Scott Pittman

Permaculture class in the TRF garden
as Ann explains chicken tractor

There were 30 of us
here at Turtle Rock Farm
taking the first of four classes
in Oklahoma’s first full-scale, certificate-level
Permaculture Design Course,
organized by Transition OKC
and taught by Scott Pittman,
an internationally renowned permaculturist
and founder of the Permaculture Institute, Santa Fe, N.M.

Scott demonstrating an A-Frame,
used for marking a contour

I have heard the word permaculture
increasingly in the last few years
and, increasingly,
I’ve been compelled to find out what it means.
Gaia’s Garden is the first book I explored
but felt overwhelmed and confused.
It seems I learn some things best from a live human being.
So it was a great gift that Shauna Struby and Randy Marks
of Transition OKC
brought Scott Pittman to Oklahoma.
And it was an amazing gift that they scheduled
the first four days of classes at Turtle Rock Farm.
After four days learning from Scott Pittman,
I am on my way
and can’t read Gaia’s Garden—
and so many other resources—
fast enough.

Identifying patterns from nature

I’ve barely begun to understand,
but Permaculture—”Permanent Culture” or “Permanent Agriculture”—
is very exciting to me.
I’ve been greatly concerned about living and growing on the prairie
as we move deeper into hotter and drier conditions.
So it was thrilling to hear about several methods
of capturing rain water
to use for growing plants,
including a ditch from the roof runoff,
building a cistern,
and the creation of swales and berms.
(Here’s an amazing video of a swale project in Israel,
on saline ground, with temperatures in the 120’s
and scant amounts of rain: Greening the Desert.)
We also began to learn
about groupings of plants—from trees to bulbs—
that help each other
There is so much more to learn.
In many ways permaculture fleshes out
and expands
sustainable practices.
It seems the most do-able
source of hope
for our warming planet
I’ve experienced in awhile.

Group standing in a welcome shower, overlooking dry pond. And sharing a meal.

It was especially comforting
to begin to get to know
an entire community of people,
a global community,
that is committed to living in cooperation
with the natural world
that it is our home.
Sustainability is decidedly more sustainable
in community.