Rico Zook is a Permaculture designer, consultant and instructor. He works with private individuals, farmers, villagers and local organizations to create environmentally and culturally appropriate life systems in northern New Mexico, India, Cambodia, and places in between. Mr. Zook also works to assist local and indigenous cultures to preserve traditional knowledge and technologies while adapting to and becoming active members of our rapidly globalizing world. Currently (2015) his year is divided into 5 months in India, 3 months in Southeast Asia, 3 months at his farm in Hawaii, and 1 month in different places each year.
In addition to academic and professional credentials, Mr. Zook has spent more than 30 years living in nature, including long-term residencies in California’s Yosemite National Park, the demanding Sangria de Cristo Mountains of Northern New Mexico, and as a homesteader in Northern California wilderness. For more than a decade as Land Manager for the Lama Foundation, a spiritual community and retreat center North of Taos, NM, Mr. Zook designed and transformed the rugged, cold, semiarid high-altitude site that had been decimated by wildfire into one of beauty and productivity. Using Permaculture practices and a lifetime of observation and interpretation of the natural world and how to create human harmony with it, he has built a visible and successful Permaculture demonstration and teaching site. It is a model of design integrating the needs, resources and yields of community and nature in proactive and abundant ways with respectful and restorative impacts on the environment.
In Taos, New Mexico (USA) Mr. Zook is working with the Hanuman Temple in creating a 5-acre urban Permaculture farm. He is also working with the San Cristobal Youth Ranch in converting to a holistic ranch model, as well as interacting with youth campers in educating them with hands-on applied Permaculture techniques and strategies. He also provides consultations to private clients.
In India, many of the projects he is involved in are based out of Darjeeling, West Bengal, which is his home for part of the year. Past projects include a bio-conservation project funded by the Critical Ecosystem Protection Fund (CEPF). Utilizing a participatory model, DLR Prerna (a local NGO) and Mr. Zook trained five forest villages in permaculture and worked with them to internalize and cycle their resource needs, thus minimizing their impacts on the critical bio-corridor in which the villages are located. Another involved a team headed by Anugyalaya (another local NGO), and included Prerna, the Catholic Diocese and Mr. Zook, designing a 16-acre Permaculture demonstration and education site. This process and the design implementation was a hands-on experience for several local, long-term students of Mr. Zook.
In south India Mr. Zook has worked with several private clients whose projects include a university, a healing centre, a children's camp, and assisting local farmers and tribals convert to organic agriculture. Past projects have included wetlands construction for wildlife, a children's school, and many private consultations on farms and homesteads.
In Cambodia Mr. Zook is building a network of projects and associations with NGO’s similar to that in India. He also conducts several trainings for Khmer farmers, as well as assisting in the development of several demonstration sites he has long-term working relationships with IVY (Japanese NGO working in Svay Reing), and Ockenden (local NGO based in Sisophon and working all over Cambodia). For both of these he runs farmer and staff trainings, as well as helping to design and develop demonstration farms. He is currently working with Ockenden to develop the ‘100 Farms’ project to create 100 locally adapted and focused Permaculture farms.
Every year Mr. Zook visits new sites, meets new NGO’s, and teaches numerous courses, from 1-day introductions to 2-week design courses with certification, for farmers, villagers, NGO workers, and foreigners. This year was the 11th annual Permaculture Design Course in Darjeeling, the longest running course of this type in India. He is always open to inquiries and requests. He also accepts qualified apprentices.
Mr. Zook is a graduate of Sonoma State University, from which he holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Studies focused on land restoration, with minors in Biology and Philosophy.
For more information about Mr. Zook and his work go to