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Barbara Scheltus - van den Berg

Passionate permaculture gardener & designer (of land and life), living self sufficient in harmony with nature.

My vision is to live a simple, healthy, happy life in nature, with like-minded or like-hearted people to share and celebrate.


I live with my family on a 12 hectare homestead in the heart of Croatia. Yes 12 hectares is a lot, so we're growing a village. During the Covid19 period we saw an increase of people who wanted a self-sufficient and independent lifestyle like us, so now we are in contact with a few of them to come and share our abundance.
Here at Bogata Suma in the heart of Croatia we are growing a beautiful, sustainable, caring village. Fun and supportive, self sufficient and independent.


Permaculture and Cultural Emergence facilitator

I really enjoy facilitating courses for people who want to take steps in care of their land and their life, designing for it, and growing towards self sufficiency/self reliance/independence in their lives.
My Cultural Emergence journey is the undercurrent of my permaculture stream; I see Cultural Emergence as a "what" to the "how" of permaculture. This world needs a caring, connective way of thinking. If the values earth, people and future care and fair share would be mainstream, most world problems would not exist!

> I collaborate with Looby Macnamara and the Cultural Emergence network
> My article about Cultural Emergence in GreenSpirit Magazine

As a facilitator I like to make things practical for people. How can you do things, how can you design (parts of) your life so that you take good care of the earth, of yourself and other people, and care for the future. Even when you live in an apartment in the city.

Barbara Scheltus in permaculture garden


At Bogata Šuma you can enjoy colorful organic food from our land, learn how permaculture works on our courses, or you can enjoy a holiday in Croatia's nature on our small, eco campsite.

With Bogata Šuma's Country Life Academy you can be coached to a harmonious, successful life in nature. We organise weekends and courses for people who want to learn all about a good life on the land.

We are Growing a village with like-minded people in rural Croatia. People who love a life in harmony with nature, cooperate and care for the earth, each other and themselves. People who love a good meal and a good conversation, that live a regenerative life with a beautiful future in mind.

With our NGO "Udruga Anno 3033" you can volunteer for a month or longer to learn about permaculture and a fulfilling self sufficient life.

As one of our (future) income streams we're setting up a permaculture nut orchard (with walnuts, hazelnuts, sweet chestnuts and other plants) as protein source to save animals and the planet.


From city life to rural Croatia

I used to live in the city (Amsterdam and Leiden, in The Netherlands) where I had edible balconies and organized guerilla gardening days to spice up the city.
I was always intrigued by growing and foraging my own food. Our patio was crammed with fruit shrubs and vegetables and I had a weblog called "Wildplukker", about food foraging in the city. One day a film crew followed me and my son on a city foraging tour, for a Dutch TV show.

I lived in urban environments (Amsterdam, Leiden) until 2009, when Peter Scheltus suggested to move to the countryside in Croatia. That thought became an exciting opportunity to bring my theorethical permaculture knowledge into action!

Barbara Scheltus teaching social permacultureIn Croatia we live on 12 hectares of land that we designed as an edible, sustainable landscape. On our terrain (called "Bogata Suma", Croatian for Rich Forest) you can find:
- a beautiful kitchen garden ("vegetable park") that produces our vegetables all year round,
- an edible fence or branches wall
- a plum orchard with net and pan system
- a forest garden
- a "food savannah" (that eventually will grow into a 2nd forest garden)
- a well designed greenhouse with a stone wall to trap warmth and a rainwater drip irrigation system
- we're setting up a polyculture nut orchard on the field
- we did some preparations for a natural greywater cleaning swim pond

On our wishlist: to finish the grey water cleaning swim pond, a compost heated glasshouse with aquaponics and a safe system to let animals cut the grass for us.

Also an active project on the wish list: a lovely self sufficient village with young and old people who care for the earth, for people and for the future.


Teaching in nature at Bogata Suma

My permaculture pathway plays a big role in our ecosystem. Since we live in Croatia, creating self sufficiency and sustainable ecosystems became an important part of my life. Permaculture and Nature around us inspire me to develop synergetic growth systems based on diversity, resilience, productivity, and sustainability. I have been designing and implementing productive ecosystems to be fully integrated with the landscape that surrounds us. Reading the landscape grew on me and taking care of it in small steps, creating a healthier and more sustainable environment, thus reducing our impact on the Earth.

Relevant courses:

Workshop social permaculture
10 March 2024, Zagreb
Dan Permakulture i Tranzicije
Facilitator: Barbara Scheltus

Embodied Permaculture Project
June '23 - December '24
Teachers: Dan & Johanna McTiernan

Visionary leadership
September - December 2023
Facilitators: Looby Macnamara & Jon Young

Sustainable living, permaculture & self sufficiency
11-15 September 2023
A 5 days course about living a different lifestyle, with real life examples at Bogata Šuma.
Facilitator: Barbara Scheltus

Introduction to permaculture
3-7 July2023
What is permaculture and how can it save the world?
Facilitators: Barbara Scheltus & Mali Boomkens

Sustainable living, permaculture & self sufficiency
20-24 March / 20-28 April / 29 May - 2 June / 11-15 September 2023
A 5 days course about living a different lifestyle, with real life examples at Bogata Šuma.
Facilitator: Barbara Scheltus

Teaching Permaculture Teachers (June 2022)
Teachers: Helena von Bothmer, Michaela Tsarchinska

