Midwest Permaculture Training Applicable in Africa

Permaculture Training Applicable Around the Globe

The brilliance of Bill Mollison’s PDC course is the universality of it.  Students of a Midwest Permaculture PDC Course can take this educational experience and apply it to any location or climate on the planet. The PDC is about learning how to design; learning how to see different situations and the landscape through a permaculture way of seeing the world.  

We have had students from just about every part of the globe take our trainings and all of them leave with the knowledge of how to apply permaculture thinking and design to their own environment and circumstance.

Even though Grant Shadden took his PDC with us in Illinois, his education has allowed him to be of service in Africa.  We are now delighted to have Paige Shadden joining us in an upcoming PDC course.

Bill Wilson – Midwest Permaculture 

 My husband, Grant, and I are gardening nerds.  We both have childhood memories of gardening with our families (his more fond than mine!).  Even more now we enjoy it as adults as we discover the realities of pesticides, the high prices of organic produce and how destructive our industrial agriculture system is. 

Grant and Paige Shadden – Volunteer Permaculture Work in Africa

 

Connect Africa Hub – A Permaculture Design

Illustration of the Final Design

Permaculture Design Course Graduates – Summer 2011 – Stelle, IL

 Context:

Grant Shadden took his PDC Training with us – summer 2011.  While here, he shared about his upcoming 2-month trip to Africa to support the work of the Connect Africa hub. 

We were all moved by the work of this organization and by Grant’s, and his wife Paige’s, devotion to assist in the work there.  Grant was actually taking this training in order to come up with a design for this organization and a 20-acre site they want to develop.  

As such, we made the decision to assist him by making it one of the final design projects for the PDC Course.  4 other students self-selected themselves to work on this design with Grant. 

Continue reading “Connect Africa Hub – A Permaculture Design”

Photos of a Winter PDC at Midwest Permaculture

Special Note:
Wondering about missing some hands-on activities at our annual Winter PDC Courses?

Grafting Workshop at Winter PDC

Grafting Workshop at Winter PDC

You won’t!  Most all of the hands-on activities we undertake at our regular PDC courses we can also do at our winter courses.  These include:

  • Learning to use the A-frame and sight level.
  • Building a dry-brick rocket stove and firing it up.
  • Making a clay model of a landscape to learn about swales, keylining, and ponds.
  • Touring Midwest Permaculture’s yard and the CSC land
  • Doing fruit tree grafting
  • Making cob from clay, sand and straw
  • and touring the Malchow’s (our neighbors) permaculture home to fire-up their thermal mass rocket stove couch/bench.

The one thing we cannot do because of the frozen ground is continue to work on the hugel-swale we are constructing for CSC, but this basically consists of digging a section of a ditch, putting logs in, and then covering them up. We’ll show some pictures of the details related to this so you’ll get the information without the tactile experience.

 

Raising Profitable Heritage Breed Hogs at Spence Farm in a very Humane Way

Raising Profitable Heritage Breed Hogs at Spence Farm in a very Humane Way

The one thing we do extra for this course is focus a bit more on the growing of food and what it takes to create a successful farming/growing/permaculture operation.

Many people want to make part or even all of their annual income from growing food.  This is certainly possible but it requires quite a bit of knowledge and then real practical experience. Our objective through this training is to save you years of time and money by giving you some critical information and fresh insights. 

To help anchor this learning experience we’ll be taking an extra field-trip over to Spence Farm in Fairbury, IL, to meet Kris and Marty Travis who are doing pioneering work in these areas. 

If the timing works for you to attend this winter course, we are confident that you will not leave feeling like you missed any hands-on activities.  It’s an amazing and very-full 8 days like all of our other PDC Courses.

Here are Pictures from one of our Winter PDC Course (from 2012)
Narration by Hayden Wilson (Standing, far right, son of Bill and Becky)

Our Group Photo with Rocket Stove in Foreground and Midwest Permaculture Home-site (our house). Mom (Becky Wilson) is standing on far left. Dad (Bill Wilson) took most of these pictures.

  Continue reading “Photos of a Winter PDC at Midwest Permaculture”

6-Day Family Friendly Training

6-day “Hands-on” Training – August 2011
Held at Midwest Permaculture in our Sustainably Oriented Community of Stelle, IL
We expect to be offering a ‘family friendly’ training every summer.  See Here for Details

 This Training is also Stage 2 or our 3-Stage PDC Certificate Course 
6 Students stayed on for the 5-day PDC Completion Training and earned their permaculture certificate.

This was our first training that fully welcomed families with children. Four families joined us along with 12 other individuals. Bottom-line... it worked out really well!

 

 “I so appreciated having families and their children in the course. 
It really added to the wonderful dynamic.” 
Kate – College Student 

 

Continue reading “6-Day Family Friendly Training”

Picture Summary of Univ. of Wis. PDC Course

Pictures from March 2011 PDC Course
University of Wisconsin — River Falls
Pictures and text by Bill Wilson

We are returning to UWRF in 2012 (June 7-14) for another full, 72-hr PDC Course.  We thought you might like to see some pictures from last year’s training. 

  Continue reading “Picture Summary of Univ. of Wis. PDC Course”

Cal-Earth – The PDC Portion of the Combined Earth Building and Permaculture Training

Week 2 – The Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course.
(Click here for Photos of Week 1)

 
We not only taught this course to 24 students from around the world (Europe, Middle East, Africa) but we also trained 7 of Cal-Earth’s staff. and 2 of their interns. Nader Khalili was just months away from hosting the first PDC course at Cal-Earth when he unexpectedly passed in 2008. To honor their father and the 20th anniversary of Cal-Earth, Dastan and Sheefteh Khalili, Nader’s children, invited us to deliver our PDC course.  As Ian Lodge (director at Cal-Earth) told us , “the hard work of proving the viability of superadobe structures is done.  It’s now time to look at the total environment, to see how much better the buildings and the land around them can function together to benefit the people living in them.”

