Although the plane trip there was a disaster, and the food was not what I would have considered great, the Advanced permaculture course Edible Forest Gardening taught by Dave Jacke was; great that is.
Dave Jacke co-authored with Eric Toensmeier the award winning books Edible Forest Gardening. These books have literally been revolutionary in both the Permaculture, gardening, and landscape design itself.
Participants came from all over North America, and there were no fewer than 4 Canadians! three of us were from Ontario and one P.E.I native. The course was hosted by Cliff and Jen of Spiral Ridge Permaculture, an interesting place in itself. We were all going to help them figure out the direction of what to do next at Spiral Ridge.The course took place mainly at an intentional community called The Farm, an iconic place in itself.
Dave Jacke was the main teacher along with Penryn Craig, Matthew English, and Juliette Jones. Each teacher had unique experiences of their own to contribute.
Everyone at the course had a good understanding of how permaculture worked with many (including myself) being certified Permaculture designers. This made it possible to really focus on nuts and bolts design techniques. Intergrated into the the course was also about how to stay centred while doing this. Many learning techniques were used to help give us the best chance of deep and lasting learning.
One day we visited Solar Springs, Matthew’s place. He had some permaculture systems in place. It was very interesting to see what he had done from the choice of trees he had planted along his very long driveway to how he was building his house.
By the end of the course we had all created a design for Spiral Ridge Permaculture. Spiral Ridge is as it’s name implies, a ridge that includes steep slopes making it a challenging project. It had been clearcut only four years ago, but the carolinian forest was growing back nicely. It is approximately 6 acres so we had a choice of what kind of project we wanted to be a part of.
I was very part of the design team working on the larger scale project called the Interswale. The Interswale was a piece of land that is around 1 acre in size.
At times the steep slopes, pricking brambles and, and fear of chiggers made creating the Site Assessment challenging. But, the two teams that were working on the Interswale managed to get all the information we needed to move onto the analysis.
The two groups went back into teams and we then began our designs. My team; Jack, Zach, and myself poured over maps, books, and talked about possibilities for hours. We were up late for the short time we had to complete the finished design. Through the process of creating the design we all learned a lot about permaculture, design, and ourselves. I won’t sat it was easy, but it was incredibly rewarding. Presentations were made to clients Cliff and Jen who went away thrilled with all the new ideas.
I have now come away with a whole new perspective of both permaculture and edible forest gardening.Not only do I have ideas, but I know have a process to translate those ideas to paper.
I can see then next steps on our little farm and the direction I would like to go has become much clearer. I have also come home with a serious case of m envy. I HAVE to find some that grows in this climate. The bamboo was gorgeous and it was everywhere.