The Balkan Retreat Permaculture Design Certificate

Date(s) - 19/09/2019 - 26/09/2019
All Day

The Balkan Retreat


For over 20 years there is much talk about permaculture, but not a lot of people know first hand, not even the founder of the term, Bill Mollison. On this course you will become familiar with the basics of permaculture, and what you do with this knowledge is up to you.

Permaculture is usually spoken about as ethically shaping (designing) and maintaining productive agricultural ecosystems which are biodiverse, stable and resilient. Permaculture is the harmonious integration of people and environment, which in a sustainable way ensures the security of food, energy, shelter and other material and non-material needs.

The syllabus will cover the following areas:

  • Permaculture ethics and approach to challenges
  • Principles of Natural Systems
  • Sustainable Design Methodologies
  • Patterns in Nature, Culture and Society
  • Reading the Land & Understanding Natural Processes
  • Large Scale Land Restoration Techniques
  • Water Harvesting Techniques
  • Design Principles of Sustainable Human Settlements
  • Grey Water Recycling
  • Natural Building Strategies
  • Cultivated & Productive Ecologies
  • Food Forests, Plant Guilds, Gardens for Self-Sufficiency
  • Energy Conservation Technologies
  • Appropriate Technologies and Renewable Energies
  • Urban Environment Permaculture
  • Wildlife Management and Biological Pest Control
  • Invisible Structures: People, Community, Economics, Eco Villages
  • Community Supported Agriculture

A certified permaculture course is led by a qualified permaculture teacher recognised by the permaculture community. Participants of the course will receive a certificate of successful completion of the course. The certificate has international value. This course is led by Karmela Kiš, a permaculture designer with an internationally recognised permaculture diploma.

A 72-hour permaculture course is the basic form in which to learn about permaculture in a permaculture community. The course content is standardised. About 70% of the topics are taught worldwide and 30% are reserved for the specifics of a continent, society, climate; the local landscape.

At a 72-hour permaculture course, the basics of permaculture are taught, and can only be taught by a graduated permaculture designer.

Basic permaculture themes, such as reading the landscape, imitating natural forms, designing methods, zoning, determining sectors, etc. are practical forms of how to achieve harmony with nature and how to consciously shape (design) and maintain productive agricultural ecosystems that are characterised by biodiversity, stability and the resilience of natural ecosystems. It is also about how to achieve the harmonious integration of people and landscapes, which in a sustainable manner ensures food, energy, shelter and other material and non-material needs. Since permaculture is a way of life and not just about working with the land (gardening, farming), the course contains many practical guidelines on how to enrich resources, how to operate in human communities or use renewable energy sources and more. The course is normally theoretical, and when opportunities allow, it may also contain practical elements (usually work in the garden, tool making, earthworks, resource recognition in the landscape, etc.).

At the end of the course, when all key themes have been dealt with, the participants form groups of 3-4 people and are given the task of creating a visual permaculture landscape design of their choice. As a rule, the landscape or estate on which the course is held, and often the property of some of the participants, is designed. Permaculture designs are done in consultation with the course manager. On the last day of the course, the groups of participants present the designs to the managers and other participants. Successful designs, which meet the basic permaculture principles, will be awarded a certificate. The certificate has international significance and is equally valid everywhere in permaculture communities worldwide, in the same way that a course completed anywhere in the world is valued here in Serbia.

72-hour course participants are awarded a certificate of successful completion of the course. Success is most commonly measured in attendance at lessons (at least 90%), commitment and successful creation of an experimental permaculture design.

The 72-hour course is the first requirement to gain a permaculture diploma. To find out about the other requirements, please see here:

The schedule and duration of lectures on topics is not strictly formalised. Lectures run roughly 45 to 60 minutes with 5-minute pauses, and one more break during the day for lunch.

About Karmela

The lead instructor Karmela Kiš, a renowned permaculture designer, has long-standing experience in permaculture, organic gardening and ecological garden design. Being completely immersed in permaculture for almost twenty years, Karmela has created and sustained a number of permaculture gardens, grown a wide range of rare plants, published a book on conserving fruit and vegetables and has, together with her deceased husband, Miroslav, written the first book on permaculture in Croatian. An inspiring teacher with in-depth knowledge of applied permaculture, Karmela truly walks her talk.


There are several camping spots under the shade of Linden and Elderflower trees and 6 basic dormitory beds in an old stable. There is one private double room, which can be used by one person or a couple.
Toilets and showers are outdoors and shared by all participants (part solar, part electrical).
The site has wi-fi and electricity.

Please bring

  • Tent, if you are camping. If this is not possible, let us know and we can try to provide a tent for you.
  • Sleeping bag/bedding, if you are camping (or ask us in advance).
  • Ecological body products.
  • Swim-wear for the lake.
  • Materials for note-taking.
  • Special medical requirements (we are 25 minutes drive from the nearest hospital).

How to get here

Žike Begojevića 31
Bešenovački Prnjavor
22212 Bešenovo

We can help arrange pick-up from Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport (50-minute drive). Pre-ordered taxis cost 4000 dinars (€34).
Alternatively, make your own way: There are good bus connections from Zagreb, Sarajevo and Belgrade to Sremska Mitrovica, where taxis (€12) or pick-up can be arranged (if available). There is also a local bus which runs from Sremska Mitrovica and stops outside our property, several times a day. Please ask us for details. Trains also from Zagreb and Belgrade (not from the airport). We are just 15 minutes off the Zagreb – Belgrade motorway (E70). There is plenty of room for parking.

How to book a place:

Email us at
Please make a €50 deposit.