A wonderful group of outdoor design enthusiasts visited our farm on August 17th. These people, hailing from as far away as Bermuda and as near as Livonia, all had a common interest – how can I make my land more productive, more beautiful, more efficient and more sustainable. In other words, they were here to learn about permaculture design.
Permaculture encompasses understanding the composition of soil, the habits of plants and animals, the flow of seasons and the use of ‘alternative’ technology. Greg and I were fortunate to be able to take a weekend permaculture workshop in northern Michigan the first summer we moved to Columbiaville. We heard about it through Clark Tibbits because his friend Bill had organized it. We all went together. We learned the theoretical design principles upon which we based our farm.
A few years later, we had another opportunity, again through Clark’s network, to take an extended weekend permaculture workshop at Harvey Harmans’ 5 acre farm in North Carolina. At the time we were still renting the home at the Land Stewardship Center, but we had begun our CSA on the land we later purchased from Clark. We came back full of ideas. Harvey had a CSA on 4 of the acres. He had interns living in a tipi. He had a small flock of dairy goats. His small farm was teeming with life. He had made excellent use of a relatively small piece of land.
We were honored when the Midwest Permaculture Institute visited us last year to see the result of 14 years of permaculture design. We were delighted when they chose to return again this year. They toured our gardens, our livestock, our pasture and our reforestation area with Greg, who has put so much thought and hard work into the creation of our farm. Then they returned to the tent for an Indian style meal I made using what we grow here, supplemented with Basmati rice and pita bread.
We hope to continue to be part of MPI’s design class, and to build similar bridges with other educational institutions.