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Is a Full PDC Too Much for a Beginner?  RSS feed

 
David Galloway
Posts: 78
Location: Greenville, SC
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Would a permaculture design course be a good experience for someone who doesn't have a lot of hands-on gardening or agricultural experience yet? I'm trying to find out what vacation I want to take next year and am thinking about a two-week intensive PDC, but I'm not sure if it will be too much too soon.

I'm a 32 year old city boy with wife and 1.9 kids (due Nov 26th!) who has a cookie-cutter house on a 1/4 acre lot in the burbs. We started our first garden and compost bin last year, but since we don't have a fenced in backyard, neighborhood hooligans ripped up our plants and killed our gardening spirit for the year. Our plan is to build a fence in Jan-Feb 2012 and begin gardening in a couple of raised beds and continue composting.

We're hoping to sell our house in spring 2013 and buy 5-10 acres, at which point I want to crazy with Permaculture, fruit & nut trees, aquaponics, you name it. I've read tons of stuff but have little hands-on experience.

After listening to Ben Falk on the survival podcast yesterday, his PDC seems aimed around not only teaching the core 72-hour PDC curriculum but also building hands-on skills. From http://www.wholesystemsdesign.com/permaculture-design-course/ :

We will practice the following techniques and tool uses while in this course.  Students in the practicum
after the course will have the opportunity for additional practice and more tools to use.

Blade sharpening: scythes, knives, sickles, axes
Scything/hand mowing with scythes
Chainsaw maintenance and observational use
Safe and directional tree felling techniques
Forest management, tree selection, harvesting methods, hauling/skidding methods
Basic tractor and truck use and maintenance
Mushroom inoculation tools and techniques
Fruit harvesting
Putting up food in root cellars, storage and processing methods
Basic carpentry and building tools including saws, chisels, shop tools, drawknife, and more
Rotational grazing: fencing, moving fence, moving animals, setting up permanent fence, electric use and wiring for fencing
Waterworks for home and farms: sweating (soldering) copper pipe, welding poly water line, irrigation systems
Numerous other rural living and farm/homesteading techniques simply by living on the active farm site for the 2 weeks


This seems right up my alley as an aspiring homesteader and wanted to see if those here more experienced than I think this is a logical path to follow. Thanks for reading!
 
                        
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If you can afford it and you are excited by it I think you are on the right track.

If you don't mind sharing, in what city do you live in a suburb?
 
David Galloway
Posts: 78
Location: Greenville, SC
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Hi kazron, I'm just outside of Greenville, South Carolina -- not a large city, but big enough that I have few rural skills as of yet.
 
Travis Philp
gardener
Posts: 965
Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
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Hi David.

First, I want to say that what I'm about to relay is a pinhole view of a very big picture. All PDC course are not created exactly equal, even though they are supposed to follow the same broad topics. Ask as many people as you can about their PDC experience. Don't just take one persons word for it.

I would suggest taking an intro to permaculture course first, and then spend a year or two (at least) doing some gardening and research. I think that if you're going to take a full two week PDC, it's best to have a fair amount of hands on gardening experience.

I took a two week PDC course this year, and most of my fellow students were similar to you, with little to no gardening knowledge or experience. Many of them were disappointed with the course, in that it didn't teach enough specifics about gardening. They didn't have the basic understanding of ecology and gardening needed to really understand and run with the permaculture design process.

Many of them went into the course expecting that they'd learn how to grow their own food and it just wasn't the case for this course at least.
 
George Lee
Posts: 539
Location: Athens, GA/Sunset, SC
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David Galloway wrote:
Hi kazron, I'm just outside of Greenville, South Carolina -- not a large city, but big enough that I have few rural skills as of yet.
Howdy, I'm in Six Mile,SC..right near Lake Keowee. To answer your question, no I don't think it's too much to undertake. If you've done gardening throughout your life, and don't mind getting dirty, step outside the box, and enjoy the knowledge and experience that's waiting out there...
 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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A PDC is not a gardening course.  Gardening is just one of the facets of permaculture.
A typical course will not teach the mechanics of each segment, but will teach you how to observe what is around you, and ask yourself questions about how to steer your project towards its goal.

No two projects will be the same, as each will have its own set of existing circumstances, and its own goal.  A good course should teach you how to evaluate what you are starting with, and which steps are appropriate to achieving your goal.
 
George Lee
Posts: 539
Location: Athens, GA/Sunset, SC
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John Polk wrote:
A PDC is not a gardening course.  Gardening is just one of the facets of permaculture.
A typical course will not teach the mechanics of each segment, but will teach you how to observe what is around you, and ask yourself questions about how to steer your project towards its goal.

No two projects will be the same, as each will have its own set of existing circumstances, and its own goal.  A good course should teach you how to evaluate what you are starting with, and which steps are appropriate to achieving your goal.
  I didn't say it was. I meant the getting dirty part in general. I've done a # of courses, including one in Costa Rica. I did water harvesting, treatment with aquaponics,and was consistently getting at dirty as one could ever get. There we're people there who were overly squeamish,and I just jump right in, and took on tasks others would not..
 
Hugh Hawk
Posts: 225
Location: Adelaide, South Australia (Mediterranean climate)
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If you're planning to buy acreage in 18 months then you need to get learning so that you know what you intend to do with it and what to look for.  I'd go for it.
 
Ken Peavey
steward
Posts: 2524
Location: FL
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It may be a bit like drinking from a fire hose, but if you are thirsty, there is nothing to stop you.
Think of Permies.com as a continuously available refresher course.
 
David Galloway
Posts: 78
Location: Greenville, SC
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Travis Philp,

I'd love to take an Intro to Permaculture course, but the only place I know of within a few hours drive of me that offers any Permaculture classes is Earthaven in North Carolina, and I don't see anything like that on their course listing. Do you know of any other places in the southeast that offer this?

One thing I failed to mention is that I'm planning on taking some kind of week or two-week long course in the latter half of 2012. I'm currently in the process of losing a large amount of weight and my wife and I agreed that when I have lost 75 lbs I can go to a PDC, spend two weeks as a WWOOFer, go on a two-week backpacking trip, or go to a wilderness survival class. I think the PDC would probably be the most beneficial in the long-term.

LivingWind,

I just saw your Tumblr page - great stuff! I see you're actually in Sunset, SC. I know exactly where that is. I grew up between Pickens and Pumpkintown and drove up 178 to see friends in the Eastatoee valley and up to fish at Rocky Bottom as a kid. Do you participate in any kind of Permaculture activities in the area?

Hugh H,

That was primarily my thought.

Ken Peavey,

Believe me, I understand it is a fire hose! I don't think I'll be able to become a professional Permaculturist by going to the the PDC with little prior experience, but I'd rather not go in blindly when I get ready to buy land. Also, the course I linked in the original post seems to offer lots of hands-on activity, which is what I'm also seeking. I need to learn how to operate a chainsaw and tractor in addition to learning how to observe, put in swales, and establish guilds.
 
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