Sunday, December 27, 2009

Lyons Permaculture Design Course

Just found out about a new PDC happening in the Front Range area. This one is happening at the Lyons Farmette March 19-April 3. It's a residential course (which means that you stay at the farm, or nearby), and costs $1100. From the course schedule, it looks like you have 10 full days of instruction and 6 days of evening instruction, so if you attend, you only have to take 1 week of from work (if you work 9-5).

The list of instructors looks great, including Sandy Cruz (permaculturist extraordinaire), John Anderson (CO worm guy), Todd Jones (who held the mycopermaculture workshop earlier this year) and others.

More information can be found on the Lyons Farmette Permaculture Design Course website.

CRMPI gets 750 grant from Basalt

Via the Aspen Times, the Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute received a $750 grant from the town of Basalt, via their 2010 "town sharing" grant program.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Video on Desert Water Catchment

Anupam Mishra gives a 17 minute talk about water harvesting structures of India. I couldn't find much more about him--his bio says that he presents on water harvesting techniques often, but I didn't find too many presentations online, and the Gandhi Peace Foundation, of which he is a founder, doesn't appear to have a website.

Here's an article he wrote about rainwater in Venice. And here's Anupam's recently translated book on the water systems of Rajasthan, "The Radiant Raindrops of Rajasthan" [PDF]. I skimmed sections of the book, and it seems like quite a resource for folks in the desert southwest. However, some of the prescriptions aren't technological, but social:
The sacrosanct line, which divides private property from common property, gets strangely erased when it comes to kuins [well-like structures that collect rainwater]. To each their own kuin; everyone has the right to construct a kuin and use its water. However, the kuin is constructed on land which is the collective property of the village. The rain which falls there remains throughout the year in the form of humidity and it is this humidity which feeds the kuins throughout the year. The amount of humidity present is determined by the amount of rainfall. Constructing a kuin in that area means sharing the humidity present there and that is why, though the kuin is a private property, since it is constructed on collective property, it falls under the control of the village society. It is only in case of dire necessity that permission is granted to build a new kuin.


Interesting stuff.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

High Altitude Permaculture Institute presents "Permaculture through the Seasons", 2010 version

Looks like Sandy Cruz is doing "Permaculture through the Seasons" again in 2010. Here's a flyer with all the info.

I have never taken a residential PDC,but I loved the 8 month long format, as it really gave you time to digest what you were learning. It also forced me to observe the target property over a longer period of time--rather than just trying to jump right into design.

Here's all the workshops and events that the High Altitude Permaculture Institute is a part of.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Jerome Ostenkowski profiled in Edible Aspen

Via Locavore Life, I found this article about CRMPI founder Jerome Ostenkowski in Edible Aspen.
For 23 years, Osentowski has run his permaculture institute and “forest garden” 3 winding miles above Basalt, where he has converted 5 acres of red dirt into an edible oasis. The notion of permaculture takes organic farming to a higher level, turning a garden into an ecosystem. Short plants provide ground cover. Tall plants provide shade or a place for vines to climb. Some fix nitrogen in the soil. Some drive away pests. Some are home to beneficial insects. Instead of avoiding noxious pesticides and fertilizers, permaculture seeks to make them unnecessary.
Plenty more in the article.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Boulder County agriculture land for lease

Via Sandy Cruz, two sections of Boulder County agricultural open spaces are up for lease.

The Boulder County Parks and Open Space Department, Agricultural Resource Management Division, is seeking proposals for agricultural leases on Smith, Joe and Peck Boulder County agricultural open spaces. RFP packets will be available at the Parks and Open Space Admin Building, 5201 St. Vrain Road, Longmont, Colorado, 80503 or may be obtained on-line at Rocky Mountain BidNet.


Here are the parcels up for lease in January:

RFP #5233-09: Smith, Joe Property
72 acres of irrigated cropland at NE corner of Hwy 287 and Hwy 52 intersection.
82 shares of Boulder and White Rock Ditch and Reservoir Company

RFP #5234-09: Peck Property
Approx. 20 acres located on west of 95th St along Left Hand Creek.
Ideal for small acreage farm or growers association
Up to 3 acre feet/ acre of Left Hand Ditch Company


There's an optional pre-proposal meeting at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday, December 15, 2009 at the Boulder County Fairgrounds, 9595 Nelson Road in Longmont.

Here's a contact if you have further questions:
Meaghan Huffman
Boulder County Parks & Open Space
Resource Specialist
5201 St Vrain Road
Longmont, CO 80503
303-678-6181

Willow Way seeking variance to continue teaching permaculture

I'm a bit late to the party, but Zia Parker has posted a plea on her blog for people to contact Boulder County to support her Low (Limited) Impact Special Use Review. Here's her application documents. The application appears to be 'Tabled Indefinitely' at this time; I'm unclear as to why. I posted a comment asking about it.

