View Full Version : Permaculture

5-12-12, 11:47am
I've had my eye on a Permaculture workshop that comes around every summer in NYC. This year I'm thinking of doing it. They have a free intro on July 5, so I'll definitely to go that before signing up, but what do you guys think?? When I really try to answer the question, why spend the money, I come up with the following reasons:

As much as I love the simplicity and beauty of nature, I am completely ignorant of basic "how-tos" of the ecological systems and how to make them work for me
It would simply be fun.. A way to connect with people who may think like I do and learn at the same time
It will give me the answers on how to maximize my own pitiful home garden of a few tomato plants, leaf lettuce and herbs
It might give me great ideas for beautifying my landscape
It would prove to me that I either a) like simple nature stuff but still don't like getting my hands dirty or b) I might be into the nuts and bolts of sustainable gardening but need the info to get me going (I've always struggled with it and don't know if it's due to lack of interest or lack of knowledge)

So--it's not cheap--$1100 for an 8-week certificate course--but I have no other hobbies and spend very little on myself overall. I could save my monthly "slush fund" and just not buy anything else and put it towards that.

Anybody have experience with similar courses, or with permaculture in general that might help guide my decision?

5-12-12, 11:59am
That sounds pretty pricey to me, but if you can swing it, I say go for it.

I've taken a bunch of courses in various aspects of permaculture through the Northeast Organic Farmers Association (which includes New Jersey). Very very reasonable. I went to the annual conference last year for the first time, and had a blast. My local state NOFA also offers a bunch of stuff. I've been very pleased with the quality level of the instructors, and their knowledge.

Hmmm, I just checked the NJ NOFA site, and that may be the class you are looking at. But I have seen non-certification courses much cheaper.

5-12-12, 12:54pm
I would love to know more about permaculture and what is involved beyond the stated principles. I read the overviews and goals but not what I want which is more along the lines of - what do I do now? Will you share please once you are finished with the intro?

5-12-12, 2:16pm
herbgeek: Thanks for the tips. I think I'll first check out that free intro at The Open Center in NY. If I'm still on the fence about splurging on this, maybe I'll just sign up with a local permaculture group and take a few cheap classes. If I still like it and I'm learning and feeling its for me, maybe I'll take the plunge next year. That may be the most prudent way to go.

razz: I'll definitely fill you guys in after I go to the class.

ETA: I just googled and found there's a new Rutgers Initiative for Permaculture Education (RIPE). I'm a big Rutgers supporter/fan as I had two kids go there and one kid works there and is a 3rd year law school student there, so that seems like a good place to start where I'll at least feel like I'm at home.

5-12-12, 3:17pm
Just for the heck of it I checked our local Permy class and it is $600:
Every winter, they also offer free weekly classes on related topics; I went to a few of those and found the topics fascinating. I know some of the graduates of the class go on to establish small businesses helping others "permify" their yards or properties.

5-12-12, 9:53pm
Just for the heck of it I checked our local Permy class and it is $600:
Every winter, they also offer free weekly classes on related topics; I went to a few of those and found the topics fascinating. I know some of the graduates of the class go on to establish small businesses helping others "permify" their yards or properties.

Our big local permaculture certification outfit in Colorado's Front Range is about $1200.00, by comparison. But if I really thought it would bring me a lot of joy to do it, I'd find a way to save for it (not on credit)

I'm getting all the permaculture education I can digest right now, trying to work my way through Toby Hemenway's book Gaia's Garden, which is simply fantastic. We have a new garden/yard/property to build from scratch, and I'm trying to utilize sound permaculture techniques as I do it. If I find that's not enough, I will work on classes, but I don't need to pay the extra premium for certification as I never plan to teach it. I AM working on a master composter certification, because I DO plan to teach that in my community.

5-14-12, 7:48pm
Hi -
I got my permaculture certification in October, for many of the same reasons that you mention. It was a fabulous experience. I met many wonderful people, took part in transforming a garden, learned more concepts and skills than I have time to mention - and it was really fun. I had to step out of my comfort zone to do this, emotionally and financially, but I would do it again in a minute. In fact, I'm planning on taking advanced permaculture training this fall.

I have completely redesigned my home landscape since I took the program (some things have worked, others not, but all good experiences.) I have changed the practices I use in my volunteer gardening work. I have taught a couple workshops on permaculture (I work at a college so opportunities abound) and have begun writing a permaculture/gardening almanac for my area.

Permaculture covers such a vast array of subjects and practices that you could easily spend a lifetime studying it.

I would say the only part of my course that I could not relate to was the stuff on "how to make a living as a permaculturist." Even though I may make some money from doing this kind of work at some point, commercializing it just seems wrong. But that was a very small part of the course; I can not imagine how anyone could not benefit from taking a permaculture course.

7-6-12, 5:34pm
Well, I went to the permaculture intro last night in NYC. It really was excellent. The teacher, Andrew Faust, was very passionate and knowledgable. I didn't know what approach he was going to take with it--gardening, landscape design, home design? But he laid the groundwork in the "why" we need to be foot soldiers in this campaign to get back to re-learning from Nature the wisest ways to go about living in this world, today. He does not advocate a wholesale "back to the earth" movement necessarily--he's all about retrofitting our current infrastructure so that we can use the tools that are readily available in Nature to take over what isn't working very well, and in fact, what is essentially killing us. He talked about greening buildings with rooftop gardens, and using gravity systems to catch rainfall instead of pumping so much water from the aquifers.

So, now I'm sitting on the fence about signing up for the course or not. I don't believe it will be completely in my "wheelhouse" (notice how that term is jargon-du-jour?). This is really focused on urban permaculture, but that being said, I know I would enjoy the learning experience, and sharing the experience with others. Just not convinced I want to spend the summer weekends (one of the mandatory sessions conflicts with the family vacation)... and of course there's the cost of $1200.

I've googled the permaculture resources in NJ (thanks for the leads, herbgeek), and maybe I should start there. Not sure. Oooh, I'm such a bad decision-maker!

7-6-12, 8:44pm
I loved the book Gaia's Garden, too. Also read One Straw Revolution and found parts interesting.

7-7-12, 12:05am
If they offer short, less expensive classes I would say go for that at first. Most likely that will help lead you to both meeting other people with whom to share ideas and materials and will give you ideas to implement in small, manageable chunks. I took a Permaculture class while in Phoenix but I think I would have been better off just reading the book and taking which classes interested me more specifically. We were in suburbia with an HOA so certain things were very relevant (veggie garden, fruit trees, some water harvesting) and others were things I will probably never do, such as keep goats. I think the class was in the $600 range but I now don't remember the specific level of certification, though generally the Phx area was a bit less expensive than some other areas for that type of thing.