Jul 232014
 
 

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My guest for this episode is Rafter Sass Ferguson, a permaculture practitioner and PhD student who is researching self-identified permaculture farms. Our conversation today looks at the state of his work and of permaculture research in general, as well as some of the challenges we face in broadening the impact, accountability, and acceptance of permaculture.

Find out more about Rafter and his research at: liberationecology.org

What stands out to me from this interview is, again, our importance of doing research as practitioners. To be involved. To experiment. To try new things. To figure out what does and doesn’t work where we are and share that information with others. We have the tools in our hands and in the permaculture literature to create an abundant world that can tackle some really big problems, but much of that gets cast aside because of the barriers and hurdles we have to overcome to get there.

It’s why I take a long view on spreading the word and getting permaculture out there. I’d rather offer a life changing impact on a few people, like the person who wrote in saying that they were no longer a bigot and more accepting of others because of the interviews with Rhamis Kent, than have this podcast be a fluff piece for ten times as many people who just listen and move on. I wake up every day wanting to make the world a better place for everyone. For me, my children, my friends, my family, and for you, and people I haven’t met yet, and people who aren’t born yet. We have the most amazing set of tools. Now all we have to do is use them.

I’ll step down from my soap box now and leave you to your time.

If you’d like to get in touch, here are the usual ways.

E-mail: show@thepermaculturepodcast.com
Phone: 717-827-6266
Facebook: Facebook.com/ThePermaculturePodcast
Twitter: @permaculturecst

The Permaculture Podcast with Scott Mann
P.O. Box 16
Dauphin, PA 17018

(Episode: rafter2)

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 Posted by at 10:00
Jul 212014
 
 

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This episode looks at a number of resources that are available to identify plants.

Before we begin however, I’d like to thank Jen Mendez at Permiekids.com for sponsoring this episode. Permie Kids is a solutions-based, do-ocracy community designing a holistic early childhood and primary education with our children that empower in learning and life. The community believes that the solution, the only ethical solution to borrow from Bill Mollison, is to take responsibility for ourselves and our children. This means valuing each individual, be they child or adult, and creating an inherent permanence in our learning culture.

This community is a collection of educators including parents, teachers, grandparents, mentors, and children that take responsibility together to collaborate and design a personalized holistic education with children that is passion-driven, project based, and grounded in the scientific methodology that empower people to care for themselves, others, and the earth. It is not about teaching children to “do” permaculture in the landscape, but do live a permaculture life regardless of where their passions take them.

You can become a part of the solution and learn more by going to PermieKids.com and joining the community, check out the podcast, and share in the surplus of community knowledge and ideas. Jen also offers free 1 to 1 mentoring for anyone who would like to bring this information into their lives with their children and grandchildren.

I really like what Ms. Mendez is doing. It fills in a gap that too few people are addressing and her work fits in with my long term view of The Plan. Where her early childhood and primary education ends, my desire for permaculture based, skills oriented, experiential education of young adults picks up. It’s really good to see these synergistic developments in the permaculture community and makes me hopeful for what the future holds.

Plant Identification and Uses

I want to look at three different types of plant identification sources: online, books, and in-person.

Online there is a community that I recommend anyone who is on Facebook gets involved with, that is the Plant Identification and Education group. It’s a closed group with over 6,000 members who really come together to post information and help people solve plant ID issues. I’ve learned quite a bit in the last few weeks of being a member. I recommend anyone who wants to delve into this subject goes there and gets involved. Read, explore, and learn more. A link that and all the other resources mentioned can be found in the show notes.

For online websites I would check out Go Botany! From the New England Wild Flower Society. I’ve interviewed Elizabeth Farnsworth who is involved with this project and they’re doing a lot to get good information out there. Also, if you contact the GoBotany team you get in touch with a real human being who is personally involved in the project. This site is at gobotany.newenglandwild.org.

Next is the Plants for A Future site at PFAF.org. The amount of information is nearly overwhelming and includes a data where you can search to find plants to meet a specific need. As a permaculture practitioner this site is indispensable for filling in the gaps of a design and finding something to fill a particular niche.

Another good identification site is the Discover Life wildflowers page. This provides a key where you can click the various characteristics and narrow down what you have. There are also pictures to go with each of the botanical meanings, and explanation keys. If this is your first time working with identifying plants and you want an online resource, this is where I would start.

Next is the USDA PLANTS database found at plants.usda.gov once you have an idea of what it is you have in order to find out more information on it. There are links here to see a list of the plants in a given state, and to learn about the endangered plants of the U.S. These endangered plants, to me, are ones we should seek to preserve in our own state.

