Intensive Permaculture Design Course Spring 2019

Our spring Intensive Permaculture Design Course will be held April 16-28, 2019 (You will be off Easter Sunday.) It is our 24th design course.

This is an intensive two week course held at our permaculture farm 1 hour north of Tampa and about 20 minutes from Weeki Wachee, FL. Students will have the opportunity to participate with and observe permaculture systems installation and operate in an immersive environment, including appropriate tech, innovative greenhouse solutions, perennial food systems, animals, solar and more. This is a small, diverse farm with many different elements and examples of permaculture that can be translated to a wide variety of settings, urban or rural. The course will address strategies and techniques for both urban and rural areas in different climates and circumstances. We will be midst setting up new food production systems and water catchment systems during the course (with our staff and volunteer crew) and students will have the opportunity for daily hands on involvement with a number of farm tasks and ongoing installations.

The farm is located in a unique sandhill pine-oak ecosystem in Florida. We have many beautiful oak and pine trees on the site, native wildlife including protected species, and wild edibles such as pawpaws, wild cherry, and dewberries. In addition we have chickens and bees. We have many beautiful parks nearby including springs that manatees visit regularly, rivers, bike trails, and the Gulf of Mexico.

Instructors: Koreen Brennan, Steve Szmidt others TBA.

Location:

Our Permaculture Farm
11251 Salina St
Brooksville, FL 34614

A one day field trip visiting urban sites will be made in March, date to be announced. PDC students attend at no extra charge, others pay $35.

Apprenticeship opportunities will be available after the training, for those who would like to delve more deeply into applying what they’ve learned.

For people who may have difficulty spending all 13 days on the design course, we have options to let you catch up on some days. Note the class runs between 9am and 5pm so you can commute if you are not too far away. Typical travel time from St Petersburg is about 75 minutes up 275 and then either 589 or 75. Tampa is similar and of course traffic may extend the drive time. It's about 90 minutes from Orlando.

By cooperating with nature and her energies, we are able to design human systems, from backyards to neighborhoods, farms or even cities to be more abundant, more long lasting, more ethical, healthier for all life in the system, and more enjoyable. Permaculture is a cutting edge approach to living that helps both people and the environment.

The training is designed to offer multiple opportunities including career mentoring and pathways, community building opportunities, resource networking, skill building, as well as what is for many, a life changing experience. We will offer written materials and study aids and exercises before the course and urge students to use them, as you will get much more out of the course.

Some of the subjects covered include:

Permaculture design ethics and principles.
Master planning and site analysis.
Reading the landscape.
Pattern recognition in nature and society.
Organic, intensive gardening and farming.
Edible landscaping, food in small spaces.
Soil building.
Composting and vermicomposting.
Designing sustainable water use.
Water harvesting and greywater techniques.
Building food forests.
Agroforestry and ecoagriculture.
Aquaculture.
Alternative pest management.
Natural building, regenerative building technology.
Reducing energy costs in your home.
Best forms of alternative energy.
Appropriate technology including solar.
Self-reliant living, urban and rural strategies.
Boosting your career with permaculture.
Sustainable economies.
Increasing quality of life through “placemaking” design.
Community revitalization and rebuilding.
Successful strategies for intentional communities, ecovillages and cohousing, urban and rural.

This course exceeds the requirements laid out by permaculture founder Bill Mollison for the internationally recognized 72 hour Permaculture Design Course. The training provides a deep and wide overview of permaculture design, focusing on skill sets you can apply immediately. It is a thorough introduction to a subject that has many levels and areas of expertise and professional practice. Further study is available through our apprenticeship programs and advanced study.

Who Takes This Permaculture Design Course?

Artists.
Community activists.
Do it yourselfers.
Educators – homeschool, teachers, professors.
Environmentalists.
Gardeners.
Green architects/builders.
Green consultants.
Homesteaders.
Landscapers.
Natural health practitioners.
Non-profit/community organizers.
People who care about the earth and each other.
People who love healthy food.
Permaculturists.
Policy makers.
Professionals (of many types).
Recent college graduates.
Students.
Urban and rural farmers.
Vegan, raw food, slow food, and/or local food.
Yoga practitioners.

