[permaculture] Thoughts on PDCs - Was US National Permaculture Conference (lengthy post)

Lawrence F. London, Jr. venaurafarm at bellsouth.net
Fri Dec 11 23:26:33 EST 2009

Robert Waldrop wrote:
> I studied permaculture on my own for 6 years before getting involved 
> with the distance-learning PDC offered by Barking Frogs Permaculture, 
> taught by Dan Hemenway. 

Dan is just amazing. I have been distantly associated with him since the 
advent of the permaculture mailing list during the early days of the 
Internet. I visited his website again tonight and reread this document:


Thinking of a PD course by Dan, this might provide much of what is 
missing from many offerings available these days especially the ones
mentioned by Tripp and Mitch. The smart thing about Dan's course is that 
he offers it online. Money well spent.

> I got a lot of 
> things "right" in my self-study and praxis, but two things I was missing 
> was the concept of permaculture as a wholistic design art/science, and a 
> good sense of how many seemingly disparate elements are integrated 
> together in a design.  After six years of self-study, I was focused on 
> permaculture as kind of an advanced gardening class with an emphasis on 
> "forest gardening".


In this document he talks about edge zones, something I was going to 
write about this week. The importance, prevalence and usefullness of 
edge zones as a design element cannot be underestimated. They are 
everywhere, often unnoticed.
Near the South side of my well house there is a tractor turnaround spot 
at the end of particular fertile and well prepared set of raised beds.
This is an area that receives a certain amount of garden dirt, nutrient 
rich water, seeds and plenty of light and some protection from North 
winds. There is some compaction but there is also constant percolation 
of fertile humus tea into this soil zone. I planted an old time highly 
fragrant spearmint variety there long ago; it has survived extreme cold, 
heat and reall bad drought to survive to the present. Now I see a 
mixture of mint and thick bed of crownvetch growing within and around 
it; the vetch is as thick and robust as any I have ever seen. The two
plants are sharing the area to the best advantage of each. The mint has 
the best aroma now that I have ever smelled; maybe its the time of year.
Anyway, this is an edge zone, at the edge of a garden, near a building,
near a path and near and within a bed of honeysuckle with Eastern red 
cedars. It is worth the time to do a walkabout your property to observe 
and take note of all edge zones you can discover, ones that stand out 
and appear to serve a function. These may be worth preserving and 
protecting. Thinking about a property and its established edge zones
serving various functions, perhaps erosion control, beneficial organism 
habitat, hosting companion plantings like the mint-vetch combination I 
discovered, is a useful and pleasurable activity. Sometimes these zones 
constitute important natural features that need to be considered for 
possible integration into larger scale designs to be implemented on a site.

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