Chuck Estin

Chuck has gardened since he was a boy growing up in Colorado, a medical research fellow in California and the past three decades living with his wife and two daughters on a Puget Sound island. He and his wife harvest perennial fruit and nuts, chickens, bees and annual veggies from their fifth-acre homesite and community permaculture forest gardens.

Chuck earned a Ph.D. in neuropharmacology from CU medical school. After a post-doc in molecular immunology at UC Davis, he and his family relocated to the Pacific NW where he led molecular biology research teams at two different biotechnology labs.

Chuck left research to teach science at an innovative, alternative public high school, integrating permaculture projects (solar greenhouses, mycology cultivation, farming, horticulture, wilderness trips, gardening etc.) into his classes. He designed and taught an inter-disciplinary "Systems" curriculum. He learned to use project-based learning as the most effective way to engage and inspire at-risk youth - developing competencies and portfolios for “performance-based assessment”. The school inadvertently taught “social permaculture” – decisions were made by committees of student and staff by consensus; and staff were advisor/mentors as well as classroom teachers. Afterwards, Chuck became an educational consultant, coaching administrators and teachers to transform their large schools into more personalized “small-schools-within-a-school”.

Chuck left public education for permaculture. His permaculture consultancy Bios Design ( ) designs and installs residential and farm landscapes, operates a nursery, and leases farmland. His projects, workshops, and Permaculture Design Courses are “action learning” opportunities for mentoring apprentices as assistants. Chuck advocates using principles of living systems for teaching permaculture, despite the cultural influence by conventional “sage-on-the-stage:” education. Chuck respects the way Gaia University walks its talk by utilizing social permaculture in its educational delivery.

Chuck's interest in studying alternative economics fueled his passion for the new field of Economic Permaculture. Chuck established local currencies in two Pacific NW communities, blogs on economic localization and is writing a book on “Transition Economics”. His non-profit, Kitsap Tilth ( is working to develop a whole-systems, food-based economy - featuring a Farm School to catalyze community support and incubate permaculture businesses (carbon farming, holistic management, biochar, fermentation, mycology, food distribution, and market gardening.)

I see permaculture as a learning system. I am pleased that Gaia University is promoting the Permaculture Diploma as a means for accelerating human succession.