Early bird course fee of $995 is available until Dec 1, 2018. The full rate is $1,495. This fee covers all costs, including materials, three healthy meals per day and a place to pitch your tent. Our courses are an investment in yourself and your future - you will make and save far more than the course cost, to the degree you use the information in the course. A non refundable deposit of $400 will hold your spot. Please have your full payment in no later than March 1. Family discount of 50% off is available for partner or family member.

To register for the course, pay via our PayPal's Buy Now button on the right side of our Grow Permaculture web page. Enter the date and name of the course in Paypal. We offer a limited number of partial scholarships, workstudies and free passes.

For questions or to register outside of PayPal, contact Steve at: 727-495-6145 or courseinfo@growpermaculture.com.

Camping is available on the farm if you bring your own tent or camper. An RV spot may be available, we only offer electric hookup, you need a 50' extension cord. On occasion a room is available in the house. Motels are nearby as are usually Air B&B.

Testimonials:

“This course changed my life forever. It changed the way I look at everything, and gave me tools to address problems I thought had no solutions. It reinvigorated my connection to, respect for and love of the natural world and increased my understanding of it tremendously. It made me feel powerful and able to change things rather than helpless or apathetic. It gave me hope again, a renewed purpose for life and so many tools that I never dreamed existed! It brought back magic to my life, lightness, and fun!”

“Realization: Permaculture is a thought process that can be applied to all systems.”

“This course is the most exciting one I’ve ever attended because it’s all about finding solutions and connecting people together.”

"I found this course to be very intense and comprehensive. At first it was a bit overwhelming but the key points were repeated over and over as the course progressed. About halfway thru the pieces started to fit together. Then we got lots of real universe examples of existing permaculture farms and installations. Discussion made me start to think about application and discern the successful from the less or non-successful."

"The comprehensive dovetailing of skills, data and disciplines which then got used to create a design came together so beautifully - I know I can do this now.

It’s like a giant puzzle that you work and work till all the pieces fit . It changed my thinking and made me so much more aware. I believe that I am more responsible, aware and empowered from knowing what I now know. And there’s hope for the future.

I also feel I have met my GROUP! The friendships and contacts I’ve made on this course will be for a lifetime. "

“I’ve had my permaculture friends tell me this course changed their life. I never understood why, or what the fuss was about, until I did the course myself. It is a paradigm shift to a much nicer and better paradigm. Don’t hesitate to do this course!”

"I would highly recommend this course, taught by Koreen and her associates to anyone who has great concern for the future of this planet and the destructive path it is on."

"Permaculture is the solution we have all been waiting for. As permaculturists, “We are the ones we have been waiting for” to save ourselves from ourselves. Koreen is incredibly knowledgeable and has experienced many areas of the world first hand.

If you have been feeling at a loss and discouraged this is your last chance to educate yourself as if the earth herself were revealing her deepest secrets on how you can help her.

This is what permaculture is.

Grow Permaculture far exceeded my expectations, even after years of experience working with organic gardening methods already."

"I really enjoyed the whole PDC experience. I knew I would, but it was even better than I had thought. I loved the detailed theoretical classes in which I learned how to build soil, how to make it faster than it would happen naturally, how plants benefit each other. I also liked the hands on experiences a lot, it made many concepts so much clearer. I enjoyed the teacher’s methods, and the warmth of the teachers’ helpers. It was a learning experience in every single level not to mention a great opportunity to meet nice people and grow. Thanks!!!"

Grow Permaculture is a professional permaculture design organization that does consulting, design work, and education for a variety of projects. We have a permaculture farm near Brooksville and an abundant urban site in the Tampa Bay area. We create guilds with community, business and other human elements as well as with trees. We are invested in co-creating our local community to be everything it can be. We feel fortunate to have the opportunity to co-create an intentional community and weave beneficial connection into the fabric of everything, regenerating both human culture and the natural world in the process.