It's fascinating (and a bit frustrating) to see the hoops Zia is jumping through and the level of detail required by the application process.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Local Currency

The Touchstone November 29, 2009

Marco Lam

These are times of immense transition and we have a clear calling to create a sustainable and resilient community. The rallying cry of "Buy Local" is heard loud and clear by those who realize the importance of a local economy but we lack a crucial mechanism for supporting a robust bioregional infrastructure. Regional currencies have a strong tradition in our shared American history and recall a time when the local economy was both resilient and decentralized.

Our new private voluntary barter currency, called the "Gaian" is a one ounce .999 fine silver piece that has a community barter value of "fifty". This means a merchant is willing to exchange fifty dollars of goods or services for a 1oz Gaian.

Everyone in our community benefits from using Gaians. Consumers benefit from a 10% discount on purchases when they buy our local currency from our Community Barter Coordinators. Businesses benefit from increased patronage and from the loyalty of customers committed to buying local. Almost everyone has underutilized knowledge, skills and time that can be engaged creatively if they have a medium of exchange. In the spirit of supporting our greater community, we also support non-profit organizations and local farms by allowing them to purchase Gaians at a discounted rate and sell them at full face value to their supporters.

It takes committed citizens working in their own communities, bioregion by bioregion, to create the needed systemic change that will lead to regenerative economic practices. Over time, these practices will support ecologically responsible production of goods as well as community self-reliance. Local currencies are a primary tool to bring about such a change. Gaians are about building community and a bioregional culture while supporting a local economy and a more equitable distribution of wealth .

Gaians are a tool for community empowerment with the intention of generating a society that connects each individual to their creative powers and their responsibility for creating a future that we all want to live in. We guide producers, merchants and consumers to plant the seeds for a regenerative economic future. A future for their community which honors both our natural home and our local culture.

A bioregional currency nurtures and protects the local businesses that accept the currency while discouraging consumption at big corporate retailers. This builds stronger relationships and a greater affinity between the business community and the citizens of the Boulder area. Gaians will not, and are not intended to, replace federal currency. The intent is to create accessible employment and abudance within our local ecosystem and community.

The touchstone of value for the Gaians is the immediacy of creating abundant circulation of trade within our community despite an unpredicatable global economy.

Those in our community who choose to use the currency make a conscious commitment to buy local first. We believe that by taking personal responsibility for the health and well-being of our community we are creating a regenerative local economy and an engaged civic life.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Broomfield Permaculture Garden Update

The Broomfield Community Garden, which I mentioned previously here, had a successful season.

Here's a picture of some of the bounty they harvested.

This thread discusses some of the issues they want to address going forward, including how to best use the garden to promote permaculture and community.

The "money quote" for me:
The goal for the garden is to produce a steady stream of produce from early through late - maximize what the gardeners eat fresh and what the gardeners preserve.

Apparently, there is a garden coordinators' potluck on happening on December 3rd (I'd post to the above thread, or contact David Braden if you're interested in attending).

Friday, November 20, 2009

Cornucopia of Local this weekend in Boulder

All kinds of interesting panel discussions at the Cornucopia of Local event (PDF), run by the Boulder Farmer's Market.

Elephant Journal has a review, including a list of panelists, and of particular interest is Barbara Mueser's discussion about "Permaculture at Home."

All this fun is happening at Boulder's first Zero Waste Hotel, the Boulder Outlook, this Saturday.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Pizza Farm in Wellington CO

Via Daniel Halsey and Halsey Creative Services, Inc, I found the Pizza Farm in Wellington, Colorado. It's part of Harvest Farm, "a 209-acre farm and rehabilitation center for men", and runs through the summer. Definitely take a look at the pictures.

The pizza farm looks like a pizza! From their site:
The Pizza Farm is a circular garden that is divided into eight pie-shaped "slices" (like a giant pizza) and grows or grazes all the ingredients needed to make a farm fresh pizza! Best of all, visitors are educated and interactive with how the farm grows wheat for the crust, tomatoes for the sauce, dairy cows that give milk to make cheese, pigs for pepperoni, and much more.
What a cool design!

Friday, November 6, 2009

DU putting in Permaculture Gardens

From a blog post, I found this: "Permaculture gardens are being put in around the DU campus as it is a dry environment. This is a long term plan."

He has posted a picture of the garden spot.

No mention of the garden being planted on the official DU website that I could find, but some minutes from spring 2009 showed that it was being discussed.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Photos from a 2008 Design Course

Here's photos from a Boulder, CO, 2008 design course, presented by The Permaculture Project. It's a nice set of photos to give you an idea of some of the activities that take place during a permaculture class.

