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Permaculture Community

IMG_2617Learning permaculture from a book, or even many books, and videos, didn’t prepare me for the power of permaculture design.  For eight years I looked at my plot of land and tried, but knew I wasn’t getting it.  I installed rain barrels, tried keyhole gardens for my annuals, interplanted garlic, onions, chives and such with my perennial bee and bird garden, planted an abundance of natives, and so on, but that is not permaculture.

Most of what I did was in isolation, without regard to how it all functions together, and after the drought last year, I knew my water management strategy was seriously flawed.  Two rain barrels positioned on the other side of the house from the gardens, not only made hauling water labor intensive, but two rain barrels only hold about 100 gallons of water.  Not much when there are weeks with no rain.

So, after taking a Permaculture Design Course (PDC) and really delving into Edible Forest Gardens and Food Forests, I really got permaculture.  Now the only limits have been manpower, time, and resources.  All of which can be solved with community.

Community is a vital element of permaculture and with it you can achieve your permaculture goals.  Community is there to help you dig, plant, design, eat, laugh, relax, support, and give.  Permaculturists are generous people.  They share what they have with joy.  No project is too big or difficult when you have a community.

Jodi and I have been fortunate to discover many wonderfully supportive people who make up our community and have helped us get The Resiliency Institute started.  Each person has supported our efforts in a myriad of ways and introduced us to another who has done the same.

We want to share this abundance with you and include you in our community.  We all have something to offer and receive from others.  So, we invite you to come to our first Permaculture Community meeting, Thursday, May 9th (7-9pm).  Let’s meet each other, share our ideas and create a permaculture community.

Fruit Tree Grafting

As the weather warms and the spring bulbs bloom, people start thinking about their yards and gardens.  With Arbor Day on April 26th, it is time to think trees.  Trees have tremendous value – aesthetic, shade, energy savings, food and homes for wildlife, and the list goes on.  When you plant a fruit or nut tree you get all of these benefits plus a harvest.  You can harvest your own pears, hazelnuts, paw paws, peaches, and chestnuts to eat fresh, can, freeze, dry, share or make pies, jam or flour.

dwarf pear tree 2 typesRemember the last time you went apple picking and how delicious every apple tasted right off the tree.  You can have that in your own yard and the Midwest Fruit Explorers (MidFEx) can teach you everything you need to know.  They are hosting a fruit tree grafting class on April 14th at the Chicago Botanic Gardens for the public or you can join for $15 and go to the member event at Cantigny in Wheaton this Sunday on April 7th.

Click here to watch a 3 minute video on apple tree grafting.

Grafting is attaching new wood growth with buds (scion wood) from a tree of the fruit variety you want to a root with a small trunk.  The root can be dwarfing, semi-dwarfing, or standard.  Dwarf trees grow 8-12 feet, semi 12-16 feet and standards 25 feet or taller.  Fruit trees don’t grow from seeds.  If you eat an apple or a pear, for example, and plant the seeds, the resulting tree will not bear the same fruit you ate.  The only way to grow the variety of fruit you want is by grafting.  All of the fruit trees at the nursery have been grafted.

The MidFEx event will teach you how to graft your own tree for free.  Just pay $4 or $5 for the rootstock and scion wood.  You can then go home, plant your new tree and graft extra scion wood to an existing fruit tree or an ornamental apple, pear, or cherry tree on your property.  With proper care you will be harvesting delicious fruit from your yard in a couple of years.

 

What is Permaculture

permaculture, principles, ethics, circular, sustainable

Permaculture was created by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the mid-1970’s as a response to the pollution and destruction of the land and its natural resources. It is a philosophy they developed from observing nature and utilizing the wisdom of natural systems. In Introduction to Permaculture by Bill Mollison, he defines permaculture as “… a design system for creating sustainable human environments. […} The aim is to create systems that are ecologically sound and economically viable, which provide for their own needs, do not exploit or pollute, and are therefore sustainable in the long term.”

 

 Permaculture Ethics

Permaculture Ethics
Care of Earth, Care of People, Fair Share

The foundation of permaculture is built on three ethics:  care of earth, care of people, and fair share.  To illustrate how the ethics are applied, we can consider the act of planting a pear tree.  Planting the tree cares for the earth by creating a niche ecosystem, exchanging carbon dioxide and oxygen, shading the ground, feeding the worms and soil organisms, supplying pollen for bees, habitat for animals, and countless other benefits.  Planting the pear tree cares for people by providing fruit to eat, shade, the aesthetic beauty of the tree, and pruned wood can be used for mulch or energy.  Fair share means we think of others and only take what we need, leaving enough for other people and future generations to enjoy.  Planting near a neighbors yard or public area, allows others to access fruit and share in your bounty, generating good will.  Fair share includes maintaining the health of the tree so that it lives a long and fruitful life to supply fruit for the next homeowner or generation.

 

Permaculture Principles

Permaculture Principles
Permaculture Principles

 

There are also twelve permaculture design principles that evolved from ‘systems ecology’ and create the framework for designing permaculture systems.  Incorporating vermicomposting (worm composting) into your kitchen or garden practices principles #5, #6, and #9.

Of course this is just the beginning.  Once your eyes open to see the amazing power of permaculture, you won’t be able to imagine any other way of thinking or designing.

 

We look forward to seeing you at one of our classes where we will explore all aspects of Permaculture.

Suburban Permaculture

People have become increasingly concerned with the resiliency of our food, water, energy and economic systems and are looking for personal and community security.  This has propelled a global permaculture movement that is permeating the United States and has made its way to the Midwest.  Permaculture has traditionally been used to design systems for large land areas, but recently people have discovered how the principles can be applied to any piece of land or living situation.

The suburbs have been maligned for being wasteful with resources, and they are very wasteful, but since we cannot undo the suburbs, we have to figure out how to reduce their resource consumption.  Suburban permaculture is the answer!  We can apply permaculture ethics, principles, and design concepts to the suburban landscape to transform them into productive self-sustaining communities rich in social capital, and which are economically and environmentally resilient.

The Resiliency Institute is uniquely qualified to educate the suburban population on the application of permaculture, because this is where we live and work!  We can help you detox from your lawn addiction, by designing an edible forest garden with a water management feature where you can relax and harvest your delicious fruits, nuts and vegetables.  Share your harvest with friends and neighbors, invite them to help you preserve the harvest, and enjoy a harvest meal together – all great ways to foster community.  Your children will experience a new environment rich in learning opportunities and may surprise you by eating their veggies.

Visit our course calendar.