Intro to Permaculture Workshop

August 19, 2014

Sierra Permaculture Design California USAWant to get your feet wet with Permaculture? I’ll be teaching the following workshop at Peaceful Valley Farm Supply on September 13th, 2014.

Intro to Permaculture at Peaceful Valley Farm Supply
with Paul Racko

Saturday, September 13th, 2014 – 9:30am – 11:30am

Permaculture is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is a harmonious integration of landscape and people — providing their food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way. We will cover the design principles of permaculture and how to apply these sustainable practices. No matter if you live in an urban apartment, suburban tract home, or on a multi-acre ranch, permaculture will help you live a more sustainable lifestyle.

Paul Racko is certified permaculture designer and offers consulting, design, project management & training though his firm Sierra Permaculture Design (

Pre-registration & pre-payment is requested. Call Peaceful Valley’s store to register at 530-272-4769 x106. Cash or check payments only, no credit cards.

To pre-pay, please mail a check made out to Paul Racko to
Peaceful Valley, Attn: Workshops, P.O. Box 2209, Grass Valley, CA 95945

Workshop Location:
Peaceful Valley Farm Supply
125 Clydesdale Court, Grass Valley, CA 95945

Map and Directions:

Categories: company, courses, events, news.

Ham Radio at the 2012 Permaculture Convergence

September 25, 2012

I’m happy to announce that I’ve been chosen to present a workshop and demonstration on Amateur Radio at the 2012 Northern California Permaculture Convergence in Castro Valley, CA on October 12-14.

My workshop is called ‘Building Communications Resilience with Amateur Radio’ and its focus will be on how and why ham radio should be incorporated into permaculture systems everywhere. During the course of the weekend, I will also be operating my station to demonstrate phone (voice) and digital (data) modes on both VHF (2 meters) and HF (40 meters). The station will give Convergence attendees a hands-on opportunity to work the airwaves for the purposes of demonstrating amateur radio’s diverse capabilities for one-to-one and one-to-many voice and data (including chat and email!) communication. If the propagation characteristics of the site allow it (the M.A. Center is located at the bottom of a canyon), I will be running a VHF packet station on 145.050 FM to show how text-based messages & data can be sent, stored, forwarded and retrieved via Packet Bulletin Board Systems (PBBS) as well as demonstrate the Winlink 2000 system for the delivery & retrieval of email via IP the world over! On HF, I’ll be running 100 watts on the 40 meter band using a horizontal dipole antenna optimized for NVIS (Near Vertical Incidence Skywave) which allows for regional communications within a 30 to 400 mile radius. For updates on my station’s operating times and frequencies, please see my page at

For more information on the 2012 Northern California Permaculture Convergence, please visit their website at

Categories: amateur_radio, company, events, news.

Local Food Freedom – Nevada Co. Event!

March 16, 2012

Local Food Freedom Nevada County would like to invite you to an evening of information and dialogue regarding your freedoms and fundamental rights.

Local Food Freedom Event

Friday March 23, 2012 7pm – 9pm
Nevada City Vets Hall

Shannon Biggs – Community Rights Advocate
Pattie Chelseth – Farmer whose small farm was targeted by FDA
Dale Jacobson – Chiropractor and health care advocate

Donations accepted

Unbeknownst to many, our basic right to grow food and share with friends and neighbors, to have bake sales, potlucks, or a child’s lemonade stand, enter into contract with local farmers for healthy food, or simply buy an herbal cough syrup can no longer be taken for granted.

Recently, the FDA and court rulings have held that:
·         There is no fundamental right to obtain any food we wish.
·         There is no fundamental right to freedom of contract.
·         There is no fundamental right to own and use a dairy cow or dairy herd.
·         There is no fundamental right to consume the milk from one’s own cow.
·         There is no fundamental right to board their cow at the farm of a farmer.
·         There is no absolute right to produce and consume any particular food or feed it to our children.
·         There is no deeply rooted historical tradition of unfettered access to foods of all kinds. Private contracts do not fall outside the scope of the State’s Police Power.

Because we are concerned about our beloved Nevada County, a diverse group of community stakeholders representing all political points of view are bringing this basic human rights issue before you.

It is our inalienable right to grow and consume our own food without government interference. We oppose regulating small farms out of existence and unwarranted raiding of the offices of honest, hard working citizens.

Please join us for an evening together, exploring our food rights and right to choose. Come and learn what we can do to protect our local rights!

Local Food Freedom – Nevada County

Join the LFF-NC listserv for e-mail updates!

Categories: events.

Save Water, Save Money: How to be Water Wise in your Home and Garden

March 8, 2012

Nevada City’s new WaterWise Program presents free Public Workshop and Fixture Give-aways  NC_Water_Wise_logo

Nevada City has recently initiated its WaterWise program to help residents save money on their water bills by using water more efficiently.  As part of the public launch of the program, WaterWise will be holding a free public workshop on water efficiency titled, “Save Water, Save Money: How to be Water Wise in your Home and Garden.”  Many local home and gardening experts will be speaking at the event, and there will be a raffle of a Dual-flush toilet donated by Sierra Plumbing Supply, an irrigation “smart-controller’ donated by Weiss Landscaping, and a gift basket donated by Rare Earth Landscape Materials.  In addition to these raffle items, Nevada City will be giving away one of the latest designs in low-flow showerheads.  Although the raffle items and give-aways are only available to Nevada City water utility customers, the program itself is open to the general public, and everyone is invited to attend.  Light refreshments will be available.  The program happens Saturday, March 17th, from 10am to 1pm, at Seaman’s Lodge, in Pioneer Park.

