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posted : 2008.Dec.20 @ 2.05am



a year has passed since our fabled course beginning last winter

and it is amazing how much has happened in that time!

we have all been so busy and up to so much

and now as we resume this epic permaculture course

we find that our last few classes are of 2 students rather than three

(since our teacher delvin is also a student)


poxin wasn't able to join us for the last few

and like many students to follow him

taking the online course that we are developing now

he has decided to finish the rest of his PDC

through distance education

(even more helping us build this online curriculum) 


sad to be without poxin this time

but super happy to be back in action with the PDC

delvin and i resumed the course as a diadic


this time i had read the chapter 12 permaculture manual readings ahead

and we started right away with a walk and leisurely discussion

about everything i had read - here is delvin...




again, the ice was beautiful and magical

and in that cool to cold climate

this chapter on everything you need to know about cool climate regions like ours

was neatly iillustrated 




the chapter talked about everything from how to deal with grazing animals

to how to build a house, to how to plant your orchards on your property

in order to outline the most energy efficient pathways one might take

in creating a sustainable dwelling in that particular climate region 




it was a beautiful time at the beach!!!




in classic permaculture style

we made friends with a random dog on the beach too

and i gave him a long hug to keep him warm




as usual, our days were filled with research about sustainability / health information

and delicious intentional cooking shows from delvin

such as his signature dish "huevos rancheros" featured here : 




we made every part of our day a conversation piece

about the future of our plans in permaculture

the present reality of this module and our work with the course

and the larger breadth of earth stewardship everywhere



after dinner we did a really cool activity

where we went briefly through every major point in the text

and togehter, illustrated it as a major element

in a fictional property map that we designed on the spot :





the next day we decided to get started early

on our final design project of a dynamic permaculture map

of the property we live on - dreamberry farms


we knew we would be doing a photo for each of the four seasons

to illustrate each major zone of the property

so we decided to take winter photos on this magical snowy day






since there was lots to do in terms of extra curricular activities

we continued that day by working on our permaculture tools

beginning a new permaculture card deck

to compliment the one i have already designed and made with delvin

and continuing a series of several permaculture handout sheets

which we are compiling into a permie teacher's resource handout book

full of "template copies" to copy and give out of the handouts


here is one as an example

although we will be posting them all as downloadable files

along with the complete book for sale at a cheap price

very soon




i finished the process by doing my written work

and i'd love to share these answers with you :


 1. Describe three permaculture technologies or techniques that can aid
in cool climate food production?

- underground food storage areas (natural fridge)... that becomes
really important in cool climates because there are a lot of foods you
can't grow all year round, which you'll need to can and store in large
amounts from your summer bounty.

- glass houses or greenhouses allow you to grow certain things in
colder times of the year which otherwise wouldn't be able to survive,
by creating a warmer space.

- always position the garden or greenhouse in such a way as to catch
as much sun and preserve as much heat as possible.

2. Compare the benefits of having a lawn with the disadvantages of having one.

- a lawn might appeal to someone who is interested in building soil in
a certain area over a period of years, someone with a big family who
spends a lot of time outside, or for anyone who would like to build
their compost, or host grazing animals who enjoy eating grass.
depending on what kind of a look you're going for, it may be
considered ornamental too. on the other hand, if one isn't actively
using it for those purposes, the regular watering and cutting
throughout most of the year may really seem like a lot of work.

3. Create a 10 part design checklist relating specifically to cool
climate design.

- how is the house / greenhouse / garden positioned in relationship to the sun?
- what would be the best way / place to store food for the winter?
- if not all the entrances to the house / greenhouse are double
entrances, could some new ones be created?
- if there are some berry patches, where are they? do they need to be
moved or cut back?
- if there's a root garden, where is it? could it be moved to a more
convenient place?
- is there room for or is there an orchard? trees are strong and can
endure cold temperatures
- are there any chickens, pigs or horses who may need to graze?
- if so, would it be possible to have them grazing in the orchard?
- what kind of schedule is in place for rotating grazing throughout
areas of the property?
- how could any animal grazes be positioned near any streams of water
running through the area?



posted : 2008.Dec.20 @ 10.50am

{{This post led me to go back and read/scan this entire thread (as i'm new to pod)......what a jewel!}}


The co-educational format is empowering and dynamic, especially for capable and mature student/teachers. Recognizing and igniting our inner masterery is a crucial process, and building educational containers to allow people space for personal growth with the intention of contribution to the global commons.......beautiful.


