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College for Young Permaculturist?  RSS feed

 
Charlie Michaels
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Hello,

I'm 17, I live in New Jersey, and over the past year I've become fascinated with Permaculture. Last summer I went to the Southeastern Permaculture Gathering in Celo NC with a friend that I met, and man, I loved it, and I felt that I fit in better than any place in my entire life. It reinvigorated my love for nature, and my love for the simpler things in life. I fell in love with the people and the spirit that surrounded the place. It was awesome.

At the gathering there was all this fantastic vegan food all grown with local produce. There were things called "affinity circles" which are like open meeting groups where everything is discussed from mushroom hunting, to alternative energy methods(with demonstrations), and "humanure". They even had a great contra-dance at night.

So all this had kind of sowed a seed in me, that over the past couple months I've been reading into Permaculture techniques and striving to create a perrenial based, productive, biologically diverse Perma-garden in my back yard. I didn't know just how interested I was in this kind of stuff, the ecology of the soil, the interactions between plants, ect.

My question is that I would like to know of any Permaculture-friendly colleges that would fit my personality, and where there would be people that I would enjoy being around (like I don't think a Harvard would fit me haha). You know, a college that is more on the counterculture side, not full of drunk football fans. Any suggestions are appreciated.

Also, does anyone know of a good major for a Permaculturist to take? (I was thinking agriculture, but then I realized that they would teach you the conventional stuff)

Thanks!
 
Matthew Fallon
Posts: 308
Location: long island, ny Z-7a
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i was bummed to miss it last summer.i went to that gathering in 2008 when i was visiting in asheville,loved it.
i gave an 'affinity circle' on native flutemaking(hands on) and another on hammock tenting... wonder if you may've gone with mihail from bklyn,he came with me to the last  PC convergence in vt .i know he said he wanted to go(i'd told him about it)

as for schools,  check out warren wilson college in asheville
...my rideshare was studying there,she'd actually built herself a wood/cob structure in the woods and was literally living in that the whole year (!)
the area is gorgeous,campus is too.and right outside asheville,a very cool little place that i'd like to maybe move to myself.
as far as its reputation academically or anything else i cannot help,i only visited it for a day but was pretty impressed.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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You might wanna look into evergreen college in olympia, washington. 
 
                            
Posts: 11
Location: Corvallis OR
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mrchuck wrote:
Hello,
My question is that I would like to know of any Permaculture-friendly colleges that would fit my personality, and where there would be people that I would enjoy being around (like I don't think a Harvard would fit me haha). You know, a college that is more on the counterculture side, not full of drunk football fans. Any suggestions are appreciated.

Also, does anyone know of a good major for a Permaculturist to take? (I was thinking agriculture, but then I realized that they would teach you the conventional stuff)

Thanks!


I'd look at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, if I were you.  They used to host the Northeast Organic Farming Association's conference every summer till NOFA outgrew it.  We attended a couple of times.  They compost the kitchen waste and use it on the campus farm.  One of their five interdisciplinary colleges is the School of Natural Science, which seems to be a good fit.  There's a lot to love about the campus itself, too.

Patricia
 
Paul Cereghino
gardener
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Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
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paul wheaton wrote:
You might wanna look into evergreen college in olympia, washington. 


Ditto that.. nice organic farm on campus and strong local farming community.. good food coop... reasonable tuition rates.

John T. Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies... Cal Poly Pomona

Prescott College, Prescott, AZ

The trick is to figure out the grant/workstudy/etc system so you don't go into debt!

 
Valerie Dawnstar
Posts: 296
Location: North Central New York
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All good suggestions.  Also check out Gaia University.  It has a world wide campus.
I have a permie friend in New Jersey, too, named DouglasFrances.  You may be able to reach nearby friends through Green Phoenix.
 
                                  
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My father works at Warren Wilson College and I can highly recommend that school for permaculture kinds of stuff. If you are vegetarian/vegan they have a whole floor in their dining area devoted to vegetarians and vegans known as the "Cow Pie". They are also the Southeastern Mecca for contradancing where they will regularly have 200 people show up on a Thursday night for contra.

