After listening to an interview with John D. Liu and subsequently reading through his entire Ecosystem Restoration Camps website, I'm dying to know if there are similar projects happening in the US. Googling around wasn't very effective, and I'd rather take the more grassroots route of talking with y'all. I see a wide spectrum here of potential projects, from your standard degraded piece of land someone is homesteading on and revitalizing with regenerative ag to massive projects on the scale of John D. Liu's work in Altiplano and the Loess Plateau. I'm open to all of them, but am most intrigued by the latter half at present (larger scale projects restoring heavily damaged landscapes).
More about what I'm looking for:
- In the US, bonus if it's in the northeast
- Don't have to pay hundreds of dollars to work there, more of a work-trade scenario
- I'll be learning A LOT while I'm there, hopefully enough to help seed my own restoration project elsewhere one day
Who I am and what I have to offer:
- late 20's, strong, able-bodied, kind human with excellent communication skills, currently living in western Massachusetts
- I am SO READY to learn and do the relentless, ass-kicking, humbling, joyous work of restoring the earth!
- Environmental science degree, PDC, a few different WWOOF stints, lots of gardening experience, some permie design and carpentry experience
- Could stay for months if it's a good fit
- I haven't camped in rustic conditions for more than a few weeks, but I think I could get used to it
So, do you know of any restoration projects in the US that fit what I'm looking for? I'm open to hearing about smaller scale, permaculture homesteading projects if you feel called to share, although I know there are countless ones to choose from on here, wwoof, workaway, etc.
I'm not sure if this is exactly what you're after but maybe it is. Their site is a clear cut forest that has been recovering for 13 years. But it's not on your side of the country... Off-Grid summer program
"Hundreds of years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in or the type of car I drove... But the world may be different because I did something so bafflingly crazy that it becomes a tourist destination"
You are right that a google search for restoration projects is not that helpful - most groups that are doing restoration in my experience don't have a massive online footprint. I work for a non-profit that is part of a nationwide community of Land Trusts. Land Trusts are non-profits that conserve land by owning the land outright or by using conservation easements. While all land trusts are involved in some sort of land conservation not all engage in restoration.
The ones that do restoration projects will have a mix of small or large projects. I run a 4 county restoration program in Washington State with projects that are small volunteer driven to projects that have a budget of several hundred thousand dollars and are mostly completed by hiring contractors.
One great way to get involved in groups doing restoration work is to volunteer with them. Once you have a foot in the door you might be able to get a paid position. I started as an un-paid intern and moved to a paid temp employee, then a coordinator, then a manager, and now I'm about 9 months into a new manager position (I now run the restoration program and public access program for the land trust I work for). January will be 4 years with this land trust.
Another option is to look into AmeriCorps positions - I hire an AmeriCorps member every year to help with our restoration/stewardship work. Lots of other groups hire AmeriCorps members and while they pay is very low it is a great way to get experience.
If you are interested in finding land trusts to volunteer or even potentially work for I would check out the Land Trust Alliance's Find a Land Trust site.
Another option you might want to consider is Paul Wheaton's Permaculture Boot Camp program. Paul is the founder and owner of this site and runs Wheaton Labs in Montana. The Boot Camp program is not for everyone but it is a good way to get a crash course in permaculture as long as you are willing to work hard and follow the rules of the site. You can read more about at the above link and in this thread.
Thank you so much, Mike and Daron! Especially you, Daron - that was incredibly helpful! I think I'm going to take the next warm season to get some plain old organic farming experience under my belt, see if I can connect with any local land trust restoration projects, and think about whether permie boot camp calls me come fall. We'll see!
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permaculture bootcamp - learn permaculture through a little hard work