Urban Permaculture Design Course 2019

Urban Permaculture Design Course starting weekend January 5, 2019 This is Grow Permaculture’s 22nd internationally recognized Permaculture Design Course, based on Bill Mollison’s work. This course will unfold on the first weekend of each month over six months, Jan 5 through June 2, held at Moccasin Lake Nature Preserve in Clearwater, FL and other nearby locations. Carpools and housing may be available if you are coming from other parts of Florida, please check with us. By cooperating with nature and her energies, we are able to design our lives, from backyard gardens and food forests to neighborhoods, farms or even cities to be more abundant, more sustainable, healthier, and more enjoyable. It is a cutting edge approach to living that helps both people and the environment. This course is life changing for many people. The course is designed to offer multiple opportunities including career mentoring and pathways, community building opportunities, resource networking, and skill building. It is extended over five months to give students maximum time to absorb the information and put it into practice. This schedule also allows people with busy schedules to take the course. It is also possible to make up classes if one cannot make every weekend. The course will meet the first weekend of every month. There are volumes of material on permaculture on the internet. Our course offers focused and relevant written material, hands on practice, and interactive learning that will aid students to master key concepts. Materials are designed to guide students in continuing their education after the course, and we also offer apprenticeship opportunities. Instructors are veteran, professional designers and educators who have a wide range of on-the-ground design experience; this experience can help you shorten your learning curve, time, and expense significantly. Instructors: Koreen Brennan, others to be announced. We continue to refine and expand our curriculum based on feedback from dozens of students regarding what helps them learn best. We incorporate multiple learning styles including hands on, visual aids, immersion, lecture, interaction, and more. Our choice of materials, videos, expert speakers, field trips, focused hands on activities (that give you step by step useful skill sets), Florida-specific information, written materials, networking and career opportunities, and design tools are the result of this feedback. We live in this community and care about its future and we continue to work with graduates in the community to create something better, together. Homes, work places, gardens, farms, ranches, communities, businesses, local economies, or cities that are designed with permaculture principles and techniques are more resilient; they use resources in a regenerative way, ensuring that we, our children and our grandchildren will have access to all the resources we need. By incorporating people care into the equation, this process becomes deeply enjoyable too. This course attracts students from all over Florida and beyond. Carpooling is often available, and housing can usually be arranged (in a graduate's home in the area usually). Students meet others who think like they do, and often make life long friendships during the course; some find new career or lifestyle opportunities. Be the change you would like to see, and be effective at it, by designing that change!  

Some of the subjects covered include:

  • Permaculture design ethics and principles.
  • Creating abundance with natural patterns.
  • Nutrient dense "beyond organic" gardening and farming.
  • Grow more food with less work by working with nature.
  • Edible landscaping, food in small spaces.
  • Building rich, live soils.
  • Designing sustainable water use.
  • Greywater and rainwater catchment.
  • Building food forests.
  • Agroforestry and ecoagriculture, regenerative farming.
  • Aquaculture.
  • Composting and vermicomposting.
  • Alternative pest management.
  • Natural building, regenerative building technology.
  • Reducing energy costs in your home.
  • Best forms of sustainable energy.
  • Appropriate technology.
  • Boosting your career with permaculture.
  • Sustainable economics.
  • Increasing quality of life through “placemaking” design.
  • Community revitalization and rebuilding.
  • Successful intentional communities, ecovillages and cohousing, urban and rural.
  Take advantage of the early bird rate of $1,095 until Sep 30th. The full rate is $1,295. This cost covers course materials, field trips, snacks and when visiting the farm - lunch, mentoring and all classes. Our courses are an investment in yourself and your future - you will make and save far more than the course cost, to the degree you use the information in the course. A non refundable deposit of $400 will hold your spot. Payment plans, work study and scholarships may be available, please ask. Location:  Moccasin Lake Nature Preserve, Clearwater, FL, and other nearby locations. First weekend of each month Sat & Sun 9am - 5pm. To register for the course, pay via our PayPal button on the right side of this web page. For questions or to register outside of PayPal, contact Steve at: 727-495-6145 or courseinfo@growpermaculture.com.

Who Takes This Permaculture Design Course?

  • Artists.
  • Do it yourselfers.
  • Educators – homeschool, teachers, professors.
  • Gardeners.
  • Green architects/builders.
  • Green businesses.
  • Green consultants.
  • Homesteaders.
  • Landscapers.
  • Natural health practitioners.
  • Non-profit/community organizers.
  • People seeking a career change.
  • People who care about the earth and each other.
  • People who love healthy food.
  • Permaculturists.
  • Policy makers.
  • Professionals (of many types).
  • Recent college graduates.
  • Religious leaders.
  • Students.
  • Urban and rural farmers.
  • Vegan, raw food, slow food, and/or local food.
  • Yoga practitioners.
 

