Climbing the curve of Permaculture

I have several interesting and sometimes tiresome dialogues going on in my head about growing food. As I’m weeding bed after bed of vegetables sometimes in the hot sun questions roll through my mind like: “Is this really having any significant impact on the state of the world?”,  “Should I just leave organic vegetable growing to those that are actually really good at it?”, or “Is any form of annual based agriculture a net contribution to the eco-system with all its tilling, inputs, and deer fencing?”  Those questions can certainly take the wind out of my sail particularly on a hot day and when my back starts to ache bedding over the onion bed.  Yet I do want to attempt to answer those questions, I want to feel even more connected to the why of vegetable growing.  So I thought I would share my musings and my struggles with you so as to not feel as alone in the matter because I know I’m not alone.


My dear friend and land mate Rosie helping me hoe the potato bed.

The questions I have pinballing around in my mind around seem to have their root in a deep intention of mine to do no harm and to be have a positive impact on my environment. That’s my intention and then there’s reality.  As mentioned above there’s several practices that are less than ideal in terms of truly doing no harm whether that harm is in the form of disturbing elk migration patterns or disturbing soil ecology through big tractors till blending up the earth.  People seem to have a lot of hope around organic agriculture and I do as well and yet I feel move to point out that there’s quite a ways to go on the learning curve (especially for me personally) to get the point that human food growing actually has a net positive impact on the ecology.  The hope for me lies in all the various incredible people I know or read about that are plugging away and steadily moving along that curve on differing fronts.  And with the world as it is the opportunities for cross fertilization and collaboration are immense.

I’ve been really feeling these days how much we need each other if to do the learning and work it takes to move beyond a high impact agriculture into a permaculture.  Growing our own vegetables is a start, planting a food forest hedgrerow is one too but its just a start.  I am grateful to be supported in the ways that I am on this challenging journey towards living in harmony with the land.

So maybe I should relish the fact that there’s still so much journeying to experience, eat some strawberries and just keep learning.

Thanks for reading,



My wife Eden (7 months pregnant) helping weed the community garden

Our First Permaculture Design Course at Full Bloom

We recently facilitated a permaculture design course on the land through the Siskiyou Permaculture Insititute (  Some of you may not have heard of the term so let’s look at wikipedia’s definition:

Permaculture design emphasizes patterns of landscape, function, and species assemblies. It determines where these elements should be placed so they can provide maximum benefit to the local environment. The central concept of permaculture is maximizing useful connections between components and synergy of the final design. The focus of permaculture, therefore, is not on each separate element, but rather on the relationships created among elements by the way they are placed together; the whole becoming greater than the sum of its parts. Permaculture design therefore seeks to minimize waste, human labor, and energy input by building systems with maximal benefits between design elements to achieve a high level of synergy.


Tom Ward on a site walk at Full Bloom with design course students.


Class time in the Full Bloom farmhouse with co-teacher Karen and Tom Ward on the Right

The course was geared for experienced permaculturalists and focused primarily on doing design work for Full Bloom (rather than going over general permaculture principles).  It was taught primarily by Tom Ward who has been designing farms and properties in Southern Oregon for several decades now and is an absolute treasure trove of information and lore of the area.

It was a joy to participate in the course and take in so many differing perspectives of the land here, as well as to recieve some really creative design possibilities such as changing the way people drive onto the land so that we don’t have a road through the central area.  It was also very humbling to recognize how little I really know about all the natural systems that surround me here (geological, hydrological, wind, etc.).

I am excited to continue to hold courses so that we all can be come more literate about how we as humans affect our local environment, and how we can make that affect a positive and regenerative one.

“From where we stand the rain seems random. If we could stand somewhere else, we would see the order in it.”
― Tony HillermanCoyote Waits




An Evening with Coenraad Rogmans: How to Create a Sense of Belonging through Natural Building

A big piece of what we are about here at Full Bloom is creating a sense of belonging through how we design our buildings, our gardens, our lives in general.  Last month we were fortunate enough to host a talk given by our local natural building “guru” Coenraad Rogmans.  His talk a was entitled: “The Ten Principles of Natural Building”.  Ocean, our 8 year old resident artist was kind enough to put the title of the talk on our white board:



It was an enlightening evening as Coenraad emphasized that natural building is much more than what material you use (cob, straw bale etc.) and more about how you design in such a way as to create a sense of beauty, connection, purpose, health, and belonging in the space you create.  Pointing out that real sustainability comes from people feeling at home, at ease, connnected with each other and the land they are living on or visiting.



We all appreciated Coenraad’s humility and depth of perspective as the evening progressed.  I was left astounded by how important it is to consider all of these principles when designing a space and how they are often overlooked in contemporary architecture and design.  His site is  if you would like to learn more about him and his offerings.

Everyone is aware that most of the built environment today lacks a natural order, an order which presents itself very strongly in places that were built centuries ago.
Christopher Alexander

Full Bloom got Sheep!

We recently welcomed in some new members to the Full Bloom Community:  8 wonderful sheep.  These sweet animals will be moving through the central area mowing the abundant grass that grows abundantly on the land.  Through just doing what they were born to do (graze) they will be saving us many hours of mowing and weekwacking.


Full Bloom Sheep on the front lawn of the Farmhouse

There is some sweet joy, some sense of being connected to all the countless generations of farmers who have “sheparded”.  We will be growing our flock over the years as we learn how to best take care of the animals and to integrate them into the landscape.  My goal is to eventually limit mechanical mowing to a bare minimum as it reduces our fossil fuel use and is better for the land to be grazed.

All I know is its more pleasant to hear “Baaaaaa” then the sound of a 2 stroke engine.


“Agriculture must mediate between nature and the human community, with ties and obligations in both directions. To farm well requires an elaborate courtesy toward all creatures, animate and inanimate.”  Wendell Berry