This is part 2 of a 2 part podcast.
Paul and Tim Barker continue to talk about the plans for the 2017 PDC from May 28 to June 10. There will be 91 hours of instruction, more than the usual 72 hours, and then there will be evening presentations on top of that, so a lot more content than your typical PDC. Paul hopes that the people coming to this PDC will already be “level three” and they can just get right down to covering more high level topics. There will be more of a focus on homesteading topics than urban and broad acre focus. Tim feels that what’s going to happen is “turning up the volume on design.” If you’ve really learned how to design, you can design anything.
Given that the PDC will be held at Wheaton Labs, you’re going to learn lots of useful things about functioning in that environment. You will be actually cooking food on a rocket stove powered cooker! Paul wants to point out that this time there is going to be a chef on site and food will be provided, this is a big reason the cost of this PDC is higher than in previous years. The cost of this PDC is still less than many other PDCs. Tim says yes, but there will be a roster so everybody can contribute to the community by helping with meal prep (and thus everybody will get hands-on time with some of this technology they might not have worked with previously).
Another major difference between this PDC and others is an additional focus on the principles of Holistic Management. This came from Alan Savory’s experiences in Africa, and it’s a lot more than just rotational grazing. It’s a way to look at your decision making, where you acknowledge that there are multiple impacts of every decision and you weigh the various impacts. For example, making more money at the expense of destroying the environment and/or social connections is often just not worth it. Every decision is rated against and applied to your context, to your goals in life.
Oh, and that led to yet another way this PDC might be different from some other PDCs. It’s not going to have a lot of “purple” in it, at least not in the instructional bits. Holding hands and singing songs is totally cool, it’s just that these guys (Paul and Tim) aren’t particularly into leading such activities. Paul can see more purple events occurring at Wheaton Labs in the future, just not led by him. What Paul will be doing at this PDC is teaching. A lot. He’s taught bits and pieces at many previous PDCs, but the plan is that this PDC will have a lot more Paul in it.
Paul and Tim have a preference for design that achieves a lot with a little. Simple and elegant are better than complicated designs that tick off a lot of items on somebody’s list. Paul said “if you are writing a poem, you don’t need to use all the words in the English language.” Paul has had bad experiences with mapped out designs, where people get “married to the map” and resist needed changes because they aren’t on the map. However, he acknowledges that this PDC is going to have a lot of map making. Tim points out that Holistic Management primes you to constantly monitor the results of your decisions so that you can see where you are going wrong and make some immediate course corrections A good design will be an evolving design, adapting to current conditions.
Guest Instructors! These will be at the PDC for at least a day and a half, will present 3 times: a formal part of the PDC, a less formal presentation still part of the PDC, and an evening presentation.
Thomas Elpel – author of Botany in a Day, and Shanleya’s Quest, also Foraging the Mountain West and Primitive Skills, Self Sufficiency and Survival Skills. He and his daughter will go out with NOTHING, start by breaking a rock into a knife like tool, and go on from there.
Ernie and Erica Wisner – authors of the Rocket Mass Heater Builder’s Guide and multi-talented individuals with skills in natural building and many other areas. When Ernie was with Ianto Evans, Bill Mollison and Masanobu Fukuoka came for a 5 day visit, and Ernie gave them the tour! Ernie is a sailor, a former captain, so hey maybe he could teach knots for an evening presentation. Erica is a former science teacher, she’ll be great.
Helen Atthowe – dubbed “Goddess of the Soil” by Paul, is a soil scientist and was a horticulture extension agent for 15 years. She was an intern in Japan with Masanobu Fukuoka, then spent more time on a farm in Georgia that followed his techniques. She has been a professional market gardener – she owned and operated Biodesign Farm near Missoula, Montana for 17 years. She plans to be at the PDC for several days – hurray!
Jacqueline Freeman – a biodynamic farmer, author, and natural beekeeper. Paul has had her in many videos and podcasts, calling what she does “reverence for the bees.” He feels like her home has several levels of magic in it – this is some seriously purple stuff here. He recalls being offered an unheated bedroom while visiting in the winter – they were keeping it chill because there were thousands of ladybugs overwintering in there. Paul picked that room. In another hallway, an exterior wall was warm to the touch – this from an active hive inside the wall. In the summer, she opens doors and windows in the evening, and a bat flies in, eats all the bugs and then flies out. Her new book, The Song of Increase, is amazing. Jacqueline will probably have her husband Joseph with her, and he’s all sorts of magic with animals like cows and horses. Paul’s thinking they will be at the PDC for several days as well, so this will be a tremendous opportunity to learn from them.
(Not for sure) Zachary Weiss – has built functioning ecosystems inside greenhouses in cold climates. He is the leading connection between Sepp Holzer and the United States. He is currently traveling the world to design properties in the style of Sepp Holzer, he is an official representative of Sepp Holzer’s school of design. He’s led several trips of Americans to Sepp’s place in Austria, and has arranged multiple trips of Sepp to the United States.
There was more to say, but Tim had a ferry to catch. Paul prompted him to bring up his new book – The Rocket Powered Oven It’s full of very specific instruction on how to build a rocket powered oven, without the need of welding skills. In about a weekend (with friends) you can build a crazy efficient oven that can reach over 800 degrees inside without so much wood (like a cob oven requires). It’s selling very well – there seems to be a lot of interest in this.
Credit: Julia Winter
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2017 Homesteaders PDC (Permaculture Design Course) in Montana
The Rocket Powered Oven by Tim Barker
purple permaculture vs. brown permaculture
Thomas J. Elpel
Ernie and Erica’s new book: The Rocket Mass Heater Builder’s Guide
Jacqueline Freeman’s new book: The Song of Increase
Helen Atthowe: goddess of the soil
Zach Weiss’ past workshop with Sepp Holzer
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