Polytechnic Permaculture

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Polytechnic Permaculture

An Initiative for Transdisciplinary Holistic Design

Alex Vincent, and Collaborators Cal Poly San Luis Obispo BArch Thesis J. Reich 2011 - 2012

Polytechnic Permaculture An Initiative for Transdisciplinary Holistic Design

Alex Vincent, and Collaborators

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo BArch Thesis J. Reich 2011 - 2012

About the Author Hello, my name is Alex Vincent and I’m a dreamer, a workaholic, and I’m lost somewhere between well-mannered, black-wearing architect and radical, dirt-splattered “hippie”. Whether in a design studio or in a garden, one thing is clear - I’m bursting with ideas and can’t wait to share them. This thesis book is both a personal quest to get my ideas out of my head and an attempt to complete my five-year journey towards a BArch degree. Outside of studio, I am usually busy running to a club meeting, expanding my network of connections, playing in the garden, or wandering through the world around me. When I do have spare time, I’m normally in the kitchen, trying to speak to veggies and dreaming of a garden which grows veggies that talk back.

If you have questions or comments, please contact the author at avincentcp@gmail.com 805 729 6845

Note: All photos and diagrams courtesy the author unless otherwise stated.

Preface: Getting My Hands Dirty http://www.examiner.com/entry-level-careers-in-new-york/labels-to-avoid-at-work-the-stinky-or-dirty-kid

After spending my fourth-year studying abroad: in Switzerland to learn from the sheep, Rome to learn from the ancients, Australia to learn from the soil, and San Francisco to learn from professionals - I returned to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo a changed man. I had the fortune to experience firsthand what I had only tried to grasp in theory. One thing was certain - I could no longer approach design the same way. Returning to school for my fifth and final year of studies, I was anxious to translate my experience with design into tangible change.

I could not do it alone. Even if I tried, it would be one little attempt at making change in a sea of status quo. I decided that to reach my goal of impactful change, I would need to collaborate - and not just with other architecture students, but with students from every discipline. I was not content sitting at my desk, scribbling a fantasy on paper. I wanted to get my hands dirty.

What has developed in wake of this ambition is a collaborative initiative that is tied to handson projects, student and campus organizations, and disciplines across the colleges. The goal has What I came to realize was that in been to establish concepts that order to truly design sustainably, don’t just sit gathering dust after

I graduate, but rather introduce ideas that live on beyond my tenure as a student. This may seem to be a naive idea and at times it has been as I’ve encountered problems that should have extinguished my ambitions. Yet, I am here today to show that these obstacles did not discourage me - I have managed to instigate change and get plenty dirty. While some of my work may drift away as I shift the tassel from right to left, at least I have planted a few new trees that will carry on my legacy.

- Alex Vincent

Diagram of Contents the wholes that make up the whole Rather than provide you with a linear structure for a nonlinear project, to the right is a diagram of contents. Unlike a table of contents, it recognizes the complexity of the following narrative. Each section is a piece of the puzzle, explicable only as a whole within a greater whole.





eaking Br

on e

-D By


Issues & Goals




stic Sol H o li ut io n nic Goa h c e l t s y l e Silos th

re ltu h c

in g


t ps a C

& ess ect c o Collaborative Pr rchit A 65 the is Role of the lys a n & A n o i Project Introduct 71 e nt Masterplan Developm 93


s Design

Conclu sion Referen c es

17 7 179

“For scientific endeavor is a natural whole - the parts of which mutually support one another in a way which, to be sure, no one can anticipate.� -Albert Einstein


la cu


Per Ap mac pr u oa

10 7

Extrau c rricular



h ac

13 9

Intro d

Proje cts

Futu re Permablitz Network

Ho li s ti c

ti v itie s

Ap pr ment 55 h s i l b oa a Def Est ch Intr initio od n uc & ti o n




Pe rm ac u


Ap pr o

Ste ps

Des ig



Ne xt


re tu


& ivities Act ults Re s



Poly tec h

Thesis: Issues & Goals

Breaking the Silos 3

Polytechnic Goals 7

Holistic Solution 13


“Little boxes on the hillside, little boxes all the same. And the people in the houses all went to the university, where they were put in boxes and they came out all the same…” http://adamsikorski.net/portfolio/black-white/colorado/

- Malvina Reynolds

the silos of our society

Understanding the Metaphor Hyper-specialization

in industry has encouraged higher education Anyone who has driven through to compartmentalize academic the vast fields of the Midwest, disciplines in a similar fashion. home to America’s industrial agriculture, can recognize the Students, harvested in monovertical shapes of silos. Yet they disciplines, are governed under may not recognize the silos in siloed colleges. The administrations American educational institutions. directing these disciplinary silos So how do these steel cylinders become so internally focused that there is little opportunity relate to institutional learning? for interdisciplinary discussion or Traditional silos are evidence collaboration within the institution Often, this leads of a monoculture. Built to store as a whole. massive amounts of a single crop, to significant inefficiencies in agricultural silos are the essential education, with each college symbol of the green revolution. fighting to teach their students When applying the metaphor similar and related subjects to institutional learning, it is without cooperating to achieve disciplines, not crops, that are common goals. For example, at Cal segregated and compartmentalized. Poly San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly),

in the College of Architecture and Environmental Design (CAED), there is the Sustainable Environments minor and in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Science (CAFES), there is the Sustainable Agriculture minor. While each minor focuses on similar sustainability issues that pertain to their college, there is no institutional dialogue between these two programs. Because these are college-run minors, participating students from within the college are given priority and there is little opportunity for students to supplement their learning from the other minor.

Breaking the Silos


A Polytechnic Approach? Just like sustainable agriculture fights for polyculture, it could be argued that sustainable education must fight for a poly-disciplinary approach. Fighting the grain silos must start with a fight against the institutional silos that perpetuate the hyper-specialization of industries and segregation of educational disciplines. At Cal Poly, the institution was established under a polytechnic approach. Today, Cal Poly recognizes the potential of offering a comprehensive polytechnic education, one where each student is given a well-balanced education across all fields as well as a top-ranked education in their field of choice. Yet this intention has become lost as budget cuts across the six colleges keep college administations inwardly focused to protect their funding.

Cal Poly programs will be more integrated to connect and interlink our disciplines, faculty, staff and students... - Cal Poly Strategic Plan 2012 http://www.nathanmarciniak.com/gallery/

Therefore, in order to achieve the goal of a comprehensive education, a solution must be found that can encourage interdisciplinary opportunities in an effective way without compromising funding for core academic programs. Another pivotal part of the polytechnic approach is connecting learning to real challenges faced by the discipline outside of academia. This has lead to incredible learning opportunities under the “Learn By Doing” philosophy, yet many of these activities occur in a controled lab or with industries outside of San Luis Obispo. While this is not inherently bad, it overlooks possibilities for a mutually beneficial relationship between the students and the community they live in. In order to reconnect

students’ learning to their own shift to prevent it from becoming lifestyle, a solution must foster a marginalized. strong link between the university and the surrounding community. At Cal Poly, there has been an ebb and flow towards sustainability in the campus curriculum. With Sustainability and Silos the current budget cuts, existing Tracking the progress of the sustainability-driven classes are “Green Movement” from the in threat of being cut because 1970’s, one can see how it they are not required units for became corrupted into the graduation. While the classes “Green-Washing Movement” of the consistently fill beyond capacity, 2000’s. Now, the new buzzword is professors often have to teach “Sustainability” and those fighting the courses for little or no for it are being dismissed for either compensation. As we continue being too shallow with the term or to recognize the importance of for treating it like a crusade to sustainability in higher education, proposed solution must “save mother earth”. However, as a global climate change continues encourage the recognition of the to threaten human well-being, value of sustainability classes in sustainable thinking has become the university. an imperative not to be taken lightly. Therefore, the outlook on sustainability education must

sus trans



Transdisciplinary is an approach used in holistic design to engage those in academia with those in the surrounding community to create solutions collaboratively. The definition used here comes from the research of Bårbel Tress, Gunther Tress, and Gary Fry in which they define the term as “projects that both integrate academic researchers from different unrelated disciplines and non-academic participants… to research a common goal and create new knowledge and theory. Transdisciplinary combines interdisciplinary with a participatory approach.” (Tress, Defining Concepts).




ary adj.


ty n.

Now used casually, sustainability can vary in definition and application from person to person. Cal Poly defines the term as “the ability of the natural and social systems to survive and thrive together to meet current and future needs.” Rather than seeing sustainability as a study isolated from the primary curriculum on campus, there is power in viewing it as a tool to create an infused discussion within and between core academic programs. Sustainability, using whole-systems thinking and comprehensive holistic design, interconnects all disciplines and creates opportunities for transdisciplinary communication and collaboration.

Breaking the Silos


I am an I



I am an I


D esigner



have particular

MASTERIES & STRENGTHS What do you do for a living? This question is a pivotal way in which people identify themselves and know others in today’s society. While focusing on a profession is important to achieving mastery, these socially-constricted roles can limit opportunities for people outside of their discipline and discourage them from pursuing other interests.

people to loose appreciation for the valuable contributions other professionals can make. Communication and collaboration thus become difficult without a sense of interdependence. When solving problems, the single-mindedness behind these societal roles creates a linear, confined process. While this process inherently involves collaboration between disciplines, it often doesn’t promote an open dialogue. Each professional leaves the other to do their role out of fear of undermining their mastery & taking on greater liability.

When asked, “What do you do for a living,” society puts individuals into two identifying boxes: a profession and a task. These assigned identities prescribe how an individual approaches a problem and the disciplinary language they use. Hyper-specialization creates a disconnect between one person’s As hyper-specialization meets work and another’s and can lead the linear problem-solving model,

solutions become similarly focused and categorized. For example if its seen as a water problem, (like a drought), then a water solution (like a dam) is applied. In a holistic approach, the problem is not categorized as a water problem - instead it is viewed as an imbalance in the whole. Drought might not be only climatically derived - it could be due to inappropriate agricultural practices. Therefore, the solution is to grow more food with less water. Drought, rather than being a problem, can be a solution for abundance!


















problems solving problems

The community design process opens up questions about roles in design, implementation, and professional identity. Recognizing that, regardless of profession or mastery, we all have strengths and weakness, people are free to collaborate on an equal, and reciprocal level.

Each individual coming from a unique perspective (a combination of their past experience and disciplinary training/practice) can identify a different challenge and opportunity inherent within a problematic situation. The diversity of challenges and opportunities turns the problem into a solution. 1 2 3 4 5 6



Diverse Challenges





Diverse Opportunities





http://www.dumpsterbox.com/v/Nature/Water/flowing-river2.jpg.html http://www.chinasmack.com/2010/pictures/yunnan-drought-fish-trapped-in-dried-lake-bed-photos.html http://www.goodlife.com.ng/gltourism.php?gltourism=read&id=120 http://www.tweitepumpkins.com/blog/?m=201108 http://www.make-my-own-house.com/planting-fruit-trees.html http://wisdomquarterly.blogspot.com/2012/03/urban-food-forest-for-foragers.html


ustainable olutions Breaking the Silos





nic adj.

Cal Poly Mission Statement: Polytechnic comes from the combination of the Greek words poly (many) and techne (craft). In institutions like Cal Poly, MerriamWebster defines polytechnic as “relating to or devoted to instruction in many technical arts or applied sciences.” When considering holistic design, an institution that brings many disciplines together creates the perfect conditions to collaborate for a greater whole.

“Cal Poly fosters teaching, scholarship, and service in a learn-by-doing environment in which students, staff, and faculty are partners in discovery. As a polytechnic university, Cal Poly promotes the application of theory to practice. As a comprehensive institution, Cal Poly provides a balanced education in the arts, sciences, and technology, while encouraging cross-disciplinary and co-curricular experiences. As an academic community, Cal Poly values free inquiry, cultural and intellectual diversity, mutual respect, civic engagement, and social and environmental responsibility.”