Looks like the person behind that is Wayne Weismean, a teacher out of Illinois. He also has a nice permaculture blog.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

CU Professor Talks About Limits

Permaculture is, in my mind, truly about acknowledging limits. Limits of energy, limits of ecosystems, and limits of technology. We can use design to increase food production, decrease work and energy, but fundamentally, we're accepting that we need to use less than what the sun provides and work around that.

The Permaculture Research Institute of Australia has a nice post on 'The Mathematics that Contemporary Economics Ignores' which is worth reading.

I'm posting it on this blog because it also features 8 10 minute embedded videos featuring CU Professor Dr. Albert Bartlett on the limits of growth in a finite system. Well worth the watch.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Denver Permaculture Classes this fall

The folks at Wild Green Yonder, announced a slew of permaculture courses. These include
Intro to Permaculture, Urban Permaculture, Permaculture for Renters, and Obscure Edibles for the Colorado Climate.
For more information, including pricing, visit their classes page.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Edible Schoolyard/Farm School started in Carbondale

Jerome Ostenkowski, of CRMPI, is helping the Carbondale high school provide an agricultural educational opportunity to students.

From the Aspen Post:
Jerome Osentowski, Colorado Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute (CRMPI) operator and 25 year veteran of alternative gardening practices, came up with the idea for a CSA Farm School when he, Jennifer Craig of Ute City Farm and Ken Kuhns of Peach Valley CSA partnered with Fat City Farmers to form Aspen Homegrown which provided training to ten students last year. “I was thinking, how do we train more CSA farmers for high altitude gardening?” said Jerome speaking on the genesis of the project, “Why not create an official school that would train 20 students a year?” That began his quest to find a permanent location for the project.


More information in the full article.

Article about Ward, CO, in the Permaculture Activist

Sandy Cruz, who runs the High Altitude Permaculture Institute, has an article, "Re-Envisioning and Restoring Wild Lands in the Rocky Mountains", in the latest Permaculture Activist. This issue, number 73, focuses on bioregionalism. Sandy discusses efforts, hers and others, to preserve wilderness around Ward, Colorado, where she lives.

My favorite part of the article is her dicussion of interactions with government agencies. As you can imagine, preserving wilderness requires extensive involvement with federal, county and city governments, as well as quasi-governmental agencies like Great Outdoors Colorado. It was interesting to read about such intricacies, as well as her success.

If you are interested in permaculture, and haven't checked out the Permaculture Activist, please do so. They have a website, but the magazine is the way to go. Check with your library--I know Boulder has a subscription.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Database of useful plant species for the Denver region

Via the Wild Green Yonder, I found this google spreadsheet with over 100 plants well suited to the Denver area. The author explains:
...a wealth of information exists in print and online for researching and selecting guilds – check out Plants For a Future and the University of Minnesota’s nursery database for starters. Still, this species information is spread across several websites, it’s difficult to sort through, and it’s rarely specific to the climate you’re in. As a result, guild building isn’t always as user-friendly as it ought to be.

In response to this challenge, I’ve begun the Atriplex Project – an attempt to create a comprehensive open-source database of useful plant species for Denver’s bioregion of the shortgrass steppe. Its current incarnation is a google spreadsheet that anyone can edit and export, although down the line it would be great to develop it into a more user-friendly standalone website.


What a great idea! This type of open information exchange is just what the internet is great for, and it looks like the author is happy to have other people help.

A side note about Plants for a Future--I wanted access to a sample of their database a month or so ago, and wrote them email, but they didn't seem too responsive. Based on the home page note:
The Plants For A Future charitable company has a new management team, and we are working on plans to redevelop the Plants For A Future website and database. Some of the information on this website about the organisation is out-of-date and misleading. The database continues to be available from this site.
and the blog entries, it seemed that they're going through changes right now. But the data is still good!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Broomfield Permaculture Garden looking for volunteers

There's a work day this Sunday (June 14) and it looks like they'll be doing a lot. See the announcement for more info, or to donate various items.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Rainwater harvesting pilot program signed into Colorado law

Governer Ritter signed a law which "establishes a pilot program for the collection of precipitation from rooftops for non-potable uses." CBS has a nice writeup.

This is a great step, but only the first one. You cannot start harvesting rainwater now; you have to participate in the pilot program, which will last for ten years. There will be only ten projects selected, and the program is only open to "RESIDENTIAL OR MIXED-USE DEVELOPMENTS THAT WILL CONDUCT INDIVIDUAL PILOT PROJECTS TO COLLECT PRECIPITATION FROM ROOFTOPS AND IMPERMEABLE SURFACES FOR NONPOTABLE USES". Here's a PDF of the bill, HB 1129. Us normal folks should check out the FAQ and links from the Colorado Division of Water Resources: "Am I allowed to construct a graywater or rainwater harvesting system in Colorado?"

