Permaculture at George Jones Farm

The Snarky Gardener is learning something new.

Letting plants go to seed to attract beneficial insects and create edible “weeds” is a permaculture concept

The Snarky Gardener saw a Facebook posting for a 12 week permaculture college class and decided to just jump in. The course costs $10 for materials and will have “get your hands dirty” training. It’s being held in Oberlin (about an hour or so from my house) at a local farm. Not a bad drive unless it’s snowing (which it has been a lot this winter). The SG is probably the oldest person in the class (including the instructor) but what I lack in youth I gain in snarkiness. It’s nice to see a room full of undergrads so excited about such a transformative subject as permaculture.

In case you are wondering what permaculture is, I’ll give it the old college try (pun intended) to explain it. Permaculture is an ecological design framework that strives to use natural processes to produce human needed resources. The question I ask myself to get into right frame of mind is “What would society look like if gasoline cost double, triple, or even quadruple of today’s prices?” Shipping anything would be a lot more expensive so we would need to have systems that were local and sustainable without much (if any) oil. So we’d want to be able to provide for our needs from our own area as much as possible (think fruit trees, perennial gardens, chickens, and bicycles for example).

What really attracts me to this discipline is its systems design approach. Professionally I’m a software developer, so I think of systems and design every day. I’ve tried to incorporate some permaculture concepts into my garden and yard (like perennial food plants, no tilling, rain barrels, and using my dog River to dig planting holes) but I want to understand it on a deeper level. I’ve read quite a few books on the subject, but nothing beats instructor-lead hands-on learning.

So every week over the next few months, I will be writing about my experiences at this permaculture farm. Hopefully I don’t pull a back muscle or fall on my face (I’m not the most graceful person).

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