Indeed, fully-developed, sustainability can embody whole-system thinking. - Cal Poly Strategic Plan 2012 http://lib.calpoly.edu/universityarchives/history/timeline/

strategic planning and decisions In order to unify decisions across the university, Cal Poly created the University Strategic Plan that identifies a vision and values for Cal Poly’s future. The plan sets up priorities, institutional decisions, and actions that are intended to guide decisions by administrators. What is most interesting about the Strategic Plan is its emphasis of three key topics: From the established goals, it seems that the university is just as concerned about disciplinary silos as sustainability education. Therefore, it is beneficial to use the Strategic Plan as a framework for a design response. All of the text to the left is directly from the University Strategic Plan.

whole-systems thinking interdisciplinary learning innovation

Cal Poly Strategic Vision:

Strategic Action Plan & Initiatives:

Cal Poly will be the nation's Cal Poly is developing its second comprehensive campaign. The premier comprehensive polytechnic priorities of the campaign are in alignment with the Cal Poly Strategic university, an innovative institution Plan and include: that develops and inspires whole- Sustainable and Healthy Communities system thinkers to serve California - Learn by Doing and the 21st Century Polytechnic Experience and help solve global challenges. - Innovation/Leadership/Entrepreneurship

Cal Poly Strategic Decisions:

Fundraising Priorities:

to provide a comprehensive Cal Poly’s evolving curriculum the university’s polytechnic educational experience demonstrates and common polytechnic identity. emerging commitment to crossdisciplinary learning opportunities Cal Poly will build on its core learn- and newly emerging fields of study. by-doing pedagogy to ensure all Innovative curriculum and academic students have a comprehensive centers require investments in polytechnic multi-mode education program development to maximize that could include project-based, the intellectual capital generated the academic Cal Poly programs will be more cross-disciplinary, co-curricular, throughout integrated to connect and interlink multi-mode, experiential and community our disciplines, faculty, staff and international opportunities. students, all as partners in teaching, learning, scholarship and service, Cal Poly will define all majors as "polytechnic" having depth of expertise in the professional or academic discipline, and breadth, balance and literacy in technology, the arts and sciences, integrated seamlessly to prepare whole-system-thinker graduates.

Excerpts from Cal Poly Strategic Plan 2012

Question and Answer Responses It is clear that the problems of today and the challenges of tomorrow for California and in a global context will need graduates who have depth and breadth in an integrated education and are whole-system thinkers. The challenges are many and most are complex requiring a multidisciplinary and integrated interdisciplinary team rather than a solo individual approach.

demonstrate expertise, work effectively and productively as individuals and in multidisciplinary teams, communicate effectively, think critically, understand context, research, think creatively, make reasoned decisions, use their knowledge and skills, and engage in lifelong learning. Learn By Doing, ProjectBased Learning, and capstone experiences are opportunities for a deeper, richer education to develop the whole-system thinker, comprehensive polytechnic graduate for the future.

Future Cal Poly graduates should have integrated breadth, balance and literacy in technology, the arts and sciences and depth of their total education to be wholesystem thinkers and leaders. These Meanwhile, Cal Poly is a leader will be important differentiators of in sustainability of operations with Cal Poly graduates. They should a well-developed process and a

record of progress to continuously improve our performance. We also have expertise in sustainability as an academic and research field. Indeed, fully-developed, sustainability can embody wholesystem thinking. We need to be innovative and creative as we seek continuous improvement and renewal in our programs and in our operations. Cal Poly also has opportunity to contribute to the field of innovation, another potentially integrative theme we have expertise in and should develop further.

Polytechnic Goals


From a focused perspective, the river is healthy.

Looking at the whole, a different picture emerges...


Holistic Solution





tic adj.

Holism is an essential part of sustainability. Google Dictionary defines “holistic” as a system “characterized by comprehension of the parts of something as intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole.” In reference to holism, a “holistic” design is a design that pays attention to both the parts as well as the whole and treats them as inseparable.

For example, one might say that they have developed a “sustainable” house because it is powered by solar energy. However, if the people living in the house are still buying food grown and shipped from across the world, they’re still using large amounts of fossil fuels to live. Therefore, to be truly sustainable, one must think of the whole and not just its parts.

THE ISSUE: in order to be sustainable, the relationships between the parts and the whole must be recognized hyper-specialization of professions prevent connection between the parts and the whole disciplinary silos in educational institutions perpetuate this disconnect

break the silos...


therefore... to break the tendency of disciplinary disconnect, the next generation of professionals must be trained in holistic problem-solving and be empowered with a common language that facilitates a transdisciplinary dialogue

Holistic Solution


A Permaculture Approach Definition and Introduction 19

Design Approach 23

Polytechnic Permaculture 29




why permaculture?

Permaculture, unlike many other philosophies, is grounded in application. In its essence, permaculture is an empirical science that takes the LearnBy-Doing concept to one that is Learn-By-Living. Consistently observing and adjusting the systems that sustain life creates long-term resilience and life-long learning.

a unique perspective on creating solutions. This outlook empowers everyone to be designers and take part in planning the systems that support a community. At the very core of permaculture design is community, recognizing that in order to preserve culture and livelihood, a community must work together to sustain themselves as a whole and as individuals. Recognizing the common goal of a sustainable future, permaculture provides a common language of observation, experience, and interdependence.

Rather than looking at sustaining individual systems, permaculture provides a framework for designing sustainable human settlements which reintegrates humans into their surrounding ecosystem. Permaculture accepts Many permaculturalists, including that every person, equipped with Bill Mollison himself, argue that their specific experiences, brings permaculture does not belong in 1 2 3 4


http://deannaraekenyon.blogspot.com/2011_01_01_archive.html http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/924.html http://www.hearditintheplayground.com/tag/kids-gardening/ http://hautpr.com/fashion/

academia, fearful that the silos of institutions will destroy the essential holistic approach. However, the Polytechnic Permacultue Initiative hopes to open a dialogue about how permaculture could actually forge a new future for educational institutions. Rather than dismissing disciplines all together, what if disciplines could be used to create a more thoughtful design process, one where each person’s perspective on design is empowered by mastery in a particular profession?

It’s all about relationships...




ture n.

[Perma]nent Agri[Culture] Permaculture was originally conceived by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the 1970’s at the University of Tazmania. The term itself comes from the combination of “permanent” and “agriculture.” Today, many permaculturalists argue that the concept is better described as a “permanent culture” because of its broad implementation outside of agriculture. The concept, disseminated through Permaculture Design Courses, has reached across the world and forged strong networks of similarminded people transitioning into a sustainable future.

Permaculture is an applied design science for the envisioning and implementation of sustainable and resilient human settlements. It is defined in the Permaculture Designer’s Manual as: “...the conscious design and maintenance of...ecosystems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people providing their food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way.” (Mollison ix)

Definition & Introduction


three permaculture ethics 1




Ethics and Principles Beyond Sustainability Permaculture strives to reach beyond sustainability; it challenges designers to envision human settlements that regenerate. Toby Hemmingway, author of Gaia’s Garden, uses the context of a marriage to understand the difference between sustainability and regenerative design. He asks, do you want a marriage to be just sustainable, or do you want it to thrive? The application of permaculture stems from its core ethics and principles and through shared

design principles takes form in a variety of community systems. In turn, each system is designed with techniques specific to its applicable scale. While techniques can vary from place to place, designers are unified by common ethics and principles, creating a global network of change-makers. Each design can be held accountable to these common ethics and principles to prove that they are truly regenerative.

twelve permaculture principles 1 2 3 4

Observe & Interact Permaculture Ethics Catch and Store Energy Obtain a Yield Apply Self-Regulation and & Design Principles Accept Feedback 5 Use and Value Renewable Resources and Services 6 Produce No Waste 7 Design from Patterns to Details 8 Integrate Rather than Segregate 9 Use Small and Slow Solutions 10 Use and Value Diversity 11 Use Edges and Value the Marginal 12 Creatively Use and Respond to Change Care of the Earth Care of People Fair Share

1. Observe & interact

2. Catch & store energy 3. Obtain a yield

4. Apply self-regulation & accept feedback

5. Use & value renewable resources & services 6. Produce no waste

7. Design from patterns to details

8. Integrate rather than segregate 9. Use small & slow solutions 10. Use & value diversity

11. Use edges & value the marginal

12. Creatively use & respond to change

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 Australia License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.5/au/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA. The ‘design principles’ have been adapted from David Holmgren’s book ‘Permaculture: Principles & Pathways Beyond Sustainability’. Permaculture Principles Poster 1.0

1 2 3 4

http://superforest.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/sheep-land.jpg http://www.quitecurious.com/wp-content/gallery/spain2/9-market-weight.jpg http://permacultureprinciples.com/freedownloads_princposter.php










a Fin

inciples De sig n Strategie s

WORLD RK O W CHA T NE h t i NGE c E L s A e & r B O u GL





ls &







T echnique


y log


ch Te



ent ironm v n E Built T



Community Governance





& Na ture T



h& Cu We T ltu ll-B T e re ing & Ed T uc T at io n








*Adapted from Permaculture Flower



Definition & Introduction


Permacu lt

Community Governance

Tools & Technology

Finance & Economics

Land Stewardship

Health & Well-Being

Holistic Design

Built Environment

Culture & Education

Whole Systems Thinking v. Linear Thinking

Tools & Technology

Built Environment


C onsultant D esigner C lient

B uilder


P Linear Design Approach Existing problem-solving models move in a linear fashion from concept to finished product. Along this path, each person involved serves a specific role, which has a finite beginning and end and a limited scope. Coming from a specialized field, each participant is trained in a specific disciplinary language, which often creates misunderstanding when communicating with the other disciplines involved in the

solution. Conflict can ensue as each person retreats from taking on liability for any part of the solution outside of their set scope. Consequently, there is little incentive or opportunity for effective communication between the many stakeholders. When a holistic approach to design is applied, there is a recognized connection between disciplines. This opens up a dialogue, where mastery in one field, like the built

environment, can apply to another and visa-versa. The recognized interdependence of systems that compose human settlements establishes a common language in which both disciplines need to communicate in order to create a unified solution. As problems are not seen as finite, their is no defined scope nor finite beginning and end, but rather a cycle of continuous adjustment and an evolving and changing design team.

solving problem-solving Recognized Tools & Technology


Built Environment

Common Language

Design Approach



Non-Linear Design Alternative As an alternative to the typical design process, permaculture recognizes that a more holistic design calls for a more holistic process. Therefore, the design process includes a collaborative design team that works with the community to create a plan for long-term resilience rather than a definite solution.

* From pg 95 from Bill Mollison’s A Permaculture Designer’s Manual

challenges are overcome by opportunities, and a closed-loop design emerges.

The solution becomes a mechanism for continuous problem-solving where challenges that emerge through time become opportunities for new design responses. As the community evolves, so too do the problems and the design team This process recognizes everyone that responds to them. is a designer in a broad sense, even if its just designing our schedule for the day. Each perspective, now seen as equal, can recognize inherent challenges and potential opportunities without feeling inhibited by social roles. As a team, designing becomes a connect-the-dot process where


City Repair Project’s Intersection Repair in Portland, OR

The challenges are many and most are complex requiring a multi-disciplinary and integrated interdisciplinary team rather than a solo individual approach. - Cal Poly Strategic Plan 2012

de C



O community design




sign v.

Design is here regarded in a general sense which includes these definitions as found in The Free Dictionary: “To conceive or fashion in the mind; invent, To formulate a plan for; devise, To have as a goal or purpose; intend.” This definition of design recognizes that everyone has the capacity to innovate with or without proper “Design” training.