But hey, it's a start!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Meetup in Denver: Permaculture at the Home Scale

I recently joined a meetup group called the Greater Denver Urban Homesteading Group (if you haven't checked out Meetup.com, it's a great way to find local common interest groups meeting regularly). I have not yet been to a meetup, but they've already sent out some interesting classes (how to make saurkraut, intro to pressure canning). On the 28th of June, they're having an introduction to permaculture class, focused on household designs. Looks really cool:
Permaculture is an effective and rapidly-growing framework for applying patterns found in nature to human structures. Join certified permaculture teachers Adam Brock and Kenzie Davison as we explore how the ethics, principles and design process of permaculture can be applied to our own homes to create an integrated, regenerative system.

In case you're keeping score, that's the same Kenzie and Adam working on the Park Hill demonstration site.

Community garden "takes root" in Golden

A community garden is happening in Golden, CO, and part of the purpose is to teach permaculture. From an article in the Denver Political Issues Examiner:

Matt Burde, Garden Leader ... said, "We’re growing a place for conversation. Golden’s First Ever Community Garden Breaks Ground and Celebrates Grand Opening Sunday, June 21st."

...

"In addition to offering plots to community members, the concept behind the garden is also to provide education opportunities to the public," said Burde. "Classes will be offered monthly or more on various topics including composting, square foot gardening, permaculture, low water use, and beyond. Open dawn till dusk, the garden will provide meeting spaces for community gatherings, a children’s gardening area, and a learning center with a library full of books."


More information on the garden, including, unfortunately, that all the 2009 plots are full, can be found at the Golden Community Garden website.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Gardening the Land Between The Sidewalk and The Curb

I was biking around Boulder the other day, and ran into a lady who had taken ownership the space between the curb and the sidewalk. This space is called a planting strip. Rather than just leave the weeds and scraggly grass that had been there before, she had it rototilled put down some weed barrier and was placing some nice looking garden plots down. She planned to raise some vegetables and some flowers in the planting strip. Her main motivation was fun with her kids; secondary was making the space look better; it would have been hard to make it look worse.

I saw another property owner who rototilled their entire lawn, including the planting strip. I chatted with them briefly regarding their plans for the space. They were replacing most of the lawn with new grass, but did plan to plant some vegetable gardens in concretee garden circles that were set back from the street a good bit; see photo.

Both of these landowners were helping make their neighborhoods more beautiful. They were learning or refining gardening skills. And they were producing food in an area that was not productive before. I don't know if this fits the textbook definition of permaculture, but they were definitely taking steps to make their lives and lawns more sustainable.

However, these landowners had some concerns about these actions as well. The reason that the photos I've placed don't have more in view is to hide the locations. There was concern about being hassled by the city of Boulder. Apparently, some people have done this kind of planting strip gardening in the past and been forced to remove their gardens. One of the landowners claimed that as long as what you had in the strip was less than 36 inches high, you would be OK. I did some searching and found this link that doesn't really speak to this issue. However, the page it links to states the planting strip "shall be maintained and may be improved as such by the abutting property owner." You should ask your city's maintenance department for their rules and regulations. In any case, this property owner wanted to stay on the down low.

Other concerns included exhaust from cars and buses and pedestrian interference. I talked to a Ag Extension specialist about this a few years ago when I was looking at gardening a strip of land close to the road, and I don't remember that person being especially concerned. Pedestrian interference, aka people stepping on the garden, was dealt with by providing plenty of space for people walking on the sidewalk and/or getting out of their cars. Additionally, you can see the small fence in the first picture above; it's not meant to keep people out, but rather to warn people who might not be paying attention.

If you are looking for some additional garden space, the planting strip may be a good option. The pluses for using the planting strip (as opposed to other locations):
  • it tends to get good sunlight due to the nearby road
  • it might be in zone 1 or 2, depending on where it is in relation to your driveway
  • it is land that is probably not very well used right now
The minuses:
  • there might be issues with your governing locality
  • the public nature of the garden requires more upkeep and visual concern than might be true otherwise
  • you might not be able to erect more permanent structures (trellises, compost piles)
  • foot traffic might cause damage to the garden.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

More urban permaculture in Denver

Another article about urban permaculture in Denver. They have a nice list of resources at the end, too.

For nine people living together in Denver, their adventure in urban homesteading is all about cooperation.

"Two years ago, it was lonely, and now I'm swept up in it. It's overwhelming, exciting," said Adam Brock, 23. "It's not just gardening but what you do the other eight months of the year."

