As promised during my last post about the hands-on portion of my permaculture class taken through Midwest Permaculture, here’s an overview of what happened during the latter half of the course. Much of the second week was spent working on designs and learning permaculture concepts in the classroom, but we did have quite a few unique experiences…
We visited the home of a local couple who have implemented a lot of permaculture into their homestead. Outside, we found a lot of edible landscaping.
They also had a lot of permaculture concepts incorporated into the interior of their home. For example, they have a rocket stove that is piped through a cob bench that radiates heat throughout the home during the winter.
And speaking of cob, we learned how to make it while we were there. Cob is an awesome way to build from completely local materials, and it was extremely fun to prepare!
I also loved their chicken tractor!
A neighbor nearby also had an impressive garden with an incredible amount of food production…
They also had a pond feature which they could use to water some of their beds (fish live in here so it’s nutrient-infused water). When the pond gets low, they take water from their nearby cistern to refill it. Handy!
And of course, a permaculture design certificate wouldn’t be complete without some designing. The picture below is a conceptual plan for a 50-acre permaculture learning center with a holisitc health clinic and farm-to-table restaurant. The space to the right is a wheel of intern housing (planned around water retention features and constructed using natural building styles, of course!). The top left is the house and barn, and other features below were outlined in more detail by other group members.
I worked on the house and the barn.
And the day after presenting this design, I had a certificate in my hand! Yay! I think I felt more excited about that certificate than my Master’s degree!
It’s been an interesting transition back to the ‘real world’ (or should I say the fake world?) this week. Someone asked me about the course and about permaculture in general saying, “isn’t permaculture about sustainable farming?”. Well…that’s one small part of permaculture, but to me, permaculture is about a total lifestyle modification.
I liked what someone said last week: “permaculture is an umbrella word for all things sustainable”. Food production is an extremely important part of living sustainably (we eat every day, use lots of land for this purpose, and will need to change food production methods if we want to continue eating in the future!), but there are so many other aspects of sustainability from building to energy use to the things that first interested me in permacutlure such as community, the psychological importance of nature in our lives, and finding a way of living that is authentic and meaningful. One might not think of these concepts at first when considering sustainability, but these are all important aspects to consider when envisioning a truly sustainable future. Farming differently may help, but it is not going to save the world alone — we need to truly recreate the way we live and work on this planet in all areas of our lives. Thankfully, permaculture provides a framework with which we can do this.
When one starts waking up to the environmental crises around us and to the seriousness of global warming, permaculture resonates as an answer.
When one starts to realize that resources are finite and that our future is going to look a lot different as the reality of peak oil hits, permaculture serves as a beacon of hope.
When one sees the ever-increasing and growing list of physiological and psychological problems that correlate with increased industrialization, a sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, and disconnection from nature, permaculture provides an alternative.
When one feels that their life lacks meaning, that community ties are few and far between, and that there is more to life than a 9-5, permaculture shows us that we can work together to create a new culture.
Truly, permaculture is an umbrella term for all things sustainable. Each permaculturist you ask will have a different definition of the word, but I’m sure that each would say it’s a whole lot more than sustainable farming. It’s about creating a new way of living and working on this planet that works with nature, provides ample time for play, supports human and natural communities, and ensures that everyone has enough — even future generations. Isn’t it about time we started to make this shift? What are we waiting for?
Check out more photos from this week on Midwest Permaculture’s blog, and also peek around to see if they’re offering a workshop or course that’s right for you!