Humble Choko Permaculture Course - Details

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The Permaculture Design Course teaches the highest standards of sustainability, self-reliance and resilience. It involves visits to numerous permaculture properties throughout Sydney West and Blue Mountains. By the end of the course students will have created a design for their own property, a group design for someone else's property, and will have spent half a day permablitzing someone's backyard.

Participants in the design course will learn how to build waterwise food-producing gardens, reduce waste and the price of living, retrofit houses to be more energy and water efficient, create water retentive landscapes and use more resilient agricultural techniques, and build healthy and resilient communities.

Permaculture Design Course Outline

This course is based on "The Earth user's Guide to Permaculture" by Rosemary Morrow  & "Permaculture a Designer's Manual" by Bill Mollison.

Unit 1: Introduction
Meeting of learners and teachers. Why people have come. Why permaculture. Course outline. Timetable. Materials and references.

Unit 2: Characteristics, principles, ethics.
Permaculture is built on ideas and there are many ways to use these ideas. It is concerned with clean air, water and soil. It aims to build sustainable human societies. How to get there is suggested by characteristics, principles and ethics.

The Cultivated Ecology

Unit 3: Ecology
Other applied sciences and humanities are prescriptive, and narrow. Permaculture is based on ecology - flow of energy - cycles of matter - succession.

Unit 4: Methods of design
There are several ways to design a landscape. Some of these are by observation, deduction, analysis, mapping and using zones and sectors.

Unit 5: Map reading
It is very useful to read maps. From them you can see the best place to collect water, to place a house, and to grow different crops.

Unit 6: Climate
Climate variation is increasing, we need to be able to design landscapes to both avoid and/or take advantages of different types of climate. We want to reduce risk and energy use and select appropriate plants.

Unit 7: Microclimates
This is where we work most closely. You can learn to design microclimates, and to read different microclimates. A large landscape is made up of many different microclimates.

Unit 8: Soils
Any soil can be improved quite quickly. Soil can tell you many things about plants and animals. Most soils are very damaged. There are Different types of damage and different types of repair. Traditional soil classifications.

Unit 9: Water and Landscape
Water is the basis of life. It is a precious mineral. Water is harvested and saved in many ways until needed by plants, animals and people. Water is the basis of rehabilitating soils.

Unit 10: Earthworks
Moving earth to change climate, make dams, build houses, and roads can be done to increase productivity. Many mistakes can be made in earthworks and it costs a lot of money. There are some good guidelines for earthworks.

Unit 11: Plants in permaculture
Plants are used for many functions in a permaculture design. They are basic to every design. Many propagation methods are tried. Nurseries and local species are very important.

Unit 12: Forests
Understanding forests and how they work is the basis of planting. A forest is an air conditioner, soil binder, mulcher, windbreak. From knowing how forests work, landscapes are designed which are productive. Windbreaks are designed from knowing about forests.

Unit 13: Windbreaks
Windbreaks are needed in almost every landscape. They filter the air of dust and disease. They slow down hot winds and cold winds. They protect plants, animals and buildings. Each one must be separately designed for each site.

Unit 14: Patterns in nature
Understanding the patterns of nature helps us to design highly productive integrated landscapes. Patterns are linear, circles, spirals, streamlines, songs, and sayings. They all interpret landscape and improve designs.

Designing Productive Landscapes

Unit 15: Broad Climatic Biozones
There are many climate zones in the world. Each one has a special type of sustainable landscape. When we try to make one landscape like another, it usually fails. Soils, water use, nutrients and traditional methods have evolved over a long time and are usually sustainable.

Unit 16: Siting and Building Homes
A low energy, non-polluting house can be comfortable and suit your lifestyle. A home should not be too hot or too cold and everyone can live well in it. There are principles for this.

Unit 17: Home Food Gardens
Everyone, from people in the city with tin y gardens, to people with a lot of country land can grow much of their own food. This keeps soil and water in good condition, uses household waste, stops moving food around the country, and chemicals are controlled.