The homesteaders moved into the big house facing City Park about two months ago. Already, they have transformed a large chunk of the big yard into gardens using tenets of permaculture, an approach to gardening that tries to mimic natural ecosystems. In addition to the usual slate of vegetables and herbs, they are growing things like Siberian pea shrub.


Update 5/27: Here's the blog of the homesteaders in the big house across from city park

Monday, May 18, 2009

Denver neighborhood of Park Hill gets permaculture demonstration site

Via the Denver Post, news that Feed Denver and the Urban Land Conservancy are partnering to "create an urban agriculture demonstration farm in northeast Park Hill".
The conservancy, which recently purchased [a property in the area], will make long-term, permanent development plans for the site in partnership with the surrounding neighborhood. Permanent development will take a few years.

In the meantime, Feed Denver will work with Kenzie Davison and Adam Brock to create an urban ag demonstration as a viable farm for the neighborhood, as well as an education opportunity. The project will build a variety of plots to demonstrate the use of compost techniques for growing soil as well as permaculture techniques for growing food plants.

More in the article; I'm sure Kenzie and Adam can use help.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Colorado College has a garden

Colorado College, located in Colorado Springs, has a garden. Apparently, they are envisioning a permaculture garden, as well, and are making progress towards it.
We envision a one-acre permaculture garden on the Colorado College Campus that will be used as an interactive resource for students, faculty, and classes, as well as a venue for market gardening, local events, and community outreach. Students of all academic interests will benefit greatly from the establishment of the CC Farm through access to fresh produce and farm work, as well as through active involvement in research, youth education, and experiential learning.

Here's the proposed garden plan. They also have a blog (that isn't updated all that much). I contacted the outreach chair for the garden and she had this to say about their progress:
We were a functioning market garden as of last year selling to three venues: Colorado Farm and Art Market, our school's food service Bon Appetit, and a small stand outside of our campus center for students. We got our garden moved on campus last spring, so this summer is our second fully functioning summer in President Celeste's back yard (our new on campus plot. Before that we were gardening a plot at Vennetucci farms). We receive free land and water from the school, but besides that it is a completely student run and self sufficient project. We raise all the money to maintain and work the farm ourselvles (meaning students writing grants all year long). Our greatest expense is paying the three full time interns each summer to work the farm.

...

[W]e have nine chickens too! ([T]hey started as my independent project last summer when I was a garden intern and I hear they are actually starting to pay themselves off! They are all layers and apparently are producing enough so that we are selling them on a weekly basis).

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Permaculture videos galore

Via Jim, from Colorado Local Sustainability, Youtube has a large number of videos about sustainability and permaculture, but someone has taken the time to pull many of these videos onto one page. Beware! Visiting this page can leave you lost in thought for the rest of your afternoon.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Colorado Springs Permaculture Potlucks

The Coloradd Springs Pikes Peak Permaculture group has monthly potlucks. This May, it will be on May 31 at, probably, 5:00pm. Call Scott for directions at 719 200 8838. More info at the bottom of this page.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Agriburbia: Suburbia with agriculture

Via Sprouts in the Sidewalk, a blog about urban agriculture, I found this site: Agriburbia.com. While it mentions permaculture by name:

An example of the Agriburbia land planning design is this 640-acre parcel in Southern Weld County, Colorado. It includes for 980 homes, including multi-family town homes to two (2) acre permaculture home sites.
...
Each Agriburbia mixed-use campus is centered on an agrarian concept where traditional suburban landscaping and open space is replaced with orchards, vineyards, and other perennial crops for the benefit of the neighborhood and surrounding communities. A limited amount of active recreation area is provided. The balance of the open space is designed as productive organic agricultural landscape.

The folks behind Agriburbia are based in Golden, Colorado. Here's an article about the concept from the Northern Colorado Business Review, for more information.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Another Boulder Permaculture Design Course

Via elephant journal, there's another permaculture design course happening in the Boulder area this year. From the course description for Permaculture courses in Solutionary Sustainability:
Permaculture is a design science, rooted in observation of nature, to learn how to live with the resilience and stability of natural eco-systems. Taught in over 100 countries, Permaculture is a global grass-roots movement in sustainability education. Permaculture principles guide the design method. The principles guide you to discover optimum strategies for sustainability for any given place-- urban/rural or any eco-zone.

