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East Tennessee Permaculture Research Institute

An engaged community building a sustainable future.

https://etpri.org/ Tax ID 47-5342461

Vision: An Engaged Community Building A Sustainable Future

Mission: Empower individuals and communities to improve health and resilience by fostering a co-operative, self-reliant learning community using permaculture principles.


At the Sustainable Future Center, a dba and home of East Tennessee Permaculture Research Institute, we aim to build a cooperative and self-reliant community. Our site is a working study of permaculture, a system of thinking dedicated to developing a self-sufficient ecosystem. Our purpose is to empower people; to show the available abundance in nature and how to effectively make use of it. We strive to create the opportunity for people to share their knowledge on how to create that abundance in their own lives, in hopes of eliminating the struggle for survival.


Our organization is based on the 12 principles of permaculture, which are thoughtful and deliberate guides to agriculture and whole-life sustainability. These principles are designed to help guide people through the process, and are all centered around three main themes:

care for earth

care for people

fair share

We incorporate these principles and themes into the way we approach our work. Our outreach and programming are designed from a position of sharing, supporting, and collaborating. We act as the conduit for people to come together and share their experiences and knowledge in order to learn collectively. An unique goal of ours is to acknowledge and promote the strengths and resources of other non-profits and organizations that align with our mission, and to utilize our own resources to hearld and spread the word of their work. We also provide a venue for several public groups to meet safely, and for the community to connect with their government officials. 

We have developed our site to be an approachable and achievable demonstration of how to work towards living a healthier, cleaner, and more efficient lifestyle. We exemplify a variety of ways to reduce waste, reduce energy consumption, and reuse and capture nature’s abundance. This can be seen in our use of solar panels, stormwater catchment system, an on-site tiny house complete with compost toilet, an active compost and soil building system, a flock of chickens, a two year old food forest we planted with perennials and fruiting local trees, an active aquaponics system, and a newly launched indoor microgreens operation. We are situated in the Vestal neighborhood of South Knoxville, which is an area of the city facing marked poverty. Our urban community garden is an active permaculture demonstration site, whose bounty is entirely shared with our staff, volunteers and neighbors. It gives us pride to send our visitors home with gifts of food, knowledge, and fellowship, and we are thankful to be a resource for our community.

In everything that we do, we work to bring people together to create a sustainable community.


As a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organization, we face many of the same hurdles that non-profits everywhere find: funding, volunteer retention, capacity-building, and communication. The two foremost issues that we are tackling is communication, specifically how to effectively spread our message to share the knowledge we collect in ways that will postively impact people’s lives, and procuring the funding necessary to achieve our vision.

Please help us by donating money, telling your friends about our work -- or hopefully both! 

The link below will take you to our campaign, part of the A Community Thrives challenge hosted by USA Today and Crowdrise.