Vermont's Permaculture Institute

Keynotes and Presentations

Keith Morris has been delivering empowering lectures, keynotes, presentations, and workshops based in real-world experience and inspiring standing-room only crowds for over 16 years.
Here are some of our more popular offerings.  Please be in touch for a more complete list or to develop a custom-tailored presentation for your group.
Recent Presentations and Keynotes:
Farms For the Future- Long-Term Design for Cooperation with Ecology and Community:
(Keynote for Sullivan County Conservation Disctrict- link forthcoming)
for the Vermont New Farmer Project (link to recorded webinar).
Humans as a Keystone Species:
Permaculture and ‘Participatory Ecology’:

Permaculture is an evolving an expanding design system used to create agriculturally productive human habitat at scales varying from balconies to broader regions.  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.

Urban Regeneration:
(Empowering Post Carbon Cities, ‘Food not Lawns’, Urban Permaculture)

Think you need a ‘farm’ to grow food?  Think again!

When it comes to ecological health and food production in today’s cities, there’s very little we might want to “sustain”.  As urban populations continue to grow worldwide amidst the convergent crises of energy depletion, climate change, and economic ‘uncertainty’, its critical we redesign our cities to provide for more of their resident’s needs.  This workshop focuses on practical skills usable by urban communities to achieve greater local access to and control over life’s essential resources. The course introduces simple and affordable techniques for soil building, bioremediation, rainwater harvesting, intensive food production, micro-livestock and aquaculture, small scale autonomous energy production, DIY air purification, and other infrastructure retrofit.  We’ll look to existing urban farms, “urban homesteads”, and other examples of urban permaculture to explore the ways we can design and establish our homes and communities as ‘human ecosystems’ that are not only less fuel reliant, but also beautiful, productive, ecologically regenerative, and wholly nourishing.

Introduction to Edible Forest Gardening:

Edible Forest Gardening is the conscious application of the principles of ecology to the design of home scale gardens that mimic forest ecosystem structure and function, but grow food, fuel, fiber, fodder fertilizer, “farmaceuticals,” and fun. This workshop will offer an in-depth exploration of forest ecology, site analysis and assessment, the design process, and interaction with some of the lesser known plants that can comprise ‘perennial polycultures’ in forested biomes. This workshop is open to all, but is recommended for experienced gardeners or graduates of Permaculture design courses.

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 northeast.  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.

Alternative Beekeeping:

(‘Thinking Outside the Box’ in Vermont and Africa, Response to Apiculture Crisis with Top Bars, Drawn Comb, Small Cells, etc. )

The honeybee is an insect that has long been in partnership with humankind.  Now, more than ever, the bees are in need of our attention and appreciation.  We will discuss the current plight of the bees, and present solution-oriented information about renewing and reshaping this ancient relationship.  We discuss bees within larger pollinator complexes, the role of bees in their native habitats, non-traditional products and medicines of the hive, planting for pollinator support, top-bar hive beekeeping, and other techniques- new and old from near and far- inspiring renewed health of honeybees and pollinators in general.

Greenhouse Integration:

Greenhouses are an essential component of diversified and season-extended growing in the North, 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 to 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.  Of course, there’ll be some slides that will leave us all inspired to create these oases of green in winter months.  Presenter Keith Morris has been building and experimenting with greenhouses since 2000, he is the Permaculture Instructor at the University of Vermont, the Yestermorrow Design Build School, and Sterling College.


Keith has been applying his lifelong love of nature and culture and experience as an activist to permaculture and ecological design since 1996 and 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.  He is the founder of Prospect Rock Permaculture, Willow Crossing Farm, and a co-founding board member of the Permaculture Institute of the NorthEast (P.I.N.E.).   Keith teaches Ecological Design,  Farm Infrastructure Design/ Build, and Permaculture Design Certification course at the University of Vermont, Sterling College, Paul Smiths College, the Yestermorrow Design/ Build School, and with other community organizations.  He works to regenerate ecosystems and resilient communities by siting and designing integrated farm infrastructure, appropriate high-performance shelter, water managing and food-producing earthworks, anddiverse, profitable tree crops.  While his expertise is in cold temperate and arctic applications, he works regularly in New York City and has designed and implemented systems in New Zealand, Colorado, Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Quebec, California, New Mexico, Arizona, Nigeria, Ghana, Denmark, and the Netherlands.

One response to “Keynotes and Presentations

  1. Kim Dunkley June 27, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    What you are doing is extremely exciting and I’m encouraged and hopeful that more people find you and spread the word. I live in Johnson and will now look for your face to say Hello. I am psyched to start bee keeping with a low tech “batea”–which we used in Paraguay (peace corp) with great success. I may get in touch for the exact measurements if I don’t find them soon. Goodluck, Kim


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