Today was the last day of our 72 hour Permaculture Design Certification course and we now officially have 11 new permaculturists in our community spreading the word about sustainability! This was such an incredible group of people to work with and I’ve so much enjoyed their energy and enthusiasm. I’m so glad I decided to become certified a year ago and offer this certification course at Gateway. The one Saturday a month format worked really well for most students with additional videos, reading and discussion board participation done online at home. Like any new course, there were some glitches and a few students seemed to get lost in the once a month format but we started with 18 students and ended up with 15 so not bad.
We were able to begin studying together in June and early summer and continued each month through November so were able to keep a seasonal focus to each class. In June we foraged for wild plants, studied the forest and ecosystem of our area and ended the day with a visit to my friend Maria Caravatti who has a permaculture style yard of vegetables, rain barrels and perennials. We got to eat service berries off her tree loaded with fruit in the front yard. In July we planted a fruit tree guild and learned about capturing storm water with rain gardens and using hugellkulture or buried wood. In August we took a field trip to Growing Power in Milwaukee and September found us studying herbs, native plants and mapping out our permaculture zones. We learned to make tinctures, herbal vinegar and skin balms and everyone got to take home a sample. As the weather cooled in October we learned about alternative energy and building and the ‘Garbage Warrior’ became our latest hero. We visited the home of one of our students living a sustainable life with hoop houses, rain barrels, alpacas and bees, all in her backyard. Along the way each student designed a rather complicated permaculture site, either their own yard or a friend, using the concepts discussed in class.
Each month we shared a potluck lunch which became the highlight of the day due to the wonderful cooking skills of participants – home-made chilis and soups, stews, green salads, fruit salads, home-baked cookies, breads and pies, mainly vegetarian, sometimes not. Each month we broke bread together and ate high quality food that took time and thought to prepare. I’m so intrigued by the idea of food as love and eating as a scared act. Its a good thing I like to grow and cook (and eat!) and talk about good food. I better make a little more time for exercise!
The focus of the last day of class was on the social aspects of permaculture and in the end its all about relationship. The universe strives to connect us to one another and to our Mother Earth – Gaia. We so much value our independence and privacy but don’t seem to understand the power of interdependence. There is real power in being vulnerable; letting the world know you and finding they still love you in spite of your imperfection.
And on that note we decided to continue our class connection and conversation and made plans to start a permaculture group in Kenosha and meet every few months. There is a meeting Monday about keeping chickens in Kenosha and I’ve suggested that we should attend this meeting to show our support. Community change and connection start small with showing up! I know some of my new permies have small children and need to be home but I’m hoping our ‘permie tribe’ will grow and meet regularly to promote sustainable activity in our community.
I’m tentatively planning our next meeting to be Saturday Jan 25, 2014 from 4-7 pm with the location to be determined. Please join our Kenosha Racine Permaculture Guild facebook page to keep up with our activities and future events
I’m really honored to have gotten the opportunity to know these people and be considered their teacher!