This document is an exposition of the formation of my new ecological landscape design and build company; Padden Permaculture and highlights one project in particular--the design and construction of a retaining wall, terrace, and patio on a property in Loveland, Colorado.
Project Title: How to Build a Landscape Business, Retaining Wall, and Patio... From Scratch
Project Scope: In the late Summer of 2014, I began building a relationship with a couple who would eventually hire me to design and build a retaining wall and patio on there property near Carter Lake in Loveland Colorado. The project was the catalyst in the formation of my new Ecological Landscape Design and Build Business, Padden Permaculture.
Project Outcomes: In addition to the creation of a new patio, and the formation of my new business, a how-to presentation has been created to share with others.
Project Design: The design methodology that guided the creative process of this project followed a simple four phase cycle of visioning, planning, implementing, and celebrating.
How to Build a Landscape Company, Retaining Wall and Patio...From Scratch
I recently moved away from an intentional community where I have been teaching permaculture for the past 4 years. This project marks the launching of my new business. Padden Permaculture will now be offering permaculture design and installation services with a specialization in hard-scape installation to Northern Colorado and beyond.
The most significant intervention that I made during this process was to quit my reliable, steady, day job and pursue the establishment of Padden Permaculture full time. The timing of this intervention was appropriate and harmonized well with my project work for Gaia University as I have come one step closer to earning my Master's Degree in Integrative Eco-Social Design.
Now that I have one large project under my belt, and built a reliable infrastructure, accounting system, and tool collection, I am ready to promote my gifts to the world. My next steps include, following up with future potential clients, polishing up my website, and perhaps giving my 91' Ford F150 a make over, paint it green, and dress it up with a fancy new Padden Permaculture logo on the side.
My purpose for starting this business is three fold: First, it is a way to provide financially for myself and my family. Second, the field of permaculture design and installation is so broad and dynamic, I am certain that it is a career I will be able to grow into and continually be challenged. Lastly, the world needs a new generation of landscape company. I intend to influence the landscape industry toward a more ecologically responsible and generative way of interacting with the surface of our planet.
~ Critical Evaluation
After working for a summer for a conventional landscape design and build company and after researching other companies in my region, I have identified an incredible niche for the services that I am offering. Fort Collins is a very progressive town, with a good strong local foods culture, and even a popular sustainability fair that happens every year. I am sure that the style of landscape design and installation that I am offering will be well received my my community. However, I am taking a risk by including in the name of my business, a word that the majority of people are unfamiliar with--permaculture--because people might not understand what it is I do when they read my business name. However, I anticipate that the popularity of the term "permaculture" is going to increase and because I am taking this risk now, I could be one of the forerunners in the field down the road.
Up until now, I have perceived permaculture as being on the fringe of society and its integration into mainstream society seemed a bit bleak. But now that I have experienced its potential when it takes the form of enterprise, I am much more hopeful in its ability to have a large scale impact on society. Nothing has changed in regards to the relationship between permaculture and mainstream industry--only my perception of it... and now my approach.
Yeomans' Scale of Permanance
On the surface, the patio project that I have featured in this report does not necessarily represent a quintessential permaculture installation. Though it does harvest rain water and direct it into an area that will be growing perennial food crops, the point is not to portray it as a functioning, regenerative system in and of itself. The point is that Sharon, the client, and I, both share a deep passion for permaculture and we found a point of connection that met both of our needs. The relationship to highlight in this system is in fact a human relationship. Now that we have established this connection and developed a level of trust, we have the potential to build more elements on her property that will in time relate to one another in a generative way. For example, she has already asked me to design a greenhouse/shed combination that she will use for crop starts and season extension.
On a personal level, one of the primary accomplishments that I recognize in this project is the simple success of getting my foot in the door as a professional landscape designer.
In the world of permaculture, we have a lot of designers, a fair amount of generalists, and very few specialists when it comes to hard skills and installation. Through this project, I was able to refine the very specific trade of stone and paver work. Now, when a permaculture design calls for a hardscape walkway, patio, or retaining wall (all of which have the potential to be multi-functioning, dynamic elements), weather it is my design or a peer's, I will be able to fill that niche with my specialization. Moreover, according to P.A Yeomans's scale of permanence, we see that roads and access are fairly high priorities when it comes to which elements of a design need to be considered first.
This leads nicely into some potential next steps and direction that I can take my business in. I have many peers who are designers who do not yet know about my new business nor that I specialize in hardscapes. Networking among this group of people could prove to be a mutually beneficial activity and ultimately generative for our regional permaculture contingency.
As more and more permaculturists enter into mainstream industries; especially landscaping, architecture, engineering, and development--based on their relative impact on the surface of the Earth--we are going to see old strategies of design fall away, and new innovative ideas begin to surface. This is the new patrix busting strategy that I have come to identify with. No longer will I approach permacultue from a round-about, grass roots, volunteer based approach that I once thought it had to be. I am now in favor of jumping the deck of the ship of commerce and enterprise and steering it from on board. This specific topic of economic strategy as it relates to permaculture also comprises my major un-learning for this particular OP cycle.
Lastly, I would just like to mention how on a personal level, the degree of trust that was imparted on me by Sharon during this initial creative process, allowed me to rise to a new level of professionalism as well as craftsmanship, and I extend deep gratitude to her and her husband for that gift.