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I love Permaculture, but I don't know where to start!  RSS feed

 
Gordon Beemer
Posts: 20
Location: Fort Wayne, Indiana (USA)
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I have been researching permaculture and sustainability for a few years now, and although I'm still in my early 20s I am DYING to make a dramatic lifestyle change, to get out into the world and just DO PERMACULTURE!

But here I am, in my bedroom at my mother's house in snowy Indiana, watching videos, reading books and forum posts, and dreaming about doing what I love without a clue on how to get started.

I wish I could just hook up with some experienced permies and be their oh-so-dedicated apprentice. I want to go WWOOFing across the world, get my PDC, get an advanced diploma, do workshops everywhere . . . .

It's just really depressing that the only thing holding me back is a lack of networking, and more depressingly, a lack of money. I didn't come from money, I haven't had the greatest work experience, an being somewhat socially impaired it's difficult for me to find internships and jobs in the field I want to work in.

I need some help on how to get started! Do I spend 4 years getting some agriculture or landscaping degree from a college? Do I grab my rucksack and just take off toward the nearest eco village?

I don't mean to sound "woe is me" about this, but I'm getting pretty frustrated, and I would really like some valuable advice from successful people. Is that really so much to ask?

*angsty venting: complete*
 
Craig Dobbson
master steward
Posts: 1921
Location: Maine (zone 5)
228
chicken dog food preservation forest garden goat hugelkultur rabbit trees
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Welcome to permies

You've taken the first steps already. You've identified your reality and the potential solutions to your problems.

I'm sure you've seen that there are a world of opportunities in wwoofing. There are all sorts of opportunities in a variety of different climates and methodologies. What would be helpful to any one that might want to take you on as an intern or wwoofer is to give a bit of a resume.

I'd want to know about:
How you feel you learn best?
Hands-on, reading, person-to person, multimedia?
Do you like to work in groups? as a leader? follower? Middle man?
Are you independent minded or do you need more one-on-one experience?
What do you do when you can't find a way around a problem?
How well do you assess you abilities?
What skills do you have?
How long will you work?
what kind of accomodations do you need?
Do you have a preferred climate (almost everyone says "tropical")
Why?
What things/ animals would you need to travel with?

Keep your head up and be positive. Stay active. ask questions and get to know the locals. You'll find the right place. Don't be in a rush. even if you just start with your own back yard, you'll be moving in the right direction.

I know there are a lot of young people looking to get going and they have a lot of the same concerns you do. Trust me... it all works out. Just not as fast as you'd like it to.


 
Gordon Beemer
Posts: 20
Location: Fort Wayne, Indiana (USA)
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Thanks for the encouragement. I think that's really what I need. I'm usually a very positive and self-motivated individual; but human beings are social and validation from peers is somewhat essential.

I'll consider your advice seriously and start working on that WWOOFing resume. Thanks a lot!
 
John Elliott
pollinator
Posts: 2392
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In addition to what Craig says, I would add "start a permaculture project".

You might plant a fruit tree this spring, maybe there's an untended piece of dirt where you could build a hugelkultur mound, maybe you can start a container garden. Whatever it is, plant and start a project and care for it. Observe how it develops and take notes. Even the people who give these permaculture design courses and certificates haven't done it all. There are just too many species, and plant combinations and microenvironments for them to have experience with them all. When you plan a project, you learn about different possibilities and then narrow it down. When you start your project, that will generate questions which you can come here to ask. When you observe and take notes, you learn about things that you hadn't taken into account because you were ignorant of them.

Don't be depressed. Just get out and do what you can with what you have.
 
Craig Dobbson
master steward
Posts: 1921
Location: Maine (zone 5)
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When you're done with the resume, PM me a copy. I might be looking for a wwoofer/intern soon and would like to see what a Permaculture Resume might look like. Perhaps I could help you refine it. Anyway. Best wishes



 
Cortland Satsuma
Posts: 319
Location: (Zone 7-8/Elv. 350) Powhatan, VA (Sloped Forests & Meadow)
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@Gordon...

