Permaculture Course Inspires Transformation of Community

Amy Rhodes, Owner/Director of Land-Based Education & Agritour Design (L-BEAD), is one of 14 students who completed a two-week Permaculture Design Course, offered in July at Weber Retreat and Conference Center in Adrian, Michigan.

Amy hopes to use the knowledge, experience, and human relationships acquired through the course to broaden services   offered by L-BEAD. Reflecting on the experience, she stated, “The course inspired me to look deeper into site analysis and improve ways of bringing invisible structures, such as power relationships and social contracts, into the conversation of place through physical and educational designs. Adding the tools required of a permaculture design consultant, I feel more equipped at reading and listening to landscapes designed by Nature. I now have a clearer vision for integrating interpretive, non-formal education programs with holistic self-reliant, skill-building activities for community members of all ages.”

The course was directed by Peter Bane, author of Permaculture Handbook and Garden Farming for Town and Country, and the editor of Permaculture Activist magazine. Peter and the faculty are specialists in permaculture, a contraction of “permanent agriculture” or “permanent culture. Permaculture focuses on “designing ecological human habitats and food production systems,” according to the Permaculture Activist website, (http://www.permacultureactivist.net/intro/PcIntro.htm). Permaculture is a “land use and community building movement which strives for the harmonious integration of human dwellings, microclimate, annual and perennial plants, animals, soils, and water into stable, productive communities.”

“The students had time to learn and then apply permaculture values and design principles on a specific site,” the Adrian Dominican Sisters Motherhouse campus, explained Sister Carol Coston, OP, in the Permaculture Office for the Adrian Dominican Congregation, which hosted the course.  Rhodes remarked, “This experience really pushed me to ask, ‘What is the pedagogy of this place? What relationships exist here, human and non-human,  and how can they be celebrated?”

Sister Carol said the students learned to consider such factors as the “ecological and social context of the major building elements of the campus, emergence of the water system, the shaping of the land into major subdivisions, the movement and use of water and winds through the system and its effects, solar influences and outdoor living spaces, the food handling and campus recycling, major and minor opportunities for cultivation, current and possible harvesting from the environment.”

The three overall values of permaculture work are Earth Care, People Care, Fair Share. These factors can also be considered in the design of permaculture for your home, farm, and/or educational site. Land-Based Education & Agritour Design offers services and programs for clients in Indiana and surrounding Midwest states. Contact Amy at listentotheland@gmail.com to arrange a site visit and consultation.