This course covers the philosophy of teaching including the following:
What you will be doing as a permaculture teacher; who you are likely to be teaching, being granted the permission and authorization to teach and how that works in the permaculture movement.
We address the different learning styles of students and how to evaluate the results of your teaching. It will help you to answer the question: Is your teaching working and how do you incorporate feedback that is received into your teaching. We explain different delivery techniques how you can develop your repertoire and style through actual practice teaching. I, Geoff Lawton, will observe and critique your teaching style in order to bring out your teaching personality. This will help to make you comfortable with yourself as the teacher.
What’s interesting about our interview is it was supposed to be 15-20 minutes of time, not impose on Geoff’s schedule & to really get an update on his upcoming projects which I was sure everyone wanted to hear about. What was interesting was that I initially ended up interviewing Latifa, Geoff’s 5-year-old daughter, and then having my 4-year-old boy hijack my interview with her and conduct his own. I started and restarted the tape in hopes of getting a starting point. I’ll tape those cuts of the two of them being extraordinarily cute sometime soon, but a ways into it I was able to signal with the tape recorder and start an interview with Geoff – our children having grown bored of the novelty. I was sad I lost Nadia; I had hoped to include her, but Skype calls and interviews in general are unwieldy things by nature unless you have a rigid structure and children that don’t require you to monitor them. When both sides of the call settled down, Geoff and I were able to have a unique conversation, not about “the definition of permaculture”, but about what is coming up!
Mushroom cultivation is an intricate, but rewarding art. The fungal networks called mycelium need specific conditions to produce healthy mushrooms. If the conditions are off, the mycelium will be too busy fighting microbes to produce healthy fruiting mushrooms. For the beginner, I recommend a mushroom growing kit. These kits come with a pasteurized substrate, grain spawn, and a suitable container for cultivation. These kits provide novice growers the opportunity to go through the steps of growing mushrooms with little risk of contamination. The resourceful and bold can gather and pasteurize their own substrate, although I would recommend buying mushroom spawn for first timers. The cultivation of spawn is a time consuming process. In this article, I will cover how to grow mushroom on substrate. Mushrooms can also be grow on logs, but that will not be covered in this article. I will also demonstrate mycological applications beyond growing edible and medicinal mushrooms.
Do you want to see a peek into the future? Imagine a 50,000 square foot industrial building that is hyper-insulated with running costs of only $300 per year.
Sounds incredible doesn’t it? Well then take a look at this Industrial Permaculture place built by the Hunt Utilities Group in Minnesota. They are making appropriate technologies at an industrial scale that can also be applied to an everyday domestic house. Geoff Lawton explains how they did it and how this employer grows all their own food – for the workers. See how this degraded saw mill has transformed into the sustainable answer to future housing.
California’s epic drought began in July 2011 and continues to make life increasingly difficult for its residents as the flow of the water diminishes to a trickle. California has a climate that is classified as Mediterranean partially because the majority of the precipitation accumulates from October to March, when greater than 80% of the state’s rainfall occurs. After an insignificant amount of rainfall in the wet season we are now entering the state’s dry season with little hope for much needed rain. According to Brad Rippey, a meteorologist who works for the United States Dept. of Agriculture (USDA), “it’s very difficult to get significant changes in the drought picture during the warm season.” Then Rippey ominously stated that “even when it rains during the summer, evaporation due to high temperatures largely offsets any accumulation.”
This spells trouble for Californians as they head into the driest months of the year as the drought now enters its fourth year of arid constriction. Over the course of the drought Californians have been asked to make increasingly deeper sacrifices in order to save water. In early April Governor Jerry Brown was forced to announce a severe decree: Californians must cut back consumption by 25%. Although he has received an outpouring of support for his decision there is still much head-scratching about how he will implement this lofty goal and efficiently enforce these restrictions. With many Californians feeling the pinch there are many measures that are being employed to curb consumption. People are replacing their lawns with Astroturf or other plants that are more suited to arid climates. Brian Milne of Paso Robles boasts of having “the brownest lawn on the block,” something that was once a form of shame is now worn by conscientious Californians with honor, when asked about his lawn Milne says, “I’m proud of it.” Other Californians are refitting their houses with new water-saving appliances such as low flow toilets and water pumps to conserve as much as possible. For example, Catherine Trainor, a Startup Entrepreneur in Oakland, says that she bought a pump so, “that each time we take a bath we can pump that water into a hose to water the plants with.” It is clear that many in the state are struggling to make the necessary sacrifices to conserve water, but is anyone benefitting from the drought?
