It feels like just yesterday we were gathered together in the classroom barn at Bear Roots Farm for final design presentations, and yet here we are almost 3 weeks later watching the glorious summer season come to a close here in the Green Mountains. However, unlike the temporal seasons, our permaculture journey continues, and so here we are with a recap of the PDC's finale and an update on our recent activities.
The final week of our inaugural PDC, which was punctuated with more guest speakers, field trips and the regional design workshop, continued building on the threads that Andrew had begun weaving for us during the first week. Aside from final design presentations, which included a detailed plan for a "Eco-Hub" in NYC and an animal and human rehab sanctuary, the highlight of the week came with the Designing Abundance Regional Design workshop held at Montpelier High School. It was certainly a powerful experience having so many active community members, students, and experts collectively discussing their respective visions for the future for Montpelier and the surrounding region. After opening remarks provided by Vic and Andrew, the day continued with various breakout sessions that covered a wide array of topics including new economic models, broadscale water quality improvements, local food procurement for institutions like Montpelier High School, and even suggestions for a centralized food/information hub. For our PDC students, the workshop provided an astounding example of how to go about applying permaculture and design process on various scales, from homestead to whole regions. For this initiative, the workshop was a strong affirmation of the existing desire for a more sustainable future for Central Vermont.
Since the end of the PDC and the workshop, our network has been expanding, as have our ideas. We have begun exploring a long-term partnership with Walt Poleman PhD and the UVM Ecological Design Collaboratory, an initiative of the GreenHouse Residential Learning Community that gives participating undergrads an introduction to place-based ecological design and skill development. Two of our PDC graduates are affiliated with the program, and will be assisting us in developing informational workshops and potential research projects for their fellow students. We having additionally begun reaching out to other institutions, such as Goddard College, the Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission, and the Vermont Land Trust, to explore possibilities closer to our region of focus. Perhaps our most ambitious goal is the development of the Permaculture Research Institute of Central Vermont, a planned employee-owned entity that intends to offer research opportunities, design strategies for creating resilient regional systems, and an alternative media platform aimed at adjusting our cultural narrative.
In just a few short months we have begun forging our path towards a region that better sustains its communities, discovering the natural synergies and unlikely partnerships along the way. While we still have a long way to go, we are watching our vision evolve everyday and the future is certainly looking bright.
We have officially hit the halfway point of the inaugural PDC at Bear Roots Farm, and what a week it's been! That being said, it's about time that we caught up with you all and reflected on our first week of instruction and adventure!
Our giddy group of 11 students, plus faculty and family arrived last Sunday for a welcome celebration complete with grilled goodies and lots of jubilant laughter. Monday marked the beginning of instruction with Andrew leading the charge on introducing the beginnings of Permaculture and how his life has become deeply intersected with it. As the week progressed, we delved into concepts such as water cycles and management, site analysis and assessment, and greening urban infrastructure. Our long hours in the "classroom" barn were punctuated with visits from our awesome hosts and Bear Roots Farm owners, Jon and Karin, a group design activity, and some very exciting and informative field trips. Thus far, we have had the pleasure of venturing to Teal Farm in Huntington, currently managed Shawn and Melissa Hoffman of Earth Asset Partnership LP, the neighboring Maple Wind Farm owned and operated by the ever-gracious Bruce Hennessey, and the Aiken Building at the University of Vermont.
Our lectures have additionally been augmented by some very informative guest speakers, including our very own Aaron Guman who spoke about his passion, edible forest gardens. After our Saturday evening session with Mark Krawzyck of Keyline Vermont, many of us parted ways for a very well-deserved day off to recharge, dry our soggy tents, and digest the wealth of information that has been bestowed upon us thus far. We are due to reconvene Monday with another round of field trips, lectures, and, of course, our Regional Design Workshop on August 18th!
For many, this experience is already proving to be immensely fulfilling, and we are so pleased to be able to share similar sentiments. Cheers to a new week of intention, education, and inspiration!
Well, the day has finally arrived! This afternoon our PDC participants, faculty, and family members will celebrate the beginning of the transformative experience we are about to embark on at Bear Roots Farm. Wooohooo!
This past week has been a whirlwind of activity as we prepared for the next two weeks of immersive Permaculture instruction. Vic, Aaron, and an awesome team of helpers worked tirelessly on preparing the site for our students. The barn "classroom" got a new set of stairs, the woods were prepped to become a wonderful camping area, solar showers were installed, and much more!
Later today we will all convene at Bear Roots for an opening ceremony led by herbalist and PDC guest speaker, Annie McCleary with a celebratory potluck to follow. Tomorrow marks day 1 of instruction with lead teacher Andrew Faust introducing the structure of the course and the framework for the next two weeks.
We will do our best to update you all as the course progresses, so stay tuned! Also, don't forget our Regional Design workshop is very, very soon! Things are really coming together on that end, and we are thrilled to be able to collaborate with such a experienced and passionate group of individuals.
Welcome, one and all, to the very first post in the ongoing, virtual record of the progression of our work and the lessons we are learning along the way. We intend to use this space to convey our feelings, thoughts, and aspirations, as well as important updates, as we continue on the path towards developing a vibrant future for Central Vermont.
As the dates for our Permaculture Design Certification course and community-based, regional design workshop approach, a flurry of activity is arising. We are in the depths of gathering information on land use patterns and water management, the various elements of the local foodshed, and potential opportunities in regional economic models. Needless to say we are busy bees! Thankfully, we are not delving into all of this alone thanks to the ever-widening network of incredible individuals and organizations that are assisting us in this regional design process.
Perhaps one of the most vital principles of permaculture is learning to value and effectively utilize diversity, and we are doing just that. Our work is being enriched by a long list of folks that have backgrounds and experience in everything from organic farming and local food movements to Keyline landscape design and industrial ecology. Together, this knowledge base is formulating a wonderful foundation for our holistic, broadscale design process, and we couldn't be more appreciative. Just goes to show that it really does take a village...