In addition to the typical core curriculum, there are some elective tracks.
I. Growing Food for Four Seasons
II. Solar Principles, Applications and Natural Building
III. Bioremediation, Constructed Wetlands and Aquaculture
IV. Direct Communication with Nature

Visit the course page for more information, including pricing and scheduling.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

MycoRestoration/MycoPermaculture workshop in Rollinsville

There is a workshop focusing on mycorestoration (using fungi to repair broken ecosystems) and mycopermaculture (using fungi in permaculture) happening in Rollinsville on June 13-14.  From an email I was forwarded:
Also, June 13-14, we will be offering an outdoor mushroom workshop based on the MycoRestoration work of Paul Stamets, only specifically geared towards high altitude regions, including plug spawn, rope spawn, bunker spawn, mycoremediation , soil building, etc. We're concurrently developing content for using fungi in Permaculture.
This workshop will be held at the Syzygy Community House. For more information, including cost and availability, call Todd at: 720-891-0767.  

Update, 5/30: The cost of the course is $200. Todd has created a flyer outlining all you need to know about the mycorestoration/mycopermaculture course.

Update: 6/7: The schedule of the workshop has been published.

Mushrooms as an element in permaculture

Mushrooms are one design element of permaculture that I'm learning more about. I recently purchased an indoor mushoom kit from Fungi Perfecti, and am excited to see how easily I can raise mushrooms indoors.

Here's a chicken chart for (some kinds of) mushrooms:

Inputs
  • medium (sawdust, tree trunk, etc)
  • moisture
  • oxygen
  • starter (spores?)
  • dark
  • attention
Outputs
  • mushrooms (year round food, protein)
  • compost
  • carbon dioxide
  • more starter
  • money (if sold)
As I said, I'm new to mushrooms as a permaculture element.  What did I miss?

Mushrooms seem to fill a place in a permaculture system much like worms.  Instead of breaking down food waste, they break down carbon heavy materials like tree stumps and tree trunks that would be too much for worms or a compost pile.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Permaculture Design Course at Naropa

If you're a college student interested in permaculture, you may be interested in Naropa. This is, as far as I have heard, the only course in permaculture design at an accredited university. It's being taught by Marco Lam. From the course description:
This hands-on, applied course builds on the work of Introduction to Permaculture and examines mycology, orchard design, soil development, water management, natural pest management, crop rotation and other areas in the context of a variety of gardening models including permaculture and biodynamic farming. Students develop skills for sustainable food growing. The course also includes field trips and demonstrations.

There are a couple of other courses related to permaculture in Naropa's BA in Environmental Studies.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Permaculture Podcast on Crop To Cuisine

Several local permaculture teachers, including Sandy Cruz and Jerome Ostenkowski, were featured on a syndicated radio show and podcast, Crop To Cuisine, on April 6.
This episode looks at the opportunities to get educated in permaculture design across Colorado. Permaculture is a system of Permanent - Agriculture See how you can get involved with a number of educational centers from the front range to over 9000 ft above sea level.

As of today, the podcast link doesn't work for this issue (I sent a message to the Crop To Cuisine folks). Update 4/16/2009: the link has been fixed, so you can go there and listen to the podcast. However, there is another permaculture podcast on that same page, broadcast June 9, 2008.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Using Google Sketchup for permaculture design

I recently used Google Sketchup for a permaculture design I did. If you're not familiar with Sketchup, it's a free diagramming and three dimensional design tool that runs on Windows and the Mac.

I am computer literate, but had not used a design tool like this before--probably the closest program I'd used was Visio, and that was for a totally two dimensional problem. I found Sketchup a bit difficult to use, though there is plenty of help available. Sketchup has a large set of help documentation that ships with Sketchup, there's online help, and there are extensive video tutorials. I think that largest issue I had with Sketchup is just the vast set of tools that it presents--I needed a lot less than it gave me.

The benefits that Sketchup provides include accuracy, easy layering and shadowing. The accuracy was most impressive. My design was for an urban site, so I was able to measure most of the relevant distances and structures. Then I was able to put the measurements in Sketchup and get a more accurate representation far quicker than I would have been able to with traditional permaculture methods (paper). Now, I have never done drafting, so I'm sure that's part of the equation.

Sketchup also allows you to add items to layers, and switch those layers on and off. The implementation in Sketchup is a bit different than in other 3d modeling software, so it's worth viewing this layers tutorial--I probably viewed this about 5 times, trying to get the hang of it. But it was great to be able to switch layers (from basemap to basemap with zones to basemap with sectors, etc) with the click of the mouse, rather than moving tracing paper.

Sketchup allows you to automatically create shadows. You can do this manually with this process, but I'm guessing the Sketchup makes it easier. The trade off is having to measure the height of various obstructions precisely. I didn't end up using the shadowing, but it seems like a useful feature.

Overall I was happy with Sketchup. But, no tool is perfect. I had issues with a number of items. First, the layers menu disappeared on me. Luckily, fixing this is a FAQ. I also had issues with connecting lines--if you want to create non square shapes, you need to connect lines carefully. Sketchup gives you lots of help, but if you're used to a two dimensional tool, you may be surprised.

