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Natural Systems Gardening & Social Justice Program – PDC

By April 22, 2017 No Comments
Natural Systems Gardening & Social Justice Program - PDC


Apr 22, 2017 - Oct 23, 2017


Old Dogwood

Old Dogwood’s Natural Systems Gardening & Social Justice Program is a 7-month hands-on gardening program on Mayne Island – unceded territories of 13 Coast Salish nations – that adopts permaculture principles for social and environmental justice.

Since we very much recognize that the leaders of policy groups, and movements that mobilize for Food and Environmental Justice are often educated white, middle-class and cis-gendered people, we are working to disrupt this pattern by inviting youth, people of colour, queers, and trans people to apply.

The Natural Systems Gardening & Social Justice Program has been designed to incorporate biodiverse gardening following permaculture principles so participants can receive their Permaculture Design Certificate – while also prioritizing time each class for decolonial practices for participants to connect to breath, intuition, qi/ki/chi aka internal energy connection, and nature. These practices include teachings from traditional ki-based Okinawan Karate, which program instructor Kelsey Cham C has been given permission to share following Shoshinkan karate protocol. Ki-based exercises offer practical applications for participants to experience the physical effectiveness and power of harmonizing with ki in situations of conflict rather than escalating conflict by giving power to individualism, ego, competition, and brain dominance, which are very Western Capitalist ways of being. Other practices include silent forest walks, breathing exercises, observation exercises in nature, and sitting with plants.

The purpose of including decolonial practices in the program is to encourage participants to connect with ancestral teachings from our different cultures which are becoming more and more buried in Western Colonial Capitalism, patriarchy and white supremacy. As community organizers and activists, instructors of the program recognize that even with our best intentions, as we mobilize toward social and environmental justice, we are also carrying internalized systems of oppression within us. So if we do not work to unlearn these oppressive behaviours – which include how we access some of our most basic needs like how we take in oxygen, how we access and consume food, how we stand, how we communicate, how we exist in time and space, and all the ways we are in relationship – how can we create new systems without perpetuating oppressive systems we internalize? Old Dogwood recognizes that a major part of moving toward liberation is moving toward a daily practice where we learn to reconnect with ourselves, our sources of life, and each other.


Registration is sliding scale $350-750 or free for youth up to 21 years old. The course includes 76 hours of instruction and practical experience on Mayne Island. Participants will tent each course weekend (there are 3 beds available in a guest trailer for people who need them), and organize to make food and eat together in the undercover outdoor kitchen. Food will not be provided but groceries are a 10 minute walk away (by road or by forest!)

To apply, please send an email introducing yourself, the community work you are interested in, and why you are interested in taking this course. Everyone is welcome to apply!

Application deadline: April 10th


Course Dates & Topics Covered:
April 22: Intro to Permaculture Gardening
April 23: First Steps Toward Sustainable Relationships – Dealing With Our Shit and Humanure
May 6: Intro to Soil Life, Social Remediation, & Bioremediation
May 7: Hands-On Remediation Project – Cigarette Butt Digesters
June 3: Water Abundance & Scarcity – Catching Rain Water
June 4: Getting Ready For High Drought Gardening
July 8: Native Pollinators – Making Bumblebee Homes During the Housing Crisis
July 9: Wildlife Gardening – Building a Pond for Birds & Bats
August 12: Food Justice, Seed Saving & Fermentation
August 13: Livestock – Building a Chicken Tractor
September 16: Plant Medicine – Traditional Knowledge, Harvesting Protocol, Appropriation & the Canadian Government
September 17: Processing Plants for Medicine
October 21: Outdoor Mushroom Cultivation and Final PDC Project
October 22: Final PDC Project & Fall Gardening in Preparation for Winter

Course participants are welcome to come Fridays or stay later on Saturday & Sundays to work in the garden or on personal projects. If you are interested but can’t make some of these dates, send us an email. It is possible we can book a make-up weekend so you can still get your Permaculture Design Certificate.


Kelsey Cham C. — Yīnyáng rén settler of Chinese-Irish descent, kelsey is a community organizer, gardener, and martial artist. They spend a lot of time connecting and learning from their many practices including wildlife & natural gardening, martial arts, bacteria & fungi cultivation, medicine making, bioremediation, and social justice. kelsey is a former 3-time national karate champion and has received their Permaculture Design Certificate from the Nettle’s Guild in Vancouver. Former garden coordinator at the Purple Thistle Food Forest in 2012, kelsey has since been immersed in permaculture, gardening collectively to grow an urban Food Forest in East Van’s industrial neighbourhood & starting a Food and Medicine Neighbourhood Patch in the Renfrew area in 2015. They currently work with youth in Victoria to help start a community garden doubling as a free social space.

Claire Gendron — With long-standing family connection to Mayne Island, Claire is happy to be setting down roots and continuing the line of community work her grandparents are still doing on the island. As a settler of mixed European and Irish decent, Claire is listening, learning and taking action whenever possible to show her appreciation for being a guest on these unceded territories. Claire works to blend her practices of gardening, building and growing relationships, and art into a form that feeds herself and others around her. Here’s to trying! Claire received her Permaculture Design Certificate, while completing the Linnaea Farm Ecological Gardening program in 2012.

More about Old Dogwood at

This event was posted by Kelsey Cham, a visitor to the site. For more information contact them directly at

This event was posted by a visitor, and not by Permaculture BC. As such Permaculture BC has NO FURTHER INFORMATION then what you see here. Do not call, email or toilet paper us with emails or phone calls, as we DO NOT KNOW THE ANSWER TO YOUR QUESTION. With quiet resolve, patience and determination we thank you.

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