Permaculture Design Course: A Reflection by Emily

See PHOTOS from this past weekend’s course HERE

This past weekend I attended the first of five weekends of the Permaculture Design Course hosted by G.A.L.A..  I have been excited for the course to start since hearing of it in July, so Saturday morning I woke up ready to dive into all things Permaculture.

   After arriving at the G.A.L.A. Community Center (widely known as the old Ossipee Mt. Grange Hall), I was introduced to a wonderful group of people including two experienced instructors – Steve Whitman and Lauren Chase-Rowell, as well as the other thirteen participants.  The class was made up of all ages, places in life, and paths to the Permaculture. I was grateful for this, as it added richness to the possibilities of our time together.

After introductions to each other and the course structure, we embarked on a journey through Permaculture history and its basic ethics and principles. This was a practical way to gain a basis for what Permaculture means, but also began to bring out stories from the group, adding humor and insight into each ethic and principle listed. Permaculture is a holistic, systems thinking approach to utilizing the land, its ecosystems, and natural processes to create a sustainable, primarily self-maintained way to live off the land. The three ethics are Care of the Earth, Care of People and Share of the Surplus.

After lunch we each discussed our own ecological identities. I particularly enjoyed this, as Sense of Place and knowing about the land and surrounding ecosystems are very important to me. This activity enabled us to go beyond the the typically shared top layers of our identity – occupations and places of residence. We stripped back the layers to look at the land we came from, the water that surrounded us, and the things we notice most often in nature. This allowed us to come up with a new identity, a new way to share our story and connect with others.

Our final activity for Saturday was a niche analysis. We analyzed the needs, yields, and intrinsic qualities of a chicken, thus generating a deeper understanding of the value and requirements of the animal. This process could be carried out for each organism on a piece of land, enabling the steward to see overlap in needs and yields more clearly, allowing that steward to stack functions of organisms within the ecosystem. This stacking of functions creates resiliency through diversity and duplication, and streamlines systems. We then constructed an individual niche analysis, allowing us to share a bit more personally with the group and ourselves.

On Sunday, I woke up ecstatic. We were traveling to Lauren Chase-Rowell’s home at Dalton Pastures to learn by exploring her Permaculture design on the property. I was eager to see what she had created, curious to see Permaculture in action. I was in awe of what I saw. Lauren and her family have created a not only a beautiful place to live, but one where living in synch with the land and ecosystem is thought about in every action and decision. With this thought process front and center, the Chase-Rowell’s have created an incredibly harmonious place that provides for them, while they care for the land. It was a joy and privilege to have the opportunity to visit such an inspiring and well-balanced place. I left the farm with my mind dancing with possibility and keen on learning more about how to live in balance with the land.

Food during the weekend was a delight. Lynnette Duguay-Cumberland catered a beautiful lunch and breakfast of yummy locally grown veggies and handcrafted dishes. While exploring Lauren’s farm, she made us a fantastic lunch also utilizing the food she grew. The deliciousness, freshness, and overall goodness of the food this weekend only added to the power of Permaculture.

Just as I was each morning I woke up this past weekend, I am very excited to see what the next four Permaculture weekends bring. It will be inspiring to connect with my course-mates and I am enthusiastic to start my own Permaculture design!

First states of a Forest Garden

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