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.
Unlike many landscape design firms, AppleSeed Permaculture LLC continues full-time permaculture design, research, and development work straight through the winter. This year, we are offering an exclusive internship opportunity focused on permaculture business management and research.
AppleSeed Permaculture LLC is a cutting-edge permaculture & sustainable farm design firm dedicated to regenerating ecosystems and multi-capital economies around the planet.
This internship uses hands-on action learning and direct mentoring from firm principals Ethan Roland and Dyami Nason-Regan to train you in the nitty-gritty realities of a permaculture business. This is not the “sexy” part of permaculture – You will not participate in hands-on planting projects, tour permaculture sites, or travel the world. You will learn basic entrepreneurial skills like project management, client communications, web development, bookkeeping, and accounting.
The internship runs for 1-2 days per week, depending on experience. 1 day per week takes place in AppleSeed’s Accord, NY office. Internship runs until April, 2014.
Position begins when filled – apply immediately if interested.
- Project Management: Designing and developing systems for task tracking, accountability, and completion; managing business development projects.
- Permaculture Research: Plant species and varieties, sustainable farm business planning, multi-local market research, eco-social investing research.
- Finances: Quickbooks accounting; supporting tax preparation and filing for multiple enterprises.
- Technology & Social Media: AppleSeed website maintenance and updates, including blogs and social media integration. Building and managing Facebook pages and email lists for AppleSeed and allied enterprise educational events. (e.g. Terra Genesis International Permaculture Design Courses.) Troubleshooting routine technology problems and coordinating tech support as needed.
- Other business management opportunities, to be determined depending on competency and experience of Intern.
- Clear, direct, peaceful communication.
- Internal resilience and self-sufficiency. Ability to cheerfully improvise and adapt in changing circumstances.
- Systems thinker, highly organized, able to clarify and simplify complexity.
- Ability to attend to diverse details while staying connected to the big picture.
- Excellent writing and speaking skills.
- Warm, welcoming, connected phone presence and email “voice”.
- Experience with Word, Excel, WordPress, Gmail, Google Docs, & Dropbox.
- Familiarity with Quickbooks accounting.
- Solid familiarity with Apple/Mac software and hardware.
- Ability to design, streamline, and maintain efficient systems of operation and record-keeping.
- Strong desire to contribute to regenerative eco-social enterprise development.
- Familiarity with any of the following tools and languages is a plus:
- Permaculture Design
- Spiral Dynamics
- Re-evaluation Counseling
- 8 Shields / Art of Mentoring
- 4-Hour Workweek
- Passionate about personal growth and organizational development.
- Willingness to go to new edges, learn new skills, and try new approaches.
- Sense of humor, curiosity, and creativity.
- Local to Accord, NY (mid-Hudson/Catskills region) is a plus.
Please reply to email@example.com with a resume, three references, and a concise letter describing:
- Your business management experience and qualifications related to the Internship,
- Your reasons for applying for this Internship.
Ethan Roland & Dyami Nason-Regan
Principals, AppleSeed Permaculture LLC
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
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.
Green Haven Cohousing – Jack Nork, email@example.com, 203-500-2688
AppleSeed Permaculture LLC – firstname.lastname@example.org, 845-594-4518
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.
- Grow food
- Build community
- Regenerate their local ecosystems
- 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.
- 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
- 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
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
Here’s an updated slideshow with my most recent thinking on Financial Permaculture.
What will you do?!? Let us know in the comments.
I pitched this at the 2011 NY StartingBloc Fellowship as a finalist in the Ideas Marketplace.
Is your business an eco-social enterprise? Do you want to become an eco-social entrepreneur? Pitch us in the comments.
Wesleyan University’s Miles Bukiet paints a painful picture of lawns in the over-developed world, and interviews Ethan Roland of AppleSeed Permaculture for some green permaculture solutions.