Unit 18: Orchards - Growing Fruit
Good quality, chemically clean fruit is a security. An orchard is a food forest with many mixed species supplying fruit all year. Some non-food species are planted to provide protection and fertilizer - and later firewood.

Unit 19: Food Forests and Small Animals
To prune, eat pests, provide fertilizer, and not do damage, chickens are best kept in an orchard. They can be used to prepare `tractor' an area, or to maintain it. Ducks, turkeys, guinea fowl and pigs can also be used.

Unit 20: Cropping and Large Animals
There are two main methods of growing crops which build the soil and reduce pests. These are alley cropping and fukuoka. Many crops can be grown this way and these allow large animals like buffalo and oxen to be well fed.

Unit 21: Structural Forests
We all use a lot of wood in our lifetime. The structural forest is where we put it back and try to grow all our own forestry needs for bark, firewood,furniture, dyes, mulches, oils and so on. It can eventually give a very good income and improve the land.

Unit 22: Conservation Forests
These are the natural, indigenous forests of a region. They are working to keep the land in good condition. They are usually threatened. There are sometimes remnant forests which must be preserved, or people try to link up forests with corridors. There are some good ways to do this.

Adding to Sustainability and Productivity

Unit 23: Weed Ecology
Weeds are usually classified by farmers - so most plants are weeds. Weed control often simply means just spraying. Weeds need only to be managed for the benefits they bring.

Unit 24: Wildlife Management
People and wildlife are often in conflict. Wildlife is in great danger from people. In a well-designed landscape, people and wildlife can live together.

Unit 25: Integrated Pest Management
Pests are to be appreciated, and managed, not eliminated. Understanding pest lifecycles, and how predators work, pests can be reduced and kept to an acceptable damage level.

Unit 26: Site Analysis
This is looking carefully at a site to understand its good and bad points, both of which can be used in a design. There is information you get on site, and information you get off site. A site analysis is the basis from which you start, with all the information you can get about the land.

Unit 27: Design Graphics
This is how to do a design, and how to show people what you can do to make their land more intensive, and more productive.

Unit 28: Creative Problem Solving
When doing a design for land, there are always problems. Sometimes you don't know how to solve them. There are some ways you can think about solving problems and arriving at good solutions.

Unit 29: Incomes from Acres
Every piece of land should pay for itself. It should make a profit. This can be done without destroying the land's resources. There are many ways of making money.

Unit 30: Aquaculture
Water systems can be highly productive. This includes fish, prawns, crabs, tortoise, plants and water plants. The whole system is an integrated ecosystem. It can be planned to be very productive.

Unit 31: Design for Disaster
From war to drought, there are many risks and dangers to human and agricultural systems. Some things can be done to make landscape stronger so it is less likely to be damaged, or so it can recover more quickly.

Unit 32: Biotechnology
Biotechnology is difficult to see but it is changing the world and the plant and animal species. It is valuable to discuss it so people can decide what they think about it.

Invisible Structures and Self-Sufficiency

Unit 33: Bioregions
A person cannot be self-sufficient. A region can be self-sufficient. By working to enrich and empower where we live we can make good and strong societies.

Unit 34: Money, Economics and Ethical Investment
We can use money well or badly. We can set up our own schemes to meet our own needs.

Unit 35: Legal Structures
How we can protect ourselves by having good organizations.

Unit 36: Land Access and Ethics
How can poor people, indigenous and other people get land? There are many ways. Land is a resource and not a commodity. It is there to be cared for and to meet our needs.

Unit 37: Land Ownership
Every person has the right to land for shelter and for meeting their food needs. There are some ways of owning land which can also protect it.

Unit 38: Communities
People live in communities and these can work well or fall apart. This section gives reasons why they succeed or fail.

Unit 39: Urban Permaculture
There are some good permaculture models for towns. Towns are major consumers of resources as well as being major polluters. They can become good places to grow many of the population's needs.

Unit 40: Suburban Permaculture
Suburban areas until recently produced almost nothing, despite good resources in space and time. This can be turned around.


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