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Does the PEA (Permaculture Experience for Apartments/Anywhere) seem like something you could do?

 
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Hi!

We've been working on making a Permaculture Experience for Anywhere/Apartments, and we're looking for some input!

For those of you living in apartments, would you be able to complete things that take place in parks or potentially on friend's properties?

Is there anything in these current badges/badge bits that are out of your reach? What would you replace those tasks with that you could do?

Here's the whole forum on PEA: https://permies.com/f/382/pea (you can see rough drafts of badges there)

Here's the development thread: https://permies.com/t/126847/Logan-PEA-Development-Thread

Here's the Core Philosophy page: https://permies.com/t/126834/PEA-Core-Philosophy-Badges

Thank you so much for your input!
 
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Having lived both in HOA's and in the wild here are things people can do in apartments:

-compost with a cedar bin inside...I've done it with no smell;
-start growing gardens/food bushes inside either via hydroponics or in pots (these can be transplanted in a future homestead);
-build a passive solar window fitting IF they have full southern exposure on that window during the winter (this can also be used in a future homestead);
-build a small solar electric system (here's a guy who has three levels of systems and one can be done in a backpack -I have both the backpack and mid size version (of my own selection of course);
-they can build a hot box for cooking (this can be used in a future homestead);
-I am working on plans for a through the wall solar oven which I will also do a through a window version;
-they can build a cool box for drinks that do not need 48F refrigeration (this can be used in the future on their homestead)  -I would not promote this heavily tho cause it's effectiveness isn't like the other devices I list here;
-they can grow rabbits by calling them pets OR guinea pigs;
-they can then compost the bedding and manure in their cedar composting bin;
-they can build a grass/sand/grass/charcoal/grass/sand/grass water filter;
-they can start a live medicinal plant pharmacy in their apartment;
-they can learn about the sun's angle at their given lattidue and how it matters to passive solar through out the year;
-they can learn about how overhang can shade their windows in the summer and give them complete sun during the winter;
- they can learn about the three types of heat transfer;
-they can grow mushrooms inside including medicinal ones;
-they can measure how much they can shut off their heater in the winter by using window battens at night;
-they can have their dryer vent (NON_GAS DRYER ONLY) into a 5 gallon water bucket to catch the lint and then heat their apartment with the moist air during the winter (see my blog);
-they can build a vermiculture bin instead of a compost bin like this guy;
-they can create brown's gas like this guy.



Here is a fantastic book for the city and some of the ideas can be used in apartments:
, "The Integral Urban House Self-Reliant Living in the City"The Farallones Institute, Sierra Club Books, San Francisco


 
Nicole Alderman
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In this thread (https://permies.com/t/129955/PEA-Permaculture-Experience-Apartment-dwellers), Paul mentioned that he didn't think there was a way for apartment dwellers to learn "natural building, woodland care, earthworks, rocket, foraging, plumbing and hot water, or homesteading."

paul wheaton wrote:Aspects for PEA:

gardening (in pots)
round wood woodworking (will need to buy materials like spoon carving blanks)
tool care
dimensional lumber woodworking
food prep and preservation
animal care (aquariums and small rodents)
community living
textiles
greywater
metalworking (soda can, soup can, wire, purchased materials)
electricity
commerce
natural medicine
nest
oddball

Aspects not in PEA:

natural building
woodland care
earthworks
rocket
foraging
plumbing and hot water
homesteading



I'm wondering if, maybe, we could find a way for apartment dwellers to learn those skills? For those in apartments, would you see a badges that require tasks that take place in parks and friends homes as offputting, or would you just think, "Well, that badge might not be for me, but there's all these other PEA badges I can do, so I'm fine and excited about learning what I can!"

For example, D Logan had some ideas for a PEA natural building badge (https://permies.com/t/129502/PEA-Badge-Natural-Building):

12 Adobe bricks (12"x6"x3")
Make a block of Roman cement from scratch.
Make a natural paint and paint a 4x8 area
Build a shed (can be done on behalf of a friend, family or neighbor) that meets all of the following standards:
 Rubble trench foundation with larger stone base to level and support the structure.
 20 x 8 ft of cob, straw bale, rammed earth, or cordwood wall.
 25 sqft of wood roof (cedar shakes, oak shingles, etc).
 Meets any local code requirements.
Make a small cob ball and give it the tadelakt treatment to waterproof it.



