Julia and Charles Yelton have been living, teaching and designing and consulting to promote Permaculture principles and ethics for the last 20 years. Julia is a master gardener and skilled landscape designer with a background in architectural ceramics. Charles brings education, design engineering and project management skills.
Both studied and practiced permaculture at Crystal Waters Permaculture Village in Queensland, Australia for 3 1/2 years and taught at the Institute for Sustainable Agriculture of Nepal before starting to travel and teach around the world together, they have learned, taught, designed, and implemented numerous regenerative whole living systems in India, Bali, Ireland, Guatemala, France, Spain, Morocco, Greece, Egypt, UK, Scotland, Wales, and Canada. During the years of working with and within many different cultures, they came to understand firsthand that the best way to convey the attributes of total natural system was to execute a design and let the results speak for themselves.
In 1998, wanting a break from traveling and looking to put down roots, after spending a year designing an eco-village in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, the Yeltons established an affordable, sustainable, energy-efficient demonstration home and four-season gardens at the Sustainable Living Center, Humustacia Gardens in Whitefield, Maine. On two acres of wooded land, they carved a sun trap, cut conifers that were milled on-site for the framework of their house, dug ponds and planted gardens to demonstrate how anyone can implement a Permaculture design.
In early 2007, they established a community food forest at a drug-rehabilitation center in Cyprus, drawing participation from both Greek and Turkish residents. In the US, their education programs soon earned college-accreditation through the University of Maine and University of New Hampshire. In 2007, they spearheaded the University of Maine initiative to green the campus and were named Still Water Research Fellows in 2007 and 2008. From 2008 to 2009, they were the first Co-Directors of Permaculture Education at the Newforest Institute in Brooks, ME, where they established overall site designs and numerous workshops and courses, including a timber-earth "Hobbit House" construction.
Julia and Charles strive to "teach by doing" and are committed to establishing demonstration sites so that people can experience first-hand the benefits of a holistic, ecological design. They emphasize hands-on experience in their teaching and also incorporate spirituality, cosmology as well as those topics that are on the "edge" as an integral part of their courses.
While their teaching gathered momentum in Maine and the Northeast, the Yeltons have still managed to work on projects overseas during the northern winters. In spring and summer, they spread their Permaculture knowledge through courses and workshops held in the Northeast. The couple's passion has inspired many of their students to follow in their footsteps and pass on the knowledge broadly. Six of their students have created Permaculture meet-up sites in Maine, one of which is the third largest in the world with just under 870 members.
"When we first began teaching Permaculture years ago, we realized that we needed to address the nurturing of the individuals who lived under our current economic system, and for this we added Zone Zero-Zero to the Permaculture zone design system. Our work during the last five years has taken on a deepening, with the understanding of the true meaning of ecology - that is the relationship of everything to everything. An understanding that the abundance and sanctity of all life is greatly magnified and our stewardship moves to the fore front and becomes the primary task in our survival as a species instead of us becoming part of another mass extinction."
What Is There Beyond Permaculture?
We have to start with zone Zero - Zero, ourself. Without care for ourself we will not exist. In this fast paced age we just don't take the time to really look after this miraculous body we call "myself". When we begin to explore ourself, our place, our purpose,what we are here to accomplish in our life, and most often overlooked, our responsibility, people suddenly say, I can't go there. Why?
Your Goals, Our Goals and the Future For Our Earth
"We acknowledge ourselves to be composed of mind, body and spirit. When we begin to study the ecology of being, our connectedness to all of nature allows us to enter a profoundly different spiritual zone. This is a zone beyond Permaculture, where all aspects of natures design system are brought full circle and are exposed. There are also sensed but unseen connections in this zone, where some of the age-old mysteries that have taunted humankind can be uncovered, researched, reconciled and shared. It provides us all with endless opportunities for self-discovery, self-healing and establishing our sense of self and place in our world, the truest expression of our cosmological connection. Presenting this zone in our teaching fulfills the collective need for completeness, a Oneness that many of us search for, and in this sacred space, it is indeed found and is present for us all to embrace."
- Julia and Charles Yelton
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