Sat & Sun Course Dates (2019):

  • Jan 5-6.
  • Feb 2-3.
  • Mar 2-3.
  • April 6-7.
  • May 4-5.
  • June 1-2.
There will be additional opportunities for field trips and apprenticeship actions, to be announced.   Here’s what our graduates say:  "This course changed my life forever. It changed the way I look at everything, and gave me tools to address problems I thought had no solutions. It reinvigorated my connection to, respect for and love of the natural world and increased my understanding of it tremendously. It made me feel powerful and able to change things rather than helpless or apathetic. It gave me hope again, a renewed purpose for life and so many tools that I never dreamed existed! It brought back magic to my life, lightness, and fun! GH "This course is the most exciting one I’ve ever attended because it’s all about finding solutions and connecting people together. JJ  "I’ve had my permaculture friends tell me this course changed their life. I never understood why, or what the fuss was about, until I did the course myself. It is a paradigm shift to a much nicer and better paradigm. Don’t hesitate to do this course! DM "I really enjoyed the whole PDC experience. I knew I would, but it was even better than I had thought. I loved the detailed theoretical classes in which I learned how to build soil, how to make it faster than it would happen naturally, how plants benefit each other. I also liked the hands on experiences a lot, it made many concepts so much clearer. I enjoyed the teacher’s methods, and the warmth of the teachers’ helpers. It was a learning experience in every single level not to mention a great opportunity to meet nice people and grow.  Thanks!!! MM  "I am so grateful for your instruction Koreen, truly a wonderful and transformational experience. I will treasure and put in practice the permaculture ethics & principles every day, integrating them in my immediate environment and eventually reach out to my community. Thanks again for the excellent course, honored to have your friendship and be a part of the Grow Permaculture tribe. MO  "After participating in Grow Permaculture’s PDC, I feel confident that I can accurately evaluate a variety of sites and come up with integrated, sustainable designs. LB  "The instructors have a wealth of knowledge and it’s clear they really want to share. I feel confident, after attending their PDC course, that I could make basic designs that would work well for any potential client. Knowing that they will review any plans encourages me to jump right in and design! MN  "The unity of the group was awesome. The shared knowledge very inspiring. Learning this way with the hands on demonstration, I could understand more of the school. And thank you so much for all your teachings and welcoming of my son in the class.  Very grateful, DM  "I would highly recommend this course, taught by Koreen and her associates to anyone who has great concern for the future of this planet and the destructive path it is on. Permaculture is the solution we have all been waiting for. As permaculturists, “We are the ones we have been waiting for” to save ourselves from ourselves. Koreen is incredibly knowledgeable and has experienced many areas of the world first hand. If you have been feeling at a loss and discouraged this is your last chance to educate yourself as if the earth herself were revealing her deepest secrets on how you can help her. This is what permaculture is. Grow Permaculture far exceeded my expectations, even after years of experience working with organic gardening methods already. This is just the tip of the iceberg on how much is available for you to learn as you will find out. The depth of how very differently agriculture and water managment and land useage really need to be can’t be stressed enough. SK  "Thank you very much for this amazing course. The setting was ideal. The fact of being able to practice on real ground was invaluable. The presentation was very lively and instructive and really opened my eyes on how good design takes care of both the earth, the people and creates a surplus without waste. I love permaculture principles and how thoroughly and thoughful they are and how caring. JB  "I am Graduate of Grow Permaculture’s Permaculture Design Course. I am very impressed with the quality and professionalism that I experienced during the course. I learned so much and thoroughly enjoyed every minute. It was a great balance of theory and practical training. I feel very prepared and confident going forward with the new knowledge I have. I have made some very big improvements in the way my company conducts business. Our business is all about tree preservation & creating a healthier planet. I acquired the knowledge and ability to create a “truly” regenerative company. I am very grateful for the expert knowledge, compassion and competence of my teacher & Mentor, Koreen. Thank you for creating a better planet one student at a time. NN  "The value of this course is worth far more than its cost. The knowledge gained is really priceless. There is so much information provided that is life changing and really valuable. I was told that I can save more than the cost of the course if I use only a portion of the information provided. This was true, but what wasn’t said is that I got something from it that is really hard to put a price on which is life long friends, and a new, creative view about life. CS

October 23 – Nov 4, 2018 – Intensive Permaculture Design Course – Our Permaculture Farm, Brooksville.

