Designing Like a Forest (we’re hooked)

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Last Autumn we hosted a Forest Garden Design Intensive with Dave Jacke at Milkwood Farm. It was a truly awesome experience, and it changed the way many of us at Milkwood (and beyond) approach permaculture design education, and permaculture design process.

To summarise, it was 9 days of immersive permaculture design, using forest ecosystems as analogies and pattern-guides to design good permaculture systems… 

Foraged saffron milk caps that Paul foraged on his way to Milkwood...

Saffron milk caps that Paul foraged on his way to the course…

Paul (Speedy) shows Cam his latest generous batch of plant material that he's gifting to the Milkwood arboretum

Paul shows Cam his latest generous batch of plant material that he’s gifting to the Milkwood arboretum

Circle work. every morning around the fire: what has been, and what's to come

Circle work. Every morning around the fire: what has been, and what’s to come

Into the emerging forest garden

Into the emerging forest garden

Rose cooks up the saffron milk caps into best ever mushroom and herb pasta

Rose cooks up the saffron milk caps into best ever mushroom and herb pasta

Dave Jacke teaching in the field

Dave Jacke teaching in the field

Milkwood Farm fare, grown and cooked right here

Students tucking into Milkwood Farm fare, grown and cooked right here

Arranging ourselves (as forest systems) in different successions...

Arranging ourselves (as forest systems) in different successions…

Dave, Nick and Hannah explaining guild types to the class

Dave, Nick and Hannah explaining guild types to the class

The sourdough bread kept coming, with each passing day...

The fresh sourdough bread kept coming, with each passing day…

Design exercise time... a windbreak for the market garden

Design exercise time… a windbreak for the market garden

Floyd and Cam discuss the design

Teachers Floyd and Cam discuss the design

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Back to the forest

Back to the forest

Observe and interact

Observe and interact

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Mr Jacke

Mr Jacke

Bath time! Rocket-stove powered showers heating up

Bath time! Rocket-stove powered showers heating up

Washing up crew. What's an o nfarm course without student chore-teams

Washing up crew. What’s an on-farm course without student chore teams

Bees in the buckwheat

Bees in the buckwheat

Cam and Dave talking soil horizons

Cam and Dave talking soil horizons

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Design process

Design process

The market garden beans just kept coming

The market garden beans just kept coming

And Pepper watched over all

And Pepper watched over all

Free-form scribbling (to loosen the pens before final design task)

Free-form scribbling (to loosen the pens before final design task)

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More farm-grown meals, to keep the synapses firing

More farm-grown meals, to keep the synapses firing

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Time for the design groups to present their work (and it was fine stuff)

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Breaking for honeycomb on sourdough

Breaking for honeycomb on sourdough

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Final night feast - Rose nailing it, as always...

Final night feast – Rose nailing it, as always…

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Forest Garden Design Intensive Grads (and crew)  - Autumn 2013, Milkwood Farm

Forest Garden Design Intensive Grads, teaching team, and crew – Autumn 2013, Milkwood Farm

Intense. Fabulous. Hard. Delicious. Revealing. Excellent: These were some of the words that came back to us through the student feedback of this course… and it was all that, and more.

But the best thing about this course, apart form the fact that it skilled-up a big bunch of folks who will, I am certain, go on to create positive change in their communities across Australia and beyond, is how it changed things at Milkwood.

Dave Jacke’s design process, and the way he teaches it to create better permaculture designers, influenced us hugely. To have our teaching team working alongside him to deliver the course was a privilege and also a valuable learning experience.

Since then, we’ve actively blended many of Dave’s teaching techniques and his design methodology into our Permaculture Design Courses, to really raise the bar on what skills our students leave our PDCs with.

The first trial run of this new PDC format was in Sydney in July, and it worked really well. The student designs produced indicated strongly to us that a higher level of good design skills and processes were being absorbed and taken home by our students than ever before.

YAY.

While we still base our student curriculum on Permaculture: a Designers Manual, we’re now focussing our PDCs squarely on permaculture design process, to create and activate better permaculture designers.

Will we still make compost on our PDCs? Sure we will. Can peeps still go help pick beans, feed chickens, save seeds and dig in the dirt? No worries at all. But it’s all in the context of creating better designers.

Designers who can, with a solid design process and skills at their back, devise the best approach to an apartment balcony garden as competently as they could design a 5 acre block (hint: figure out your long-term needs and holistic goals, and then map those against the possibilities of your site, rather than diving straight into earthworks or house and garden design armed only with a contour map)

This Spring we’ll be holding our first on-farm Permaculture Design Course that follows this revitalised curriculum at Milkwood Farm, from 27 October till 9 November…

With a market garden full of organic goodness to eat while designing, a fabulous new farm chef to make our good food even better, an all-star teaching team and Milkwood Farm all around,  this will be a very special 2-week permaculture design intensive.

Do you want to come? Or do you know anyone ready to take this step towards being an agent of change and permaculture design awesomeness? Pass this on if you would. Thank you kindly.

>> More posts about Permaculture at Milkwood.net

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Student design team hangout – it’s just like a picnic! But with more thinking, and with more textas…

A Massive  thanks to Dave Jacke for sharing his incredible brain and work with us in March, and for encouraging us to take up the torch in Australia (so to speak).

Thanks also to Nick, Hannah, Cam and Floyd for being such an awesome teaching team. And thanks to everyone else involved; students, crew, our family and all…

Photos above by me, Floyd Constable, James McIntosh, Dillon Seitchik, possibly Steve Burns and possibly also other students whose photos may have snuck into my set un-labelled…

James and Dillon’s photos are stills from the fab What is Milkwood video that they made for us during this course…

6 Comments

  1. Belinda
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 7:41 am | Permalink | Reply

    Any chance you will get Dave Jacke back to Australia?

  2. speedy
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 9:34 am | Permalink | Reply

    What a fun 10days it was.
    learnt heaps, gained plenty new ideas, made new friends
    …ate lots of yummy food
    thanks Kirsten, Nick and Dave and all who helped out on that course.
    …another step in the evolution of Permaculture.
    great stuff.

  3. Posted August 12, 2013 at 11:15 am | Permalink | Reply

    YAY! Beautiful pictures, beautiful video, beautiful people, beautiful ideas. Hope I can visit again some day! – Emily

  4. Posted August 21, 2013 at 8:40 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Oh my. I want in. One day, I will be there. I am kinda new to permaculture, but it is just so right, it has helped me make sense of and learn from my garden where before I felt like an outsider.
    Since finding permaculture, I feel like I have found my people.

  5. Posted August 26, 2013 at 10:38 am | Permalink | Reply

    Sounds great! Do you publish your curricullum/ course outline so that others can learn from, replicate and adapt it? :)

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