C Design Approach


on-campus permaculture 3 On-Campus Permaculture Gardens Intro to Permaculture Course Permaculture Intern Course Permaculture Design Course for Credit, taught at local ecovillage B.S. Degree in Sustainable Food & Farming


- total of $25,750

(as of June 2012)

White House Champions of Change National Real Food Challenge Award National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) Excellence Award

UMass Permaculture Fellow permaculturists (permies) at UMass Amherst have been introducing permaculture at their university - and getting national recognition for it. Most notably, UMass Permaculture won first place in the Campus Champions for Change Challenge and were invited to the White House to meet President Obama. They are a perfect case study for success in introducing permaculture to a university. Their approach is based in transforming underutilized lawns in front of the dining commons into edible food gardens. Ryan Harb, the current leader of UMass’s permaculture efforts works for the university’s Auxiliary Services

as a Sustainability Specialist. He has organized the creation of three on-campus lawn-to-garden projects. Students designed, implemented, and manage these projects for credit through the Permaculture Committee class. In addition to the 15 members of the committee, students and community members volunteer to keep the gardens in continuous abundance, which provides the cafeterias with fresh produce and herbs. As of June 2012, Umass Permaculture has planted “over 1,500 fruit trees, berry bushes, herbs, flowers, and vegetables,” (UMass Permaculture Homepage).


Design Approach


a crazy idea... This might sound like a crazy idea, but what if students could choose a parallel path to their education, one that fulfills the demands of their specific discipline while working collaboratively with other majors on a project that made local, lasting change and gave them real-world experience? And what if, when they graduate, they were empowered to become changemakers in their field of choice or to become leaders in a new holistic industry that continues to work with communities on projects that make positive impacts? Cal Poly, while currently deeply segregated into disciplinary silos, has potential to become the nation’s leading institution in sustainable problem-solving and transdisciplinary collaboration. Why? Because the university’s own

strategic vision and goals clearly state that the university is striving to embody a comprehensive polytechnic education that teaches whole-system thinking. Permaculture, embodying holistic systems thinking is a natural evolution of the polytechnic model. Rather than proposing an institutional change (inherently impossible to bring into affect in the short-term), the implementation model for the Polytechnic Permaculture Initiative runs parallel to the status quo and gives students the option of pursuing an alternative track towards their studies, one that still qualifies them for a career in their discipline and simultaneously opens new opportunities for innovation.

Industry Change-Maker Status Quo Career

Permaculture Career Graduation

Status Quo Education

http://therealbumpusmcgee.blogspot. com/2011/11/auschwitz.html

Societal Norm

Holistic Education

Societal Alternative

Curricula Extracurricular

4 Focus Areas

Learn-By-Doing Capstone Project

polytechnic permaculture Goals:

Fulfill Key University Strategic Goals Minimise Impact on Budget Create Transdisciplinary Project Opportunities Introduce Permaculture Curriculum On-Campus Encourage Student-Led Campus Improvement Projects Innovate Resilient Solutions to Local Problems Network Existing Projects Together Under a Unified Initiative

Polytechnic Permaculture


Typical Senior Project CAED Senior


Faculty Advisor Perspective Time Interest


Collaborative Senior Project CoE

CAFES CoLA Multidisciplinary Collaborative Group


Collaborative Senior Project



Multidisciplinary Collaborative Group



+ Faculty Interest

Collaborative Research Project

Multidisciplinary Collaborative Group + Faculty Interest ER CL AS SMEN

+ Underclassmen Interest





University-Wide Collaborative Initiative 3 Projects Under 1 Initiative or 3-year On-going Project


A typical senior project often ends in a research paper stacked in the archives of Kennedy Library to gather dust. However, when the project becomes larger and creates changes in its surroundings, its impact lasts.

under a unified (an thus more impactful) initiative and has a better chance to be carried on by the underclassmen the following year.

A clear way to expand the scope of a project and create greater potential for its continuation through time is to collaborate. With four people working collaboratively, the project can be four times as big. With a bigger project, there is a greater chance to get faculty engaged. And, as interest grows, there is bound to be enthusiastic underclassmen willing to help. By connecting the project through the Poly Permaculture network (pg 59) or other intercollegiate networks, it has the potential to be combined with similar projects

This book and the work it constitutes is taking on the role of an initiative, not a project. While there is evidence of work in many projects, the goals of this collective body of work is to


Transdisciplinary Initiative Initiatives tie community-based projects together, empowering each to create change through the collective support of its partner projects. An initiative could be an interdisciplinary project continued through time or it could be separate projects strung together by a common objective.

Holistic Education Development

Status Quo

Present Initiative Current Institution



project v. initiative Senior Projects set in their discipline remain as single happenings of innovation, disconnected from new discoveries in other colleges. Often students from disciplines will be working on the same or related projects without ever knowing the others exists.

Tipping Point

network current projects and inspire future projects.

in Typical Senior Project

Institutional Change

Senior Project


Collaborative Projects


tive n.

An initiative is not a project, but a impetus to projects. The Free Dictionary defines initiative as “an introductory act or step, a leading action; readiness or ability in initiating action.� By creating initiatives, energies and attention are pooled to support a broad movement of action. Rather than a series of one-off projects, an initiative has the power to connect projects together and continue their effort beyond a graduating project team.

Networked Projects

Polytechnic Permaculture


use current institutional structures In order to minimize impact to budget and the established curricula, and to make approval processes easier, the Polytechnic Permaculture Initiative utilizes existing institutional frameworks. By embedding new ideas into the existing structure, institutional change can evolve naturally. This allows energy to be invested in the projects themselves rather than the framework itself.

Rather than jumping across a raging river hoping to land on the other side, this approach is similar to laying stepping stones towards institutional change, one success at a time. The “stones� currently exist - the key is aligning them to form a continuous, accessible path towards graduation.


two primary approaches establish a broad network Like mycellial networks in the soil, the Polytechnic Permaculture Initiative strives to create a broad-reaching network of intrainstitutional and community partners. This allows the program to pool energy towards collaborative solutions where each problem that arises becomes a new opportunity for learning and collaboration. In addition to collaboration, uniting these partners allows each program to run more efficiency knowing that other programs are supporting their efforts with parallel intentions.

A broad network also secures ties between students’ learning, the community they live in, and the systems that directly support them. Projects united through this network can then blossom, like mushrooms sprouting out of the leaf-litter.

2 1 2

http://laughing-listening-learning.blogspot.com/2011/05/gather-up-crumbs-i-reason-we-live-so.html http://www.wildedible.com/wild-food-guide/chanterelles

my personal network On the next page is the network established this year as the Polytechnic Permaculture Initiative has grown and begun to connect different groups and entities onand off-campus. At the center of the network is me (“architecture student�).

key Design Firm/ Professional Connection

Senior Project Case Study

Allied Local Non-Profit

Permaculture Research Site

Core Academics

Community Network

Elective Academics

Other Student Organization

Other Campus Extracurricular Activity Department

Campus Entity

Local Farmer

Polytechnic Permaculture


College of Architecture and Enviro. Design

Construction Management


Sustainable Environments Minor

City and Regional Planning

Horticulture and Crop Science

Organic Farm Design Project

Academic Senate

Architecture Student

College of Ag, Food and Enviro. Science Cal Poly Organic Farm

Appropriate Technologies

SLO GreenBuild

Guateca Program

SLO Sustainability Group

Development Center for Appropriate Tech.

Quails Springs Permaculture

Sustainable Policy Retreat

Oasis Designs

SustainSLO SBCC Center for Sustainability

Olive St. Research Site

Ojai Foundation

Santa Barbara Permaculture Guild

Orella Ranch SLO Creek Farms

Earth, Soil, Water Conservation Club

Net Impact

Zero Waste Club

Business and Finance

Sierra Student Coalition

Fair Trade Club

Empower Poly Coalition Green Campus Program

With The Grain

Real Food Collaborative

Associated Students, Inc


Poly Permaculture

Four Elements Farm Growing Grounds

Permablitz Network

Earthflow Designs

CAFES Center for Sustainability

Garden Matchmaking

SLO Permaculture Guild Transition Towns One Cool Earth

SLO City Farm CREEC Network

Central Coast Ag Network HopeDance

Master Gardeners

Polytechnic Permaculture



Holistic Approach 39

Activities 43

Conclusion and Next Step 51

Major Courses

Senior Project

Professional Career

Support Courses Prof. Electives GE Courses Extra Curriculars

The Curriculum The curriculum at Cal Poly is unique in that every student is required to complete a Capstone Project (senior project) before they can graduate. Their other

courses build up to the senior project, which is often reflective of what a student chooses to do for a career.

towards a sustainable curriculum Curriculum today follows a linear structure, building towards the capstone project - evidence of a student’s mastery in their specific discipline. Backed by support classes and studentchosen professional electives, major courses build on each other and gain importance as the student’s education becomes more specialized to their future professional career.

disciplinary courses. The burden generally falls on the student to apply the learning outside of major courses to their discipline by their own initiative. Some students take minors to develop specific interests, yet again the onus is upon the student to create connections between classes. The capstone project is an opportunity for some majors to create a synthesis between their interests and their focus. However, not all majors are allowed the flexibility. Stuck in disciplinary boxes, students graduate with a narrow problemsolving perspective specialized to their discipline only. Thus unsustainable, inefficient problemsolving is perpetuated.

Current opportunities for interdisciplinary discussions are normally limited to General Education courses and extracurricular activities. While these opportunities are meant to provide a foundation across the many disciplines in order to create a “comprehensive polytechnic education,” there is not necessarily a direct connection between this The industry-driven education learning and the student’s core system is, on the other hand, a

unique opportunity to influence industry. If the education system changed the way graduates solved problems, those graduates hold the potential to change the way industries solve problems. In order for students to live up to this potential, they must be encouraged to collaborate and find their strength in a holistic problem-solving method. In order to truly embody whole-system thinking, students have to be exposed to systems as wholes!









Discipline Interdisciplinary

GE Class


Silo Model





In a siloed institution, each college has a set track for their disciplines which lead to a career in that discipline. The only opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration occur in GE Courses and elective minors. As curriculum becomes more focused on set disciplines as the student progress on their degree, interdisciplinary classes often become less relevant to their core academics. This trend typically continues into hyperspecialized professions after graduation.

Professional Discipline

Holistic Model Discipline








Diverse Opportunities

In a holistic institution, each college still holds their disciplines. However, there is direct communication and shared responsibilities between colleges. As students better understand their discipline, they take on a clear role in a collaborative team. Therefore, as core academics become more discipline focused, interdisciplinary opportunities become more relevant as the students professional identity grows. Exposed to diverse networks, students graduate with opportunities inside and outside of their siloed discipline.

Holistic Approach


Sustainability Learning Objectives There is already policy in place “In order to consider sustainability when making reasoned decisions, to support sustainable curricula all graduating students should be able to: - Cal Poly’s Sustainable Learning Objectives(SLOs). The challenge with the SLOs, like the Strategic Plan, is actually adopting these ideas into practice. Therefore, the Polytechnic Permaculture curriculum focuses on achieving these objectives across the university.

Define and apply sustainability principles within their academic programs

The proposed curricular changes attempt to introduce these objectives through both a broad approach across academic programs as well as targeting key opportunities for redevelopment and emphasis of current sustainability curricula. Rather than reinvent the wheel, the approach is to make what is there more effective by uniting them under a single initiative.

Explain how natural, economic, and social systems interact to foster or prevent sustainability Analyze and explain local, national, and global sustainability using a multidisciplinary approach Consider sustainability principles while developing personal and professional values� Sustainable Learning Objectives, 2012

institutional goals and barriers Recognized Institutional Constraints: Lack of funds for new programs Resistance from Academic Senate for new programs Faculty hesitance to redesign curriculum Faculty need for class time

Academic Centers & Institutes

Academic Departments




Curriculum Committee

Dean’s Council

Academic Senate

President’s Office

Center for Teaching & Learning


Strategic Plan

Academic Affairs

Curriculum Stakeholders Programs & Planning

Institutional Planning & Analysis

Holistic Approach


Industry Change-Maker Major Courses

Senior Project Permaculture Career

Support Courses Prof. Electives GE Courses Extra Curriculars Holistic/Collaborative Courses Professional Identity


Discipline-Specific Capstone Project

decentralized approach Disciplinary Identity

Professional Identity Opportunities

Collaborative Capstone Project

Unified Curricular Path of Decentralized Courses

Rather than propose a complete overhaul of the existing curricular structure, the polytechnic permaculture initiative looks at creating opportunities throughout the existing structure that act as stepping stones along a student’s academic career. The key paradigm shift occurs at the capstone project. Currently, the capstone project is disciplinespecific and is meant to define the students’ professional identity after graduation. This model reduces a student’s education down to a specific professional identity and societal role. Instead of building to a disciplinespecific project, the paradigm shifts so that students find their disciplinary identity earlier in their educational career. This disciplinary identity better allows the student to understand their perspective so that as they enter into a collaborative capstone project they know what they are bringing to the table. In order to re-enforce a reflection of disciplinary roles in a collaborative process, the scattered holistic classes in a student’s career form a unified path. This holistic path builds-up to the collaborative capstone project, which reenforces a recognized interdependence between disciplines and a grasp of transdisciplinary communication.

