I am sick of my current job and life, and see no point in continuing. I have long wanted to live a more sustenance oriented lifestyle using little or no money if possible, nothing is holding me back. I hate my job and can quit. I never started my own family. I have no mortgage or debts and never met anyone in thirty-one years of living worth meeting. Currently I live in northern New Jersey where it is gonna be too cold to farm soon enough and I don't really want to stay here anyway.
Is there anywhere I can learn permaculture by doing it? An intensive course or anything? I am open to any suggestions. However, as a vegan I will not involve myself in animal agriculture or husbandry.
If you are looking for a course, there are plenty of those, of varying lengths. I found a few just by googling "intensive permaculture program". These all, of course, cost money, and you don't mention what kind of means you had in your original post. Others could offer their opinions on particular courses, I don't have any experience with them.
There are many paths up any mountain, for sure. I came to permaculture through an interest in intentional community, and an internship on a veggie farm on a commune. There are always people looking to trade learning experiences for hard work. You could consider WWOOFing - you could do some traveling while getting a sense of what different farms and homesteads are like in different parts of the country (or world). Or check out the forum section here WWOOF/interns/volunteers/jobs There are plenty of permies looking both for help and the ability to share their knowledge!
I think it's great that you want to make a change. I left northern NJ 20 years ago, and never looked back...Not to disparage Jersey (if I do it'll come up here and kick my a$$).
If you are sick of your job (and you dont have a family, children, significant relationship or anything like that), then just quit your job and do something new! Only you ought be responsible for your own happiness and you gotta do it. No excuses! And this seems to be your current situation!
Then, only your mind is holdinmg you back! You gotta change! Just make your termination and book your travel towards the next permaculture or volunteering farm!!
If you have some sort of family commitment which is NOT your situation - then I would still strongly contemplate changing and trying out volunteering somewhere for a few months, and ask your old employer to take a temporary leave at the very least, or otherwise still go for it!
What could be the options? Depending on your money, you could travel abroad and discover and volunteer at many permaculture farms around the world, be it, in Europe, Australia and New Zealand, South America...
If you prefer to spend less, then volunteer at a place at the US (assuming you are American).
WOOFING volunteering is nearly for free! And there are many countless possibilities. Also, you can even volunteer outside of the WOOFING program, if you just email the farm and ask them.
Volunteering at an intentional community is another option.
Anyways, I only know of permaculture places in Europe, because those were the ones where I did volunteer. You could be even lucky enough to get a job in one of such places.
Dont hold onto your old job, just drop and go for it.
in Portugal, sheltered terraces facing eastwards, high water table, uphill original forest of pines, oaks and chestnuts. 2000m2
in Iceland: converted flat lawn, compacted poor soil, cold, windy, humid climate, cold, short summer. 50m2
If I were in your situation, I'd get on a plane and head to New Zealand and go spend the summer (their summer) at Zaytuna Farm. It's a Permaculture farm started by Geoff Lawton. You could take a PDC or maybe they'll let you work and learn for the summer. You will probably learn more there in a summer than anywhere else. "If"('');you decide to come back, it'll be summer here and you can decide where to continue your path from there. Google the details for Zaytuna.
Keep in mind that while WWOOFing may also be a great start, most of the farms involved are "not" permaculture and very few permaculture farms are strictly Vegan. I think it's going to be pretty hard to find a Vegan permaculture farm to learn from. I am a vegan also, and I understand your point of view but I do respect the Omnivores point of view. Learn what you can from those that are willing to teach. Then do what you feel is right when you are in the position to be making the decisions. Everything you eat was alive at some point and "you" will be food for something in the end. I am going to have several small animals on my Permaculture farm. Take a PDC and you'll understand. Diversity is key to everything. Diversity of plants, animals, bacteria, micro-organisms, energies, cultures, people, places, points of view, climates, eco-systems, etc., etc., etc.
Good luck to you, I'm a bit jealous of your freedom.
