Permaculture in Traverse City – Northern Michigan

After discovering Permaculture and resolving to move back home to Traverse City, Michigan and DO it, I had no idea that right around my hometown was a whole thriving community of quiet revolutionaries; using the lessons and tools of nature to produce nutritious food, and sustainable habitat. Who know’s, if you poke around a little you might discover a thriving movement within your own community! (Are we missing someone? Let us know!)

Permaculture has a tendency to umbrella all things within it; natural building, sustainable design, renewable energy, local organic farms, etc all working toward the same goals. I tried to focus on groups that explicitly use the label “Permaculture” for what they do, so just keep in mind it’s not an exclusive list!

Groups, Farms, and Education:

Northern Michigan Permaculture – A collaboration of Permaculture enthusiasts in Northern Michigan. Find upcoming Permaculture Events near you. Subscribe to the NMI Permaculture mailing list to get notices about all the great permaculture workshops, and learning opportunities coming up in Northern Michigan. 

Realeyes HomesteadRealeyes Homestead – That’s us! We are in the process of building our permaculture farm, research and education site based just outside Traverse City. Topics of study; holistic nutrition, perennial polycultures, mob grazing, agroforestry, ally cropping, silvopasture, keylining, appropriate technologies, aquaponics and much more! 

LA Little Artshram – Educational non-profit offering courses on Permaculture, Gardening, Worm composting, Seed Saving, Kids summer camps and more right in downtown Traverse City. Penny Krebiehl was the first “Permie” I met in TC, and she taught me a lot and introduced me to many more inspiring individuals. 

Healing Tree Farm – My nextdoor neighbor farmers and permaculturists; Samantha and Christopher Graves (and kids!) offer Permaculture education and projects around Traverse City. They recently moved onto the historic DeYoung’s Farm to raise sheep and develop a demonstration permaculture apple orchard system. Follow their ongoing journey on their blog and facebook, where you can also find their course offerings.

island ISLAND – or the Institute for Sustainable Living, Art & Natural Design is headed up by Brad and Amanda Kik as well as a few friends based out of Bellaire. They host many re-skill workshops like bee-keeping and mushroom log production. They also do an artist residency program and are building a model permaculture homestead. Sign up for their newsletter to keep informed. 

Perennial Harvest – Stuart and Molly Campbell offer edible and ecological landscaping services, rain barrels, rain gardens, seed balls, raised veggie beds, herb spirals and more to the Grand Traverse region. If you are ready to get some “Permaculture” installed at your home, talk to them!

Baker’s Green Acres – Based in Marion, Michigan near Cadillac, the Baker family runs a diversified farm with pastured poultry, eggs, beef, pigs, biochar, and raw milk all of which they sell with weekly deliveries to Traverse City. They also run classes through their Anyone Can Farm program. I’m very grateful to Mark for mentoring me on pig rearing and butchering. Sadly, his family and farm are under threat by the state because of a DNR mandate against heritage breed hogs. Please support them any way you can.


SEEDS – is a non-profit based in Traverse City that has arms in many places, but all with the overarching goal of fostering local solutions to global issues through education, designing wastewater systems, environmental analysis and more. They organize a youth corps of students from local schools as a labor force for eco/permie projects. They also harvest and sell black locust poles locally for fence posts and more.


Human Nature School – offers wildcrafting and forage walks for kids, teens, and adults in Traverse City


Greenspire School – is a tuition free, charter middle school in Traverse City offering project based, environment focused education. 

The Strawbale Studio – based in Oxford, MI north of Detroit which isn’t Northern Michigan, but it’s still worth including for the quality and variety of natural building courses they offer. I took a 10 day natural building course here in 2012 where we built a strawbale cottage, including earthern floor, natural plaster, thatch roofing, timber framing, and stone foundation. I left this experience with a much better grasp on natural building in general. Sign up for the newsletter!

Wagbo Farm and Education Center – is a large ecologically minded farm in East Jordan that has many events, workshops and more. Sign up for their newsletter to keep informed.

Soul Springs Permaculture – is a family initiated education and example site in Harbor Springs. They’re building their system to make the most efficient use of energy and water, develop abundant plant assemblies, and building healthy soil.

Transition Cadillac – An active group working to create a better, less fossil-fuel dependent future in Cadillac.

Northern Michigan Regional Permaculture Facebook Page – Group of many students and friends excited by permaculture in our region. Used to promote events in the region.

Lakeshore Permaculture Guild – Group of permaculturists along the west cost of Northern Lake Michigan.

The May Farm – Paul and Sharon May operate their regenerative farm in Frankfort, MI where they do holistic cattle grazing (beef for sale) chickens, sometimes pigs and have a really nice Permaculture inspired homestead.

Morganic Farm – Stuart Kunkle, Genevieve Pfisterer and kids run their farm based on the permaculture principles, raising pigs, goats, laying hens, rabbits, turkeys, while being sensitive to the ecosystem they inhabit. Their products are for sale, and they’ve also been great mentors. 

Birch Point Farm – My neighbor Michelle Ferrarese runs this organic veggie (and egg) CSA farm just north-west of Traverse City in Leelanau County and knows a LOT about growing veggies, soil health and more. They offer internship opportunities, and are moving into integrated perennial and animal systems, already incorporating bees and laying hens.


Bay Area Recycling for Charity – Andy Gale and Alex Campbell do the major organic waste recycling in Traverse City, as well as supporting other community programs and projects. We at Realeyes Farm have recently teamed up with them to do composting on our site in order to build soil, and re-use the kitchen scraps as a source of pig and chicken feed. 


 …There are MANY more inspiring and innovative farmers, teachers, students, foragers, and explorers in this lovely community all working to build a future for not only the humans, but for this whole living organism which is the Northern Michigan Bioregion. Thank you all! Keep kicking ass!!

Materials Resources: 

Odoms Reuse  – used building materials, in Grawn (lumber, doors/windows, insulation, plumbing, hardware)

Habitat for Humanity Re-Store – used building materials in Traverse City (tools, furniture, hardware)




Thanks BARC for composting food waste on our site, providing us with copious free organic matter and feed for pigs and chickens! Let's keep closing the loops!