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.
WORLD-CLASS PERMACULTURE & SOCIAL ENTERPRISE TRAINING
In 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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.
- 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
- 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.
- Clove Valley CSA
- Green Phoenix Permaculture
- Falcon Formulations
When – September 1st – November 20th, 2013.
- 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.
“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
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
(Note from Ethan: This post is a final design report by the 2010 AppleSeed Permaculture Interns Brandy Hall (Ashevillage Institute & owner of Shades of Green, Inc) and Evan Schoepke (Gaia Punk Design Co-op & Punk Rock Permaculture E-Zine). The full design presentation is included as a slideshow at the end of the post. AppleSeed Permaculture is currently accepting applications for our 2011 Internship program – click here to learn more.)
We set out to address the challenges of an existing five-acre orchard which had not been managed in five years…