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Cultivate Simple 17: The Permaculture Process

February 4th, 2013

An honest and unrehearsed discussion about trying to live a more simple life. This is episode 17 and today we are sharing a talk given at our local library about Permaculture. Last Tuesday, we headed to the Belfast Free Library to listen to Lauren and Bill Errickson’s seminar on The Permaculture Process: Creating an Edible Landscape
Permaculture Process
PERMACULTURE: a design system focused on creating sutatinbable human habitats modeled on natural ecological patterns and processes

Topics of discussion:

  • setting goals for your property
  • promote healthy ecology, wildlife, and pollinators
  • minimize landscape inputs
  • generate income
  • evaluating and assessing your existing landscape
  • how permaculture principles can be used to expand existing landscape assets while reducing “trouble” spots

Lauren and Bill shared tips for prioritizing implementation strategies, setting realistic timelines, and maximizing your available resources and budget.

Lauren and Bill Errickson own and operate Singing Nettle Farm and Conscious Elements Permaculture in Brooks. They both hold M.S. degrees in Natural Resources from the University of New Hampshire and Advanced Permaculture Design Certificates from Humustacia Gardens. For further information, visit:

Weeds and why they grow

17 Comments to “Cultivate Simple 17: The Permaculture Process”
  1. John on February 4, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    Can’t wait to listen. I enjoy Paul Wheaton’s permaculture podcasts.

    Reply to John's comment

    • Misti on February 4, 2013 at 8:02 pm

      ooh, great place, had a good afternoon of podcast listening! Thanks!

      Reply to Misti's comment

  2. misti on February 4, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    Definitely loved the podcast…I think though based on the talk is that I already think in this sort of manner. I would definitely like an interview podcast with them because I think I’d like to hear more in depth discussions on permaculture, particularly tilling.

    A couple of notes/thoughts:

    1: Harvest seaweed. I go back and forth on this…it sounds good and I know it would be beneficial in the garden and while they said it was dead and you aren’t taking something live, you *are* removing a component of beach building and erosion prevention to the shoreline. Not only does the decaying seaweed/sargassum add to the beach but it also acts as a sand trap. A common problem with areas that have condos and building on the beach front is that they typically ‘clean’ the beaches of any debris washed up. In turn these areas typically erode faster which requires dredging of soils offshore to replenish the beach—in turn costing tax payers money. A couple of people harvesting some buckets of seaweed isn’t going have much impact but if we start having a lot of people get into permaculture and have access to this resource it could be a problem. Just my marine biologist side kicking in.

    2. Also on another biological note, the speakers mentioned drying up a wetland….be very careful in doing this as any alterations to a wetland such as dredging, filling, preventing a wetland to exist requires a permit from the US Army Corps of Engineers (or a local environmental agency if they are the regulators of wetlands in your area) . It would be wise if you are thinking of altering a wetland in any way other than planting things in it, to have a wetland delineation done by a contractor and to have their input on potential jurisdiction issues with wetlands.

    Ok, those were my only two science geek items of input! ;)

    Reply to misti's comment

    • Susy on February 4, 2013 at 1:31 pm

      I’ll have to go re-listen to the podcast, but you may have misheard them when it comes to draining wetlands. I think they said if someone wants to dry up a wetland, they recommend instead planting water loving plants to work with existing conditions.

      And as far as seaweed, I don’t know where they’re specifically getting it from, but the folks I know up here that do that are generally picking it up off the coastal roads after big storms and not necessarily harvesting it from the rocky shores (which would be difficult and dangerous). I can see your point about the seaweed. What recommendations do you have for sources of additional mineral & natural amendments that produce the least environmental impact?

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Misti on February 4, 2013 at 8:23 pm

        Ah, I definitely may have misinterpreted that wetland part, will have to click through and check it out again.

        I thought about the seaweed all day…hah! I guess my problem (s) come in with here ‘we’ are trying to improve our gardens, be sustainable/organic/etc, but what are we doing offsite that could have an unseen impact which is where the seaweed thing came up. I mean, if folks are pulling it off the roads when it washes up there, that is probably fine, but is bulk harvesting off the beaches good in the long run? Probably not. I suppose if one is lucky enough to live near a built up beach area they could work something out with the city in taking what is removed from the shoreline there, especially if they are just throwing it out in the dump. Maybe I’m just imagining a bigger demand than there is!

