Finally back online!

April 24th, 2016

As you may have noticed, this site has been inaccessible for at least a couple of months. Thanks to our Dreamhost web hosts, our infection is cleared up(for now). The June/ July PDC internship program is full (5 sign ups) and we are looking forward to another growing season. While we were down i actually created another site at, though for now it is mostly just photographs.

I will in early summer be posting an update on how we’ve faired thru the winter, and hopefully before long a new page detailing our own permaculture design roll out, and how we’ve seen the regeneration arising from that. pond3north

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December 16th, 2015

We are once again offering the two month internship course over June and July 2016, with a strong emphasis on application–in other words, hands on learning. Please see MOP internships on the page at right for details. This year  the fee is $200. plus work/ trade of course, with a $100. upfront deposit to hold your space. We are limiting this to

four participants, so please sign up early! Send cover letter and work experience to alexdenicola(at)

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October 2015 update

October 14th, 2015

Finally, an update! The spring/summer PDC went well, and everyone it seems learned a lot, including me. Besides our studies and a good dose of garden work, the interns designed and constructed a shed for further hay and/ or cow needs. This was done mostly with hand tools and poles from our woodlot, which everyone enjoyed. We will be offering another two month PDC over next June/ July, so watch for that.

We’ve had another full and abundant growing season — still ongoing, and you might find a little report on how some things did interesting: After two years of not very successful attempts at growing grain corn (mostly due to rodents), this year came in pretty well with “Painted Mountain,” an heritage flint corn– destined to become tortillas and/or areppas in the ongoing quest to close the grain gap here. The seaberries, grapes, peaches, figs, nectarines, pears, apples, northern kiwis, garlic and most veggies all did well, and the first nuts are appearing on our walnuts and hazelnuts planted 2009, which is a delight to see. The blueberries we moved last fall from a location they suffered in (too much heavy, wet clay) responded amazingly well with plump, delicious berries. We also raised four turkeys(bought as month old), who took to foraging immediately, and ranged far and wide on their way to the freezer, except the one grabbed by a coyote– talk about yield! Our two milk goats produced two kids each, and we’re still getting lots milk. Of our two heifers, one remains as yet unbred, while the other should calve later this month–a big event. The potato and squash harvest were rather poor, mostly due to rain and poor location choices on our part. I will just emphasize here that the Pc folks who claim astounding abundance with little or no work are exagerating– it takes a lot, and fertility on a farm doesn’t come that easy either, so please don’t kid yourselves.

Well, as the US empire, with its horrendous and stupid foreign policy (feeding the war machine) continues its inevitable decline, and a globally contracting economy mystifies most mainstream onlookers, and climate chaos continues to build, the urgency to establish regenerative, resilient, and  productive homesteads remains. No one, including all the ET prophets and or conspiracy theorists, really knows how this will all turn out, but what we do know isnew2015 137 new2015 095 new2015 141 new2015 106 that our thoughts and actions can make a big difference in how certain outcomes will affects us. Perhaps have a read of our “Hopi declaration,” and best of luck to you!

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April after a VERY snowy winter

April 14th, 2015

Though we started the winter easily enough–with almost no snow thrIMG_5815IMG_5793 IMG_5797 IMG_5823ough Dec. and January, Feb and March were off the charts for snowfall. If there is one safe generalization to make about climate change, it is that extremes are becoming/ will be(?) the norm. More or less of snow, rain, heat, cold–you name it.

Though our essential survival has not been threatened, which it  may have without machines to bail us out, it still  feels like a disaster to me–though as i suggested, we’ve weathered pretty well. It is not over yet however, and as of today-April 14–most of the ground still has about 12″ of snow plus all the much higher drifts and piles. Fortunately it is melting slowly–as a big rain would compound the run off difficulties. One effect will be that two months or so of spring work will need to be compressed into the early summer gardening, which in a normal year is a bit of a crush. So we shall see…

Our June/ July internship course if full up and we are looking forward to that, and the Sept/  Oct one as well. I am grateful there will be many hands for all the work.

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2015 Permaculture Design Course Internships

October 22nd, 2014

Our June/ July internships  are full, but we have two spaces still left open for the Sept/ Oct PDC.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Sunday, September 21ist extended tour & workshop/ date change

August 3rd, 2014

Greetings! We will be offering an extended tour of the Motheroak site on Sunday morning, September 21st from 8:30 to 11:30.

Alex will lead, explaining how what you will see here arises out of the permaculture design principles, and leads to further system resilience. Cost for the tour only is $20. For those interested in a deeper look and some discussion, we are offering a light lunch followed by talk and discussion of some of the conceptual framework for PC design, including pattern recognition, the role of ethics, and more. Tour plus afternoon is $35. Please Rsvp early as space is limited.

We will be re-offering our series of two 3 day workshops again in the fall. The first one is a distillation of the permaculture design course, and the second is an in depth look at the principles. Details will follow before long, and you could peruse the page at right on “details for weekend workshops” if you’re interested.

We are also accepting an intern or two for the fall season. Please contact alex. Thanks

The tour was originally scheduled for Aug. 24th

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Summer growth & evolution

June 26th, 2014

Much has happened around here since that last post, way back in March, and the doing of it has meant very little time spent on this website . High on the list happenings is the completion of the new barn “Phoenix,” which now sits precisely where the barn that burned last October sat. Although it has a smaller footprint(30’x32′), Phoenix will store more hay since it’s taller.  Sheathed mostly in used metal(yes, some of it is scorched, but it still does its job),the barn is built with a combination of some of our own milled boards, some reclaimed boards & beams from an older structure, and a good portion of new, locally cut and milled lumber. It is spacious, airy, and cool in the heat, and the goats seem to like their new stalls just fine, thank you. It was surprisingly inexpensive to build–less than 3k. Photos will follow soon.

