Aprovecho Research Center

  • OR

Address

80574 Hazelton Road
Cottage Grove
OR
97424
United States

About Us

Aprovecho is a non-profit organization located on a beautiful forty-acre land trust outside of Cottage Grove, Oregon. Aprovecho, which means “I make best use of” in Spanish, gained its name from the spirit of a sustainable approach to resource use in the creation and sustenance of human culture that the early founders observed in their international development work. In 1981, this group founded an organization dedicated to the investigation of sustainable human settlement in North America, and found their place in the foothills of the Coast Range of Oregon. Today, Aprovecho’s land and its community of educators is a regional resource for researching, demonstrating, and educating the techniques and strategies of sustainable living.

Permaculture Design and Sustainable Living Skills Immersion

Program Dates:

Summer 2013: June 16th – July 27th

Fall 2013: September 16th-October 26th

Aprovecho’s Sustainable Living Skills Program is the oldest program of its kind in the Northwest and includes hands on training in appropriate technology, sustainable forestry, natural building, and sustainable agriculture. The 72 hour Permaculture Design curriculum is woven throughout the program, leaving students with a framework for integrating strategies and techniques into cohesive designs for sustainable human settlement. A certificate of Permaculture Design will be presented at the end of the program.

As a well established yet ever evolving 30 year old site, Aprovecho’s campus is an excellent working classroom for the development of hands-on skills. Various hands on projects from past courses have included constructing a solar shower, installing a greywater system, pond development, and ferro-cement tank construction. Additionally, students will have the opportunity to become proficient in mixing and applying natural plasters and finishes, harvesting trees with hand tools, building bicycle powered machines, understanding and experiencing aquaculture and aquaponics systems, and much more.

This program is structured using Permaculture’s concept of zones: zones of interaction and influence starting with your self and your home, and moving out into the garden, orchard, pasture, production forest, wild lands, and political and financial structures. Over a dozen teachers bring their experience to the table to help students best design and integrate the dynamic components of a sustainable lifestyle.

The Curriculum

Week 1

The Context, Self and Home Care

Introduction to Permaculture

Patterns and Design Process

Whole Foods and Nutrition

Home Herbal Remedies

Fermentation, Brewing

Week 2

The Garden and Orchard

Soils, Composting

Bed Preparation, Sowing & Transplanting

Animals in the System

Forest Gardening

Seed Saving

Propagation

Week 3

Home Work

Wood-Fired Cooking

Solar Hot Water

Introduction to Natural Building Principles and Practices

Earthen Plasters and Natural Finishes

Working with Wood

Humanure

Week 4

Larger-Scale Systems

Non-Timber Forest Products (Mushroom Cultivation, Bamboo)

Forest Surveying

Rainwater Catchment and Greywater Systems

Earthworks and Water Harvesting

Tree Falling

Horse Logging

Week 5

The Wilderness and Beyond

Brice Creek Old Growth Hike

Botany and Plant Identification

Watershed Walk

Creek Restoration Project

Week 6

Integration

Invisible Structures

Design for Catastrophe

Urban Systems

Design Project Presentations

Life At Aprovecho

During the six week course you will be either in a shared dorm-room in our Strawbale or camping on our 40-acre land trust. There are classes from 9 am-4:30 pm with a break for lunch. All meals emphasize local and organic foods. Most weekends are free to explore the grander Pacific Northwest.

Work Trade Session March 18th-29th

For 2 weeks in March we will be hosting an event for people to engage in work trade projects with us. We are accepting 10 people to work with us on preparations for this upcoming year. We have exciting work to do during this short session. We will be preparing for the building of a new outdoor kitchen, will be creating systems for greenhouse/potting space organization, will conduct trail maintenance, will do maintenance on our aquaculture systems, among other things. Work days will be 6 hours long and the week will be 5 days long. Weekends are off. We ask that participants arrive and settle in the day before the session begins.

A room in the strawbale dormitory will be provided. Meals are communal and participants are asked to share in the responsibilities of cooking and cleaning. There is access to showers, a kitchen, hiking trails, and relaxation space. If you have any questions please email Gardener Steve Baker: aprovechogardens@gmail.com

Sustainable Shelter Workshop Series

Natural Building and Green Design from the ground up!

July 28th – September 14th, 2013

The Sustainable Shelter Workshop Series is a 7 week course designed to empower participants with the ability to design/build/renovate their own home using simple techniques and natural, vernacular materials. During this course we will start from the ground and move up teaching not only the art/science of natural building and green design, but the corresponding appropriate technologies essential for successfully integrating your shelter into a permaculture landscape.

The course is taught by a TEAM of Pacific Northwest natural builders with over fifty years of experience in the field whose teaching emphasis is direct, hands-on involvement for the students complimented by classroom/theory time when appropriate. During the course we will be constructing a 200 sqft. model home giving participants the opportunity to see the principles and techniques they are learning put into practice. See PHOTOS from last year’s program!

Week 1 The Foundation: Rocks, Earthbags, and Concrete

Every home needs a good set of boots. This class teaches you everything you need to know to ensure your home stands on a sturdy foundation. We’ll be working with rock, earthbag, and concrete foundations as well as proper drainage systems to ensure the longevity of your handmade home.

Week 2 Working with Wood: Timber, Pole and other Green Framing Techniques

Timber and pole framing is a timeless tradition among the owner/builder. In this class you will learn the craft of joining large timbers and poles in the service of your home. As well, we will cover some modern techniques of “green framing” such as the Larsen Truss and staggered stud framing.

