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This spring of 2006 the Permaculture Action Research Team (ART) engages students in a balance of observation, reflection and implementation of permaculture principles and design methods. Permaculture is foremost a design or re-design methodology for human settlements. It offers guiding principles to apply to any system, especially disturbed landscapes, which will ultimately increase yield, minimize work/inputs and preserve natural ecological dynamics.
A significant portion of the class is focused on the implementation of what we observe on field trips, and back on campus at the Alan Chadwick Garden site. Students in the Permaculture ART implement permaculture practices in the demonstration garden in collaboration with the Mushroom and Gardening ARTs. The collaborative garden features berm and swales, arborsculpture, a medicinal herb spiral, mushrooms, native food crops, seed saving beds and more. To accompany the gardens features, students created educational signs which enrich the experience of visiting the collaboration garden and explain underlying principles, intentions, and practices.
To accompany the seed saving beds at the Alan Chadwick Garden, students compiled a seed saving guide, each student researching a different food crop. This guide will be made available to other sustainable agriculutre programs at UCSC and distributed to students in ESLP.
Students in the Permaculture ART also offer a series of workshops on sustainable living techniques throughout the community. Most workshops are to be held off campus to engage the greater community in learning about permculture principles and practices. Topics of workshops this year include building a cob bench at a local school with fourth graders, herbal remedy/spa workshop, ducks in the permaculture setting, arbosculpture, walking in nature, soap making from biodiesel byproducts, envisioning the food system, small scale wormbin composting and more.