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10-week Online Soil Food Web Course with Dr. Elaine Ingham!

Chi Nieves


Joined: May 15, 2014
Posts: 6
Location: SF Bay Area
    
    4
UPDATE!! A new course is about to start, September 15th, 2014


Hey Permies-

For anyone interested in knowing more about Dr. Elaine Ingham's pioneering work with the Soil Food Web, I have good news. The good doctor is finally offering e-learning to anybody, anywhere in the world; the Soil Food Web Course is online! This course includes a whole section on making compost and another on compost teas. Her method is the best I've ever come across.



This course is for permies, farmers, landscapers, ranchers, waste management professionals, agricultural businesses, garden enthusiasts, and anyone who touches the earth. Simply put, this information should be central to all sustainable agriculture and land management. It provides a comprehensive understanding of how to optimize your soil biology and structure, and the tools to do so immediately. Consultants will bank on this information! There are so few soil experts out there and now you can study with the best in the world without the need to travel.

The course features live weekly pre-recorded videos, each with a scheduled Live Q&A Webinar follow-up with Elaine, plus quizzes, a detailed workbook, a bunch of bonus materials, and an official certificate of completion. Elaine has revolutionized the world's understanding of soil and how to work with it. She was one of the keynote speakers at Permaculture Voices recently and has also spoken at the United Nations, the European Union, the Prince's Trust, and was the author of the USDA's Soil Biology Primer as well.

You can find out more in the Course Features section of our web page.

I've taken two Soil Food Web Courses with Elaine and I can say firsthand that this information has changed my life and I am so grateful it's now accessible to more people. I also know that the course quickly pays for itself in terms of reducing farm overhead for you and your clients, and likely will offer you a major advantage in whichever specific field you are in. If you want to know more, there is also a free introductory course called 'Getting to Know Your Soil' on the site. It's an amazing little course with tons of valuable information! You don't pay a cent to access this free information.

You can click here to start the free intro right now!

Full disclosure: I am the designer of this site and a committed permaculturist who is transitioning from enthusiast to career permaculture consultant and educator. I hope to inoculate the world with this information because I know from my own root-cause analysis that it is fundamental to saving the planet! Unfortunately there are still a lot of people who have not been exposed to this information, but thanks to the web this can change. I'm not an affiliate for the site. On that note, I wish each of you the best on this amazing permie path called life!

If you are curious about the specific schedule of the course, here is the Time Table.

If you are wondering about how exactly the course works, here are the Course Guidlelines.

To check out any other general info about the course: CLICK HERE

The course starts September 15th.

Blessings, peace and love,

-chi

Here is a video of a previous participant sharing his success story after taking the course with Elaine:

For more success stories, click here.

Adam Klaus
pollinator

Joined: Apr 16, 2013
Posts: 851
Location: 6200' westen slope of colorado, zone 6
    
  49
Chi Nieves wrote:
Full disclosure...


The course costs just under $1000. Really!

I'd be totally interested, for a fraction the cost. I am a huge admirerer of Elaine Ingham, but that is a bar set a bit too rich for my farming ways.

Curious to hear how it goes, in any event.


Bella Farm, a Biodynamic Farmily Farm-

Brown Swiss Raw Milk Dairy - Heritage Meat and Egg Chickens
French Intensive Market Garden - Diverse Permaculture Fruit Orchard

https://www.facebook.com/BellaFamilyFarm

struggle - hustle - soul - desire
Chi Nieves


Joined: May 15, 2014
Posts: 6
Location: SF Bay Area
    
    4
I get that $1000 may be a lot for some of us on Permies, but most commercial farmers spend thousands more on expensive chemical fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides etc. And those are the people we should be converting over to the Soil Food Web methodology. Either directly or through consulting with them. Anyone can take this course and begin consulting to large ag growers as a business. You'd help save the planet and make a lot of cash doing it. This information saves them soo much money but also helps permies as well in terms of growing more, faster, healthier with less water and no costly natural fertilizers. The profit margins don't lie. So this course pays for itself! In fact, I don't see how farmers can afford to not take this course!

