Archive for Workshops & Classes

Bored with your Job? Learn Permaculture and Work with the Earth

Bored with your Job? Learn Per­ma­cul­ture and Work with the Earth

Tak­ing a Per­ma­cul­ture Design Course is a pow­er­ful way to get up to speed on Per­ma­cul­ture. It is also an excit­ing expe­ri­ence that will be remem­bered for the rest of your life.

So what is Per­ma­cul­ture? Here’s a descrip­tion from Dave from Orcas Island, Wash­ing­ton. “If I really had to boil per­ma­cul­ture down to a sim­ple three word def­i­n­i­tion I would say “a design sys­tem”. In other words a process. Per­ma­cul­ture gives us a process through which we can take a piece of land. What is the goal of that process? It depends upon the goals of the per­son for whom you are designing.

How­ever, since per­ma­cul­ture has its feet deeply rooted in ethics, part of those goals will cer­tainly be the abil­ity of the envi­ron­ment to con­tinue to pro­vide eco­log­i­cal func­tions and the abil­ity of the envi­ron­ment to sup­port peo­ple. So you can use per­ma­cul­ture design prin­ci­ples to design a rural home­stead, a sub­ur­ban cul de sac, or an aban­doned urban lot. Depend­ing on your goals you can try to make any of these into a retreat cen­ter, a sin­gle fam­ily liv­ing space, or a drive-in the­ater. The per­ma­cul­ture design prin­ci­ples just help you fig­ure out ways to do it that are effi­cient, eco­nom­i­cal, and eco­log­i­cally harmonious.

…Per­ma­cul­ture encom­passes a lot of [dif­fer­ent] fields. Hope­fully, per­ma­cul­ture pro­vides us a way of unit­ing those fields so they begin to work together effi­ciently. I remem­ber hear­ing a story about a con­struc­tion site where the cab­i­net maker was walk­ing out of the house feel­ing sat­is­fied about the beau­ti­ful cab­i­nets he just installed. Mean­while, at the same time, the elec­tri­cian was walk­ing into the house with a hole saw to drill a hole in the cab­i­nets so he could run a con­duit for the light­ing. Sounds like an orches­tra with no con­duc­tor, right? While that exam­ple is from con­struc­tion, that type of thing is going on all the time when folks try to approach sus­tain­abil­ity from within only one dis­ci­pline. Hope­fully, the per­ma­cul­ture design process gives you an over­ar­ch­ing plan for how every­thing works together. Per­ma­cul­ture requires a bit of retrain­ing for your mind.”

And about the Per­ma­cul­ture Design Course, Gary Gre­gory of North­ern Cal­i­for­nia says “It was well worth the cost. I have endur­ing friend­ships from that time. There are a lot of things on this planet that have more value than money.”

The Per­ma­cul­ture Design Course is 72 hours long, gen­er­ally tak­ing from 8 to 14 days to com­plete. It fol­lows the syl­labus cre­ated by Bill Mol­li­son and uses his book The Per­ma­cul­ture Design Man­ual as the course text. A cer­tifi­cate of com­ple­tion is given at the end of the course. This cer­tifi­cate allows the grad­u­ate to use the word Per­ma­cul­ture in adver­tis­ing, teach Per­ma­cul­ture and also be a Per­ma­cul­ture Design Consultant.

Wouldn’t you rather be play­ing in the moist sweet earth?

Follow up Intro to Practical Permaculture Nov 3/4, 2007

Fol­low up Intro to Prac­ti­cal Per­ma­cul­ture Nov 3/4, 2007

Since it is sup­posed to rain Sat­ur­day, I mulched the swale our class built with bar­ley straw. The straw had been sit­ting around since the begin­ning of the sum­mer, so it was a lit­tle wet and decom­posed, (just per­fect) and I am excited to tell you, there were mush­rooms grow­ing out of it. I will post pho­tos soon on my website.

Which reminds me…in case I didn’t say this at the class.
My old per­ma­cul­ture part­ner, Bill Steen who went on to write The Straw Bale House did an exper­i­ment. He had an old rock-hard clay dri­ve­way in “the stinkin desert.” He set out a bale of alfalfa (whole, just one bale sit­ting there). About 6 months later when I was vis­it­ing, he told me to come take a look. The “stinkin desert” under the bale had trans­formed and you could put your hand down 8 inches into soft sweet soil, FULL OF WORMS.

If you are not sure where to start, set out some bales of alfalfa.

As a reminder,
Hay usu­ally refers to alfalfa, which is a nitro­gen fixer, or some type of tasty grass.
Straw is the dried plant left­over after thresh­ing the grain. Could be bar­ley, wheat, rice, oats, etc.
Both have seeds, despite what you read. Some peo­ple say straw doesn’t have seeds, but the bar­ley straw had bar­ley babies sprout­ing out of it.

In my mind, alfalfa hay is my favorite input when you work­ing on rehabing abused soil, doing an ini­tial sheet mulch, or start­ing a plant­ing area.
Straw is great for gen­eral mulch until you get your mulch plants up and ready to be harvested.

When you get projects going, let me know. Take pic­tures. I would love to post them to my website.