Permaculture Gardening Growing Fast

Although a fringe movement elsewhere, it’s booming in Maine.

By Tom Atwell (Originally published in the Portland Herald Press)

Permaculture design – landscapes developed to be useful, to sustain both the gardener and the land – may be a fringe movement, but it is the fastest-growing segment in the plant industry, according to Dale Hendricks, founder of North Creek Nurseries in Pennsylvania.

He compared the status of permaculture today to an eccentric-seeming gardening push in the 1980s that touted the cultivation of more native plants. At the time, many gardeners summed up that movement as the ideas of “a few crazies,” Hendricks recalled in a February lecture in Boston for New England Grows. “But now that fringe group has become almost mainstream.”

Similarly, “Permaculture…may be on the fringe now, but it is coming into its own.”

In Maine, the permaculture boom is already here.

The Resilience Hub, a nonprofit group in Portland promoting permaculture design, has 1,700 members, holds 50 to 60 events a year and helps people translate the principles of permaculture design to their homes, said Lisa Fernandes, the director who helped found the group in 2005. For one annual event, the “permablitz,” Hub members and others spend a day transforming someone’s property into a permaculture site.

Fernandes defined permaculture as “a design method based on ecological patterns. It is something you use rather than something you do.”

Ethan C. Roland of AppleSeed Permaculture in Stone Ridge, N.Y., who also lectured at New England Grows, defined it a little differently. “Permaculture design mimics the diversity, stability and permanence of natural systems,” he said.

What do these definitions mean in practise?

Permaculture, which is a contraction for “permanent agriculture,” attempts to minimize the outside elements brought onto a property, such as energy, water and raw materials from distant places. It also works to minimize the waste that leaves the property. It encompasses composting, rooftop solar panels, rainwater collection and vegetable gardens. A favorite vegetable garden mix among permaculture practioners is the so-called “three sisters,” the combination of crops that native tribes taught the Pilgrims to plant – corn, pole beans, and squash. The plants work together, and they make efficient use of space; the beans climb the corn, and the squash keeps the weeds down and the roots cool. These three happen to be native plants, but users of permaculture are more interested in how useful plants are than where they come from. They will grow native fruits, such as blueberries, elderberries and the paw paw tree, and non-natives, such Chinese chestnuts, which are resistant to chestnut blight; apple and peach trees, which have been grown in America for generations but are not native, and the Siberian pea shrub, which produces in a small space and improves the soil. Animals have a role to play in permaculture, too. Chickens, for example, provide eggs (and perhaps meat) for eating, as well as manure to fertilize the soil. They eat ticks that can spread disease and help mix up ingredients in the compost pile.

“When you walk into a well-designed permaculture garden, all the elements clearly work together,” ” Fernandes said. “There is biological diversity and a really heavy yield, whether that yield is food, flowers or herbs. There is a palpably different level of energy.”

Roland believes the Earth is sick, with climate change causing ever more storms, and many species going extinct or disappearing from their traditional ranges.

“Sustainable is not enough,” he said. “We have to go beyond sustaining to increasing the health of ecological systems. We need to heal the damage that has been done.”

You can start on that important work yourself by employing the practices of permaculture at your home. And you could well be part of the next big trend.

To schedule a consultation with AppleSeed Permaculture and get started, contact us now.

AppleSeed Permaculture Internship 2013

WORLD-CLASS PERMACULTURE & SOCIAL ENTERPRISE TRAINING

ASP_InternshipIn a Nutshell – A three-month internship with AppleSeed Permaculture, a cutting edge regenerative design firm based in the mid-Hudson River Valley of New York, USA. Internship runs from September 1st to November 20th, 2013 and focuses on professional permaculture design and social entrepreneurship. The internship offers full immersion and guided mentoring for everything from computer-aided drafting to deep nature connection. This is a unique opportunity – there’s nothing else like it, period. Interns must be permaculture-trained, hard-working, and self-directed. Three internship positions are available. Application period June 1st - July 15th, 2013. To apply for the Internship, download the application by clicking here and return it to design@appleseedpermaculture.com by July 15th, 2013.

