In this course we explore the fundamental design philosophy of permaculture and apply it to a research task to demonstarte your understanding. Regenerative design involves a robust thought process. Working from a living systems perspective shifts the focus of everyone’s attention from simply solving today’s problems to working to realize the upper limits of creative potential a healthy system is capable of manifesting.
In this course we explore the following aspects of regenerative design:
- Pattern Recognition: The main goal in applying patterns in landscape design is to harmonise with natrual processes that are constantly working to build a balanced interaction of diverse elements, in order to store as much energy moving through an ecosystem as possible within living things. This process guides the assembly of natural systems, which develop into complex, self-regulating assemblies of life that result in the longest storage of energy passing through an ecosystem before it is lost again. The more complexity within a system the more opportunity for that energy to passed between different organisms within beneficial interactions or consumption of each other resulting in a greater yield from that system.
- Permaculture Principles: Permaculture is often described as a way of seeing and thinking about the world which incorporates a diverse "toolbox" of technologies to the design of sustainable and regenerative habitats for life. Such a broad idea has been further broken down into permaculture principles by one of the founders of permaculture David Holmgren. The idea of the principles is to provide a set of considerations to guide a permaculture designer. These principles can be used as a checklist for a designer to go through and see what improvements can be made to a system.
- Sectors & Zones: Investigates the patterns and layout of a permaculture site. Permaculture zones describe areas within a farm landscape that have different frequencies of use and would therefore suit different land-uses. Those areas closest to the house and are frequented most often would suit placement of systems that require regular maintenance and inspection. These efficiency of time and effort result in great savings of personal energy and efficiency of operation which allow a person to economise time spent on tasks and focus on areas with the greatest return of yield, without being bogged down with routine maintenance tasks.
This is a project based course - where we explore the theory and review examples of perennial orchard systems designed in alignment with ecologically-balanced permaculture principles.In this course you will explore concepts with others and benefit from working collaboratively to improve learning outcomes through online forums and an exclusive access Facebook mastermind group.
The course is entirely online - with topics explored through video resources, readings and online forums. The course builds towards a research and design task that provides opportunity to expand upon course materials, learn from each other and receive coaching and advice on your project goals.
This course explores the form and function of a healthy ecosystem which we can use for guidance in creating our own healthy agricultural systems
The following topics are explored:
- Biotic and Abiotic Factors: Exploring how an ecosystem is composed of living biological elements and non-living abiotic elements and how the complex interactions of these elements create stability and highly evolved species adapted to their respective niches.
- Recycling Matter: Exploring how matter is recycled between these Earth's spheres and how the biosphere moderates these cycles to create stability in ways that benefit life.
- Energy flow: Exploring how energy flows through tropic cascades through ecosystem food webs and how the complexity of those food webs creates energy transfer efficiencies that stabilise those ecosystems.
Topography & Water
This is a complex and fascinating exploration of the interplay between water and topography on a landscape and how they can be harnessed to advantage in creating a healthy and resilient farm system.
Some of the topics covered include:
- Topography: Mapping the topography of a landscape and interpreting the information.
- Water: Investigating catchment sizes, movement of water through a landscape, and factors that influence water purity.
- Catch & Store: How to use slope and earthworks to modify an environment and maximise the opportunity to capture and store water in the landscape.
This course explores how to understand the dynamics that shape the climate of a region. We then look at ways to adapt that environment to better suit the requirements of the plants and animals that are being grown there.
- Global Weather Systems: Explores what global forces drive our climate and create seasonal effects in different areas of the world.
- Local Factors: Explores how the interplay of proximity to oceans, altitude, longitude, prevailing weather systems and other factors influence the specific conditions experienced in a region.
- Micro-climates: How orientation to the sun, shelter, topography and living and build structures influence the climate experienced at a site.
Soil can be created within permaculture farms by using a wide range of techniques including holistic grazing, adding compost and compost teas, using biochar, favouring perennial crops, avoiding tilling soil and practising crop rotation and crop residue mulching. These practices minimize biota disturbance and erosion losses while incorporating carbon rich amendments and retaining the biomass of roots and shoots, all of which contribute to building organic matter in soil and feeding a thriving soil community.
