Free Film, Growing Cities: A Film About Urban Farming In America, August 28th


A documentary film that examines the role of urban farming in America and asks how much power it has to revitalize our cities and change the way we eat.  In their search for answers, filmmakers Dan Susman and Andrew Monbouquette take a road trip and meet the men and women who are challenging the way this country grows and distributes its food, one vacant city lot, rooftop garden, and backyard chicken coop at a time.  Join them as they discover that good food isn’t the only crop these urban visionaries are harvesting. They’re producing stronger and more vibrant communities, too.

Earth Care, People Care, Fair Share: Free Film and Lecture Series, presented by the Northwest Permaculture Institute.  Every 4th Thursday @ 6:30 pm.  Bring Item for finger food potluck, enjoy event and discussion, at UU Congregation of Salem, 5090 Center Street NE, Salem.  For more info, 503-449-8077,, or nwpermacultureinstitute on facebook.

Made possible in part with support from Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Salem, and Life Source Natural Foods.

Free Film Event, The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil, July 24th


When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990, Cuba’s economy went into a tailspin. With imports of oil cut by more than half – and food by 80 percent – people were desperate. Cuba rebuilt its quality of life following that energy crisis. This fascinating and empowering film shows how communities pulled together, created solutions, and ultimately thrived in spite of their decreased dependence on imported energy. Film 53 minutes.

Earth Care, People Care, Fair Share: Free Film and Lecture Series, presented by the Northwest Permaculture Institute.  Every 4th Thursday @ 6:30 pm.  Bring Item for finger food potluck, enjoy event and discussion, at UU Congregation of Salem, 5090 Center Street NE, Salem.  For more info, 503-449-8077,, or nwpermacultureinstitute on facebook.

Made possible in part with support from Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Salem, and Life Source Natural Foods.

Free Film Event, The Agro Rebel: Permaculture in the Salzburg Alps, June 26th!


Join us on June 26th for a finger food potluck and an extraordinary film.  How can Sepp Holzer farm fish, livestock, vegetables and herbs, a wide variety of fruits including lemons high in the Alps?  No weeding, no watering, no annual plowing.  The Agro Rebel explores the unusual, sustainable, energy and time saving, farming methods developed by Austrian farmer, Sepp Holzer.  Come join us for food, film and discussion. Questions? Call 503-449-8077

Earth Care, People Care, Fair Share: Free Film and Lecture Series, presents, The Agro Rebel: Permaculture in the Salzburg Alps, film 45 mins.  Finger food potluck and discussion.  Thursday, June 26th @ 6:30pm.  Showing at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Salem, 5090 Center Street NE, Salem, 97317

Special Thanks to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Salem for the use of the beautiful space, and to Life Source Natural Foods for the potluck beverages.  Additional thanks to Marion Polk Food Share and the Straub Environmental Learning Center for helping to promote our events.

Low cost Permaculture Design Certificate Course starts in Salem June 14th!

PDCposterOur new PDC starts this Saturday.  Below is a list of class subjects by date.  You can pick to attend individual classes that match your interests, or take the full course and become a Permaculture Designer.  Call if you have questions: 503-449-8077


Permaculture Design Certificate Course Syllabus, Summer 2014
Saturdays 10am – 2pm, bring brown bag lunch. In the event of class cancellation, all class dates will move forward one date.

June 14th – Class 1
Introduction to permaculture. Human past-present-future. Permaculture design philosophy. Holistic thinking. Key problems: soil erosion-deforestation-pollution. Ethics of permaculture: Earth care, People care, Return of surplus. Definitions of permaculture. Sustainability outcomes. History of permaculture. Permanent culture. Urban permaculture. Permaculture repair. Permaculture aid work. Permaculture in society. Permaculture as an holistic design. Introduction to Concepts and Themes. Sustainable systems. Hierarchy of soil creation in natural systems.

June 21st – Class 2
Concepts and Themes cont. Elements. Needs and products. The sun – the source of energy. Characteristics of natural ecosystems. Weeds-pioneers-niches. Weeds-fast tracking recovery by design techniques. Diversity leads to stability. Connections between elements. Positioning of elements. Use of natural resources. Energy, Edge opportunities. Capturing energy and extending entropy. Categories of resources. Dispersal of yield over time. Diversity of plants. Perennial food advantages. Diversity and security. Yield and energy inputs. Niches. Mollisonian permaculture principals.

June 28th – Class 3
Introduction to Methods. Analysis: design by listing characteristics of components. Slope. Orientation. Zone analysis. Sector analysis. Designing with zones. Zonal placement. Sectors. Outside energies effect on site. Listing possibilities. Selection of random assemblies.

