The 5th Annual Lyons Permaculture Design Course! Spring 2014!

The dates have been set!  The 5th Annual Lyons Permaculture Design Course will be held at The Lyons Farmette from March 7 – March 23, 2014.  The course will be sponsored by Yummy Yards, The Lyons Farmette and Thrivescape Design.

Please check our new website for details and information:

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Why should you take the Lyons Permaculture Design Course?  Find out here by watching our new course videos.

The 4th Annual Lyons Permaculture Design Course! Spring 2013!

The dates have been set!  The 4th annual Lyons Permaculture Design Course will be held at The Lyons Farmette from March 15 – March 31, 2013.  The course will be sponsored by Yummy Yards, The Lyons Farmette and Woodbine Ecology Center.

Please check our new website for details and information:

yylogo farmetteLogo_blubrw WoodbineRanch op4

Why should you take the Lyons Permaculture Design Course?  Find out here by watching our new course video.

The 3rd Annual Lyons Permaculture Design Course

The Lyons Farmette and YummyYards  offered a two-week Permaculture Design Certification course at The Lyons Farmette from March 9 – March 25, 2012.  The course was co-facilitated by Laura Ruby and Spencer Branson, with guest instructors Marco Lam, Jerome Osentowski, Todd Jones, Wesley Schwartz and others.

The 2nd Annual Lyons Permaculture Design Course

The 2nd annual Lyons Permaculture Design Course took place March 18 – April 3, 2011.  This course offered an intensive 82-hour immersion into permaculture principles and ecological design, featuring 14 diverse, dynamic and experienced Colorado permaculture teachers, including Jerome Osentowski, Marco Chung-Shu Lam, Adam Brock and Pavlos Stavropoulos (co-facilitated by Laura Ruby and Erin Schey).

PDC Spring 2010

Observing the Land

“Nature is the teacher. The landscape is the textbook.”  – Masanobu Fukuoka, The One Straw Revolution

Spending time outside everyday is vital to our livelihoods.  Breathing in fresh air, feeling the sun on our skin and smelling the natural world around us softens the deepest parts of ourselves.  Connecting loosens our rigid bodies from stress and rids our scattered minds of “what if’s” and “to do lists”.  One deep breath draws us into the present.  We no longer seek anything.  We do however find what we had been looking for all along.  Magic.

There are a few ways to observe our natural surroundings.  Sorry, what I meant to say is that there are an unlimited amount of ways to experience our natural surroundings.  By observing with our six senses (YES six and if you really want to get spiritual there are considered TEN)  we can connect to our surroundings with greater awareness. Let me quickly state what these senses are: Smell, Touch, Taste, Sight, Sound and Intuition.

When we un-focus our eyes it helps us to observe shadows and light.  To sit with the land at dawn, allows us to connect with a piece of this world that usually swims in a sea of mechanical noise pollution.   At the earliest part of the morning, when the modern world is quiet, the natural world is buzzing with activity.  I once sat by myself in the middle of the Adirondack Mountains between the hours of 3am-6am.  A group of us had gone out on a field trip to observe the natural landscape.  At first I was scared.  I curled up like a little girl and sat in a pocket, naturally carved into the trunk of a large maple tree.  My eyes were wide, ears alert and body frozen.  I am sure everything in that forest heard my heartbeat.   I’m going to have to say that those young hearted addictions to horror movies with older cousins proved to be the worst thing to do for my head.  My mind raced with childish fears of the boogie man and ravaged wolves.  I LOVE wolves.

The dark scared me.  It was unknown, mysterious, and…. well,  BLACK.  I couldn’t find color, no matter how hard I searched and after I accepted the fact that I needed to conduct my assignment, connecting and observing the land, my mind shut off and my senses came awake.  Because my eyes proved useless in that black, colorless world,  my sense of sound and touch thrived.   The air was moist and cold, I became knitted into the fabric of the untouched, the perfect world, where humans did not exist. Except for myself of course.   Dew drops formed on my rain jacket and soaked into my wool hat.  My boots dug further into the rich ground and leaves covered my journal and my legs.  I became part of the landscape and with my immersion,  all the little critters and animals considered me part of their home.

My interaction with the mountains became more than what I thought it would become, an outside foreign experience. I had become the landscape.  Squirrels and birds landed beside me, spiders, worms, and centipedes crawled over my hands and arms.   I wasn’t afraid of what was out there anymore because I became the “out there” and “out there” became “in here”.

When we get down into the Earth, when we shut off our minds and open up our hearts “we” become “them” and “they” become “us”.  There is no separation between human beings and the natural world.  You will find me stating this again and again.  Let me repeat.  Separation is an illusion that our minds do an incredible job at conveying.  I invite you to sit in the mud, bathe in the river, and share yourself with nature.

Taking Care of Zone Zero

Andrew taking care of himself (zone zero) at the Barnette (our zone zero for the course).

Permaculture design is a holistic approach.  We design for optimal efficiency, resilience and, in the long-term, as little human intervention as possible . Permaculture design utilizes specific zones of efficiency to optimize production and energy cycling and give us more time in the hammock!

Zone Zero is the most important of them all.  It’s defined as “you and your house”.  If Zone Zero does not function harmoniously then all other zones are highly affected and may cease to function or exist at all. Take care of Zone Zero first.

Zone One needs daily attention. It contains the elements you use most often, things that require continual observation, including your daily food and medicinal gardens, social spaces, rain barrels, small ponds, a greenhouse, trellis, arbor, bird feeders, household storage and anything else you interact with multiple times a day.