Also $1000 for a 6 week course with a world-class teacher is a bargain. This is only my opinion, but I've taken her courses and know the value. I've seen the data!

I do respect others opinions and financial situations though. I totally wish you well..
R Scott


Joined: Apr 13, 2012
Posts: 2420
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
    
  28
Adam Klaus wrote:
Chi Nieves wrote:
Full disclosure...


The course costs just under $1000. Really!

I'd be totally interested, for a fraction the cost. I am a huge admirerer of Elaine Ingham, but that is a bar set a bit too rich for my farming ways.

Curious to hear how it goes, in any event.


That is the going rate these days across many industries/interest areas. There is a science to that pricepoint in getting enough people to make it profitable for the teacher and weeding out those that are not committed.


"You must be the change you want to see in the world." "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." --Mahatma Gandhi
"Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words." --Francis of Assisi. "Family farms work when the whole family works the farm." -- Adam Klaus
Sam Boisseau


Joined: Mar 14, 2013
Posts: 97
Location: PNW, British Columbia
    
    4
How many hours is the course? It doesn't seem to say anywhere on the site.

This is the same price point as Geoff Lawton's course... However Geoff has built a well-oiled marketing machine with lots of free content and a lot of permie/teaching "street cred" that was built over many years. The squeeze video seemed to be about getting off pesticide/herbicide agricuilture; is this because most of her students are conventional farmers? If this is rather aimed at permies or organic farmers I think the message might not really "connect" with them.

We're all already making compost over here. I'm sure we'd love to know how to make better compost but we won't be saving thousands of dollars on chemical costs doing so.

Moreover I was under the impression that a big part of her teachings was to learn how to look at stuff under a microscope. Is that something that will transfer well to an online course?
Chi Nieves


Joined: May 15, 2014
Posts: 6
Location: SF Bay Area
    
    4
Hey there guys. Sorry for the delayed response. This course will be at least 22 hours, though it will probably end up being more. Close to half of this will be live interactive webinars with Dr. Elaine during which students will have the opportunity to ask their most pertinent questions directly with her. In addition, she takes time at the end of the course to review each participants quizzes and provide personal assessments. This is quite unusual from a researcher and instructor at her level.

While she has placed a lot of focus on converting as many large-scale traditional agriculturists to her better-than-organic methodologies as possible (God bless her), the extent of what she shares in this course indeed goes way beyond the scope of what most permaculturists even consider in terms of their compost and soil implementations.

It's hard to even relate it to the compost that I see other permies involved with. It's more like designer inoculum created specifically to work with various unique soil and climatic factors. There are differences as well depending on what you're growing, be it croplands, rangelands, forest lands, or gardens. Most permies don't know how to make different types of compost for different applications, let alone quantify the differences in succession.

By understanding the balances of bacteria, fungi and various levels of complexity within each group of organisms in the soil food web, we can exponentially improve any agricultural scenario soo much faster. While we permies are obviously ahead of the pack in terms of using natural and sustainable means of growing, the data, insights, and tools learned in this course give us a whole new set of eyes when it comes to fine-tuning our approach for varied uses, placements, and means of remediation. Of course, there are other factors in terms of whether or not to use this methodology, but you cannot make those decisions if you don't know the methodology.

When you go to the site, please notice the "Free Intro" section which includes a series of free content that gives you a sense of Elaine's material and teaching style. I have no doubt that you will find some great nuggets in the free course alone, if not even a game-changer or two. Additionally, the "Course Features" and "Success Stories" will give you a greater sense of the value offered here.

I know the course offers an overview of microscopy. Also, I believe there will be a specialized microscopy course coming this fall. The Soil Food Web Course will be a prerequisite to the microscopy course.

Thanks for your interest, and I hope this helps.

Registration closes this Sunday at midnight June 1st, 2014 PST USA so time is of the essence. The course starts June 2nd...

