Permaculture Internship at Prairie Permaculture
by Stacey Tress, with Intern Danna Bruch
Here at Garden Therapy Yorkton/Prairie Permaculture, we love building community, growing food, and sharing our knowledge of permaculture and other skills (such as fermentation). We knew we wanted to start having interns come and help with our Permaculture Demonstration site, as having a two-year-old makes for limited productive time in the yard! We have been very fortunate to have found Danna who has committed to staying with us from May to September, 2013. We have a two-lot site in Yorkton, where we have a booming Basket Program and teach various workshops. We live in one house and Danna lives in the house next door. In exchange for room/board/food and a permaculture design certificate (PDC), Danna helps us look after all aspects of our site including things such as seed starting, propagating, bed preparation, planting, transplanting, watering, weeding, yard maintenance, fermentation, harvesting, basket program stuff (packaging and giving food to the customers), and more!
I and my husband, Rob, are both trained in Permaculture Design and Danna will be our first student! As well as getting a PDC, she will also have the opportunity to attend all our workshops (for free) and site tours with us. She already has attended a Permaculture Client Interview, Food Forest Design Workshop, Fermentation Workshop, and has accompanied me to Regina to do a Fermentation Demonstration at the organic grocery store Eat Healthy Foods.
Interview with Intern Danna Bruch, June 2013
What interested you in coming to intern with us?
“Well, I’m writing with dirt still under my fingernails from transplanting aloe vera, as the smell of dehydrating clover blossoms fills my home. What isn’t interesting about that? Of course, I didn’t know just how amazing it would be until I actually got here, but my personal ideology regarding working, living, and learning symbiotically with nature led me to an interest in permaculture which teleported me directly to Rob and Stacey Tress’s doorstep! The details are filling in each day like colours in a sunset and sitting down, I realize there’s not enough space or time to pen the diaries I could share about this experience, but simply they were looking for help and I needed theirs!”
What have you learned so far?
“I’m trying not to be cheesy… but the first thing I must say is confidence. Above everything, I have made my mentors my friends and they are the most patient and kind teachers from whom I could ever hope to learn! I’ve broken a jar full of kefir grains, flunked a few sourdoughs, seeded rows too narrow… Each time it’s okay, there’s still value in the experience gained and lessons learned. I feel more empowered as a person to do things that before I was too nervous to try on my own. I can make kefir and kombucha, and sprout assorted seeds by glass jar or in earth, preserve veggies by fermenting, look after the worms, using compost and mulching in the garden, food forest design, characteristics of plants, companion planting, succession planting, growing plants from cuttings, saving seeds, the art of creating a pallet fence, how to be sustainable. I could add to this list for days, the only time I’m not learning something is when I am asleep!”
What are your words of advice for our future interns?
“I’m going to place the ‘small print’ right up front here and say this is the truth, the whole truth—Stacey and Rob and their darling Julie Jojo are absolutely beautiful people bursting with laughter, joy, and balance. All you need to belong here are true intentions. I believe anyone who is interested in permaculture and looking for this kind of experience would feel honoured to be invited to learn with these folks. They have an abundance of knowledge to be shared and it is really coming from truly compassionate souls. I’m the ultimate fly-on-the-wall, living, learning, and working with this family and all I see is goodness. The gratitude I feel is overflowing as working with Garden Therapy has been an unquestionably therapeutic, beyond rewarding, experience for me.”
Next Year and Beyond—Internships with Garden Therapy Yorkton/Prairie Permaculture
We are looking to expand our internship for 2014, so please send an email to email@example.com. Ideally, we are looking for interns to commit for the May to September season but are open to having people stay with us for shorter commitments, too. This fall (2013) we are renovating our “work home” next door to have two bedrooms so that we can have two private rooms for our interns/willing workers on organic farms (WWOOF).
Goals for next year include expanding our perennial food forest system in town and continuing design and implementations on our 20 acres just outside Yorkton. We love having the Permaculture Demonstration site here in town, but our hearts are in the country and we’d love to have people join us out there. Our vision is to build a fusion strawbale/earthship main house and to incorporate all sorts of alternative structures/dwellings for others in which to live—a place where we grow, forage, and preserve all our own foods, a place where we offer workshops (cob oven, etc.), and a structure that we can dedicate to learning, so that we can offer a two-week PDC. Other fanciful ideas include making our own soap and cosmetic products, selling produce farmgate style and at the farmers’ market, and making a line of gardening clothes. If any of this seems to fit a lifestyle change for which you are looking, we’d love to hear from you. And remember, those who commit to staying for a May to September internship will receive a free Permaculture Design Certificate.
Stacey and Rob Tress own and operate Prairie Permaculture and Garden Therapy Yorkton located in Yorkton, SK. They are situated on a two-lot permaculture demonstration site in town. They offer skill-building workshops such as Fermentation and Introduction to Permaculture, and they grow produce organically. To learn more, go to www.gardentherapyyorkton.ca, find them on Facebook at Garden Therapy Yorkton and Prairie Permaculture, or call/text 306-641-4239.