Continue reading “Cal-Earth – The PDC Portion of the Combined Earth Building and Permaculture Training”

Cal-Earth (The Earth-Building Portion of our Combined Trainings)

Week 1 – The Super-Adobe Building Training

(When you’re done Viewing, Click Here for the Photo Summary
of the Second Part (permaculture) of this Combined Training)

 We just recently completed the first 4 days of our joint earth-building and permaculture design certificate course in conjunction with, and hosted at, the California Institute of Earth Art and Architecture (Cal-Earth).  There are about 30 students taking the combined training.  Because it is November, we are having some pretty cold nights and days here on the desert.Cal-Earth is located just outside of Hesperia, CA. where the San Bernardino Mountains meet the Mojave Desert.  They get 7 inches of rainfall per year, the majority of which falls during the winter months.  The famed Joshua tree is the dominant over-story tree on the landscape.  Some of these desert pioneers can be a thousand years old. 

  Continue reading “Cal-Earth (The Earth-Building Portion of our Combined Trainings)”

Introducing Hayden (Permaculture, An Alternative To College Education)

Hi, Everyone!

My name is Hayden. For those who have not met me or have not heard of me, I am the son of Bill and Becky Wilson. I will be working with Midwest Permaculture as an intern for at least the next year and contributing here on the blog.

Last year I was a junior in high-school, “the time when I’m SUPPOSED to decide what I want to do with the rest of my life.”  Whenever I thought about this, I remember I felt very stressed, as if I was being pulled in many different directions.  At that point in time I had mostly assumed that I HAD to go to college; all my brothers went, and all my friends were planning to, so I figured, “that’s what I SHOULD do too.”  However, I had no specific interest or path that I wanted to pursue in college. Long story short, I spent quite a bit of time thinking about what I should go to college for, what college I would go to, and ended up beating myself up for not being able to get clear on what I was going to do.

When my junior year was nearly over, after a lot of bruised knuckles and sleepless nights, I had decided that it would be in my best interest to get a Permaculture Designer Certificate under my belt, especially since this was the family business anyway. I had always been around it and had experience doing some permaculture projects and gardening, but I still didn’t have a very strong grasp on the general/basic principles of permaculture. At the very least, I knew I was interested and that I wanted to learn more as well as broaden my knowledge and life skills.

As the date to the training got closer and closer, I began to realize that I was more interested than I had originally thought. Once the PDC training began, from then on, it all clicked for me. I thoroughly enjoyed learning with a group of people who were there by personal choice, rather than societal pressure. I knew that working in permaculture is what I really wanted to do. I finally realized, why go to college when I don’t really know what I want to go for? I knew I could end up wasting time and money, and my heart just wasn’t into it. Instead, I could create an internship with Midwest Permaculture and do something that I love and have the motivation to do.

Throughout the following year, my parents and I brainstormed ideas as to how I could become part of the business and make a significant contribution. My senior year ended up feeling great to me because I could enjoy one last year of high-school while knowing that when it was all over, I had a plan for what I was going to do next.

Now here I am, 3 months after graduation, and I’m ready to kick off the start of a new part of my life. I’m really excited about this internship and I’m looking forward to getting into some fun and interesting permaculture projects. A few days ago I said to myself, “Hayden, you seriously need to start doing some sort of work for your internship” then I took a minute to think about the past 4 weeks and the various permaculture trainings I helped out with here in Stelle, and surprisingly I realized, “wow, Hayden, you have been doing quite a bit work. But it doesn’t seem like it? How can that be? Ohhh… You’re having fun.” 


Spring Has Sprung

The yo-yo weather of spring is with us now with temperature on one day of 65-degrees and the next at 30. Thank goodness for our winter hardy greens. Pictured here is some of Becky’s early spinach from under a mini-greenhouse that was completely buried in snow at one point. No doubt about it…spinach is a gift to those of us who live in the temperate climate zone. 

We are a month behind on posting. It is the first winter where we hosted two PDC Courses back to back. This left little time for anything else, so we are in “catch-up-mode” now. If you are interested, here are a couple of links to these two courses where we posted short picture summaries of each. They were great trainings. Congratulations to our new permaculture graduates...!!!

Winter PDC here in Stelle with a Food Growing Focus.

March PDC at the University of Wisconsin, also a food growing focus.

Hugelkultur

‘Hugelkultur’ Your Woody Materials
Burying Woody Material and Junk Firewood to Help Next Year’s Plants Grow 

Someone asked us upon hearing the word “hugelkultur” for the first time if it was appropriate to use the word in proper company. It’s a mouthful alright.

Hugelkultur is an old German concept/word meaning “hill-culture”. Wood is buried under topsoil (either in a hole or right on the ground) and as it breaks down, it holds lots of moisture and provides sustained nutrients for plant growth. It is one of the best methods that Becky and I incorporate to use up all of the extra woody materials from around our house. Why not put all the good carbon to use below the plants we want to grow?

More on “Hugelkultur” Definition

Pictured: Students Proudly Straddling Wood-Chunks in Hugelkultur Bed at one of our Permaculture Courses in California

Click Here for a Picture Sequence
of the digging of this Hugelkultur Bed