hi folks, i have been lurking a bit on this awesome forum, and i love everything i have seen so far!
i have been thinking about how all permies could contribute to accelerating the wider spread of permaculture ethics, principles and methods globally, and make the information about it easily accessible to everyone. i've recently stumbled about this article on open source permaculture which i found quite inspiring http://openfarmtech.org/wiki/Open_Source_Permaculture.
do you also see a need for such increased sharing of and access to permaculture information, and do you feel it is covered by the currently available websites and other means? should we aim at building an all inclusive permaculture wiki, or even a more advanced information system? can we use a peer-to-peer approach on- and offline to spread and share info? how about a mentorship program or a comprehensive video series?
if they KNOW the word permaculture and google it they will get this forum..and they can learn about sources here..if they aren't familiar with the word they may also reach permaculture by googling other word groups like food forest gardening, edible forest gardening, hugelkulture, etc..
getting the word out beyond was discussed in another thread this week, I think things like facebook and other similar sites are helpful to put links on to permaculture, also your blogs and forums
Bloom where you are planted.
Brenda, as a relative newbie here I have spent hours trying to read as many of the forum threads, and links, as I can, but there is just too much to look at and absorb.
I like Peter's idea. A newbie link at the top of the page would be very helpful to me and others, I believe, in helping us find the most pertinent and important info to help us get started and know where to look and which threads and videos are most helpful, etc. It could be a kind of permaculture &/or permies primer. I find myself often getting lost in advanced discussions, then can't figure out how to get back to pertinent things I saw "somewhere" on the forums.
I have learned a lot from my reading in these forums, but I am not a computer whiz like some of you. I am more of a butterfingers, when it comes to computers. I would rather be gardening, but do enjoy learning about gardening during the long cold winters when my garden is buried in snow.
I don't know how to access wiki's and data bases etc. When I try I just get lost or can't figure out how they are supposed to work, or the data base doesn't seem to include my parameters. I just barely managed to figure out how to use the forums.
I remember taking part in a discussion on this forum about a year ago ... and a couple years ago ... about how to reach a greater audience with permaculture. It's a discussion we need to keep having because it's so so so worth talking about and coming up with new solutions!
While online resources are awesome, and they keep growing, I feel very strongly that the most effective way to learn about the basics of permaculture is to take a structured class with a knowledgable instructor. Unfortunately, this is completely out of reach for the majority of people who are interested: students, homesteaders, or small farmers who are on limited incomes and can't easily travel.
I guess the second most effective way to learn would be to just keep reading. Both here in these forums and in the great books that I'm sure you'll hear mentioned here: Toby Hemingway's Gaia's Garden, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren's Permaculture Designer's Manual, and Dave Jacke's Edible Forest Gardens are my favorites. I'm sure if your local library doesn't have them, they can get them through inter library loan.
Briggs, thanks for the reply. I do have those three books, and read them over and over. I think I have a fairly good grasp of the principles of permaculture. Where I am struggling now is to figure out how to design specific guilds and techniques that will work for my specific situation. I may be wrong, but based on what I have seen in online videos and descriptions of PDC courses, I don't think I would learn that from taking a course where the instructor spends most of the time talking about plants and techniques that are only appropriate in wetter &/or warmer climates.
That said, I have learned a lot from many of the forum discussions, especially those which provide links to other sources of info. For example, the advice to check with my state forest nursery, and some of the links about colorado, have helped me start formulating a list of plants to consider that can take the high elevation, the cold winters, the dryness, and the heat and intense sun of summer. So I am very grateful for all the info everyone has shared here.
But I still think the permies forums could be of even greater help, especially to newbies to either the forums or to permaculture, with a Starter section to help us figure out this maze of info. Some of the forums are so long it takes days to read through them. Even after several weeks of intensive reading and learning, I am still struggling to make sense of it all. For example, this morning I was reading one thread, and clicked on a link which led me to a part of the forum I didn't even know was there--with a discussion about keylines--a whole new topic to consider, that I find so confusing I don't know where to start exploring the idea.
Another point here, is that "my" library, or the ones I have access to, have very few books about permaculture. I would love to be able to read the whole list of books folks here have recommended, like all the books and videos by Sep and Geoff and other greats, but it is just not possible. One library has Intro to Permaculture, and Elliot's Four Season Harvest, which I have read over and over. The other has a couple more permaculture books, only because I requested them, and my son happens to be the librarian and put them on the order list. He gets to do that occasionally, but can't just buy books I might want to read. He has to consider what the other residents and patrons want too. Though I keep hoping others will pick up the books and decide to try some of the ideas for growing some of their own food, things that might work well in the UK or AU don't seem to do so well here. But I haven't seen any permaculture oriented books that really seem to deal with conditions in CO, especially in NW co which is very different from the eastern plains.
