Permaculture: A Holistic System


“To let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them.”  – Bill Mollison

Quite a few people have asked me what Permaculture is and they ask me like they are supposed to know the response.  I didn’t know what Permaculture was when I walked into my first day of class 12 days ago,  I just knew that I wanted to be there, on that farm in Lyons, CO, digging my hands into some serious dirt and finding myself lost in endless conversations on a different way of life. Further knowledge on medicinal plants is what sold me on attending the course, but really, I had dabbled in all of this “permaculture stuff”  in previous education back in my college days.  “Why are you attending this course?” friends and family have asked me and I answer with this:   I want to live WITH the Earth, not against it.

Erin, one of my many teachers, told us that there are endless ways to explain Permaculture. If you google the term “Permaculture” you find definitions like these:  Wikapedia states:  “Permaculture is an approach to designing human settlements and agricultural systems that mimic the relationships found in natural ecologies.”   Permaculture, defined on, says,  “Permaculture is an ecological design system for sustainability in all aspects of human endeavor. It teaches us how build natural homes, grow our own food, restore diminished landscapes and ecosystems, catch rainwater, build communities and much more.”

Yeah, exactly, SO much more.  Technically, from what I gather, permaculture is based around three fundamental concepts.  Earth Care, People Care, and Fair Share.  It’s an ethical framework of sorts, exploring how the earth and human nature function and concluding with a design approach to allow humans to live in a system that supports their natural environment.  By providing a homestead that nurtures the land and it’s animals in it, humans benefit as well.

The outcome? An ecological system that is NOT competing but cooperating with itself.  Permaculture asks us to create systems that thrive and give back in abundance, including all the things we throw the green dollar towards: food, medicine, and community.  In a sense, permaculture teaches us to mimic what nature already is; a fluid self-sustaining system of companionship and support. The truth is, it’s not important if we know or don’t know the perfect definition of permaculture.   I’m not concerned with the term.  I’m concerned with the lessons that Permaculture drives us to learn; the lessons maybe we already do know deep down in our genetic code.

Native Americans and countless other indigenous communities knew, and STILL know.  Why are the rest of our “advanced”, “first world” cultures so out of the know?  How did we get here,  so incredibly removed from the very things that are vital to our existence?   Why can our children list off hundreds of logos from corporate branding campaigns, but not more than 5 named plant species from their own backyards?  Our thumbs move at an incredible speed, texting friends from across the room, while our verbal communication skills dwindle.  Our finger nails remain clean, feet polished, but where are  our favorite grass stained jeans?

There is this misconception that connecting with our backyards and growing nutrient rich foods is an expensive endeavour.  Just this morning my sister told me she wanted to re-design her back yard but that it was just too expensive.  She would be “splurging” on two rose bushes later this spring.  No offense, rose bushes are beautiful and I love the smell. Actually, I lie. I don’t really like the smell of roses.  I have snagged many clothing items on those rather razor like thorns and don’t really understand what all the hype is.  You can harvest the rose hips, they are a great source for vitamin C, but I doubt that was her reasoning for including these florid flora into her landscape.

Instead of planting roses in her east coast backyard, why not plant something NATIVE?  Ah ha. Wouldn’t that be something?  Or maybe something edible, medicinal, or SOFT?  The cost of two rose bushes, the non-organic kind (and I say that light-heartedly) is about $18.95 including tax.  She could buy a total of 6 packets of seeds that would give her an incredible abundance of edible, beautiful plants in her yard.  For instance, tomatoes grow like little red jewels of Gods on the East coast due to the high humidity and rainfall.  Chives, dill, cucumber, echinacea!  Oh, the possibilities for not only esthetically BEAUTIFUL plants, but nutritious plants as well!  AND if she re-positioned her gutters, the rain water she could collect….. well, that’s another topic.

The point is, is that we need to reconnect with our land,  we need to reconnect with ourselves and we need to turn our cell phones OFF.  All of the community that we are eager to connect with, the nutrition and health that we would like to nurture our bodies with, and the peace we are seeking to lessen the chaos of our lives, is all found in nature. If this is the case, why are we paving it and sweeping it clean of its medicinal properties?  Why are we quick to divert rainwater into a massive, turbulent stream of run-off, stripping our soil’s magic and rushing it off (along with all our chemicals and toxins) into the oceans when we could be diverting it, in its pure state, into our gardens? Why are we not going with the flow but against the tide natures natural way of being?  So many “whys” that will hopefully  be addressed here in this blog.

