Northwest Colorado Food Coalition: Sustainability studies program at CMC offers permaculture education |

Northwest Colorado Food Coalition: Sustainability studies program at CMC offers permaculture education

Colorado Mountain College Steamboat Springs sustainability studies program offers exciting opportunities in permaculture education. Permaculture is a vision, a set of ethical and practical principles and a design system you can apply in your home and life.

Permaculture supports human needs while promoting the long-term health and integrity of nature and culture. It is sustainability in action, with a special focus on creating food systems that mimic the dynamic stability of healthy ecosystems.

CMC offers a permaculture design certificate composed of two courses that integrate hands-on and conceptual aspects of both sustainable food growing and design. These courses are open to CMC students and the wider community and are offered in summer and fall terms.

The summer courses meet intensively over several days at a time, with significant time between intensive sessions, making it possible to plan other summer activities around these meetings.

Many of the hands-on activities in CMC’s permaculture education take place at the Bear Park Permaculture Center at CMC Steamboat Springs, a living laboratory for students and the Steamboat community. The center is located on Crawford Avenue, just off of 12th Street heading up the hill toward campus.

For permaculture courses and community groups, the site serves as a venue for learning about growing food in our challenging mountain climate while improving the soil, feeding pollinators and minimizing water use.

The site remains partially developed to date, but it has already proven quite successful. Students and community members harvested 400 pounds of food last summer from the Bear Park gardens, up from 100 the previous season.

Gardeners harvested tomatoes, squash, greens, beets, radishes, tomatillos, cabbage, broccoli, herbs, peas, beans, berries, apples, plums and more. It was an exciting year for demonstrating the potential of the gardens.

At a glance

Permaculture course dates for 2019

Permaculture I: June 1 to 14 and 18 to 21 and July 31
Permaculture II: June 27 to 30, July 12 to 14 and Aug. 1 to 4.

Info: Tina Evans at or Becky Edmiston at Interested in supporting the Bear Park Permaculture Center? Email Lib Diamond at

Community groups, such as the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, come to the Bear Park center to learn about permaculture and participate in building and maintaining the gardens. Seasonal CMC student interns and employees also play crucial roles in developing and maintaining the site while learning permaculture concepts and many practical sustainability and food growing skills.

Our plans to explore aquaponics and grow more diverse plants will continue to evolve as we further develop the Bear Park Permaculture Center. This summer and into the future, we hope you’ll plan to join us for courses and events that will inspire and empower you to grow your own food.

Tina Lynn Evans is a professor of sustainability studies and Becky Edmiston is an associate professor of biology at Colorado Mountain College Steamboat Springs.

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