no avatar

Learn more about permaculture at free SAPS program

Submitted by Joy Moore • Sep 17, 2019 at 5:15 PM


The Southern Appalachian Plant Society invites the community to learn more about “Permaculture: A Sustainable Living Methodology for the Home, Garden and Community” at 7 p.m., Thursday (Sept. 19) at BrightRidge Power Company in Johnson City.

The free program will feature Will Hooker, a landscape architect, emeritus professor at North Carolina State University and certified permaculture designer and teacher.

Permaculture is a design methodology for creating an ecosystem that mimics nature yet provides for as many of the human needs of food, water, shelter and energy as possible. Hooker’s mission and contribution to permaculture design is to bring beauty, as well as productiveness, to each space with which he works.

Hooker’s interest in permaculture began while he was on a sabbatical in 1988. While bicycling across the United States, he became upset by the lack of people out caring for the land and wondered if there might be a better way for humans to relate to the Earth. He searched for and found a message about living in a more sustainable manner, a method called permaculture.

In 1995, he became certified as a permaculture designer and teacher and, when Permaculture Institute of North America was formed in 2016, he was among the first 50 to be recognized by the organization. In 1998, he taught the first university-based permaculture course on the East Coast. Then in 1999-2000, with his wife and their 2-year old son, he spent a year circumnavigating the globe visiting permaculture settings in 11 nations.

Returning home, Hooker and his wife began the process of converting their lot to as complete a permaculture setting as possible. He writes, “We now produce about 25 percent of the food we eat (veggies, fruit, nuts, honey, eggs); generate about 25 percent of the energy we use; have free hot water whenever the sun is shining; and have a radically reduced material stream through refusing, reducing, reusing, composting, recycling, etc. We are conscious of the unsustainable weight of our environmental footprint and are in a constant effort to radically improve.”

Their home garden is a model for permaculture design and is featured on the cover photo for the international best-selling book on permaculture by Toby Hemenway, “Gaia’s Garden,” 2nd Ed. For a look at Hooker’s urban permaculture model, visit www.610kirby_permaculture.org/.

Raised near Lake Ontario in New York, Hooker obtained an undergraduate degree in landscape architecture from the SUNY College of Forestry at Syracuse University in 1967 and earned a master’s degree from North Carolina State in 1979. In the years between the two degrees, he practiced in professional offices in Raleigh, Durham and San Francisco, obtaining his landscape architect license in North Carolina in 1975. He is currently an emeritus professor, retired from the North Carolina State Horticulture Department where he taught small-scale garden design for 34½ years in a nationally renowned program which he built and oversaw starting in 1979.

He has been involved in award-winning landscape designs in private practice outside the university and is also recognized as an accomplished sculptor, building mostly ephemeral bamboo structures with students and community groups in the Carolinas and Australia.

BrightRidge, formerly Johnson City Power Board, is located at 2600 Boones Creek Rd (Hwy. 354) in Johnson City. For more information about SAPS or the free program, call (423) 348-6572 or email sapsinfo@embarqmail.com.