“This internship was a launching pad for me to dive into doing work I am passionate about for a right livelihood – it empowered me with practical skills and deeper understandings to effectively accomplish my goals.” – Brandy Hall, 2010 Intern, owner of Shades of Green, Inc.

Who – Self-directed, entrepreneurial, motivated permaculture designers committed to creating positive change through social enterprise. Must have completed a Permaculture Design Certification Course. Computer skills and mac laptop with Adobe Creative Suite and are necessary. Preference given to applicants who identify as people of color, native peoples, and women.

Dyami_Planting

What – Action learning internship with AppleSeed Permaculture, a cutting edge regenerative design firm combining disciplines of sustainability to integrate humans into the landscape by designing productive ecosystems for homes, businesses, and communities. Internships are a mix of research and hands-on project-based learning.

PROGRAM INCLUDES:

  • Real World Design Project
    • Manage a professional design project for a real AppleSeed Permaculture client.
  • Design Apprentiship
    • Learn from AppleSeed Staff Designers by working with them on their projects: Large-scale water systems, urban edible landscapes, residential micro-farms.
  • Permacuture Busness Systems
    • Engage with proprietary systems for running an efficient and sucessful design business.
  • Deep Nature Connection
    • Absorb and emulate the processes of your local ecosystems to deepen your skill as a integrative designer.
  • Regenerative Systems Analysis
    • Research and apply the best practices of permaculture, biomimicry and eco-social design.

Where – The internship will take place in the Hudson River Valley bioregion of the northeastern United States. The AppleSeed Permaculture office is in Accord, NY. Interns will have the opportunity to live and work on a local permaculture farm for the duration of the internship.

“Beyond the skills needed for professional design and making a small business work, the AppleSeed internship gave me the tools and support to create “world change” from the inside, out.” – Mark Angelini, 2010 Intern, owner of Roots to Fruits Ecological Design

Internship Staff
  • Tama Jackson – Designer, Project Manager & Soil Specialist.
  • Dyami Nason-Regan - Lead Designer, Edible Landscaping & Installation Manager.
  • Ethan Roland – Lead Designer, Financial Permaculture & Agricultural Economics Specialist.
Local Partners 
  • Clove Valley CSA
  • Green Phoenix Permaculture
  • Falcon Formulations

When September 1st – November 20th, 2013.

Each week, interns will work:
  • Two days with AppleSeed Permaculture LLC
  • Two days at Clove Valley CSA
  • One day with Green Phoenix Permaculture

Why – The Permaculture Design Course is a great introduction to permaculture. And, the world needs professional permaculture designers to actually create effective change. Becoming a professional permaculture designer requires a large and diverse skill-set, training in social entrepreneurship, and hands-on mentoring from working professionals. If you are someone who wants to become a professional permaculture designer by working with seasoned experts in the field, this internship is for you.

ASP_Internship02

To Apply – Download the application by clicking here. Return the completed application and all attachments to design@appleseedpermaculture.com by July 15th, 2013.

“The value of my internship with Appleseed Permaculture was immense!  I learned what it takes to be a permaculture design entrepreneur using the best technology, resources, and techniques.  I loved every minute of it and what I learned has been extremely helpful in my new business!” – Evan Schoepke, 2010 Intern, Gaia Punk Design Co-op & Punk Rock Permaculture E-Zine

Permaculture Cohousing in Connecticut

AppleSeed Permaculture LLC is proud to join Centerbrook Architects on the design team for Green Haven Cohousing, an exciting project in the West River watershed of CT. In collaboration with the people of Green Haven, the Bethany community, and the local ecosystem, we look forward to bringing permaculture to Connecticut!

Sustainable, low-impact neighborhood planned for Bethany.

Bethany, CT—June 6—Green Haven, Inc., a group of area residents, has obtained an option to purchase a 31 acre parcel on Meyers Rd. in Bethany, where they hope to build a sustainable neighborhood of modestly priced homes.