Holistic Sustainability Lectures

1st Year/ Entry Courses

Network Support

Student Clubs & Organizations


Campus Centers & Institutes

2nd-3rd Year/ Intro Courses

Sustainability Catalog Courses

UNIV Courses

EDES 406/408 with ESLP

Other Transdisciplinary Entities

TGIF Senior Year/ Applied Courses

Permaculture Design Course

In their first year, a student’s interest in sustainability and/ or a holistic approach to their education can be perked with programs that begin a discussion Interest in Alternative Path

1st Year/ Entry Courses

EDES 410

on sustainability and holistic design. Once they develop interest, students can choose classes that fulfil their graduation requirements and simultaneously

Disciplinary Identity w/ Understanding of Collaborative Process

2nd-3rd Year/ Intro Courses

Senior Project

Collaborative Projects

Senior Year/ Applied Courses

= Curriculum Flow = Financial Support

Unified Flow

offer a collaborative approach. During their 2nd and 3rd year, students gain confidence in their discipline as well as an understanding of collaborative project work. As students mature into their final year at Poly, they Holistic are given even greater opportunity Professional to prove their learning with realIdentity world projects that promote a collaborative, holistic solution. Overall, the curricular flow provides assistance to students, student organizations and clubs, campus centers and institutes, and other transdisciplinary entities pursuing lasting, sustainable change, by creating networking opportunities between disciplines and between students and local problems. Activities



SustainSLO is an example directly from Cal Poly. The program is a model of how to achieve established requirements, in their case general education (GE), using an alternative learning-teaching process. Rather than propose new curriculum, the faculty who developed SustainSLO proposed a way of uniting GE courses through weekly discussions, themes, and questions that faculty carry into their individual courses.

world problems to develop a sustainable solution. Through this project-based learning, Sustain SLO embodies the learn-by-doing model in a way that creates local resiliency and engages students in the community where they live. Sustain SLO is a perfect introduction into holistic learning. The challenge is to create a way for these students to continue their academic journey in a similar fashion.

In addition to normal course work, students are also put into interdisciplinary project groups. These groups work with a community partner on real-

My work with SustainSLO has been as the facilitator of the upperclassman Teacher Assistants, or as we like to call ourselves, the “Tiger Team.� The Tiger Team

acts as an intermediating group between the students and faculty and students and community partners. Each of us is also assigned to a project team in order to help facilitate the design process and conflict resolution. In addition, the team works on additional projects for the faculty to aid with their research, such as filming class sessions or taking surveys.


SustainSLO Learning Model: A Curriculum of Co-Learners Diagram Courtesy SustainSLO

SBCC Permaculture Design Course At Santa Barbara City College (SBCC), the Center for Sustainability is actively engaged in curriculum, community projects, and on-campus sustainability projects. They have helped the school adopt a Permaculture Design Course (PDC). The SBCC PDC is a for-credit course that is required for the Landscape Architecture certificate program and is available to all students on campus. Students not only get college credit for this class, but they also receive a Permaculture Design Certificate. The class provides students with “an opportunity to

learn ecological-social systems and social concepts through application to real site situations,” (EH 109 Course Outline). Following the contect presented by Bill Mollison in the Permaculture Deisgner’s Manual, the PDC is an introduction to the interdependence between systems that sustain humanity. In order to receive the certificate, participants must work in collaborative, interdisciplinary groups on a local closed-loop design project.

SBCC Center for Sustainability Facebook Page

University Studies (UNIV) Courses At Cal Poly, courses that cross college boundaries are either cross-listed or are designated a University Studies (UNIV) course. These courses, recognized for their university-wide applicability, is a prime venue for interdisciplinary interaction and collaboration. Currently, there are 13 UNIV classes. These include Cal Poly Land, Global Food Systems, Disaster-Resistant Sustainable Communities, and Appropriate Technology, which introduce various sustainability principles.

The UNIV abriviation could be a one discipline over another nor perfect venue to introduce new disadvantaging others. holistic courses like UNIV 391 in the future. Rather than be tied to a specific department, UNIV courses are managed and funded by the university directly. This UNIV 391 group at way classes that truly apply to all disciplines can run without favoring project site

In my studies, I had the fortune to take UNIV 391 Appropriate Technologies for the World’s People: Development. Not only was the discussion focused on sustainability in development, but we also had the opportunity to work in interdisciplinary groups on our own projet.



The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF) TGIF is a program established by the California Student Sustainability Coalition (CSSC), a non-profit, student-run organization that has chapters in most universities in California. At Cal Poly, the Empower Poly Coalition is our chapter.

improvements, projects.


student student-driven initiatives, like the Education for Sustainable Living Program (ESLP), also from the At Cal Poly, the TGIF implements CSSC. This guarentees funds could go towards funding for for student teachers and guest student projects that emerge out speakers. of collaborative efforts in classes like Environmental Design (EDES) 410 (Advanced Implementation of Sustainable Design) and UNIV 391, or Capstone Projects. These funds would empower students to not only conceptualize their solutions, but also implement them, thus furthering the learnby-doing motto.

TGIF is a campaign for a student manadated fee (usually $5/year) to fund sustainability projects on campus.As of June 2012, eight campuses across the state have successfully implemented a TGIF. Managed by students, this money is delegated to the development of sustainability programs on TGIF in some schools, like UC campus, like curriculum, facility Santa Cruz, help fund other

proposals Education for Sustainable Living Program (ESLP) Other schools in California, like UC Santa Cruz, UC Davis, and UCLA have adopted an innovative new program called the Education for Sustainable Living Program (ESLP). Developed by the California Student Sustainability Coalition (CSSC), the ESLP curriculum has two classes that almost mirror the Environmental Design (EDES) courses at Cal Poly, yet the ESLP is student-taught. This both gives students an opportunity for peer-to-peer learning, but it also minimizes budget. As a student-taught program, the EDES series could expand to accept more students from a variety of departments. The current majority of participants

of the EDES program are from focus on improving the process of the CAED and lack representation collaborative sustainable project from other disciplines. Adopting work. the ESLP into the EDES series also reduces budget by supplementing professor’s time with avid student teachers and increases comprehensive learning opportunities. Alone, the EDES series does not address the segregation of sustainability into its own separate course work, which the HSLS tackles. EDES would then be a class to hone collaborative project skills and get practice with real-world problem-solving. Rather than being pressured into creating a finished product, members of the EDES classes can

An image from the latest CSSC Spring Convergence hosted at Cal Poly

CSSC Facebook Page



The Capstone Project Cal Poly is one of the few universities in the country that requires every undergraduate student to complete a senior project before graduation. These projects are considered a “capstone experience” and are meant to be “a conclusive experience that challenges students to integrate what they have learned over the course of their studies,” (Senior Project Assessment: FAQ, Cal Poly Academic Programs). The Cal Poly Academic Programs Office admits that it is unclear whether every department utilizes the senior project in accordance with the university’s vision. However, these projects, when implemented

with the university vision, have potential for lasting change in any discipline - especially when many disciplines work together.

focus on theoretical solutions that rarely get implemented, the capstone can be an opportunity for students to solve real-world problems in a learn-by-doing The senior project is often fashion that allows them to find treated as an individual’s test their role in a collaborative design of their disciplinary mastery team. without consideration of how their discipline works with other In addition to a more comprehensive professions. If this paradigm educational tool, the collaborative shifts to one that encourages projects can create lasting students from different disciplines solutions for the campus and the to collaborate on interdisciplinary community, which students can be capstone projects, then projects proud of. By creating a sense can become more sustainable, of shared ownership, students are impactful, and complete while more likely to leave the projects giving students disciplinary mastery complete or in the hands of inin a holistic context. Rather than coming seniors.

Cal Poly Permaculture Design Course The Permaculture Design Course (PDC), started by Bill Mollison in 1981, was established to spread the permaculture philosophy and encourage participants to create sustainable solutions of their own. In general, the PDC curriculum follows the Permaculture Designer’s Manual and presents a comprehensive look at the many different systems that sustain humanity, such as water, soil, agriculture, and structures. The intention of the 72 hour course is to teach students about the interdependence of these systems and equip them with design skills and concepts to begin closing the loop. At Cal Poly, the PDC could be a pivotal class that exposes students to the importance of transdisciplinary collaboration and their own role in holistic

design. Each student, as part of the curriculum, must work on a collaborative design project, which gives participants valuable experience that can be applied elsewhere in their learning. Given tools to design using wholesystems thinking, students can approach their project-based classes and capstone projects with a more sustainable and collaborative outlook. In order to make the class available to all majors and avoid biasing the class towards specific disciplines, the PDC can be listed under the UNIV listing. In order to accommodate the 72 hour curriculum of the PDC, the class could be taught two evenings a week, with two supplemental weekend hands-on workshops. In order to fund the course, these workshops could also be open to

the community and other students for a small fee. In addition to running on a supplemented budget, the course could be assessed for its pertinence towards degree progress for many disciplines.

Working on-site with the Permaculture Food Forest Senior Project at the Organic Farm

Courtesy Kelly Atkinson



10-Week Quarter (4hrs/week)

1 Hour Holistic Sustainability Lecture

What is Sustainability? What is Holistic Design?


How does Sustainability apply to this class? What is this subject’s role in Holistic Design? Tailored by Presentation Team and student or faculty from class

Holistic Sustainability Lecture Series The objective of the Holistic Sustainability Lecture Series (HSLS) is to create a fluid, crossdisciplinary curriculum as a replicable model of sustainability education that encourages students to engage in a critical transdisciplinary dialogue on global issues and to innovate sustainable solutions in their communities. The HSLS aims to achieve this objective as well as fulfill the existing Sustainability Learning Objectives by introducing a discussion about sustainability principles and collaborative systems thinking in a concise, 1-hour lecture.

environmental clubs on campus, creates the first half of the lecture, which targets a broad perspective of sustainability and encourages collaboration. For the second half of the lecture, the team works with interested students and faculty from the class to tailor the presentation to that particular curriculum. For example, if a faculty teaching Econ 221 would be interested in hosting a HSL, the presentation would be “Holistic Sustainability & Microeconomics� and would address sustainability issues that relate directly to microeconomics. By designing the HSL model to be adaptable and flexible, the lecture A core team of interested series can begin to fulfill the students, potentially from active SLOs without hindrance from the

institutional structures that bound curriculum. Through the process of developing and tailoring the HSLS to various disciplines, the program aids student development of a holistic language that can create clear communication between disciplines. By empowering students to adapt the presentations and present their work to their peers, the HSLS also opens a dialogue to deeper learning and critical reflection. In addition to facilitating this opportunity for the student-teachers, the HSLS builds a comprehensive achieve of sustainability in a broad range of disciplines that can track perspectives between disciplines and through time.

next steps: Work with the Academic Senate Sustainability Committee to Survey Existing Curriculum for Sustainability Content Continue to Present Holistic Sustainability Lectures Introduce Permaculture Design Course Proposal Work with EDES Faculty to Introduce Student-Teachers as EDESESLP Hybrid Create Cohesive Network between Existing Sustainability Courses to Form Unified Path Strategize with Allied Student Organizations and Campus Entities to Propose TGIF to ASI Next Steps



Club Establishment


Activities and Results 59

Poly Permaculture Poly Permaculture, as an ASI club, has the power to connect majors from all of the colleges. Simply -its a space where likeminded holistic-thinking students can gather and support each others’ effort towards adopting a more resilient lifestyle. The club’s primary function is to act as a networking tool where students, clubs, faculty, and community members can discuss projects they are interested in working on and gain perspectives outside of their

majors. Networking encourages these participants to collaborate on their projects and/or unite them under one identity from which the project can become more visible and tangible as it develops. In addition, Poly Permaculture is an educational tool, where the collective knowledge of its members empowers them to educate their peers through hands-on workshops and lectures.

