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Kelda Miller
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Well, as I posted elsewhere, after being rejected twice from being trained as a Master Gardener, I took myself over to the Native Plant Society and enrolled in a similar program to learn about native plants.

Thoughts:
1) Format just like MG, it got me thinking about urban permaculture courses, and how they're usually done inĀ  a series of weekends. This is the same thing but just every Friday. I mulled over the possibility of doing Permaculture courses like this. It's a schedule where people wouldn't have to give up their weekends for a long period. I also guess that a majority of folks who are enrolled have been able to do so because their employer sees the value in it and pays/allows time off. For example, there's a handful of people from the Parks Department who are thrilled they get to sleep in later every Friday and get to be learning/doing something different. That it adds to their ability to better manage parks (better do their job) is so obvious to their employer.
Something for us permies to contemplate.....

2) The class. What? A classroom with desks where we face the front and not in a circle. And where people talked about their interest in their topic because they 'have such and such a 9 to 5 job and like to be outdoorsy'. That was a little awkward. (I go inside to get warm, and think of 'the outdoors' as where I live). ANYWAY, there's a Primitive Skills guy also taking the course, so we quickly found each other and talked about how weird it is to not be sitting in a circle under a tree somewhere. Also, I found out we're on the same side of the 'invasive species' debate, so that will be awesome to not be alone in that.

3) Curriculum. I thought I totally biffedd the pop quiz ID. But it turned out I think I did better than my neighbors So at least I'm not woefully embarrased. I just suck at plant families and I know it.
 
Kelda Miller
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Oh yeah, and it helps that the director of this program knows me, likes me, knows a bit about permaculture, likes it, etc. But all these things the Master Gardener director liked too (now I'm talking about another post I made, refer there for that info)....

The biggest difference that I saw in the application process: Master Gardener there were too many applicants for the available slots. Native Plants, they were kind of low and hoping they'd get enough to run the course.
Jocelyn may be right, and it may not have been permaculture that turned them off to me, but instead that I don't need the training as much as others.

And, the MG director said she'd call me about sepp holzer, said she'd call today......It's almost 8:30 pm.....
(Poor woman! If she ever sees these posts she'll feel totally scrutinized all over the internet. I should think about these things before I start them...)
 
            
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Location: Louisville, KY
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Thanks for posting this, Kelda.  I think you've pretty much answered some of the questions I had when you mentioned this class in the other thread

I think my earlier question in that thread probably concerned more of the issues involving what makes a plant a native and what makes one "invasive."  I would love to take a class that explored the interaction of plant species, both native & otherwise, in succession towards a stable climax forest.
 
Kelda Miller
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Hahaha, that's where the infiltration happens. First day of class we got all sorts of 'watch out for invasives!' literature. It's sure to be a hotly contested topic. I know myself, and the primitive skills guy, are both looking for a more holistic picture then the good vs. bad plants. And the director of this program is pretty awesome. But still, tons of 'war on invasives' literature. I'll keep you posted,

and as an aside to the earlier posts, i got drunk on inaugaration night and got suckered into all sorts of business deals. one of them being "so if a pdc course is 2weeks, and a 'art of mentoring'/primitive skills' course is 1week, and there's this HUGE acreage that metroparks wants to see be a permaculture showcase, etc, then why not do a 3week long course in Tacoma!!"
 
            
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Location: Louisville, KY
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Sounds like a good class in the making...drunken business deals don't necessarily all turn out bad (just a higher percentage than sober ones...)

Also, in response to your point 1 in your first Jan 19 posting in this thread: I seem to remember that a friend-of-a-friend was taking a PDC course in Vermont which met one or two evenings during the week for a couple/few months.  My friend's friend and I talked about the course a little, and she was happy that she had time each week to let what she learned in class sink in a little before the next week.
 
Kelda Miller
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It's true about the 'sinking in' thing.

I realized this week that everyone around me had done lots of self-inspired homework (note cards, info sheets) to help them learn stuff. I, on the other hand, over-confident that I knew the stuff, was Really bad at the practice ID questions.

hmmm....something for me to think about...

But if a PDC course gave so much time between classes, gave specific questions and things to learn by next week, it would definitely inspire the same self-directed learning.

And, who would've thought, I really like the tests. It's not like we're graded, but I like that we're tested, and then are given the correct answers. It helps me realize what I don't know.

I think I may incorporate into my permaculture courses in the future. I think I tend to do the whole class review "okay folks, what are the components of a guild?" or "what does 'appropriate' mean in the phrase appropriate technology'?"

But there's really something to be said about personal, closed book, pop quizzes. Especially if the quiz is never 'handed in', but used as a personal review.