Green Haven members, some of whom are long-time Bethany residents, plan to live in the community. They will be working closely with the architects, engineers, and contractors to ensure that the development is in keeping with Bethany’s rural character and community values as well as being consistent with the town’s Plan for Conservation and Development. Initial response from neighbors and local citizens has been positive.

The property was previously approved for a 48-unit senior affordable housing development that would have occupied the entire site with suburban-style homes, lawns, and driveways. Green Haven’s vision is for fewer, smaller units clustered around a large common facility, the activities hub of the community.

The multi-generational, family-oriented community will feature private and community gardens as well as small-scale farming, in a pedestrian-friendly layout that encourages healthy interaction. The shared common house may include amenities such as a large kitchen and eating space, children’s playroom, craft rooms, and a woodworking shop, allowing individual residences to be comfortable yet small and inexpensive to maintain.

Centerbrook Architects—nationally known for their beautiful, sustainable, energy-efficient buildings—will be the project architects. They will be working with AppleSeed Permaculture on the plan, with most of the site to be kept as open space for farming, conservation, and recreation.

There are more than 200 cohousing neighborhoods nationwide, but Green Haven’s will be the first in Connecticut. Cohousing is a form of intentional community in which families own private homes and participate in the community’s consent-based self-governance and, if they choose, in community activities.

The Green Haven group has been working for several years to find a site where they can develop their community, and securing the option on the Meyers Rd. property is a major step forward. Their intention is to live as sustainably as possible, with a low carbon footprint, low-impact design, and significant on-site food production. They intend also to participate fully in the wider Bethany community as good neighbors.

For more information on cohousing, visit www.cohousing.org. For more information on Green Haven, visit www.greenhavencohousing.org. The group hosts community dinners twice a month at which newcomers and future neighbors are welcome. The schedule is posted on their blog, newhavencohousing.blogspot.com.

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CONTACT

Green Haven Cohousing – Jack Nork, jack@nork.com, 203-500-2688

AppleSeed Permaculture LLC – design@appleseedpermaculture.com, 845-594-4518

AppleSeed Land Managers: Beyond Property Management

Dear Farmers, Permaculturists, and Social Entrepreneurs,

Are you interested in finding a piece of land to steward, manage, farm on and grow with for the next 1-10 years? Would you like to start an agricultural enterprise or educational farm without the challenges of purchasing land? Appleseed Permaculture is glad to announce our new project, AppleSeed Land Managers.

We match land owners (individuals, families, land trusts, retreat centers, schools, companies etc.) who want to
  • Grow food
  • Build community
  • Regenerate their local ecosystems
With land managers (individuals, couples, and families) who want to
  • Grow food, community, & local ecosystems
  • Build their skills and experience with land management  & eco-agricultural  enterprises
  • Develop long-term relationships with the land and local professional network

Essentially, we build symbiotic relationships that put people on the land and generate multiple forms of capital for everyone involved.  Land managers will receive compensation for their services, and land owners will achieve returns on their investments in financial, material, living, social, or cultural forms of capital. We are building this match-making service to meet the parallel unmet needs we’ve encountered among our design clients, our students, and our colleagues in the permaculture and organic farming communities. We invite you to be among the first people who try a new approach to meeting property management and development needs by engaging in the AppleSeed Land Managers process.

The types of people we’d like to engage as land managers are bright eyed, bushy-tailed, self-starter, situationally aware, go-get-‘em, positive, grateful, dependable, perseverant, clear-communicating, whole-systems thinking, and committed to personal growth and development. They have specific experience in permaculture, organic farming, or social entreprenurship. As of Spring 2012, we are looking to find one couple or family and two individuals (one farmer and one farm educator) to fill specific positions in the northeast USA.

Here’s what will happen if you meet the criteria above and would like to get involved:
  • You submit a resume and online application
  • We conduct a preliminary phone interview with you
  • We conduct an in-person interview with you
  • We invite you to join Appleseed Permaculture for trial work day(s)
  • We give you specific feedback and ask you to re-apply in the future
          • OR
  • We invite you to join our Land Managers Network!