Is there some other natural building that someone could do in an apartment? Make a miniature natural dollhouse from cob, stone, etc with correct foundation and complete with natural shingles?

Is it better to not have a natural building badge, or to have one that has a task or two that might require the use of someone's land?

 
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Nicole Alderman wrote:In this thread (https://permies.com/t/129955/PEA-Permaculture-Experience-Apartment-dwellers), Paul mentioned that he didn't think there was a way for apartment dwellers to learn "natural building, woodland care, earthworks, rocket, foraging, plumbing and hot water, or homesteading."




I think some kind of foraging could be done in cities. I think I read an article on it somewhere? PM? But it was a while ago... I'll try and find it, if anyone is interested?
I personally know people who live in big cities (well, big on the Scandinavian scale  :-) ) and gather wild and other edible plants for food. Of course these are just additions and they do not provide a significant portion of the daily calories by any means. But these plants, fruits, nuts etc. that grow in cities, can provide some valuable nutrients to the diet. Nutrients that are deficient in those foods available in city grocery stores, that is.

Woodlands in cities are different than in those in the country side, for sure. But at least in my home country, semi-wild forested areas do exist very close to every "city".  Becoming involved in the local associations that campaign for the so-called Natural City Woodland Management is a way to learn woodland care in Finland.
 
Nina Jay
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Nicole Alderman wrote:



For those of you living in apartments, would you be able to complete things that take place in parks or potentially on friend's properties?
!



I love this idea and it is a practical, doable solution. There are people all over the world doing this and even earning a living while they are at it!

I also think it's great if city dwellers can support the nearby country permie/ organic farmers by buying the staples like grain and potatoes from them. It is  a win-win scenario IMHO
 
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Nina Jay wrote:
I think some kind of foraging could be done in cities. I think I read an article on it somewhere? PM? But it was a while ago... I'll try and find it, if anyone is interested?
I personally know people who live in big cities (well, big on the Scandinavian scale  :-) ) and gather wild and other edible plants for food. Of course these are just additions and they do not provide a significant portion of the daily calories by any means. But these plants, fruits, nuts etc. that grow in cities, can provide some valuable nutrients to the diet. Nutrients that are deficient in those foods available in city grocery stores, that is.

Woodlands in cities are different than in those in the country side, for sure. But at least in my home country, semi-wild forested areas do exist very close to every "city".  Becoming involved in the local associations that campaign for the so-called Natural City Woodland Management is a way to learn woodland care in Finland.



I think that foraging is one of the easiest to do if you live in an apartment. I've spent most of my life in cities (British) and often without a car, there's always somewhere you can forage and it's not that hard to get out of a city and find things either.
 
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Skandi Rogers wrote:
I think that foraging is one of the easiest to do if you live in an apartment. I've spent most of my life in cities (British) and often without a car, there's always somewhere you can forage and it's not that hard to get out of a city and find things either.



I lived in New York City or a close suburb my entire life.  Lived in small apartments much of that time.  There's TONS of free food to forage.  Where I lived in Brooklyn, there are huge mature mulberry trees in the park along the Belt Parkway.  I would see the local Arab women picking them so I asked them about it.  Long before I knew anything about permaculture (probably 1980) I was hip to mulberries.  If there's an immigrant community near you, they probably know what's around and what to do with it.

There's lots of other goodies too.  "Wildman" Steve Brill wrote books about urban foraging and still leads tours, having done so for almost 50 years.
 
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If you have access to the outside and can forage, then we could begin to talk about all sorts of things, and soon you end up at PEP.  

My thoughts on the apartment angle was that 100% could be done in any apartment - including apartments that do not have a balcony.  

For some apartment dwellers, there is a park nearby, but the thought of attempting to do anything in that park could be outside the comfort zone of many apartment dwellers.  It could be illegal or it could attract unkind attention.

For others, the nearest park could be a strong inconvenience.  And for others, there might not be a park nearby.  

