Since permaculture found me, I have dedicated my available earthly time to loving and helping people the best ways I know how. In the tangible world, if there were something better than permaculture to pursue that – I would be doing it!
Permaculture design and consultation is meaningful, purposeful, and joyful work. There is a lot of ground to cover on this part of the learning curve of permaculture and a lot of growth potential for permaculturists.
Even if you are only designing for your property and not for a third party, the fact is that “you” are still the client in your own design and consultation.
I have outlined five considerations as a place mat for where to begin.
1. The “Go-Between”
Like a glove, you are a medium between what the landscape allows and what the client needs/wants. Often client’s state they want less work, self reliance, an income, healthy eating and lifestyle, and peace of mind knowing they are giving their children (and their children’s children’s children..) long term food security. You are bringing vision to life.
2. To Feature or Not to Feature
This may sound like a bit of common sense but not every feature known to permaculture needs to be installed on a site. Look at the landscape and the client’s needs/wants and make the best decision as to which feature/element/technique to use. Putting in features for features sake is not a good idea. This also goes for putting in patterns for pattern sake. We have a wide variety of tools in our tool bag as permaculturists and they are all at our fingertips for use given the right situation, time, and scenario.
Example: To install a chinampa in a open desert would probably not be the best idea. This is installing a feature for feature's sake. An herb spiral was made to be used at human level. An acre large herb spiral is installing pattern for pattern sake.
3. Save The Client Money
This is exceptionally important! By hiring you – you MUST make yourself an asset to the client. The landscape, project, and client must have saved some type of currency, and often times multiple types of currency (money, energy, etc…), by using your services.
Example: A client may want to irrigate their crops, trees, chicken, pigs, and cattle and was about to spend $150,000 on a large scale conventional irrigation system to do so. By hiring you, you can supervise the installation of water harvesting techniques such as contour subsoiling, ponds, and swales on the same property and have the potential for saving the client 50-90% of what they were about to pay. You can charge a very reasonable rate to do so.
4. Know your weaknesses and know your strengths
You do not need to know everything in permaculture or as even as a permaculture design consultant. If it takes more than a chainsaw – I am not your carpenter. Bring in professionals in areas where you feel more training is needed.
Example: If hydrology of large scale landscape is not your thing - try not to put in a large embankment such as a pond that might blow out or not hold water and could end up costing the the client a lot of money. Do bring in a fourth party professional such as a local earth mover who knows the landscape and consult with them what you are wanting to do.
5. Have fun!
There are only a few TYPE ONE errors in permaculture. Know what they are and do an immense amount of due diligence before installing a feature that could become one. Aside from the seriousness of those – have a friggin blast. The client will appreciate the energy that brings to the site as well.
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- What next?