Earth, Soil, Water Conservation Club

Real Food Collaborative

Club Stakeholders

Green Campus Program

Net Impact

Sierra Student Coalition

Empower Poly Coalition Fair Trade Club

Poly Permaculture Associated Students, Inc Zero Waste Club

Four Elements Farm Garden Matchmaking

CAFES Center for Sustainability

With The Grain


Permablitz Network SLO City Farm

SLO Permaculture Guild

Central Coast Ag Network

School Gardens Initiative HopeDance

Transition Towns




CoE CoLA 14%










ACT 20%

Global Community



Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Community

Statement of Purpose: Poly Permaculture is dedicated to reach beyond sustainability to achieve community resilience and passive survivability through HOLISTIC DESIGN.

As an active student organization, Poly Permaculture strives to bring all disciplines at Cal Poly together in order to LEARN ecological consciousness, ACT to create resilient systems, and ENGAGE students in their surrounding community and the systems that support life in San Luis Obispo and the Central Coast.

club goals:

INVEST student energy in surrounding community

COLLABORATE with community to create positive change EMPOWER students implementation




HOST workshops and actions throughout community and campus UNITE all disciplines through tangible action TEACH ecological awareness






creating the club Barriers Strict Risk Management Limits on ASI Clubs Defending Niche for Poly Permaculture in an abundance of Environmental Clubs Establishing Bylaws that Uphold Permaculture Principles within ASI Structure Collecting Student and Faculty Interest Building Diverse Network Both On- and OffCampus

The Approach Poly Permaculture as an entity pushes the boundaries of the institutional barriers that define it. Rather than embrace institutional hierarchy, the club was established to embrace group consensus and shared leadership, encourage hands-on activities, and engagement with local community members on- and off-campus. In order to embody these ideals, the organization’s leaders act as community activators, branching out as individuals organizing individuals in their colleges as well as in the community. This decentralized model for networking disperses and minimizes risk liability and provides flexibility through numerous opportunities.

In order to attract members, Poly Permaculture has focused on two essential approaches: an investigation and discussion of permaculture theory and application, and hands-on and unique events. During club meetings, about half of the hour is spent talking about permaculture theory and how it applies to what students learn in their discipline. This discussion encourages connections to be made across disciplines and stimulates conversation about a holistic approach to education. The second half of club meetings is generally spent planning events and discussing the established

network of connections that is continuously growing. Events, such as the permablitz garden installations and the Greenhorns movie-showing and panel discussion have attracted diverse interest from the community as well as on-campus.

activities: Past

Greenhorns Film Showing and Local Farmer Panel - 100+ guests Broad St. Permablitz - over 40 volunteers San Benito Permablitz - over 50 volunteers Design Charrette - 25 participants

Current Active Empower Poly Coalition Member Club Permaculture Presentations in Clubs, Courses, and Events Campus Edible Planting Proposal Open House and Earth Day Booths and Presentations Club Potlucks, Planning Meetings, and Weekly Meetings Activities and Results


Lucas Carlow

Learn Coordinator 2nd-Year Public Horticulture Major

Joe Murphy

Nicole Esposito

3rd-Year Civil Engineering Major

5th-Year Materials Engineering Major

Act Coordinator

ASI Coordinator

Alexis Montgomery Engage Coordinator

2nd-Year Ag. and Env. Plant Sciences Major

creating new leaders

Learn Coordinator - Meetings and Education

The Learn Coordinator acts as secretary at Poly Permaculture meetings as well as plans a topic to discuss at the beginning of each meeting. He or she also organizes guest speakers and movie showings.

Act Coordinator - Events and Trips

The Act Coordinator plans the logistics and volunteers for events, such as potlucks, fundraisers, and workshops as well as plans and coordinates field trips.

Engage Coordinator - Outreach

The Engage Coordinator works on outreach to the student body in order to attract new members and participants in Poly Permaculture events. He or she also coordinates advertising as well as t-shirts and other branding.

ASI Coordinator - Treasurer

The Treasurer not only handles the financial balancing needs for the club, but also acts as a liaison to ASI. Any issues pertaining to the Epicenter (like eplans, deposits, RPFs, etc) as well as knowing the club handbook are in the hands of this position.

next steps: Continue Outreach for New Membership Continue to Network and Collaboration with Other Clubs and Efforts on Campus Design Exciting New Workshops and Events. Take-On Design and Maintanence of On-Campus Food Forest Site Prepare Leaders for Next Academic Year

Activities and Results



Introduction 65

Projects 71

Future Permablitz Network 93 63


importance of community Barn-rasing in the Amish tradition is an important occasion. The whole community comes together in order to help erect the heavytimber frames typical of Amish barns. The day includes a big meal and celebrations after the job is completed. In a communitybased solution, the process of design and implementation is more important than the final product. While the work to be done in the San Luis Obispo community may not include building barns, it will take a united community in order to create lasting solutions. At Cal Poly, the Learn-By-Doing philosophy encourages students to learn by taking on real-world

problems. However, many of the opportunities lack a connection to the community in which students live. Immersing students in the community that surrounds them is essential to understanding the process of community design.

If community design creates more resilient solutions, learn-by-doing is the most beneficial model for learning. While real-world solutions at other locations benefit students, it is local communitybased solutions that gives students the greatest opportunity to be part of resilient designs. The transdisciplinary opportunity of partnering with the community is mutually beneficial for both the students and the community.

In this way, the Cal Poly model of Learn-By-Doing transform into Learn-By-Living. When immersed, engaged, and connected with the community and with their solutions through their everyday lifestyle, students can truly embody learning.



A Permablitz is a fast-paced garden intervention that acts as both a community gathering/ work party and as an educational workshop. The purpose of a garden intervention is to not only assemble a team and make a functioning garden with people from the community, but to also teach people in the community about a holistic solution they can begin to consider for themselves.

The host of a permablitz gets the benefit of free labor, while the volunteers benefit from the education, comradery, and free food provided by the host. A host is expected to provide the materials needed for the activity as well as lunch for participants. In order to promote reciprocity, a host must have been a volunteer in three other permablitzes before becoming eligible.

The Permablitz model was created in Melbourne, Australia in 2006 when Dan Palmer, a newly minted permaculture design course graduate, and friends decided to get together to redesign backyards during weekends. The concept has since taken off across many countries around the world and hundreds of reciprocity-based garden interventions.

The Permablitz is meant to be tailored to the development of resiliency within an individual community. With modern American society’s primary access to produce being the supermarket, education on where our produce comes from and how the process works is sorely lacking. So for the San Luis Obispo community, useful resources can be created through

hands on education in gardening, composting, and food production. In many other communities around the world food production is already an integral part of life, so they may search for another form of permablitz. While very powerful as a garden implementation tool, the permablitz model can be applied to any community system, like greywater, composting toilets, or food forestry.

the Permablitz model


Central Coast Ag Network

Real Food Collaborative

Empower Poly Coalition CAFES Center for Sustainability

Poly Permaculture SustainSLO

Appropriate Technologies

Transition Towns

SLO Permaculture Guild

Permablitz Network

Master Gardeners

Garden Matchmaking

School Gardens, CREEC

Permablitz Stakeholders

California Conservation Corps


One Cool Earth



the steps: Meet with the host

Discuss their intentions and vision, understand their patterns and projected narrative of the garden

Design Workshop

Collect interested participants from the community (both students and locals) and host a workshop to design the garden. Focus on climate, sectors, water, and terrain analysis and accompanying design constraint response.

Materials Collection

By the end of the Design Workshop, leave the host with a list of materials that are needed to be purchase before the implementation event.

Implementation & Education

Gather together a volunteer workforce appropriate to the scale and program of the space. At the beginning of the workshop, describe design, layout plan, and guide teams towards what to do. Break for lunch and encourage discussion. Also encourage questions and design improvisations through group discussion.


The maintenance strategy that was established as part of the design, comes into effect. This could involve only the host or it could be open to community participation in varying degrees (see Post-Blitz to the right).

The Process Here is the process through which a garden can be transformed through a Permablitz. A key understanding that must come out of the initial meeting between the client and the facilitating designer is how the garden shall be maintained. There are many different management models, ranging from the client being fully engaged to a decentralized model where maintenance is completely separate.

Pre-Blitz Students








Reciprocity Model




Client-Designer Meeting

Design Workshop

Before someone can host a blitz, An initial meeting between the A brainstorming session that he or she must have participated client and the primary designer(s) gathers diverse perspectives to in three previous blitzes. to set expectations and goals. create a schematic design.

The Big Day

En-Blitz C



Post-Blitz C



Client Maintained

Some clients feel confident or are curious to experiment with maintaining the garden for their personal use.

After the design workshop, the client is given a materials list to purchase and have ready for the day of. The day starts with an initial educational discussion. Afterwards, the designer and experienced volunteers lead project groups towards installing the primary infrastructure of the garden. In exchange for volunteering, a free lunch is provided by the client.

Seasonal Help

By establishing a network of eager gardeners, a client can extend their need for help with seasonal maintenance.

Community Ownership

Some clients want the community to take ownership of specific areas of the garden, matching garden space with potential gardeners.

Decentralized Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Maintenance Weekly Produce Diverse Yield


Weekly Produce Money

As a business model, a farming team maintains permablitzed gardens and harvests the yield. The harvests are then compiled and redistributed to the community through weekly subscription boxes. In exchange, the host gets a free box of produce. Introduction


Phillips Lane Permablitz The Phillips Lane Permablitz set it’s sights on an under-utilized portion of the back yard on the southern edge of a suburban lot. Abundant voracious shrubs provided ample green material to build up beds and a good source for compost in the future. A small raised bed was currently producing tomatoes, lettuce and squash, while the adjacent compost boxes remained grown-over from past neglect.

Water Capture Ditch Slope

Typical Double-Reach Rows

After discussing with the hosts, the goal for the design was to maximize production while also maintaining a high level of visual interest and peaceful spatial narrative. A path connecting the back alley to the garden had to be preserved, however, the rest was up for interpretation.

Keyhole Double-Reach Rows

Maximize Functional Edge The design started with a Cartesian approach. Site contours were roughly parallel to the back fence, making four straight double-reach rows the easy assumption. While this made it easy to capture water along the paths, it did not maximize growing space. The next step was to introduce keyholes. This eliminated one of the middle paths. To truly maximise yield however, we decided to break out of the Cartesian box to create a C-scoop form that further reduced path space while still maintaining the initial design’s water-harvesting capabilities.

Non-Row “Edge” Pattern

Fire Sector

Summer Sun


Winter Sun

Unpleasant Views Noise Sector Good Views

Wildlife Sector Typical Winds Storm Winds House Lot

Garden Site

Secondary Access Primary Access Water Access


Sector Analysis Zone 2 Primary Veggie Beds, Successional Harvest and Planting





Zone 1 Path to House, Herbs Along Path, Herb Spiral


Zone 4 Seasonal Maintenance, Green Mulch Source

Zone Analysis Projects


Keyhole Double-Reach Bed


Bamboo Trellis

Section A

Gravel Basin


Herb Spiral

Shallow WaterHarvesting Step

Single-Reach Bed

Bamboo Tepee

Garden Plan

Bamboo Tepee Mulch-Filled Path

Climbing Vine

Double-Reach Bed

Section B Gravel Basin

Garden Section A

Photo Courtesy Marcela Gutierrez

Hidden Earthworks Though the paths seem flat when finished, underneath a heavy cover of mulch is a small earthwork designed to capture rainwater. The water collects in a ditch along the garden bed where it slowly percolates into the soil of the bed. At the downhill end of the garden is a gravel basin which prevents grass from infiltrating the garden as well as a last effort to collect any excess run-off. A layer of newspaper sheet mulch covers all of the earthwoks as an added barrier to weeds. By the time undesired plants break through the newspaper, the plants that you have planted are already dominant in the ecological niche.

