26 September - 5 October 2020 | Balkan Retreat


Join us in September on an inspiring, certified Permaculture Design Course, led by renowned Croatian permaculture designer and teacher, Karmela Kiš.

Time & Location

26 September - 5 October 2020
Balkan Retreat, Zike Begejovica 31, Бешеновачки Прњавор 22200, Serbia

About the Event


The Balkan Retreat is a one-acre permaculture small-holding in the early stages of development. This is a wonderful opportunity to witness and contribute to the early stages of a project. The site is situated in the tiny village of Bešenovački Prnjavor on the southern slopes of the Fruška Gora National Park, a hilly, forested oasis in the middle of the flatlands of north-eastern Serbia. We are a two-minute walk from the forest and a 10-minute walk from a lake. The Balkan Retreat is run by two theatre-makers and nature lovers, Vivien von Abendorff and Kalki Aporia who also run the Balkan Producing House NGO, which produces cross-border theatre. www.balkan-retreat.com. The Balkan Retreat is also the home of four dogs, and free-ranging chickens and Mangulica pigs. 

Dates: September 26 - October 5, 2020.

Teacher: Karmela Kiš. 

Price (per person, including accommodation and 3 meals per day with veg/vegan options): 

Camping = €460

Dormitory (total 6 beds) = €500

Private double room (two people sharing) = €520

Private double room (one person) = €640

Optional extra two days of practicals: €60 (all food and accommodation included)

How to book a place:

  • Email us at info@balkan-retreat.com
  • Fill in our registration form.
  • Please make a €50 deposit. Outstanding amount needs to be paid before the first day of the course.

About the course:

In a standard 72-hour permaculture course, you will find practical knowledge, design, group work in a permaculture garden, socialising and delicious home-made organic food.

With renowned Croatian permaculture designer and teacher, Karmela Kiš, we will be hosting our third full Permaculture Design Course at the Balkan Retreat, in Serbia. Join us if you want to be part of a new project, rooted in a rural, village community at the borders of a hilly, forested National Park.

On this course you will become familiar with the basics of permaculture, and what you do with this knowledge is up to you. The first 8 days are the 72-hours of full teaching, the last two days are optional practicals at the Balkan Retreat, where you can get your hands dirty and apply some of what your learnt. 

About Permaculture:

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: https://www.permaculture.org.uk/diploma/find-out-more

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.

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