You can die on the bleachers or you can die on the playing field, but you can't get out of life alive
I have money saved to pay for a course. Unfortunately, many courses just take up time and effort and don't necessarily mean -- let alone guarantee, that when you are done, you actually learned enough to start and maintain your own permaculture endeavor. For example, I was gonna attend the Earthship Academy in Fall 2012, but after contacting several alumni via email and Youtube personal messages, it seemed most of them never did anything with it. It was just more of a experience or work vacation. I don't want that. I would rather take a vacation and visit my relatives in that case.
My concern about volunteering is the same I relayed to Jessica above. I want to learn enough to start and maintain my own permaculture farm. I am sure starting a permaculture effort from nothing is alot different than volunteering to an established one and wonder if you could ever bridge that gap just by volunteering at a very established place unless they made great efforts to teach that.
Is there any particular reason you recommend Zaytuna Farm? Have you been there personally?
I looked it up online. It seems interesting, the trainees seem to sort of camp out in covered stations and live a minimalist lifestyle which is attractive to me. However, if I am gonna travel that far, I guess I would rather travel to Greece where I can also eventually visit my relatives who I have not seen in a long time. I can see how being vegan would present difficulties, since people don't generally care for veganism(since people like to consume as much resources as they can to show off their alleged wealth and social status). I don't have issues with using chickens to eat insects and pests on a farm, but I do with killing them, selling them and being served them for food.
Nicholas, you sound like you would like to be an intern. This is not unheard of on the west coast where I grew up, but I do not know what they do on the EAST coast!
An intern basically lives on the farm, usually in uber-cheap housing, and his income is mostly what he can learn. Interns are often on their hands and knees harvesting an/or weeding and such. Of course that is not permaculture but you can learn a great deal from somebody who makes a living selling vegetables!!!
No matter where you live the tax man will expect you to pay in money, so you will always need some income. The sale of vegetables and/or flowers sounds like it might be something you would like to do.
As for permaculture, I have naturalized asparagus and daffodils on my land, and I am working on naturalizing other things as well. Both flowers and asparagus are perfectly sellable, but my health is now poor and so I just enjoy them myself. I have hopes for plums and apricots in a few years but not every plant will naturalize, and so I will have to wait and see. So far both are alive but it is too soon to tell if they will flourish and fruit or not.
About a year ago, on this site, there was a free permaculture course that you could watch tapes of: Was it the university of South Carolina? I think so but I am not sure. It was well worth watching though the course was more on hours of sunlight and garden design than it was on business practices. Still, it was free and I learned a fair amount. The teacher showed his own home on one of the tapes, with appletrees trellised on the fence and serviceberries and such.
Basically, you will need to learn business practices PLUS permaculture! A good mentor will teach his interns this, though not every person is a good mentor.
Zaytuna was started and I assume is still managed by Geoff Lawton. He was one of the first PDC teachers and learned directly from Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. He has many videos (check you tube) and has probably taught more PDC's than anybody alive and he's taught all over the world. Will Geoff be teaching "you"?, I don't know but from what I've seen, it's probably one of "the" best places to learn permaculture there is. I've already taken a PDC and if I stumbled onto enough cash somehow, I'd still go to Zaytuna and take it again.
You can die on the bleachers or you can die on the playing field, but you can't get out of life alive
I hear you about money. I'm tired of it and I love turning away from money and turning toward real value, like good food and relationships with kind people.
I agree with the folks that recommended the wwoof program. We have wwoofers and it's a rich experience for us. They tell us it is for them too. The arrangements are made ahead of time between host and guest, so you can make sure you are a good fit.
I think you will not find a long term working permaculture farm with no animals. They are generally part of the design for many reasons. Perhaps what you are looking for is veganic farming, which is another thing. There are a few places that I have heard of doing this and it seems to be a growing idea, like permaculture. The two have related practices but are not the same. You may be able to find a permaculture host who will accommodate your desire to avoid working with the animals.
I get many many more inquiries into working on my farm than I can accommodate, and as I am a busy lady with many things going on including small children, I am super choosy about who I invitee to come. I encourage you to find all the positive things about your exciting life change and find where your enthusiasm lies and present yourself to potential hosts with this in mind. I only invite helpers who seem positive and enthusiastic for work, and who seem kind and friendly. Since working farms are busy places, I think I am not alone in this.
Good luck and keep us updated. The story of a person striking out against the current and following his conscience is one of the best.