The final resource to look for is to see if you state or territory has a natural heritage program. Using your favorite search engine, enter in the name of place where you live followed by natural heritage program and see what pops up. In the U.S. my understanding is that most states have a natural heritage program or something similar. The Pennsylvania site includes information on plant communities, aquatic communities, county inventories, interactive maps, species lists, the climate change vulnerability index, and more. I’ve learned an incredible amount about not only my state but my local region by looking through the many many resources there.

From online resources, I move to books. This is an area where I have limited knowledge, so turn to a list from Nathan Carlos Rupley, which has a foraging and re-wilding focus. His list includes:

  • Abundantly Wild by Teresa Marrone
  • Ancestral Plants by Arthur Haines
  • Backyard Foraging by Ellen Zachos
  • Botany in a Day by Thomas Elpel
  • Dandelion Hunter by Rebecca Lerner
  • Edible Wild Plants by John Kallas
  • The Forager’s Harvest by Sam Thayer
  • Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants by Steve Brill
  • Nature’s Garden by Sam Thayer
  • It will Live Forever by Beverly R. Ortiz

I have three of these, those by Sam Thayer and Arthur Haines, in my personal library. There are also copies of each of those books floating around in the Traveling Permaculture Library Project. On order are copies of Botany in a Day by Thomas Elpel and Edible Wild Plants by John Kallas after seeing these two recommended over and over again. Another series of book I recommend are those by Euell Gibbons. Stalking the Wild Asparagus and his other works are classics and worth reading.

Even with all those resources available, I recommend that you connect with local or regional plant identification or use groups. Things to look for include native plant organizations, garden clubs, primitive skills folks, herbalists, or anyone else who is doing the kind of things you are interested in. If you’re practicing permaculture start with the closest permaculture group you can find. That’s how I’ve gotten in touch with so many people doing different things. Ask questions, ask around, connect, and you’ll be surprised what you can find.
If you try and try and can’t locate someone local, let me know. I’m always available to help you and know a lot of people in the community.

Finally, with any of these resources, no matter how much you trust the site or author take your time and double check against more than one resource to insure you have it right. Slow and steady wins this race and you’ll learn more from it.

Get out there, observe, learn more about the plants around you and how to use them. While you’re out there, take someone with you so they can join in the joy of these experiences.

Is there anyway I can help you on your path, or you can help me in return? Get in touch.

E-mail: show@thepermaculturepodcast.com
Phone: 717-827-6266
Facebook: Facebook.com/ThePermaculturePodcast
Twitter: @permaculturecst

The Permaculture Podcast with Scott Mann
P.O. Box 16
Dauphin, PA 17018

(Episode: 2014Byte0721)

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 Posted by at 12:00
Jul 182014
 
 

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This episode is a short conversation with Adam Brock, of The GrowHaus, who is also one of the organizers of the upcoming North American Permaculture Convergence.

The convergence will be held August 29 – 31, 2014 at Harmony Park in Clarks Grove, Minnesota. Tickets are currently on-sale. Find out more at:

http://northamericanpermaculture.org/

I don’t know if I’m going to make it to this event. If you know you’re going to be there let me know and we can work together and have you cover the event for this podcast.

Get in touch:

E-mail: show@thepermaculturepodcast.com
Phone: 717-827-6266
Facebook: Facebook.com/ThePermaculturePodcast
Twitter: @permaculturecst

The Permaculture Podcast with Scott Mann
P.O. Box 16
Dauphin, PA 17018

(Episode: 2014Byte0718)

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 Posted by at 12:00
Jul 162014
 
 

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My guest for this episode is Mark Shepard, author of Restoration Agriculture.

As you might expect from this show we start with his biography and background, work our way through a call to action for permaculture practitioners and a need to be realistic in our efforts, and finally wrap up this conversation by discussing his work of restoration agriculture. Don’t worry though, this is the first piece that Mark and I recorded together, so there will be more on this subject to follow, including listener questions in episodes two and three.

I’m can produce episodes like this one, and those that follow in this series, because of your support. You allow me to schedule large blocks of time to have expansive candid conversations with interesting guests for the good of the permaculture community and beyond. If you value this show and these experiences, and I think you do since you choose to tune in, then support the show. Go to www.thepermaculturepodcast.com/support to find out how.

I found this interview, and the other time I spent with Mark, delightful and challenging. He asks hard questions and proposes solutions that at first glance seem difficult, but that ultimately are necessary to doing this work in a meaningful way and getting beyond the “feel good” actions of a little here and a little there. The potentially unstable future posed by weather wierding and climate change requires action.