If you want to check out the course: CLICK HERE!
Sharon May


Joined: May 26, 2014
Posts: 2
Yup, the price is pretty steep, but the knowledge is valuable. How does this compare to her intensive courses? Specifically. she will be offering a five day intensive course in San Diego ( Nov 1 through the 5th) which is less expensive. What is the difference between the courses, please?
Sharon May


Joined: May 26, 2014
Posts: 2
Yes, I agree with your comments. This IS a free market and, if it's not worth it to you, don't sign up. She offers very valuable info that, for me, is quite worth the price. None the less, can anyone tell me the difference between this course and the five day intensive? I will certainly sign up for one of the two.
mary yett


Joined: Nov 01, 2012
Posts: 62
Location: Manitoulin Island - in the middle of Lake Huron .Mindemoya,Ontario- Canadian zone 5
    
    2
I am a huge fan of Elaine's work and deeply appreciate that she is generously wiling to share an intro course with the world for free, BUT -- I have tried 3 separate times to sign up for the free intro course and the website will not process/accept my sign up and I can see no "contact us" info to use to get help. What gives?

Please help.
Su Ba
pollinator

Joined: Apr 18, 2013
Posts: 309
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
    
    9
I too tried several times to sign up for the free course but was not successful. Guess the site isn't working at the moment.


It's never too late to start! I retired to homestead on the slopes of Mauna Loa, an active volcano. I relate snippets of my endeavor on my blog : www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com
Scott McConnell


Joined: May 26, 2014
Posts: 4
    
    1
I'm so excited to take this course online! I did an intensive with Elaine last year, was blown away by all the information and really enjoyed her engaging, often irreverently humorous teaching style. My understanding of how to optimize ratios of bacteria:fungus etc. for different areas and the ease of compost extracts (vs. tea) has really transformed my approach. I have to admit that I got a little lost in the volume of info that we were given, which is a big reason I'm so stoked about being able to assimilate it a little more gradually and be able to go over the material as much as I need to. This would be my only feedback to those of you deciding between the online or in-person course. I think we get transcripts and DVDs of the course too. Anyway, hope to see and meet you guys there!
Su Ba
pollinator

Joined: Apr 18, 2013
Posts: 309
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
    
    9
Scott, since you've taken a course before, have you incorporated the information yet into a functional garden setup? What improvements do you think the information made in your system? What sort of differences have you seen in vegetable yields?
Matias Pajulahti


Joined: Nov 29, 2013
Posts: 3
Location: Turku, Finland
Su Ba wrote:I too tried several times to sign up for the free course but was not successful. Guess the site isn't working at the moment.

I had no trouble signing up yesterday for the free course and I just logged in to watch the videos and it's working fine for me. Try again later or maybe try a different web browser?
Sam Boisseau


Joined: Mar 14, 2013
Posts: 97
Location: PNW, British Columbia
    
    4
Managed to watch the free videos yesterday and it was quite interesting. I'm even considering taking the course now.


Today the website doesn't work?


Edit: they were switching servers today so that must be what is causing the downtime
Su Ba
pollinator

Joined: Apr 18, 2013
Posts: 309
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
    
    9
Sam, glad to hear you got to watch your free video. I signed up, got the email verification request(which I promptly did), received the email and link to see the video, but when I tried to view it by logging in as requested, all I get is a notice stating that my email verification is pending. I cannot access the free course. I tried re verifying, but get a screen that says my email is already verified. So I'm still locked out.

The big problem is that there is no where on the website to report a problem. Since something obviously isn't working correctly, I have not be able to access the video nor notify anyone of the situation.
Sam Boisseau


Joined: Mar 14, 2013
Posts: 97
Location: PNW, British Columbia
    
    4
Su Ba wrote:Sam, glad to hear you got to watch your free video. I signed up, got the email verification request(which I promptly did), received the email and link to see the video, but when I tried to view it by logging in as requested, all I get is a notice stating that my email verification is pending. I cannot access the free course. I tried re verifying, but get a screen that says my email is already verified. So I'm still locked out.

The big problem is that there is no where on the website to report a problem. Since something obviously isn't working correctly, I have not be able to access the video nor notify anyone of the situation.



Somehow I got TWO different e-mails asking me to verify my e-mail address. They came from two different systems. I think one from "soil food web team" titled "please confirm your email" and one from "soil food web course" titled "verify your account"...

Did you confirm both of them? One of them might be in your spam folders.