The application of the observation/integration/learning itself into teaching materials, visuals, and this thread is an inspiring act of social permaculture. Don't underestimate the potential of the seeds that have been sown here. I am looking to do a PDC this spring, and I'm stoked on this format. Are y'all doing this thru some certifying org, or is it "informal"? It would be great to contribute, through resonance, to this educational style.


I am in the process of observation in Seattle, sewing connections in a social guild to grow eco-social resilience within the urban fabric. I have envisioned a similar collaborative, co-educational, open-source, model-building structure, and its great to see one already plugging along!


Water crystal blessings! 

 {{aka snow love}}


posted : 2008.Dec.21 @ 3.02pm

yodelheck : 


i totally agree - in fact delvin and i have put a lot of love into developing this course based on our experience with other online courses. not only do i get certified... but i also come out FULLY empowered as a teacher of permaculture (though not for certifying others yet)... with crazily customized meta teaching tools that i've made myself and tons of experience observing and integrating with so many different teachings techniques, which i've also chronicled here for my reference later. 


we're really excited about offering this as an online course, and we have totally played around with the idea of making the course available even before the online incarnation is up on the web. you expressing interest in it possibly is just another encouraging sign to really look at how that would play out, if hypathetically we were to offer the course now or in the near future, through distance ed.


i think we would want to have our teaching tools all finished (we have a deck of cards now, and are making another deck, and are almost done a book of handouts for copying / distribution) so that we can make sure every student gets a copy of all these tools to use for themselves and for teaching. then we want to look at cost in relation to that, and the amount of time it would take to ground out the distance assigning and marking... and there is still a little more work to be done i think in fine tuning the curriculum.


right now we're in an earlier phase ... we're in the process of upgrading the gaiacraft website so that we can begin creating the infastructure for the course. we've just gotten the new main site up online and soon there we'll be releasing a permaculture social networking site, as a companion to that... then the third part will be the course, which the social networking site will ultimately be in support of for students and teachers. 


as a little mini-preview you can see the new website up now, just to check out what's up for the moment :


thanks so much for your interest, encouragement, and readership!!!


stay tuned.... 

posted : 2009.Jan.08 @ 12.36am

he adventure continues with module 12 - aquaculture!!!


another really exciting 2-day session, again just delvin and i


this time we were learning all about sustainable water technology

and all manner of ponds, fish farming, swimming pools, streams,

water mills, water pumps, water EVERYTHING!!!

(especially fish farming) 


as usual, we started our class with a long walk / talk

reminiscing about the last class and discussing the readings :




it was a really really snowy day



because the readings got a LOT into ponds

and all the mazillion kinds of ponds you may choose to have

and various factors like PH, oxygen levels, square meters size, depth, etc.

that might be taken into consideration

when deciding where to place the pond in relationship to other water bodies

what plants to plant in and around it

and what fish or crustations to raise in it

we decided to visit all three ponds on our property


this is the main pond, the only one large enough to have fish in really :



here is the same pond from another angle 

that little cabin you see in the above image is a pump house

with a pumper that pumps water from this pond uphill through the property

to various places where you can access the water...


in this shot, the pump house is so far to the left that you can't see it

we are looking at the pond from the left side : 



after analyzing that pond based on all the various factors in the readings

and after some very studious discussion

we threw some snow balls

and delvin helped me make a snow angel Smile



after all that outdoor time, we warmed up in my room

where we set up shop to hang out for most of the rest of the class :



we continued the multidimensional learning process

of sinking in the info from the readings in different learning styles

by creating, as we did last week, a fictional property map

which illustrated and put into practice a summary of info from the readings :




a couple of days before class 

i started getting really excited that i was going to be making

this 64 card deck of what we call "tokens"

these are the permaculture design elements

that can be used on a dimensional map we create, or just on a surface

with or without the companion permaculture principles card deck

which we have now finished

in order to help conceptualize the design of a property

just help learn permaculture

or as a game


Here is a picture from a previous permaculture class,

of us using the prototype, small "chit" or now called "token" set :



so, to prepare myself, I got a cool new tool so that I can do a good job

with this new style of illustration that I'm trying


(this thing lets me control my computer mouse with a pen, for digital drawing) 