Our fall Intensive Permaculture Design Course will be held Oct 23-Nov 4, 2017. It is our 21st design course. This is an intensive two week course held at our permaculture farm north of Tampa about 20 minutes from Weeki Wachee, FL. Students will have the opportunity to participate with and observe permaculture systems installation and operate in an immersive environment, including appropriate tech, innovative greenhouse solutions, perennial food systems, animals, solar and more. This is a small, diverse farm with many different elements and examples of permaculture that can be translated to a wide variety of settings, urban or rural. The course will address strategies and techniques for both urban and rural areas in different climates and circumstances. We will be midst setting up new food production systems and water catchment systems during the course (with our staff and volunteer crew) and students will have the opportunity for daily hands on involvement with a number of farm tasks and ongoing installations. The farm is located in a unique sandhill pine-oak ecosystem in Florida. We have many beautiful oak and pine trees on the site, native wildlife including protected species, and wild edibles such as pawpaws, wild cherry, and dewberries. We have many beautiful parks nearby including springs that manatees visit regularly, rivers, bike trails, and the Gulf of Mexico. Instructors: Koreen Brennan, Steve Szmidt others TBA. Location: Our Permaculture Farm 11251 Salina St Brooksville, FL 34614 There will be a one day field trip Oct 22, and there will be apprenticeship opportunities after the training, for those who would like to delve more deeply into applying what they’ve learned. For people who may have difficulty spending all 13 days on the design course, we have options to let you catch up on some days. By cooperating with nature and her energies, we are able to design human systems, from backyards to neighborhoods, farms or even cities to be more abundant, more long lasting, more ethical, healthier for all life in the system, and more enjoyable. Permaculture is a cutting edge approach to living that helps both people and the environment. The training is designed to offer multiple opportunities including career mentoring and pathways, community building opportunities, resource networking, skill building, as well as what is for many, a life changing experience. We will offer written materials and study aids and exercises before the course and urge students to use them, as you will get much more out of the course. If you complete these materials, you will receive three days’ credit and can attend 9 days only. Some of the subjects covered include: Permaculture design ethics and principles Master planning and site analysis Reading the landscape Pattern recognition in nature and society Organic, intensive gardening and farming Edible landscaping, food in small spaces Soil building Composting and vermicomposting Designing sustainable water use Water harvesting and greywater techniques Building food forests Agroforestry and ecoagriculture Aquaculture Alternative pest management Natural building, regenerative building technology Reducing energy costs in your home Best forms of alternative energy Appropriate technology including solar Self-reliant living, urban and rural strategies Boosting your career with permaculture Sustainable economies Increasing quality of life through “placemaking” design Community revitalization and rebuilding Successful strategies for intentional communities, ecovillages and cohousing, urban and rural This course exceeds the requirements laid out by permaculture founder Bill Mollison for the internationally recognized 72 hour Permaculture Design Course. The training provides a deep and wide overview of permaculture design, focusing on skill sets you can apply immediately. It is a thorough introduction to a subject that has many levels and areas of expertise and professional practice. Further study is available through our apprenticeship programs and advanced study. Who Takes This Permaculture Design Course? Artists Community activists Do it yourselfers Educators – homeschool, teachers, professors Environmentalists Gardeners Green architects/builders Green consultants Homesteaders Landscapers Natural health practitioners Non-profit/community organizers People who care about the earth and each other People who love healthy food Permaculturists Policy makers Professionals (of many types) Recent college graduates Students Urban and rural farmers Vegan, raw food, slow food, and/or local food Yoga practitioners Early bird course fee is $1,050 through June 30, 2018. The full rate is $1,395. This fee covers all costs, including materials, three healthy meals per day and camping. Our courses are an investment in yourself and your future - you will make and save far more than the course cost, to the degree you use the information in the course. A non refundable deposit of $300 will hold your spot. Please have your full payment in by Sep 22. To register for the course, pay via our PayPal's Buy Now button on the right side of this web page. We offer a limited number of partial scholarships and work study. For questions or to register outside of PayPal, contact Steve at: 727-495-6145 or courseinfo@growpermaculture.com. Testimonials: “This course changed my life forever. It changed the way I look at everything, and gave me tools to address problems I thought had no solutions. It reinvigorated my connection to, respect for and love of the natural world and increased my understanding of it tremendously. It made me feel powerful and able to change things rather than helpless or apathetic. It gave me hope again, a renewed purpose for life and so many tools that I never dreamed existed! It brought back magic to my life, lightness, and fun!” “Realization: Permaculture is a thought process that can be applied to all systems.” “This course is the most exciting one I’ve ever attended because it’s all about finding solutions and connecting people together.” "I found this course to be very intense and comprehensive. At first it was a bit overwhelming but the key points were repeated over and over as the course progressed. About halfway thru the pieces started to fit together. Then we got lots of real universe examples of existing permaculture farms and installations. Discussion made me start to think about application and discern the successful from the less or non-successful." "The comprehensive dovetailing of skills, data and disciplines which then got used to create a design came together so beautifully - I know I can do this now. It’s like a giant puzzle that you work and work till all the pieces fit . It changed my thinking and made me so much more aware. I believe that I am more responsible, aware and empowered from knowing what I now know. And there’s hope for the future. I also feel I have met my GROUP! The friendships and contacts I’ve made on this course will be for a lifetime. " “I’ve had my permaculture friends tell me this course changed their life. I never understood why, or what the fuss was about, until I did the course myself. It is a paradigm shift to a much nicer and better paradigm. Don’t hesitate to do this course!” "I would highly recommend this course, taught by Koreen and her associates to anyone who has great concern for the future of this planet and the destructive path it is on." "Permaculture is the solution we have all been waiting for. As permaculturists, “We are the ones we have been waiting for” to save ourselves from ourselves. Koreen is incredibly knowledgeable and has experienced many areas of the world first hand. If you have been feeling at a loss and discouraged this is your last chance to educate yourself as if the earth herself were revealing her deepest secrets on how you can help her. This is what permaculture is. Grow Permaculture far exceeded my expectations, even after years of experience working with organic gardening methods already." "I really enjoyed the whole PDC experience. I knew I would, but it was even better than I had thought. I loved the detailed theoretical classes in which I learned how to build soil, how to make it faster than it would happen naturally, how plants benefit each other. I also liked the hands on experiences a lot, it made many concepts so much clearer. I enjoyed the teacher’s methods, and the warmth of the teachers’ helpers. It was a learning experience in every single level not to mention a great opportunity to meet nice people and grow. Thanks!!!" Grow Permaculture is a professional permaculture design organization that does consulting, design work, and education for a variety of projects. We have a permaculture farm near Brooksville and an abundant urban site in the Tampa Bay area. We create guilds with community, business and other human elements as well as with trees. We are invested in co-creating our local community to be everything it can be. We feel fortunate to have the opportunity to co-create an intentional community and weave beneficial connection into the fabric of everything, regenerating both human culture and the natural world in the process.

