Vermont's Permaculture Institute
Permaculture for the Northcountry: Adirondacks
Open Consultation, Participatory Design Charrettes, and Lecture Series
Turtle Hill Community and St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY
August 9 – 11
Tuesday August 9
9:00-12:00 2-Part Open Lecture:
Permaculture is an evolving and expanding design system used to create agriculturally productive human habitat at scales varying from balconies to broader regions. Spend the morning with professional ecological designer Keith Morris exploring this design science used by individuals and communities to create ethical, socially just, and ecologically regenerative perennial support systems during an ‘Open Consultation’ for the Turtle Hill and St. Lawrence University Communities.
The History of Permaculture and ‘Participatory Ecology’
As permaculture rapidly expands around the world, the field is constantly evolving and taking new directions. We’ll discuss the history of permaculture and ecological design as we look to the sciences of ecology, anthropology, and evolution for inspiration and guidance to establish our homes, gardens, and communities as ‘human ecosystems’ that are less fuel reliant, beautiful, productive, ecologically regenerative, and more wholly nourishing.
What is the potential for human beings as ‘Keystone Species’? How have we acted as such in the past? We’ll explore the ways human beings have ‘co-created’ ecological communities in the past, at present, and our potential to do so more insightfully in the future, with a particular eye to the unique challenges and opportunities of the Adirondacks and Northcountry region.
Designing an Ecological Energy Descent Culture
As we acknowledge the convergent crises of the 21st century, we can be overwhelmed with visions of apocalypse- or embrace some of the greatest opportunities to restructure society with ecological and ethical sanity, localized resilience, and abundance. We explore the relationships between the built environment, food security, energy, water, and natural communities, in order to retrofit this infrastructure to better adapt to a changing and potentially challenging future. By examining today’s multifaceted problems from a systems perspective, we focus on the intersection of social and ecological health, and find the best opportunities for leverage to affect change in our personal lives and communities.
Introduction to Turtle Hill Community and Site
Turtle Hill Orientation and Site Walk
Observation of Nature/Natural Patterns
4:30 Introduction to SLU Community and Site
7:00-8:00 Public Lecture:
Breeding with Climate Change: New Plants for the North:
While no one’s celebrating ‘Global Weirding’, a changing climate does offer some new opportunities for growers in the cold northcountry. As important as political and personal efforts are to stem the causes of climate change, it may be even more important that we anticipate and prepare for different future scenarios. We will look at the ‘movement’ of ecosystems in nature, and explore ways we can harness this fact to our benefit, and mimic natural adaptation by selecting for delayed flowering and earlier ripening with promising marginal species and varieties. In particular, we’ll look at some ‘new’ fruits, nuts, vines, and grains presently being bred for ‘northward migration’, and will discuss more general strategies for resilient food systems amidst the many uncertainties of the future.
Wednesday August 10
9:00-12:00 2-Part Open Lecture:
Season Extention/ Greenhouse Integration: (Winter Vegetables- even for the far north!)
Greenhouses are an essential component of diversified and season-extended growing in the northcountry, and also a great addition to a low energy and resilient household. Learn how greenhouses can be integrated with homes, animal shelters, barns, and other structures to reduce energy needs, supplement heating and fresh food in the winter, and even- if well designed- help cool buildings in summer months. We’ll introduce the basics of passive solar design, thermal mass, ventilation, subterranean heat storage, orientation, and glazing options, as well as meet some of the unique plants greenhouses allow us to grow. We’ll also look at ‘Quick Hoops’, ‘Rolling Greenhouses’, and other strategies for unheated year round vegetable production, see some photos, (and share some secrets) from some of Vermont’s most established winter vegetable production farms. This spring, presenter Keith Morris received a grant to build Vermont’s first winter-production greenhouse on wheels at Willow Crossing Farm.
Designing your Design Process
Here we’ll get into the ‘brass tacks’ of ecological design. We’ll discuss goals articulation, base mapping, analysis and assessment (ie. ‘reading the landscape’), data overlay through the ‘Scale of Permanence’, and other planning and design strategies. This is in preparation for an afternoon of map-making, graphical analysis, and walking the land with an eye towards refining and communicating our visoins of more resilient food production, processing and storage; on-site waste management and cycling; decentralized energy production; as well as a beautiful and functional landscape that brings neighbors together in abundance and enhances the broader social and ecological communities that provide our context.
Participatory Design Workshop: Analysis and Assessment/Group map-making, etc.
Group Design Session
Thursday August 11
Open Lecture: Invisible Structures – Economic, Decision-Making, etc.
2:00 Meeting with SLU grounds staff and SLU design wrap-up
Keith Morris has been applying his lifelong love of nature and culture and experience as an activist to permaculture and ecological design since 1996. He has worked professionally as a designer, builder, and grower of ecologically regenerative, socially just, and culturally appropriate whole-systems in cities and countrysides around the world since 2000. He is the founder of Prospect Rock Permaculture (www.prospectrock.org), Willow Crossing Farm, co-founder of the Permaculture Institute of the NorthEast (P.I.N.E.), and teaches ecological design at the University of Vermont, the Yestermorrow Design Build School, Sterling College, Paul Smiths College, Burlington Permaculture, and with other community organizations. While his expertise is ecological regeneration, high-performance food production, and shelter systems for cold temperate/ arctic conditions, he works regularly in New York City and has designed and implemented systems in New Zealand, Colorado, Chile, Argentina, California, New Mexico, Arizona, Nigeria, Ghana, Denmark, and the Netherlands.