiling insulation.
  • lay floors
  • and final details work

I am not sure how far down that list we will get during this month, but I feel confident that we can get the house feeling much more like a house.  Enclosed, Four walls up, windows in, roof on and lots more.  Very exciting!

We are so excited to create the most amazing living space, and having your help to do it is incredible.

We are ideally looking for people willing and ready to work hard on an earthship.  There will be parts of it that are really fun and creative, and there will surely be parts that are a bit more grunt work, but overall it should be a great experience.

Permaculture on the Land

In addition to the work we do on the Earthship, we also have other farm related activities to work on at the site.  We are just in the process of transforming this five acre parcel into the dream design that we would like to see, including rotational grazing area for sheep, pigs and chickens, burms, windbreaks at least one pond and small constructed wetlands, and extensive gardens.  There are pre-existing gardens that will need to be tended and expanded, as well as new gardens that will be going in around the new house (though we can’t get too close to the construction zone, because it will inevitably get smashed).  Though our focus will the building, interns will learn compost strategies, sheet mulching, building raised beds, harvesting wild edibles and work with animals.


  • There will be a fair amount of landscaping, soil remediation, and rock placement to build sun traps.
  • Animal care.  We will have pigs, sheep and chickens who need our love and attention.
  • Gardens.  We are expanding our annual and perennial gardens to try to grow as much food as we can for your visit. The gardens can always use some love with watering, weeding, harvesting, and even expanding for next year.
  • Nursery.  We purchased almost 1000 trees and shrubs that we are nursing in pots this year to be planted out in the fall and spring.
  • Materials collection.  In our area there are incredible stocks or waste material, like rotting straw, horse manure, wood chips, and even the every two week dump salvage day.  So having people out on materials collections missions would be awesome. We have a truck and trailer that can haul quite a bit.  The more carbon and more manure the better!
  • Education.  We are just starting up our education center, and taking advantage of teachable moments is in my blood.  We will be doing skill shares with all present, having some classroom time, and doing movie nights (about earthships and others). Bring your skills and passions and share it with us.

Biodynamic Farm

One day per week during the internship, interns will have the opportunity to volunteer at a local organic, biodynamic farm.  Full Circle Farm and Education Center is full of amazing people, delicious food, and lots to learn.  Furthermore the work would benefit both them and you.

Clowning Camp!

In the midst of this internship, Higher Elevation is hosting a Therapeutic Clowning Camp.  It is one of our favorite events of the year.  We have a lot of fun, and go rather deeply in our quests to connect and help transform the world!

Interns are encouraged to take part, but may also choose to do self directed work on the Earthship, take a week off, or head our camping. Please see the article about the Clowning Camp to learn more.


And More…

We will have great food, a wood fired pizza party and more.  And in addition to all that is happening on our land, we are surrounded by some of the most pristine and beautiful wilderness in the country, with the Tetons right out our backdoor.  Be sure to bring your backpack, tent and sleeping bag (and bear spray) for some incredible backcountry camping.  We plan to make at least one trip into the backcountry with the group.  Alpine lakes, marmots, moose, and more!



Fired Earth Pizza Company

Taiga has started a mobile wood-fired pizza business that is rocking the Driggs Farmers Market.  She sells out every week. Starting in the middle of June, the farmers market is back up and running,  This could mean tasty benefits for us, but also if anyone is interested in helping out with the preparation, set up and cooking of those pizza’s, it may be possible to help.


How will meals work? What will the community be like?

Taiga and I live on this land, we are a fairly newly-wed couple (Sept 2, 2012) and we would really love to have a good balance between community time, and time to ourselves.  So, for this reason we are going to experiment with a new system that leaves the whole group in charge of their own meal preparation and systems. We did this the past summer, and it seemed to work out great.  The group can work out a system that works for everyone about who is cooking, when.


We will be stocking the kitchen with a lot of food (bread, rice, oats, flour, beans, veggies from the garden, eggs from the chickens, cooking oil, and even pork from our pigs, etc), but any specialty items (alcohol, sweets, etc.), you may need to pick up for yourself.  We have an outdoor kitchen with propane burners, a sink, a solar cooker, a fridge and a BBQ.  There is also a cob oven on the property that you are welcome to make use of!  Our goal is to provide the vast majority of your food needs, to keep you strong and healthy.  This will allow Taiga and I to have some semblence of a home for ourselves, where we may choose to eat meals on our own some of the time.


Where will I sleep?