Edible Landscaping – March 17, 2018

Edible Landscape Design We will focus on basics you need to know in order to grow food in Florida. Learn: Top plants to use for Southwest Florida edible landscaping - beautiful, easy to grow, high in nutrition, and delicious Basics of soil building and composting Basics of propagating and growing from seed Hands on work in the garden and food forest Florida-friendly “no-watering or low-watering” methods of planting Strategies for a relatively carefree garden Take home an edible plant for your landscape! Cost: $25 Time: 1-4 PM Date: March 17, 2018 Location: Our Permaculture Farm, 11251 Salina St, Brooksville, FL 34614

Growing Food Abundantly – March 3-4, 2018

This is a stand alone weekend workshop that is also part of the Permaculture Design Course. Attend this workshop if you want to learn more about food forests, growing food from seed to harvest, and other aspects of regenerative gardening and farming. This workshop will happen at our 10 acre permaculture farm in Brooksville. You will see gardens and a young food forest in action as well as our soil building methods. We will cover why food forests work and how to make plant choices, create plant guilds, etc. We will go over specific permaculture plants that are great for Florida edible landscapes and get hands on experience from planting seeds to trees. Cost: $195 When: March 3-4, 9AM- 5PM Where: Our Permaculture Farm - 11251 Salina St, Brooksville, 34614

Benefit Corporations – are they a solution?

