Hoping someone here can point me in the best direction as I start my formal education in permaculture, sustainability, system design et al.
I'm middle-aged with many years of small farm management experience and have the luxury of being free to go wherever calls me--most likely an English speaking place as my language skills don't yet include any others. YET!!
My interests are all of the above, plus bees, livestock, water harvesting and protection, pastured forestry, low impact forestry, and almost anything else to do with natural systems.
I'm not a plant person as much as design and livestock oriented, yet I am also an enthusiastic food lover.
I'm aware that my interests are far ranging, and know that as I learn certain things will fall away and others will become even more fascinating, and I am so eager to get going already!
I can be ready by September first if all goes well over this summer, and am researching every program I can find. Here it is May already, and I am still researching, and know I had better make some decisions---though i'm feeling a bit stuck obviously.
This is where you folks come in---HOW do I decide? How do I know I'm going somewhere which has solid educators and programs? I read student reviews and they are helpful but not quite enough for me.
I think I want some kind of certification, as my dream is to create a design/build/consult business in a few years.
I would so appreciate some guidance here, and understand this guidance and expertise isn't necessarily just given away.
CalEarth---this calls to me because it has a long term educational component. I love the idea of learning to build natural buildings, and this course work could lead me to learning advanced vaulting technique which is very intriguing to me. On the other hand, I want to learn so much more, I don't think I am ready to narrow my focus so intently yet.
This school also provides room and board which greatly appeals to me.
Yestermorrow---right here in my backyard, and I have taken one or two workshops over the years with them. Sadly they do not offer the long term student immersion experience I seek.
Heartwood---same as above
SHIFT in Bristol, England offers a year long Practical Sustainability Course which seems to offer the myriad of subjects I am interested in. They do not provide housing, but it seems flats are easily come by and I would arrange a share with another student or two. Also the chance to explore the 'old sod' is a huge enticement. Otoh I have only read their past student reviews, and am not sure how else to evaluate them before committing.
(wondering about that is how I came to post this question actually)
Additionally I have met with Jason Rutledge of Restorative Forestry and could spend the fall and winter with him learning low impact forestry if I rent a place nearby---that's an option, but again a bit too narrow of a focus for me at this time.
Ideally there is a school which offers coursework I could attend for a few months to a year, where I can get exposure to all of the things which interest me, which I can afford, and which provides some sort of recognized value--ie a certification or degree. I don't absolutely require it, but it's a factor among several to consider.
I can go almost anywhere, though my only language is English still.
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
posted 5 years ago
In my experience, running a small business has nothing to do with certifications, and everything to do with personality, and productivity... You gotta make life easier/better for other people. At the farmer's market nobody has ever asked me about my training in plant breeding or farming. The results are sitting right there on the table between us. Their taste buds are the only certification that's required.
I think that the education system of the world has failed... Certifications these days seem to be mostly about whether or not someone paid the required fees, not about what they learned. And especially they don't seem to be about a person's ability to actually do productive work in the real world.
So if it were me, and I had my life to do over again... I would seek out the shaman, and the medicine women, and the farmer's and gardeners that are making a living doing what you want to learn, and volunteer. There are frost emergencies, and spring planting, and summer weeding and fall gleaning, that always need to be done. They are part of the ongoing burden that growers face. Stop by and help out... Be about working and not about talking. I cringe when people want to come and help me, because they slow me down, and the total work output while they are there is less than what would have been accomplished if I was working alone. So be one of those rare individuals that produces more than you cost and you'd be welcomed to any farmer's fields, or any medicine woman's foraging trip.
For the cost of a formal training program, you could travel the world, and learn directly from the who's who of the fields that you are interested in. You could spend a summer in Hopiland, and a week at the Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance training program. You could sit at the feet of Sepp Holzer, Paul Wheaton, Geoff Lawton, Vladimir Megre, Susun Weed, etc.
Then put what you learned to good use... I suspect that with 5 to 8 years of good hard work, that you could position yourself to be one of those "must visit" destinations for anyone interested in your field of study.
World Tomato Society ambassador
posted 5 years ago
Thank you for your reply--your approach is pretty much what I aim to do, though I am happy to say I have been accepted here for the September start.