This is just our second year of Higher Elevation, so we don’t have dorms or infrasturcture for housing people.  You will need to bring your own tents, sleeping bags and pads.  We have five acres here so there is plenty of room to pitch your tent.

Please take note that we live at 6500 feet elevation, and can get snow any month of the year.  Nights can still be quite cold in May and June, so bringing appropriate gear is necessary!


What other accomodations are there?  Showers, toilets, teepees for hanging out in the evening?


We have these systems set up (though we still need to tweek the shower a bit!)

  • Humanure Compost Toilets.  We use the bucket and sawdust toilet system, both for us in the yurt as well as for all volunteers.  Works great and is a simple solution to a everyday event!
  • Solar Hot Water Showers.  The plan is to redesign our solar shower system to more of a passive system with a 50 gallon tank hoisted up above the showers. The income water flows through a black solar coil, and then into the black 50 gallon barrel, where it continues to heat up.  This is then fed directly to the showers for hot showers.  This past summer we found that taking a drive to the nearby stream was very enlivening and wonderful, so we will keep this tradition alive.  We also discovered that we have a swimming pond just a couple minutes away, so this will be available too!
  • A Socializing Teepee – We bought a teepee that is a great place to hang out in the evenings (especially on cold nights).  We can have a fire in there and room for quite a few people.  This has been a wonderful space for meditation in the morning, and evening hang-out time.
  • Outdoor Kitchen – The kitchen is also a great place for gathering and getting out of the sun. It is built onto the south end of a large storage barn and is set up with all the needs for cooking as well as a place for people to eat and relax.  We have solar panels set up for lights too.

Are there costs involved?

Our whole education center is being run on gift economy, so you are welcome to contribute towards the course.  We give the course to all without a required monetary contribution, but certainly welcome it if you feel moved.  The costs associated with such a course include travel expenses for instructors, extra building materials and tools, food, maintenance, and lots of prep time.  You may also wish to give with the idea of giving toward the education of the next workshop or internship.  We are experimenting with the model of gift economy, so we are happy to offer you this experience out of the joy that we have, and we invite you to give back however feels right to you.

Because some people say it is helpful, other comparable courses range in prices from $500 – $1500 for a six week internship.

Higher Elevation is an education center running on the gift-economy, so we give what we can freely to you, and thank you so much for all the energy you give to our project!

This is the Yurt that Taiga and Christian currently live in on the land.

Can I stay on after the internship?

Yes, we are welcoming volunteers to continue working with us on the earthship until the end of September.  The weather does start to get quite cold and can very easily snow before the end of September on our location, so it may just be best to see how things are going and leave that time open to stay.  We would love to keep working with you, and welcome you on as a volunteer.

We will be taking a break at the end of the Internship for about a week, so expect to be self-directed for that time period if you do decide to stay.

How do I sign up for the Internship?

We are now accepting applications for the internship.  There are limited spaces, and we are trying to select the group that would balance both a productive work month with the people that can most benefit from the material covered.

Just send Christian an e-mail.

So, if you would like to come during this time, please answer the following questions, and e-mail it to us.  We will let you know as soon as possible.  Also, please see the page about what to bring.

Please answer these questions for us:

1.  What most interests you about this internship?

2.  In addition to building there are lots of other activities going on at our site.  Gardens, landscaping, animals, cooking, visitors, and the social well being of the community.  Besides building, what other aspects of this place most interest you? and why?

3.  What qualities would make you a good addition to our internship?

4.  Farm life can be less than luxurious.  You may find yourself dealing with manure, doing some hard work occasionally that you don’t find fun, and pooping in water-less humanure composting toilets.  Also, you will be living in a tent.  Are you up for this kind of lifestyle?

5.  Do you have experience living in community before?  What were your strengths? challenges?

6. Do you have experience building?  Are you up for putting in a hard day’s work most days?

7. When would you be interested in coming, and how long are you interested in staying?

8.  Do you like to lose the line between work and play?  Are you willing to work hard and have a good time in the process?

9. Taiga and I will be hosting everyone on our property, and doing what we can to help you feel more comfortable.  At the same time, we are going to let you fend for yourself a bit and make sure that we have some of our own time together away from the volunteers.  Does this sound alright to you?

10. Do you have plans for direct application of the subject matter that you hope to gain experience in here, with a organization or in your own life?  Why is it important that you gain this experience?


Please e-mail the answers to these questions and any questions of your own to:

christianshearer1 (at)


I am excited!  Thanks so much in advance for your support and energy!

Christian and Taiga