Elements of Permaculture

This course will serve as an introduction to permaculture, the regenerative design practice for everything from gardens to government that integrates the needs and gifts of humans and the land.  We will cover the basics of permaculture design, the ethics of regenerative land use, conventions of site design, and various sets of permacultural design principles.   Recognizing and working with patterns in the natural world will be a recurring theme throughout the course.  We will address water, its chemistry and the collection and use of it in greywater systems, keyline swales, irrigation systems, aquaculture, and more.  We will discuss soil chemistry and ecology, mycoremediation, compost, mulch, and other earth-related topics.  The course will cover different types of plants, from fruit trees to groundcovers, insectaries to dynamic accumulators, and their roles in forest gardens, woodlots, hedgerows, and gardens.  We’ll spend some time practicing skills for wildcrafting, a catch-all term that refers to everything from herbal medicine to basketry.  We’ll also address the built environment, and talk about different natural building techniques and green architecture, as well as appropriate technology.  We’ll discuss ways to apply permaculture design in the social sphere, in various human-altered environments from urban to rural.  Additionally, we will be covering a miscellaneous collection of skills, from weather prediction to animal tracking, integrated pest management to dealing with catastrophic climate change.

Students will practice these skills by working in groups throughout the season to create their own site design, both in and outside of class.

Throughout the course I will be drawing on a diversity of philosophies and knowledge bases, from Western science to traditional Maidu, Mohawk, Navajo, and Hopi ecologies.  Guest teachers will provide a variety of voices from many and varied cultural and experiential perspectives.

This course will run for 8 weeks, from June 19th – August 7th.  Each class will meet on Saturday morning at 9:00 for approximately three hours.  Every class will involve time spent both inside and out, so plan on dressing appropriately for the weather.

Registration cost for this course is on a sliding scale, $20 – $50.  Nobody will be turned away for want of funds.  As a course like this one usually costs between $300 – $1,000, at the end of the course we are inviting all participants to donate as much as they think this time was worth to them.  Proceeds go to the Taala Hooghan Infoshop to help them build up their community garden and community gathering space.

Individuals with all levels of prior experience are welcome.  Whether you’re a master gardener or are puzzled by which end of a post-hole-digger to grab, your enthusiasm and unique perspective will greatly enrich the experience of the group!


June 19th: Patterns & Paths

Introduction to Permaculture, Design Process, Patterns in Nature, Pattern Language, Observation Skills

June 26th: Designing for Place

Keystone Species, Permaculture Ethics, Zone & Sector, Permaculture Principles

July 3rd: No Class; 4th of July

July 10th: The Skin of the World

Soil Ecology, Compost, Fungi & Mycoremediation, Water Catchment, Irrigation, Greywater Systems, Water and Topography

Field Trip: Josh Robinson’s water-wise garden, Flagstaff

July 17th: Plants & People

Ecological Equivalents, Guilds, Succession Ecology, Polycultures, Urban Succession, Community Gardens

Field Trip: SSLUG Garden, Meredith Hartwell’s home garden, Flagstaff

July 24th: The Forest and the Trees

Traditional North American Forest Care, Orchard Layout, Forest Gardens, Agroforestry, Wildcrafting

Field Trip: Chris Anderson’s forest garden, Sedona

July 31st: History, Agriculture & Human Beings

Chemistry & Biology of Agriculture, Ecological History of Agriculture, New World & Old World Farming

August 7th: Local Land Care

Ecological History, Challenges and Boons to Living Near the Peaks, Traditional Hopi Farming

August 14th: Living Here

Tour of Design Sites, Native Plant Walk, Feasting

Field Trip: Flagstaff Urban Trail, with Jessa Fisher

All topics subject to change, rearrangement, etc. prior to the course.

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