Once you’re fully enrolled in our network, we will work with you to discover and outline your specific wants and preferences regarding land and a relationship with a land owner. From then on, we will pursue contacts with land owners on your behalf until we find a prospective match for you!  Finally, we will support you in the process of forming new relationships with the land and the land owners. This includes:

  • Understanding and developing a well-articulated vision and plan for the land
  • Business planning for eco-agricultural enterprises
  • Creating clear written legal agreements between land owners and land managers
  • Receiving continued mentoring from AppleSeed Permaculture staff

As the first wave of applicants to our Land Managers Network, you’ll have the opportunity to help us streamline and grow our new process.

We look forward to meeting you and networking on your behalf,
The Appleseed Team

Download the application questionnaire here: Land Managers Application

Edible Landscaping in New York’s Hudson Valley

This month, AppleSeed Permaculture was featured in the Hudson Valley Magazine article, “Landscaping and Gardening with Edible Plants and Fruits.” Owner and Project Manager Dyami Nason-Regan was interviewed for the article alongside gardening guru Lee Reich. This is a great step towards a resilient local food system for the Hudson Valley of NY – if you haven’t got your edible landscape designed for this spring, call us today!

You can read the whole excellent article here: www.hvmag.com

AppleSeed Permaculture Interview: The New Eco-Social Economy

AppleSeed Permaculture SignClick here to download an mp3 of Rebecca Collins (Sustainable Agriculture Examiner) interviewing Ethan Roland and Dyami Nason-Regan of AppleSeed Permaculture. We discuss wild food forests, do-it-yourself universities, local regenerative agriculture, and the creation of a cooperative eco-social economy. Enjoy!

AppleSeed Permaculture Interview

General Resources

Local Resources

Plant Resources

Regenerative Design & Edible Landscaping Presentation September 5th

AppleSeed Permaculture is excited to announce our sponsorship of the Kismet Rock Foundation through an upcoming presentation and full permaculture design donation. Read on for details!

Kismet Rock Foundation invites the public to a FREE presentation by permaculture designer and teacher Ethan Roland of AppleSeed Permaculture on Sunday, September 5th from 6 to 8pm in the Legends Room at Eastern Slope Inn Resort, 2760 Main Street, North Conway, NH. Drawing from direct connection with nature, Permaculture gives us a set of principles and patterns for designing homes, businesses, and gardens that increase the health of the local ecosystem. Please join us for this introductory presentation on the abundant world of edible landscaping – from basic permaculture practices to specific fruits, berries, vegetables, and flowers that you can grow at your home. Join us to envision a low-maintenance landscape full of delicious food, and learn the first steps to creating it in your community.

Permaculture Design for abundant edible landscape.

An AppleSeed Permaculture Plan for Sustainability will be a featured silent auction item at Caliente!: An Evening of Dancing to Benefit Kismet Rock Foundation.

For more information, Continue reading

Permaculture Pancake Polyculture

A PERMACULTURE PANCAKE POLYCULTURE

Updated at the Mosaic Farm Perennial Plan Design Charette in Easthampton, MA; originially composed at a Permaculture Design course in Vermont!

Here’s the species – function list :

Long-term overstory
• sugar maple (Acer saccharum) – syrup
• black walnut (Juglans nigra) – nuts, syrup
• shagbark hickory (Carya ovata) – nuts, syrup
• black birch (Betula lenta) – syrup, tea
• sweet-acorn oaks (Quercus spp.) – acorn flour for pancakes!
• chestnut (Castanea spp) – chestnut flour for pancakes! (see www.oikostreecrops.com for a great selection)

Selected Understory
• pawpaw (Asimina triloba) – banana custard-flavored fruit, shade tolerant
• gooseberry (Ribes uva-crispa) – tasty tart fruit, shade tolerant
• currant (Ribes spp.) – tasty tart fruit, shade tolerant
• thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus) – tasty tart fruit, shade tolerant

Selected Animals
• chicken (Gallus domesticus) – eggs (for the pancake batter!)
• pig (Sos scrufula) – bacon! And fat for frying the pancakes!

