Archive for July, 2013

Women in Permaculture


This article was published in the “Permaculture Activist” magazine in August of 2013. This version is edited slightly, with longer captions, more pictures, and hyperlinks.

Though women receive the majority of all college degrees in the U.S., and are well represented in the work force, they are very under-represented in positions of high-level leadership. Most of the women I’ve encountered in permaculture note analogous patterns: often, women constitute 50% or more of the participants in PDCs, yet occupy disproportionately few of the positions of leadership and prominence in lucrative roles, such as designers, teachers, authors, speakers, or “permaculture superstars.”

To address this situation, this article drafts “A Pattern Language for Women in Permaculture.” Each pattern can be applied in many ways and names a core solution to a problem that undermines women’s full participation and leadership. Just as words connect to form a language, one can connect these patterns to form a language that describes good social design practices.

This approach is modeled after the book, A Pattern Language, by Christopher Alexander et al,  in which the authors write, ”Each pattern may be looked upon as a hypothesis… and are therefore all tentative, all free to evolve under the impact of new experience and observation.” Using the same analogy, I invite your input to help craft this new language.

Read more…


In a regenerative future, humans not only do less harm, not only repair the harm done, but deliberately use systems thinking and ecological design to meet human needs while creating resilient, diverse and thriving ecological and social systems.

A Regenerative Future

Education That Matters

As a long-time educator, I’ve never had a student whom I’d never met ask if he or she can join in on my student’s hands-on project and then stay all day long… until March 30, 2012. That’s the date when our Ithaca College permaculture research team hosted a workday to install the infrastructure for a permaculture garden near Williams Hall.  It was a big day for us, because I’d worked with several students on projects and independent studies over four years to design the garden, and we were finally breaking ground!
IMG_1014The welcome “crasher” had been studying in the 5th floor of the library, and saw us working in the garden. After completing his homework, he came down to help and ended up being one of our most dedicated laborers. Indeed, several other students spontaneously joined us that day, citing their longing to “do something meaningful,” to be physically as well as mentally engaged, to work in the dirt, and to fulfill their search for reasons to be hopeful. They became enthusiastic supporters of our vision of transforming this small, formerly underutilized student garden into a diverse perennial garden and gateway for reflection, education, and food production. We aim for it to model alternatives to conventional approaches to landscaping and use of public space.

Sorry the link to this article at ithacaindy seems to be dead…


Poultry and Backyard Animals

Animals (including birds and wildlife) are a critical component of any sustainable ecosystem, as without their participation and contribution ecological integrity is diminished. Everything gardens in nature, and animals are in a leadership position. Foraging is needed to cycle nutrients, clear fallen fruit, keep weeds down, eat and spread seeds, and eat pests. It turns out food gardens need similar services, and by building timely and creative relationships between domestic/wild animals and food plants, much of the work of producing food can be accomplished through good design. Read more at


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: