The first permaculture session felt like the days when I work on garden preparation. You know, choosing a site, finding out about the health of the soil, deciding what to feed it, making plans for the future. So we learned about permaculture ethics and principles and design principles. We dreamed and discussed some possible outcomes. We started to learn about each other and what we might accomplish together.
The next time we met we made some first steps – kind of like planting the garden. We started to work together and feel a bit like a newly emerging community.
And this time? You know when the plants are mostly up and looking good and maybe starting to produce food? Maybe you’ve had that first supercalifagiliciousexpialidocious strawberry and you can see many more, just about ready to eat. Or you have just tried one pod of tiny, oh-so-flavourful peas and you feel impatient to harvest all those others that are so close to ready. And this isn’t a time to slack off; nothing about this harvest is guaranteed. The slugs and deer and bears are still hungry. Lots to do and so much more to learn! What needs feeding or pruning or thinning or protecting?
This time we were really keen to just get to it. And now we know each other that much better, the work is going more smoothly. Need a fantastic drawing in a hurry? Ask Mischa. Need to know if this plant will thrive in this location? Ask Rin. Wondering how much will fit in this space in the plan? Ask Rob; while you were wondering, he will have been out there measuring it. Want to know who in the wider community might help with part of the project? Ask Kevin. Those are just a few examples: this team has amazingly varied skills and knowledge and we can really get stuff done.
And the learning was again intense and fascinating and verging on overwhelming. And varied! No boredom in these classes when topics range from animals in permaculture (with a chance to see this on a field trip to a local farm), to starting mushroom cultures, to natural building.
After presenting our more detailed plans to the church community, their enthusiastic response seems to say that we must be doing at least some of this well enough. But of course there is always more to learn and do. We have agreed to look back and confirm that the design is based in permaculture ethics and principles, to pinpoint design elements that embody design principles. And there will be the work days before we meet again in August.
Here are a few observations from the one person who doesn’t live in or near Powell River.
This course is structured so that the community building part is real. Not like the courses where students come from all over, work intensely together for 2 or 3 weeks and then scatter when it’s over. I watch the interactions before class starts and each time there are more, and richer, connections. To see this happening is a valuable lesson for me; I think I can use some of this learning in whatever community I experience in Victoria. But I think that learning about it isn’t the same as living it and I hope that the Powell River students really appreciate this opportunity for community building.
It is also incredibly valuable to have a site where the designs can become reality. This is a layer of learning beyond learning individual skills. And a level of satisfaction as well. Seeing the design take shape on the ground will be like a good harvest. And, like in any good garden, this harvest will keep on happening, as more is planned and planted for the future.
We are all looking forward to more permaculture work very much!