The director of the class has also been using a phrase I feel is very apt for permaculture students as well
"think Resource, not Overwhelm"
(obviously, if you're trying to teach Forest Ecosystems in an hour, think what Resources there are, don't think how Overwhelmed you are by all the information)
 
Kelda Miller
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OKEY-DOKE,

I'm getting sick and tired of the good plants/bad plants tirade, and instead of blowing up in class or tearing apart the person lecturing, I will just express myself Here, and then think of a good way not to react, but to act.

The other day a teacher said something about alders being Worthless because they don't do much in the landscape. For chrissake it's an ALDER. A native plant that fixes nitrogen. I have a friend permaculturist who's email is 'respectyouralders'. I can't help but agree.

And then the Constant litany of weed this, weed that, destroying this, destroying that. We were talking about stinky bob and a teacher said it can spread from a little patch to the size of a room in a single season.

I'm holding back the "only if it's trying to heal a scraped landscape! maybe there's something wrong with the landscape and not the plant!!"

By now, everyone in class has kind of gotten my jist, at least enough from whole group discussion, and more from me would just be arrogant.  But in small groups I'm not holding back there. I hope people don't get sick of me.

Oh, and dock, talking bad about DOCK! That's like talking bad about Dandelion! Only the two most useful medicinal herbs in existence And in our backyards at once. GRRRRRRRRR
 
Matt Ferrall
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Location: Western WA,usda zone 6/7,80inches of rain,250feet elevation
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Ha ha.Keep it up girl!
 
Matt Ferrall
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Location: Western WA,usda zone 6/7,80inches of rain,250feet elevation
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Dont you hate it when they blame the symptom.Industrial society is apparently above critique.I dont really think its that great to have some natives in our suburban back yards.The red cedar for instance.In a back yard the tree will be exposed to light from many sides.This will cause it to branch out.Those branches become knots in the wood which in turn makes the wood less valuable for lumber.Now thats not such a big deal if you use it as  poles or in a cordwood wall but not everyone wants to do that.With all those branches you cant harvest the bark for fiber.In short,a city grown cedar tree will be of low resource value by most cultural standards.In order to cultivate cedars for a quality product,it needs to be slow grown in a forest setting(shade/competition).
    A nut tree in the same location will enjoy the room to spread out and will feel able to produce plenty of nuts without the intense forest competition.If you plant a nut tree in a suburban or city lot,you will be able to provide yourself with a portion of your food needs.It will convert the nutrients from compost to dog doo into a high value item and reduce the amount of energy it takes to stay fed.
    Planting a cedar in your back yard will require you to import food,which takes alot more resources.And a forest somewhere else will have to be cleared in order to grow that food.The forest that will be cleared to make your food will probably be more accessable to wildlife.The cedar in your back yard will have only limited interaction oportunities with the native wildlife.So as you can see,its far better for native wildlife for you to plant a non native food tree in your back yard then some natives.A native food plant that you are willing to eat might be a good compromise.
    In this global economy a phenomana has developed where people want to appease their concience by planting natives everywhere.Weve outsourced much of our food production so I guess after the collapse we are going to be going native.
  As for the invasive debate,as a forest gardener/permie ive decided to reframe the debate as Biological Enrichment.As in "so you are opposed to biological enrichment?".I first saw this term used in the OIkOS cataloge.And of course,Ive got to put a plug in for the book Invasion Biology-critique of a pseudoscience.
   
 
            
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Location: Louisville, KY
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Way to keep the faith, Kelda!  (Or maybe: way to undermine the faith in worthless-vs-worthy plants...)

I'm wondering what the purposes of a landscape are that your instructor can find alders worthless...is his/her criteria based only on how a plant looks in a landscape or does the poor alder fall short in other areas?  What is a plant supposed to do in a landscape, according to your instructors?


 
Kelda Miller
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I couldn't help it in class last week: there was a speaker talking about 'weeds' and she full on said 'weeds destroy soil structure'. I'd been noodling along working on other things, like I have to in class to stay awake, and heard that and just about started foaming at the mouth.

So I politely asked what in the world kind of science makes her say that weeds destroy soils. And that, in reference to the book I've been thinking of dragging into class 'Invasion Biology', it was some pseudoscience that only exists in the heads of native plant fanatics, etc etc.

Aren't weeds the first step in soils repairing themselves?

So on & on. Teacher pulls me aside for a conversation during a break. Something along the lines of 'Kelda I know you're smart, will you just shut up about this because you might confuse the class'. I can be amiable though, and she did come to the agreement that yes, it may be untrue to call some plants 'bad' instead its more correct to say 'that they amend the soil in a way that suits them'etc. But I still should shut up about it.

I bet if I had just a half-hour to describe the conversation in front of the class we all could feel much better, haven't quite asked for that yet....

Anyway, teacher did give me a good challenge.
In reference to using the weeds to work for you she says she's just Never Seen it work out. That all the restoration sites she knows of will be covered again with opportunists if people aren't diligent. And so she wants to make sure that the class learns that diligence is important.