My wife Emma and I have recently been offered roles in two separately exciting projects that are striving to bring permaculture to two very different audiences. One is working with an indigenous community near (as in a two-and-a-half hour bus ride, crossing rivers that have no bridges, into the thick of the jungle) Rio Dulce, Guatemala, one of the most bio-diverse stretches of land on the planet. The other is developing a curriculum for summer camp, “Green Camp”, for a private school in Guatemala’s tourism (and expat) capital, Antigua.
We are immensely pleased to be part of both of them, to hopefully share the upcoming experiences with readers at Permaculture News and to most definitely share ideas of permaculture with new students and friends. To get the ball rolling, I wanted to write a bit about what I know is happening with permaculture in other parts of Guatemala, as well as explain our projects, both of which have recently begun. There will be useful links, witty turns of phrase, and all those great things.
After writing The Permaculture Student (www.thepermaculturestudent.com), I soon realized that just having a permaculture class in traditional schools wasn’t enough, we needed schools that were entirely dedicated to teaching permaculture to children the full academic year and not in summer. In my research and education, I also have come to realize that we cannot force anyone to learn anything, that all is choice-based if we are seeking true intent, and if we do not recognize and design choice into our learning systems, we will never develop the earnest and ethical life-long learners, problem-solvers, critical thinkers & innovators we sorely need.
We’re heading back to Christmas Hills. Site of our amazing 5 week workshop back in March. This time we’ll be completing a Mudbrick, Cob, Timber, Glass and Recycled bottle wall studio with huge round sliding windows and an amazing arched door, with a stilted deck.
Join us for hands on building and theory about everything you need to know to build your own natural home on a small budget. We’ll be completing the structure, rendering the walls, and teaching you about earthen floors, waterproofing, creative carpentry, foundations, doors, windows and making decorative walls using cob and recycled materials.
All situated at this amazing community full of inspiring natural building projects (earthbag vault, geodesic dome, pizza oven, rocket mass heater, yurt, tipi, train carriage house, shipping container house and other carpentry wonders).
I live in Washington State, USA, and you may already know that we’re experiencing a state-wide drought. This is shocking: everyone jokes about how it’s always raining, so you’re lucky if you get a tan, but it hasn’t rained as much lately. Supposedly we were going to have the same amount of rain but the snowpack would be depleted, which in turn affects the rivers and creeks, but I’ve noticed we’ve had less rain, and a hotter sun.
Some people I’ve talked to are getting to the point where they consider it par for the course, and are shrugging it off as if to say, what are we supposed to do about it? Others are searching for solutions, and are finding them in permaculture systems.
I’ve been worried about what drought, wildfires, and climate change in general will mean for food security and rising grocery store prices. Even the lushest areas of Washington have a high risk of wildfire this year, and other states in the US struggle with drought, raised risk of wildfire, and are voicing concerns about what this means for resource management. Oregon, Idaho, California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, and South Dakota are all being asked to respond.
As far as food goes, I’ve already noticed produce getting more expensive and it’s only encouraged me to take the matter into my own hands. Look, the point of this article isn’t to scare you, and anyways, you and I both know there’s a solution.
In my previous article, we explored how the basic principle of water is that of flow, and so in order to work well with water it is important to be aware of what the flow is and where it is going. On a practical level, this involves some basic observation and a wealth of techniques which can be used to help utilise water to the advantage of your garden or farm.
One technique that is quite well discussed in the world of permaculture, though in my experience relatively unknown anywhere else, is the use of swales. Here I will share some practical tips for creating swales and optimising the flow of water.
The five-fold path to water wisdom
One of the most useful references I find is Toby Hemenway’s book Gaia’s Garden (2), in which he recommends five practical steps to conserving water: high organic-matter content, deep mulching, locating plants according to water needs, and soil contouring (2). This article will concentrate on soil contouring; however, it is prudent to bear the other four in mind during your design process, as part of the ‘multiple elements for each function’ principle.
‘Abundance’ is a hallowed concept in Permaculture. Abundance is what we permaculturalists aim for: abundant, multifarious yields of fruits, nuts, herbs, medicines, fibres… all things useful and edible.
The way I see it abundance is nature’s reward for careful, insightful design work. I like abundance. As a form of feedback it tells us we’re doing something right. In my mind the word ‘abundance’ conjures up the world of Sofia Coppola’s gorgeously realised period-extravaganza: Marie Antoinette. The costumes, designs and settings in this film reek of opulence. They’re sumptuous. Abundant!