What if corporations had to prove they were having a net and material positive impact on society and the environment? A Benefit, or "B" Corporation status is a relatively new legal structure for public corporations available in some, but not all states. It addresses some of the most problematic corporate law that encourages businesses to operate criminally. It isn't a full solution but a step in the right direction. "The  purpose of a benefit corporation is to create general public benefit, which is defined as a material positive impact on society and the environment." (Wikepedia) What if all corporations had to demonstrate twice yearly in a questionnaire that their operations were having a material positive impact on society and the environment?  What if shareholders had to demand that of the company they invested in? This is a paradigm shift from the current model, where shareholders can and do sue companies that put people or the planet ahead of next quarter's profits. Of course, material positive impact is a relative term. But B Lab, the non-profit behind the creation of B Corporate structure appears serious about addressing environmental and social issues. http://www.bcorporation.net/ This legal structure allows corporations who feel that people and planet are important to make a public statement about that. It also protects them from greedy shareholders who could cut across the ability of the company to make positive environmental and social decisions if it affects profits. The concept of passive investors who do nothing but rake in profits and who feel entitled to as many profits as possible needs to be seriously questioned. It is not a sustainable paradigm because it rewards and encourages criminal behavior from many angles.  But Benefit Corporations are a step in the right direction. And well known companies such as Patagonia and Ben and Jerrys are taking the lead. http://www.patagonia.com/us/patagonia.go?assetid=68413 Another relatively new legal structure, for privately held companies, is the L3C.  A gradient step between for profit and non profit corporations, this structure allows a privately held, for profit company to accept money from both investors and grants/foundations.  It is a “low profit” corporation, operating much as a non profit, but retaining for profit abilities. This structure was created to meet the needs of "social entrepreneurs" who run businesses that have positive social and environmental purposes. All in all, it's good to see some people in the business community working to come up with solutions to existing structures that encourage destructive, irresponsible and criminal behavior. Much more work is needed, in every sector.

Kickstarter campaign for Pine Ridge

We're doing another Kickstarter campaign for Pine Ridge this year to pay for irrigation, fixing up housing and a number of other projects we have ongoing. See our photos, stories and more at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/892430421/permablitz-for-pine-ridge-reservation-2013. Our intention is to contribute to the creation of food and water sovereignty, healthy shelter and alternative energy  on the reservation.

