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The development of agricultural ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient.
“Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted & thoughtless labour; of looking at plants & animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single-product system.”
Bill Mollison (from the permaculture.net website)
I’m learning what permaculture is. This is a course that will be taught by someone else (Penny Krebiehl and Craig Schaaf), so I have a functional knowledge, but not the technical knowledge needed to teach it. In many ways, it seems to me that permaculture is what our great grandparents did, whether they lived on a city lot or an 80 acre farm. They studied their situation, which included the land, the climate, their social situation (this was important in the water sharing west as well as the urban areas), and their total resources. They figured out the best way to get the most production, both food and financially, that their situation would allow. They sought to work with the land as much as possible because they didn’t possess the petroleum means (tractors, fuel, fertilizer) to force their will. This is, to my understanding, the essence of permaculture. It’s the construction of a productive system that uses the components to benefit and sustain each other.
On our farm, we graze animals to build the soil to grow healthier plants to have food to graze the animals on. For our efforts we get meat, milk, and eggs. Plus, the animals provide the raw material for compost to enhance the soil of our garden so we have good vegetables. Any organic “waste” from the butcher shop or milk processing (such as whey when I make the family’s cheese) goes back into the system one way or another. This is one example of permaculture.
Since soil is the key to growing anything, it is a critical component in building your permaculture system. Craig Schaaf is an experienced farmer and respected teacher of this kind of agriculture. Craig has modeled his farm on Eliot Coleman’s work, focusing on soil building to achieve amazing harvests from small spaces. Craig will be teaching us how to use what’s naturally available to us to build a well mineralized soil that can support intensive planting.
This is a class that I anticipate will be of great use to beginners who just want to know where to start. I recommend it as the starter class if you’ve never grown a thing in your life. Permaculture ideas provide an umbrella for you to understand sustainable, organic type farming. Soils are the foundation of all growing.
I also anticipate that this class will be full of information for those of us who have been growing all sorts of things for most of our lives. There is a lot to know about permaculture and soils and building a sustainable system. Your farm or garden will benefit from your time with Penny and Craig. We will be inside learning the basics, but also out in the field applying what’s in the books. In this class you can learn:
- Principles of permaculture – your guides as you observe and plan.
- Ethics of permaculture – how to apply the principles to your land and your life.
- Soils – applying permaculture to the foundation of all that you will grow.
- Design – Planning your food growing enterprise with permaculture principles and ethics in mind.
Hope to see you here! Introduction to Permaculture and Soils
I’m working on the Permaculture and Soils course today. Here are some thoughts from Penny Kriebel, who will be working with Mark to instruct the course:
“O’k Permaculture Design, Penny Krebiehl:
Taking a permaculture course can be very inspiring, and for me and many others awakens a whole load of creativity, positivity and eagerness to be a part of the solutions for our world. I took my first permaculture course in 2005, with several more to follow. Why did I repeat a permaculture course? I wasn’t “held back” nor did I fail the course, I decided to continue my study and apprenticeship and because of the value of learning from many different teachers. Each with a shared permaculture language, yet, like the Baker family with their experience in farming and animal husbandry, shared their own passionate understanding and skill set.
In 2009 I traveled out to NY state and completed an intensive and incredibly valuable Permaculture Teacher Training with,Dave Jacke, author of Edible Forest Gardens. Since that time, I’ve also worked alongside of permaculture teachers, Peter Bane, author of Garden Farming for Town and Country, and Keith D. Johnson, who are also editor and co-editor of the Permaculture Activist Magazine. I feel honored to continue my study and practice of permaculture with a plethora of experienced teachers and students and have only named a very few here, but definitely recognize and credit them with being amazing, inspiring mentors, and while feeling very, very grateful.
Through the years of adopting my own permaculture life-style practice and then starting to teach, I realized that permaculture was more than just gardening and it could be used to really transform our lives and transform our relationships and turn us all into happier, healthier people. I’ve always planned my “career” and paid work around the needs of my family, and included my own children in the design of my working hours. Since 1997, I’ve worked at and tweaked a creative curriculum which has ultimately taught permaculture to children as young as age five, through college age. I’m pleased to say that in teaching my most recent permaculture design course in North West Michigan in 2012, I was able to work alongside of a remarkable group of adults, upwards to 69 years old.
Much information about permaculture is available electronically, in books and published on the web. But honestly, the most valuable learning experiences have happened when I’ve been immersed in a learning and sharing community that an on-site permaculture course offers. The people part of learning permaculture in a class or workshop setting is a way to consciously mimic what happens in the natural world, and has proven over and over again to be an amazing adventure in knowledge-based skill sharing.
In permaculture design we try to turn around the limiting factors of a system, so if we’ve got something that’s limiting us it becomes one of the aspects we pay attention to in our design. This is where we ask – how can we use the permaculture principles and design in all areas of our lives?
I’m pleased to be invited as a part of the Anyone Can Farm teaching staff and share whatever I can of my passion and learning of Permaculture Design.
Check out the class, which runs May 24-26. Hope to see you here!