Sunday, May 11, 2014

Permaculture Class: The Grand Finale

This weekend was the final weekend of my Cold Climate Permaculture Class out in Palmer. This is the class I've been taking once a month since October, and I've had two major projects for. We had to deliver our final project today, and oh my gosh, I was so freaking proud of what we had done.

Our final design. Drawing by Ray Nabinger, color by Alicia Nelson.

I had a fantastic group where everyone contributed equally. We met at Bridget's lot (the place we were designing) almost every week for the past month to get everything put together. We ended up with 4 or 5 drawings, about 10 overlays, multiple spreadsheets, and a 53 page report. Now, before you end up too shocked, most of those 53 pages were illustrations. But still, 9300 words is a lot of work for something you're doing for "fun".

I got a design certification!
...which I will need to pay off my new library.

But it was fun! We really enjoyed meeting at the lot every time. The last time, Bridget brought the rocket stove she had built in one of our classes, and we cooked a meal of Alaskan-grown cow, nettles and onions over a fire made out of twigs. Talk about eating locally! It was amazing.

Fievel and Tilly fighting over a locally grown bone. The big dog sat nearby and behaved.
This class was expensive, true (although very reasonable for the market -- I've seen similar classes offered at $1500 to $2000, where this one was $1200). But I can honestly say I got so much out of it. Of course, I learned a lot of gardening techniques, and a lot about growing things here in AK. I learned how to kill and process a rabbit. I built a rocket stove out of tin cans. I visited 3 local farms and a bio-shelter and learned how they work. But the best thing I got out of it was finding other people who live here and are like me.

I even made friends who like small dogs! (L-R: Fievel, Tamara, me, Tilly)

The group gathering to say their goodbyes.

What do I mean by that? Well, up here, it seems like there are not a lot of people who are interested in the environment. People like their "toys" and their fertilizers. But in the class, I met people who don't think washing and re-using ziplocks is crazy. People who like to talk about the possibilities of owning chickens, and when I say "I'm getting rid of my yard. Planting cherry trees is just the first step", they laugh and nod knowingly. And then they give me tips on where to find cherry trees!

My two tiny cherry trees in my giant yard.

So what am I going to do with my design certificate? I'm not sure, at the moment. I am a certified designer, but I don't feel ready to go out and start charging people just yet. My group and I got along really well, and we'd like to continue that momentum -- so I think we're going to try to design each of our lots for practice. And we have to help Bridget actually implement her plan, so we're going to have work parties. The operative word there is parties. Lots and lots of parties.

4 Fish Design team partying at the lot: (L-R) Ray, me, Bridget, and Alicia

You're probably sick of permaculture by now, but I won't tell you I'm going to stop blogging about it. I will promise you, however, that I'll try to blog about other things in between. Summer is fast approaching, and some of it will be gardening -- but I'll also be hiking, and biking, and camping, and going on a big trip to South Carolina for a family reunion of sorts. So I'll try to keep things interesting. And thanks for reading, friends and family!


Anonymous said...

It really sounds like you got a lot out of it- including (especially?) the contacts.

There is no substitute for experience unless it is a little bit of good training. I have really been struggling with gardening in FL (subtropics)since I don't know what I am doing.


henna73 said...

I like your gardening posts! It's always nice to find friends that are into the same things. Warm summer thoughts coming your way!

Anonymous said...

reseWhat?!? You don't wash and re-use foil too? Mrs. Callahan laughed at her mother for doing just that. I didn't have the nerve to tell her that I do too.
Glad to hear you've found some like minded people.

Carlw4514 said...

You really going to have a greenhouse?

Uncle C

L said...

Thanks for the support, everyone! Uncle Carl, I don't know. I was going to do a temporary greenhouse, but it's been so warm that it makes me think I won't even need it. We'll see.