Permaculture is a design science of sustainable and regenerative systems, both agriculturally and culturally. Unlike most design systems, it embraces a set of ethics that guide its successful designs: care of the earth, care of people, and a sharing of the surplus.
Over the past several years, I’ve had several opportunities to teach permaculture-related classes, including co-teaching a full Permaculture Design Course with New Community Project, teaching a weekend retreat with Shalom Mennonite congregation in Harrisonburg, as well as smaller engagements such as workshops with the Shenandoah Permaculture Wellness Institute, the Lexington Master Gardeners, and the Staunton Parks and Recreation Department. In the fall of 2014, Kate Hopkins of the Valley Conservation Council and I co-taught a class (or perhaps better to say, a group exploration) on financial permaculture. My own permaculture training comes through a permaculture design course offered by the Blue Ridge Permaculture Institute as well as a lot of ongoing experimentation and observation.
While I have been incredibly well compensated over the years for my time and efforts in facilitating permaculture workshops, these are almost always expressed in the gift economy. As I continue to both learn and share permaculture principles and ethics, one of my ongoing areas of inquiry is how permaculture design can inform our critique of existing economic systems and in turn the creation of alternative ones.