Intensive PDC 1 Smiltene, Latvia

Summary

We (me and Janick) were asked by Thomas Krüger from Latvia to hold an Intensive PDC on his farm. The course was held in english and we had participants from Germany, Latvia, Estonia and Belgium taking part.
As it was our first time teaching a PDC and we were quiet nervous about how it would work out. The teaching materials were based on the information we got during our own PDC at down to earth academy and the book about teaching permaculture from Rosemary Morrow. So the topics we were defined, but we didn’t have a fixed timetable as we wanted to fit in as many practical stuff as possible.
Perfect for me, as I don’t like those rigid and fixed stuff at all!

For us it was also very interesting to meet our host, Thomas Krüger, for the first time. We had only been in contact by email and maybe had a skype call before we met at his farm in Latvia for the first time. This was also the time we worked out a rough timetable and fitted in all the practical stuff we were able to do at his site during the course.

As people are individuals and nobody is the same and also the weather and other unforseen stuff can happen during a two weeks course, it was clear as water, that the scedule would change at least a few more times.

But it also gave us the freedom to adapt to all the unique individuals that took part in our course. It was important for us, that everybody knew, that he could ask questions and share their personal experiences at any time of the course. In this way the course was dynamically adapting to the needs of our participants from moment to moment.

The first days were a little challenging to all of us, as most of us are not used to this kind of dynamic teaching and learning. But everybody adapted quiet fast to it, as it is the natural way humans had been learning in the past by sharing their knowlege together and getting to know things they get inspired by.Deep inspiration, sharing and the will to learn new things are our best teachers. And sometimes it goes much deeper than we expect and can set up processes, that go deep into the perception of ourselves – who we are and what we really want to do with our time on this beautiful planet we live on.

Dynamic Timetable

DAY 1 – Saturday 20/05/2017

  • Participants arriving and getting to know each other

DAY 2 – Sunday 21/05/2017

  • Intro to Permaculture
  • Principles of Ecology
  • Luchbreak
  • Principles of Holmgren; Listening to Formidable Vegetable
  • Permaculture Elements
  • Principles of Mollison; Groupwork: 3 Groups working on interpretation of the Permaculture Principles and preparing to present them to other students
  • Dinner
  • Groupwork: Presentation of Principles

DAY 3 – Monday 22/05/2017

  • Teambuilding activity „Circle Handclap“; lead by one of the students
  • QA of last days work; recollecting list of Permaculture Elements
  • Zone 1 – self-sufficiency
  • Functional Analysis; Groupwork (4 groups) working with selected Zone 1 Elements, creating an according functional analysis and presenting them to other students
  • Lunchbreak
  • Practical Work: planting potatoes under cardboard and straw, planting beans and chamomille as supprotive plants
  • 8-W-Questions
  • Practical Work: Interview with Thomas and Līga (Hosts) with the goal to collect and create permaculture elements for Zone 1
  • Groupwork; functional analysis of the useful elements
  • Dinner & Sitting by the Fire
  • Groupwork; free independent planning of Zone 1

DAY 4 – Tuesday 23/05/2017

  • Groupwork; free independent planning of Zone 1
  • Presentation of Planning practice
  • Lunchbreak
  • Excursion to the Forest and Lake; observing indicator plants
  • Dinner at the Lake

DAY 5 – Wednesday 24/05/2017 (no Electricity today 😉 )

  • Practical Work: Kontiki (pyrolysis, to create charcoal to make terra preta); diging a kontiki, plastering the inner layer with clay, firing the kontiki and at the end charging the charcoal with some diluted urine from the dry toilets.
  • Practical Work: Propagating Microorganisms from Forest Soil (some kind of locally produced EM) ; Feeding some Microorganisms with a feeding solution created out of water and sugar (or molasses)
  • Practical Work: Preparation of Compost Tea
  • Practical Work: Compost – gathering materials; Humanure from dry toilets, manure from chicken and goats, greenstuff, dry materials, leaves, cardboard, clay, ash, charcoal from the kontiki, sticks, woodchips and hay
  • Lunchbreak
  • Practical Work: Hot Composting; build up the layers with the collected materials
  • Resources, how to asses and use them in Permaculture
  • Study of Soil
  • Latvian Culture: Folk Dance and Celebration
  • Dinner
  • Sedimentation Test; how to use it to define your soil