You also might want to check out the University of Indiana in Bloomington. That's where the Permaculture Activist magazine is now based out of. They moved it there after it had been in Black Mountain, NC(5 mins. away from Warren Wilson) for over a decade. Keith Johnson who is one of the editors for the Permaculture Activist heads this up.
http://www.indiana.edu/~llc/academics/permaculture.shtml
 
Charlie Michaels
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Thanks guys, this is helping me alot. Very happy for your replies.
 
                              
Posts: 461
Location: Inland Central Florida, USA
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I wouldn't know what college to point you to, however, if you were to have to go to a community college or something like that while sorting yourself out to go elsewhere, you might want to think of things like biology, botany, chemistry, construction (primarily how to deal with codes and such), engineering (hydrodynamics) or if a college has something along the lines of composting/waste management, any of these things could be quite useful to a permacutlurist.
 
Valerie Dawnstar
Posts: 296
Location: North Central New York
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Good suggestion, TCLynx!  I would include classes on GPS.  Something I still need to learn. 
 
Trevor Newman
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I am seventeen as well and in a similar posistion to you it sounds! I have mixed feelings about colleges, however I have been looking for a permaculture(or something similar) oriented school for quite some time now. Here are a few links to check out:

http://gaiauniversity.org/english/

(more focused on design)
http://www.yestermorrow.org/

http://www.schumachercollege.org.uk/

http://www.evergreen.edu/

Good luck and let me know what you end up doing! Happy gardening 
 
Jeffrey Lando
Posts: 31
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Maybe college is not the best investment f you really want to do permaculture.  Take that money that would be spent and buy land.  4 years x 15G is 60 thousand.  You can get a nice peice of landand  have a small house built and be on your way by the time you would be graduating in debt and have nothing. 

College might not be the best fit.  Permaculture course would cut to the chase.  College is becoming an outdated institution.  Why have a few teachers when the world can teach you through online forums like this and workshops.

 
Travis Philp
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I have to echo what speedfunk said and urge you to think about bypassing college to save that money for land instead.

I went through college only to realize part-way through that I wanted to make a living doing permaculture and if I had to do it all over again I'd probably simply looked at the course outlines of subjects I was interested in and done a lot of self study, as well as picking the brains of as many experts as I could. This will free up a lot of money, and you won't have to go through the pain of having to grind through fluff courses.

On the other hand, some people need the motivation, direction, and structure that a classroom brings. To each their own.
 
Charlie Michaels
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I've been thinking really hard about what I want to do with my life,  and recently it has led me to think like how Travis Philip and speedfunk are thinking.

I just kind of assumed college is the only option; it's just what people do after high school.

I'm starting to realize that there's nothing I can learn in a classroom that I can't learn on my own. If there's enough desire to learn something, it'll happen. The classroom just seems too forced a medium for me. I think I'd prefer a more hands on education.

Thanks everybody for giving me some really good options. If I decide I do want to go to a regular college, these are fantastic places.

Doesn't it seem like 4 years of college is a good chunk of your youthful life? I don't know how people do it.

For anyone else in the same kind of position as me, I found a really interesting program called "leap year" that takes you overseas to a campus in India or Latin America for a few months and learn the language, then you go through some spiritual journey, and then you get to chose an apprenticeship ANYwhere in the world doing pretty much anything (green building in North Carolina, study of drumming and dance in Ghana and Tanzania, and lots of other crazy fun stuff).

http://www.leapnow.org/leapyear/solo.php
 
                              
Posts: 461
Location: Inland Central Florida, USA
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I wouldn't poo poo college entirely.  There are many things that can be learned there that don't necessarily have much to do with the course work.  To a large extent it has more to do with learning to be on one's own while still in a more "school" like environment.  I gained much experience during college (granted I wasn't studying permaculture, I was a threatre tech and audio engineering major) anyway, at university there were plenty of opportunities to gain experience if you take advantage of them.

