Workshops & Classes
The following workshops and classes are typically “hands-on” so people learn with mind and muscle.
You can choose from the following, or a custom workshop or class could be developed for your unique potential and needs.
How to Plant the Rain (and Other On-site Waters) to Grow Sustainable Abundance
Minimum duration: 6 hours. Preferred allotment: 7 hours.
In order to better see the whole and our place within the hydrologic cycle, each workshop begins with participants learning the Water-Harvesting Principles; basic watergy facts; integration of sun, water, and community; oasis zones; how to think like a plant; and various earthworks strategies. We then assess the site, identifying water resources and watersheds, asking and answering relevant site-specific questions, and testing our observations with simple tools. Equipped with a deeper understanding of the site and its water, we then place and create water-harvesting earthworks, guided by the Principles, key integration techniques, and the goal of living within the site’s sustainable water budget. Depending on the site, typical earthworks created in an workshop can include infiltration basins/rain gardens, one-rock check dams, contour berm ‘n basins/swales or boomerang berm ‘n basins, and terracing. Time and resources permitting, we will plant guilds of vegetation within/beside the earthworks and view a presentation of earthworks from around the world.
We begin by learning to better see the whole and our place within the hydrologic cycle with Water-Harvesting Principles; watergy; integration of sun, water, and community; focusing on oasis zones; thinking like a plant; and an introduction to various earthworks strategies.
What are our on-site resources, needs, challenges?
Identify the site’s watersheds and subwatersheds, and test our observations with simple water level tools.
Seek and find all on-site water resources (such as rain, runoff/runon, stormwater, greywater, blackwater, clearwater (air conditioning condensate, Reverse Osmosis (RO) bleedoff, evaporative-cooler bleedoff, pool flush), fog, and imported water sources such as well, surface, and municipal waters.
Determine: Where is the water coming from? How much is there? How much is needed?
The goal: To live within our site’s sustainable water income.
With a deeper understanding of the site and its water, we then place and create water-harvesting earthworks using the Principles to guide us.
To simplify and increase effectiveness we:
- Break up larger watersheds into smaller watersheds and start at the top
- For quicker results, focus initial efforts where we have additional on-site water inputs (such as runon and greywater) and human interaction
- Turn problems into solutions
Typical earthworks created in class can include:
- Infiltration basins/rain gardens
- One-rock check dams
- Contour berm ‘n basins/swales or boomerang berm ‘n basins
Key integrations when building:
- Get at least two uses from soil that is moved once
- 3 key elevations
- Create the sponge with on-site mulch and living pumps of vegetation
Additional Options (time permitting)
- Plant guilds of vegetation within/beside the earthworks
- A presentation of earthworks around the world
- Overview of day, where to go from here, closing circle
Greywater Assessment and Harvesting Class
Goal: All participants should be able to assess and design a system in class so they can assess and design their own system after class.
This class begins with Brad’s Greywater-Harvesting Presentation (see description above), followed by a hands-on site assessment of greywater-harvesting potential to analyze the accessibility, quality, and volume of greywater that can be harvested on the site. The assessment will include how to make and use a simple, effective, cheap water level that can be used in creating all water-harvesting earthworks. Simple calculations and a soil-percolation test will be used to determine the size of greywater-harvesting earthworks so they work, don’t flood, and don’t puddle. The session will wrap up with determining what plants can be planted in balance with the harvested greywater, so that, once established, the plants will thrive, irrigated only by harvested greywater and rainwater—no potable municipal or well water. Duration: 4–5 hours.
Note: A hands-on implementation of the greywater system designed in the greywater assessment and harvesting class can be completed in an additional 5–6-hour workshop if desired and logistics allow.
Sun & Shade Harvesting
Integrated Sun & Shade Harvesting for Buildings, Landscapes, and Gardens
This hands-on workshop uses a variety of effective, low-tech methods to map and work with seasonally-changing sun paths to provide free/passive heat and light in winter, cooling shade in summer, and reduced water loss to evaporation. Topics/methods covered:
- Why we have seasonally changing sun paths
- Sun-path dance—a fun way to understand and teach the sun’s path
- How to find true south/north with sun, moon, stars, or stick
- Sun-path diagram—tells you the location of the sun any time of day, any day of the year
- Winter-solstice shadow ratio—a quick and simple way to determine the longest noontime shadow an object will cast, and how to incorporate that info into a more effective, integrated design of buildings and landscapes
- Orientation of buildings to the sun and tree placements to maximize comfort and performance
- How to design ideal roof overhangs/window awnings for equator-/winter-sun-facing windows in order to maximize summer cooling and winter heating
- Solar rights
- Sun & shade harvesting for a food forest
- How to use on-site rain and runoff to irrigate vegetation for free
Duration: 3.5 hours. Class will be a combination of PowerPoint presentation peppered with hands-on applications of methods being learned.
- Pages 91–123 and 213–226 of Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 1, 3rd Edition
- The Solar Envelope: How to Heat and Cool Cities Without Fossil Fuels
- Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 1, 2nd Edition, for each student
- Handout of Sun-Path Diagram for 26? N latitude for each student
- Pencil for every student
- Protractor for every student
- Ruler for every student
- One sheet of ¼-inch graph paper for every student
- Whiteboard (or chalkboard) and markers (or chalk)
- Tape measures (one for each group of 5)
- Yard stick
- Internet access
- Pre-drawn elevation (side) view of site’s south-facing wall, window(s), and roof
- A-frame levels (one for each group for 5)
Description to come.
Compost Toilets & Other Onsite Nutrient Reuse
Description to come.
Description to come.