July 5th – Class 4
Methods cont. Connecting elements. Simple efficiencies. Observation. Introduction to Pattern. Patterns in nature. Pattern forms. Fibonacci sequence. Formation of pattern. Working with nature and patterns. Scale and order of size. Order and form. Edge areas. Edge effect. Working with pattern design events.

July 12th – Class 5
Pattern cont. Looking for existing patterns. Translating pattern form. Re-patterning a river. Wind patterns. Pattern used for passing on knowledge. Pattern for productive form – the herbal spiral. Traditional use of pattern. Re-patterning society. The pit garden – banana circle. Edge to space relationships. Introduction to Climatic Factors. Using local knowledge. Broad climate zones: temperate, tropical, drylands. Orographic effect. Maritime effect. Continental effect. Rain shadow. Micro climate.

July 19th – Class 6
Climatic Factors cont. Landscape effects on climate. Climate analogues. Characteristics of major climate zones. Orographic features. Major landscape profiles: humid and arid. Minor landscape profiles: volcanic, high island, low island, flatlands, wetlands, coasts and estuaries. Fungal relationships.

July 26th – Class 7
Introduction to Trees. Temperature effects. How a tree interacts with rain. Fungi. Forests. Legumes as support species. Introduction to Water. Water storage on earth. Recharging landscape with water. Building a dam/pond. Valley dams. Building a keyway. Putting a pipe in a dam wall. Spillways. Calculating catchment. Types of dams/ponds. Position of dams in landscape. Duties of water. Sealing a dam. Approach to water.

August 2nd – Class 8
Introduction to soils. Collapsing soil fertility. Compost. Chemical agriculture. pH testing – acid vs. alkaline soils. pH of soil and availability of minerals to plants. Role of weeds. Ants. Soil fertilizer. Berkley method of 18 day compost. Fixing problems with compost.

August 9th – Class 9
Soils cont. Compost tea. Bio fertilizer. Mineralizing soils by feeding livestock. Worm farms. Introduction to earthworks. Water: stop-spread-and soak. Planning. Measuring. Timing. Terraces. Conture banks. Measuring with an A Frame. Surveying. Water pressure on soil particles. Cover crops. Transit level. Machines used in earthworks.

August 16th – Class 10
Earthworks examples. Introduction to climate design. Climate comparisons. House design: humid tropics. cool to cold humid climates, drylands. Energy use in the different climates. Garden design in the different climates.

August 23rd – Class 11
Climate design cont. Zone 2 food forest comparisons across climates. Comparing zone 2 main crop gardens. Comparisons of zone 3 across climates, Zone 4 comparisons in design over climates in farm forestry. Aquaculture example.

August 30th – Class 12
Introduction to Aquaculture. Productive elements. Chain of life in water design. Pond design. Shallow aquaculture. Food for fish. Aquaponics.

September 6th – Class 13
Introduction to Strategies of an Alternate Global Nation. Invisible structures. Ethical basis. Establishing community structures. Establishing a permaculture community group. Bioregional resilience. Definition of culture from the environment we live in. Community land development. Money economy. Money and finance. Setting up not for profit permaculture institutes.

September 13th – Class 14


Happy Spring!  We are so pleased to say “Well Done” to our PDC graduates in Salem and Oregon City.  The tests and final designs keep rolling in and we are very proud to witness all that you have learned over the past six months.  For those of you needing make up classes to complete the course, call 503-449-8077 for make up dates in May and June.

Our latest Permaculture Design Certificate Course in Salem will be starting Saturday June 14th 10am-2pm, and continuing Saturdays through the 13th of September.  Only $15 per class, for 14 weeks.  More info soon.  Or call the above number with questions or information on how to reserve a seat.

Also, keep your eye here for updates on our film and lecture series, “Earth Care, People Care, Fair Share,” 6:30pm on the fourth Thursdays of the month starting May 22nd, 2014 and continuing through October 23rd.  Finger food potluck and discussion time after the event.  More fun details soon…

PDC Graduates & Upcoming Events

Permaculture in the Cities – An Interview with Geoff Lawton

Marcin Gerwin: Permaculture is currently hardly known in Poland. Could you explain what it is?

Geoff Lawton: Permaculture is a design science. It’s a system that supplies all the needs of humanity — all the basic needs and all the intricate needs — in a way that also benefits the environment. It works from the intimate small space of human habitat right up to the broad, damaged ecosystems which can be repaired with the design science system.

