Take one look at Karen Hess’s front yard, and you immediately notice something special.
The yard is designed using permaculture principles, an ecological design system for creating water-harvesting, resource-recycling, food producing, zero-waste gardens, farms, neighborhoods, and even cities.
In this case, the Hesses have diverted their downspout from their roof into their front garden to catch roofwater to irrigate edible, native and insectory plants.
“Neighborhood level permaculture has been so beneficial for our family in many ways. Our former front lawn is now an intricate garden of food, medicine and native plants, and to our four year old, Lukas, it's a secret garden full of tasty snacks!,” says Karen.
In his book Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, Toby Hemenway eloquently explains how agriculture has influenced human societies to grow in a way that is unsustainable. Thankfully he has made it his life’s work to explain how ecological gardening offers the antidote. Toby’s focus is on urban and suburban settings and how everyday people can transform their neighborhoods and grow their own food.
Daily Acts, a Petaluma-based nonprofit that teaches residents how to implement these permaculture skills, has been influential in helping citizens realize how simple and satisfying it can be to grow their own food.
They’ve also been actively transforming lawns to edible landscapes––this past spring, they sheet mulched more than 16,000 square feet of lawn across Sonoma County (including nearly 4,000 square feet at the Petaluma Health Center), which will save hundreds of thousands of gallons of water and pave the way for more permaculture-inspired gardens countywide.
In 2010, Daily Acts hosted a workshop with 30 residents to install the garden that Karen’s son Lukas now adores. Karen explains, “Daily Acts was instrumental in beginning this process. They were and are so inspiring and helpful!”
This September, Daily Acts will host its first Permaculture Design Certificate Course (PDC), and the first course will be held in Petaluma. The class will be taught by Toby Hemenway, whose book Gaia’s Garden, has been the best-selling permaculture book for the past seven years.
Toby explains, “We are all looking for the same goal: to reduce the human ecological footprint, to allow wild nature to exist, and to have humans in better balance with nature.” And it all begins with our food choices, which have dramatic implications on land-use across the US.
Toby’s book, Gaia’s Garden is a handbook for ecological gardening, with an emphasis on cities and suburbs where access to space is limited. It espouses the scintillatingly optimistic argument that solutions to global challenges begin in the garden. This incredible opportunity to learn from Toby, working side by side, over six full weekends will culminate in your full 72-hour Permaculture Design Course Certificate (certified by the Permaculture Institute USA).
What makes this Permaculture Design Course so perfect for anyone seeking a pathway to sustainable change is that we’ll tap into the collective brilliance that we all have inside of us, that brilliance to forge relationships, and to observe the natural patterns that can offer us the solutions, if only we would start paying attention.
Mimicking natural patterns and ways of doing things has frequently produced miraculous findings. Organic agriculture is rooted in observing how nature works to keep pests and disease at bay. By paying attention to nature, solutions are exposed. You’ll walk away from Toby’s course looking at the world in a different way: instead of problems, you’ll see opportunities for radical solutions and a remaking of our world. The free energy source to power our lives in place of fossil fuels is human ingenuity and the power of community.
Daily Acts has been inspiring and implementing permaculture solutions, like Karen Hess’s landscape, for the past ten years. Where there was once a resource-intensive lawn at Petaluma City Hall, Daily Acts and fellow Petaluma nonprofits Rebuilding Together Petaluma and Petaluma Bounty, with the help of 250 incredible volunteers, transformed it into an edible landscape (be sure to visit it in the fall when the Chilean guava berries are ripe!).
At the Petaluma Cavanagh Center (at the corner of 8th & G streets), where the Permaculture Design Course will be held, Daily Acts transformed a water-guzzling 3,000 square foot lawn in May 2009 while educating 150 volunteers to be advocates for change in their own homes & neighborhoods.
The Cavanagh transformation has saved the city tens of thousands gallons of water a year while growing food and medicine and educating citizens! That is the power of permaculture solutions. And it doesn’t stop there; permaculture is an ecological design science that can be applied to your life, farm, business, organization, or government.
Visit www.dailyacts.org to register and learn more, or call 707-789-9664 and we’ll happily answer any of your questions about the course! Space is limited, so register today!