I concur with what has been said so far. I would encourage you to take action right where you are. Your family could benefit from an urban permaculture garden. Ask your mom for stewardship of a specific plot of your yard. Now is the perfect time of year to draw up your plan! Plan that plot to be the best you can make it! Get you whole plan in place; then look into the cost realities and plan your stages of getting it done as you can afford to do so. Photo document the whole process; this can be an attached portfolio to that resume. Doing this project will help you focus; it will also help you decide how you want to incorporate permaculture into your life. It will also give you some basic skills to market yourself to permaculture ventures looking for helpers.
 
Gordon Beemer
Posts: 20
Location: Fort Wayne, Indiana (USA)
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Well, the universe must love me!

I talked to my mom, who is usually pretty possessive about her gardening, and she told me I could redesign the entire kitchen garden, install an herb garden, and do composting. It took me a minute to comprehend what she was saying. I mean, I'm not an idiot, but the most gardening I've done is help her plant and harvest each year - and that has never involved anything too spectacular. There are conditions, of course. She says I can do what I want as long as I don't ruin her flowers, spend a lot of her money, and I actually make it better than before.

I think she trusts me too much. . . .

I guess I had better start designing!


@Cortland, @John~ I'll definitely document the whole process. And as far as how I want to incorporate permaculture in my life? Well, I kind of want permaculture to be my life.

@Craig~ I don't really have much to put on the resume yet, but I'll definitely PM you a copy when I'm finished.
 
Craig Dobbson
master steward
Posts: 1921
Location: Maine (zone 5)
228
chicken dog food preservation forest garden goat hugelkultur rabbit trees
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I think the Permaculture resume may look quite different from a typical job deal.

I was thinking that what it would include is

What makes you feel permaculture is your way?
An honest layout of your experience, education, what motivates you and what you're willing to endure.
What aspects of permaculture really make you excited?
Where do you see yourself in five years?

That sort of thing.

A lot of people are full of energy and ready to go but they don't know what direction or at what speed. Usually they go the wrong way and way too fast. Some go way too slow, second guessing every choice, and never get anywhere.
I think you have a great opportunity at your mom's place. You can also make it a mental exorcise to design other spaces in your head. I'm constantly looking at other places I drive by and doing mental permaculture designs. I've even taken pictures of places and then used photoshop or another drawing tool to design. Just for fun.

You can go around the back yard with a camera and take pictures from all sorts of angles and then design each section and make a model. (This may ease your mom's mind when you rent a track-hoe to make a swale.) Just kidding. Design with respect and I'll bet you can get your mom on board with permaculture.
 
Cortland Satsuma
Posts: 319
Location: (Zone 7-8/Elv. 350) Powhatan, VA (Sloped Forests & Meadow)
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Gordon,

Look how far you have come in just one day! Imagine what tomorrow will bring... Best wishes to you on your new permaculture adventure!
 
Gordon Beemer
Posts: 20
Location: Fort Wayne, Indiana (USA)
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@Cortland

Thanks! It feels nice knowing I'm not doing this all on my own.

@Craig

I could probably write like 10 books about all that stuff! I guess the challenge for me, then, is getting it to fit on a page or two. Thanks for your input!
 
Craig Dobbson
master steward
Posts: 1921
Location: Maine (zone 5)
228
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Gordon Beemer wrote:

@Craig

I could probably write like 10 books about all that stuff! I guess the challenge for me, then, is getting it to fit on a page or two. Thanks for your input!


Perhaps a portfolio would be a better idea than a resume. No page limit

though ten book may be a bit too much.
 
Benett Freeman
Posts: 32
Location: Travelling around Europe
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Hey Gordon

Like you I'm just starting out - though I don't have anywhere to setup my first project just yet. I'd definitely have a real shot at redesigning your Mum's place - a fantastic opportunity.

Instead, I'm gonna travel around some other people's projects this spring and summer and make notes every step of the way.

Regardless of if you follow suit and go WOOFing, or stay and redesign your Mum's place, I'd be really interested in staying in contact with regular updates - a kind of buddy system, if you're interested?

PM me if you like my idea, but no worries if you don't
 
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