The Verge Permaculture Grad Series

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These are the stories of 10 graduates from Verge’s Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) Course, documenting what they’ve done with the knowledge, skills and inspiration they acquired from the course. Two film makers set out to find these graduates and catch them in action, capturing their successes, struggles, and transformations as they embark on new endeavours – starting gardens, homesteads, community projects, businesses, building sustainable homes and structures, hosting conferences and much more.

At this turning point in human history, where people from all walks of life have begun searching for a more fulfilling and sustainable way of living, these PDC graduates show what is possible, and in doing so demonstrate the essence of the permaculture movement that is sweeping Calgary and the world. We hope that watching these videos inspires you as much as we were inspired by creating them; so kick back, press play, and enjoy watching positive, practical change in action!


Produced by Verge Permaculture & Luke Kimmel

Directed by Luke Kimmel & Kai CB

Cinematography & Editing by Kai CB




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Nestled deep in the forested mountains of the Slocan Valley, ex-urbanite Shauna Teare and her family have applied their prior life skills in business and carpentry as well as their ability to learn-whilst-doing to create a leading edge permaculture homestead that has a lot to offer. See how they have up-cycled materials en-mass, created a diverse and productive organic garden, made the most of their on-site resources and networked within their community to create a truly resilient, sustainable, and enjoyable lifestyle.




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Crystel Vultier is a true local food purveyor for her home town of Canmore, AB. Over the past several years she has been instrumental in creating the Canmore Community Garden which now provides plots for over 100 gardeners in the city and area. She has also created a project called Farm Box which sources local and organic food directly from farmers in Alberta and BC, and then distributes it to 130 families in a weekly CSA program, as well as making the abundance of healthy produce available to the whole city through a booth at the local farmers market. Watch how one persons potential to create positive change is realized and see how quickly the ripples have spread to effect her entire community.




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Jeff and Juli Gilles are demonstrating a wide array of permaculture homesteading techniques on their 5 acre parcel near Rocky Mountain House, AB. In just a couple years they have managed to transform thousands of square feet of land into productive gardens ranging from food forests to up-cycled raised beds, and have used their technological know-how and a “get-er-done” approach to test everything from solar electric, heating, and cooking to rainwater harvesting, energy efficient retrofits, food storage, and large scale soil production through their business Taimi Soil Solutions. Their acreage is quickly becoming a leading edge example of homesteading solutions and off grid technologies relevant to cold climates, and they will be showcasing it all as the hosts of the 2013 Western Canada Permaculture Convergence this August.




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Josh Baker demonstrates a beautiful and functional approach to urban permaculture design at his home in Calgary, AB, incorporating many unique landscaping elements including a young food forest, flowers, and largely up-cycled passive solar greenhouse. It is clear that he and his family have carefully designed their yard to create and foster the profound emotional experiences of relaxation, contemplation, and a rich sense of place which a well designed garden can provide.
Josh has taken the skills from his day job as a project manager, estimator, and nationally certified safety officer specializing in shallow utilities contracting, as well as his extensive permaculture study, to create his company Radicle Routes Permaculture. In his first year of operation, Josh has taught several permaculture courses as well as taken part as a designer in one of the largest scale permaculture projects in all of Canada.
Josh’s solid and well-thought-out approach to creating Radicle Routes permaculture is sure to make him one of the most sought after consultants, designers, and teachers focusing specifically on key-line plowing, earthworks, holistic management, and overall farm design.




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Kym Chi shows us how permaculture is a form of art, as well as a tool for increasing personal empowerment and community resiliency. Her sense of humor, enjoyment, and positivity leaves everyone who meets her feeling happier and more inspired; and it shows that her energy and efforts in both the local and global community have made an incredible positive difference.
Kym’s involvement as the permaculture designer, garden curator, and farmers market coordinator at The AREA (Arts, Recreation, Education, Environment, Agriculture) have been one stunning example of this. In one years time Kym has led the charge in facilitating thousands of volunteer hours on the transformation of the old brown field site at The Area into a thriving permaculture garden and community space that is now a major hub for the Calgary community. She has been the driving force behind creating the local-focused Inglewood and Ramsay Farmers Market hosted at The Area which has created a platform for many new local producers to start their businesses.
Through her creative permaculture education and design practice Giggling Chi Tree, Kym has taught many permaculture workshops, including teaching at several music festivals across Canada, and now in various public schools across Alberta. She is also a contributor to the global initiative Gaia Craft, and has helped design many of their open source teaching tools.
Her passion as an educator is matched by her commitment to increasing her own education, which she is currently doing through taking her Advanced Permaculture Diploma through the USA Permaculture Research Institute, as well as a Visionary Permaculture course over six weekends at COSM, just outside of New York.




