August 5th, 2017

Dear Everyone,

I’m writing on behalf of the Sowing Solutions Permaculture Design Course ~  I’m Kay Cafasso, Director of Sowing Solutions Permaculture Design & Education.  We are an organization in the northeastern USA that provides ecological garden design & implementation services.  We also offer two Permaculture Courses each year, and we are celebrating our eleventh year of providing permaculture education! This work is a dedication of ours towards creating a beneficial legacy for the future by the actions and decisions that we all make today.

We have big news to share!  After 10+ years of permaculture education in the northeastern US, we have settled into our home at the Sowing Solutions Permaculture Community Hub ~ it is a downtown studio located along the Deerfield River where we offer our classes, design work, workshops, meditations, and meetings, and is the location where we will house the Permaculture Design Certification Course.  It is in this location where we will meet for the class sessions and from where we will conduct designs for the residents of our Village of Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts!

The permaculture course is a training for people of all ages who are interested in designing their own home or community landscapes so that they are abundant, healthy, and diverse.  The students who attend our program are typically between the ages of 17 and 80+, and the experience  and background of each person brings a unique perspective to the learning group that we form over the three weekends.  We share many resources about creating landscapes that create habitat, while growing medicine, food, building products, etc. These landscapes are also capable of sequestering carbon so that carbon returns back to our soil and our living earth systems where it belongs, rather than in the atmosphere where it is contributing to global climate warming. This permaculture course is an educational event full of information sharing, skill sharing, hands-on learning, and empowerment. These skills of permaculture are one effective way that we can act on behalf of this ecosystem and home that we call Earth.

The Permaculture Course is a 72 hour minimum requirement certificate program that is recognized internationally. Our Sowing Solutions Permaculture Design Course is one that is closer to 100 hours of training.  We offer this program in a three weekend series.  We find that this three weekend program is a better schedule for most, compared to an intensive two-week program, since students can integrate their learning and have time to study the course material, meanwhile balancing their work life and home life. We also enjoy the correspondence that we share with students during the three months of the program.  Our program is qualified for 3 college credits, transferable through UMASS Amherst.

During this course we offer three tracks of focus. The first is the delivery of content which comprises the standard permaculture course, and this is a course that is offered around the globe.  Our course is unique in that we also have a very strong focus on the  ecological design process.  Each student has a chance to interview a real client and is given a real land-based design project to work on during the course. Our team of practicing professional permaculture designers and educators guide students step-by-step through the design process from this initial client interview throughout the final presentation of their permaculture design.  These designs are often implemented by our clients in the future.  In addition to the core curriculum content of this course and this design project, we add a third track.   This track is one of field trips and hands-on activities, where students can observe and learn from long-standing permaculture demonstration sites, and students can embody the practices that we teach about.  Some of our field trips are to leading demonstration sites in western Massachusetts, close to our home base in Shelburne Falls.  We visit Sirius Eco-Village, Hickory Gardens, Wildside Cottage and Gardens.   We visit clients of  Sowing Solutions and we often will visit UMass Amherst Permaculture Initiative, amongst other local projects.

I am delighted to work with our staff of the Sowing Solutions Permaculture Course.  These people are the dear group of friends and colleagues to me, and even though I have been working with them for a number of years years now, I learn something new from them every time we work together.  I am joined by Keith Zaltzberg, a recent faculty of the Conway School of Landscape Design and one of the founding owners of Regenerative Design Group, a successful ecological design firm in Greenfield MA who serve farms, municipal lots, and homes in the northeast.  Also amongst our team is Walker Korby, a naturalist and lead educator of the Art of Mentoring Programs.  Lani Davidson is our third core member of our team, grower and co-founder of a cooperative permaculture design and installation business called Broadfork Permaculture.

I believe in a sense of a wholistic education, where students are empowered to participate in their own learning, and where a diversity of teaching strategies are brought into our curriculum design. We offer lectures, presentations, stories, activities, games, meditations, and discussions. Their are many testimonials found at our website where you can read directly about what students have thought about our teaching approaches.

Some of the most rewarding aspects of teaching for me are the moment when I hear about how our graduates have applied their learning in this course. When students graduate our course they go on to apply permaculture ethics, principles, techniques and strategies in a number of different ways. Some apply this learning directly at their own home, at their workplace, for their business, for their homestead or apartment, and ultimately live in a way that helps to create benefit for their own well-being and for the wellbeing of their communities.  Some students have designed and installed an edible landscaping in front yard, some have gone to build their own energy efficient or natural homes, some have started up urban permaculture project or permaculture non-profits. Others have started educational programs at universities, others have brought a permaculture perspective to their healing work or their social work, into their artwork, or their town planning meetings.

Soon we will have a blog posting about what our graduates are up to… visit us again soon to read more!

~Kay Aihla McGrenaghan Cafasso