Earth Repair Corps Permaculture Design Course (PDC) at Texastopia in Blanco, Texas – 2018 06 19
Earth Repair Corps just completed its first PDC near the headwaters of the Blanco River at Texastopia.
Pete VanDyck and I signed the PDC certificates together. It was a real honor to teach with Pete, and everyone else that made this course possible.
During the second half of this course we discussed specific design systems, beginning with the home, and then moving outward towards further away and larger systems; from the built environment (the home), to intensive annual vegetable, culinary, and medicinal gardens (right around the home), to small animal systems, broader annual crops, and orchards (several yards away from the home), to intensive cell grazing systems and wood lots (well away from the home), and then on to ecological restoration.
So much thanks to our guest speakers.
Heather King shared with us just what it takes to grow an annual vegetable victory garden and market garden here in Central Texas. She covered how to cope with profitability, heat, drought, hard freezes, heavy rains, and unpredictability.
Tina and Orion Weldon spoke to us about their amazing work at TerraPurezza raising pasture fed pigs, harvesting the food waste stream to supplement their feed costs, and marketing organic produce and meats to restaurants. TerraPurezza has received a Texas Department of Agriculture Young Famer Grant, and an Environmental Protection Agency award for Green Infrastructure, and Low Impact Development.
Adam Russell shared with us that healing the human body and healing the soil have a lot in common. Both have to breath in air, both need water moving through them, both need neural connections, and both need protective covering. He also gave us a tour of his family farm in Blanco, Texas showing us where he installed conservation terraces, and where he applied the Yeoman’s Keyline chisel plow.
Jim O’Donnell spoke to the class about the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve (BCP), where he is working to create ecological resilience around the City of Austin’s western greenbelt. One of our next permablitzes will be at BCP.
Woody Welch spoke with us about a sustainable energy economy, and specifically spoke with us about photovoltaic energy systems. During the second to the last day, Woody also spoke to the class about financial strategies for staying out of debt.
So much thanks to our graduates.
They participated in 72 hours of classroom instruction in order to get their design course certificate.
The last Saturday night, the class had a fantastic talent show.
The last Sunday morning, and our last day of class, we held a Blanco River blessing ceremony, AND a father’s day blessing ceremony. I’ve never experienced anything like that since I was alongside a river in Peru near Machu Picchu.
The students’ design course presentations were terrific.
Earth Repair Corps, Interview with Pete VanDyck – 2018 06 20
By Kirby Fry
K: Pete, it has been my honor and privilege to work with you.
I believe that we first met during a permablitz maintenance event at Kealing Middle School around July 9, 2014. Since then, you have stepped up and filled some very essential roles for the sustainable design movement in Central Texas.
My gratitude goes out to you, and to EVERYONE else implementing best design practices.
Please allow me to ask you six or seven questions.
- How, and or why, were you drawn to regenerative design systems?
Thanks, Kirby. Yes, we did meet at Kealing Middle School and this is actually a photo from that day, good documentation there! Wow, I can’t believe how time flies! At first I was just interested in working outside with the land and plants, but I also had concerns about my own health, the health of society, and the health of our environment which made me want to look deeper into natural systems. It was the same as many other folks who find this path – it usually happens from either a health issue due to poor nutrition, environmental conditions, or being hurt in mainstream society. I was sort of all three. Permaculture Design has opened my eyes to the answers for all of these problems and since then I have been more focused than I had ever been in my life.
2. How did you first learn about permaculture and sustainable design in Central Texas?
After being stationed in San Diego, California for six years I finished my contract with the military and began searching for a new career. During my time there I had developed a skill in finding the right people to help me accomplish my goals. Really all you have to do is find the highest source of knowledge that you can and learn from that person. So I went seeking out Mr. Kirby Fry, who seemed to be that person when I moved to Elgin, Texas. I think I found out about the maintenance blitz at Kealing Middle School through Facebook. I first learned about Permaculture from Ben Falk’s great book “The Resilient Farm and Homestead”.
3. What are some important site selection criteria for a homestead or a farm that we should know about?
It’s very important to find a place with the capacity for redundant sources of water. That includes good wells and room for ponds and rain tanks. Access is also important – why buy land if half of it is inaccessible? Access can often be an afterthought when buying land, many folks figure that they’ll just be able to figure it out and everything will be fine. This can really throw a wrench in the gears when you are building a house and construction trucks cannot get to the building site, or the poor access keeps washing out, or roads are too muddy to cross, etc. I like a short road that’s high and dry, easy to maintain, and reliable.