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Sara Haney and Chrissy Begus are piecing together the puzzles of sustainability through their permaculture education company Puzzle Permaculture. These two met in their PDC course with Verge, and later on at a sauerkraut making party decided to combine both of their professional histories as educators to form this new venture. They currently offer permaculture workshops in schools, corporate lunch-n-learns, some adult teaching programs, and also co-hosted a very successful permaculture garden tour in 2012. Once you meet these two and see them teach you will be amazed by their upbeat and engaging energy, abundance of very interesting scale models to describe permaculture principles and techniques, and their evident professionalism and experience as public speakers and educators. Since the shooting of this video, demand for their services has sky rocketed and the young venture they speak of in the video has already grown to be much more.
Sara’s yard is also a shining example of urban permaculture design. Starting off with just a concrete slab, her and her husband began cutting up the concrete to expose the soil and from there they have birthed an incredible example of what permaculture design can do. At their home they have 3 bee hives, a young food forest and veggie garden which together contain an amazing variety of plants, greenhouse (where they grew sub tropical plants such as okra and have an outdoor shower!), passive rainwater collection system, swales, wicking beds, cold frames, and more. When we came by to visit the yard for our first time in early April of 2012, we were amazed to see that Sara was already harvesting spinach and other greens from some of her cold frame gardens! She has done a great job of connecting with her neighbors through their garden project, and some of them even popped by to say hello while we were visiting. Sara also has a project called Apple Tree Sustainables which includes a blog, the documentation of her and her husbands’ yard transformation, and also natural body products which she makes and sells herself.
These two inspiring women show how permaculture design can foster hope for a better future, offer practical solutions and action steps, as well as help people take their skills or professional background and turn it into a small side business or full time entrepreneurial venture.




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Ashley Lubyk and Heather Noakes show that creating beautiful and sustainable human habitat is possible through the passionate work of their natural building education and consulting company, Dirt Craft Natural Building.
After attending university and pursuing work in the environmental sector and fine arts, these two decided to start a business of their own by following their budding passion for natural building, and after their first workshop on “How to Build a Cob Oven” the path forward with their new venture became clear. Just a couple years later Ashley and Heather have now lead over 25 hands on workshops on how to build cob ovens across Western Canada, as well as branched out to offer workshops on installing earthen floors, clay plasters and clay paints, cooking in cob ovens, straw-bale building and more. They also offer hands on consulting on a wide variety of natural building methods and techniques meant to help DIY builders take their existing knowledge and turn it into hands on skills and application know-how.
Ashley and Heather have become well known and respected for their passion of delivering high quality, well researched education, and when you take one of their workshops you can feel the true dedication they have put towards giving people the empowerment, tools, and skills they need to create healthier, more energy efficient, and more comfortable homes, all while offering detailed instructions on how to build it, and then showing you step by step how to do it.
Watch as these two take clay, sand, and straw, and turn them into some of the key ingredients for creating sustainable human habitat, and see how sustainability, practicality, and aesthetic design can be combined to create functional works of art that will have positive effects on the homeowner and community for decades!