Mulch Water

harvesting water passively Compost Added to Bed

Space in Straw Filled w/Compost Newspaper

Cut from Slope

Straw Mulch

Mulch-Filled Path

Roots soak up water

Rain Water Collects in Path Water Percolates into Garden Bed

Garden Section B Projects




Harvesting Organic Matter for Beds

Photos Courtesy Marcela Gutierrez

Sheet-Mulching with Newspaper to Keep the Weeds at Bay



Fresh Harvest - A Green Zebra Tomato

The Results

Growth - 2 Months Later

Photos Courtesy Marcela Gutierrez



Thinking Outside of the Box The initial response of the teachers at San Benito was to build typical 4’ x 8 ’x 2’ raised beds with wood. These boxes lacked the ability to passively harvest rain water as well as the ability for little arms of students to reach the middle of the box. In order to improve the design while still using the supplies and provide an appropriate amount of control, a 3-sided in-ground design was developed. Laid out along the natural contours of the landscape, the new 2’ x 8’ x 1’ boxes harvested water passively and allowed easy access from both sides, while using only half the amount of the wood sleepers.

Typical 4-sided Box

3-sided Contour “Box”

San Benito Elementary Permablitz After a lively discussion with one of the staff members at San Benito Elementary School, it was clear that there was interest and potential at the school for an edible landscape. After the first conversation, it was clear that the Permablitz could encourage the power of this little community to manifest itself to develop a garden that will teach the children about sustainable food production. A meeting was established with the school principal to discuss the design of the garden. The school had recently received a grant to install a garden and had spent all

of their money on materials for typical 4-sided raised beds. They also had worries about gophers and considered the standard design, lined with metal mesh, was the only way to deal with the pests. In response, the idea was created to re-think the typical raised bed box in order to maximise water harvesting while still protecting from gophers. A team of student designers came up with a 3-sided bed, lined with mesh and organized along the contours to harvest water. They drew up conceptual plans and began mapping out the

contours on the landscape. On the day of the garden intervention, the team assembled: teachers, students, and parents of San Benito, Cal Poly students, and local volunteers. After introductions, work began, and the contour beds took shape. With food and water, jokes and conversation, work and inquiry, occurring constantly, the community building was highly observable. Although, because of the scope of the project, the garden was not finished in one day. A second work-weekend was scheduled to finished implementing the main garden.

Fire Sector

Summer Sun TR


Winter Sun FIC

Unpleasant Views



Noise Sector Good Views

Wildlife Sector

Summer Winds







Winter Winds


Lot Lines

Garden Site

Secondary Access Primary Access Water Access


Sector Analysis Zone 4 Seasonal Maintenance, Green Mulch Source

Zone 2 Primary Veggie Beds, Class Maintenance Path




Zone 1 Path to Parking Lot, Outdoor Classroom, Compost Piles, Storage Shed

Zone 4 Seasonal Maintenance, Sensual Natives

Zone Analysis Projects



Project B oundary

20' existing trees


L ADERO, CA 93422-1930

Plans Courtesy Kaylana Alaysa

15' Existing eucalyptus tree

Parking Lot


SCALE: 1" = 20'-0"


OCTOBER 9, 2011


Property Line


6' exisitng chain link wire fence

10' existing sweet gum tree


10' existing oak tree

Existing water ditch line Required

Required ramp access



Noon and after provides natural shade. Good for an outdoor class. In addition, existing eucalyptus acts as barrier from parking lot. Not enough sun during the day for a garden.

20' existing trees


Parking Lot

15' Existing eucalyptus tree Not a good specimen tree to plant underneath, but a good shady space.


Project B oundary

L ADERO, CA 93422-1930

Steep slope unsafe for children. Perhaps use fencing as screen.




Sunny side. Good location for garden plant beds. Irrigation line found, but not sure if it can be used and they are not sure what they plan on using.

California Poppies found on sunny side. Known to grow in full sun and sandy, well-drained, poor soil.

Property Line


SCALE: 1" = 20'-0"





6' exisitng chain link wire fence Good for vertical growing if their interested.



10' existing sweet gum tree It is in the way for building plant beds. Transplant during dormancy. Dormant in November. Or remove. Call too see what is legal.

Existing water ditch line Required 10' Existing oak tree Native tree

Required ramp access. Will require lots of excavation and will require retaining walls.

Steep slope unsafe for children.


20' existing trees

Straw bale and cob seating





10' existing sweet gum tree Transplant at this spot in November.

12-16 Contour plant beds


4' wire fence

y Access (steps)


Parking Lot

15' existing eucalyptus tree


Project B oundary

L ADERO, CA 93422-1930

Above Plan Courtesy Kaylana Alaysa



SCALE: 1" = 20'-0"


OCTOBER 9, 2011





Property Line

6' exisitng chain link wire fence Good for vertical growing if their interested.

Existing water ditch line Required 10' Existing oak tree Native tree

Required ramp access. Will require lots of excavation and will require retaining walls.




Garden Beds


SCALE: 1" = 20'-0"


OCTOBER 9, 2011


60 60 feet feet

Existing Sweet Gum

Property Line

20 40

SCALE: 1" = 20'-0"



6' exisitng chain link wire fence Good for vertical growing if their interested.


A Required ramp access. Will require lots of excavation and will require retaining walls.

ADA Ramp Existing water ditch line Required 10' Existing oak tree Native tree chain link wire fence

Property Line


Tool Shed



10' Existing oak tree Native tree

6' exisitng Good for vertical growing if their interested.

Compost Area

Food Forest Fence

GARDEN 16 Contour plant beds


Existing Drainage Basin



20' existing trees

Eucalyptus Tree


15' existing eucalyptus tree

ry Acces s (steps)


“Secret” Bench

Native Slope Parking Lot Stabilizers

GARDEN 16 Contour plant beds

OOL SCADERO, CA 93422-1930

Steep slope unsafe for children.




Project B oundary

15' existing eucalyptus tree



Garden Section A

Mulch-Filled Path

Existing Chain-Link Fence

Native Berm Planting

Existing Drainage Basin


Garden Bed

New Fence

ADA Path

Parking Lot


Retaining Wall of Wood Sleepers

Path-As-Swale In order to passively harvest rainwater from the landscape, the 3-sided boxes were dug into the slope along paths dug on-contour. After being heavily mulched, the paths allow water to collect along their length and soak the garden beds below. With straw mulch preventing the garden beds from drying out, the beds can often hold the water for 2-3 months after the last rains, greatly reducing the irrigation need.

Mulch Water

redefining “raised bed” 4”x4” Wood Post 2”x12” Wood Sleeper

Space in Straw Filled Compost Added w/Compost to Bed Straw Mulch

Mulch-Filled Path


Gopher Screen Rain Water Collects Roots soak up water in Path Gopher Screen Water Percolates into Garden Bed

Garden Section B Projects


Original Site

Laying-out Contours and Beds

Future Permaculturists Digging a Contour Path

Constructing the 3-sided Beds Projects


The Team Hard at Work

Mulching the Path & Nearing Completion

Preparing to Set a Bed in Place



Original Site

The Final Infrastructure for an Edible Landscape A Transformation from a Underutilized, Barren Site to a Ready-to-Plant Garden



Connecting Community Design Teams Through an Online Network


creating autonomous connection In order to sustain the San Luis Obispo Permaculture Network, we need money to build and foster a self-regulating community program. We need to create a long-term infrastructure (both social and digital) to become sustainable.

This plan includes three major parts: dedicated interns to facilitate the permablitz activities; garden scholarships that promote people to become host and require those that do host to update the community via a blog; and a website that can connect community members and students The network we currently have to these events and establish in place is based on word-of- a long-term engagement with mouth and person-to-person projects through on-going blogs. networks. Â While this was sufficient for the initial phase, to create a self-reliant network, we propose a three-year implementation plan.

Future Permablitz Network


Capstone Project:

Cal Poly Farm Processing Center

Collaborative Process & Role of the Architect 97 Project Introduction and Analysis 107

Masterplan Development 117

Systems Design 155


a holistic capstone Cal Poly has developed a unique requirement for everyone of its graduates - the capstone project. An architectural capstone is the stone that holds the rest of a wall together and is key to the structural integrity of the wall. The university capstone, like its architectural counterpart, is meant to hold together the cumulative knowledge of an undergraduate student and secure the structure of their degree. This “senior project� a student’s final opportunity to apply their learning in the safety of academia and prove their worth to potential employers. Senior projects are diverse and vary dramatically, both in content and structure, from major to major. Striving for a comprehensive education, yet

torn by industries that demand technical specialization, the capstone in some disciplines are directed by industry trends. In others, faculty lead students through real-world projects. And in the most flexible of programs, like with architecture, students are given the freedom to chose their own projects.

career positions through coveted hands-on training.

While the capstone is generally successful in placing students in the field, it does not always breed change-makers. Rather, the discipline-specific capstone re-enforces the linear problemsolving identity that can be seen as a core barrier to the After discussing senior projects comprehensive understanding that with students and faculty around Cal Poly is striving for. campus, it seems the results of these projects vary as much as In order to promote whole-system the projects themselves. Some thinking and encourage students seniors skate-by with the minimal to create impactful and lasting requirements while others create projects, a new model for the new programs or discover new capstone is proposed - one that trends that are highly regarded is holistic in scope, process, and from experts in the field. implementation. Regardless, most projects jump start students into excellent

the structure of life I have described in buildings - the structure which I believe to be objective - is deeply and inextricably connected with the human person, and with the innermost nature of human feeling.

an experiment...

In order to see how a holistic capstone would work, I took the opportunity of my own capstone requirement to test out this new model. The goal of the following project is to fulfill the requirements of the BArch degree through using a holistic, whole-systems

Christopher Alexander

approach to the project. Through out the process, the project is compared to a project coming from a linear perspective in order to see how the end product of a holistic capstone differs from the results of a typical project.

My personal goal for the project was to better understand and embody the qualities of a holistic architect and thus discover my role in the process of wholesystems design.

Collaborative Process & Role of Architect


today’s architect the architect as object maker

In conventional practice today, architecture is often regarded as an object. The architects role is to shape the object to respond to linear constraints of the time (client, climate, style, era, etc)

a holistic architect Using a holistic view of the built environment, the architect becomes an interpreter for human pattern, tailoring the built environment to facilitate patterns of everyday life while considering the effect on the environment and society.

the architect as human pattern recognizer

the architect should be the individual’s biggest advocate. Collaborative Process & Role of Architect


a holistic architect the architect as design team coordinator

When engaging the many disciplines together to design holistically, the architect steps into the role as facilitator, guiding the many designers to work harmoniously and interpreting the multifaceted goal into an unified vision.

the architect should facilitate a dialogue between disciplines

a holistic architect The architect, having to continuously balance diverse design constraints and relationships, has to always be open to learning - every precious lesson having a potential application to design. While at the same time, the architect must also share his or her gleaned knowledge and help the design team (which includes the client) find unrealized potential in each project.

the architect as learner-educator

the architect should collect and share knowledge. Collaborative Process & Role of Architect


a holistic architect the architect as networker

When designing holistically, an architect must gather together a wide range of diverse networks that hold relationships to the community and potential collaborators. It is just as important to establish connections between people and activities as it is to put pencil to paper. It is within these established connections that organic, resilient solutions grow.

the architect should establish a broad and diverse network of connections

THE ISSUE: architecture is approached through a specialized lens that objectifies the built environment whole-systems are ignored and attempts at “sustainable� solutions do not get to the root of the problem traditional approach creates temporary solutions that potentially cause future problems http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-14rb0wdNpio/TjdiYyB7I-I/AAAAAAAAHgw/S_ex0N7HR-E/s1600/pruitdemo.jpg

therefore... in order to create a well performing, economically effective, and socially and environmentally responsible design, a holistic process, which engages a broad and diverse network of disciplines, must be used. if effective, the process will create a resilient design for both the built environment and related non-physical systems.

