Traverse City Intro. to Urban Permaculture Design (UPD)

As part of my plan to learn more and share my permaculture learnings, I’ve decided to offer an training intensive this summer focusing on urban permaculture and growing our own food in a town and suburb setting.

This is the second permaculture design course I’ve organized and taught in, although the previous one I mostly juggled all the production aspects (full 6 month modular/72 hour for 28 students) and hired in other permaculture teachers. In this 40 hour training (+ some) I’ll be teaching, and also under the guidance and mentoring of Peter Bane and Keith D. Johnson, who will be coming to Traverse City in late August to also present and teach in the final weekend of the training (Public invited to some events and presentations).

In this offering of a Traverse City, Intro. to Urban Permaculture Design (UPD) anyone interested and especially to the folks who are LLOOFing (Learning Local on Organic Farms) on the Market Garden and O’k CSA crew as a work exchange. This means the LLOOFers are formally acknowledging that their “work is to learn, and they are learning on the job”. With four LLOOFers of the eight UPD students, there are no greenbacks being passed between us.

With an extension of gratitude to my permaculture teachers and their teachers, I’ve collected information and shared a “Companion” with everyone which outlines the objective and goals of the training:

  • To gather in folks who are re-learning the way the world works and to fine-tune their life/work path. We all need support, practice and re-learning experiences to trust our feelings, instincts and “Dream the Dream On”. Although separation consciousness has been a necessary part of our life on earth experience, this training recognizes it is time for a deeper understanding and application of fundamentals for sustainability, with a strong focus on nourishment in the form of “feeding ourselves”.
  • This training is presented with acknowledging multiple intelligences and that we are all learning and there are many different languages and ways in which to learn. Permaculture is a science and design system that is accessible to all people and all levels of education, and presented, practiced and taught by youth to 70-somethings.

  • “Permaculture provides people who have been cut off from their own traditions, land bases and even from basic contact with nature with the means to restore a healthy and productive relationship to the natural world around them. One basis of that relationship is ecology, or informed observation of the living world; the other is design—a positive, creative response to our own needs and the logic of natural systems. Permaculture is thus a system for taking responsibility for our lives at a most fundamental level, that of energy.” ~ P. Bane It is the goal of of this training to observe current operating systems in an urban setting to foster a less destructive, and MORE energy efficient way by which to work together, eat, drink, pass wastes and move around our Northern Michigan landscape.
  • This training is for anyone who wants to be the change they wish to see in the world. We are all artists, all designers Through immersion in this PDC our awareness around recognizing ourselves as full-time designers allows us a better capacity to working in groups and/or in teams. The functions of a artist and a designer is to practice the fine art of observation, first. This is a stop action, and take deep breath approach. It is also to know where things are to be placed and, in particular, why they are to be placed there. A good designer relies on the number of elements available, information about elements, ability to use that information harmoniously, and the degree of success in comprehension. It is not necessary to know how to build or level or engineer or even garden. The designer will know when his job begins and ends, and where the role of a supervisor begins.

  • Reading: Permaculture, A Designer’s Manual by Bill Mollison is the main text for this course: it is not required. An Introduction to Permaculture, by Mollison is highly recommended. ALSO, The Permaculture Handbook: For Town and Country, by Peter Bane is highly recommended (more info on ordering here: ). Permaculture Ethics and Design Principles by David Holmgren, Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway and Permaculture in a Nutshell by Patrick Whitefield are useful as preparatory reading but are not required.

Here is what is involved in the urban design projects:
th2 groups of people to work on a framed in-design project during the training and between classes. This project will help integrate the knowledge developed over the training, and involves the design of a site or a practice such as a business plan, and will be framed in by the instructors. Students will prepare a detailed design that will provide for food, energy, water use, waste community, and economics for the site or practice. During weekend sessions, some participants choose to take these projects very seriously, especially when the project is may be implemented later, and may spend more than 20 hours per person on it, but it’s really up to the student as to how much time is involved. These projects will be presented on the final day of the course. The projects are design only; they will not be fully implemented during the training. However, these design projects may go on to be implemented after the course, often serving as the basis for grants and other funding, to the great benefit of the design group, owners, clients, and surrounding community.