Of course I could name a number of sites where it does work, but these are permaculture places where people live, not public restoration sites. And part of working with restoration is sometimes taking out all the weeds. (The Bullocks still are adamant about pulling milk thistle, it attempted to devour their lower garden). But that's only one strategy that should be based on observation (they leave many other 'invasives' that don't act that way).

So, to make this a positive, here's the Challenge:
Public restoration site using weeds to enhance it into a healthy ecosystem. As it happens we have the perfect spot for it. The old tacoma driving range has tons of scotch broom, and an excited parks staff that wants to see permaculture gardens...

It will depend a lot on maintenance, and people feeling like they are stewards of the land. Maybe that's the whole invasives debate in a nutshell. The cities are full of people. If everyone took ownership over a bit of land and learned it well, we could maintain a diverse landscape.

On another note: after class last friday I hosted a free permaculture movie showing in another part of town. I think 1/4 of my native plant classmates were there!

And Sepp (in the movie) has this great little rant about 'bears claw' invasive and how he uses it to make money and feed his fish. gotta love the guy.


 
Kelda Miller
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Oh yeah, here's the other kicker. I don't want to be dogmatic so I'll just offer it up.

Teacher of Native Plants, and other speakers, have counter-argued with me that weeds in fact make the soil Too rich for native plants. Scotch broom fixes Too much nitrogen etc.

I counter-counter-argue about that with Alder and our-long last Nfixer- Bits of Rotting Salmon (lots of it). That our weeds may be filling that gap. But on this topic I know what I'm talking about, but also I'm just kind of making it up.

Would a nice, rich soil amended by weeds (let's say dandelion and clover, or dock and scotch broom) be Too rich for native plants to grow? What kind of  science is this? Anyone have any knowledge on this?
 
Kelda Miller
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Of note, I held another permaculture movie showing in Tacoma tonight. A few More folks from native plant class comes, as does Teacher
!

Darn it though, she has a phone call and misses the part about Sepp using invasive plants to nourish bees for honey, and to collect ants to feed his fishes. snap.
 
Kelda Miller
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Who knows if anyone still is reading about this topic: but all the latest developments are intriguing to me!

1) today the pierce county noxious weed police came in, but they understood my questions and answered them really well i thought. yes, the conversation should be about ecosystem health. yes the weeds are the bandaid to a disturbance that isn't their fault etc. I was impressed. And teacher even said something about working with weeds in the evolutionary sense, as I'm glancing at student next to me 'wow! she's really saying that now!'

2) primitive skills guy and i spent most of class passing notes back and forth to each other about planning a tacoma prim skills/permaculture course for the fall. Throughout the day we hammered out some guest speaker list, steering committee roles, prelim budget, etc.

3) ego thing: (but that's what posting on the internet is about right?). we have guest speakers on such-and-such topic, and its got to the point that i see folks get visibly excited when i raise my hand to annoy/question them on some topic or another. "oh boy! what's she going to say now!?!" It spices things up a bit.

4) Teacher today was excited there was a native medicinal plant I was stumped by on identification. (A budding coltsfoot). Sweet! That's totally a friendly competition I'm down for!
 
Matt Ferrall
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I'm still here.Enjoying your posts.Internet limited that I am.Great to hear that your spicing it up a bit.Nothing like controversy to get people to start thinking!(even if you have to make a fool of yourself sometimes)
As for the rich soil thing.I remember seeing a study that showed a field as having more Nitrogen? or Organic matter? in the soil itself than a forest.At first I was all annoyed!Like how could a single story production model be higher in anything of value in comparison to a forest.Well it turns out that a forest is nitrate poor cause there is so much carbon that it gets taken up  immediately.Also,because of the lack of nitrogen,alot of the woody debree just sits on the soil surface without decaying.At least thats how I kinda remember it playing out.As for soil being to rich for natives.That sounds like a poor way of explaining it.Ive seen natives do just fine on all types of soil including ex-farm land with rich soil.Now many non-natives know how to better utilize this rich soil in order to maintain their niches at the expense of succession by natives but that does not mean that the soil is too rich for the natives.(if you really want to get under their skin,talk about reed canary grass like its a native.It is found in native baskets from pre contact so it is pretty contriversial)
  I think you really hit the nail on the head when talking about people needing to be integrated in their landscape.It seems crazy that people are out their managing an ecosystem that they dont even use for their needs.I guess that strikes at some differences in what ecological living means to different people.In many peoples minds,humans should just stay in the city with experts managing the ecosystem from affar.Well if people are not out in it observing on a daily basis then the management gets really skewed.Before you know it,they are spraying herbicide everywhere creating a native ecosystem that doesnt even come close to native  american management and wont be providing any human needs anytime soon.Diligence is neccesary whether or not you are revegetating with natives or non.
 