Permaculture comes to life when explored with others. The collective energy enables more to be achieved, elevates spirits and brings a stimulating variety of perspectives for discussions.
Working in community is also the most complex and demanding aspect that many permaculture practitioners face. In this course we explore some strategies to find others with a shared purpose to form a community, how to successfully build a community and create trade structures to share wealth and resources.
The following topics are explored:
- Finding your Tribe: Describes the evolutionary disposition we have to form secure attachment with small group of trusted people from which we derive a sense of connection, fulfill our esteem needs.
- Building Community: Explores some of the strategies around forming intentional communities around a shared purpose and navigate some of the challenges to doing this.
- Community Trade: Explores examples of local trade and finance as examples of sharing resources within a community.
In this course you will explore how to design an ecologically functional aquaponics systems - based upon natural pond designs that are aesthetically landscaped and connected to passive solar designed glasshouses - for year around production of nutrient dense food.
This represents a highly adaptable model that can be changed to suit many different scales and context. But it has been themed on how to integrate the permaculture design methodology into creation of an aquaponics systems.
Some of the topics covered include:
- Set-up: Explores a range of design options for setting up a small-scale backyard aquaponics system.
- Plant Nutrients: Explores the range of nutrients required for healthy plant growth and how they can be obtained within an aquaponics system.
- Health of fish: Explores the requirements of a range of common aquaculture species available in New Zealand.
The annual garden is the most intensive production space in a permaculture design. A wide variety of techniques and structures can be integrated - including chicken tractors, aquaponics, glasshouses, herbs, compost bins, worm farms, vegetables and small fruit trees.
We also explore biointensive farming, no-dig gardening, sheet mulching and managing pests and fertility.
Some of the main topics are outlined below:
- Improving Soil Fertility: Techniques to manage fertility, using compost, foliar sprays and probiotic fertilisers.
- Managing Pests and Weeds: Understanding the characteristics of weeds and methods of control. Utilising biological controls, organic sprays, companion planting and rotation of plants.
- Seed Harvest: Techniques to select for beneficial traits, collect seeds and propagate plants.
The perennial orchard is the classic application of permaculture design. It features a diverse integration of canopy, sub canopy trees, nitrogen fixating trees, shrubs and under story plants - all displaying compatibility and a functional diversity.
Other dynamics can be added - by integration with other farm systems, creating swales for water capture and planting, incorporating animals, hugelkultur, and adding additional layers likemushrooms and vines. The end result is a highly productive system that provides the main food source within a permaculture design.
- Propagation: Techniques used for propagation of your own perennial plants and selecting for desired genetic traits.
- Plant Guilds: Creating symbiotic associations of plants focused on supporting health of target productive species or creating a range of species that produce at similar times.
- Incorporating Animals: Ways to incorporate some common types of animals and benefit from some of the beneficial functions to create supplementary yields and improve the health of orchard plants.
Broad acre pastural farming presents a wonderful opportunity to integrate a variety of productive plant and animal species and build carbon rich soil. They represent the type of habitat we evolved within and can be a richly rewarding habitat to construct and manage.
Some of the topics covered include:
- Grazer Physiology: Explores the origin and physiology of common pastoral herbivores and requirements from a habitat to express their natural behaviours.
- Pasture Management: The development of mixed forage pastures, the incorporation of tree crops and management of grazers in time and space.
- Habitat design: Explore potential design solution to provide optimal health for both grazers, soil and surrounding natural environments.
One of the most rewarding applications of permaculture design is the creation of a warm, light-filled and interactive space to live -that is an expression of the surrounding landscape and the skills and interests of the owner.
In this course we explore:
- Natural Materials: Investigates options using locally sourced appropriate materials to create structures that blend in with their landscape.
- Passive Solar Design: Investigates the science and application of creating warm and light filled homes, with good air circulation.
- Earth ships: Exploring the design and function of self-contained earth ships.