All in all the course was about 100 hours long. 72 actual lecture and videos, then there were a bunch of bonus DVD’s that were well worth watching. Add in all the question and answers sessions and it was quite a bit of information. There were so many concepts and principals that were explained, but with Geoff giving examples and drawings it made it much more easily understood. When you add in the manual for additional reference it was all around great course. In all my time in college, on the job training, and training seminars this has got to be the one I gain the most information.
With any luck in the next week I will have completed my design submission and will be awaiting my certificate. I am already applying what I have learned to both my own property and on consulting properties. Many people are amazed at who much you can do with a small amount of land. And when I say land I am talking about suburban 0.2-0.5 acre lots. This is the case with a client who has at his disposal 300 acres. But setting up this much space is both financially and time wise not feasible. So, we are starting with the property around his house. About 0.3 acres. This is Zone 1 and where he can manage the improvements for little to no money and start producing more food for his family.
The Farm has been slowly changing as a result. I no longer look at varies trees and plants as junk or things that need to go. I look at and try to understand WHY they are there. What species are there that I need to help nurture. What wastes are we not utilizing to their full potential and what wastes can we reduce. For example, cleaning out one of the barns there were around 200 bales of straw and hay. Normally not such a big deal. But these have been sitting for 30+ years. The old practice would be to throw them into the burn pile. But after realizing that could be a great mulch for our fall garden. As demonstrated here. We took any broken bales and spread around 6-12 inches thick. We then made a border with the bales that were intact.
Over the last 30 years The Farm has been planted with pines. And all the beneficial trees cut down. Something we are stopping and now letting these, what were once “junk” trees to come back. Cherry – great for firewood, furniture, sell as a product. Mulberry – firewood, food, feed for animals. Maple – firewood, and maple syrup. While only 6 acres, allowing some of these trees to grow for longer will yield products in later years. As for the pines? Well not good as firewood, but there are lots of other uses. We are slowly thinning out the pines on the property and harvesting different aspects from them. Pine needles and smaller twigs are going as mulch in our berry patches. We are harvesting the sap, and the logs will be dried in the barn for lumber. The larger branches will be used as part of the hugle beds. Gone are the days of the burn pile for everything that was thought of as a waste.
Geoff’s videos put explanation to many things we know or were told as kids. Some of the old folk wisdom. For example, putting the water used in steaming vegetables or boiling them i.e. corn on plants will make them grow. It is true, but now I know why. There is a relationship between the microbes and organisms in the soil and the plants. The plants produce starch as a result of photosynthesis. The plant gives the starch through the roots to the organisms in the soil who in turn mine minerals and nutrients from the soil and rock. By adding the starch water to the soil around the plants it sends the organisms into overdrive bringing in a surplus of nutrients. So essentially you are fertilizing the soil.
As part of my final design I plan on making a video to demonstrate that have retained and can use the material I was taught. When complete I plan on posting so stay tuned. If you are interesting in applying permaculture principals to you property check out the consulting or contact us pages.