There are a lot of great groups doing important work in our area, much of which is of interest to permaculture folks. This list is just a beginning, if you know of another local nonprofit that aligns with permaculture ethics or practices, please e-mail the name, link and description to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Local Conservation Districts
These are one of the best-kept secrets out there, government agencies who are actually doing very good work in soil and water conservation by educating farmers and property owners on better practices, as well as supporting the efforts of land owners in a myriad of ways. Many of the districts have wonderful tree and native-plant sales in the springtime, and are generally very friendly and knowledgeable folks to chat with. We even have some group members who work for or with the local Districts, so you’re in good hands! Cass county doesn’t have a website, their phone is: 269-445-8643.
Allegan Co. | Barry Co. | Berrien Co. | Calhoun Co. | Kalamazoo Co. | St. Joseph Co. | Van Buren Co.
These native plant enthusiasts have monthly meetings with interesting speakers and presentations relating to native plants and our local ecosystems. They’ve also been doing an excellent series on climate change. If you want to convert your lawn into habitat for wildlife, they can help you figure out what to plant in a particular area, and you can get free plants at their spring/fall plant exchanges (see Events Calendar). Always good fun! While most permaculturalists don’t adhere to a strictly-native plant selection criteria, they are very important in our designs and we should always look to see if there’s a native plant to fill a certain role before planting foreign species.
The Transition movement is based in Permaculture and applies it to the community-scale, working to bring people together to work proactively in the face of the uncertainties we face, i.e. climate change, fossil fuel depletion and economic downturn. From this group there have been several local (town-level) initiatives started including Bangor, Fennville, Lawton, and most recently, Kalamazoo.
A group dedicated to the goal of revitalizing rural and urban communities by promoting responsible land use and the development of localized food and energy systems. They support the conservation and good stewardship of land and publish a great newsletter.
While the thought of soil tillage makes many PC people bristle, this organization does a lot more than scratch up the sod. They offer a wide variety of interesting classes on subjects like blacksmithing, timber frame construction, furniture making, traditional farming, animal husbandry, stone masonry, coopering, traditional handicrafts, and so much more. They also host the wonderful Harvest Festival each fall, an event which VKP supports and has a booth set up at.
A mix between a environmental education center, nature center and biological field station. The Institute offers seven miles of hiking trails, environmental education and sustainability programs to serve the community, plus undergraduate scientific research grants and research partnerships with area colleges and universities. They are hosting a Permaculture design course this summer in coordination with Midwest Permaculture and our local member Josh Shultz.