Practicing permaculture means that we are working to replicate the natural systems of ecology around us, using native and perennial plants, minimally disturbing the soil, and stewarding the land while growing food. While permaculture has many facets as a whole-system thought, regenerative agriculture focuses just on the farming side. We want to walk you through these steps to begin your project no matter how big or small. To see upcoming workshops and lectures click the button below:
Coming soon: Permaculture Design Course (PDC).
At The Lavra Farm, we teach hands-on lessons using permaculture principles for the following:
- Forest Gardening (Agroforesty)
- Native Edible and Useful Plants (Ethnobotany)
- Fungi Food and Remediation
- Natural Building
- Hiring Animals
- Cooperative Projects
- The Food Lab
Hügelkultur garden beds are a simple way for anyone to build soil on a small to large scale, while saving water, money that would be spent on soil, and propagating mycelium for plant connectivity and growth. All you do: layer compost on top of wood and plant on top! Great way to grow in the city and a great way for farmers to get rid of old wood.
The first step is to observe and identify the native biome and climate along with the plants, animals and fungi within it — here were grow Mediterranean plants in chaparral grassland pastures and oak woodland-style forest gardens. A forest garden, or food forest, is a structure of planting to grow as a self-sufficient forest, but with edible crops. Native plant forest gardens are ideal, replicating more closely to an oak woodland, yet many plant more common edible plants. The goal is to build soil fertility naturally, use pollinator plants, create habitat for beneficial insects, stack functions of plants, and, of course, provide lots of food! We are just now beginning to build soil and plant our forest garden.
Native Edible and Useful Plants (Ethnobotany)
Native Americans lived on this land for 10,000 – 20,000 years without the danger of environmental collapse and thrived on food that we now neglect. These foods are sacred. Perfectly suited for our climate and providing and nourishing all living things within reach, like the mighty oak. We have found that often it takes a step backward to step forward in time. These practices show both a truly sustainable way to eat, while rediscovering “new old” flavors that represent real local Californian terroir that supports humans as well as our local ecosystems.
As our most productive agricultural pollinators become more and more endangered due to pesticides, we hope to play our part as well as boost the farm biodiversity by learning about these amazing creatures.
Aquaponics is what we recommend any city-dweller who wants to try a hand at farming. The idea is that you create a closed-loop ecosystem using fish and plants. In the system, there is a fish tank. The water from the fish tank / pond is pumped through a couple simple filters and then off to fertilize the plants, which shed debris and, in turn, feed the fish. Since you need no soil, cycle the same water, and create a mini ecosystem, the design is perfect indoors with lights or outdoors (usually under a greenhouse).
Fungi Food and Remediation
We love eating mushrooms. Some of the most unique and delicious food explorations have been from home-grown gourmet mushrooms. Fascinating to grow as both food and soil amendment, as the mycorrhizal fungi connects to plant roots in a synergistic relationship to promote health. Mushrooms like reishi and turkey tail have been proven to be medicinal, beneficial for the immune system. While oyster mushrooms grow readily (not picky about what they decompose / eat) and can be used to filter oil from water and pesticides from agricultural run-off. Mushroom mycelium has even been used as a sustainable, natural building material.
Before building standards and city codes, shelter was much more subjective. Cob and adobe building were once ground-breaking and a solution to the intense heat in the middle east and later in the SW of the US. The beautifully simple mix of clay and sand makes adobe, while adding straw “rebar” makes cob. And, as two of the few fire-proof building techniques in the age of wildfires, cob and adobe have never seemed more necessary.
Reclaimed wood, salvaged metal parts, pallet projects, artwork, and reusing plastic until material failure are some common practices to avoid contributing to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) – plus you save money! Cheers to an age of full lifecycle design in technology and circular economies with no waste. #NoNewThings
As we look to stack functions with plants, we do the same with our animals. Each animal gives us a product, as well as produces fertilizer. Keeping chicken in the orchard allows them to continue digging swales to hold water, scratch and eat pests and weeds, fertilize the trees, and they give us eggs! Keeping the goats around unwanted plants like poison oak, helps keep those plants away and, filtered by their 4-part stomach, they produce fertilizer for us – plus nutrient-dense goat milk!
As new farmers seeking alternatives, we have seen the failure of many vegetable farmers unable to make financial gains and many farmers who exhaust themselves to simply eat well and live simply. We believe that success lies in cooperative projects, farm communities, and collective efforts. Sharing these tasks, trading goods, and skill sharing have set the stage for our projects now and in future communities.
Come learn with us! We teach you how to prepare forest food, native edible recipes, cheese, salsa, jam, and baked goods, kombucha, kimchi, and Lavra wine.
Let’s build something together.
Contact us for consulting:
Videography (Drone and DSLR) and Film Editing, Visual Storytelling, Teaching, Garden Design and Maintenance, Land Stewardship Consulting, Writing