I think from what you said that this is likely to solve your issue.
Chi Nieves


Joined: May 15, 2014
Posts: 6
Location: SF Bay Area
    
    4
I know there have been a lot of questions floating around and I'm here for a quick sec to offer an update. The response from permies all around the globe to Elaine's new site has been staggering. It truly highlights the need for access to this information. Unfortunately, we found our web server was not up to the task and were forced to try various band aids until we could migrate to a new server.

I'm relieved to say we have successfully migrated to a server that can handle any and all traffic. We did run into some problems during the migration and were down for a bit, but the site is back up and it seems to be running smoothly. Please know we are still testing everything and working very hard to offer quality access to this amazing information.

I started helping on this project a little over a month ago and I firmly believe in this offering. I hit the ground running and have been working many 18 hour days to make this happen. I understand some people have been frustrated by our apparent lack of support. We are making changes to improve this. I thank you for your patience and am sorry for any inconvenience.

We are now poised to turn out one hell of a course and I'm really excited about it. We'll also be adding many more features and content in the future. We hope this site grows to be a major online resource for the entire world and we appreciate your enthusiasm!

Feel free to email us if you have any issues: info@soilfoodwebcourse.com

With peace and love for the planet,

-chi
Su Ba
pollinator

Joined: Apr 18, 2013
Posts: 309
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
    
    9
Sam, thanks for the info. I found the second email in my spam bucket, like you thought. Things are working now. Super thanks for the help!
Jennifer Wadsworth
steward

Joined: Sep 24, 2013
Posts: 2182
Location: Phoenix, AZ (9b)
    
126
Chi - thanks for all your hard work on this project - it will pay off many times over as more and more people are exposed to, and practice Dr. Ingham's methods.

I'm going to assume that this course will be offered again? I'm dying to take it but I need to save up for it.


http://abundantdesert.com
Climate: Subtropical desert (Köppen: BWh)
Elevation: 1090 ft
Continental Effect: 350 miles from the Pacific Ocean
Land Profile: FLAT land
Annual rainfall: 7"
Soil: Clay loam - this area was the alluvial flood plain of the Salt River
mary yett


Joined: Nov 01, 2012
Posts: 62
Location: Manitoulin Island - in the middle of Lake Huron .Mindemoya,Ontario- Canadian zone 5
    
    2
Whatever the glitch was, it seems to have been corrected - i am now signed up for the free course. Looks like it will have lots of valuable info.

THANK YOU ELAINE!
Sam Boisseau


Joined: Mar 14, 2013
Posts: 97
Location: PNW, British Columbia
    
    4
I think there could be more effort put into explaining what the modules of the course are before people sign up.


I signed up and got this extra info in the confirmation e-mail:

I Understand This 6-Module Course Is Based On The Recording Of The 2 Day Workshop Of Soil Food Web Course Presented By Dr Elaine Ingham And Will Cover These Topics:

Understanding That A Healthy Soil Requires Managing Chemistry, Physics, Biology And Microbiology All At The Same Time
Addressing And Solving Weed, Disease And Insect Pest Problems at Their Root Causes
Soil Structure – Who Builds What Parts In The Soil? What Does The Nutrient Cycling?
Getting The Correct Biology To Enhance Root Health, Root Depth, Water Holding And Aerobic Conditions.
Maximising Nutrient Availability To Increase Yield, Crop Quality, Food Nutrition And Profit Potentials While Minimising Erosion, Run-Off And Nutrient Leaching
Where Does The Added Biology Come From?
Types Of Compost And Its Application.
Making And Identifying Good Compost And Compost Standards
Compost Tea: What Is It?
Practical Applications Of Compost Tea
What Is The Soil Foodweb & What Is Biological Farming? Some Examples.
Keeping Data To Identify A Problem When It Appears



So basically this is the recording of a 2-day course split in 6 modules (2.5 hours each?), with the addition of 7* 1 hour Q&A and a few bonuses,


The course feature page on the website (http://soilfoodwebcourse.com/features/) says 10 weeks but I guess that must be a mistake.

