A Journey Through Permaculture Education

by Ned Archael Charpentier

In 2011 I took the Permaculture Design Course (PDC) at the Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute (CRMPI) in Basalt.  The presentation and experiences shared during the PDC by teachers Jerome Osentowski, Peter Bane, Kelly Simmons and Adam Brock built a strong base of knowledge for me to build upon.

After my PDC I continued studying and reading though was looking for something more.  In 2012 I received an invitation to a course which was designed as a follow up to the PDC called the Advanced Permaculture Design Course which was scheduled for July 2013.  Peter Bane, the teacher who inspired me greatly in my PDC would be leading this course so I jumped at the opportunity.

It was a hot day in July as I drove from my home in Wheat Ridge Colorado to the south of Salida to Moffat.  I was on a quest to delve deeper into understanding the array of topics drawn together through Permaculture.

I arrived at Joyful Journey Hot Springs where the event was being held and set up my tent.  Other choices for lodging were available as well including room, tipi and yurt.  We had the evening dinner and then circled up and went around introducing ourselves.  Similar to the PDC I met a student body of varying age, backgrounds,  professional paths and innate talents.  It warmed my heart to be amongst such great potential.

After this we broke for the night and when Monday morning came the  5-day intensive residential program officially began.  Along with Peter, Sandy Cruz and Becky Elder complimented the material at hand as they taught valuable insight related to their projects and experiences.

Along with this there were refresher lectures over the week revisiting the contributions of Bill Mollison and David Holmgren on sectors and zones and Holmgren’s 12 Permaculture Principles.  More overall theory was added to topics such as Keyline Design and The Pattern Language while more specific facts were given such as the proper decline for slopes in road construction in relation to designing whole community settlements.

For those in the class looking to consult in the future the lecture on the design project process will help immensely to see the best ways in which to approach a full design project.

Peter, Sandy and Becky were fluid with the timings of the lectures and keeping start and end times on point for group presentations.

There were six design projects to choose from all team based and five of these six were for local sites that we visited during the course.  These experiential design opportunities were manifested through years of hard work and patience through Sandy Cruz.  Living in the area she was able to work with local leaders to bring them together with us. The design sites included the Arkansas Valley Windbreak Project in the greater Salida area and design recommendations for Orient Land Trust (OLT), Valley View Hot Springs and Joyful Journey Hot Springs.

The sixth project was for the Colorado Permaculture Guild which I had chosen to be involved in for my group project and presentation.    This involved the concept of invisible structures which was taught during the course with the accompanying book for the course Permaculture Design: A Step-by-Step Guide by Aranya.

After the course was over we circled up and said our goodbyes. As I drove home I was filled with satisfaction for completing this challenging course.  I was now empowered with a greater lexicon of Permaculture to help me communicate more succinctly to help solve today’s problems.  In the end of this journey I had gratitude for teachers and classmates alike that had similar values and are also taking steps in their lives towards something greater down this road we all travel together.