While contemplating where to draw lines for PEA, I think it would be good to keep all activities in the apartment.  Stores and/or mail order (amazon?) for materials could be an option.  

If a person DOES have access to a park or a nearby farm that is open to this kind of thing, the student could explore PEP.   Or, maybe, someday, there could be another program that is an alternative to PEP.

I like the idea that PEA ends up as a program that ANYBODY can do.  And that a lot of the BBs for PEA will be shared with PEP.   So if a person gets PEA2 certified, it would be a pretty short jump to PEP1.

 
Nicole Alderman
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The forage lists for PEP are very narrow. I think it would be accessible for everyone if the lists weren't so narrow.

When we lived in the city, we foraged a lot. We'd walk to the park and pick blackberries, and a different park had nettle and huckleberries. We'd get dandelion from other people's yards. We'd pick apples from trees along the road.

Looking at the dry list, it has https://permies.com/wiki/108155/PEP-Badge-Foraging:

- one pound (fresh weight) of:
     o nettle
     o mint
     o rose hips
     o pineapple weed
- two pounds (fresh weight) of:
     o mushrooms
- twenty pounds (fresh weight) of:
     o apples
     o pears
     o apricots
     o plums



This is accessible to only people who live in certain areas of the world, and doesn't even include things like dandelion. I think a PEA might be more broad, like "harvest 1 pound of leafy greens" or "20 pounds of fruit or nuts"

I'm also wondering if a PEA for foraging could have options for things that are not just food, but also materials like scavenging. That's a really useful homesteading skill that's a WHOLE LOT easier in the city.
 
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Textiles that can be grown in an apartment

easy:
- angora rabbit
- cotton
- dye plants
- silkworms on chow (commercial food - not hugely permaculture)

medium easy:
- flax in pots
- nettles in pots

Medium easy (needs access to outside the apartment)
- silkworms on mulberry leaves (harvested with permission)



Other than the growing, much of the existing PEP textile badge can be done in an apartment, although some of the larger items like upholstery might need to go outside to find someone with furniture that needs mending.  
 
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Nicole Alderman wrote:...
I'm wondering if, maybe, we could find a way for apartment dwellers to learn those skills? For those in apartments, would you see a badges that require tasks that take place in parks and friends homes ...


To me that seems a very good way. And then the first badge one can get is the 'community' one. Together with that 'community' of (maybe new) friends living in the same town or neighbourhood one can do the needed BBs for the other badges (so then a whole group of people can get their badges at the same time!).
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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I do live in a rented apartment. but this is a ground-floor apartment. So it's an apartment with front and back yard. I can garden here (and I am a volunteer in the community garden in the park too).

my front door and front yard.
I only live at the ground level. The other levels have an entrance at the back with a 'gallery' that's like a 'porch roof' for me (see the reflection in the window).  
Btw do you see my solar panels (the foldable camping type) behind the window at the left?
 
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They can make a "zone five flower pot" on the balcony, let pigeons nest there, and collect eggs :D

Or turn entire room into a garden! Or build a huge cage there, where some small animals could live together with plants!
 
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Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:I do live in a rented apartment. but this is a ground-floor apartment. So it's an apartment with front and back yard. I can garden here (and I am a volunteer in the community garden in the park too).



What a lovely garden! Unfortunately, Americans are not nearly as garden friendly as the culture in Europe.  My German relatives always commented when they visited here how strange it is that Americans have big yards with no fruit trees, strawberries, no flowers for cutting or even a few herbs.
 
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paul wheaton wrote:If you have access to the outside and can forage, then we could begin to talk about all sorts of things, and soon you end up at PEP.  

My thoughts on the apartment angle was that 100% could be done in any apartment - including apartments that do not have a balcony.  

For some apartment dwellers, there is a park nearby, but the thought of attempting to do anything in that park could be outside the comfort zone of many apartment dwellers.  It could be illegal or it could attract unkind attention.

For others, the nearest park could be a strong inconvenience.  And for others, there might not be a park nearby.  

While contemplating where to draw lines for PEA, I think it would be good to keep all activities in the apartment.  Stores and/or mail order (amazon?) for materials could be an option.  

