Erik Ohlsen’s Permaculture Skill Center is blooming in Sebastopol! Site visit / Interview by Willi Paul, CommunityAlchemy.com
Erik Ohlsen’s Permaculture Skill Center is blooming in Sebastopol!
Site visit / Interview by Willi Paul, CommunityAlchemy.com
As I walked through the tall grasses, Erik told me about the venture: “Permaculture Artisans will be the parent company for the Permaculture Skill Center. No doubt that this business model starts with a good business location. We are just across from the Flea Market on HW 116 in Sonoma County.” The project site is approximately 5.5 acres but feels larger as the land stretches out and back with multiple pastures. 11 sheep are commanded by 2 alpacas and 1 llama (think wool for fabric sales & lawn mowers). The entrance area will feature a community meadow for group celebrations and larger farmer markets.
“We are hopeful that our Latino friends will come over to the Center and participate in our programs and vocational training course, now projected to include permaculture and sustainable agriculture values, principles and tools. Bilingual opportunities for the public will include site tours, events and hand-outs for interpretive trails. The training, still under development, will be in stages:
1. First 3 months - classes and in-field training
2. Second 3 months - training and supervisor role
3. Final 6 months - Center manager job”
“We are not planning on offering a PDC at this point but a broader, more nuts and bolts agri-business vocational course. Our program will prepare folks to set-up their own micro farm business - or perhaps help establish a new Center. My 5 year plan is to prove this model and have the capacity to launch additional projects in different locations.”
The next four months will be busy at the Center. Erik is designing a sponsorship program for businesses, non-profits and schools to build alliance beyond permaculture and Sebastopol. While green houses, aquaponic s and re-use of existing buildings are well under way, a state-of-the-art conference center will require more funding. There is also a next door neighbor that is pondering a commercial kitchen, and a Wine Country tourism machine to leverage.
The Permaculture Skill Center official launch date is October 1. “We have three things to have in place for the opening: the web site, the site plan, and the 2013 schedule of events. “ Mr. Ohlsen then jumps up on his tractor with a keyline plow and smiles into another long day on the farm.
Erik Ohlsen, Owner
erik at permacultureartisans.com
Permaculture Skill Center