But, most of the books I have read seem to be either from Australia, a much warmer climate, or from the cool, humid temperate zones like the UK or the Pacific northwest, or places that are always cool, like Maine. I have lived in Maine, and in the NW, and I know for a fact that the climate and growing conditions are a great deal different from mine here, so I have to learn new ways of growing food. Contrary to what one county extension agent told me, gardening is not the same everywhere.
I do appreciate all the input from everyone on the forums, and have learned a great deal here. I hope to continue learning, as we go into a new gardening season, and hopefully be able to share what I am learning from my experiences this year, to help others who may also be trying to learn some of these things.
If what you want is to figure out which companion plantings and guilds work best for your area, the best thing for you to do is start trying some out. Seriously, there is no substitute for learning by observation. If you don't have a teacher/mentor in your area that might be able to help you with knowledge about your specific area, then you're just going to have to make some educated guesses and see how they work.
Don't let this sound discouraging! I put this off myself for years because I thought it sounded incredibly boring and time consuming to spend a year or two just creating different guilds and observing them, but it's really so rewarding and you learn so much!
Also, the awesome thing about this forum is that if you start a new topic about what you are specifically doing, people will give you great feedback! Some of them will be from similar climates to yours, and some won't, but most of the people here have already done a ton of trial and error work and you can use their advice!
One more thing: don't let this huge topic of PERMACULTURE overwhelm you. It literally covers everything about living on this planet and you can get confused and bogged down if you're just a beginner. My advice is pick something that sounds interesting and manageable with your resources (like trying out a few companion plantings in your back yard) and run with it. Once you feel comfortable there, or hunger for more knowledge you can find another topic to learn and try out.
Thanks for those replies. I have been spending a lot of time this winter pulling together lists and ideas. Now I am waiting for spring so I can begin some land-shaping and soil prep work, putting in swales, woody terraces, hugelbeets, etc, and get cover crops going to build some topsoil. My plot is all sand, with widely scattered bunch grasses and weeds, etc, no topsoil and very little organic matter--the harsh winds off the desert blow it all away. When the wind blows, everything goes.
I don't consider myself a newby to gardening, or to permaculture, just to this forum, and to this piece of land. I have been reading and trying various methods of gardening organically for 40 years, and pc for 30, in 7 states and about 12 different gardens over the years. My whole yard is set up with various beds and guilds. I keep trying new ideas all the time. One I intend to try this year, when the snow is finally gone and the ground thaws out, is to put in a rain garden to collect moisture off the roof. Here in CO, we are not legally able to collect water in tanks, but can direct runoff to garden beds.
I do have a small food forest, about 50' x 50,' in my home garden, with all 7 layers of forest, that is finally produced some currants and nanking cherries last year, to go with the green herb layer. My main concern now is finding trees and shrubs to form edible shelterbelts and windbreaks to help turn my newer piece, which is zoned commercial, from a 2 acre chunk of desert scrub into a more diversified and productive system of local native and adapted species that can serve as an example of what this land can be--not to force it into an unnatural pattern, but to build on what makes sense for this area. So I am putting together a list of drought-adapted species, that can take the harsh conditions, and maybe help moderate it a bit, while providing food for people and forage for poultry, as well as habitat for wild birds and beneficial insects.
The shrubs in my backyard food forest are starting to produce, but the scale I am working with now is so much larger. I can maybe get some starts from the state forest service, but to set up a big enough shelterbelt to do much will take a lot of trees/shrubs, so I want to be sure the ones I get will have a decent chance to survive and grow. It is not like buying 1 of this and 1 of that. I have to look at hardiness zone for cold, water needs for drought tolerance, n-fixers and dynamic accumulators, etc. I think I am getting there, but it all does take time, and then finding the plants. One book I read said to locate varieties within 100 miles. That eliminates all the nurseries I know about--even the state one, which is on the other side of the mountains.
I have learned a great deal from these forums, I just think they could do even more to help people who are new to permaculture if there was a special place marked as a starter page, to give some guidance and direction as to how to navigate and find needed info. Then there wouldn't be so many newbies, starting new threads saying, "help, I'm new and don't know where to start."
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