(Written in 2013)
I fell into permaculture in 2007 after experiencing a physical ailment that put me on the hunt for healthy living. From that moment, my curiosity was piqued, and I haven’t looked back since. At first, I devoured every YouTube video I could find and began reading a plethora of articles on the subject. Once I had exhausted those resources, I moved onto spending money on books and experimenting with things in my backyard.
In 2011 I earned my first Permaculture Designer’s Certificate. Larry Santoyo shared the teaching time with Hunter Heaivilin, and we had the exciting experience of being in Port-au-Prince in a mixed class. 2013 saw Geoff Lawton offering his first ever online PDC, and I jumped at the chance, receiving Mollison’s official certificate at completion. Afterward, I enrolled as a Permaculture Practitioner in Training through The Permaculture Institute under the mentorship of Doug Crouch of TreeYo Permaculture.
Doug is most at home when traveling, just like our family, and we share the same interests in international work and healthy eating.
Many times, we’re communicating across the ocean, and I have to keep from getting jealous. Portugal is his second home, and he also has connections and work in the Dominican Republic. On this side of the Atlantic, Doug divides his time between team-work in Cincinnati and growing a sustainable, permaculture-friendly business on his grandparents’ campground in Northern Kentucky.
Doug gives generously of his time and makes himself available in numerous ways when we can’t meet in person. Already, he has given our family the fun opportunity of spending time with one of his international mentees, Anna, when they came for the initial scout-out of our project property.
I hardly know where home is anymore, I’ve lived in so many places. I started out in Maine, and through many twists and turns, find myself in Boyle County, Kentucky, with my husband and three children. We are transforming a rundown country property into a permaculture paradise, a homebase from which to launch for all our future adventures.
These days, I find myself continuing to focus on healthy living, stewardship of resources, and promoting avenues of sustainable abundance that free us to be increasingly generous. I enjoy facilitating connections between like-minded individuals and promoting innovative ideas that strengthen community and encourage us to become not so much self-reliant as inter-relational in mutual sharing of resources, experiences, tools, ideas and so forth. My long-term goals encompass sustainable aid work (permaculture-style) for orphans and war-torn countries. I’m still learning what that means.
Home-base has been a hard concept for our family to grasp, but after starting from scratch numerous times we are beginning to place some value on it. We haven’t chosen a name for our place yet, but it will be the base of many experiments and the overarching lifetime permaculture project where we prove out what we hope to share with others. Forty acres of knobs envelop five acres of pasture and stream, a variety of landscapes from which to learn.
The house on site was built in three stages, with the oldest being around 100 years old. We’re starting with bones and rethinking things from there. Excitement and some intimidation fill us at the thought of the scope, but we’ll just have to eat that elephant one bite at a time.
Pike Valley Farm
Daniel Pike welcomed me to create a permaculture design for my project on Lawton’s online PDC. Right now the project is on the paper stage, but Doug has come for an interview and walk-through with Daniel. Daniel does a ton of research on his own and is interested in anything that will help the farm to flourish in a sustainable way for his family and future generations. We see a promising future for them and many exciting, positive changes to come. Yeoman’s keyline plow and some compost tea will probably play a big part.
This is a two-pronged project. On the Haiti side, we have a friend who runs an orphanage and pastors a church. This project is in the relationship-building stage. Due to low employment, they are constantly finding themselves in financial difficulty. We would love to bring them from the place of continually “needing” foreign aid to being able to provide their own support through regenerative business practices.
On the Dominican side, we have been gifted a couple acre property to steward and use for the good of the residents of the area. Rocks abound, and water does not. The property overlooks a bay on one side and a deep and beautiful gorge on the other, leading to Haiti. It should be an excellent opportunity to work out real life solutions to real life problems that relate to many people around the world. We’ve got a lot of things on paper, but it will take some moo-lah to get it beyond that point. This is another long-term project.