Pine Ridge reservation food forests

It's almost May, there is two feet of snow in the swales we dug in 2011 at Pine Ridge, and we might get there this year just in time to hit yet another snow storm.  But we have plenty of blankets and layers; we have shovels and other tools; we're bringing up some hard to get plants in a trailer; we're going to plant 500 trees there this year. Plus get a beehive going, create some rainwater catchment, fill a pond, and anything else we have the resources and manpower to complete. Food forests at Pine Ridge reservation are full of metaphor. The Lakota have experienced a long history of  sabotage of their food supply.  Pine Ridge has recently declared itself sovereign.  There is a place in that for the seven generation food and water security that can be created by a food forest.  Food forests can create calm amidst storm; they are resilient for generations. There is a spirit to Pine Ridge that keeps us coming back for more. It's hard to describe. People have tried. You have to read between the lines to see it, without going there yourself and experiencing it. As we are getting ready for our yearly trip, we started thinking about some of the highlights of last year’s journey in May of 2012. About how the badlands looked with the sun setting on them when we were driving from Rapid City to Thunder Valley with a car stuffed so full of plants it felt like a jungle in there. How the wind blew so hard one day you could stand at a 45 degree angle and not fall down and how we still dug trench and laid irrigation, leaning sideways. It was kind of fun. You could yell and the wind would take your voice somewhere into the next field, but the person next to you couldn’t hear you too well. How the wind blew kept blowing so hard it shredded not one, but two of my tents! Both of them! And then someone just gave me a tent out of the blue. Which was low profile, thankfully (I know this secret well, having spent a month with my high profile tent wall resting on my face whenever the wind blew, the first year I stayed there – it miraculously did not shred or break). I had loaned my low profile to someone else so was using one of those high profile family sized jobs that someone loaned me – which does not work at Pine Ridge – do not bring!  LOL. Do not bring! How the high school group that was there helping us dig trench in the sleet (yes, it sleeted and froze after the frost date of May 15, and after we planted tomatoes for Kimilelee that all died 🙁 got smart and used their cars and vans as wind breaks for their tents. They made a guild, while we, on the other hand, were scattered about like random, forlorn fruit trees with no skirt or blanket, or like stranger cats at opposite ends of the yard with their backs turned on each other in a snow storm.  (Pine Ridge kind of has a way of making you want to enjoy all that wide open prairie space, so we pitch our tents all over the field and embrace the weather) How most of the volunteers who said they would come, didn’t show up, and we ended up with between three and six (at various times) super intrepid tree-hole-digging souls who we will love forever and ever. 😀 How I walked the field where we planted hundreds of honey locusts the year before, that didn’t get any water because the water tank broke, and they were still alive – I saw their buds just starting to come out and jumped and danced around them for joy. How we helped set up the garden at the jail and planted  a bunch of golden currants for a border and I’m thinking, I gotta come back when these are in season and taste at least just one because I’ve never had one. How intrigued I am by the berries that grow in colder climates that I’ve never tried! How we stopped at a grocery store on the reservation and they had three shelves of white bread, and the only fresh food was one orange and one apple. And the closest place to buy fresh or organic food is 100 miles away in Rapid City. How much the kids loved watering the plants. How big the sky is, how many stars you can see, and how the 80 mile 360 degree clear view of the lands from Slim Butte looks. How Bryan from Oglala Lakota Cultural and Economic Revitalization Initiative always comes up with these brilliant engineering ideas for things he has never dealt with before, but he just “sees” it, and how he then turns around and comes up with a brilliant idea for some issue in the community – such a well rounded genius. How so many people helped us – how Dave Jacke sent us some awesome food forest plants, how Oikos and Bountiful Gardens donated some beautiful trees and bushes, how people who don’t know us from Adam believed in us and made it happen (and we could not have done nearly as much as we did without all of that). How children were gently helped and encouraged to be a part of everything and how the kids had some serious skill sets at pretty young ages. How Nick and Scott took people who came to visit Thunder Valley out back to the food forest to eat leaves off the linden tree, just to see their expression. J How they were so helpful – how they got somebody out to dig a pond on really short notice, and how they made it happen to move and plant four 170 pound trees and how enthusiastic and engaged in creating resilience on the reservation.  And how big the scope and breadth of their dream is. How hard working and dedicated Shannon from Earth Tipi is, how much she has gotten done and she is still going. How we would look up from digging and planting trees and there would be a horse at full gallop with a bareback rider, streaming by in the ditch. Or we were driving home one day and there was a Lakota in full headdress, riding down the highway bareback on a horse. How, when we’re planting the butternut trees, we’re thinking – these trees will be here ten generations from now, still bearing food. We’re thinking of how the soil will be built over time, the temperatures modified, the wind calmed in the leaves. And how that center of calm  abundance can spread outward once it is established. How beautiful the apple tree buds looked when they started coming out. And how alive all the plants looked, and what a nice mix of plants we were able to get: serviceberries, nanking cherries, goldenberries, butternuts, cold tolerant pecans, hazels, three kinds of apple, pear, plum, apricot, goji berry, gooseberry, raspberries, buffalo berry, Siberian pea shrub, lilac, linden, pine, cottonwood, honey locust. How one day when we were exhausted and still had lots of stuff to plant, and wondering how we got ourselves into this. We get out of the car, and a bald eagle circles above us three times, pretty low so we could see all the colors and feathers and his expression, and then soars off to the east. And we wondered in a different way then, and got to work.

Living Bridges – permaculture design inspiration

Living bridge in Meghalaya, India

Living bridge in Meghalaya, India

This is a wonderful example of the type of design solution we are interested in accomplishing with permaculture. Working with nature, rather than against her, the people of Meghalaya in India have created a beautiful design for a bridge that will survive heavy flooding. This is an exquisitely  aesthetic and informative 5 minute video that you won't regret viewing, or forget!  How could we incorporate the lessons of this amazing design solution? https://mail.google.com/mail/?shva=1#inbox/13a16e6996096942

Using compost to heat buildings

The Japanese have created a model tea house that is heated with compost in the walls with pipes running through it. It is an elegant design that could be replicated  in cob houses and other natural building, greenhouses, or other types of buildings. It's good to see the concept is spreading.  We have seen several working compost showers.  How could you capture the heat in your compost pile? bakoko-comploo-composting-shelter1 The link below has more information on the tea house. http://inhabitat.com/circular-pod-tea-house-is-heated-by-compost/

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