The Northern School of Permaculture 72hr Permaculture ... Guided Learning: Introduction to Permaculture

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  • Guided Learning – Introduction to Permaculture Design

    “I like work: it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours.” Jerome K Jerome

    Krysia Soutar Page 1 of 30 August 2016 Copyright Northern School of Permaculture and Comment CIC

    The Northern School of Permaculture 72hr Permaculture Design Course

    Day 2 work flow exercise 'A farmyard somewhere' - Photo by Jason Smalley

  • Guided Learning: Introduction to Permaculture Design – Day 2

    THEME: Ecology and Natural Systems

    o Ethics and action through design (a review) - the parable of the chicken & the introduction to systems - monoculture to polyculture and agriculture to gardening - how is permaculture design different to other forms of design?

    o Analysis and placement, work and materials flow, relative location

    o Site analysis – classic homestead pattern and zoning

    o Our creation story – the basic elements of life, the universe (and everything)

    o Water, Carbon and the basics of life - hydrocarbons and carbohydrates – combustion and respiration – storage and release of solar energy in Nature

    o Basic Ecology – food web – trophic levels – succession

    o Characteristics of natural systems

    o Permaculture defined

    o Course organization – review, allocation of tasks

    Krysia Soutar Page 2 of 30 August 2016 Copyright Northern School of Permaculture and Comment CIC

  • Guided Learning: Introduction to Permaculture Design – Day 2

    Permaculture Design methods and approaches:

    Analysis On Day One we introduced you to the idea of analysing carefully an element (or “component”) in a system. The element we choose was a chicken. We identified:

     The needs of a chicken for example - dust baths  ‘Intrinsic Factors’ include the characteristics of the breed, such as

    colour, climate tolerance, ranging and roosting behaviour etc.  Products - for example, manure

    This is just one example of an element in a system.

    Elements in a designed system may be:

    Plant, Animal, Structures, or some ‘Other’ for example, this learning guide is an element within our education system. Before we select elements and place them in a system, we can analyse each individual one, this analysis will suggest which of the elements can be put next to each other and how best to connect them.

    Each element has needs or inputs which, ideally, should be provided within the system. Each element has products or outputs which, again, should be cycled within the system. Alternatively we can take some of these outputs and use them ourselves as a yield from the system. By assessing needs, products and intrinsic factors we start to connect one element to another in the system.

    We ask “ Where does this element go?” “ How is it best placed for maximum benefit in the system?” The intention is to design without waste, and to delay ‘entropy’ (loss of useful energy) in the system. and To enable continuous cycling and a conversion of products from one element to become the need on another.

    * You may read more about elements in a design and methods of design in Appendix 3 and Appendix 4 of this document.

    Krysia Soutar Page 3 of 30 August 2016 Copyright Northern School of Permaculture and Comment CIC

  • Design Practical Exercise

    Aim: To place elements in a system so the system uses less time and energy inputs.

    Activity: Recall the farmyard somewhere exercise and observe another example of work flow in a kitchen, office or other workspace. Track the movement of people and materials.

    Can you see some improvements in the way things are placed and positioned?

    How much time and energy would be saved by making these improvements?

    * You may read more about work flow in Appendix 5.

    Krysia Soutar Page 4 of 30 August 2016 Copyright Northern School of Permaculture and Comment CIC

  • Site Analysis: classic homestead pattern and zoning Zones Zone analysis is the placement of elements to conserve energy. The placement of elements in each zone depends on priorities, and the number of visits needed for each element. In reality zones are never concentric circles, they vary in shape and size according to slope orientation and wind.

    We start with the house area and move outwards, the home centre is: Zone1:

     Home Centre  Herbs, vegetable garden  Most built structures  Very intensive maintenance  Start at the back door

    Zone 2  Intensive cultivation, main crop  Heavily mulched orchard  Well maintained  Mainly grafted and selected species  Dense planting  Use of stacking and storey system design  Some animals chickens, ducks, pigeon  Multi-purpose walks, collect eggs, distribute greens and scraps, collect

    milk  Cut animal forage

    Krysia Soutar Page 5 of 30 August 2016 Copyright Northern School of Permaculture and Comment CIC

  • Zone 3  Connects to zone1 and 2 for easy access  May add goats, sheep, geese, bees, dairy cows  Plant hardy trees and native species  Un-grafted for later selection, later grafting  Animal forage  Self-forage systems  Wind breaks, fire breaks  Spot mulching, rough mulching  Nut tree forests  Trees protected

    Zone 4  Long term development  Timber for building  Timber for firewood  Mixed forestry systems  Watering minimal  Feeding minimal  Some introduced animals: cattle, pigs, deer

    Zone 5  Uncultivated wilderness  Re – growth area  Timber  Hunting

    The less maintenance and attention needed, the further away the zone. (Taken from Geoff Lawton PDC)

    * You may read more about zoning in Appendix 6 of this document.

    Krysia Soutar Page 6 of 30 August 2016 Copyright Northern School of Permaculture and Comment CIC

  • Natural Systems and Permaculture

    The Aim of this next part of the course is: “To give students a healthy understanding of the Interconnectedness of elements in Natural Systems.” Angus Soutar

    Knowledge of, or some understanding of Natural Systems is essential if we are to become good Permaculture Designers. We can study ecology to help us in this area. We can learn through discussing ecological principles and describing or presenting practical examples of these ecological principles in action.

    “All our principals come from Nature.” Angus Soutar

    What is Ecology?

    “Ecology is the study of the relationships between living organisms and their environment.” Collins English Dictionary

    “By definition, much of Permaculture is about connectedness and the impact on ‘energy use ‘ that results from the different relationships within the system.” Angus Soutar

    Characteristics of Natural Systems

    Geoff Lawton, the Permaculture designer and teacher states: “In ecosystems there are no simple systems.

     They have many connections  A lot of diversity  Everything cycles through the system: nothing lives forever

    and there is no waste.”

    There is a lot of information about ecosystems on the Internet. Below are some examples you may find useful.

    Krysia Soutar Page 7 of 30 August 2016 Copyright Northern School of Permaculture and Comment CIC

  • What is an Ecosystem? (Again, this is a big topic, but we have chosen these resources for reference. If you use them for further study, our advice is to look for patterns, rather than take in all the detail.)

    Permaculture involves the study of natural systems – ecosystems. This document explains what an ecosystem is in some depth: stem/ecosystem.html

    Some further insights into the cycling of energy in ecosystems are given in this powerpoint slideshow: - there are lots of definitions of terms used in energy and ecology here.

    The complexity of ecosystems often leads ecologists to simplify things when they are “mapping” what happens in systems. If we are not ecologists, then we should avoid being mislead by some of these models when making predictions (ecologists often argue over these themselves). Our advice is to follow the energy implications of what is happening, and to choose a course that cycles and conserves energy within the system – just like Nature does!

    A food chain is one way to illustrate the flow of energy and matter through an ecosystem.

    A food web is perhaps a more useful way to look at it:

    Ecological pyramids are often used to map population numbers, material (“bio- mass”) and energy in ecosystems: ds.pptx

    Pyramids are a good example of a useful “maps”. But, if you look at the wrong one, it can lead you down the wrong road with your arguments and predictions!