I took a risk and got a super cheap kind... that's the model there

so far it seems to be working out really well for me


here's a picture of me at my upgraded workspace in my room :



Here is an example of how one of the chits would look as a drawing in my sketch book at first :




and here's what that same drawing looks like

once I've taken it into the computer and painted it :




Throughout the course of the two days and evenings

that we dedicated to this module

I was able to completely finish a bunch 

(though I will surely go back and do some upgrades to them all later) 










This was an extremely fun time... especially the tokens


Here are my written questions from our module :

1. What are the functions of having an aquaculture system on your property?

There are about a bazillion functions : It's a habitat for fish and quatic life that can be farmed and eaten, as well as aquatic plants and birds such as ducks. As well as a meat and edible plant source, it provides habitat for friendly frogs. It creates all kinds of edges, upping biodiversity and productivity. You can swim in the pond, or set up your office in there to keep yourself cool, because ponds are wonderful at creating microclimates and moderating temperature. Aside from that they can be used for irrigation of large areas, and when you intersperse them with your various gardens or food forests, they can enrich the area with water through the soil and the moist air around them. Imagine drinking a nice fresh drink of water in a beautiful haded food forest with the relaxing sound of a babbling stream / pond system right nearby.

2. What are some of things you could produce with aquaculture in your
local bioregion (ie. specific plants and animals)?

pond lily, iris flowers, marsh cinquefoil, cranberry bushes, water chesnuts, water cress, some various grasses, cod, trout, froggies, almonds, basically any coldwater fish.

3. Describe a small scale aquaculture system?

Imagine taking ten square meters of area and shaping that into a snake-like back and forth curved shape, digging, lining and filling that area with 2 meters deep of water, and putting some pregnant fish in there, while planting a host of water loving food plants like cranberries, water chesnuts and water cress around the edge. In the long thin areas between the twisty turns of the snake-like pond, plant  food forest guild / orchard style bunch of trees and other perennials, which can benefit from the wet soil and prevent erosion roblems over time. Leave the occational little fairy spot to sit and have tea, or go fishing for your dinner. The ends of this sweet pond could connect somehow to a nearby stream or flowform, allowing it to stay oxygenated. The babbling water sounds would be relaxing and welcome somewhere perhaps at the edge of zone 1 and 2. 


posted : 2009.Feb.08 @ 2.15pm

after a long and beautiful journey
we come finally into the last and most exciting module 

The readings were so interesting and fully inspired many beautiful dialogues 
as Delvin and I walked around the property discussing the chapter 
and also thinking forward in time to the upcoming FINAL DESIGN PROJECT

I was inspired to make a phat local community index
all about who's providing the ethical products and services
for absolutely anything one could need
for their various permaculture projects

the day was beautiful and still a little chilled in certain places


I really enjoyed this walk in the nearby areas to the dreamberry property
where there had been a bunch of tree farming at one point


I was endlessly interested i n so many things in the text
like all the incredibly specific advice given
on how to sustainably manage different amounts of people
from under ten, to a hundred, to several hundred, to a thousand and beyond
into social groups and networks and structures and organizations
that can really be effective at self-organizing sustainably


I also was taken with the information about money and currency
and together, Delvin and I decided what we would do
for our activity to illustrate today's curriculum!

We would imagine that we were creating our own currency
and go through what the steps would be 
to make a local currency a reality


It was a truly enchanting walk through the forest :

Then we went home and had fun with our fictional process of creating our own local currency system.
This was a long and fascinating exploration into the connection between money and value!!!
Here are our notes from the process :


1.0 planning session - core group develop media

2.0 promotional campaign - getting people on board starting with small group of friends and moving outward

3.0 creation of the system people register - what is your skill and where you can be contacted index created of people who are participating on new currency

it links to a website that has the index of who accepts this money

everyone buys dream money with real money

the real money sits in the bank people can cash out at any time

there is a registration fee for people first joining this covers the cost of printing / developing the new currency therefore the investment is simply a commitment to cycle money locally for the good of all 


The next day  we had lots of fun focusing in on tool development
I kept on working on the TOKENS (once called the chits)
and finished many more

The first one here is the HOUSE - The zone 0 of any mapping project
This one Delvin thought of making 3 times the size of the others
which really makes it a wonderful focal point for the other tokens :


We finished with the evaluation and questions... excited for the future :

 1. What modern issues can be addressed with social permaculture?

Permaculture can be used to help inform a  more sustainable approach to any modern issue, since it acts as a universally applicable design process and a way of relating. More specifically, however, some of the most improtant issues that permaculture can help us with include financial and political structures as well as labour models and social inequality... local to global.

