Introduction to Permaculture

Introduction to Permaculture

With Courtney Tchida

I would first like to acknowledge and thank Courtney for allowing me to sign up for HORT 3090, I learned so much during this course, I now have a better understanding on the concept of permaculture and how it differs from other agricultural practices.

What I loved most about this course was the opportunity to learn from an expert, an expert in organic farming and permaculture. To me, Courtney is that expert, not only from the valuable course content she taught but with her experience and listening to the kind praise she receives from others.

By taking this course, I now feel capable of explaining what permaculture is, the principles, and how it differs from organic agriculture. Before the class, I was unable to talk about these practices confidently, but Courtney explained the concept of permaculture correctly and easy to understand by using the "framework" analogy. Permaculture is the framework, while spin farming is the details, and organic agriculture is the toolbox for solutions. 

Learning these concepts is critical for me to know, with a degree and future career in Agriculture Communication and Education understanding these concepts are vital for me if I plan to teach and communicate agriculture to the public. Other than the permaculture framework, we learned the basics on bio-intensive growing, companion planting, crop rotations, pest management, tools, organic certification and more.

I can't thank Courtney enough with the resources she shared with us such as the SARE website, powerpoint slides, and book recommendations. Having Courtney as a point of contact makes me feel confident in going forward into my agriculture career. 

"Permaculture is about relationships that we can create between minerals, plant animals, and humans by the way we place them in the landscape." - Bill Mollison

-Joshua Munoz

Learning for a Non-Farmer

Good afternoon from the folks at Cornercopia!  

This blog is actually coming to you from a non-farmer student today. Through this program I have met some great people and learned a lot about organic farming this semester and the knowledge will always stick with me when making future food choices, even though I may not be farming.
I have decided to use this class as a great learning experience, however, instead of job training, and will be using many of the techniques and resources in my home garden as soon as it warms up!  
One of the resources we’ve used a lot over the last couple weeks in class is the University’s Extension program.  The Extension program is a state-wide program with local and global initiatives to give back to the communities. On the website there are resources available to anyone such as gardening tips and tutorials (among many other topics).  Just find the “yard and garden” tab and there is information on pest management, lawn and landscapes, fruits and vegetables, etc.  This is an amazing resource for those just starting out growing their own food, or for those experts that are stumped with an issue or want to continue growing in their skills.

I am grateful for the experience I’ve had to learn all about Cornercopia and for all of the new knowledge and resources I’ve gained along the way! You know what they say “Give a girl some fruits and vegetables and you’ll feed her for a day, teach a girl to grow her own fruits and vegetables and you’ll feed her for life,” at least I think that’s how it goes!

-Emily Haley

The Illusion of Spring

As is expected of Minnesota, we have just entered our fourth winter after a teasing week of sunshine and warm temperatures. April showers have consisted of white fluff that causes mayhem on the roads and make us that much more grateful to be working in the warmth of the greenhouses, surrounded by the green growth.

We have begun planting tomatoes which is super exciting! To prevent verticillium wilt, we soaked the tomato seeds in a warm bleach water concentration for 30 minutes before planting. We had all hands on deck for the trial run to help this process run smoothly and time how long the whole ordeal takes. It wasn’t too difficult, we were able to sterilize and plant 12 varieties in just 45 minutes.

We are still growing microgreens, which is always a blast! Harvesting them can be tedious at times, but it is such pleasant and rewarding work. The microgreens are delivered to Centennial Dining Hall and 17th Ave Residence Hall as well as to the Campus Club in Coffman.

Our team of apprentices and service learning volunteers have been busy planting crops in soil blocks to eventually be transplanted once Mother Nature decides spring is really here. The photo on the left brings me so much joy, the vibrancy of the rainbow chard is absolutely brilliant. I’m looking forward to planting more and more crops.

However, the benches in our greenhouse are filling up, so we’re hoping the weather will cooperate and let us get outside soon!

  • Libby

Thriving with New Seedlings and New Knowledge

No rest for the Cornercopia! 

Once again, this week was bustling with activity to prepare for the growing season. Besides continuing with our microgreen production, we planted many new seedlings that will be transplanted into the field when temperatures warm up. We planted chard, snapdragons, kale, zinnias, and tomatoes. The greenhouse is filling up!

Seedling in Mist House
This week we also had a guest lecturer, Michelle Grabowski with UMN Extension, discuss plant pathogens and how to look for and identify them. This is important so that we can limit the damages these pathogens have to our crops in the field and ensure we are selling high-quality produce at market.

Additionally, this week Michael Pollen lectured at the University of Minnesota. Michael Pollen is an important author, journalist, and activist who discusses how nature and culture intersect: on our plates, in our farms and gardens, and in the environment. During his lecture he proposed how cooking can change your life in way of improving family health and well-being, building community, fixing our broken food system, and breaking our growing dependence on corporations. 
At Cornercopia we are excited to be part of a food system that advocates for advancing well-being by nourishing ourselves with fresh food and home cooking. 


Planning, Prepping, Planting

This week, similar to the previous few, has been full with planting and planning. Spring is officially here (as stated by the lunar calendar-- though Minnesotans know we have some time to go) and that means continuous planning for the season. Many of my farming or gardening friends are in similar processes of planning and scrambling. In the nature of preparing, it is often easy to get caught in the hustle.

So as busy time approaches, here is to slowness and to steadiness, to patience and appreciation.

Over the past two weeks, we’ve been able to get a lot done. We have been harvesting and planting
microgreens as usual-- though we have begun planting slightly less amounts in order to leave space
for other seedlings. We have been keeping track with our weekly schedule on which plants need to get
started in the greenhouse. We’ve been transplanting our seedlings, research plants, and even
rosemary clippings (they have sufficiently been creating roots). In addition to all the labor, we have
been trying to keep organized with our organic documenting and tracking system. These past weeks
I learned a bit more about succession planning, in which our supervisor shared with us some helpful
tips on how to organize and layout a succession plan. This type of planning simply means figuring out
how many beds of crops in a rotation pattern you can work with throughout the season. It is a strategic
and utilized form to plan your crops and planting.

Throughout all the planning it has been very exciting to see the labor and love literally grow into
something bigger than us. Below are some photos to hopefully excite your transitional-spring shivers. 
Propagating Rosemary
Red Amaranth Microgreens
Pea Shoots