Permaculture design/Open access testimonial

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Thanks Kim. I've just finished watching your video's. They made me a little homesick actually as the lushness and especially all of the ferns reminded me of where I grew up Vancouver, and the temperate rainforest that I practically lived beside and played in all of the time. :)

You bring up a good point about the seasons being different. For me it's not a big deal and the timing is good. Winter by nature is a great time for planning and focusing on learning theory and research and though it will be I won't be able to start some of the practical stuff for a few months I can get my mind focused and get prepared. It's quickly approaching seed starting time (a couple of weeks) which is an indoor thing anyways. There is a permaculture course that's offered a few hours from here in the summer, which I would like to try and do, but practically it's quite difficult. It's a two week long residential course so it's hard to take the time out in such a busy part of the year. I'm self-employed so getting time off work isn't a big deal but the nature of my husbands work is that he is away for several days at a time and since we have animals its difficult to arrange. I figure that I'm not the only person out there interested in permaculture who has similar challenges. That's mainly why I started looking for something that could be done online. I found a couple of options but one started in no go on that and the other one was just a completely self-directed course...which I may still check out, but it didn't have any group support.

When I found this course and saw that part of the desire was to develop it for online as well as the expressed desire for it to be a participatory and open process I thought cool and why not add my participation, since I'm focusing on this area anyways, For one that basis ethos of permaculture is all about participating both on a human level and with whatever ecological systems that one finds themselves living in. The overall principles are universial but the methods and actions are local.

I can see a lot of potential in developing a course in the way that's this is being done, regardless of the location of the physical course.

I'm just going to jot down a few thoughts about it all. Excuse the randomness.  :)

There are few differences that would likely have to be addressed between someone doing a physical course and someone doing it online. The main and obvious one is that the online person isn't actually there to see and do things physically....the practical. The other one of course is differences in location, which can also can mean differences in climate, which of course means general ecology and as been pointed out here totally different seasons. Now permaculture by nature is all about getting to know you're own locale, not only in the broader sense in terms of native ecology but in the micro sense of whatever piece of that broader ecology that your working with. Someone online no matter where they are has to go and do this on their own. Now for me personally, I have a background interest in ecology and do this sort of thing anyways but that may not be the case for everyone. Permaculture attracts a broad range of people with different experience and levels of knowledge.

When I was watching the videos about the trip to Harmony Farm I was thinking...well how can what they are doing in their local be transposed to someone in another local and namely someone who needs to do this on their own. I think an outline of general exercises or guidelines would work here. For instance something like:

Exercise One: Observation of Native Ecology

  • list things to look for
  • observations
  • general ecological principles
  • local climate

etc etc....

In the last video I saw or it was mentioned that and actual exercise was being done which seemed to be looking at the marginal area between the native forest and the working part of the farm. What was the actual exercise? What were the guidelines given by the instructor to the student?

Now here's where I really see the exciting potential of the way this course is being developed coupled with the power of using a wiki base and individual blogs. As an online person I can do these 'exercises' in my local and record them. Someone else in another place does the same thing and it gets recorded. Individual experience gets connected with the whole and becomes a source of information for future students and constantly builds on itself as a collaborative process. This is something that I think is really worthwhile and is why I'm choosing to work on it. For me it also gives even more value for what I'm doing because I can share, what I'm doing anyways with the hopes that it will help the whole in some way.

I looked up where Benny lives, (Hi Benny!) and we seem to live in similar type zones so are experiences will most likely be similar...for instance we both get snow and have to deal with more varied temperatures during the yearly cycle. In my case it's cold winters and hot and very humid summers. So our solutions and methods in building, planting etc may be similar. I know for one that this year I'm going to be trying out some season extending techniques that work for northern climates, something that may not be a focus for someone in California or the tropics. I can see for instance the wiki resources growing 'organically' and naturally diversify (puns intended) into information for different bio-regions and locales.

I found this link which has different plant hardiness maps collected together :

What's I also think is great is the potential for the discussion about all of the different ideas, techniques methods etc with different people from different places. Through this we not only can learn things that work for ourselves but learn a lot about the world in general. I personally think that's really great. That's the power of the internet for you. Ten years ago I would never have even imagined that I would be essentially working and talking with people on a daily basis from as far away as New Zealand and Portugal, that have the same interests and the same desires that I have.

Another plus about online and doing the course this way is the connection with other people. For me personally it has provided me some focus. I'm fairly self-directed in my work but I do procrastinate. I have Mollisons "Designers Manual" and other resources (I've had them for years) so there is nothing stopping me from teaching myself, I've done a lot already but there is nothing like being able to get some guidance, feedback and not feeling so isolated. It's also motivating. I finally made my base map, something which I have been 'meaning' to do since last summer. (I'll be posting it later on my blog). Now ideally there would be local permaculture courses and people in every locale where anyone no matter what level of experience or knowledge could easily access them and connect with like minded people. There has been a slow growth in different regions over the past ten years or so that I've been aware of the concept but of course it's not the case everywhere. As I mentioned before there are a few mostly residential type courses in my region but do to time, finances and everything else it's difficult. This is why I think that there is a real potential for developing good online courses that mix not only the theoretical but the practical as well for individuals that just can't get to somewhere physical but need or desire the connection with actual people, because of the internet the location of that actual 'school' putting on the course can become less of an issue.

So thinking bigger here as to where something like this may go. Let's say that I do this course and working on my own implementation on my own property here in Ontario. Something that by nature is an on-going process. Someone say a couple of years from now, in the same general area starts the course. Not only would they have a record of my experiences and input online, but possibly an actual physical location to easily visit and SEE it. Perhaps some of the practical stuff could actually be done at a location with a former student. Connections are made. The other potential I see is what I'll just call the potential for the diversity of types of locations for people to experience not only theortically but possibly practically as well. Permaculture as an overarching principle that's meant to fit in whether in an urban setting or rural setting, whether you have a small city or town property or 200 acres. Right now most courses I've come across take place on large properties and depending on your own situation you have to transpose it to your own site or work, which is great and part of the process but wouldn't it be nice to be able to connect with people that are actually doing just that. In my case, I'm working with a 1.5 acre semi-rural property my mother who is following along through me is 1 acre, my aunt who is picking up things here and there from us is in a town. I would love to be able to see something that's in a city... So on and so on.

Anyways, these are just some of my random morning coffee time thoughts about the whole time is my main 'thinking' time. :) Would love to get some feedback on them. Gotta move on and finish my map so I can post it!!

Cheers for now,