Originally published by the Permaculture Research of Australia, hereLake County, California, is a rural area on the edge of the San Francisco Bay Area. Though it’s surrounded by extremely wealthy areas, Lake County is unique; it is one of the least densely populated counties in the state of California, with one of the highest rates of poverty and unemployment. The agricultural industries that once thrived in the area are mostly gone, and most people struggle to earn a livelihood.
County Supervisor Denise Rushingcompleted her PDC in 2005 and was hooked, excited about the applicability of permacultural principles to the “invisible structures” that we all function within — like our local government.
“To me, the greatest gift of permaculture was seeing problems as opportunities and aligning myself and my actions with natural forces and energies to create greater abundance.” A farmer and owner of an organic walnut orchard, Rushing joined the Board of Supervisors and has been working hard to integrate permaculture into her day job as a county supervisor, and create opportunities for Lake County residents to transform their community utilizing permaculture principles.
One such opportunity has evolved into the Clarks Island Sustainability Initiative. Clarks Island is a small island on Clear Lake that is owned by the local Redevelopment Agency. With the county’s support, the island is being transformed by volunteers into a center for the environment and sustainability, with the goals of promoting ecotourism — showcasing new ecological restoration techniques and working with the county to preserve and protect Clear Lake. Components include natural earth building, native plantings, and bioremediation of the lake, whose ecology has been destroyed by pollution and runoff from surrounding areas.
The purpose of the floating islands near Clarks Island is to test their impact on nutrient uptake and algae remediation. To test their effectiveness and get baseline readings, the Habematolel Pomo, the Native American tribe local to the area, has offered to pay for the first year of testing.
Within the next month, Rushing will be publishing a book entitled: Tending the Soul’s Garden: Permaculture as a Way Forward in Difficult Times. To spread the principles and practical skills of permaculture further within her community, Denise Rushing is hosting a Permaculture Design Certificate course at her orchard this spring to train local folks. Watch out Lake County, a herd of permies are about to be let loose!