The best place to put a road is on a ridge, so when you are looking to buy that property with the long easement that crosses multiple gullies my advice is to find a better one. I also like properties that are 20-50 percent forested. Trees make everything so much more comfortable in Texas, but I never advise buying fully forested properties. We ought to stay out of the brush and help reforest the land that needs the help. It’s also important to have a good solar aspect. Western facing hills can be brutally hot in the summer; I often find the biggest trees on the north side of the hill. Hills facing northeast seem to be the most comfortable in Texas for plants, people, and animals. I provide very reasonable pre-purchase assessments for anyone buying property. I can save people years of heartache with this service and I don’t think anyone should close on a property without getting professional eyes on it.
4. What are some important skill sets that we should know about in order to design a sustainable homestead?
It’s so important to find the right community. Getting a Permaculture Design Certificate is a really fantastic place to start. That way you learn how to think, instead of what to think. Then each person finds his or her own niche from there. Not everyone has to be a farmer or designer, we still need builders, teachers, medical professionals, and all the other important services. Equally important as the skill sets themselves is the person’s ability to apply their skills within the new paradigm we are creating through regenerative design. Designing a sustainable homestead really takes a vast amount of knowledge, having that community of like-minded individuals makes everything much smoother.
5. Please share with us some of your “hard knocks,” or what to avoid scenarios, that you may have encountered along your path.
Moving towards a regenerative lifestyle is not easier, it’s just different and can often be more difficult, but the rewards are great. Avoid long narrow properties; these usually cannot be sustainable or regenerative. Although long and narrow properties usually provide great return on investment for real estate investors, the shape of the property makes it awkward to properly place elements of a design in a way that is beneficial to the new landowner or the environment. Avoid long narrow access easements. Flash flooding is probably the most destructive force in Texas, stay out of the lowlands and keep dry. Seek professional advice as often as possible to find the cheapest and most effective solutions that will save money in the long term.
6. What are some of your aspirations for regenerative design in Central Texas?
I would like to see the re-hydration of the entire state of Texas so that our springs and rivers always flow year round. I’d like to achieve 100% ground cover 100% of the time on every project I am involved with. I think this great state we live in could become a beautiful work of natural art that is rich, abundant, and secure for generations to come. This is why I created my website, www.droughtprooftx.com. Other than that I just want to live peacefully and be a good example to others.
K: Thank you, Pete for your love of the land, your love of all life, and your love for wanting to do to help create agriculturally productive ecosystems.
Explosive abundance my brother,
Kirby Fry, Earth Repair Corps
Permaculture Design Course at Texastopia Farm near Blanco, Texas
2018 05 12
Earth Repair Corp’s first Permaculture Design Course recently began along the headwaters of the Blanco River at Texastopia Farm, on April 14, 2018. During this course Pete VanDyck and I have been teaching about design systems for sustainable living, as well as how to create agriculturally productive ecosystems.
The 72 hour class has more or less followed Bill Mollison’s “Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual”, chapter by chapter.
Here’s the progression of the course’s curricula so far – that is six days (or 48 hours) into the class.
What is permaculture design? The history of permaculture design, the state of the world, permaculture ethics, permaculture principles, the methods of design, the function of design, patterns in nature, patterns in design, the natural regions of Texas, ecological restoration, climate, trees and their energy transactions, soil and water conservation, earthworks, soil science, design projects, mapping, and regenerative grazing.
So far, we have had 3 terrific guest speakers.
Jaime Braun spoke to us on April 28th about regenerative grazing.
Gary Freeborg spoke to us on May 5th about soil science, and elemental balances and ratios in soils.
Adam Russel spoke to us on May 5th about conservation terraces, the key line chisel plow, and compost teas.
Our next guest teachers on May 19th, Tina and Orion Weldon, will be discussing small animal systems, and farm to market business management strategies.
Though all of this information might seem overwhelming, the desired outcome is not that students remember every bit of information taught, but that we experience a paradigm shift edging us closer to designing sustainable human settlements, and assembling beneficial relationships.
Stay tuned for a schedule and location for our Fall 2018 PDC.
Earth Repair Corps seeks to create abundance through good design.
Kirby Fry, Earth Repair Corps’ Founder, gives an overview of Permaculture to a Permablitz group in San Antonio at Roots of Change Community Garden.
The first ten minutes is an explanation of the ethics and principles of Permaculture. The remainder of the video is specific to the pond installation that was underway at the ‘blitz.