Kelda Miller
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and here's a midweek update:
teacher just sent out this
http://www.wildlifegardeners.org/forum/index.php

It's a forum for native plant gardeners who may stray into crazy things like food as well.

People who are into permaculture find our forum, people who are into rewilding find their own forum, and grandmothers who are part of the audobon society join this latest one above. And then we lead them wherever we will....
-------------------------------
Later: actually, Don't check them out. pretty ridiculous moderation, i moved that to another link 'meaningless drivel' to learn more.
 
Kelda Miller
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oh, and this too:
hm

Washington Weed Mapping Tool
somehow i get the image of a future where humans are spending loads of resources trying to tell the clouds exactly where to rain, and labelling any errant cloud as an invasive/evil/destroyer of the peace

http://biology.burke.washington.edu/waweeds/
 
Heidi Bohan
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Location: Snoqualmie Valley, Western Washington
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Okay Kelda, you know me, and you know I like you a lot. But, why in the world did you sign up for a 'native plant stewardship' program if you don't really care to steward native plants? The whole point of the course (I was in the first planning group, and first training in 1996 so it's very familiar to me) was to train people to work toward caring for existing and restoring native plant communities. 

You are incorrect in your response to stinky bob. I have seen that plant take over entire sections of pristine deep forest filled with healthy groundcover layesr such as bleeding heart, false lily, etc in two seasons. That was not scraped clean habitat. It was old growth forest. With that in mind you can assume you may be wrong in other statements. There's a bunch of us who have been doing this for many years, we just might know something too.

There is a real effort to try to preserve and restore some fairly critical areas for wildlife habitat. I can argue, very well, the value of this. I argued it with David Holmgren in fact, and he gave my arguments healthy regard. In particular he recognized that we live in one of the few areas in the world where the natural, native habitat is actually fairly close to intact. We have a chance here. And we have some wildlife that could really use that help. I've made it a major part of my lifes work. It's disheartening to hear someone making it their cause to discredit it and those doing the work. 

I agree that in people's back yards, it is probably not important. But in Zone 5, it darn well better be. And that matches Mollisons words in the tome as well. We are honor bound to preserve native wildlife habitat if we can, as permaculturists. No one on this blog has the knowledge to know the impact of the loss of this habitat. The native plant stewardship program hopes to achieve this. It is not saying that all non native plants are bad. It is saying that there are some areas we should darn well work to preserve as intact ecosystems.



 
Kelda Miller
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Heidi, thank you so much for your post and I'm in agreement with all of it.

I signed up for the class hoping to learn more about native plants and how to protect ecosystems and restore them, and have been highly frustrated that nearly every class simplifies the restoration process to just identifying the good and bad plants, then best ways to kill the bad ones.

There is very little conversation about exposed habitats, edges, exposed soils, nothing on soil remediation, etc.

This has led to Stewardship Teams that think about pulling weeds, permits for pulling weeds, and budget for pulling weeds. I think it leaves out a lot.

A part of it may be that I'm frustrated with how the basics are taught. Like the instruction is biased towards teaching people to watch out for weeds. I wish the conversation was more about looking out for symptoms of poor ecosystem health ( including soil exposure, disturbance to a forest's buffer, and weeds).

Thanks for the info about stinky bob. I hope to think my instructors know that that kind of info is what I'm looking for, and that's why I keep asking questions. But no, they didn't pass along that particular info, or why exactly it is that 'weeds ruin soil health'.

The latest this week is that 'blackberries cause soil erosion'. Some of it seems so incredulous and its hard when I don't get answers, just repetition.


 
paul wheaton
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Kelda,

You're making the world a better place by sticking it out in there and developing a healthy relationship with your teacher.  Good show!

As long as you mention Sepp:  remember that for a long time, people thought he was a lunatic.  And I'm sure your teacher would wonder about his mental stability too - of course, the DVD does a great job of mending that.

When I did my master gardener training, my instructor, Helen Atthowe, was super excellent.  And one of the first things she said was "on't trust what anybody says.  Not even me.  Figure it out for yourself." 

A book you might enjoy:  State of Fear by michael crichton.  Fiction.  Once you are done with the book, you are prepared for a bit of non-fiction he writes at the end.  That is the truly mind blowing part.

As for natives:  I tend to avoid that crowd.  Their mission tends to be different from mine.  And a few that I've met seem pretty hell bent that I have to live my life according to their standards. 

ego thing: (but that's what posting on the internet is about right?). we have guest speakers on such-and-such topic, and its got to the point that i see folks get visibly excited when i raise my hand to annoy/question them on some topic or another. "oh boy! what's she going to say now!?!" It spices things up a bit.


You may be bringing more education to the group than the teacher!

 
permaculture is largely about replacing oil with people. And one tiny ad:
paul's patreon stuff
https://permies.com/t/60329/paul-patreon-stuff
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