Monday, April 8, 2013

Jenn Attends Permacuture Workshop with Sepp Holzer

We have been busy, busy, busy here at Sundog over the past six months.  I thought I would have plenty of time to post news during the winter months, but between remodeling, shoveling snow, taking care of animals, and taking a part-time job as the City's planning consultant,  the months just slipped on by.

However, it is a new year, and Spring is here (even though it just snowed last night), so I am getting excited again about the work to be done here at Sundog.  Namely PERMACULTURE!!!

Sepp talks about seed mixes
Last month I attended a five day workshop in Loma Mar (just south of San Francisco) that featured world famous (literally) Permaculture Specialist Sepp Holzer.  It was  a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet Sepp, hear first hand about the work he is doing world wide, and ask as many questions as I could think of. I made the most of it!

A total of 70 people attended the workshop, some from as far away as New York.  We all camped in tents on a 16 acre undeveloped property in Loma Mar that was the focus of the workshop.  I was very impressed by the level of expertise present at the event.  Not only was Sepp full of information (as was to be expected), but so were the workshop sponsors AND the participants.

Most of the sponsors came from Montana, where permaculture has a strong foothold.  Most of the participants came from the western United States (California, Washington, Oregon and Nevada), with a few from Texas and New York.  There were representatives from alternative farms, plant nurseries, the computer and high tech industry, a lawyer or two, and several folks who were either retired or soon-to-be retired that wanted to try something new and earthy.
A raised bed is created using tree branches and logs as a base material.

[For those of you who are unfamiliar with Permaculture or Sepp Holzer just Google them and your screen will be filled with information.  Or you can look at my Permaculture page for a quick overview.]   

To make sure I came away with the information I needed for our project here at Sundog, I took site plans and photos of Sundog to the workshop, and I had everyone I could drag over comment on what we should do here.  I was thrilled to find that everyone was happy to contribute and there were a lot of great ideas generated, including ways to enhance our ponds, where to place  raised beds and terraces, what plants might do well, and how to build greenhouses that required no heat or added light (even in our harsh climate).

Branches cover the raised bed to shelter seeds and aid in germination.
Sepp and the project sponsors made sure we all knew how to build a proper raised bed (see photos), grow mushroom cultures, and build a proper pond before we left.  All of these are critical elements to maintaining the healthy, polycultural, organic landscape envisioned by permaculture.

We also were able to procure free seeds at a "seed swap" to spread on our properties, and listen to some intriguing lectures on why we should not worry about "invasive" species and the importance of stepping up and trying new things (even when "experts" say the idea will never work).

I, for one, learned a lot, and made some new friends that I hope to keep in touch with and learn from in the future.  I also came away with a clear idea of what I want to do here at Sundog.  Now, I just need to get Kim on board!