I've been pondering this for the past while and I suppose given my situation I'll try to give the simple "Were I'm at" and "Were I want to go".
I'm at: minimum wage job, living relatively thrifty with no interest in a career that promotes a non sustainable way of life. The idea of living with the land as opposed to just feeding off of it is intriguing. That said I have next to no experience in farming, agriculture, gardening, etc. and I have made no investments in post secondary education.
I want to go: In a direction that will allow me to understand how to pick apart environments and actually apply perma culture to them. I grew up in a reservation in British Columbia, Canada and have been thinking of a way that I can give back to the community. I see alot of potential for perma culture to help awaken something great in the people and I feel I simply need to get my pilgrimage on and aquire the tools needed in developing a concise plan that integrates the people and the land.
To be less vague I'm imagining a way to integrate sustainable farming/gardening in the community. Would love to discover a way to feed an entire community of people and apply it to be more specific and potentially exposing more naivete...hehe
For someone in my situation: what do you feel would be the best use of my time? I've been reading up on college/uni courses (Soil Science seems to be a popular one), Permaculture Design Certificates, internships, trial and error gardening, etc.
I want to to begin planning things out and with my current resources the more planned ahead the better...hehe
Any thoughts? or questions to point out any oversights?
My advice, if you're interested in the concept of community-based agriculture/gardening is go out and find other people in your community who are interested in the same thing. Find places to start gardening, no matter how big or small and start doing it. No one will tell that you don't know enough, or that you don't have a permaculture design certificate. Just the fact that you want to do it and move in that direction is the thing that will put you in touch with like minded people. Every one has some experience, resources, gifts, knowledge to share and whatever you learn about permaculture in your studies will also get applied to whatever community project you're colaborating on...
As far as a career path, that will have to develop with time, and the more you start developing experience various kinds of capital (social, experiential, biological, etc..) you should see some career developments appearing organically in time.
Your community gardening group could also become a permaculture study/action group, or transition town movement, etc... Once you've got a few people you can setup a simple website or facebook group for people to stay in contact, plan garden activities, share info, etc...
Anyway, those are my two cents... I have a PDC and I'm doing all of the things that I suggested to you above.
The above is all great advice. I would add to that searching out Permaculture farms that take wwoofers. What a great way to get hands-on experience cheaply!
I have met a few folks who are traveling around for extended periods of time learning and living this way. I especially like to welcome wwoofers to our place who are excited about learning about Permaculture. It's a question on our application.
Thank you so much! Perhaps what I can do is simply brush up on it some more, do some small experimenting and just keep living life until I have enough money to put it into some courses.
Landscaping, soil study, social skills have been coming up though and I'm wondering if they might actually be very helpful tools to have along my permaculture studies. I suppose the direct context i can draw is having the ability to come into a new area and be able to discern what i can and can't grow, the malleability of the landscape, etc. and devise a plan with a community to make the most of it.
Otherwise A PDC sounds like the most logical step after my home gardening adventures. I'm under the impression that this combined with a fair amount of wwoof experience would provide a relatively solid foundation, leaving college courses and the like to something to pick up afterwards to further sharpen the tool set.
I'll be doing some more research on this of course but still would love to bounce it off of you all.
One more thing I can think to mention is that as far as career stability goes...not as much of a concern to me as personal growth. I do have folks I'm supporting right now so I do have to work in more conventional means but long run, if I can gather the skills to to help things along the idea of working minimum wage is but a small debt.
Thanks again! I appreciate the quick and thoughtful responses so much.
The above advice is really, truly, great. AND - if you can take a permaculture class sometime in the near future, it may save you a ton of time (and money) down the road as a PDC does indeed provide you with a roadmap on how to create permaculture designs for any climate (at least a good one does). The final project of any PDC is a permaculture design. I've actually taken two PDCs - one in 2007 locally - then I spent the next several years experimenting. In May 2013 I found out Geoff Lawton was teaching an online PDC - and I jumped at the opportunity to take it.
A well run/taught PDC really will open your eyes to understanding permaculture as more than just growing food to feed ourselves. It will teach you about ethical decision-making, challenge you to understand climate-specific design, give you insights on why we must also include the building of soil, broad landscape rehydration, re-forestation, the importance of native support species, alternate building design, alt fuel, alt social design, etc. It is a whole mindset. And it's a process. I've gardened in diverse climates around the world all my life. And I never really put all the pieces together on how we must change from an extractive way of living (extracting and using up finite materials) and instead focus on using living systems to support us and our needs and those of the rest of the creatures we share this earth with.
And I'd definitely start experimenting as soon as you can - you definitely will learn a lot more from your mistakes than your successes. I've learned 100s of lessons this way and will learn 100s more. It's actually really fun to think of new experiments to do and watch them evolve (or not).
Whatever path you choose - be sure to post some pics and updates on your project(s). Oh, and I should also add that once you become a certified permaculture designer, you are considered qualified to teach - so that is another possible future money-making opportunity.
Best of luck in all you do.
Subtropical desert (Köppen: BWh)
Elevation: 1090 ft Annual rainfall: 7"
One of the best takeaways has to do with applying the concept of diversity to any design; i.e. David Holmgren's principle #10 "Use and Value Diversity". In agricultural design it's about using biological diversity and diversity of yields to gain overall resilience and stability in a design. In personal finance/career development, this means not relying on one main job, but having 2-3 main niches, as well as other secondary or seasonal niches. Or as Bill Mollison is quoted as saying "You should have a different job for every day of the week."
This same concept can also go a long way to unlocking the potential of people in your community, which is something you said you were interested in. Hope you enjoy the interview..
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