College years are a good period of time to research yourself too.  I know patients is difficult for the young and also for the less young, but how do you know for certain where you should be just out of High School?

If you decide to skip the education and buy the land and get started right away, you may find yourself working a less than enjoyable job to pay for the land and it could be quite a challenge to discipline yourself to study at home.  I've done some correspondence courses and it can be really hard to "get it done."

Do think carefully about the choices since it is definitely harder to go back to school later in life and if there is family support to help with college, it is probably worth taking them up on that support.  Try and find a school with programs of interest to you or perhaps in a part of the world where you think you may want to settle (going to school there will help you know if that would be the right decision and if it is, would give you a chance to start looking for property and opportunities.)
 
                                      
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  I went to college a bit for Sustainable Agriculture.  There's a lot more at play with agriculture and sustainability than you could pick up attending classes in a setting with lots of other folks your age.  Heck even the professors might not know what's going on.  So I stopped going to college.
    I decided to Wwoof (check it out at WWOOF.org)  So far it's been cheaper than college by a long shot and I've gotten an education from a lot of different people on their land in the process of their own day-to-day lives.  It's not a perfect education and it doesn't give you a piece of paper that grants you a fancy job down the road, but you'll at least see deeper into what's involved.
    Maybe it was just that college, but there has to be more to Permaculture education than you can get in classrooms at colleges.
 
                              
Posts: 461
Location: Inland Central Florida, USA
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I'm not really sure what a college education in agriculture would be really.  I must admit that most of my "learning" while at university actually happened through activities that were not in a classroom but they were definitely part of being there.

However, if there are other educational opportunities out there, do some research into them and see if they are appropriate for you.
 
Valerie Dawnstar
Posts: 296
Location: North Central New York
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There are positive points in everyone's posts here.  Some people are suited to the college setting and others do better in a more generalized environment.  And sometimes you just have to put yourself in one or the other to see if it fits.  You alone can say what is right for you.   FWIW, try to have some idea of a plan.  Then, a Plan B.  A Plan C couldn't hurt, either.  Then, again, there are those who just seem to do well 'going with the flow.'
You will learn things in any setting that you just couldn't get in another.  And, yes, there are all kinds of colleges and universities.  And workshops...
I think WWOOFing is a great idea.  If you go that route check out the farm descriptions carefully for one that seems like a good fit.  When I feel a little more confident about feeding & housing volunteers I plan to offer my farm to it.
I received my bachelor's degree when I was 56 after spending too long in a field to which I was not suited.  I don't regret the time in school but then, I love learning.  I do regret the debt.  One benefit to waiting for college would be once you are independent, you would qualify for more student aid.
My last suggestion would be to talk to everyone you can - with the understanding that they each are coming from a different place. And keep in mind - 'how will I support myself with this?'
You are the only one who can live your life.  Look deeply within then make it your own choice.
 
                              
Posts: 461
Location: Inland Central Florida, USA
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lavenderdawn wrote:
You are the only one who can live your life.  Look deeply within then make it your own choice.


That is very good advise.
 
Travis Philp
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What about taking a permaculture design course shortly after you graduate highschool? They tend to be about two weeks long and could give you a greater and more clear perspective on the college situation. I'm not sure how it works in the states but couldn't you even enroll in college, take a PDC the summer previous, and drop out of college if you change your mind about it?
 
Valerie Dawnstar
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Location: North Central New York
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mrchuck - I just took a look at that LeapNow program and that sounds very interesting as well as the other schools mentioned.  There are just so many possibilities.  Have fun choosing! 
I wish all our young (and maybe not so young) people who are seeking more edification good luck!  May your journey be full!
 
It would give a normal human mental abilities to rival mine. To think it is just a tiny ad:
Permaculture Playing Cards
https://permies.com/wiki/57503/digital-market/digital-market/Permaculture-Playing-Cards
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