I'm about to make the trip from the East Coast to the West Coast to join Sepp & his team with 9 other permaculture designers, growers, farmers and practitioners. Although I must admit that it's tough to leave my fruit forest in full bloom, I am really excited to participate. I will do my best to make daily posts, once the workshop begins on Tuesday, to share all of the things we're doing, learning, creating and planting. People are coming from all over the world and we're all bringing seeds from our respected areas to plant on this piece of land. My boots are filled with pawpaw seeds. More to follow!
Sorry for the delay in getting some info up here. The biggest thing I was lucky enough to experience was Sepp's deep passion for the earth, working smart, taking great care of all living things and leaving wherever you are, better than how you found it. Sepp is extremely focused and confident about the approach he takes on every project; this deliberate stance leaves no uncertainties.
We spent a great deal of time walking the land in Petaluma, CA which has some challenges. It had once been an oak forest, then converted to pastureland and overgrazed for almost a century which left the landscape unstable. We dug holes only to immediately watch them begin to collapse which posed a particular challenge when we set off to capturing a spring. We learned to spot subtle depressions in this land & differences in the growth pattern and voila, a spring is underground.
Digging down to find it with this soil wanting to constantly fall in, was quickly remedied with a funnel shaped hole that went approx 30' into the hillside. Within minutes, the bottom slowly began to fill with water. The base of the hole was filled about a foot with washed river stones and a pipe was fitted with guide bars to ease it down to the base. Once centered, gravel was poured around the pipe in the form of a pyramid and then clay was packed around to form a seal. More dirt was added until the ground was leveled & then we secured the top of the pipe until a pump can be installed & water sent up to the house.
We spoke almost daily about the importance of clear & constant communication with any equipment operator to ensure that when they are constructing a pond, digging a hole for a spring or grading the land, that they have a very clear understanding of your project. Although we had hoped to install a pond, the grass, clay and sand had unfortunately been co-mingled which would leave a very weak damn. Sepp reiterated that before any project is underway, always separate the grass from the humus from the clay. This is the only way to ensure a water tight, strong key and dam.
He spent some time with each of us, going over our individual projects, overlaying his opinion and vision. The 1 constant that I heard during these consultations, with those of us that operate or want to operate a for-profit farm, was a poly vs mono approach to business. For example, don't just raise annual veggies and fruits, also raise worms, crickets, fish, meat, have tours and workshops etc.
It is also important to note the wonderful and impressive students. People traveled from as far as China; all of us with the same type of dedication to the earth, all of us with very different soils, goals and dreams. A truly wonderful week.