I also had some issues printing the design. I didn't spend a lot of time on this, but I didn't see a 'shrink entire design to page' option, which would have been nice. I ended up previewing the print job repeatedly to see how it would look. Another quirk was the two types of text. One is 3-d text, which you can place and group, and the other was just 2-d text--which you can use an arrow with. I used the 3-d text for a while, but would recommend the 2-d text

Here's the final design that I put together, just to give you an idea of what it looked like:

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Collecting rainwater in Colorado

Rainwater collection is often a key part of permaculture design. Permaculture calls for redundancy in resources, and water is a key resource. This is especially true in the American West and in Colorado, where the average rainfall ranges from 70-80 inches a year in a few mountain hideaways to 5-10 inches a year in the San Luis Valley (here's a PDF map of Colorado precipitation).

Collecting rainfall can use earthworks, such as swales, cisterns or buckets. But until recently, it was illegal to collect it. "You can direct it, but not collect it, according to [Paul] Lander", the executive director of Colorado Waterwise.

But, thanks to Chris Romer and Marsha Looper in the Colorado Legislature, some residents can now collect water:
The bill's sponsors figure about 300,000 people statewide will now be permitted to harvest rainwater, mostly the in rural areas who already have exempt wells for household and domestic use.

There is now a second bill up for consideration that would expand rain collection to new developments in urban areas. That would allow for a pilot program and the bill will be heard on Friday.


Here's a PDF of the bill CONCERNING LIMITED EXEMPTIONS FOR WATER COLLECTED FROM CERTAIN RESIDENTIAL ROOFTOPS and here's a PDF of the proposed bill, CONCERNING AN AUTHORIZATION OF PILOT PROJECTS FOR THE BENEFICIAL USE OF CAPTURED PRECIPITATION IN NEW REAL ESTATE DEVELOPMENTS, AND MAKING AN APPROPRIATION IN CONNECTION THEREWITH (as far as I could tell--navigating the legislature's website was a real nightmare).

Permaculture businesses around the metro area

The ReDirect Guide, an online and offline directory of businesses and information forcues on healthy and sustainable lifestyles, has a section on permaculture businesses. If you're looking for permaculture consulting or just want to ask a question about it, feel free to consult one of these companies.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

"What is Permaculture" Class

There is apparently a permaculture introduction class happening at St Andrews United Methodist Church down in Littleton, Colorado. The description available online leaves something to be desired, but you can see what they have to say by clicking here, then searching for the word permaculture, then clicking the 'More Info' button.

I exchanged voice mails with Diane Smith at St Andrews, and she informed me that the class was on Thursday April 2, from 6:30 to 8:30. It's sponsored by their social justice committee, and Ellen Rosenthal will be presenting. A bit of searching turned up the fact that Ellen Rosenthal is associated with the Living Earth Center (which is also putting on a permaculture herb garden design course).

Monday, March 30, 2009

Permaculture Herb Garden Design Course

This summer, there's a Herb Garden Design Intensive going on, taught by Claire Zimmerman.
Come join us for a group design intensive, exploring the most effective designs for herbal medicine gardens for Colorado’s unique climate. Using advanced permaculture design process, we will explore plant profiles, guilds, garden shapes, microclimates and more to create the most effective and useful medicine gardens for home-scale use. This class is designed for people with a strong permaculture background. Permaculture Design Certification or approval from instructor required. This will be a collaborative group design process, come ready to stretch your mind to create the optimum medicine gardens.

Find specifics for this course, as well as the instructor bio, at the Living Earth Center website.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Backyard chicken site

Chickens can be an integral part of a permaculture design. They are omnivorous and have several different yields (meat, eggs, manure). They are one of the animals that is possible for anyone to keep (as opposed to larger livestock).

I stumbled across a site (via the the Permaculture institute's urban permaculture page) all about urban chickens. The City Chicken is chock full of good information:
You can have chickens...It's easy! I put up this page to inspire people who have been wanting to keep some chickens in their backyard. I hope the pictures and info will motivate you to try what you've been wanting to for a long time: Bring a little country into your city life. You are looking at this web site because you've been bit by the chicken bug and need to know how to get started with your chicken-keeping endeavors. Well, you could start here!

Durango half day permaculture class announced

There's a class going on this weekend that is an introduction to permaculture:
In this unique half-day course on March 28, we will explore permaculture principles and methods of design using the Nature Center as a classroom. Located at the mouth of the Florida River Valley near Bondad, the Center winds along 140 acres on the Florida River. Trails wander through a wide variety of habitats - riparian, meadows, oak woodlands, piƱon-juniper forests, and desert arroyos. Culture Brothers will present information to help attendees succeed in their daily endeavors and prepare for extremes of weather, food and culture. We will also have time for one or two hands-on activities, which may include a survivalist plant walk, sheet mulching, or constructing simple wind and sun breaks.