Collaborative Process & Role of Architect


PROCESS: Open Design Charrette Networking and Client Relations Architectural and Planning Concept Development Design Development Charrette Establish Collaborators and Systems Teams Work Cohesively with Collaborators while Outreaching to Network Architecture and Planning Design Development and Updating Pool Design Options and Analyze Proposed Strategies


Diana Gustafson, Anthropology & Geography

Capstone Stakeholders & Collaborators

Kelly Atkinson, Fruit Science David Romag, Fruit Science

Mladen Bandov, RIGI Eng. Luis Lapostol, Fruit Science

Food Forest Team

Dennis Elliot, CP Facilities

Julia Hayhurst, Fruit Science

Eric Boyd, Soil Science

Reference & Support

Mary Ann Sharf, Fruit Science

Student Collaborators

Kim Busby, CP Env. Health & Safety

Organic Farm Processing Center and Marketplace

David Headrick, CP Organic Farm, Client

Charrette Participants

Charla Kaul, Landscape Architecture

Randy Long, Fruit Science

David Wehner, CAFES Dean, Client

John Peterson, HCS Dept Head, Client

EDES 408 Team

Kevin Niu, Construction Management

Tylor Middlestat, Draftsman

Jessica Riconscente, IME

Megan Walker, Architecture Jesse Blote, Architecture

Nick Watry, Architect

Alex Vincent, Architecture

Jonathan Reich, Advisor

Collaborative Process & Role of Architect


an existing project...

Organic Farm Homegarden Site In order to have results to test the holistic alternative to, the project that was chosen had an existing design iteration. After coming in over budget, the Farm Processing Center and Marketplace Building on the Organic Farm Homegarden site was just beginning to be redesigned. The architect, Nick Watry, was approached about his iteration of the project. Rather than start from scratch, the goal of this project was to build from his design, using a holistic approach that looked at the site as a whole. Being on the organic farm site made this project ideal for looking at multi-function systems. It created an opportunity to explore how the inputs and outputs of the building can integrate the built environment into the productive landscape around it using a whole-systems approach.

Images on pg 106 Courtesy Nick Watry

Cal Poly

San Luis Obispo

Organic Farm Homegarden Site

Images from Google Earth

Project Introduction & Analysis


NOTE: the following is an experimental capstone project that takes an holistic approach to capstone requirements for a BArch Degree my sincere thanks to my collaborators.

this is not my project, its theirs.

Project Introduction & Analysis


Community Engagement

As a way to engage the community and add diverse perspectives to the project, two design charrettes were hosted. The first was an open charrette, where people stopped by, got informed about the project, and shared their opinions about the program and site. The second charrette was a more typical design charrette, where a large group of students from various disciplines gathered together to talk more about how the design can be implemented. Throughout both activities, participants were encouraged to consider their inherent perspective as well as what they were hoping to learn from the process. Their answers were recorded on sticky notes like those to the right.

Project Introduction & Analysis




3 6

4 5 1


7 10

7 9 Issues Discussed in Open Charrette:

Images Courtesy Nick Watry & Cal Poly Facilities


Current proposal does not relate to productive fields and ends up paving over organic land at the northwestern corner and not utilizing southwestern corner.


Large amount of space dedicated to “trash” rather than on-site composting.


Plan does not accurately plot telephone pole - moving the pole would be very costly.


Large amount of non-enclosed space “trapped” inside enclosed space - potential to reduce budget by using an outdoor shaded space.


An abundance of graded space without human-scaled landscaping elements to create a proper gathering space.


Little consideration given to treatment of Electrical Well Pump.


Program does not relate to bioswales - an missed educational opportunity.


Program does not embrace potential pedestrian and bike visitors.


Proposal calls for use of bike path, yet bike path rarely used due to lack of infrastructure at Santa Rosa/Highland and Santa Rosa/California intersections.


North arrow not properly angled - program shows little relation to solar aspect.


Organic Row Crops Marketplace

Stalls for Poly Plant Shop, Wine, Fruits & Veggies, Chocolates, Meat & Dairy Office Storage Bathrooms Checkout Counters

Processing Center

Efficiency, Cleanliness, & Adaptability Room for 30 Student class 3 16x16 Coolers Cold Storage Office Bathrooms

Educational Path and Signage Food Forest & Riparian Buffer

Courtesy Nick Watry

Additional Proposed Areas from Charrette Place to Eat Small Coffee Shop Cafe Bike Repair Station Rentable Flex Space Composting Area Educational Landscaping

City Repair’s T-Horse is a mobile tea house that creates gathering spaces with an attractive shade structure and the lure of tasty beverages. By creating small gathering spaces similar to this, in addition to accommodating bikes on the site, the program could attract more people from campus and the community to the site. http://www.manymouths.org/2009/08/turning-space-into-place-portlands-city-repair-project/

Project Introduction & Analysis






Zone Map

Images Courtesy Cal Poly Facilities

I Design for Daily Human Interaction- Built Space and Hardscape, Shade Trees, Herbs & Flowers, Vermicomposting, Lawn, Softscaping, Tool Shed II Design for Intensive Production- Greenhouse, Beneficial Habitat, Bees, Toolshed/Storage, Open Compost, Main Annual Production III Design for Extensive Production- Orchards, Trail Lining, Animals IV Design for Self-Maintenance- Foraging, Grazing Animals, Agroforestry, Native Barriers V Wildlife Sector- Riparian Zone, Wildlife Corridor

Sector Map = Fire = Summer Sun = Winter Sun = Storm Winds = Common Winds = Noise/Pollution = Access & Views In = Wildlife/Riparian Project Introduction & Analysis


Isometric Design Diagram

System Influencing Design Decision Design Decision Description

Site Planning The original building sits on site, oriented with parking lot.

Masterplan Development The following diagrams follow the design process for the Homegarden Site as a whole. Each step illustrates a pivotal decision made on the project and which system was the primary influence for the decision. As the design progressed, the decisions built upon the previous, creating a synthesis of function and aesthetic appeal. The end result is a sharp contrast to the original proposal, showing the potential for the holistic process to enrich design and innovate creative solutions.

Turn Me Masterplan Developement


Site Isometric Projection

Masterplan Development


Concrete Slab & Tool Shed

Running Path

Faculty-Run Course Site


ari an

Highland Dr.

Organic Row Crops

Current Site Program




or ri

Fallow Site


l Or cha




Conventional Orchards

Staff Parking

Septic Lift Pump

Greenhouses Classrooms


Service Vehicles

Industry Energy

m Campus Car & Bike To/Fro Foot Traffic To/From Campus

Site Flow Diagram

Water Flow Off Site

m Co


y nit

y erg

Water Flow Onto Site

Passe nger

Vehic les

Campus Energy

Masterplan Development




ild li

Equinox Sun

Winter Sun

NW Wind

Summer Sun

Site Climatic Factors




or ri

Fire Threat

The original building sits on site, oriented with parking lot.

Site Planning

Masterplan Development


Due to high budget of original design, the marketplace and processing programs are split.


The marketplace program is chosen to become phase 2 and is temporarily removed so as to not threaten budget availability for processing center.

Site Planning

The processing center is rotated and situated with the site’s norhtern boundary. Now oreinted forbetter southern-facing exposure, the roof angles towards sun for future solar pv array application.

Site Planning

In order to reduce cost, the enclosed, climate-controlled envelope is reduced by positioning program elements, like composting, drop off, and general storage, that need less climatic support ouside of the envelope on the west and north faces.


Masterplan Development


The coolers are included into the northern space to provide access from both the processing center and trucks headed to market.


The roof line becomes gabled so as to simplify the truss system and create proper crossventilation conditions.


Masterplan Development


Roof edges are extended to properly shade building from direct sun.


A dormer is created to receive daylight deep into the space and facilitate proper stack-effect for cross-ventilation.


Masterplan Development


The Marketplace program is adjusted on site in response to position of processing center. Building footprint is noted for further site response.

Site Planning

The site boundaries currently defined by previous agricultural program are removed.

Site Planning

Masterplan Development


Axes are established in response to site access and position of building footprints.

Site Planning

The central axis between the two built programs is re-enforced by central landscaping. landscape establishes view corridor to organic fields.

Landscape Central

Masterplan Development


To accommodate service vehicle access to buildings, a service road is established along edgeline of buildable site.

Site Planning

The service road is extended into the processing center programming to facilitate drop-off and pick-up of crops.

Site Planning

Masterplan Development


Compost and recycling receptacles are located within easy access from processing, farm, and service vehicles. Positioned under the extended overhang, they are protected from rain and sun exposure.


Rinse water from processing flows into an outdoor water feature which filters out sediment and distributes the water into flood-irrigation beds. In addition to providing irrigation to crops, the water feature doubles as a gathering feature at the end of the landscape axis. Overflow from the rinse water fills a nearby swale.


Masterplan Development


The swale continues along the northern edge of the site, collecting runoff from the road and protecting the row crops from potential contamination. The swale ends in a trench which is also fed from a pipe collecting runoff from fields to the north. A drain to the riparian zone keeps the system from flooding.


Water siphoned from the trench travels down the western edge of the site into the food forest where a series of swales slow, spread, and sink the water into the ground. Any water not captured by the soil is caught by another trench that drains to the riparian zone.

Food Forest

Masterplan Development


Along the western edge, a hedgerow featuring natives, insectary, and nutrient accumulating plants, act as a natural fence to wildlife including gophers, deer, and ground squirrels. The green fence also acts as a buffer from potential runoff from the cultivated fields and a border to the running path.

Food Forest

Around the existing slab, a polyculture of medicinal herbs, insectary plants, wild edibles, and vegetables are planted along the water-harvesting swales. A hardscape area also acts as a small gathering and resting space for visitors and a break spot for farm workers.

Food Forest

Masterplan Development


Along the swales, a tremendous variety of fruit trees, canopy trees, support species, root crops, and ground covers create a highly productive and beautiful space carefully designed to be self-sufficient within three to five years.

Food Forest

From the courtyard between the building sites, visitors can walk along a path that circles the site and connects the major public gathering spaces with the food forest site. It also provides guests with a chance to get close to the row crops without interrupting production.

Site Planning

Masterplan Development


The southern edge of the site is carefully landscaped to beautify the path and collect runoff from the row crops without blocking views of the site and public spaces from vehicles passing by.

Site Planning

As the water feature also acts as a gathering space and starting point for the foot path, hardscape extends the axis and creates a small gathering space with seating look out over the row crops.


Masterplan Development


Along the swale, a diversity of productive and support trees act as a buffer between the organic row crops and the activities of the public spaces to the east. A break in the canopy at the extended hardscape frames the end of the view axis.

Site Planning

In phase 1, the marketplace program is replaced with a simple farm stand, placed strategically on the street front for maximum visibility and to capture the attention of passersby.

Site Planning

Masterplan Development


The bus stop to the east along Highland Dr. is moved to the center of the site, creating a new transit hub in front of the farm stand. Roadside landscaping helps to beautify the corridor and calm traffic.

Transportation Corridor

A raised crosswalk creates both a traffic calming element as well as increased pedestrian access to the site. The existing tractor crossing also becomes safer to use. Bike parking in front of the well pump for both the farm stand and the processing center promotes multimodal site access.

Site Planning

Masterplan Development


With the addition of a second raised crosswalk on the southwest corner, traffic is further calmed to allow for on-street parking to replace the unused and poorly maintained bike path across the street. The proposed parking lot is reduced in size and provides more green space around the site. At the intersection of Mt. Bishop Rd, a roundabout allows visitors to safely turn-around and exit towards Santa Rosa.

Transportation Corridor

For phase 1, the footprint of the proposed marketplace is built-up with grassy berms that create a fun and interactive hang-out space with minimal input of infrastructure to the site.