Save Water, Save Money: How to be Water Wise in your Home and Garden

Speakers and topics:

Zeno Acton with Acton Arboriculture – The steps and value of an irrigation audit.

Adam Weiss/Brian Coalson with Weiss Landscaping – Landscape maintenance strategies, irrigation improvements and adjustments that conserve

Karin Kaufman, Landscape Architect: Reducing or removing lawn, and what to put in its place

John Whalin, from Sierra Plumbing Supply: Water efficient fixtures inside the home

Lyn Muth, Master Gardener at A to Z nursery: Using water wise plants in the landscape

Paul Racko, Sierra Permaculture Design:  harvesting and reusing water in the landscape with swales, ponds & greywater

Following new state guidelines which mandate all California water suppliers to use metered billing and to reduce per capita water use, Nevada City installed new water meters and switched to metered billing in 2011.  As often happens when switching to metered billing, many residents’ water bill increased dramatically.  The Nevada City council initiated the WaterWise program to help residents bring those bills back down and under control.  The program also aims to guide residents towards the state mandated goal of 20% lower water use by the year 2020.  WaterWise may also help the city during the peak use summer months when it has to buy additional water from NID, as well as stave off spending millions of dollars on infrastructure and water treatment plant renovations.

Many area residents have wondered at the reasoning behind a water efficiency program when Nevada City is located so close to the headwaters of a large watershed and water seems so abundant.  The bigger picture behind the need for water conservation is that California has a serious water problem.  There has been a warming trend in California for decades which is predicted to continue.  This warming trend is not only melting away millennia-old glaciers in the Sierra, it’s causing earlier snow melt and run-off, and faster evaporation rates.  Faster evaporation rates mean more water is required to irrigate crops and landscape.  Compounding this problem is the fact that California is expected to continue growing in population by many millions in the coming years.  Much of this population growth is expected to happen in areas that are already experiencing severe water shortages and already rely on reclaimed water for irrigation.  In simple terms all of this means that California’s water supply is decreasing at the very same time that its water demand is growing.    Facing a serious failure of the water supply system in the not too distant future, California instituted Senate Bill SB7.7 in 2009, which calls for more efficient water use by all Californians, with a reduction of 10% by 2015, and 20% by 2020.  Thankfully there are many new technologies and practices available to the public to help them reduce water use without sacrificing comfort or utility.  Some of the new low-flow fixtures not only use less water, they actually perform better than previous higher flow models.  For instance, the new generation of high efficiency sprinkler heads use up to 30% less water, while simultaneously providing better soil infiltration than previous designs.  The goal of the WaterWise program is to inform residents about newly emerging water-saving technologies while also promoting practical and time-tested water wise practices, such as adding mulch to the garden, and shutting off the faucet while brushing our teeth.

WaterWise Nevada City coordinators Katie Merrill and Ellis Garvin may be contacted directly at (530) 265-2496, ext. 121.  Or by email at:

Categories: events, news.

Biochar & Wood Gas: Waste Wood for Soil Fertility, Energy Production, Carbon Sequestration & Fire Safety

May 18, 2010

Please join me at the next Sierra Permaculture Guild meeting for a special presentation:

Biochar & Wood Gas: Waste Wood for Soil Fertility, Energy Production, Carbon Sequestration & Fire Safety

The Sierra Nevada foothills are abundant with woody biomass that is a potential hazard when located near structures and communities. Rather than treating this resource as a waste, we can easily convert it into energy, soil amendment, and other useful products using simple, low-cost, and time-tested technologies.

In this talk by permaculture designer Paul Racko, you will learn about the many diverse benefits of Biochar/Terra Preta and wood gasification. With the effects of peak oil, climate change, and global economic instability becoming an everyday reality, find out how we can return fertility to our soils, generate energy at home and municipal scales, create fire-safe zones, reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide contributing to global climate change, and create meaningful, productive jobs in our bioregion. Farmers, alternative energy enthusiasts, foresters, homesteaders, welders, public works officials, entrepreneurs and engineers are especially welcome to attend this paradigm-shifting discussion.

Also: Spring Veggie Start swap. Bring your surplus veggie starts to swap or give-away. Share the abundance!

Always free and open to the public — donations gratefully accepted.

Anyone interested in permaculture, sustainable design, ecological agriculture, peak oil, relocalization and related topics is encouraged to attend and participate. Bring your questions, ideas, stories, and visions of how permaculture can help us bridge the transition as we co-create sustainable homesteads, communities and livelihoods.

Saturday, June 12, 2010
2:30pm gathering & networking
3:00pm meeting start/presentations

In the YoGarage at Willow Springs
29085 State Highway 49
North San Juan, CA 95960

Site phone: (530) 292-3463

Seating is limited. Please bring a mat, pillow, or folding chair to sit on.

For Sierra Permaculture Guild information, please contact Paul Racko at (530)613-4181

Join the Sierra Permaculture Guild Listserv on Yahoo! Groups


Categories: events, guild.

Sierra Permaculture Design

Permaculture design and consulting services in Auburn, Grass Valley, Nevada City, and North San Juan, California. Also serving Nevada County, Placer County, Sierra County, and Yuba County, California CA.

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