DAY 6 – Thursday 25/05/2017

  • Meeting and Discussion; QA on things learned the past few days
  • Compost Systems, Greenmanure
  • Vertical Gardens & Plants
  • Neophytes
  • Lunchbreak
  • Groupwork: refining the Planning done on Zone 1
    • Group 1 (Jonas, Kaisa, Sara):
      • outdoor stage
      • herbspiral, pond, dry stream
    • Group 2 (Elgars, Lauris, Ants):
      • compost toilets
      • vertical garden outside of TrainingCenter
    • Group 3 (Mona, Toni, Marcus, Armands):
      • walipini
      • chicken food forest; chicken tractor
  • Dinner
  • Presentation of Groupwork

DAY 7 – Friday 26/05/2017

  • Practical Work: Herbspiral
  • Practical Work: Walipini
  • Practical Work: Planting potatoes
  • (Lunchbreak, somewhere in beetwen practical work)
  • Buildings in Permaculture
  • Dinner
  • Presentation of Participant Project: Céline

DAY 8 – Saturday 27/05/2017

  • Excursion Day: visit to different interesting Sites in the region

DAY 9 – Sunday 28/05/2017

  • Introduction into Zone 2: 
  • Foodforest
  • PlantGuilds
  • Beekeeping
  • Lunchbreak
  • Groupwork: Practical Planning of Polycultures and Intercropping (3 Groups)
    • field behind TrainingCenter
    • field next to potato field and compost garden
    • greenhouse and compost garden
  • Dinner
  • Presentation of Groupwork
Latvia_PDC1_040

DAY 10 – Monday 29/05/2017

  • Meeting and Discussion; QA on things learned the past few days
  • Introduction into building with Cob and Strawbales (Thomas)
  • Practical Work: Planting Polycultures on field behind TrainingCenter
  • Practical Work: Busstop
  • Building a Solardrier out of stuff laying around
  • (Lunchbreak, somewhere in beetwen practical work)
  • Dinner
  • Introduction to Mycology – Growing Mushrooms

DAY 11 – Tuesday 30/05/2017 (Zadini)

  • Meeting and Discussion
  • Chinampas, Aquacultures
  • Edible Waterplants
  • Water Retention Strategies
  • A-Frame construction and use
  • Lunchbreak
  • Groupwork: Planning of an Open Permaculture Farm in Zadini
    • Information about the project:
      • 90 ha of land and forest
      • Community of about 20 people and 5 – 10 volunteers
      • selfsufficient, surplus sold at local market
      • host for permaculture festival, workshops
      • give external people opportunity to experience community life
    • goal of planning:
      • zone planning
      • sector planning
      • collect and create permaculture elements according to the needs of the community
  • Dinner
  • Presentation of Groupwork

DAY 12 – Wednesday 31/05/2017

  • Meeting and Discussion
  • Permaculture in Agriculture
  • Keypoint, Keylines, Yeomans
  • Agroforestry
  • Urban Permaculture
  • Lunchbreak
  • Designtools:
    • Visions – Goals – Desires
    • List of Questions
    • Project Phases
  • Dinner
  • Presentation of Participant Project: Armands
    • 40 horses on 2ha + 30ha(rented)
    • community of 20 people (divided on 2-3 small houses)
    • food storage for 2 years (for 20 people)
    • dirt wall around settlement to protect from intruders
  • Discussion about new ideas and how to achieve the goal

DAY 13 – Thursday 1/06/2017

  • Meeting and Discussion
  • Presentation of Results of the Discussion about Participant Project: Armands 
  • Dragon Dreaming presented by Lauris
  • Practical Work: Seedballs!
  • Practical Work: Construction of Reciprocal Roof on Busstop
  • Practical Work: Building a Mobile Chicken Coop
  • Practical Work: Building up a Compost Cone
  • (Lunchbreak, somewhere in beetwen practical work)
  • Dinner: Pizza
  • Certification and Celebration

DAY 14 – Friday 2/06/2017

  • Meeting and Discussion
  • Practical Work: Seeding the Garden
  • Groupwork: Planning a Market Garden
  • Lunchbreak
  • Information about the Diploma Process:
    „learn together, act together!“
  • Presentation of Groupwork: Market garden

Conclusion

For me, this first Intensive PDC held here in Latvia was a great inspiration to go on with sharing my knowledge about permaculture. So the journey went on, as we already set the date for the second Intensive PDC at Thomas’s place to be held in September.