The Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute (FLPCI) was founded by Michael Burns, Steve Gabriel and Karryn Olson Ramanujan in 2005. Since the beginning FLPCI has been sustained and nutured by the support of our alumni and volunteers for whom we are grateful. The board of FLPCI would also like to thank our supporters whose donations help us teach permaculture.

We offer opportunities to learn sustainable, ecological design methods including workshops, study groups, apprentice programs, and the intensive Permaculture Design Certification Course in upstate New York, USA.


Karryn Olson lived and worked in Europe, Africa and India before settling with her multi-cultural family in an Ecovillage. As a result, she is dedicated to supporting women and other historically marginalized populations in their vital roles as leaders–she believes that together, we can create a future based on the ethics of Earth Care, People Care, and Fair Share. Read her article “A Pattern Language for Women in Permaculture” here.  Karryn has a Masters in Public Affairs and teaches sustainability-related courses at Ithaca College through Environmental Studies & Sciences and the Sustainability Leadership Certificate program.  Her business, SEED Sustainability Consulting, offers a strategic approach to permaculture design services and educational workshops to support people to move into sustainability leadership. Karryn is a founder, instructor and President of the FLPCI Board of Directors.

rcutterbiopic2Rebecca Cutter, first encountered Permaculture with the Association Ija’tz in the highlands of Guatemala in 1996. Using Participatory Action Research and Popular Education, she was instrumental in incorporating women into the local permaculture movement and developing women’s leadership in many communities.  As a co-founder and board member of the Mesoamerican Permaculture Institute, (IMAP) she gained experience in organizational development, donor relations, and strategic planning. From 2000 – 2002 Rebecca was the country coordinator for the Central American Solar Energy Project which built solar ovens with women on the Pacific coast of Guatemala.  From 2009 – 2012 Rebecca pursued her passion for Popular Education, as an independent consultant, providing services to numerous non-governmental organizations in the U.S., Guatemala, Palestine, and Egypt. In 2011, Rebecca relocated to Ithaca NY where she worked for seven years as the Community Learning and Outreach Coordinator at New Roots Charter School, a public school committed to education for sustainability and social justice. Currently, Rebecca is Administrative Assistant to The Garden’s Edge, a non-profit dedicated to Seed Saving and the conservation of Traditional Ecological Knowledge.  Rebecca has an MA in Sustainable Development. She joined the Board of the Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute in January 2014.

peterbiopic150SQPeter Cramer is an alumni of the Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute’s Permaculture Design Certificate course. He received advanced training in Edible Forest Garden Design with Dave Jacke in 2015 and currently teaches ecological design in public schools in Auburn, NY. In addition he is an active community organizer and founding member of Auburn Permaculture Park, an outdoor educational space and community forest garden.  When not volunteering, foraging in the woods for mushrooms or drinking matcha lattes, Peter cultivates perennial edible plants and shiitake logs at Silver Tree Forest, his nursery and farm located in Owasco, NY.


Previous Members of our Board of Directors

Michael Burns spent years working in publishing (including the Guardian Newsweekly, Tenant/Inquilino, & Tikkun magazine) and within the peace and justice movement. He learned permaculture design in Guatemala, while working with Ronaldo Lec Ajcot of the Mesoamerican Permaculture Institute. Now he is building Cayuta Sun Farm based on permaculture principles when not devoting his energy to permaculture teaching,  and promoting permaculture in the Finger Lakes region and around New York State. Michael teaches Public Policy & Sustainable Economics at New Roots High School and is Chairman of the Town of Catharine planning board. He is a founder, instructor, PDC Administrator and member of the FLPCI Board of Directors.

Steve Gabriel is an ecologist, educator, author, and forest farmer who has lived most of his life in the Finger Lakes region of New York. He currently works for cooperative extension in the Department of Horticulture at Cornell, focused on permaculture and agroforestry research and education. Along with his wife Elizabeth, he operates Wellspring Forest Farm in Mecklenburg NY where they produce shiitake mushrooms, duck eggs, and maple syrup. He has co-authored a book called Farming the Woods with Cornell professor Ken Mudge. Steve is a founder of the Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute and served on the Board of Directors for the first 10 years.

Becky Sims  first discovered permaculture with IPEC in Brazil in 2008.  She found the Institute through her second PDC course at Ithaca College taught by Karryn, and was the Institute’s intern during the 2009 season. Becky graduated Magna cum laude from Ithaca College in 2009 with a B.A. in Environmental Studies.  She and her husband spend their free time working on their cabin, experimenting with swales and terraces, and building their very own edible forest gardens. Becky served on the FLPCI Board of Directors from 2012 to 2016.

Please feel free to contact us via the web form below or through email at < >.

Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute

325 Elm Street

Ithaca, NY 14850

(607) 527-0607