There are as many definitions of permaculture as there are permaculture designers. For me, permaculture is about creating diverse, healthy, and resilient ecosystems. The term permaculture was coined by a man born in Tasmania, Australia. Bill Mollison worked in the bush, and while there studied carefully how the Indigenous people lived in the forest. Everything they needed was offered by this, the climax succession of their natural landscape. 

Bill brought his observations to the colonial world in the 1980s and began teaching others what he’d learned from the Indigenous. I am a member of the fourth generation of permaculture designers and teachers. Most Permaculture Design Certificates (PDC) focus on and certify in natural permaculture only.  Through the years I’ve been asked why one would need to be certified in permaculture if one wasn’t making a career in regenerative ecosystems. About five years ago I arrived at my answer: Learning to advocate for ecosystems is not solely about natural ecosystems; this skill also helps one understand your internal ecosystem, social ecosystem (helping you succeed with a business or career), and micro and macroeconomic systems. Any ecosystem would benefit by applying the principles, ethics, and concepts of permaculture. Coming to this understanding was the first step to my developing the School for Ecosystem Advocacy. (S4EA)

Since I moved to Utica in 2018, one continuing goal of mine is to share my urban permaculture expertise with others who are interested in reclaiming and remediating spaces in the Mohawk Valley. I have held classes teaching Mohawk Valley youth how to apply permaculture to their internal, social, and natural ecosystems. The program was called the Permie Pollinators, and it took place during the Summer of 2019. I supervised about 20 youth 13-18 years of age through the Oneida County Youth Summer Employment Program to redesign a garden space at Adrean Terrace, a Utica Municipal Housing Authority property. At the end of three short weeks, the youth seemed much more comfortable with themselves, and out-of-doors, than when they began the program. 

Any ecosystem would benefit by applying the principles, ethics and concepts of permaculture. Coming to this understanding was the first step to my developing the School for Ecosystem Advocacy. 

A year ago this month, I taught a course through MVCC to youth aged 15-20 years old during the  February school break. This course was entitled Excelling at my First Job: Welcome to the Working  Landscape. It was supported through scholarships by generous individual donations and a contribution from McDonald’s funded the Celebration. Though it lasted only 15 hours, many of the students reported they felt confident that they would be able to find a job they liked, and less nervous about the interviewing process, among other positive outcomes. 

I’m now ready to expand the length, scope and curriculum to launch the S4EA. I recently became the steward of a property in Utica which has an extra lot. Today I invite you to consider joining me in designing this new space. 

In mid-March I will begin certifying 20+ residents of Cornhill and the surrounding neighborhoods in Ecosystem Advocacy. The FREE course will run through the end of the year when participants who complete the requirements will be certified. Here are the requirements for a traditional permaculture design certification (PDC):

  • Committing to completing 72 out of 110 hours in learning the permaculture principles, ethics, and concepts, and how they can help create thriving social, economic, and natural ecosystems. (Additional time beyond the scheduled classes will be necessary for topical reading, research, and viewing related videos.) 
  • Demonstrating an understanding of these principles, ethics, and concepts by participating in the group design of the property, as well as creating an individual design for a property of your choice. (Participants will spend time working on project design outside the formal class schedule.)
  • Presenting your section of the group design and individual design at the graduation celebration. 

The S4EA certification differs in that participants can choose to be certified for designing a thriving natural landscape, a social ecosystem, or an economic ecosystem. One could create a business model, solve a social challenge in the workplace, or create a design that improves a natural ecosystem, such as managing stormwater or creating an edible landscape for a non-profit. 

I am partnering with a local community service organization in launching S4EA. We hope you’ll join us for the training, and help create an edible community garden in Cornhill. If you’d like to contribute to our success, here’s our GoFundMe page!

For more information contact 914.588.7274 or CimbriaB(at)


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