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Jordan Saunders is a young farmer whose projects have already made a significant impact on the yards and hearts of many people across Western Canada; he shows by example that farming and permaculture homesteading are an attractive and viable path for youth looking for a career or entrepreneurial venture that is good for both people and the planet.
Jordan’s farming path began after an epiphany moment at a Vipassana meditation course where he decided he wanted to “be the change he wanted to see in the world”, and within months he had already applied for and received a grant to take his first permaculture design course and begin a garden share education program with 13 homeowners in his home town of Black Diamond. The program was very successful and most of the gardens have been continued by the homeowners ever since. On top of all this, Jordan and some friends also founded and operated an 18 share CSA farm in the same season.
Jordan now works and lives as the lead hand on a developing permaculture homestead in the Slocan Valley where this year he will be training two other full time interns and seasonal “Wwoofers” who will also be living and working on site. Watch and see how this inspired and motivated young person has created a valuable skill set through permaculture and farming, and see how he blazes a trail which is likely to be followed by many more like him in the future.




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Luke Kimmel is a young social entepreneur and permaculture designer who shows that both the entrepreneurial spirit and the desire to heal the planet can be satisfied through permaculture and urban farming. His vision and approach are based on the notion that humans can live in a way that makes us a positive force on planet earth, and that through following our hearts and dedicating ourselves entrepreneurs and good-willed people have all the opportunity in the world to create small sustainable businesses / projects that can help them follow their dreams while making the world a better place. Prior to starting work in permaculture, Luke helped found and run a clothing company / artist collective / events company called Light & Soul, and had also undertaken ventures in product distribution, business development, and music management. Thus, Luke’s approach to permaculture came through the lense of entrepreneurship, and all began when he first discovered yurts, and was extremely intrigued by the concept of building his own home for less than $15000. This led him to examine the concept of self sufficiency, and eventually move to a farm to in Winlaw, BC to take his first Permaculture Design Certificate course . After taking this course and spending a couple months living on a farm, Luke knew that he had found his true calling – to live out his vision of paradise through cultivating sustainable human habitats and creating opportunitites for meaningful work and community development.

Now, with the help of 3 other long time friends and business partners, Luke helps run their company Leaf Ninjas which does urban farming and permaculture design / edible landscaping in Calgary, AB. The Leaf Ninjas now cultivate a half acre of urban farmland spread between 10 back yards in the inner city neighborhoods of Inglewood and Ramsay, and will be selling produce to local restaurants and at the Inglewood & Ramsay Farmers Market which they helped found in 2012. Over the past 3 years Luke has consulted on a wide variety of
permaculture projects ranging from urban yards to community gardens to small and medium sized homesteads and acreages. The Leaf Ninjas have now designed and installed 8 permaculture gardens in Calgary and they plan to increase that number significantly in 2013, while also offering consulting and design services geared towards DIY gardeners and land owners who want to foster a more meaningful connection with their landscape.

Luke was also instrumental in helping produce the Verge
Graduate Series which you are watching now… So thank you
for watching with us, and we hope you enjoy the videos 🙂




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Evonne Smulders brings a youthful, inspired, and change-making spirit into her home community of Black Diamond, AB, and beyond… all the while embodying and sharing her truly “Sage” wisdom as an elder and proud grandmother in her community.
As an experienced gardener, ceramic artist, small business owner and community leader, Evonne sits on the sustainability committee in Black Diamond and is actively working with the municipality to change legislation regarding grey water, rainwater harvesting, and more. She also hosts a booth at the Millarville Farmers Market where she shares her passion for educating people about permaculture, as well as offering items such as worm castings and homemade wet pots for sale.
Evonne and her husband Rob have taken their combined experience of over 65 years in gardening, carpentry, and much more, to found Sage Folk School, their new endeavor where they aim to become a hub for people aged 18-80 to explore sustainability skills, organic gardening, green technologies, animal husbandry, permaculture, pottery, blacksmithing, natural building, bow making, bread making, fermenting and more. Sage Folk School is founded on their fundamental value of creating meaningful connections between the young and old, and holding space for the transfer of knowledge, skills, and inspiration to happen.
Evonne recently organized the 2012 Western Canadian Permaculture Convergence, which brought together over 150 people from across Western Canada to learn and share their experiences and skills for an entire weekend. Her work has left a true legacy for not only her home community of Black Diamond, but also for the permaculture movement as a whole. Her words speak to the story of a generation that was separated from the land and from their communities, and her vision tells of an opportunity to heal these wounds and make the world a better place for the generations to come.