Permaculture Student Sector Map

Permaculture Design and Research on Campus

"Oppositional environmentalism is a very limited project, about stopping the world we don't want. And now we have to create the world we do want." — David Holmgren, Co-founder of Permaculture

William D. Jones Community Greenhouse

Naropa's William D. Jones Community Greenhouse is designed to be a living, learning laboratory for the study and practice of permaculture design, through the lens of regenerative agriculture and the built environment. Visit William D. Jones Community Greenhouse to learn about students' current greenhouse projects and designs.

Research and Appropriate Technology

Greenhouse Comparative Analysis

The permaculture instructor has teamed up with local greenhouse design company, Ceres, to perform climate analysis that yields detailed data of building performance, while finding ways to improve on the design of greenhouses for the high and arid western U.S. climate.

Ancient Irrigation Techniques

Ollas, or unglazed clay pots, have been utilized in the greenhouse to provide highly efficient and artful irrigation of the subtropical food forest. The permaculture instructor joined forces with Naropa's pottery class to have students make these simple irrigation devices, modeled after the traditional ollas of indigenous desert southwest people.

Passive Heating and Cooling

As part of the greenhouse design, a subterranean heating and cooling system was installed to passively heat and cool the greenhouse. It consists of a series of tubes under the soil and a solar-powered fan, to pump hot air from the greenhouse down into the soil where the heat gets absorbed and the resultant air released is cooled. This helps the greenhouse make it through the winter, using the soil as a heat storage battery. For more information on this technology, please visit Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute.

Heritage Fruit Tree Preservation

The Naropa University permaculture program is host to the Boulder Fruit and Nut Preservation Regis-Tree. The mission of the Regis-Tree is to locate, research, document, and preserve the heritage fruit trees of Boulder County, CO. The greehouse houses Multiple Functions Nursery, where the propagation and preservation of these trees occurs, and where the trees are grown out for sale. Further information on the Regis-Tree can be found here. To nominate a tree, please use this form.

Outdoor Landscapes

Food Forests

Naropa's Arapahoe Campus provides experiments and examples of food forests—that is, perennial gardens designed in the structure of a forest, but composed strictly of food plants. Faculty, landscape management staff, and students are pushing the boundaries of climate to experiment with new food crops for this region.

Mushroom Cultivation

Permaculture students have created gourmet edible mushroom gardens around campus to sustainably produce valuable fungi. Tree prunings and wind-fallen branches from around campus are quickly gathered and saved for the purpose of inoculating with gourmet mushroom spawn.

Rainwater Harvesting

Practices of legal rainwater harvesting are utilized to produce food on campus. By simply directing the flow of roof-water runoff, irrigation demands can be significantly reduced.


Water from hand-washing in the greenhouse is plumbed directly to the food forest surrounding the greenhouse, as a safe, nutrient-laden irrigation source, further reducing the need for traditional irrigation.