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Will you be there? If so, please smile at me while I’m yakin’ about Art-Farmin’ Permaculture, Perennial Food and Community Gardens….

The 2009 Conference on Michigan’s Future: Energy, Economy & Environment takes a head on look at the economic crisis, the looming energy crisis, and the environment crisis and explores possible solutions and a vision of a more self-sufficient, sustainable, and resilient Michigan. For more info. on the conference go to:

Here’s my presentation description for the conference on November 15, Sunday AM, session beginning at 8:00 AM—

Permaculture: Perennial Food & Community Gardening

We humans live as part of the natural world, one member of a community much larger than our species alone. The natural world feeds us and sustains us, and our actions affect all other members of our community: we are all in this together. Yet most of us do not experience these realities with any frequency at all.

Permaculture fosters the emergence of a culture which encourages and supports us to experience ourselves in the ways of knowing ourselves as “native” to the places we live in.

The basic teaching and strategy of Permaculture is to recognize our human selves as a non-fixed species on the move, and, our absolute, responsible part as collaborators on Earth to do as the planet has always asked of us….to take care-full steps, and action based on the understanding and practice and the fine-art of observation. Being mindful, intentional, and integrity-based in our choices and decisions.

Permaculture is a friend of the Right Brain and helps us recognize our role as artists, designers, and gardeners on a mission to make and do, tend and mend, and feed ourselves and our families. With guiding principals and ethics, the Permaculture tool-box or re-skilling set, allows us to utilize a basic, intelligent and creative Ecological Design process, which contributes to a self-regulating, harmonious and healing system. This we know is necessary in our peak oil, post-industrial world, and for the sake of our children.

And so, to create and implement complete cultural systems that consciously mimic ecosystem structure and function, we can go into our front or backyard “gardens”, and to our Community Garden plot and begin, again. Re-invigorating the concepts of Perennial gardening, which produces plenty of food at lower energetic and labor costs while re-building soil and ecosystem health. We can do this work as families, with our children, youth, and elders, and neighbors along side and with us, learning ways in which we can shift our community culture towards ways of life that include perennial food production.

The Urban Art-Farm Perennial Food Project investigates, develops and spreads the horticulture knowledge and practice required to grow perennial vegetables, herbs, edible flowers, small fruits, tree fruits and nuts as integrated eco-systems in a village setting. Based on a Perennial Food Project from the village of Shelbourne Falls MA, this UAF Perennial Food Project can be mimicked in local neighborhoods, and Community Garden sites, in Michigan.

Good and relevant reading:

Drawing on the Right Side of Your Brain,
By Dr. Betty Edwards

The Zen of Seeing,
Frederick Franck

How to Grow More Vegetables
…than you ever thought possible on less land than you imagined
By John Jeavens

Edible Forest Gardens, Volume One, and Two,
By Dave Jacke and Eric Toenesmeier

Perennial Vegetables,
By Eric Toenesmeier

Helpful Permaculture websites:

Earth Activist Training

Regenerative Design Institute

Permaculture Activist

Penny Krebiehl, aka O’k, is a certified Permaculture designer and instructor, as well as an artist and community organizer specializing in programming for children, youth and their families. She conducts many creative, educational events, helps build the Grand Traverse Earth Day Parade and offers Permaculture design services and consultation in Michigan. Penny has studied, trained, and practiced with Permaculturists in North West and North Eastern United States since 2005, and gives grateful thanks to all of her devoted teachers. She is the founder and Executive Directress of Little Artshram, a non-profit, begun in Lansing, MI in 1993 and is inspired by children of all ages who are close to the earth, learning and re-learning as we mimic nature both in our educational systems as well as within the great paradigm shift and transition of our social, cultural structure. Permaculture principals, ethics and the eco-design process have been a central part of the development of the Little Artshram Art-Farm and Community Garden programs, located at the old State Hospital on the Historic Barns property, in Traverse City, MI.