Permaculture Skills: A Cold-Climate, Applied Permaculture Design Course

Jenn Jennings | Wednesday, 6th April 2016
Ben Falk and Oliver Asselin provide a valuable 450 minute permaculture design course for anyone who can't make it to a PDC. Condensed from Ben's courses, these DVDs include homesteader-skills, mapping, wood working, herbalism, tool maintenance and the essential elements of permaculture design.
Author: Ben Falk and Oliver Asselin
Publisher: Permaskills
RRP: £36.00

Expanding your permacultural education beyond your bookshelf can be a real challenge. You thirst for more knowledge, yet for various reasons can’t do a hands-on permaculture design course (PDC). This type of dilemma is why permaculture instructor Ben Falk and filmmaker Olivier Asselin of Possiblemedia.org have produced this DVD.

Permaculture Skills fills the gap between the bookshelf and ‘the back forty’. Twenty days of Falk’s PDC classes are condensed into four DVDs containing the most valuable elements of permaculture education, including homesteader-type skills that are unavailable in live, online, or video classes; the mapping skills of extension and triangulation are just one example, as well as dry stack stone construction, working seasoned and green wood, basic herbalism, and scythe use and maintenance.

Falk and his team of instructors present clear and concise information, often clarifying difficult concepts in permaculture that are usually best grasped with boots on the ground. Critical thinking in design and out-of-the-box approaches to forest management, the process of observation and green lifestyle options also set this apart from other educational media. Too often PDCs are so hardcore on the fundamentals that the supporting skills, such as tool maintenance, are ignored. The value of these skills becomes evident later, when one is constantly buying new tools due to a lack of knowledge in the maintenance department.

As for the visuals, Asselin’s filming is straightforward and crisp, capturing all of Falk’s central Vermont locale in its New England beauty. This series does not view like a sanitized, overmanicured movie, but makes you feel you are out in the field with Falk and his class, learning as you go. Supporting references and suggested reading materials are listed to extend the viewers knowledge, and there are subtitles in both English and French.

Falk states that this DVD set is no substitute for a live PDC, but he also understands the limitations of time, money and location for individuals. Speaking from the experience of teaching hands-on PDCs, he says, “People leave the courses empowered to deeply improve their lives and the land system in which they are a part – these videos make this empowerment more accessible to people worldwide. Months later, sometimes years, we often get emails describing how much more skilled and effective people are in their lives and landscapes. It’s my hope this empowerment is now accessible to more people in more places. The more people that can be empowered with a systems frame of thinking and the hard skills which undergird such a perspective, the better our world can become.”

Falk’s hope may come true; for the rest of us, it may be the next best thing to a live PDC.

Jenn Jennings, RemediEarth Regenerative Systems

Further resources

Ben Falks' The Resilient Farm and Homestead

Olivier Asselin is involved with the filming of: The Market Gardeners Toolkit

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