This arose from our discussion of mixed-species sugar-bushes. My research & experimentation this spring shpowed that black walnut (Juglans nigra) trees can be tapped and boiled for a DELICIOUS syrup, and friends inform me that Hickories (Carya spp.) can also be tapped. Add these to the traditional sugar maple (Acer saccharum), other maple species (Acer spp.), and birch (Betula spp., especially B. lenta), and we’re looking at a significantly more diverse stand of locally-appropriate sugar production!

Add in the acorns and chestnuts for a delicious and sweet perennial starch, mixed with eggs from chickens free-ranging in the understory, and your batter is coming together. Then you can use bacon fat from the acorn & chestnut-finished pigs to oil the pan and fry your pancakes. Topped off with sauces from your understory fruit production (pawpaws, gooseberries, currants, thimbleberries), this is an incredible perennial meal.

Let’s step beyond the relative monoculture of sugar maples! And go even farther for some delicious perennial permaculture pancakes.

Forest Gardening: Vision & Pattern Language

Forest Gardening: Vision & Pattern Language

We’re in the middle of the Design & Theory weekend of the 2010 Forest Garden Immersion Series. This 4-weekend series, one per month, immerses participants in the practice and culture of forest gardening. A few spots are still open for the upcomingweekends:

  • Install & Establish (May 28-30)
  • Caretake & Tend (June 18-20)
  • Food & Medicine (July 16-18)             …Sign up now at http://tiny.cc/fgis2010!

We’re compressing the entire Edible Forest Gardens design process (EFG Volume II, Chapter 3 & 4) articulated by Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeier into a single weekend – so our teaching team needed to get creative. Rather than uber-detailing each stage of the design process, we decided to trial a Pattern Language approach.

Pattern Languages, named and articulated by architect Christopher Alexander et. al in the 70′s, are one of the most powerful design tools that exist in the world. Patterns are defined as “solutions to problems across contexts”, which can be strung together to form complete designs for towns, buildings, and more… Since their original proposed use for architecture and planning, Pattern languages have been used in realms from medical training, software design, to the compositiong of zoning laws. An excellent resource is the collaboratively co-created “Liberating Voices: A Pattern Language for Communication Revolution” published by MIT press.

Dave Jacke & Eric Toensmeier created the first draft of a Forest Garden Pattern Language in Edible Forest Gardens Volume II, which Connor Stedman of Turkey Tail Permaculture concept-mapped last year:

EFG_FG_PL_2009

Connor and I also typed up the Name, Problem Statement, and Solution Statement for all of the 57 patterns in Edible Forest Gardens — you can download a PDF of these statements here. As I looked through the patterns in preparation for our course, I realized that I and other designers have been using patterns in my forest garden design work that were not included in the first draft. So, drawing on our collective experience (especially the brilliant pattern-articulators Dave Jacke, Eric Toensmeier, Jonathan Bates, Dyami Nason-Regan, and Christopher Alexander et. al), I’ve gathered 14 patterns and proposed 23 new ones for the language. I also re-arranged the patterns into a new six-step forest garden design process, which is laid out  as a Flower Petal Bed (pattern #46) in the following diagram. To design a forest garden (after articulating goals and analyzing the site), simply choose 1 or 2 patterns from each “pattern bed” and connect them together into a design. You can download the map by clicking on it.

The Apios Institute for Regenerative Perennial Agriculture (which I’m on the board of) has just released a very exciting new co-creative resource: the Edible Forest Garden Wiki. The wiki itself is an ecosystem of information, automatically inter-linking useful forest garden Species Pages to mutually supportive Polycultures to fully designed Forest Gardens – much like the Internet Movie Database connects actors, films, and production companies. Wiki-members (subscription is about $2 per month) can add their own experiences growing 700 forest garden species, add new polycultures and forest gardens, and comment on other people’s designs. Check out the free content and become a wiki member!

Part of my longer term vision is develop the Forest Garden Pattern Language through a similar co-creative online space, where we can all propose patterns and try them out in our designs. The patterns that work across contexts will emerge through our collective research and experimentation. Sound like fun? Want to play? Let me know in the comments!