Internship Programs

Internship in Permaculture & Community Living

Immerse Yourself in the Land and Life of Tropical La’akea


Winter Program: February 1-29
Summer Program: month of June (exact date not yet set)

Apply here.


The Internship in Permaculture and Community Living is your chance to spend four weeks living and learning at the La’akea Community, located in the big island’s lush and exciting district of Puna.

As an intern at La’akea, you will strengthen your relationship to the earth and to food through a daily process of hands-on work and learning. You will also learn valuable skills in community living through daily sharing circles, workshops in non-violent communication and peer counseling and exposure to consensus decision-making.

With around twenty hours per week of service learning–farming, food and meal prep, karma yoga and other projects–and at least 13 hours per week in classes and community activities, the internship is a full-time experience.

  • To get a sense of the internship, check out the tentative calendar for the winter internship
  • Watch former interns describe their experiences in this video.
  • For an general overview of life at La’akea, go here. 




Learn permaculture both through classes and through daily work with plants (annual and perennial) and animals (chickens, rabbits, worms, bees and sheep). With plants, you will practice propagation, transplanting, mulching, fertilizing, pruning, harvesting and seed saving. With animals, you will learn about animal systems, ongoing and special care, breeding and conscious harvest. You will get to see other ways of doing tropical permaculture in two tours to inspiring local farms. Watch this video of instructor (and member) Tracy Matfin discussing permaculture on site at La’akea.



Harvest, prep and eat food grown at La’akea and locally on the island of Hawaii and share this daily experience of food with other interns and community members. As an intern, you will work with an rich variety of tropical and temperate foods–with tropical starches like taro, cassava and peach palm; with greens like kale, edible hibiscus, katuk and chaya; with medicinal plants like hydrocotl, turmeric, and annato; and with tropical fruits, like orange, jackfruit and papaya.


peer counseling


Learn skills in personal growth and community living. Interns and members come together for daily check-ins and a weekly heart-share, where they practice deep listening and speaking from their deeper selves. As an intern, you will be encouraged to attend a series of classes in the powerful practices of non-violent (compassionate) communication and peer counseling. You will also have the opportunity to explore a form of huna, Hawaiian spirituality, through weekly evening classes. Lastly, you will be welcome observe the consensus process at our weekly business meetings.

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Enjoy the culture and lifestyle of La’akea and the district of Puna. At La’akea, you will have abundant opportunities to play and discover, for example, by exploring our ohia forests, relaxing in the wood-fired hot tub or kidding around with our kids. Off the land, you can dance wild at Kalani ecstatic dance, snorkel, swim and surf at nearby beaches, explore geothermal steam vents and caves, chill in Pahoa town, attend classes in yoga and acro-yoga and visit Uncle Robert’s Wednesday Night Market.


Weather: Located at 1200 feet elevation on the windward side of the island, La’akea experiences a range of weather that makes prediction impossible. We regularly experience extremes of several weeks of sun or of rain as well as everything in between. It could rain many days that you are here (in which case we advise more trips to the beach).

Your typical day: You will usually do the most strenuous land work in the mornings before breakfast. We may spend  that you may spend some mornings working in warm rain. After a break that includes breakfast and check-ins, the intern group will complete land tasks, harvest and prepare food and work on other projects. Afternoons and evenings are mostly reserved for classes and free time.

Clothing: Plan to bring light-weight clothing for work and for play. For work, include a hat, short and long pants, short- and long-sleeve shirts as well as boots or shoes. If the weather is wet, you will need to put special care into keeping yourself supplied with clean, dry clothes. La’akea facilitates weekly trips to the Pahoa laundromat.

Housing: There are several possibilities for your sleeping situation. The basic $750 covers either tenting under a steel-frame tarp structure or a bed in a tarp-roofed quonset hut. Cabins are sometimes available for an extra fee.

More about food: Much of the food will come from La’akea and locally from the island of Hawai’i. Interns will also have access to the La’akea pantry, which includes oils, vinegars, peanut butter, sunflower seeds, teas, flours, bread, pasta, legumes and grains and spices. We do not supply the following foods for private consumption: dairy products, coffee, chocolate.


Getting here: If you are accepted to the program, we will send you directions to our community. If you are arriving and departing from Hilo airport, we can arrange a shuttle for you. The fee is $30 for each one-way trip and can be shared with other arriving interns.

Internship v. Farm Support: The internship and farm support programs are very different. The internship is a journey you share with the rest of the intern group and it is full of some of La’akea best offerings.  Farm support is an excellent way to experience normal life at La’akea, but it lacks both the rich educational curriculum and the shared journey with other interns.

We ask $750 for the program. This money pays for intern living expenses (use of food, material and facilities) and supports La’akea Community. There is a $25 processing fee due with your application. This may be paid using Paypal (send money to La’akea will keep this fee in the case that we accept you and you then choose to cancel. If you are accepted and choose to participate, $25 will be deducted from the $750. If you are not accepted, we will return to the fee to you.


Ready to apply? Go to the internship application.




Interns close up

Watch a video testimonial

Written testimonials:

“I have grown personally as much or more in my one month at La’akea as I did in my 4 1/2 years of college.”   — Kayla Hulsey, Summer 2011

“Staying at La’akea for the one month has had so much impact on how I live, my levels of stress, what i find important in life, on so many other things. Most significantly I now feel so free, I don’t know how i lived life any other way, i wasn’t living life. By free I mean free of so many unnecessary social boundaries I chained myself down with. I am not living in fear anymore. I am no longer afraid to share, to be open and be vulnerable, I am not sure if i even knew how to be those things before. I can dance now I can be silly in front of people, I can be myself and I can connect with people at a level previously not possible. I think your beautiful community played a huge part in my mental shift, through your openness, not holding anything back, trust, constant encouragement to share whats inside, and love. Thank you for having me in your community.” – Devin, Summer 2012

“Great experience! The most valuable thing I took away was all the positive additions to my healthy communication toolbox and the month long community experience!” – Nicole, Winter 2012

“My experience at La’akea taught me not only how to survive off the grid, but how to engage more with my peers for truly meaningful relationships. I found it fascinating, enlightening, and very magical. What a beautiful place and amazing group of people to have worked with. I can’t wait to come back.”  – Allie Hubert, Summer 2011

“I’d recommend it to a million and a half people.” – Lee, summer ’08

“Please know that my experience with you all has been a great point of reflection and continual transformation…Mahalo again for everything…” — Kevin, 2010

“I came here to learn about growing things, and what I really learned about was growing people.” – Emily ’09

“This is more than I ever dreamed of….” – Ann, fall ’08


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