Our March workshop went quite well, and we will be repeating the series later in the summer–timing still uncertain. Now that the new barn is mostly done, and we’re almost over the early summer hump, i’ll find time to conjure up another workshop too. Meanwhile, despite the much cooler than usual spring, most of our market gardens are planted or growing along pretty well. Already we have scapes on the fine looking garlic, and just around the corner is haying, which always seems to be a rather big deal, at least for me. Perhaps it is the tension around how many different things could go “wrong”– the old equipment, the weather, having enough help. Anyhow, it usually goes well, and we’ve had some quite good hay these last years.

Another significant change involves an aspect of the pattern of polarities(see around here, namely the masculine/ feminine balance–which has been somewhat imbalanced with mostly just me around for the past ten years. Next week Chalia, my new sweetheart and partner, will be moving here from Quebec– a big and welcome change indeed for Motheroak permaculture and its prospects for community.

As the  world and its economy continue gyrating down the spiral of what we call “modern civilization” towards some rather bleak prospects(to put it mildly),  the wisdom traditions, the principles of permaculture, the abundant growth of nature, both wild & domestic, and the collaboration and warmth of friends continue to make it all seem like a rich, especially in the sense of deeply textured, worthwhile journey. Cheers.DSC03860



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March 26, 2014 Update

March 26th, 2014

Our workshop series went well, despite the winter conditions, as we hosted about ten participants. We’ll be repeating the series with some adjustments of course, probably starting in late July–but do check in here occasionally if you’re interested, as we might do a one-day before then.

As we have a new barn to build(one burned last Oct.), this seasons internship program will take a second seat to that– but there is plenty to be learned here just from doing and helping and living, so if you’re interested in coming and can stay   for at least a few weeks, please write me.


One continually astonishing observation for me is how many people remain relatively clueless about what is happening to our larger economic, not to mention ecological systems. Many think the high fuel costs are due to “greedy corporations” (true but only partially) or the low Canadian dollar(also partially true). The mainstream media has been very successful in obscuring–mostly thru omission, that the cheap energy era is gone, over, kaput—and we are not, indeed cannot, go back(tar sands, fracking&deepwater drilling are not cheap!). The same media seems to remain largely clueless that as net energy inputs to the economy are reduced, the system must, by simple physics at the very least, contract–which is the big C word–not to be spoken. So we call it “slowed recovery” or “sluggish growth,”  and struggle and puzzle year after year now on how to “fix” it. Meanwhile systems & jobs continue to dissolve, and we don’t talk about why.  Permaculture design is most relevant in the context of energy descent(aka contraction)– so if you’re looking for an adaptation strategy(and a deeper understanding), well, you’ve come to the right place, so to speak. Cheers for now, alex

ps. we’re having a major blizzard todaywinter alder wall

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October 3rd, 2013

biochar cooker stove insert

biochar cooker stove insert


biochar cache in greenhouse

Want to learn more in depth about Permaculture Design in real time and space? Read on!

Starting this December 7th and continuing through 2014, Motheroak Permaculture will be offering, at least twice, a two weekend(3 days each: Sat./Sun./Mon) workshop series on permaculture design. The first weekend will provide a distillation/overview of the Permaculture Design Course(PDC) “fundamentals” curriculum–toolkit strategies & techniques and more- and the second weekend(tentatively scheduled for late February 2014) will be an in depth look at core permaculture design principles i.e the “thinking tools” and more. In addition to “classroom” time, we will have outdoor activities as well as some hands-on ones. The weekend schedules and course outlines(see “weekend workshops detail.”) will be posted at

This series is not intended to substitute for the 72 hour/ two week PDC course, nor will there be any certificates offered.
However, if you are keen on learning about and seeing some Pc design ‘in action,’ this series may be just what you’re looking for. While weekend one is open to all, it will be a prerequisite (or equivalent experience) for weekend two. The cost for either weekend separately is $250, but if you register for both(with prepaid deposit) that will drop to $225ea or $450 for both. Because our cold weather accomodations are limited, the first weekends will be limited to 10 participants in house, so please register early. All meals, from lunch Saturday to lunch Monday are included, as well as indoor bed spaces.
Motheroak Permaculture, in conjunction with(and formerly part of) Highland Farm, has been under organic management for over 25 years. Our youngish(5yrs) permaculture design demonstration site, while still evolving, provides many clear examples of design principles and strategies at work on and integrated with a working organic market garden farm. Alex DeNicola, the primary presenter/ organizer , has been farming ecologically since the early nineties. For over the last ten he has been  increasingly incorporating permaculture onto the site, and has completed both the Permaculture Design Course and Permaculture Teacher training, as well as having hosted a fair share of tours and events.
Please register by contacting alex at
For more on what permaculture design is about, is an excellent resouce.
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August 30th, 2013


cooks as fast as propane!

cooks as fast as propane!

Just a short note here today, as i will be updating(about time!) soon. The 2014 plan is different than what i’ve offered the past three years–the teaching focus will be on weekend workshops covering the permaculture principes(Holmgren’s 12), which i’ve continued studying intensively and have come to see as the core of Pc design, as Holmgren himself states. Apprentices–limit 2–will learn by living and doing as well as helping to host the workshops. If someone is keen enough we could negotiate for PDC equivalence & certificate, though 4-5 months here will take you way beyond what can be learned in 2 weeks–this has been confirmed multiple times by grads who visit. Send email to alexdenicolaathotmaildotcom. cheers.

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