Since the pandemic began two years ago, many of us have been seeking deeper levels of connection, purpose, and meaning in our lives. This is part of what drove me to take a leave of absence from my job to become a Work Trader at Quail Springs and participate in the 2021 Online Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC). I knew the experience would change my life, although I didn’t know exactly how things would pan out after taking this leap.
I plunged into the community, the work, and the learning. And as I began the Online PDC, I felt my perspective beginning to shift. From a sense of helplessness at the dire state of the world to one of empowered action. From a feeling of pandemic isolation to a sense of deep connection with self, community and ecosystem. From an anxious overwhelm of needing to “do all the things” to a remembrance of the satisfaction that comes from simple things like growing food and caring for my community.
As part of the Online PDC, I started working on a permaculture design for my home in Ojai, and included elements like chickens, a food forest, and pollinator habitat, woven together in an integrated design. I also included space for community gathering and workshops, as I knew that I wanted to share this life-affirming worldview and empowering skills with others. Each phase of the design process challenged me to think about how the elements would be connected with each other, creating a mini ecosystem in my backyard.
A year later, I have to pinch myself as ten friends from Quail Springs help me plant the first phase of the food forest and bring to life the permaculture design I developed during the Online PDC. Together we dug a rainwater harvesting basin, and turned what was once a small flooding problem into a valuable resource. We planted a fruit tree surrounded by native flowering plants, edible perennials, and nitrogen-fixing plants. There is a special magic that comes from many hands working together in creation, and I am so grateful to have the Quail Springs energy imbued into our space in Ojai.
In the last year, I’ve also started an edible garden and permaculture design business, Grow With Mo. I host permaculture workshops in my backyard, showing my PDC design in-action and sharing empowering skills in home-scale food production and composting. I also help others design regenerative gardens in their yards and homes. Creating this business was a dream of mine that had been percolating for many years, and the Online PDC taught me a clear design framework to implement with clients, which boosted my confidence to actually jump into this venture. My hope is that I can help create a network of connected permaculture projects in my community, improving our resilience and our sense of connection.
Because for me that’s what it really comes back to: a desire to feel connected and in relationship with land and community, and to live in closer alignment with my values.