Elaine will also offer a 5-day intensive in San Diego in October for $650-$800 (http://sdsustainable.org/event/soil-foodweb-with-dr-elaine-ingham/)... Isn't that way more bang for your buck? 2 days vs 5 days?

I also happen to own the permaculture voices talks by Elaine which include a 3hour intensive and a keynote speak so I presume that some of the course will cover the same material.


Even after buying the course, I'm struggling to decide whether I want to take it or not (there's a 30 day cancel policy)




paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15216
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
So, for those of you that took the course, how was it?


sign up for my daily-ish email / rocket mass heater 4-DVD set / permaculture playing cards
Eivind Bjoerkavaag
the navigator


Joined: Sep 17, 2012
Posts: 47
    
    5
Yo guys! I took the course, and I took the Lawton online PDC the first year. I'd say you only need the PDC.

However, if you want to learn WHY and HOW permaculture really sings, then the Soil Food Web course is very good. It's all about the soil, people. Also if you believe in fairys or spirits contributing to your garden when you put out preps and teas and whatnot, then maybe this course will make you think maybe it's just all in the soil.
Kerry Rodgers


Joined: Oct 31, 2011
Posts: 31
Location: North Texas, Dallas area suburbs, US zone 7b
    
  11
I just finished Elaine's course, and also finished the 2014 Lawton PDC recently. In my opinion, the Soil Food Web course is a nice compliment to the PDC, and I feel I got my money's worth in actionable information.

Elaine explains what all the categories of organisms are in healthy soil, and what their functions are in supporting your plants. Her main evaluation method for practical growers to use is to look under the microscope and count the number of each type of thing that you see. This will obviously need some eye training and practice, and the course does not really contain that training, though there is an extra video of Elaine giving the hour-or-so lecture at the beginning of a one-day microscope seminar she teaches.

Elaine claims that you can restore soil health in one growing season, by re-establishing the full biology that healthy soil should have. You apply the right biological innoculants, which are really just well-made compost, or the tea therefrom. The number of applications needed depends on how well the organisms are able to survive and establish in your soil. You can evaluate your compost or compost tea the same way--look at it under the microscope. Not having done either myself yet, I think her compost method is not that different from the Berkeley method that Geoff taught in the online PDC. She is very skeptical of the other preparations that you hear about on the internet.

The highlight of the course are the live web sessions with Elaine answering questions. The technology for these was barely adequate, but Elaine was really shining on them, and a lot of participants seemed to really like them, as I did.

If you want a certificate at the end, there are six online quizzes, and a small project. After the GL PDC experience, it was nice to have something of a manageable size, not requiring 2 weeks without sleep. Not having paid a lot of detailed attention to my soil, the project instructions sounded a little cheezy; but when I did it, I observed several things I didn't expect and came away with a positive opinion of it.

Elaine's lecture presentation is a little disorganized for my taste, and you often cannot see what she's pointing at on the projector screen when she says, "Look at this, compared to that! You definitely want this one, not that one." People were a bit upset by this at first, but it got less during the course, and the organizers are promising to fix it. You can almost always tell from context what she means. Each lecture comes with a transcript of exactly what she said, and these are really indispensible. They could just edit these a bit putting in "[pointing to the left column]", and it would be an adequate fix for me.

The organizers of this course are planning to have followup online courses, perhaps later this year. These will cover the microscope details (you'll need to buy a microscope w/camera that costs about $400), more composting and compost tea details. I will likely buy some of this follow-on course material, when available. The current course will be a prerequisite.

Elaine herself is really a treasure, and people on permies should be used to hearing accomplished people share their strong opinions. The course organizers give the impression of a small dedicated group who work hard to get the message out--true believers.

