Weekend One – Intro to Permaculture
Our design course began with very enthusiastic energy this weekend, as we all got to know one another and set our learning intentions as a class. Mark led the class on a tour of the neighborhood, with a history of Share-it Square and Planet Repair Institute, as well as an intro to the themes of Block Repair. We also discussed the Ethic and Principles of Permaculture Design. We also got our hands dirty with some block repair action, by planting a large squash, cabbage, and bean patch in about half an hour that will feed our class and neighbours this coming fall.
Weekend Two – Design Methods
This weekend our class formed into Design Team groups and then met the neighbors that we will be creating permaculture designs for. All of the neighbors are either on same block as Planet Repair, or across the street, so as to encourage designs that look at the broader landscape and energy flow of the neighborhood as a whole, rather than restricting our context analysis to the specific property lots themselves. Leonard Barrett gave an excellent overview of various methods and approaches to permaculture design.
Weekend Three – Soils and Mapping
Jude Hobbs visited and guided us through a rich day of learning about soils and the soil food web, as well as techniques for building, remediating, and stewarding soils. On Sunday we learned mapping techniques from Mark and began mapping our client’s properties and the block as a whole. Maps of the final design project will be compatible so that they can fit together in order to create a blockwide design.
Week Four: Trees and Forest Gardening
If there’s anything that humans can do to assure our continued sustenance and existence on this planet, then forest gardening might be it. So, we were very fortunate to have Dave Boehnlein from Orcas Island and Matt Bibeau from TLC Farm visiting us this week to offer us juicy and inspiring lessons on how to design and create lush forest-like gardens, layered with perennially producing food and fiber plants. On Saturday afternoon we sheet mulched a local parking strip and planted a demonstration forest garden site in the neighborhood with donated nursery stock from One Green World nursery and Portland Nursery. We planted Loquats, Cornelian Cherries, Sea Buckthorns, a Fig, Autumn Olive, Goumi, a Jostaberry, and an Arbequina Olive along a parking strip just one block east of Sherrett Square that will now produce a whole lotta food for generations to come. On Sunday Daver took us on a plant walk that felt consciousness expanding to say the least!
Weekend Five – Natural Building and Water Harvesting
This weekend Bernhard Masterson joined us and taught all about Natural Building. We learned about passive solar design, different natural building mediums and how to source materials cheaply, the strengths and appropriate use of different natural building techniques, how to site a house, or retrofit an existing structure. Then we got ourselves muddy with an earthen plastering project! On Sunday we were joined by Nate Downey – author of Harvesting the Rain. Nate offered a great talk on a full range of techniques for small scale water management including rainwater harvesting, storage, greywater systems, ponds, and swales. In the afternoon we toured the block and collaboratively designed a block-wide water management system!
Week 6 – Propagation, Seed Saving, Botony and Energy Systems
Marisha Auerbach taught us about plant propagation and seed saving, as well as basic botany for gardeners. We ventured out into the landscape and took cuttings to propagate some of our favorite plants, creating an instant backyard micro-nursery. On Sunday, we were very fortunate to be joined by Professor Toru Terada from the Landscape Architecture department at the University of Tokyo, who gave a short presentation to our class on Satoyama – the historic Japanese system for stewarding the commons.
Week 7 – Placemaking and Guerilla Land Art
Oliver Kellhammer joined us for a phenomenal talk on his botanical land art interventions in Vancouver BC. We also learned all about some rare but highly productive food plants that grow phenomenally well in our area, and harvested these Ginkgo fruits seen below. Michael Cook from the City Repair project joined us to discuss urban “placemaking”, and we busted out our block repair model to work on our collaborative design projects.