Stage 1: Building the Base – Years 1 & 2
- Demonstration Center – the foundation of any effort to promote, enrich and sustain human & environmental health is a willingness to “be the change…” We plan to make our home, the 23 acres of land that we steward, and our very lives into a demonstration for how to live in a way that is devoted to our mission.
- Community Support – as we work towards becoming the change that we wish to see in the world, we plan to establish a regular presence at farmers’ markets, conferences, fairs, festivals and expos to provide health-related products and services. We plan to use these opportunities to systematically gather data about the programs and projects that would garner the most community support and to nurture relationships with individuals and organizations.
- Resilience Assessment Tools – taking a step beyond carbon footprint calculators, we plan to create tools for individuals, organizations and communities to assess their resilience, and to determine which projects will have the greatest resilience impact.
- Farm goods and Value-Added Products – we plan to provide permaculturally-grown produce and value-added products directly through an on-site farm stand, farmer’s markets, fairs and expos, and indirectly through local restaurants and shops. Goods & products may include fruits & vegetables, herbs, potted plants, flower arrangements, honey, eggs, herbal products, etc.
Stage 2: Program Expansion – Years 2 & 3
- Permaculture Design Courses, Workshops & Consultation – meanwhile, as our efforts to create our demonstration center grow, we plan to offer Permaculture workshops and eventually complete Permaculture Design Courses at our homestead. Permaculture is a holistic system of sustainable polycultural design aimed at creating a permanent culture. Both Michael and Christine have completed permaculture design courses (PDC) and plan to pursue permaculture teacher training to teach these courses and related workshops on site. Other workshops will relate to teaching homesteading & simple living skills, healthy living, and the basics of herbalism and plant identification. As we become more established through our PDCs and workshops as permaculture consultants we plan to provide practical, sustainable and aesthetic design consultations for individuals and organizations.
- Health Education and Promotion Programs – we plan to expand our course offerings over time to focus more specifically on human health. Michael has designed and delivered a health education and promotion program for low-income seniors and plans to expand upon it and offer it to the public. He has also designed a lifestyle modification program incorporating diet and lifestyle interventions combined with Permaculture education. Michael has completed training as a Wilderness First Responder (WFR), and plans to pursue additional training required to teach WFR and Wilderness First Aid courses on site.
- Citizen Science Projects – Christine has experience engaging the public in Citizen Science projects such as FrogWatch, NestWatch, Project Bud Burst and MonarchWatch. These programs are designed to engage the public in science by monitoring and collecting data pertinent to environmental health. We plan to conduct citizen science projects on site and to partner with other organizations that conduct similar projects.
Stage 3: Infrastructure Expansion – Years 3 & 4
- Eco-Cottage Farm Stay – of course, attendees of our longer courses will need a place to stay, so our permaculture workshops and course curriculum will include natural building workshops, which will involve the construction of 3-5 small eco-cottages in the woods. These cottages will be made available for farm stay guests, as well as for interns and apprentices.
- Retreats – we plan to host individuals and organizations who wish to hold private retreats on our land, utilizing eco-cottages, camping space, or overflow lodging.
- Internships / Apprenticeships – although we plan to host WWOOFers (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) as soon as possible, we also intend to develop a robust internship and apprenticeship program with annual application cycles to attract self-motivated social and environmental entrepreneurs. Once accepted into this work-exchange program by virtue of their qualifications and innovative ideas, these individuals will undergo a rigorous homestead training program and then will be provided resources to implement their proposed enterprises.
Stage 4: Service Expansion – Years 4 & 5
- Integrative Free Clinic – utilizing natural building techniques we plan to build a large multipurpose building that will serve as a free clinic, storefront, community kitchen, classroom space, and overflow lodging for workshops. Once built, the free clinic will be operated as a Nurse-Managed Free Clinic by Michael who is an Adult / Gerontology Nurse Practitioner, and will be staffed by volunteer health professionals who will provide both integrative primary care and specialty services to its clients. As part of this project, Michael plans to expand upon current evidence-based guidelines to incorporate integrative interventions for common chronic health conditions, and to build integrative diagnostic and treatment algorithms into the electronic medical record to be utilized in the clinic.
- Integrative Elder-Care Alternatives – as our health care operations expand, we plan to create elder-care alternatives. Michael has experience living and volunteering in an intergenerational community and plans to expand upon the existing models to enable elders to age in place.
- Home care services – providing education and direct health services to elders in their homes
- Augmented Care – providing integrative services to elders residing in independent-living, assisted-living or long-term care facilities, including:
- Integrative and evidence-based resources that allow your provider to individualize and optimize management of your chronic health conditions
- Complementary services, including:
- Acupuncture / Acupressure
- Supplements / Nutraceuticals
- Intergenerational Community – We plan to purchase land and develop a program to facilitate the construction of an intergenerational “pods” of elders, living and working together with twenty-somethings, couples and small families.
- Alternative Time-Bank – as we expand our offerings of health-related products and services, we will use these exchange opportunities to address some of the root causes of human and environmental health problems and to ease our inevitable transition back to a nature-based gift economy. To this effect, Michael has begun to develop an equitable valuation solution to provide an alternative to current systems of valuation and compensation. Developed into easily accessible user interfaces, such as a website & mobile app, the Equitable Valuation Open Solution (EVOS) could serve as the foundation for a non-monetary system of energy exchange that could be deployed throughout all of our activities.
- Community & Professional Organizations – we plan to join and/or form community and professional organizations and to create a gathering space for these organizations. Michael was a member of Transition Rogers Park in Chicago, and we plan to spearhead the formation of a Transition group for this region. He is also a member of the American Holistic Nurses Association and plans to form a local chapter. We also have either joined or plan to join other local and national organizations and plan to host meetings and events.
- Artistic and Literary Endeavors – we currently publish two blogs and plan to continue to develop content for these. Crafts will be offered at farmers markets, and our permaculture designs will have an aesthetic as well as a functional focus. Michael and Christine also plan to write works of fiction and non-fiction, including books and articles. Michael is a mostly self-taught musician & producer who has written and recorded over a dozen complete songs and over 100 musical ideas. He plans to continue to write and record music with a focus on human and environmental health, which will be distributed to benefit the organization. We also plan to compile video footage of our efforts, which will eventually be released as a documentary.
- Permaculture and Integrative Medicine Research – from the beginning, we plan on collecting data on our activities, and to grow into our research capacity. Christine has research experience as a PhD candidate in Biology and has authored or co-authored 3 peer-reviewed articles. Michael also has gained research experience as the principal investigator of a research project he designed and implemented, which was monitored by the Institutional Review Board at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Michael has developed a database that is currently being used in his work as a Nurse Practitioner and that may be adapted to serve as an electronic medical record that can efficiently collect health-related data, which may later be used to research health outcomes. He has also begun to adapt a database for permaculture research. We plan to apply this experience to our permaculture and integrative medicine research projects.