Cultural Emergence and design for your life
15-24 April 2022, Bogata Šuma, Croatia
Start designing your way to abundance on our hands-on Cultural Emergence design course!
Facilitator: Barbara Scheltus

Sustainable living, permaculture & self sufficiency
27-31 March / 2-7 May / 6-11 June / 12-17 September 2022
A 5 days course about living a different lifestyle, with real life examples at Bogata Šuma.
Facilitator: Barbara Scheltus

Introduction to permaculture (3 March 2022)
Teacher: Barbara Scheltus
Institutes: Erasmus+ project Generation of sustainability, Bogata šuma, (Croatia)

online course: Cultural Emergence Effective Design (jan-mrt 2022)
Main teachers: Looby Macnamara, Jon Young
Tutors: Barbara Scheltus, Delvin Solkinson and others

Social permaculture for peace (September 2021)
Teacher: Barbara Scheltus
Institute: GAIA Kosovo & permaculture farm Nesto vise, Bosnia & Hercegovina

Cultural Emergence Effective Design (June-July 2021)
Main teachers: Looby Macnamara, Jon Young
Tutors: Barbara Scheltus, Delvin Solkinson, Geri Sinclair and others
Institute: Applewood Permaculture Centre

Permaculture Design Course (PDC) (23/5-2/6/2021)
Teachers: Karmela Kis, Sabine Engelhardt & Barbara Scheltus
Institute: Gea Viva, Brac (Croatia)

Peace, Empowerment And Cultural Emergence (2021)
Main teachers: Looby Macnamara, Jon Young

Activating Cultural Emergence (2020)
Main teachers: Looby Macnamara, Jon Young

Design your life with permaculture (2019)
Teacher: Barbara Scheltus
Institute: Bogata šuma, (Croatia)

Cultural Emergence Effective Design course (1 week, 2019)
Teachers: Looby Macnamara, Barbara Scheltus & Lucy Walton
Institutes: Thriving Ways (England) & Bogata Suma (Croatia)

Permaculture for kids (4 lessons, 2018)
Teachers: Barbara Scheltus & Jasenka Martinovic
Institutes: Osnovna skola Vojnic & Bogata Suma (Croatia)

People and Permaculture Facilitator Training (1.5 year traject, 2017-2018)
Teachers: Looby Macnamara & Peter Cow
Institute: Thriving Ways (England)

Permaculture in practice (2018)
Teacher: Barbara Scheltus
Institute: Bogata Suma (Croatia)

Permaculture and forest garden design weekend (2017)
Teacher: Barbara Scheltus
Institute: Bogata Suma (Croatia)

Workshop restoration agriculture (1 week, 2016)
Teacher: Mark Shepard
Institute: ZMAG Vukomeric (Croatia)

Permaculture Design Course (2 weeks, 2015)
Teachers: Rosemary Morrow & Tina Lymberis
Institute: Nea Guinea, (Greece)

Creating low maintenance Edible Landscapes The Permaculture way (2 days, 2014)
Teacher: Rakesh Rootsman Rak

Garden design course (6 months, 2012)
Institute: Het Groene Penseel (The Netherlands)

How to create a forest garden (5 days, 2010)
Teachers: Mark & Rakesh Rootsman Rak
Institute: Eco Village Network

Introduction to permaculture (2008)
Teachers: Taco Blom & Ishi Crosby
Institute: Permacultuurcentrum Den Haag (The Netherlands)

Barbara and Looby teaching in 2019


Besides permaculture designs for our land, I am also making people-based designs. I use various methods, like the "SADIMET design process" and Looby Macnamara's "Design Web".

Permaculture designs I work(ed) on

Permaculture pathway design
My personal Action Learning Pathway design for a Permaculture Diploma, for becoming an experienced designer and a resourceful facilitator.

Permaculture design for Bogata Šuma
Overall design about our life and our land. It links to al other land-based designs:

Growing a village
Design for a lovely, lively village in the heart of Croatia where people can live a simple and joyful life. A welcoming place where people and nature are respected and included.
A regenerative, responsible and self reliant life on the land, working together in harmony with nature and like minded people. For us it is the way to live a good life for future generations to come.

A garden for the chickens
How to keep our chickens healthy & happy and grow a garden with food and herbs for them.

Speak fluent Croatian design
A personal permaculture design about how to learn better Croatian. About learning styles and creative solutions to make it happen.

My unfashionable minimalistic capsule wardrobe
A permaculture design about my vision for the ultimate wardrobe and how to dress myself better with just a few good pieces.

Mindmap of How to be the best version of meME
Personal permaculture design about how to be the best version of me.

Design for self sufficiency
This design for resilience is made for 100% self reliance for our family. Not necessarily realistic; we are not (yet) willing to live without coffee, chocolate, bananas and our car.

Nut farm design
About how and why to setup our polyculture nut orchard.

Natural greywater cleaning swim pond design
About how and where we can make a natural pond that filters our greywater and gives us a nice spot to swim.

Forest garden and food savannah
An extensive design about our edible landscape and fruit park. Is still a bit behind the facts.

Barbara Scheltus - permaculture teacher

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Visit us

 on our campsite for a holiday in nature

 for a course or workshop

 for a great organic lunch or dinner


Stay with us

 for a few weeks as a volunteer

 forever in our village


Learn with us

 permaculture, social permaculture and Cultural Emergence

 sustainable living and self sufficiency

 about living your life differently