Zone Two is an area of semi-intensive cultivation.  Small orchards can be planted in this zone as well as staple and canning crops and less frequently picked perennial and annual veggies.  Zone Two might also contain hoop houses for season extension, wood storage, a shop, bards and tool sheds.  Often chickens and rabbits are placed on the border between Zones One and Two with beehives, fish, bats and other small animals well within Zone Two.

Zone Three requires even less attention and energy from humans and may be referred to as the “Farm Zone”.  Grow field crops, cover crops, commercial gardens, large fruit and nut trees, animal forage, seedlings for grafting and windbreaks here in Zone Three.  This area is also home to cows, horses, pigs, sheet, goats and other large animals as well as feed and water storage for these animals and plants.

Zone Four boarders on wilderness, usually applying to larger properties and requiring very little management if any. Zone Four activities may include: foraging, selective forestry, wood lot harvesting, hunting, some pasture, gathering and grazing.

Zone Five is the zone that is rarely visited, a place where we go for inspiration and observation.  It’s a section of the property that is given back to the Earth.  Here native plants grow unmanaged, lakes and creeks flow freely, and wild animals roam, forage, hunt and live without human disturbance. There is some debate as to whether humans should enter Zone Five for meditation or whether we should just let Zone Five areas alone altogether, to exist and evolve unwatched by human eyes. (The Zonation information above is adapted from “Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway”, a must-read for the budding permaculturist. Thank you, Toby.  And now back to Lil’Chick…)

But within all of these important zones it is that of Zone ZERO I am smitten with.

I am Zone Zero.   I have skills that I provide, just like all other zones, and in order to provide my skills, I have needs that need to be fulfilled first.  My skills are that of an artist, creating music, photography, and the written word.  I am also an armature herbalist, teacher, creative chef, listener, and mentor.  BUT I cannot provide these skills unless I take care of my needs first.  Some of my needs are: having time for reflection and meditation, yoga, companionship, laughter with my girlfriends, exploration, and education, on top of the obvious, like water, food and shelter among a few other things.  If I don’t make the time to satisfy these needs I fall out of whack.  If I don’t take the time to reflect and listen to my body and heart I am not in the space to mentor or provide guidance to friends and family.  If I don’t nurture myself with yoga, good food, and laughter then I am not in the space to nurture others.  If I don’t provide myself with loving companionship then I am not a loving companion.

A couple of months ago a friend came to me in times of relationship distress.  We drank tea and talked for hours.  She was unhappy and didn’t feel that she was getting what she needed out of her relationship.  I asked her if she had recently spent time with herself, really connected to her inner being.  The gist of her response was “no”.  I have learned that when we don’t truly connect to ourselves on our clock, meaning not at the convenience of others but at the convenience of ourselves, then we feel that those around us are not providing what we need.  We need to find time to be attentive to ourselves.  If we lack that self-attentiveness we will most likely NOT see it gifted by others.  Like anything else, if we are not compassionate to ourselves we will notice that others are not being compassionate.  Those around us are an exact reflection of what we are to ourselves.  Just like mother nature; hurting, in turmoil and  illness,  is a reflection of a great deal of the human population. What we don’t recognize is that WE are what we need.

When we don’t feel good, or are ungrounded, we often project this unsettled physicality’s and emotions onto those we love, blaming them for how we are feeling or blaming them for not providing what we need, which is something only we can provide for ourselves.   A relationship that relies on an outside source in order to provide and sustain a fluid and functional relationship is a failed system.   Cycling back to this ancient old way of life, recently and modernly named, “permaculture”.

I have just completed a two-week intensive program at Permaculture Camp, as I like to call it.  I have walked away with a great amount of knowledge, but most importantly a wisdom which I have forgotten.  Understanding how nature works and functions in the way nature intended allows me to understand how people function in the way nature intended.  I am forever connecting “permaculture terms” to that of self growth.

When you take care of Zone Zero FIRST, you’ll have enough energy to take care of the others and a full, beautiful and sustaining design is complete.

No Named Sheep

I have been privileged to experience not one set of  bright-eyed baby lambs, but TWO sets of baby lambs!  The other night I walked out to the barn with a cup of freshly brewed peppermint tea and stepped up on the jagged pieces of worn wood identifying it’s self as a fence.  A barrier of sorts between us and them.

I can’t tell if the fence is for the human folk, making sure they stay out, or if it’s for the animals, making sure they stay in.  Either way,  It’s the perfect kind of weather these days, bare skin and feet touching both dirt and sky.  We welcomed a little black sheep into the clan.  She is the first little girl out of the group, besides the mama, of course, and she is as black as the deepest parts of the unexplored ocean.  She hangs close to her mama as the three boys go off and play. They are silly little fluffs throwing themselves up into the air as they land on soft hay.  The littlest guy, a week behind the others, is herded and nudged back into the pen by his auntie.  His mamma and sister await him.  It’s amazing, the little tribe these sheep live in, no different from the human structure of a tight-knit clan.   Siblings and cousins play, while the aunts help the mamas; it’s quite magical behind the soft lit approaching night.

A sleeping baby.  I watched his head flop back and forth in a constant battle with sleep.  He didn’t want to doze off, his eyes would shut, head would bounce and then he would startle himself awake again. Ha! It was absolutely adorable!

Cuzco meets lambs.

That’s all I have for you at this moment.  Stay tuned for a topic on our most beloved subject: Permaculture Zones.