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If my goal was to end up "doing permaculture," as in example working and living in an intentional community or working for a permaculture organization, etc... but (wait for it) I don't garden or know plants or any of it, where would I start? I have contacted Oregon State University to ask about their horticulture program with additional training in permaculture as a possibility. I am 55 years old and I am thinking about pulling up and heading in a totally new direction. Any suggestions? I have a professional degree so the idea of spending 4 years at an institution is comforting to me. Thanks for any suggestions.

I will add that I am physically fit, free of any health issues, execise regularly, etc... so feel that I am "up to the task."
 
steward
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Bill, Do you need to stay close to where you are now or are you thinking of leaving it all behind and going for it?
You could be a wwoofer. http://www.permies.com/forums/f-27/WWOOF-organic-farm-volunteers-interns
Have you read any books on the subject?
 
Bill McRoy
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Miles, I can relocate. I just discovered the wwoofr site yesterday. It is the books that are inspiring me. I have "Food Not Lawns" on my lap right now.
 
pollinator
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I found NAFEX to be invaluable when I first got into growing fruit. They're the North American Fruit Explorers - www.nafex.org .

IMHO, you can learn enough if you have a good library nearby. Gardening books are plentiful - read them first then buy only the ones you know you'll want to refer back to again.

Best thing is to just jump in and try stuff. Lots of questions will arise as you do it and you'll learn what you need to that way. The books have to try to cover so many different climates in the US (or Europe) that a lot of the diseases, etc. may not apply to you. But start small. One or two trees; a single, short row of vegetable garden. It's easy to get overwhelmed if you try to do too much too fast (there is a learning curve!)

A lot of areas have gardening clubs. Some are helpful, some are more chemical-dependent, not the permie way. I joined one that maintained the plantings in the local public parks. Looking back, they did a lot of things wrong but I still learned a great deal about gardening.
 
steward
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Bill, permaculture's a complex design science, and growing stuff is just one facet. Permacultureprincipals website describes it well.
For me, it's a real learning by doing thing, supported by reading, researching, talking...
I'd start with thinking about ways to make wherever you live, and life generally, as integrated, practical and energy-efficient as possible.
For me these 'small, complex solutions' are at the heart of it.
Possibilities and potentials for creating/enhancing your environment just keep appearing once you get your 'eyes on'.

Then I'd think about a PDC or something 'official'.


 
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Leila Rich wrote:Bill, permaculture's a complex design science, and growing stuff is just one facet. Permacultureprincipals website describes it well.
For me, it's a real learning by doing thing, supported by reading, researching, talking...
I'd start with thinking about ways to make wherever you live, and life generally, as integrated, practical and energy-efficient as possible.
For me these 'small, complex solutions' are at the heart of it.
Possibilities and potentials for creating/enhancing your environment just keep appearing once you get your 'eyes on'.

Then I'd think about a PDC or something 'official'.




I'll second this, because it's important to understand. Gardening is just one facet of Permaculture, although an important one. There are many things you can do with a "brown thumb". Having said that, if you like volunteer work(generally 40 hours a year +6 hours of ongoing training), you can sign up for Master Gardeners through your AgCenter(at Oregon State University). They'll train you in the basics easily enough and, through time, you will learn a lot more. A word of warning, MG is not strictly organic, but knowing about chemicals(fertilizers/biocides) can help too. You may also have a Master Naturalist and Master Farmer program. In the New Orleans area, we also have a Tree Troopers organization(through the city's parkway department, and yes more volunteer work) that will teach you about the proper care for trees. These are alternatives to a 4 year course(though I have to admit, I've been thinking about taking a horticultural course myself anyway).
 
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Or you could just get out there and get some dirt under your nails and plant something. Anything. Bedding plants and seed packets can be purchased just about anywhere in the spring, so dig up some ground and put something in it. All the classes in the world aren't going to be a substitute for just doing it and learning as you go.

It's not rocket science and doesn't have to be overwhelming with information...just put something in the ground and observe your land, soils, weather and what you planted and go from there. Classes are fine but there really are no true short cuts to knowledge about gardening and the learning is never over, so just start with the basics...plant something.
 
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