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Koreen Brennan

Thursday, 11 August 2016 21:43

North American Permaculture Convergence Sept 14-18, 2016

The North American Permaculture Convergence (NAPC) is a diverse event that occurs every two years that includes top speakers, networking opportunities, art and music, and interactive learning. Its purpose is to bring permaculture designers and those interested in the subject together to learn, exchange information and resources, address issues of mutual concern, and celebrate.  We'll be meeting this year in California and have a fantastic line up of presenters and activities with more being added daily.

This year, we will be partnering with Building Resilient Communities Convergence (BRCC) in N California. We're excited about this because N California has some of the most mature permaculture demonstration sites in North America along with many organizations that have evolved to forward various aspects of permaculture. There is a lot of potential to produce high yields from this convergence. 

We design events like we design edible landscaping or ecosystems - integrating elements to promote resilience and abundance, stacking functions, and working to create as much yield as possible for the effort put in. 

By partnering with BRCC, we create a precedent of cooperation and mutual benefit. Other partners have come forward including Transition US, West Coast Women's Permaculture, Permaculture Action Network, Gaia University, Permaculture Institute of North America, and more. Some of the presenters include Starhawk, Penny Livingston, Jude Hobbs, Brock Dolman, Warren Brush, Trethan Heckman, City Repair, Liora Adler, and many more.  

The theme of this year's convergence is Building Bridges. We will focus on building bridges internally to provide each other more support, and also by reaching out to communities, schools, organizations, businesses, and governments. What bridges do you most need and want in your life - what would you find most helpful? Let us know here.

At this convergence, we'll dive deeply into professional standards, water and drought issues, women's issues, social justice, broadscale solutions, urban resilience, and more. 

If you haven't been to a convergence like this it's hard to describe how renewing and inspiring it can be. It will flow, from a focus on internal matters on a continental level during Weds-Friday, with plenty of meaty learning and doing, to a more public event on the weekend with a festival type atmosphere but still packed full of learning and doing opportunities!

We are really excited about the energies coming together for this convergence. It is shaping up to be a game changer. 

How can you get involved? 

Help our scholarship fund. People who are doing tremendous work in their communities from Haiti, Cuba, Native American reservations, urban areas, and more have requested scholarships to attend the convergence. We need your help to get them there!  Funds raised through our crowdfunding are slated to go to these scholarships. Please consider giving, even a small amount! Grow Permaculture is offering a full PDC course for a discounted price via this crowdfunding so if you're considering purchasing a course, do it through this crowdfunding site and you can help some really deserving and valuable people get to the convergence! The convergence can give these individuals a lot more tools and resources to do the substantial good work they are doing. 

Join a working group! Working groups in the past have made recommendations for women in permaculture, decolonization, disaster permaculture, professional standards, peer-reviewed research, urban resilience, climate change issues and more. At this convergence, things are lining up for working groups to create some real game changing results! Stay tuned for more information on the NAPC web site about working groups and how you can get involved. 

We still have room for experienced designers to do presentations at the event. More info here

There will be something for everybody here, from world class music and art, to vendors, skills sharing, a village commons and other networking facilitation, interactive presentations, continuing education, and just really great people and atmosphere.

The event will be held at the famous Solar Living Institute, a world leader in solar education and advocacy. The site is beautiful with many permaculture elements in it, and it's a great model to check out as a successful organization integrating permaculture principles.  

And lastly, those of you who have supported Grow Permaculture by taking courses or getting consulting have helped make this event happen. It is largely a volunteer effort by organizers, and Koreen is heading up the effort for NAPC this year, so we'd like to thank all of you for your support!  We are so happy to be contributing to what we feel is a real game changing effort and event. And we hope to see you there!  





Monday, 18 April 2016 21:16

Vision Report for Maui Agriculture

Koreen Brennan is now a partner with Permaculture Design International, a full service permaculture design and build firm that designs and manages installation for regenerative farm, ranch, and village scale projects. This collaboration of designers that have complimentary skill sets and credentials allows the team to deliver to large projects and complex needs. 

The firm recently completed a report recommending strategies to transition from a 36,000 acre monoculture sugar cane plantation to a systems-wide regenerative polyculture solution, commissioned by Maui Tomorrow Foundation, an organization dedicated to promoting responsible land use planning, community design, and sustainable growth for Maui County. 

The partnership is working on a number of other projects internationally and is looking forward to continuing to contribute to broadscale transition to regenerative living. 

The full report and media coverage for the Maui Tomorrow project can be found here:!maui-tomorrow/vlk7z 






Monday, 28 March 2016 23:36

Permaculture Farm Immersion and Whole Farm Design Practicum

We have a beautiful permaculture farm sprinkled with native oak and pines in West Central Florida six miles from a major wilderness area on the Gulf of Mexico.

We are offering apprenticeships to hard working and focused individuals who desire to learn a number of skill sets on a new, working farm. You will have an opportunity to participate in planning, installation and building of systems as well as maintaining and running them. This is a great opportunity for people who plan to start their own small farm and want to learn the ins and outs of moving smoothly from a start up to a resilient, regenerative and economically viable operating farm, or people who just want to see and get some hands on experience with a number of different permaculture systems in one location.