View this page for more, including cost and registration information.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Boulder Permaculture Garden announced

According to this page on the Transition Colorado website, Boulder has approved a 1.3 acre permaculture garden. The garden will be located next to the Boulder homeless shelter, and is aimed at adult education as well as food production.

I was unable to find official verification of this announcement, but there is apparently a meeting on Tuesday, Mar 24, 2009 to finalize the layout and do more sheet mulching.

Much more on the event announcement page.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Two new Permaculture events in Boulder, and one in Denver

There's a two day introduction to permaculture, Permaculture at the Human Scale: An Introduction, at the end of March.
This course is appropriate for students new to permaculture as well as certified designers interested in applying permaculture at the social level or strengthening their analysis of invisible structures.

And there is a one day workshop/potluck/film, Permaculture Early Gardening & Potluck/ Free Film, during the ides of March (plus a gardening workshop before if you want--it's unclear if there is a charge for the workshop).
FREE FILM SHOWING: Bill Mollison's Global Gardener Part II, Dry lands application. Discussion on what Drylands Permaculture means here in Boulder Valley. Seed sources, water-saving strategies.

Lastly, there is a two hour workshop at the Denver Botanic Gardens, Urban Sustainable Living, in early April.
Learn about the ethics and principles of permaculture with particular attention to small lots, condos and apartments. Even without a “real” garden, you can live more sustainably in the city! Discuss espaliered fruit trees (one foot wide instead of 20!), the many uses of windowsills, using vertical space efficiently for living and storage, indoor worm bins, gray water, rooftop gardens and more.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Article in Colorado Magazine: What is Permaculture

Sandy Cruz has an article in Viz Magazine: "Permaculture: What Exactly is It?" It's a great introduction to permaculture, covering the key concepts.
  • Creating Ecosystems
  • Relative Placement
  • Energy and Nutrient Recycling
  • Using Biological Resources
  • Permaculture is Unique
  • Culture and Agriculture
Want an executive summary?
Permaculture is a method of observing and understanding natural systems, and then imitating what we see in Nature to provide ourselves with food, shelter and clothing. Once basic human needs are satisfied, we can leave the rest of the planet in a wild state.

Read the entire article.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Numerous Permaculture Workshops in the Boulder area

The High Altitude Permaculture Institute has a number of workshops scheduled this spring.

These workshops cover a variety of topics, but tend to be a day or two in length. Topics covered include workshops on garden design and planning, high altitude gardening and secrets of building soil.

Sandy knows her stuff, and I'd encourage anyone interested to take a look.

PDF flyer for these permaculture workshops.

More information on permaculture workshops and events.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Another Permaculture Class in Boulder

I wrote last year about the 2009 edition of Permaculture Through the Seasons, an eight month permaculture class that I took last year. If you missed that opportunity, there's another permaculture class happening in Boulder this April, 19-26th:

[An] 8-Day Permaculture Design Certification Course with an emphasis on Urban and Suburban Design. With the use of the Internet, students will begin this 72 hour course from their own home during the 3 week period prior to the week-long, on-site intensive, being hosted in the Boulder area. PIA certified instructor Wayne Weiseman will lead the course with local guest instructors. Boulder, Colorado.

I'd love to attend this course, but unfortunately have already made other commitments for that week. I especially am a fan of the emphasis on Urban and Suburban design--something we didn't really dig into in the 'Through the Seasons' course.

More info on the main instructor, Wayne Weiseman.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Living Earth Center

The Living Earth Center is a Colorado based organization that is a
non-profit committed to bringing people into deeper relationships with nature through Permaculture education and programs that foster earth-centered values.

They have a calender with upcoming permaculture events on every page--well worth checking out.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Jerome Ostenkowski nominated to be White House Farmer

Via Oxadox, I found out that Jerome Ostenkowski, of CRMPI fame, was nominated to be the White House farmer (equivalent to the White House chef). You can read Jerome's nomination, the winners' statements, or more about the campaign.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Permaculture and Transition Talk

Feb 10 7-9pm at the Mercury Cafe, there will be a discussion on
"Sustainability and Beyond: Permaculture and Transition".
Ellen Rosenthal of the Living Earth Center, who will speak about permaculture and how it is deeply embedded in the Transition Movement.
More details

Permaculture Design Online

As in most permaculture classes, at the end I and a team of others did a design for a real live property.

We posted the initial design and supporting documentation on a wiki, and the design wiki will be evolving as the caretaker of the land implements one or more of them.