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Paradise Regained: Permaculture at U-Me
Renowned Permaculture experts Charles and Julia Yelton join local initiative aimed at greening the U-Me campus and its environs
U-Me students at Hawaiian permaculture workshop
SEPTEMBER_2007. Your average Maine gardener might not plan to harvest lettuce in January, but then Julia and Charles Yelton aren't your average Maine gardeners. The ecological movement they have helped to disseminate, Permaculture, teaches techniques for capturing sunlight, redirecting streams, and reusing all the by-products of human households to sustain life in all its forms. The Yeltons have been named 2007 Still Water Fellows, and they have already begun re-envisioning the campus landscape according to Permaculture principles.

The YeltonsThe Yeltons hail from Australia, where Julia originally worked as a ceramics artist and landscape designer while Charles was an engineer for Wang Computer. In the early 1990s they quit their jobs and joined the Crystal Waters Permaculture village in Queensland, Australia--a 680-acre site whose 160 residents explore and share new models of sustainable living.

Having created a demonstration site for Permaculture students at Crystal Waters, the Yeltons later went on to work with the INSAN Permaculture Institute in Nepal, hill tribes in northern Thailand, an alternative energy group in Wales, and a natural Permaculture village in Bali.

U-Me students at Hawaiian permaculture workshopIn Whitefield, Maine, the Yeltons established a passive-solar, energy-efficient  homestead with a four-season garden to demonstrate that it is indeed possible to grow lettuce in January--not to mention staying warm without oil or gas and redirecting waste water and food to build fertile soil.

Over the last spring break, the Yeltons led U-Me students on a two-week Permaculture intervention in Hawai'i's main island. And last summer the Yeltons coordinated the design and growth of a community food forest on the island of Cyprus organized by the Maine-based ESTIA eco-peace community established by U-Me Peace Studies professor Emily Markides. The plot is on the dividing line between the Turkish and Greek sides of the island, where it helped to bring together residents from these two factions that have historically been enemies.

Permaculture food forestThis semester the Yeltons are teaming up with Markides and Still Water co-director Joline Blais to teach a U-Me Permaculture course at a new site on the edge of campus. Called GreenHouse, this cape-style house and plot of land is connected by a wooded path to the Eastern Athletic Fields, and already incorporates the multi-age Wassookeag home school as well as educators-in-residence from the local Wabanaki community.

Tents in HawaiiWhat do Julia and Charles add to this mix? Permaculture trains students to live in a way that is economically self-sufficient and ecologically sustainable. Specific design techniques aim for energy efficiency (solar hot water tanks), water conservation (rooftop catchment cisterns), waste treatment (composting and wetlands), and erosion control (earthworks). Permaculture students may also learn about soil building, seed saving, home gardening, animal management, rangeland restoration, reforestation, forest gardening (multi storied orchards), fuel forestry, and nursery establishment.

U-Me students at Hawaiian permaculture workshop

In a world of shrinking energy resources, Charles and Julia Yelton offer a positive and practical approach to redesigning environments and livestyles to live more lightly on the planet. For more information on their work with Still Water and communities across the world, please contact Joline Blais.

ABOVE: U-Me students at a Permaculture workshop in Hawai'i run by the Yeltons.


Updated: 2007-09-18 by Jon Ippolito

Updated: 2007-10-21 by Jon Ippolito
Posted 2007-09-18 11:21:58 by Jon Ippolito
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