Stephanie Syson discovered the principles of permaculture “in a past life” while working as a river guide in Latin America.
However, the term – derived from the words “permanent” and “agriculture” by an Australian biologist several years ago – is still an integral part of Syson’s life today in the Roaring Fork Valley.
âPermaculture is more of a design system than it is specifically focused on agriculture,â Syson said in an interview Thursday. “You can also use permaculture to design businesses, social structures and generally whatever it takes to live a happy and permanent cultureâ¦ We mainly focus on the integration between the parties.”
For years, the Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute in Basalt has offered a 72-hour course that teaches students about forest gardens, renewable energy systems, water conservation, and even composting toilets.
Now in its 34th year, this summer’s course, which started last Monday and will end today, taught participants of all ages and cultural backgrounds how to apply permaculture principles to environments ranging from drylands to those with a lot of precipitation.
âBy taking a permaculture design course, you’re looking to put on your permaculture glasses and see the connection between things rather than things alone,â explained Syson, who teaches the course with about 10 other instructors. âInstead of just having a lot of rooms on a farm or a farm or in a business, we are looking to understand what each room needs and what each room provides and how to best organize them so that they come apart on the go. less possible and integrate as much as possible. “
In addition to learning the principles of permaculture, the students also camped on the Sustainable Settings property along the Crystal River each night during the two-week course.
According to Syson, the students attended permaculture classes every day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and said the entire class, which includes meals, camping and other materials, costs about $ 1,800.
Over its more than three decades of existence, the course has inspired people from all over the world to spend a few weeks in the Roaring Fork Valley simply to learn about the principles of permaculture, both in the classroom and on field.
âThere is a lot of sadness in the news and in the world,â Syson said. âTo be surrounded by so many people from so far who are doing their best to do their best for the earth and for others and all of our animal and pollinator friendsâ¦ is truly a constant source of inspiration.â
According to Syson, members of the CRMPI team plan to teach another permaculture design course in Puerto Rico next February.