MEET John Judge


John Judge, like many Verge grads, wears many impressive hats. This U of C kinesiology major has 15 years of carpentry experience, extensive Earthship and natural building experience across Canada, Costa Rica, and Guatemala, and is currently the president of Shangri-Lanas Paraiso Escondido, a Costa Rican reforestation and regenerative resource project. Oh, and he’s a firefighter!

John enjoys a migratory lifestyle, spending one-third of his time as a firefighter in Calgary, one-third homesteading with his wife Kylie on an acreage in Mara, BC, and one-third in the Costa Rican jungle as a member of the VerdEnergia community permaculture farm in Lanas, Costa Rica. Over the past eight years, John and Kylie have been fortunate enough to be part of many permaculture-based projects, including farm-based PDC’s, yoga/permaculture retreats, natural building courses, leadership development events, plant medicine workshops, and vendors of farm ferments at Envision, a major permaculture, music, yoga, and dance festival. Through their work at VerdEnergia, they have had the opportunity to observe, learn, develop, and practice land restoration principles to turn what was once destroyed cattle land into a thriving and diverse agroforestry system, which now contains over 350 different species of trees, fruits, and medicinal plants.

Now as members of Blacksheep, John and Kylie are looking to translate their successes at VerdEnergia onto a larger scale.



Blacksheep is a regenerative resource management and consulting cooperative that empowers local and international partners to take direct action against landbase destruction through natural capital investment. Its members use their skills as permaculturists, economists, artists, farmers, activists, community organizers, and business managers to create and execute a custom business and resource management plan to generate long-term wealth and stability for all parties.

Blacksheep was formed out of necessity. In early 2014, palm oil prospectors threatened to purchase and build an African palm plantation above VerdEnergia. The land was already deforested and heavily degraded from years of monoculture tobacco farming and cattle ranching, but a palm planation would actively poison the Tulin river and threaten clean water access to everyone downstream. Members of the VerdEnergia cooperative formed Shangri-Lana’s, a 19-member cooperative with the mission of creating a profitable and replicable system for proper resource management and reforestation. The cooperative purchased the land out from the palm oil prospectors and by May of 2014, had begun major soil reconstruction and reforestation efforts.

While Shangri-Lana’s was successful in protecting VerdEnergia’s water sovereignty, the rest of the Tulin watershed would fall victim to similar future threats if immediate and formalized action was not taken. Blacksheep was formed in 2015. Since then, it has partnered with investors to acquire two more farms totalling 400 acres with the purpose of reforestation and agroforestry. Diversity in production protects the collective from market disruptions and protects the health of the ecosystem.

Blacksheep seeks to reclaim global sovereignty from extractive industries and corporations through open-sourced, cooperative partnership systems built on the regeneration of natural capital:

  • Blacksheep investment yields an income for investors. (40x return on investment over a 25 year period)
  • It perpetuates and protects local ownership of land and resources.
  • It reforests landscapes to protect vulnerable watersheds and wildlife habitats.

Unlike traditional investment systems, Blacksheep’s model leaves behind thriving forests and communities; it does not consider people, animals, or the environment as externalities. Blacksheep does not engage in land destruction, resource extraction, or labour exploitation; it instead embodies an ethical, permaculture-based stance by prioritizing local ownership and land regeneration.

Blacksheep's Featured Regenerative Resource Project: ECC or Enamorado Cacao Collective

Blacksheep is currently seeking investors who want to rethink the current prevailing economic model. Its members believe in using wealth to regenerate the forests, oceans, and air while responsibly creating the resources we all need to thrive.

Interested in partnering with Blacksheep or learning more? Contact John:

Or Learn more at the Permaculture Podcast:


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