Smothering the Quack, Digging in Potatoes

FRi-DAY, June 1st, our second official week with LLOOFING at the Market Garden and CSA garden-farm sites!  Warming up with a cup of tulsi tea after four hours in the misty, moist showers.  dripping, dirty wet working along side of Kerry, with Flint coming in for our last hour together.  Been @ Barns Park Garden every day this week building beds, seeding and planting out starts from the DIGs Hobbit Greenhouse. 

Today put in four kinds of peppers: Golden Bells, Thai Hot peppers, and two other HOTs along with a few tomato plants….ALL of them were being nibbled on by what looked like little, tan colored aphids…we carefully and meticulously picked and squished off even the innocent, teeny tiny babies.  transplanted “criminal” cilantro which wanted another year in our market gardens.  All but one of our six plots at this garden site, in real good planting shape, including the inner circle shaped 7-Sisters garden, which now has been planted with 2 sisters—-a ring of sunflowers and a couple kinds of potatoes. This bit of rainy weather is beginning to soak in, at least an inch or so, and all of us garden-farmers have felt grateful for dampened soil as we dig, plant and mulch the beds.

Kerry brought bunches of Black-eyed Susan rhizomes, so we pulled out the Star-thistle that was lining the bottom of the Teepee, planted them all around, poked in Scarlet Runner Beans and Rattlesnake Pole beans, along with Purple Lotus Amaranth and expect to have a wonderful resting place in the middle of this sunny garden.  Wild Plums and Hazelnut planted in the East of the 7-Sisters Garden wheel.

Once Flint arrived we loaded the wheel barrow with the remains of our 150 lbs of potatoes, the fish meal and also a soil drenching solution of an organic fungicide to empower the potato’s sprouts to overcome some of the mold that has gathered on them since they’ve been sliced and patiently awaiting the burial process. 

The taters planted with the Americorp folks are “rising” as in not planted deep enough, so I spent some time going around and tending to their re-tending.  There is also a whole lot of that ornery, Agropyron repens (the latin name sounds ornerier than quack grass) sprouting up, and so wondering what kind of smothering seeds along with buckwheat might help the soil and deter their mighty, claw-like roots.

I’m definitely still learning how to allow my internal knowings that seem to emerge in the presence of and alongside these gardens….and share those tellings and ways.  This is very much a merging of ways I was taught farming as a kid in a rural agriculture area, and now as an adult in permaculture training, using different kinds of “tools”.  A big part is in observing not just talking, which can be tricky to do at the same time.  What I mean is more than looking at the listeners, but asking myself when I watch people “did they get what I was saying?” kind of question… that those taking it in, doing the tasks, understand and can successfully, follow through…..I’m the LLOOFer leader after all.

So much of all of this garden-farming business is about the intimate relating to SO many other than human species, that I sometimes forget the human species all together!  I remember walking away from Flint and the potato-planting Americorp folks, perhaps not wanting to be overbearing, or having faith with minimal guidance they could figure it out. In the end, I was not properly care-taking the potatoes. Neglected taters, aarks!! I’m making a note on my brain board to do check-backs and find language that is clear, and considerate of everyone including the seeds, plants and tubers we are spending time with.

So much mending and tending, along with what to do about rotting and molding (potatoes), and the ever important time-time-time-timing of it all.  “This now”  is the message that comes to me… like at 5 am this morning the first thought was to tuck the taters in with fish meal AND the organic fungicide and to make them one of the “Sisters” rather than planting them in the abundantly sprouting, ornery Agropyron repens space.  Once the planting party began,  with all of us determined to work while getting a good soak, Kerry sang out an opening ditty I hadn’t heard in years…. “one potato, two potato, three potato four, five potato, six potato, seven potato more….” as we plunked them in their soil burrows…