Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

February 25, 2013

PLEASANT HILL RAMBLINGS: Seaberg to share local benefits of permaculture

By Jean Clark
Chronicle contributor

CROSSVILLE — What is permaculture? Permaculture means learning from nature. The aim is to make our lives more sustainable and more productive while reducing the work and energy required. Nature is used as the model for designing houses, gardens, farms, woodlands, towns and villages.

What is the Shalom Center? The Shalom Center for Continuing Education is a nonprofit educational center whose purpose is to provide opportunities for holistic education in areas of social, economic, cultural, ecological, ethical and theological importance on behalf of shalom (wholeness, health and peace).

These two concepts certainly seem to mesh well. Nancy Seaberg, with Earthway Permaculture, a design and consultation service based in Livingston, KY, will conduct Permaculture Workshops March 1 and 2 in Pleasant Hill. The workshops will be held in Adshead Hall of Fletcher House on the Uplands Village campus.

On Friday a potluck supper will be held at 5:30 p.m. Anyone may come, bringing a dish to share and their own table service. At 6:30 p.m. Seaberg will begin by answering the question “What is Permaculture?” This will be a discussion of the basics of permaculture and permaculture principles, including a definition of some of the common terms, such as zones, sectors and guilds and why permacultrue is a good idea.

Last month, Seaberg toured the Pleasant Hill area to learn about its residents and better tailor her program for their needs. Local farmer Dave Myers of the Red Barn Gardens in Crossville discussed his farming methods and the challenges faced here on the Plateau. Ruth Peeples explained the community garden in Pleasant Hill. Frank Meisamer showed Seaberg many old photos of the types of farming once used for the Pleasant Hill Academy and the Uplands General Hospital.

On Saturday morning, March 2, Seaberg will discuss how and why permaculture might be implemented in this area. That program will take place from 9 a.m. to noon with a break. She will further expound on designing for sustainability, including natural building, landscaping, energy use and the importance of community. She will touch on water in the landscape, gardening the permaculture way and the importance of animals in permaculture.

Seaberg has been an educator and consultant for more than 30 years, working first in Michigan and then in Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri and Kentucky. Her recent work included involvement with the Appalachia-Science in the Public Interest through their Mary E. Fritsch Nature Center. In 2011 she worked with the grant administrator at Berea College to bring Grow Appalachia to that county. Additionally, she gives educational presentations at Great Salt Petre Cave.

The Pleasant Hill workshops will focus on “The Permaculture Way,” showing how to consciously design a lifestyle, which is low in environmental impact and highly productive. Consider the following assessments from the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization:

•Of the four percent of the 250,000 to 300,000 known edible plant species, only 150-200 are used by humans. And just three plants — rice, corn and wheat — contribute nearly 60 percent of calories and protein obtained by humans from plants.

•Since the 1900s, more than 90 percent of crop varieties have disappeared from farm fields as farmers worldwide have abandoned their multiple local varieties for genetically uniform, high-yielding varieties. Thirty percent of livestock breeds are at risk of extinction; six breeds are lost each month.

•Today, 75 percent of the world’s food is generated from only 12 plants and five animal species.

Permaculture is a way of diversifying and localizing the food supply as well as a more sustainable way of living, in general. These workshops are free and open to the public. For information or directions, contact Gail Ford (277-5534) or Jerry Ziegle (248-3165).