I feel like I've written too much already, but if you have more questions about the content, I'll try to answer them. I recommend it.
Bill Kearns


Joined: Feb 13, 2009
Posts: 154
Location: E Washington steppe
    
    2
Agree with Kerry, twas a good course and a definite complement to your PDC. So much I didn't know was brought to light; plants don't feed off NPK in the dirt, it takes legions of soil critters! If you want to know how your plants sustain themselves, how to build healthy soil (and be able to verify it), and how the whole soil-food web works, this is the course to take.
Soil Food Web Course


Permaculture is a gestalt ... a study of the whole. Not just how to produce more and better food, but how human life on the planet affects and is affected by the surrounding environment.
Bill Kearns http://columbiabasinpermaculture.com
Sam Boisseau


Joined: Mar 14, 2013
Posts: 97
Location: PNW, British Columbia
    
    4
I ended up taking it and am happy I did, even though I still think it is a bit overpriced. Geoff's course had maybe 6-7 times more content and delivered it in a much more professional way, with pdf summaries, forums, answers to most of the comments, great editing etc. But then he had maybe 50 times more students.

The content was really good, though I had hoped it would go a bit deeper with compost/ compost tea. But it seems like this will be in an upcoming course.


After this course, there's a whole other world of learning to delve into. Some people who disagree with Ingham on some points but are still focused on soil life. Others who have a totally different approach (e.g. Solomon's latest book, which focuses on mineral balancing). There's different schools of thought out there, and as permaculturists we need to have a general understanding of things and keep our critical thinking hat on,


This is a good course if you want to learn about the soil food web. It's fascinating stuff. I would take it again, and will progably take the following courses. But I'll still complain about the price tag and will also learn from other sources as a complement.



Sam Boisseau


Joined: Mar 14, 2013
Posts: 97
Location: PNW, British Columbia
    
    4
Paul: I believe you can become an affiliate of the course over here if you're interested in promoting it http://soilfoodwebcourse.com/affiliate/?inf_contact_key=c4e7774d42f6986dba119dbb61f0f36edf332eb347a13101f5e843cf24c3e208
Scarlet Hamilton


Joined: Aug 20, 2014
Posts: 26
Location: UK

I'm currently ready Teaming With Microbes...

Elaine is mentioned in the book and I'm guessing a lot of what is covered on the course will be in the book which is a lot cheaper and a good starting point.

I would definitely be more interested in the course if it was cheaper.
Burton Rosenberger


Joined: Aug 30, 2013
Posts: 14
I second everything Kerry has brought up.

I got my PDC via GL in 2013 online and the information there in was at least 140+ hours. While the hours were not as many in the soil food web course the information is extremely dense. For one video in week 5 I found myself with five pages of notes and I was only 10 minutes into the video. Notes are key to passing the tests. Like the GL series all the videos / content are available for life there after. I don't know if future videos will be included with this like the GL series yet though but I suspect it might.

I should add the test questions are clearly written by a PhD given how much they make you think. The last test in particular had a mix of elements from other tests and took me about thirty minutes to be satisfied with before submission. You need to score a 75% or better to pass them and some tests only have 15 questions while most have 20 so you cannot get many wrong if your after the certification.

I do not have land to test anything I learned on and have only been in contact with others to help them. If anyone is looking to do any level of consulting for "traditional" agriculture then this course should be mandatory as it would save you so much money and get quicker measurable results for your client.

I sat in on the "science in permaculture" group at the North American Permaculture Convergence last weekend and one of the things which was brought up was the ability to have measured results. I feel the class was well worth the price paid and I can see the knowledge making it easier to establish a full ecoweb on new property if done right.
Christine Baker


Joined: May 08, 2013
Posts: 34
Location: NW Arizona - high desert
Did anyone in northern AZ or southern NV take the course?

I would love to hear from anyone in the high desert and see how useful the course is for us with 8.7 pH, lows to 3 F, highs around 110F and extreme winds all the time.

I've been following Elaine's work for quite a few years. We do apply compost tea and we got earthworms, etc, but is it really worth the expense for an acre or so of gardens and orchard?

After all, it's not just the expense of the class, but then buying a microscope, the followup class, etc.