Masterplan Development


Tree planters are built into the berms to provide shade. These can also be moved when the marketplace is to be constructed. The main plaza space is identified with permeable pavers around the farm stand and at the beginning of the view corridor.


Original Design Proposal

Holistic Design Proposal Masterplan Development



architectural system driving questions: What does Agriculture “look� like? How might the building suggest its affiliation without becoming a stylistic reference? How can the building design add both higher quality space as well as improve its functions and systems?

current precedent:

McGrath Family Farms The current precedent for the project is the McGrath Family Farms farm stand off of the 101 in Camarillo. Its’ “agricultural look” is what first attracted the client. If this stand could be recognized as a farm stand from the freeway, then a similar aesthetic couldn’t be misinterpreted on Cal Poly’s Campus, or so the current thinking goes. Driven by a stylistic

reference to a “barn”, the existing design takes the style without considering what would most benefits the performance of the building or the appropriateness of this approach on the site.

Systems Design


Bernheim Arboretum, Visitors Center -


William McDonough + Partners

Proposed Precedents: Vineyard Barn -


Aidlin + Darling Architects

Quality of Space, Integration into Landscape

“AG” look w/o “Barn” Reference, Material Tactility

Systems Design


Somis Hay Barn -



Proposed Precedents: Omega Center for Sustainable Living -


BNIM Architects

Redefines “Barn�, Quality of Materials

Connection to Nature and Landscape Integrates Systems into Experience/Education

Systems Design


the processing center Program

Organic Processing Conventional Processing Room for 30 student class 3 16x16 Coolers Addt’l Produce Storage Supplies Storage Office Bathrooms

Considerations Efficiency, Cleanliness, & Adaptability Clear flow from Farm to Storage to Market Balance Education, Production, and Industry Standards

In order to work within real-world conditions, it was first important to recognize that I am not the architect. In order to work towards the actual implementation of the following ideas, I had to work closely with the architect and the client. Rather than propose a complete design that they could either accept or decline, the following is a set of strategies which can be applied to the design and act as a guide for the architect and client. By compiling systems research and building a strong case for each proposal, the follow project empowers the architect and client to adopt innovative, sustainable solutions for the site as well as broaden the scope of the design.

understanding flow from farm to consumer

Systems Design


Exit & Storage

Classroom Space

Organic Processing

Program Layout

Drop-Off & Initial Processing

Conventional Processing



Mech. Bathroom


Flexible Storage

Pick Up


Systems Design


From Fields

Conventional Rinse Water

Flow Diagram

Organic Rinse Water

From Fields

Main Entrance

To Coolers

To Storage

To Market

To Market

To Market

Separation wall between Organic and Conventional Produce

Wind and Water

Section Through Processing Center

Catch Basin Water Feature

Organic Rinse Trough Drains to Basin

NW Winds Cross Ventilate, Helped by Stack Effect

Rain Water Capture

Dirt Blocked Out of Ventilation with Screen

Swale System

Systems Design


Climate Regulation by Thermal Mass Winter Light Barely Accepted

Reflected Daylighting

Reflected Daylighting

Energy, Heat, and Light

Section Through Processing Center

Blocked Summer Light

Solar PV Integrated into Roofline

North Light

>R-19 Insulation Keeps the Space Cool on Hot Days and Warm on Cold Nights

Escapes through Dormer

Cross Ventilation By orienting the building with the organic farm rows and the service road to the north, the building is also ideally placed so that its northern face is perpendicular to incoming northwestern winds. In addition to ideal cross ventilation across the processing center, the dormer in the roof is an ideal location for operable windows that can release hot air.

NW Winds Perpendicular to Building

Cross Ventilation “Scrubs” Heat from Thermal Mass

~1/3 Wall Surface Made of Thermal Mass

Thermal Mass Utilizing thermal mass on at least a third of the interior walls helps to moderate interior temperature. In the day, the mass absorbs excess heat and at night, releases the heat as temperatures cool. By placing the walls parallel to the path of cross venting breezes, the wind can “scrub” the heat from the walls in order to keep the space cool. Systems Design


More Protected Envelope

34 Degree Coolers

Less Protected Envelope

45 Degree Cooler

Cooler Placement The original design proposed three separate 16’ square coolers each with an interior and exterior door. While this placement allows for easy loading and unloading, it allows large amount of heat to enter into the coolers, resulting in huge energy loss. By combing the coolers so that they share one interior and exterior door and by placing the warmest space

towards the least insulated exit, the coolers maintain much higher efficiencies, while still allowing for clear access through for loading and unloading.

Vehicle Access & Initial Processing Processing Area & Classroom Storage and Pick-Up

Entry & Service Bathrooms


Program Layout The program was carefully placed to maximize flow from the farm to storage to market. Vans have a covered bay to pull up and unload. The covered bay also has the initial rinse tubs, separated into conventional and organic stations, where dirt and debris are washed off. By placing this program outside, there is less need for enclosed space and

less worry about dirt inside the center. Once inside, the produce goes through two more rinses before going into storage either in the coolers or on the shelves. By placing these programs in a linear progression from west to east, the process can be expedited and easily understood by visitors and students. By placing the storage on the north

end, there is no threat of direct sunlight on the produce and less need for insolation against heat. The human-oriented part of the program, consisting of the entry, office, and bathrooms, are on the south end for easy access from the site and to act as a buffer to the more climate sensitive program elements oriented towards keeping produce cool. Systems Design


Composition of Built Environment The built environment of the project, having considered how the systems perform both inside and out, is composed simply and efficiently. A tight protected envelope is minimized, with less sensitive (either to temperature or cleanliness) program placed around it. A simple truss system supports a gabled roof that covers the program and extends beyond,

both to maximize rainfall capture potential and to protect the program elements from weather. The overhang is greatest to the north and the west to protect against wind-driven rains. The covered drop-off space remains on the slab in order to minimize dirt from entering the protected envelope. This space, however, still connects to the road system

that runs along the end of the organic fields, making drop-offs easy. Along the northern side, extra space is given for vans to pick-up stored produce from the coolers and supplies from the storage space, thus making getting ready for market a simple task.

Gabled Roof w/ Dormer

Redwood Trusses

Coolers Protected Envelope

Concrete Slab

Roof Overhang Systems Design


Roof Plan

the farm stand In response to a limited budget for the Marketplace, a smaller, less expensive alternative is proposed in the interim. Its simple construction - essentially four trusses holding a large overhang keeps the structure modest while also establishing a strong sense of place. As the focal point to the site, it acts as the street front, attracting both vehicular traffic and passing pedestrians and bikes. By including an 8’x8’ cooler, the little stand would still have the capacity to sell most of the Cal Poly goods that the larger scale marketplace would offer. After the marketplace is eventually built, the farm stand can be repurposed as the Poly Plant Shop.

fuel the grid With over 550 square feet of roof space, the farm stand could hold enough solar panels to generate around 4 kW of energy per day. This would not only be enough to power the stand - the system would most likely generate enough energy to sell excess back to the grid.


capture the rain While San Luis Obispo is not particularly rainy, the city still recieves approximately 24 inches of yearly rainfall. With over 550 square feet of roof space, the farm stand could collect over 8,000 gallons of water each year! Not only is this an opportunity for water savings - it can also be an opportunity for art, such as the Thornton Creek rain sculpture in Seattle by Stephen Glassman.


Systems Design


Cal Poly Fresh

South Elevation

The Farm Stand 8’ 6”

8’ 8”

Floor Plan

East Elevation

Roof Structure Plan Systems Design


CSSC Facebook Page

Conclusion: Life-long Learning After a year of networking with collaborators, scheduling meetings, drawing diagrams, and generally running around in a frenzied state, I come to the end of my project with two overwhelming feelings.

I both enjoyed and struggled through. I am grateful for the plethora of opportunities that this project gave me. I am grateful for all of the people that worked along side me. I am grateful for the people that supported, encouraged, and empowered me. I am also grateful for the naysayers. I am grateful for those who remind me of my limits. I am grateful for everyone and everything that brought me to this moment right now.

The first is eagerness. I am eager to explore new opportunities. I am eager to apply all of the skills I’ve acquired from my experience. I am eager to embrace my role in society and the community. I am also eager to take a step back from the project and see it with fresh eyes. I am eager to finally The end of this book does not, in stop and take a breath. I am fact, mean the end of this project. eager to feel finished. Rather, this is a beginning - a beginning of an idea, a beginning of The second feeling is gratitude. an initiative, a beginning of a new I am grateful for the experiences phase of learning. The intention

with this package is to expose the potential for permaculture in our universities, our industries, and our communities. Rather than propose a revolution, this initiative makes the case that permaculture is a natural evolution of the institutional structures that guide society. I could have worked on a individual project and saved myself time, tears, and trouble. Instead, I hope to have inspired future projects and project-makers so that this idea is not bound by this book or any physical barriers for that matter. May this artifact from this year be a step towards many lifetimes of equally rewarding learning! Conclusion


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Reference Material Santoyo, Larry. EarthFlow Design Works. El Santoyo Designs. Web. 09 Dec. 2011. <http://www.earthflow.com/index.php>. "Senior Project Assessment: FAQ" Cal Poly Academic Programs. 06 Mar. 2012. Web. Feb. 2012. <http://www.academicprograms.calpoly.edu/content/accred_ progrev/progrev_bacc/sp2_faq>. Shaeiwitz, Joesph A., Wallace B. Whiting, Richard Turton, and Richard C. Bailie. "The Holistic Curriculum." Journal of Engineering Education Oct 1994. "Strategic Planning." Cal Poly Academic Affairs. Office of Programs and Planning, 09 Sept. 2011. Web. Feb. 2012. <http://www.academicaffairs.calpoly.edu/StrategicPlan/index. html>. Sumi, Akimasa, Nobuo Mimura, and Toshihiko Masui. Climate Change and Global Sustainability: A Holistic Approach. Shibuya-ku, Tokyo: United Nations UP, 2011. “Sustainability Learning Objectives.” Programs and Planning. Cal Poly, 25 Mar. 2011. Web. 09 Dec. 2011. <http://www.academicprograms. calpoly.edu/academicpolicies/sustainability_lo.html>. Todd, Joel A. “Planning and Conducting Integrated Design (ID) Charrettes.” The Whole Building Design Guide. National Institute of Building Sciences, 28 Dec. 2009. Web. 09 Dec. 2011. <http://www.wbdg.org/resources/charrettes.php>. Tress, Barbel, Gunther Tress, and Gary Fry. “Defining Concepts and the Process of Knowledge Production in Integrative Re search.” Volume 12 From Landscape Research to Landscape Planning: Aspects of Integration, Education and Application. Wageningen UR Frontis Series, 2006. Web. Feb. 2012. <http://library.wur.nl/ojs/index.php/frontis/article/ view/1096>.\ "What Is a Permablitz?" Permablitz Melbourne. Permablitz Melbourne, 5 July 2011. Web. Feb. 2012. <http://www.permablitz.net/>. US. Department of Transporation. Federal Highway Administration. Mini-roundabouts. Washington, D.C., 2010. 2009-2011 B.Arch Degree. Digital image. Advising. Cal Poly Architecture. Web. <http://arch.calpoly.edu/current/advising.html>.

Advisors Jonathan Reich, Architecture Thesis Advisor Hunter Francis, Poly Permaculture Advisor Margot McDonald, Academic Senate Univ Task Force David Headrick, Cal Poly Organic Farm Nick Watry, Architect Linda Vanasupa, SustainSLO Liz Schlemer, SustainSLO Henri De Hahn, Architecture Department Head


Victoria Carranza Eric Boyd Tessa Salzman Bryan Iwamoto Jessica Riconscente Jeremy Black Charla Kaul Cameron Turner Kevin Niu Jesse Blote Megan Walker Kelly Atkinson David Romag Julia Hayhurst Luis Lapostol Diana Gustafson Mary-Ann Sharf Joe Murphy Lucas Carlow Alexis Montgomery Nicole Esposito Emmet Woods



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