To learn it you need to go through the training course so that you can understand all the disciplines and how they connect together, because it’s a holistic design science where multiple disciplines connect together — similar to an ecosystem. It’s like an ecosystem of knowledge where the connections are more important than the actual disciplines, so that you can understand how you can integrate not only living systems but also built infrastructure in a way that all elements within the matrix are benefited by overall design.

MG: Could it be useful in a city also?

GL: You especially need permaculture in a city. It’s even more beneficial in a city than it is in a rural landscape. You can design your city block to consume less energy and to consume less water. You can grow sprouts or mushrooms. If you have a balcony you can produce more per square meter on a balcony than you can on any land. We have people here in a city producing 70 kg of food on 20 square meters of balcony. That’s 3.5 kg per square meter and 35,000 kg on a hectare.

But permaculture is not about growing systems alone. It’s about how we deal with our waste, how we deal with our energy, how we deal with our built infrastructure and our housing, and how we trade and act in a way where we are socially responsible. So only a small part of it is about growing systems or animal systems. A lot of it comes down also to invisible structures of community. Permaculture is taught in schools, as a subject. It’s in community groups also — they use permaculture as a guideline to ethically interact so that their actions are beneficial to the environment and to each other. Surplus is returned to environmental care and people care. People are reducing their energy, water and waste, as they choose materials that have low embodied energy. People have their own small gardens, they take pride in streetscapes — there are permaculture streets, and there are the community gardens and parks which engage in permaculture design.

MG: Permaculture streets sound interesting.

GL: They are streets that have controlled runoff of water from the hard surfaces towards the growing systems. They have fruit trees, food plants, functional plants. They also have compost receptacles, they have waste systems set up so that people can recycle and reuse. There are interactions between gardens — gardens open up to other gardens. They share their landscape. There are also streets that harvest wind, because they have an orientation that creates a wind tunnel, or streets with solar aspect for solar electricity. Whatever way we can apply permaculture within a streetscape that already exists, then we’ll retrofit that street so that it becomes more functional. New streets are designed so that they are more environmentally friendly and people friendly.

MG: How can you apply permaculture in parks? Would it mean growing edible plants or just ornamental ones?

GL: All of that. You can have edible plants, edible trees, you can have a low-energy landscape — which means you don’t need much lawn-mowing, chemicals or fertilizers. They are also people friendly — people can enjoy the environment there — they can also have water systems or wildlife-friendly areas so that rare and endangered species can have a habitat. Water harvesting is often included — usually it would be water runoff from the surrounding streetscape. And they would have an educational element for children and visitors.

MG: In many cities in Poland there are problems with floods. Can you use permaculture to prevent flooding?

GL: Yes. It has actually been done in Europe over the centuries with willow and in warmer climates you would use large clumping bamboos. You take harmonic planting belts outwards from the river through the flood plain and water going through the willows slows down and drops its organic matter on the upstream side and deposits sand and silt on the lower side. So you create a harmonic deposition belt. The sand and silt is a perfect combination for a growing media. You raise the level of the land with natural deposition by planning in a harmonic pattern.

MG: Do you think that keeping lawns, which is popular in cities, is a good idea?

GL: If it’s just a statement of landscape fashion then it’s a rather foolish thing to do, because it consumes a lot of energy. Often more chemicals and water are used on lawns than on agriculture. Lawns are often even more damaging than conventional agriculture. Obviously, we need lawns for recreation and open space, but we could limit a lot of lawns and convert them to food production and back to natural habitat. We could graze lawns as well, to some degree. We don’t have to use machinery. We also don’t need to use chemical fertilizers as much as we do. The lawn has become a statement of arrogance and exploitation — “I can exploit the environment and make it look like I’m a wealthy person”. We could have small lawns so people can feel comfortable in an environment where they are close to wilderness, but we don’t need ridiculous amounts of them. And grazing animals can provide us with something that looks like a lawn.

MG: Grazing animals in a city could be rather controversial for some residents. Many people don’t see the potential of agriculture in the city.

GL: If you look at the city you have a lot of intricate, very high value and extremely diverse microspaces which you can use. Then there is a peri-urban agriculture which surrounds the city. In a well-designed city a lot of waste products, the storm water runoff, organic waste and sewage waste can be directed towards a peri-urban agriculture. But threaded through that are the grazing systems. They can actually thread right through the city if you like. Then you have the rangeland outside of that, and threaded through that is the farm forestry and large forestry systems extending out from there. So forestry and wilderness thread together on the outer edges and come in through the grazing land which can be corridors throughout the city. Then the city can have high-value urban agriculture integrated right through it. And that urban agriculture can have great functional benefits for the city in terms of microclimate.


This interview first appeared in Dziennik Opinii in Poland.