If a person DOES have access to a park or a nearby farm that is open to this kind of thing, the student could explore PEP.   Or, maybe, someday, there could be another program that is an alternative to PEP.

I like the idea that PEA ends up as a program that ANYBODY can do.  And that a lot of the BBs for PEA will be shared with PEP.   So if a person gets PEA2 certified, it would be a pretty short jump to PEP1.

It seems this discourages commuter permaculturists. There are permaculturists that would welcome stewardship of there land that is beond ther capacity to care for.
 
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The problem with PEP is that a few of the BBs cannot be done by some people.  

PEA (when defined as I suggest:  strictly for inside of an apartment) solves this.  It works for everybody.  ALL of the BBs are doable for anybody.    All.  

But the moment one person points out that they have a balcony and the balcony stuff gets added, then people without a balcony reject PEA, just like they reject PEP.  

The same thing happens for adding in stuff about a park or a nearby field.   Or a friend with land a half hour away.  Each thing you add excludes another group.  And if you add enough, you end up with PEP.  

I like the idea that PEA can be pure.   It can include everybody.   People without a balcony.  People where foraging would be possibly illegal, or dangerous.

I think people can start with PEA and after a half dozen BBs they can begin to study the PEP BBs.  Or BBs that would work with a nearby park, or a balcony.  Whereas if PEA were NOT purely within an apartment, they would have tuned it out as soon as they saw the mention of a balcony.  


It seems this discourages commuter permaculturists.



I believe the opposite.   The commuter permie can see PEA and PEP.   They can definitely do PEA and they might, someday, do a day trip somewhere to knock out some PEP BBs.  But those same people would have ditched all of it the moment that they sea that neither program can be accomplished within their situation.
 
Nina Jay
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Does PEA "have to" be all about things that the person does themselves in the concrete sense? I hope you get what I mean, my English skills may limit me here.
What I try to ask is that:

is there a scenario, in which a person could substitute "doing-stuff-from-start-to-finish-with-my-own-hands" with "buying-or-exchanging-something-of-equal-value-and-showing-receipts"?
 
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How about online knowledge test? Anyone can do that!
 
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Flora Eerschay wrote:How about online knowledge test? Anyone can do that!



That's true. My understanding of PEA is, however, that it would preferably be balanced towards the more practical solutions? Because (correct me if I'm wrong, folks) there are already other Permaculture certificates available that focus on the theoretical side of things?
 
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Nina Jay wrote:

Flora Eerschay wrote:How about online knowledge test? Anyone can do that!



That's true. My understanding of PEA is, however, that it would preferably be balanced towards the more practical solutions? Because (correct me if I'm wrong, folks) there are already other Permaculture certificates available that focus on the theoretical side of things?


There are plenty of people that have theoretical online knowledge That think they can answer questions on this forum even though they have never tried to put a permaculture design into practice..
So I see the point of this designation. If your mind has been infected with permaculture then you should be allowed to make a permaculture plan and execute it even if you are confined to zone 0 and that is an apartment.  Actually making a design and and then carrying it to completion teaches lessons that are never learned by reading, lecture and viewing examples.
If you have successfully a worm colony alive and made worm compost I would be more inclined to trust you with a few chickens.
 
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PEP is about learning experiences and visible results. We learn a lot about carving a spoon...a whole lot more than can be expressed with words. By making a mallet or darning a sock, we struggle and learn things that equip us for more complicated work, like a roundwood table or sewing a shirt.

I read a lot of permaculture and gardening books. I could have passed tests on it. But, it wasn't until I started growing--and failing to grow--things that I really started learning.

This kind of reminds me of those doomsday seed kits. You get all the seeds you'd need to plant and survive....except, peppers might not grow where you are, the soil might be too nutrient-deprived to grow anything, you might not know when to plant in that area, you might have thought it was a sunny area, but the trees filled in and there's too much shade. Suddenly, that years-worth of seeds is worth very little.

I'd much rather be someone who's grown a million calories or built a shed entirely out of wood from the forest, than someone who's read a bunch of books and passed a test. And, to get to being that person, I need baby steps.