Anyway……. back to permaculture.  It’s incredible.  It’s a modern name for ancient concepts.  It’s connecting US to the land and the LAND to us.  So let’s all say goodbye to our past ideals and welcome in the new ones.


Until SOON.


lil chick






Meet The Characters at The Lyons Farmette!

Meet the Team over at the Lyons Permaculture Course (in no particular order)!


Meet Mike: He and Betsy own The Lyons Farmette.  What does he like?  He likes to ride this tractor AND he loves to stir up the conversations in class, bringing a wealth of insight to our sometimes crazy ideas and concepts.  He keeps our feet on the ground so to speak.


Betsy: She is the only mama at this course as far as I’m concerned.  Always slipping away in between class to feed chickens and check on the sheep.  Just last night she sat with a very pregnant mama sheep and comforted her while she popped out two healthy lambs.  A little girl and a little boy, making the sheep family on the farm reach a lucky number 7!


Lucy: Betsy and Mike’s hound.  Always guarding the house and her territory, she’ll warm up to you once she realizes you are a good cuddle.

Erin: She is the raddest teacher of them all.  Often found ringing this bell and trying to gather us all diligently when the hands on the clock remind us that we are supposed to be in class!  She is super passionate about the earth and teaching what she knows. Erin is silly and present, always open-minded about our endless questions and thoughts.

Laura( Ruby Tuesday): She is the other half of this incredible course, well she and about  15 other permaculture gurus.  What’s her least favorite word?  DIRT.  What’s her favorite word?  SOIL.  Always up for long extended conversations about why it’s incredibly important to take three-minute showers and leave the leaves where they are.  Laura is a wealth of information and her happiness and energy is contagious!

The Chickens: Now let’s not forget these fun ladies.  They LOVE food just as much as we do and often hop on our plates to steal some snacks.  They also create the BEST eggs.  I’ll never go back to grocery store-bought eggs…EVER.

The Permie People Students: Erin leading us blind through a snow patched field, our views masked by an array of fabrics.  This crew rocks!  We have philosophers, artists, activists, lovers of nature and of the planet as a whole.  We are the recent additions to the permie people clan!

Part of the Family: The llama, mama, and twins.  I am missing the other two adult sheep and the two newbies, but don’t worry, I’ll have tons of photo’s to share soon!  This llama is a rescue, and he is super sweet.  I believe he thinks he is a sheep!

Lil’ Chick: Me, myself and my dirty mushroom compost hands.  I’m not afraid to say how it is, get dirty, get sassy and keep it oh so real! SO, I hope you all enjoy this blog, the updates, knowledge and insights from one of the many students here at The Lyons Permaculture Course!

Chasing Chickens

You’ll have to excuse me, I’ve been chasing chickens all day and I am a little bit… tired?  My name is… well, you all can call me “lil’ chick” for now. I think the name is befitting as I am usually found photographing chickens, chasing chickens, and looking for chicken eggs!

I’ll post more substantial material sometime tomorrow, but for now:

Betsy and her two  2 day old little lambs!

A Blue Bird Day

Heart of Chickens

Ancient Times… or maybe just a few decades, or days ago?

The BEST eggs are ones fresh out of the oven…so to speak

The Twins and their Mama


That’s it for now! Early to rise… and it’s way past my bed time!  Until next time, I hope you found these photographs fun!


lil’ chick


Permaculture Design Course offered in Lyons, CO!

The Lyons Farmette, Schey’s Bouquets and YummyYards are ecstatic to offer a two week Permaculture Design Certification Course at The Lyons Farmette, located in Lyons, CO from March 19 – April 3, 2010.  The course features an intensive 82-hour immersion into permaculture principles and ecological design, featuring 18 diverse, dynamic and experienced permaculture teachers and professionals from the Colorado Front Range.
Through a combination of lecture, discussion, hands-on activities and on-site group design projects, you will learn how to observe ecosystems and design regenerative systems that provide food, energy and shelter. Engage in the revolutionary act of self-empowerment and discover how to build resilient human communities that care for the earth, provide for people and create a surplus for all to share.