Beyond Sustainability, Into Abundance: The Colorado Permaculture Convergence 2015

Permaculture is for everyone. That's what I left the Colorado Permaculture Convergence with this weekend.Ohana Kuleana Community Garden Members at the Permaculture Convergence (R to L: Mia Carrasco-Songer, Julie Yarsa, Michael Wasson, Marye Jackson)

As we experience this changing climate, shortage of water, excess of waste, and degradation of our beautiful land and wonderful communities permaculture provides a guiding path to action.

Permaculture is the philosophy of working with the natural cycles and systems to create an abundance for all. At the 2015 Colorado Permaculture Convergence, hosted by the Permaculture Provision Project in Cortez, CO, we got to celebrate the people and projects working on permaculture in the Southwest and learn from the skilled, experience speakers.

Grant Curry, one of our hosts, inspired us to think beyond sustainability, which he described as having your nose just above water. Closing speaker, Joel Glanzberg, reminded us that we may feel the urge to jump all in and become a permaculturist with our own off-the-grid homestead complete with water catchment system, food forest, and a composting toilet but we need everybody (doctors, teachers, lawyers, homemaker, restaurant owners...everyone!) to think like nature.

How do YOU think like nature in your home, work, or play?

Here are some of the lessons I learned at the Permaculture Convergence:

1. Practice alchemy: Turn something with no "value" into something with value.composting_toilet__-_Permaculture_Convergence_2015_photo.jpg

Jeff Wright, of Everything Dirt Compost, talked to us about Humanure and composting toilets. Yes, that means poop.
When I flush the toilet I don't generally think about where it goes or where that water comes from, it's waste and we have a system in place to take it away. But Durango will spend over $40 million dollars on our sewer system these next few years. And as the drought here and in California continue to worsen suddenly the water flushing down my toilet seems like a big loss.

What if there was another way? Well there is and Jeff is making it happen. He composts all of his "waste" (yes, again that is a euphamism for poop!). He sees the waste of water in our sewer system as a loss but he also sees our human "waste" as a resource. And by taking other waste products, like hay that farmers aren't going to use or wood shavings, and composting with poop he creates a nutrient rich soil and keeps the water in the river and the poop out of our river!

If you want to learn more Jeff recommends The Humanure Handbook by Joe Jenkins.

You can also contact Jeff at,  970-799-2175 or check out his blog The Great Cycle: making dirt make sense.

2. Work together: We are stronger and more efficient with diversity and cooperation

Shannon "Wind" Clearwater talked to us about Orchard Polyculture. Conventional orchards generally grow their fruit trees in bare ground, devoid of other plants. Wind is doing it the way nature does, growing fruit trees in a community of other perennial herbs and plants that benefit one another by providing protection from the wind, keeping ground water from evaporating, feeding the bees, and providing us with another delicious crop.

For example, in the Peach Orchard where he works in Paonia they are also growing spear mint, lemon balm, alfalfa, burgamont, and raising bees! He has found a way to do it on a commercial scale but you can do it in your backyard with a Permaculture Forest Garden (or if you don't have a backyard join us at the Ohana Kuleana Community Garden to help us grow our Food Forest!)

3. Appreciate everything for its role: Everything has a purpose and a value, we just have to learn to look at the whole picture.

Edible_Weed_Walk_-_Permaculture_Convergence_2015_photo.jpgKatrina Blair, of Turtle Lake Refuge, took us on an Edible Weed Walk to taste some of the plants we usually overlook or try to eradicate. With catchy dittys Katrina imparted the wisdom of these under appreciated plants like the dandelion, mallow, curly dock, clover and others. The plants are found all over the world and pop up when there is a disturbance in the soil (as we humans often create as we build and develop), to regenerate and enrich the soil. They are also full of nutrients and delicious. Katrina has a helpful book to guide us as we venture into the weeds as well as an incredible cook book!

There were many more inspiring and knowledgeable presentations and I was glad to be a part with several other community garden members!

If you missed the convergence we are lucky enough to be bringing two of the presenters to OKCG!
Sign up here:
Mushroom Cultivation
with Travis Custer *In June* 
Wild Wisdom of Weeds with Katrina Blair


Here are some additional resources to look into:

Look to the Land by Walter JamesThe Humanure Handbook by Joe Jenkins

Mycelium Running by Paul Stametes

One Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka

Permaculture, Principles and Pathways by David Holmgren

Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-scale Permaculture by Toby Hemenway



Garden Manager Mia Carrasco-Songer
with Elizabeth of the Colorado Permaculture Guild


More cute baby goats because come on they are so cute!

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