Sunday, November 28, 2010

Get SAP Stuck on You

Southern Alberta Permaculture (SAP) is a Lethbridge-based organization seeking to engage its local community through educational opportunities and consulting expertise.

The SAP founders Jason Baranec and Julia Mitchell were recently inspired by Rob & Michelle Avis of Verge Permaculture in Calgary, AB. “When looking at the systems we engage every day, we need to consider the relationship that they hold with us, and use that as a design starting point,” says Baranec. “Permaculture values the marginal and looks at needs and yields all around us to discover hidden opportunity. It is often said that it’s not the solar panel, the rain barrel, or the garden that Permaculture is concerned with; it’s how they can be interconnected through design.”

While relatively new to the practices of Permaculture, the principles have been within Jason and Julia for quite sometime. With an interest in the issue of climate change and a desire to live a more self-sufficient lifestyle, Julia has volunteered with groups and organizations over the past few years. She sees Permaculture as an amazing opportunity to put knowledge into action, and spread the word to others in the process. Having spent years in Ft. McMurray as a crane-operator prior to completing his education, Jason witnessed first hand the carnage left by our industrial plight. Currently a Project Manager at the University of Lethbridge, he helped to manage construction of two LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) facilities recently, which helped to shed light on regenerative solutions in sustainable design and construction and how these parameters fit into permaculture design.  

SAP’s home base and demonstration facility is located 12km north of Lethbridge and across from Park Lake Provincial Park. Currently outfitted with an established garden, dugout, and chicken sanctuary, there’s plenty of room for improvements. There are planned workshops on design and construction of straw bale and cob structures, passive solar greenhouses, cob ovens, and broad-scale earthworks. Be a part of these projects and sign up now!

The climate in Southern Alberta holds its own sets of challenges and opportunities. SAP is on the leading edge of research in renewable energy and its local applications. There are currently programs operating within major utility providers that encourage micro-generation at the residential level. While these programs seem enticing at the outset, one must be careful when planning and designing an independent micro-generation system. You can count on SAP for honest, open advice.

Both Julia and Jason, having nearly completed their Permaculture Design Certificates, are excited to help contribute to a community that is eager to make a difference staring right in their backyard.  A mainstay within Permaculture is the one-day Permablitz. Groups of 10-15 people transcend onto a back or front yard, and in one day transform it from dull, unproductive lawn to a vibrant and alive urban scale food forest. The tangible and edible products created as a result of this wonderful social activity are only one small part of its yield. Its true nectar is the strong relationships and community that is built within it. The SAP network can help individuals come together to find mutually beneficial relationships. Southern Alberta Permaculture is in the process of developing a Permablitz program for 2010. If you are interested in participating or volunteering your yard, please let us know.

For more information, visit our website at

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