Category Archives: Blog

Not Everyone Needs to be a Farmer

Larry Santoyo was a guest teacher at my PDC. He wanted us to understand that not everyone needs to be a farmer. Permaculture is such a huge beast. Because it is mostly taught as a design system for horticultural systems, students tend to be overwhelmed with how much they need to learn. I’m sure many struggle with the question of weather or not they want to learn what is required to be a farmer.

Larry said, “You don’t do Permaculture, you use it in what you do”. It is a decision making frame work for coming up with solutions. The solutions may be how to travel to New York City, how to design a small bio-plastics, or to slowly build a 200 acre food forest.

While listening to the Permaculture Voices podcast the other day, Diego was talking to Joel Salatin, and in the conversation there didn’t appear to be room for people who didn’t want to be farmers. This is a problem that we should stay aware of. (I’m sure both Joel and Diego are aware of this already.)

Yes, we need more young farmers.

Yes, the ecological crisis on our spaceship is bad enough that we need all hands on deck.

No, we don’t need the 99% all producing food.

We need Bio-remediation experts, bio-plastics researchers, greenhouse designers, educators, philosophers, adventurers, musicians, metal workers, and shamans (or priests depending on your personal preference).

So, we don’t all need to be farmers,

What we need is to find out what our gift is at this time, and then how we want to share it with the world. What is your passion, what are you interested in? Dig in, start slow and small. Integrate, and see what happens.

Permaculture in a New Place – Find Your watershed!

John Constable (British, 1776 - 1837 ), Wivenhoe Park, Essex, 1816, oil on canvas, Widener Collection

John Constable – Canvas – 1816

When you move to a new area, it takes just a little bit of effort to become oriented to the new eco-system and reap the rewards (Obtain a Yield). 

I moved to Breckenridge, Colorado a few weeks ago, and I’m stoked! Breck is a ski town at 9,600′ above sea level. This can mean a number of things for permaculturalists including dry air, dry soil,  shorter growing season and variable water levels. For me it means a ton of fun and some interesting R+D challenges.

One of the first and most valuable things I did so far was to find out about the watershed here. Mine is the Blue River Watershed and it has a Non-profit doing work to protect and restore it. Ecstatic that the headquarters for the group is only a few miles down the road from my place.

As designers, we want to place elements in their best relative positions. Perhaps it is too dry for flora or fauna in one gully, and maybe we want to side step an upstream EPA Super Fund site. Maybe if we slide over a little bit, we’ll be at less risk for fire damage.

All worth things of considering, and if you want to get involved with some permaculture oriented projects, it is very valuable to know where the water goes.

Here are some links you can use to find out more about water where you live.
EPA – Surf Your Watershed
USGS – Science in Your Watershed – Advanced GIS tools for watershed mapping if you want to geek out! – Percipitation maps – Customizable maps!!

P.S. – In Colorado we have some draconian laws regarding water management. The enforcement budget for these laws is near zero.