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Do It Ourselves Education: A Permaculture Study Group

NOTE: This is a book group specifically, and we are more than half done with our book, so we are now CLOSED TO NEW MEMBERS. Please feel free to look through our discussions, and check out my blog, which has tons of great permaculture resources.


The concept of 'permaculture' (Permanent agriculture) was created by an Australian named Bill Mollison back in the 70s. It's about conscious design of functional landscapes; following absolute ecological principles, but keeping human needs as the end goal.
Perma-Curious is a study group for in-depth exploration of permaculture principles and design. Over the winter, we will be reading Mollison's lengthy manual and following the standard Permaculture Design Course outline, as well as working towards a design for a real piece of land as our final project.
Please note: This is a fairly advanced group, and the text we will be following is a 560 page tome of earth science and theoretical design. If you are new to gardening or permaculture and looking more for a how-to guide, check out our offspring Perma-Curious Beginner's Group
That said, sometimes beginners like theory too! Anyone willing to commit to 3-4 hours a week of fairly technical reading and study time, for five months starting in November 2012, is welcome to join! Please note that the moderator of this group is a fellow student, who knows just a bit more than jack shit about permaculture. All information shared will come from books and online resources by qualified folk.

Website: http://permacurious.wordpress.com/
Members: 36
Latest Activity: May 10, 2013

How Perma-Curious came about, and whether you should join

Howdy, I'm Calamity Jane. Mama, housewife, homesteader and occasionally copious blogger at apronstringz.wordpress.com. Although I had dabbled in it before, I have only recently started serious exploration into permaculture. I am attracted by it's depth. I've been doing and thinking 'sustainably' for long enough that I have fully exhausted all the classic beginner books.

Permaculture seems to me to take things to the next level. Permaculture is all about design, and I am a designer, above all else. I love to garden, and I love to read about gardening, but designing my garden has always been my favorite part of the process by a factor of 12. I have reams of designs for gardens I never even planted. I can't help myself, sometimes it's actually a problem. Because, although I love the work, I love thinking about the work even more, and doesn't that make me one of those dreaded 'dreamers?'

But permaculture tells me it's not so. Permaculture instructs me to spend 100 hours observing and thinking for every one hour of doing, thereby insuring my actions will be appropriate. Whether or not this is a truth for the world, it sure sounds attractive to my brain!

So, winter is coming on. The perfect time to do a lot of thinkering, and I am primed. I recently re-read the new edition of Gaia's Garden by Toby Hemenway, and I have been listening obsessively to a lecture series by Bill Mollison and Geoff Lawton.

For the uninitiated, permaculture is an international phenomenon with accredited Permaculture Design Courses offered all over the world. They are a minimum of 72 hours, sometimes spread over a year, other times done all at once as a two or three week intensive. They're a big damn deal, and priced accordingly-- starting at $1,000 and going up considerably from there! Even the online courses range from $800-$1,600. I would LOVE to take a course, but 1. I'm poor, and 2. I live in the middle of nowhere. I started thinking about it, and realized this must be a boringly commonplace problem for folks of a permacultural persuasion!

Surely there are other perma-curious folks out there who want to learn and are willing to spend the time, but not the money....Reading books is all well and good. I read a lot. Drawing up my own plans at home over and over is great fun. A teacher would be fabulous. But I think what I would value most out of an actual course is the camaraderie and idea sharing of a group.

So, I decided to make my own damn class. If we believe in DIY everythig else, why not DIY education? Participants in this Perma-Curious group will read the seminal text-- Permaculture: A Designer's Manual by originator Bill Mollison. It is a 560 page tome on ecological science and design principles, quite dense and sometimes technical. We'll read it piece by piece over the winter and discuss it in a our study group, supplemented by other online resources.
As a way of digesting the information, each participant will create a design for a real piece of land as an end project. Preferably our own land which we really live and work on, but those who don't own land could make a theoretical design for a real piece of land such as their rental's yard or a nearby park. As we go along, we will apply what we are learning towards these designs, sharing them often, bouncing ideas around and brainstorming together.

If the real course is 72 hours or more (better ones are more) then it ought to take us at least as many to cover all the material. This means that this study group will require 3-4 hours per week for 5 months, from November through March. Any interested participants should start out by generating a site survey of your property/project, noting everything that currently exists and where and in what relationships, etc, etc. This is an essential starting point for design, but also a good way to feel yourself out for whether or not you have the time and energy for the entire project.

You will also need to get hold of the Designer's Manual, mentioned above, which costs $85-100 (although I recommend buying the real book if you can, there is a good link in the discussions below to a free, online file of the entire manual, also good for just checking to see if you do indeed want to own this beast!)

Anyone willing to commit their time is welcome to join. Happy designing!

HOMEGROWN Discussions

Thanks for a Great Winter! 2 Replies

just wanted to officially sign off here folks. i sure have enjoyed this group, and i hope that everyone else did as well.regardless of how far you read in the manual, or how much you posted to…Continue

Started by Calamity Jane. Last reply by Kathryn Robles May 10, 2013.

A Final Design!!!! 2 Replies

i have posted my Final Design (along with all the other ridiculously copious writings on my own design process) up on the blog, on it's very own page…Continue

Started by Calamity Jane. Last reply by Calamity Jane May 4, 2013.

cool climates, second half 1 Reply

i was so glad to finally see a good overview of animals and their place, specifically, in a permaculture system. it makes perfect sense to me that he included this into the cold climate chapter,…Continue

Started by Calamity Jane. Last reply by Jennifer Thompson Apr 18, 2013.

Cool Temperate Climates! First Half 8 Replies

Let's read up through the Lawn section. I'm actually there already, so let me know when you get done. i love this part! i wish he had written a whole book just for me!

Started by Calamity Jane. Last reply by Jennifer Thompson Apr 15, 2013.

Comment Wall

Comment by Kelly ann Mulholland on October 26, 2012 at 7:57am


I tried to find the book your refer to. It is over 125$ on amazon used. I looked at all available libraries and it is only for reference, not for individual check out. I just can't afford to buy it at the present time. Sorry, I'll check back if I ever find a copy.

Comment by Jennie Sayers on October 26, 2012 at 11:05am

Hi, love your concept and would love to kind of 'audit' the class if I could...just can't afford the book right now.  Hope this is ok.


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