So, the question is, are there baby steps for these skills that can be done inside an apartment. I really like the idea of someone being able to do all of this inside of an apartment, and create cool stuff in the process. There's something a whole lot more rewarding about darning your sock or making a spoon, than just passing a test. At the end, you have sock and spoon you can use.

But, how do you give someone woodland or natural building or foraging experience inside just their apartment? Maybe, there could be PEA, and then PEmA (Permaculture Experience for Mostly Apartments), and the natural building, woodland care, earthworks, rocket, foraging, plumbing and hot water, homesteading for the PEmA could be a middle ground. They're mostly done in apartments, but there are some things that happen outside of apartments, but those things are a bit more broad than those in the PEP.

We could leave PEmA inside PEA, but people know that the experiences aren't entirely in their apartment, but it's a stepping stone between the perfect world of PEP, and the rest of the world that might not be able to grow or do things that Paul can do in Missula, Montana, USA.
 
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Flora Eerschay wrote:How about online knowledge test? Anyone can do that!



From talking with Paul, one of the things he is trying to accomplish with the SKIP programme (PEA, PEP, PEX) is to create an alternative to higher education.  For people who want to show a knowledge test, then university is the path for them.  But for people who would rather show what they have created and that they have the practical skills to do so again, then SKIP would be the path to go.  

(that's my understanding)

There's a huge difference between knowing something and doing something.

When I was learning how to spin yarn, I read every single book on the topic, including many technical manuals (you would be amazed by how much math is involved in creating yarn).  I could have aced any test on the subject.  And yet, after a year of study, I couldn't make yarn if my life depended on it.  20 minutes with an instructor and I was making yarn like crazy!  Teaching my brain about the skill is very different than teaching my hands to do a skill.  

Later on, I can take that esoteric knowledge I learned and apply it to yarn making.  But actual yarn making doesn't require any of the math I learned about the coefficient of friction of cotton on wood or silk against wool.  It just requires teaching your hands to feel and apply the right amount of twist for the fibres.
 
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check out my friend https://www.ceciliamacaulay.com.au/ of Balcony Garden Dreaming fame http://balconyofdreams.blogspot.com/?view=mosaic
She's a master at small, densely populated spaces.
 
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paul wheaton wrote:The problem with PEP is that a few of the BBs cannot be done by some people.  

PEA (when defined as I suggest:  strictly for inside of an apartment) solves this.  It works for everybody.  ALL of the BBs are doable for anybody.    All.  

But the moment one person points out that they have a balcony and the balcony stuff gets added, then people without a balcony reject PEA, just like they reject PEP.  

The same thing happens for adding in stuff about a park or a nearby field.   Or a friend with land a half hour away.  Each thing you add excludes another group.  And if you add enough, you end up with PEP.  

I like the idea that PEA can be pure.   It can include everybody.   People without a balcony.  People where foraging would be possibly illegal, or dangerous.

I think people can start with PEA and after a half dozen BBs they can begin to study the PEP BBs.  Or BBs that would work with a nearby park, or a balcony.  Whereas if PEA were NOT purely within an apartment, they would have tuned it out as soon as they saw the mention of a balcony.  



I try to return to this challenge with my two cents again I get it that there is indeed this problem and it is a big one.

Perhaps, if I may be so as bold as to suggest a comprimise, the basic "core" of the PEA would be something that is doable for everybody. Even if they don't have so much as a balcony.
Then, there would be additional alternative modules to add to this basic core. Depending on where you live you could do stuff a bit differently. If a person was not able to, because of their circumstances/ personal health issues/ handicaps/ whatever to do it all with their own hands, they could THEN and ONLY THEN substitute something of equal value bought/ exchanged from other permies?
 
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In mums back yard im growing herbs in a old bath tub and some pots and over summer because im in australia i was able to get a few small tomatoes and small pepers.
The local council has started doing comminuty gardens but there still isnt enough of them plus it doesnt help that they have blown there budget by a few 100,000.
I have done a few council run workshops that have given you a basic idea of making soap or fermenting food or worm farming for free and there always good to attend as from these hands on events we have always bought home a small sample like soap or a food item
 
Let's get him boys! We'll make him read this tiny ad!
Greenhouse of the Future ebook - now free for a while
https://permies.com/goodies/greenhouse
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