Finding Patterns Even In the Snow

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Ah, the joys of planning a design in the winter in Alaska.  Fundamental to applying permaculture principles is finding patterns.  There are lots of types of patterns; however until called out in this design course, I can’t stay I’ve noticed them.  The assignment was to find patterns at your project site and photograph them.  Well, I certainly took photos on a gorgeous winter day with the sun shining.  Now let’s see if we can locate some patterns.

The most obvious pattern I was able to locate are the ones in the trees, or a branch pattern.  ACH is lucky to have so many mature trees on the property.  This link really illustrates the branch patter laid flat and integrated into a permaculture design.  It’s a lot along how I think the front yard of ACH will ultimately be developed with some things already done in that manner.  The front yard is accessed through the driveway and there are already natural points of departure from the main branch, such as the two clusters of trees and another center tree all leading toward the street and leading toward the house are off shoots to the built in garden boxes abutting the house.

Admittedly, this is the primary and only pattern I currently see on the property.  In the backyard the layout is similar with primary footpaths that branch out to set destinations – the main garden bed, the kids’ garden, the green house, the tool library and perhaps most importantly the hammock.  What that tells us is we need to incorporate additional patterns and get away from the current linear design to make the most out of the property.

How well do you know your neighborhood?

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ACH this past summer.

Or more accurately, I should say bioregion with regard to permaculture.  The term bioregion is an important framework for viewing our neighborhood, but its one I have to admit I don’t necessarily fully understand yet.  Using the term certainly broadens my thinking and really stresses in the interconnectedness of all life.  Our course work had us start with a little quiz about our bioregion and, well, it was hard.  The questions themselves were not difficult, but it made me realize how little I know about this area, both south central Alaska as well as my own street and the street where ACH resides (for those that don’t know I live across the street from ACH).  I tend to think I am an observant person, but I could not name five resident and migratory birds in my area.  The same is true about how much precipitation the area gets annually or which nocturnal animals are in the area.  After taking the initial quiz, the only thing I am assured of is where north is and I’ll admit it took me many years to definitely know that after I moved here.

What this quiz and starting this course highlights is that even though I live in a space, use that space, including being an avid gardner and outdoors a lot especially in the summer time, that there is so much to know and that knowledge is important to being a good steward of our neighborhoods and living in a sustainable way.  I really should know the last frost date, but don’t.  I can assure you that is about to change.  If you are interested in a similar quiz, there’s one here.

After the quiz, some resources were provided.  Looking at the average temperatures now and predicted for the future and the same for rain fall, it illustrates for me how the outliers, like a couple of hot days in July or frigid days in November, skew my overall idea of what is average.   I wonder if that is true for others.   And I know its certainly true for me with other areas of Alaska.  My idea of what’s average there is from brief travels or what hits the news.  That’s definitely led to a skewed perspective.

So let the observation and education begin in earnest.  Join me in taking a look around. I made a fun chart to record my observations.  I plan to print it and paste it into my planner.  Feel free to use it to make your own observations.

Permaculture Design Course

Posted Posted in permaculture
A picture from the parent and child gardening class last summer.

This year ACH is undertaking efforts to incorporate the principles of permaculture.  First, ACH will implement a permaculture plan, specifically as it starts its gardening efforts.  In conjunction with that effort, Meg is participating in the Permaculture Design Course offered by the Alaska Cold Climate Permaculture Institute. Check back here regularly to learn more about permaculture and the ways it will be incorporated into ACH.