Permaculture Apprenticeship

There are still a couple beginner apprenticeships left for Verde Gardens Farm. For the past 6 months of my farmer apprenticeship I have gained so much experience. Since the program began, I have never made so much progress with my own life. Of course, I have been able to practice what I have been studying for the last four years, but more importantly I have created relations that will never end. I have also been inspired to start a re-skilling school here in South Florida.

What I am saying is, if you are down with permaculture and live in South Florida you should sign up NOW. The deadline has been extended, sign up quick!
Community Foodworks Apprenticeship


Eric Toensmeier’s Recommendations

Eric Toensmeier, author of Perennial Vegetables and co-author of Edible Forest Gardens, made some really great plant species recommendations for our three acre food forest at Verde Gardens in South Florida.
…Keep Reading!

Crop Mob at Nebular Homestead!

We are hosting a Crop Mob on our homestead next Sunday, where we will be building Zone 2 bio-intensive garden beds. We are stoked to have the community over to give us a hand, as it sure is a lot of work to do by ourselves! During this Crop Mob, folks will learn how to maintain and grow fertile soil, create symbiotic relationships with plants, work effectively and efficiently with others (or alone), benefit from observing nature, and why it is important to grow food for our community ….Keep reading!

Crop Mobbing South Florida Style

Invest in your future, plant a fruit tree!

Invest in your future, plant a fruit tree!

South Florida’s first crop mob was at Verde Gardens and the task was to plant hundreds of fruit trees for the 3-acre food forest. We had over 50 RSVP’s, but due to the rain we had 30 committed people show up. We started by educating the beginners on how to properly plant fruit trees, taught about and built rain water barrels, and then we proceeded to plant about 300 hundred fruit trees. The crop mob was wrapped up with an amazing pulled BBQ jackfruit from Bambi and Sonia; or so I heard (not tasted), as I am a raw foodie. Keep reading!

Composting with Worms

With a little bit of added effort you can turn your daily food scraps into nutrients for your garden. One great way to do this is by composting with worms, also known as vermi-composting. Most people assume worms are dirty and smell gross, which is far from the truth. Maintaining a healthy worm bin is not challenging, does not smell bad, and will not invite large bugs such as cockroaches. Continue reading

Bill Mollison’s FREE permaculture pamphlets

Bill Mollison is one of the individuals who coined the term “permaculture” back in the mid-70’s. If you have ever taken a moment to watch or read any of his work, then you know exactly how creative and intelligent he is. If you haven’t taken a moment, here is your chance!

Below are 15 pamphlets in one document that has 155 pages and are based on a transcription of the lectures given by Bill Mollison in 1981 during a Permaculture Design Course presented in New Hampshire, USA.

You can download the document from barking frogs permaculture as the reproduction of these pamphlets are highly encouraged ­čÖé

Permaculture Design Course Class # 5 – Zone 0

Thursday’s PDC class we focused on zone 0, which you know all about because of the last post. The second half of the class, we did some designing of the food forest.

Zone 0:
In modern western lifestyles we typically find excessive consumerism existing in our central location which is zone 0. Most homes are consumer junkies, devouring huge amounts of finite resources and the releasing toxic or polluted air. People in this culture are spending most of their time in sick houses (or buildings for work) that are covered in chemicals, using processed materials, off gassing, and are surrounded by massive amounts of electromagnetic radiation. Our central locations are vulnerable as they are completely dependent of external resources such as electricity, gas, and even needing water being brought in from sometimes thousands of miles away.

This is why, as designers, we need to build properly designed new homes or retrofit old homes if a house already exists on the site. When we are siting a new house we should pay thoughtful observation to climate, topography, water, soil, surrounding land use, site access, vegetation, and house orientation. We want to consider where our water supply will come from, how much water do we need, how can we store the water in case of drought, what is our energy usage, how will the energy be stored, the materials we will need to use, and even what will be our main transportation. We want to be able to use as much materials from either on site or as local as we can find them. It is really important that we do use this thoughtful observation instead of relying on thoughtless action which we can see has failed by looking closely at our modern western society.

Remember, this zone will be designed to reduce the amount of energy used here, including water needs, and creating a harmonious environment in which to live and work in, as this is where we will spend the majority of our time.

During this class I challenged everyone to do a water audit these next two weeks. I will be doing a post specifically on a water audit and an energy audit, so pay attention if you want to learn how to prepare yourself for drought and learn how to become more independent.

Designing our permaculture zones

I wish I had footage of the work all of us did today. I was having so much fun, and was so busy, that I forgot to get any film or photos of my day at the farm. There were two main jobs that had to get done today; one was organizing the nursery and the other was mapping the market garden.

Antonio, the full-time farmer, lead a group of apprentices in the nursery. Their tasks were labeling plants, such as jackfruit, setting up more nursery tables, and doing a inventory of the plants that were recently moved from a different site to “The farm at Verde Gardens”.

Since I have had experience with mapping out sites before, including the Food Forest at “Verde” and my recent un-named farm, I lead the other group of 3 fellow apprentices. I taught the others about why the market garden is going where it is, the importance of proper design, and permaculture zones. It took us the whole day, but by the end we were able to finish the mapping out the market garden, and parts of the alley crops. Now that we finished the mapping, we can get down to the design. Since fall is right around the corner, time is running out fast. The five farmer apprentices need to finish the design so we can start the soil building and planting before it is too late.

On another note, I imagine most of you are wondering what is a permaculture zone. Below is a quick write up and a short video of what permaculture zones are:

Zone 0 – The house or central location. This zone is the center of your site, it is where you spend most of your time. This location will be designed to reduce the amount of energy used here, including water needs, and creating a harmonious environment in which to live and work in.

Zone 1 – The zone nearest to the central location. This is where you place the elements that need most attention and visiting. Here you will place your salad crops, herb plants, soft fruits, propagation/nursery beds, worm bins, and whatever else you feel you need to pay close attention to.

Zone 2 – Use this area for perennial plants that need less attention and maintenance, such as main carbohydrate crops. You may need to do some light spot mulching or even pruning in this area. You can place your large scale compost bins or even keep bees in zone 2.

Zone 3 – This site can be used for larger animals, grazing, large ponds and swales, and your larger main crops. You may decide to place your food forest here, or you can place it back in zone 2.

Zone 4 – Your semi wild area, and also used for farmed forestry. This is a great spot to set up a timber production and to forage for wild foods. You may also choose to place a forestry system for poles, craft, or bee fodder.

Zone 5 – This area is kept completely wild. You use zone 5 to observe, gather information, meditate, and to remain in tranquility.

The great piece to zones is that they can overlap each other. You design your zones accordingly to the way you function, the places you walk through most, and the areas that are most convenient (or not) to get to. These initial steps to planning and design are crucial as this is where you decide the most effective way for you to live and function from day to day.

Take a moment to watch this amazing documentary from Geoff Lawton describing permaculture zones:

If you enjoyed that short video, I suggest for you to check out the full Introduction to Permaculture by Geoff Lawton posted by Permaculture Ideas is loaded with really clever ideas of recycling old “junk” into useful items around your homestead.

Keep posted for future blogs to see the final design and how you can build the best soil.