Saturday, 25 July 2015 23:19

Question Everything

One night, during my first extended visit to Oglala Lakota Cultural and Economic Revitalization Initiative, an 8000 acre ranch at Pine Ridge Lakota  reservation, I was sitting near my tent under a billion stars thinking, “It’s so quiet.” And it wasn’t just that I couldn’t hear cars or other city noises. The emotional agitation of millions of humans was resoundingly absent. And perhaps more importantly, my own agitation was absent. There was “nothing to do” but sit there and feel the earth on my feet and just be. 

Friday, 01 May 2015 22:44

Cloud Forests of Costa Rica

What is a Cloud Forest?

We still have some openings for our Permaculture Design Course in Costa Rica. We'd like to share some background on the cloud forest, where the course is located. 

The cloud forest is one of the most biodiverse areas on the planet, with hundreds of species of birds, and thousands of species of plants. Monteverde has

Friday, 06 March 2015 10:28

Ancient water catchment techniques


Indigenous people have developed exceptional water catchment and storage techniques over the ages, out of necessity. We'd like to share a few that we are most impressed by, here:

These photographs of water catchment in the Altilano of Bolivia illustrate techniques adopted by permaculture designers, used in a very challenging environment. The water canals, similar to "chinampas" (see next link), help regulate temperature which can be quite variable on the high, dry plains. The rock piles can also regulate temperature and also hold moisture. We find the on contour canals especially interesting, a way to spread water through the landscape and allow it to sink in. 

Chinampas, which are man made fingers of farmland surrounded by water on 3 sides, are a viable solution for farming in Florida where land may flood during heavy rain events. There are many styles of farming on water or the water's edge, and many cultures have incorporated some version of this style of farming. It is a form of aquaculture as it utilizes the fertility created by a living body of water to feed plants. The Aztecs used chinampa style farming with great success. 

Many believe that chinampas subirrigate plants, but some of the biggest advantages appear to be fertility and frost prevention. Chinampas are not necessarily a good solution for wetlands, as wetland systems provide highly important ecosystem services to the surrounding areas including water purifcation, flood protection, shoreline stabilization, groundwater recharge, streamflow maintenance, and habitat for fish and wildlife including endangered species.  In Florida, a number of wetlands are protected because of the importance of these services to the survival of major urban areas and farmland (groundwater recharge, purification and streamflow maintenance being key). 

With a modified version of chinampas, we use sheet mulch to create raised beds that can then absorb water in a major rain event, while preventing plant roots from standing in water. 

Terraquaculture is one of the most sustainable ways of growing crops in the world, and has been used for many hundreds of years in Asia. One of the most interesting aspects of this agriculture for us is the necessity for farmers to cooperate closely in order to control the flow of water, especially during heavy rains and drought. This system spreads water throughout a mountain slope through a series of terraces and gates.  A characteristic of many ancient water systems is cooperation and coordination between everyone who is dependent upon the water. 

Terrace field yunnan china

Native Americans in the desert southwest, many of whom have been farmers for thousands of years, developed a number of methods to water their crops. They used complex systems of canals, planted crops in shallow pits to catch more water, and slowed water in streams and rivers to prevent erosion. They placed rocks in strategic places to slow water flow and protect soil. Like many indigenous cultures, they observed what water was doing in the landscape and replicated the structures that brought great results. 

The Hopi used springs to water their crops and had spiritual traditions that ensured that the springs would not be overused and run dry. They, like many tribes, also developed cultivars of staple food like maize (such as Hopi blue corn) that are highly drought tolerant. Some indigenous cultivars have been lost because of cultural upheavals, and springs on the Hopi Mesa have been going dry, in large part because Peabody Coal has been drawing down the aquifer to slurry coal. Water wars in the west have intensified because of the drought and Native Americans are fighting to maintain any water access.

One organization that is doing some great work incorporating some of the ancient techniques and enhancing them to revitilize desertified lands is the Quivera Coalition.

We continue to learn much from studying ancient food production and water conservation techniques. The best of these techniques have been in use for hundreds of years or longer, because they work. These are a few of hundreds of techniques used by indigenous people that would be far less damaging to soils and ecosystems, less damaging to underground water supplies, less expensive, better for plants, and more drought resistant than modern irrigation methods.

Some of these techniques are still in extensive use, like terraquaculture, but are losing ground to modern, much less sustainable agricultural practices. The history of the destruction of these techniques is a history of bad design decisions ending in tragic results. This tragic destruction, which may need to remedied for several generations in the future, could have been avoided by applying these concepts, from Bill Mollison: "Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted & thoughtless labour; & of looking at plants & animals (and humans!) in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single-product system."

For further study, see:







Tuesday, 24 December 2013 09:40

Hibiscus House Design

Outdoor showers are a great way to capture water and also create an aesthetic and enjoyable addition to your home. In warmer regions outdoor showers can be used year around. In temperate regions can be used during the growing season and provide a great climate for water loving plants like elderberry, mint and willow. A recent client considers her outdoor shower as a meditative and sacred space and indeed, they can be quite beautiful and meditative.