Week 3 A Simple Yurt

Traditional yurts are big baskets covered in woolen felt, and designed for portability. This one, however, is designed for greater permanence, and covered with a durable, insulating, earthen “fabric” made of mud, vegetable fiber, and lime. Add a simple, layered, fabric roof for a quick, efficient, inexpensive, and eminently practical shelter.

Week 4 Inside Insulation: From Strawbale to Slip n’ Chip

Insulation equals warmth. In temperate climates like Oregon’s its necessary for your home to have a jacket in the winter (and to make sure its zipped!) In this comparative workshop we will be covering the basics of Strawbale Construction, Light Clay Straw and Chip-Slip infill, as well as the types of framing and form work required for each system. We will also cover the more conventional green alternatives currently available to the home builder such as Cellulose and Wool. In addition to techniques, be ready to discuss the meaning of ‘R-values’, infiltration, solar potential and thermal mass, and how we can make better use of these principles in our homes.

Week 5 Heat for the Home: Masonry Heaters and Rocket Stoves

The hearth is the heart of the home. When you burn wood in the colder months, you are releasing the heat and light that trees have captured and stored during the warmer months. Learning to build heaters and stoves that burn wood cleanly and maximize the heat captured inside the home is our goal.

Week 6 Natural Plasters and Finishes: The Craft of Lime and Clay

There was a time before drywall and latex paint when the owner/builder transformed vernacular materials, whether limestone or clay, into beautiful interior and exterior walls. Come relearn the timeless craft of lime and clay plasters and paints.

Week 7 As Clear As Mud: Earthen Floor Systems

Earthen floors are rapidly being recognized as a desirable, natural alternative to conventional floor systems. Not only do they capture heat (or cool) increasing the energy efficiency of your home but they are pleasing to both the eye and the soles of your feet. Come explore the potential of earthen floor systems with earthen floor master Sukita Crimmel.

Additional topics include:

Home Water: Water Catchment, Greywater, and Solar/Wood-fired Hot Water Systems

Water is the lifeblood of the home. It quenches the inhabitants, washes the dirt, and carries away the wastes. This course will teach the participant how to use water as an opportunity to integrate the home into a broader permaculture landscape from catchment to dispersal. As well, we will be demonstrating how to make your own solar/wood-fired hot water system, making use of local energy sources for your home’s energy needs.

Green Roofs: Sustainable Alternatives

In urban settings, green roofs help mitigate peak rainfall events and the urban heat island effect while increasing overall building performance. Besides rooftop insulation, green roofs provide a pleasant natural contrast to otherwise unused urban space. In a rural setting green roofs offer a sustainable alternative to conventional roofing models. In this portion of the course we will survey current green roof options and finish by installing our own do-it-yourself version.

Natural Building Practicum

Spring Session: April 8th – June 15th, 2013

Fall Session: October 6th – December 14th, 2013

The Natural Building Practicum (NBP) is a 10 week work-study designed for natural builders of all backgrounds and levels of experience. Each week is split between in-class instruction, hands-on application and independent study. Classes follow the curriculum outlined in the Sustainable Shelter Series.

For the Spring 2013 session we will be focused on the construction of Aprovecho’s new outdoor kitchen and the completion of the Bamboo Yurt started during the Shelter Series 2012. This session will involve hands-on experience in stone foundations, timber and round-pole framing, waddle and daub wall systems, rocket stoves, cob, earthen and lime plasters, living roofs and more. Sign up below!

The Fall Practicum project is yet to be determined.

Depending on availability and the order in which you sign-up, either a room in the strawbale dormitory or camping facilities will be provided. Meals are communal and participants are asked to share in the responsibilities of cooking and cleaning. There is access to showers, a kitchen, hiking trails, and relaxation space. [[mailto:apronaturalbuilding@gmail.com ]]

Optical Surveying for Earthworks and Water

Advanced Permaculture Course in Optical Surveying

August 5th – 10th, 2013

Basic surveying and layout are essential skillsets for every farmer, homesteader, designer, and consultant. In this 6 day course, Tom Ward will teach the use of many types of analog (non-battery operated) surveying tools, along with advanced skills in keyline, pond and swale layout, mapping, and other core knowledge necessary for design and execution of permaculture projects.

Students will become familiar with swale, terrace, ditch and pond layout, profile cross-section drawing, keyline and trail system locating, solar assessment, ditch and wiggle water way layout, small cabin orientation and pad layout, staking, note taking, and compass and map reading. We will use telescope-like devices and other hand tools such as sight levels, pocket transits, builders levels, A-frames and various vertical measurement rods, as well as measuring tapes and wheels. The course will include flagging for trails, swales and ponds, as well as observations on the landscape with mapping of plants, birds and trees.

(Watch a short video of Tom showcasing designs that utilize the skills taught in this course here.)

This course is an advanced permaculture certificate course. The Permaculture Design Course is a prerequisite for getting an advanced certificate from this course. Others may have the certificate held until they have a PDC certificate. You must complete all six days of the course to get your certificate. However, the course is open to all who have a working knowledge of Permaculture.

Permaculture Short Courses

Water Harvesting : Two Saturdays, November 2nd and 9th

A two day introduction to the art of water harvesting including ferrocement rain-tanks, swales, ponds, and keyline design.

Learn More…

Plant Propagation : Sunday, September 8th

Leave a trail of abundance in your wake! Techniques covered include seed saving and starting, woody stem cuttings, and grafting.

Learn More…

Forest Gardening :

(Two Times This Year) : Sunday, April 21st & November 17th

Learn how to design and plant perennial food forests in this hands on workshop.

Learn More…

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