        As we have seen in the last five+ years gardening and organic gardening/farming has flourished. With that we’re getting new gardeners and what once might not have had an impact may in the future. Kind of like the quinoa thing that went around a few weeks ago—a good, healthy thing expanding in first world countries could be having a negative effect to the culture it originated in. Or, the addition of fish oils/byproducts….the fisheries aren’t exactly sustainable either.

        I guess the best thing is to just think twice about where anything is coming from, what possible impact it could have and make the best decision one can for them. We’re humans, we’re gonna have an impact of some amount.

        I didn’t meant to hijack this…just been thinking about impacts beyond the normal ones lately and sometimes I know I’m overthinking it.

        to Misti's comment

      • Susy on February 4, 2013 at 8:33 pm

        Yep, I agree – it’s all about thinking about your decisions and the true cost. I like to try to focus on where I think I can make the most impact, things like buying organic cotton and wool clothing and household items over other item. That’s also the reason that no packaged food comes into the house, because I know it has a big impact before it arrives here and after the packaging leaves. It’s also one of the big reasons I grow my own food, I know that has a huge positive environmental impact and helps offset some of the other things I do that don’t, like travel, my photography hobby, blogging, etc.

        to Susy's comment

      • Joan on February 4, 2013 at 8:53 pm

        Small scale picking up of seaweed may be fine, but there are more and more commercial harvesters that go out in boats and cut off the live seaweed. It’s devastating to the seaweed as well as to the small critters (baby lobsters for example) that rely on the seaweed as a nursery. It’s gotten so bad in Cobscook Bay that they finally passed regulations about it, but the harvesters simply moved to other locations on the coast.

        Google ‘seaweed harvesting environmental impacts’ and you’ll find lots of info. I went to a seminar about it a few years ago, and it is definitely under-regulated and damaging to the environment.

        I went kayaking once in Cobscook Bay, and it was eerie floating over a denuded landscape of seaweed all the same height – no gentle seaweed moving in the currents… Seaweed with a crew cut.

        to Joan's comment

      • Susy on February 4, 2013 at 11:10 pm

        You’re right Joan, he specifically talked about not cutting living seaweed for your garden because of the environmental impacts of it.

        to Susy's comment

  3. DebbieB on February 4, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    Very enjoyable and informative. I like having the recorded talk with you two bookending it. I bought the Gaia’s Garden book a few weeks ago on your recommendation and am just getting into it. I love the idea of being able to adopt permaculture ideas even in my suburban neighborhood on my little square of land. I wish my library had such good informative talks, but alas, there isn’t a single gardening event on their calendar.

    Reply to DebbieB's comment

  4. angie h on February 4, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    I would love to hear all of those workshops! is there a chance they would allow you to post their actual powerpoint presentation?

    Reply to angie h's comment

    • Mr. Chiots on February 4, 2013 at 8:44 pm

      I was going to check on that for the other presentations. You didn’t miss much from Bill & Lauren’s slides (except some pretty pictures of their farm). They talked through what was on the slides so I think the audio makes sense.

      Reply to Mr. Chiots's comment

  5. John on February 4, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    Great overview of permaculture! Well planned with Masanobu Fukuoka’s 100th birthday. Have you read his One Straw Revolution? I’m working on a map of my property so I can plan out my zone. Gaia’s Garden is a great read too!

    Reply to John's comment

  6. Melanie in Ca on February 4, 2013 at 11:27 pm

    A great listen and I liked having you bookend it. I’m on my third? Fourth? Reading of Gaia’s garden. Hearing the principles out loud made them stick a little better. This is one I’ll listen to again!

    Next up: chickens?

    I’m eagerly anticipating whatever is next.

    Reply to Melanie in Ca's comment

    • Susy on February 4, 2013 at 11:36 pm

      Chickens will probably be in March sometime. Hopefully up next will be cows & small scale dairying.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  7. Wendy on February 5, 2013 at 12:22 am

    Really enjoyed this; great introduction to permaculture, and now I want to learn so much more! I’d definitely love to hear more of your library’s presentations–especially the rain garden and medicinal herb ones.

    Reply to Wendy's comment

  8. Dave on February 7, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    Hi, what was the iTune competitor that you mentioned? Thanks.

    Reply to Dave's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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