Now.

As part of that, and because I don’t believe in asking anyone to do something that I wouldn’t or haven’t done, I’m going to take up Mark’s challenge to eat a diet free of annual grains and annual legumes for 30 days. Actually, I’ll be doing it for 31, from August 1st through the 31st, 2014. Will you join me in this journey and see what the experience is like in a world of mass produced foods and perceived scarcity? Together we can show the possible abundance that lurks beyond the shelves of our local supermarket.

Expect a month or so to pass until the next of these pieces with Mark, and the final one to come out in late September or early October.

Also, Jen Mendez at Permie Kids is holding a series of online discussions via Google Hangouts that she’s calling Edge Alliances. This is a way for permaculture practitioners and educators to come together and discuss ideas, share experiences, ask questions, and propose solutions. Sunday, July 20th she is examining self-empowerment and self-defense, and on Sunday, July 27th the conversation will look at Forest Schools as a model for childhood education. You can find out more about these at:

http://www.permiekids.com/community-collaboration/

Are you practicing restoration agriculture? Or just want to talk permaculture? Let me know:

E-mail: show@thepermaculturepodcast.com
Phone: 717-827-6266
Facebook: Facebook.com/ThePermaculturePodcast
Twitter: @permaculturecst

The Permaculture Podcast with Scott Mann
P.O. Box 16
Dauphin, PA 17018

(Episode: MarkShepard)

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 Posted by at 09:00
Jul 142014
 
 

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This episode continues the Back to Basics series and looks at Holmgren’s Principle 8: Integrate Rather than Separate.

Before we begin, I’d like to thank everyone who has contributed to the show. Without your help this wouldn’t be possible. If you’ve considered lending a hand, but haven’t yet, please do. Find out how at: www.thepermaculturepodcast.com/support/

Also, I’d like to thank Richard Telford for allowing me to use his permaculture principle icons to further illustrate this series of podcasts. Richard designed these for Holmgren’s Permaculture: Principles and Pathways beyond Sustainability and I’m very honored that this work can bear these images. He’s also the designer of the Permaculture Calendar which will be out later this year. In the U.S., as I understand it, you’ll be able to pick those up through the Permaculture Activist. Find out more about Richard and his work at: permacultureprinciples.com.

Principle 8: Integrate Rather than Segregate.

This principle bears the subheading, “many hands make light work,” and are a reminder of what we can accomplish when we bring elements of a system together, whether in the garden, in our home, or in our community. It implores us to work together, to be cooperative, and to not try to stand alone.

To do this we look for components of our system to have many functions, to fill many roles. We also look for each function to support many elements. We can think of the pattern of components and see the details of it as the renewable resources in a system: the people, plants, animals, fungi, and other renewable resources. The roles are what these components do. The support they provide come from the yields they can give to other elements in the system.

Yes, there can be competition. Yes, there can be predation. Yes, some things will avoid others, but in the end we are looking to build relationships that are ultimately symbiotic and cooperative.

From a social or human perspective a term I’ve heard for this came from a conversation with Diego of Permaculture Voices, and it was just a conversation we haven’t sat down for an interview, in which he used the term “cooperatition.” To me this means that we compete AND cooperate so that we can all get better, build what it is that matters to us, and create niches that we work within.
With that each element should also be supported by many others. Borrowing from Jack Spirko of The Survival Podcast for a moment, “two is one and one is none.” This applies as equally in the landscape as in preparing for disasters.

How do we develop those multiple supports? Through design. By using paper and pencil to draw maps, sketch up ideas, research what the needs, pests, and peculiarities of a particular element are and bringing those supporting elements in where they can do the most good. In return we push the number of yields up in the system because of the exponential growth of the connections between the various pieces.
Understanding how to do so, however, takes experience garnered over years. Integrating back into the cyclical patterns of time within nature and the flows of resources through the landscape. Take your time, observe carefully, learn voraciously, and enjoy the journey along the way.

I’ll be with you as long as I have days left in the world.

Can I help you create your own better world? How do you integrate rather than segregate? Get in touch:

E-mail: show@thepermaculturepodcast.com
Phone: 717-827-6266
Facebook: Facebook.com/ThePermaculturePodcast
Twitter: @permaculturecst

The Permaculture Podcast with Scott Mann
P.O. Box 16
Dauphin, PA 17018

(Episode: 2014Byte0711)

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 Posted by at 09:00