Urban permaculture in Cedar Rapids

A job at Clipper Wind brought Frank Cicela and his family to Cedar Rapids recently from Indiana. Wanting to meet some “kindred spirits,” Cicela decided to bring in a few experts to conduct a permaculture workshop at his new home in Cedar Rapids.

The workshop will be Saturday, May 3, and Sunday, May 4, at 3409 Seminole Valley Rd. NE.

Permaculture is the design of human habitats that have the stability, diversity and resilience of natural ecosystems. The multi-disciplinary approach integrates renewable energy systems, energy efficiency, agriculture and food systems, natural building, rainwater harvesting and urban planning, along with the economic, political and social policies that make sustainable living possible and practical.

This sustainability  allows people to begin taking food security and energy security into their own hands and into the hands of their community.

The focus of next weekend’s permaculture workshop will be on gardening. Part of the discussion will be how to garden in a three-dimensional zone, that is, using the space above, as well as the traditional design of a garden.

Quite a bit of work goes into starting such a garden, but once established, Cicela likened it to a “food forest,” that maintains itself. “Once it’s created, you just walk through and eat,” he said.  

The course – an intensive classroom and hands-on event – will be taught by three staff members of “Big Green Summer” from Fairfield.

Cicela said the workshop normally costs almost $200, plus a drive to Fairfield. This two-day course is $55 per person.

To see the schedule and register, go to: http://www.myearthwatchexperience.com/pcw/ or call (319) 832-1025.


 Michael Richards of Cedar Rapids, founder of  SUSTAINABLE ECOLOGICAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (S.E.E.D.) noted the following to take into consideration on the importance of urban permaculture:


– 95 percent of  the food on the shelves of Iowa grocery stores travels an average of 1000 miles to get to your table.


– A few decades ago, Iowa was close to total self-sufficiency in food supply.  Over the years, local creameries, canneries and meat processors all over Iowa have gone out of business in the “bigger is better” world of cheap energy.   

 – The opposite economic structure is now our present reality;  Energy is no longer cheap.

 So now what?      

 It is time to re-build Iowa’s local food production and local food distribution infrastructure.

 It makes no sense for the state that has the most fertile soil on earth to lack the ability to feed ourselves with local sources.

 Start in your own backyard with urban permaculture.

 We can all plant “Iowa Victory Gardens” to supply 10 to 20 percent of our household food needs in our own backyard or in neighborhood community gardens.   We can then gradually build back up the local food production and infrastructure throughout the State of Iowa to reclaim the economic foundation of a safe, healthy and abundant local food system.


2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Steve said,

    Iowa at one time had creameries in every county save two, and well over a thousand all together. Canneries where the favorites of local boosters from their inception, Vinton having the first cannery west of the Mssissippi River and many canneries flourished in this state packing peas, beans, sweet corn, tomatoes, potatoes, pickles, pumpkin, asparagus, and other vegetables, many for the State of Iowa, but also for shipment to other states as well. Small scale meat processing of beef, pork and chickens, along with the egg candling and processing business flourished in our fair state. Ice cream plants and milk bottling works were also common in the state. One by one, these small to moderate businesses folded their tents in the face of extreme competetion, government regulation or just not wanting to work so hard to make a living. Long before corn and soy beans were the talk of bankers and investment people, production in cash crops of potatoes and wheat were considered sound investments . Now we have decided we have the answer to the fuel problem by creating bio fuels instead of in season crops for the dinner table. While food riots and starvation are rampant, lets not waste our energy helping our fellow man, heaven forbid we should stop wasting our time and noney keeping our cars on the road and allowing hunger to exist.

  2. 2

    John Peebles said,

    Frank comes from my hometown here in Indiana and I can say he’s a stand-up guy.

    He was instrumental in encouraging my interest in the green movement, more specifically by sponsoring the indianaenergyconference here.

    I credit frank for opening many news ideas for me, and even the creation of my enviro/health blog…His knowledge of green stuff is vast and he knows how to organize and skillfully present information. You guys are lucky to have him.

    He also helped with a local not-for-profit here and brought them into the 21st century.

    Sorry for all the rain troubles you guys are having out there. I think this is symptomatic of the Climate Radicalization that is occurring as a response to the aggregate use of the combustion engine. Things aren’t much better here in Indiana. If anything all this should say just how important Frank’s message is.

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