2. How can permaculture business models succeed where conventional business models may fail?

Permaculture business models are set up to inherently support and enrich all the living beings and sources that are drawn from throughout their process. This creates abundance by naturally building communities of allies in the human and more than human worlds, which have tremendous potential to prove helpful in the least expected ways. These kinds of helpful community bases allow solutions to flow freer when those unexpected problems come up, which allows the living intelligence of the business as a whole, including everything and everyone that is a part of it, to add to the pre-set business plans which outline the goals and planned ways of achieving them.

3. Describe some long term advantages of permaculture in addressing at least 3 different major global issues or problems.

- Reconnecting currency with real value, such as linking it with natural, renewable resources or community assets as a new kind of federal reserve, could over a long period of time, serve to stabilize the global economy by eliminating inflation and reducing world debt. 

- By replacing the global food export economy and the associated monocultural style of agriculture with localized, permaculture style agricultural economies, starvation could, over a long period of slow and careful integration, cease to exist on this planet. In turn this would greatly improve the stability of the global economy. 

- If permaculture could be applied to the relationship between wildlife / forest preservation and urban restructuring and sustainable planning, what diversity the Earth still has could be preserved, and we coudl slowly bring the amount of damage down to none, while raising the amount of direct repair and healing to the atmosphere, earth and all the living things in it.

posted : 2009.Feb.08 @ 2.40pm




The final design project for our PDC course is at hand
and as we have been planning since the beginning of the course
we are excited and happy to do this permaculture mapping project
of beautiful Dreamberry Studios property
where Delvin and I have been lucky to live all this time

We started by exploring how we could get a good aerial base map
to trace in order to help us create our map.
After an unsuccesful attempt at using google Earth
We found OPIS :


We took that image into a program called "Illustrator"
and I created a basic, rough trace of what we could see in this map
even though it lacked many of the up-to-date trails and structures
and some of the stuff was too blurry to see properly

We printed that out in black and white on my printer
and then went out together to walk around the property
making corrections to the rough sketch I had started.

Delvin was the scribe and we worked together to figure it out :


I had a truly blissful time walking around the property
and getting to know the place in a really intimate way
through this wonderful process :


Then ... we spent several more hours
applying the changes we had made in pencil to the printed map
to the computer file in Illustrator
so that we could print it out again and do another walk-around perfecting it

which we did...


Again, we took those new changes into our illustrator map on the computer
and spent quite a bit of time making the whole thing really perfect
It's amazing how much pondering it really took 
to actually get everything right 

But once we did we had a still rough, blobby looking version
which to us, felt very impressive and accurate :



After doing about 10 hours of this, 
we were ready to begin the second half of this process
where Delvin and I split off and each do different tasks, 
while hanging out together and inspiring each other 

I would begin visually perfecting and adding information to the map
while Delvin would help me figure out what that information would be 
and works on composing the long-term plan 
for how our mapping process can evolve over time, if there is funding for it.

We got started on that phase right away :

I printed out our awesome blobby map in black and white
and began tracing over it to make a nice looking outline
which I would later scan and digitally apply to it


We had brainstormed for hours on what would be the best way
to improvise on creating a cool plastic layer to write on
so when we figured it out, we felt very happy :


We finished our session at 13.5 hours
and excitedly moved along into the next tier of our process...

Until next time... 


posted : 2009.Feb.08 @ 3.56pm

oh wow!

inspiring work you two!


Lunaya, nice work on the Tokens .. really great!

my favorite looking one is the Sun, it remindes me of you!  so bright and happy big smile : )



posted : 2009.Jul.03 @ 1.33am

Wow, really well done.  I hope all permaculture courses are this interesting.  I'm heading up to BC in a couple of weeks, i hope to check out the Heart Garden and surrounding lushness. 


posted : 2009.Nov.03 @ 6.26pm
This is truly amazing!  You're definitely in the front lines for future living/farming. Wink  You have put a lot of work into this and it is very very inspiring!  


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