High Desert Gardening, Food and Health Forum:
http://lakemeadca.org/high-desert-gardening-and-food-forum/
Kerry Rodgers


Joined: Oct 31, 2011
Posts: 31
Location: North Texas, Dallas area suburbs, US zone 7b
    
  11
Hi Christine,
I'm not in the high desert, so I won't comment on that part of your question, except to say that Elaine does discuss pH and soil types.
About value of the course relative to the size and scope of your operation: Do you have a problem that you need to solve? Sick/toxic soil? Expensive chem-ag inputs to your system? etc.
I'm on only 0.6 acres, but I want my place to be healthy. Currently, my oak trees are dying, one every year or two. I rationalized the high course price to myself by realizing that the course costs about like hiring a pro tree service to remove one dead tree. We won't speak of the cost for them to inject toxic gick deep into the soil.
I knew practically nothing going in, so I felt I learned a lot. There were a few pro growers in the course. They seemed to be there to hear a different approach, and they seemed to be happy with what we learned and excited to try it out.
YMMV. Best wishes.
Christine Baker


Joined: May 08, 2013
Posts: 34
Location: NW Arizona - high desert
Hi Kerry, I got virgin desert here, so no toxins at all, but with lots of caliche and the 8.7 pH we need to focus on foliar feeding and somehow improving what little dirt we have.

We've done ok in our hoophouse and gardens with adding wood chips, gypsum, some aged manure and sulfur, and of course lots of earth worms, but I'm at the point where I'm not sure what exactly to do. I can either spend hundreds on soil tests and recommendations every 6 months or learn using a microscope.

I really wish there were more serious gardeners in our area (Nor. AZ / Las Vegas) so that we could split some of these costs and share our experiences.

Bill Kearns


Joined: Feb 13, 2009
Posts: 154
Location: E Washington steppe
    
    2
Greetings Christine from the semi-arid eastern Washington shrub steppe, where we see 9"-12" annual precip, soil pH ~8.5, well water pH also around 8.5, hot summers @ 100+F and cold winters down to -20F, and nearly perpetual wind ... all-in-all very similar to your high desert.

We work specifically with climates where evapo-transpiraton exceeds precipitation, at the moment with a reforestation organization in Afghanistan and an organic farm nearby in eastern Washington.

On a personal level, we are "filling-in" an existing small orchard and expanding it to include more variety with an ultimate goal of having a dry-climate version of a food forest. So for us, the course was critical as we are not well versed in the soil sciences. However, I now feel I have a firm grasp of how the soil food web works and how to go about establishing and maintaining it in this climate.

Our mantra is to alter the "evapo-transpiraton > precipitation" inequality by altering the only variables within our control: evaporation and transpiration. The keys to this are wind protection, shade, and mulch/ground cover. Part of the goal is to establish an ever larger "wet spot" that doesn't turn to dust as the summer progresses and minimize our drip irrigation, and a big factor is to get the soil-food web up and running. Understanding the various nuances of the composting process so that we could successfully nurture all the desired soil "critters" was also important. So, with these goals in mind and with our previous knowledge, the course exceeded our expectations.

With all of that (whew!) I guess "it depends" (you know, the standard Permaculture answer) on what your future plans are for your gardens and orchard area. I feel the cost of the course was well worth the knowledge gained. Hope this helps.
Christine Baker


Joined: May 08, 2013
Posts: 34
Location: NW Arizona - high desert
Thanks so much for your feedback, Bill. Our situations really are very similar. The area around our grey water is doing really well with 10 ft junk trees being our first big success with slowing down the wind and creating shade.

A little off topic here, but we're also starting to propagate trees and bushes that do well in our climate and of course especially edibles to plant on our property as well as for trade. We're looking for a wide variety of berries and fruit shrubs and trees.

Do you have a microscope or do you plan on getting one?
Chris Badgett


Joined: Dec 18, 2013
Posts: 208
Location: Whitefish, Montana
    
    6
Nice job with the site Chi! Looks fantastic.

The Soil Food Web Course is a great example of what's possible in terms of spreading permaculture wisdom around the world.

Creating this type of platform for sharing knowledge is not as technologically challenging as many might think.

Helping everyday people build these types of online learning environments and businesses is what motivates me to build the lifterLMS to empower permies around the world to share their wisdom as a business and a force for change.

Nice work with this course!


Chris Badgett
Cocreator of Organic Life Guru. Have you seen what's happening over there?
 
 
subject: 10-week Online Soil Food Web Course with Dr. Elaine Ingham!
 
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