SOULPATCH Brings Permaculture to Summer Camp

There’s much more to Summer Camp than just music. While it’s true that SCamp brings some of the best bands and DJs around, there are so many other amazing things going on over the weekend. You can join a team for Field Day, peruse the art in the SoulShine Gallery, or learn about permaculture at the SOULPATCH.
I had a chance to chat with Nick and Natalie from SOULPATCH about their exciting new workshop and much more.
What exactly is SOULPATCH? Can you give a brief introduction into what it is you guys do at Summer Camp?
The SOULPATCH is an interactive garden space dedicated to permaculture, urban gardening, and natural building techniques. We are dedicated to sustainability education and sparking interest of the natural world to festival goers offering wholesome content in a plastic free environment. 
We are a permanent garden space, built out of the energy and momentum and influx of SCamp but it stays for the community for the entire year.
SOULPATCH is an interactive demonstration area where festival attendees can step off the beaten path, relax and learn. Attendees can explore a variety of opportunities ranging from basic to advanced techniques throughout the weekend. 
SOULPATCH is part of the Soulshine programming of Make a Difference which raises awareness around social and ecological issues, offering patrons opportunities for civic engagement and learning through a variety of partnering organizations. 
Here is a little more history about SOULPATCH: 
2014 was the initial year of hands-on urban gardening and permaculture based learning at SCMF. Since its inception, over a dozen installations (practical garden aids such as cold frames, compost units, container gardens, etc.) have been donated to organizations supporting local food advocacy and action as a direct result of the festivals’ education program. 
A permanent site, SOULPATCH, has been developed with the intention of converting the space into a permanent educational garden, creating an asset for the community and surrounding region for continued learning.  The area currently has 5 major assets that demonstrate natural building or alternative growing techniques, providing both a base curriculum and a place to gather.  In 3 years we have created the following permanent natural building or gardening frameworks: 
  • Round timber structure with a thatch roof, intended as a gathering space and an outdoor classroom.
  • Round timber structure as an outdoor kitchen and dining space (10’x30’ by 10’x 20’ “L shape”).
  • Cob oven, used during the festival weekend as a vending space, tangibly teaching people the practical applications of cooking with a cob oven. 
  • Cob wall, a signature ambiance of the space, including bottle bricks capable of night-time illumination that spells out ‘SoulPATCH’.
  • Hugelkultur garden demonstrating water-wise gardening on the south side with a defined meeting or gathering place on the north side.  
  • A willow bender tunnel that will continuously be improved into a living willow bender representing an alternative fence line and also intended for mushroom log cultivation. 
  • A keyhole garden with dozens of raised garden beds.


How did the idea to do a 3-day workshop come about for 2019? 
The project has a lot to offer, so we figured opening it up to an advanced learner opportunity would only benefit the SCMF music lovers. We feel music festivals are a great opportunity to give back to the local community and hold discussions about the future and how to create a more sustainable world. It all starts with a conversation! 
The 3 Day Permaculture Experience is an Intro course that is a shortened version of what a full Permaculture Design Certification course involves. 
Permaculture is a certifiable curriculum that holds native concepts and tools for sustainability and ways to design your life around natural patterns and concepts. A normal course is 2-3 weeks. 
This is a way to offer an introduction to permaculture for locals and festival go-ers to experience and get involved pre-festival.
There are other festivals doing the same concept, such as Sonic Bloom Permaculture Academy, Arise Festival, Envision Festival, and others.  Students from the 3 Day Experience will walk away with design tools and concepts to take back to their community and homes to implement these tools to better their communities and garden spaces, and homes. 
Here is some more language from our website:

May 19-21 : 3-Day Permaculture Experience 

Gain wisdom in the observation of nature and how you can work with it! The 3-Day Experience is an in-depth workshop and learning intensive exploring a hands-on approach to urban gardening and holistic land design for only $333 (INCLUDES Camping, Meals, Yoga, Native Ceremony & 3 Days of Learning! ) Participants will walk away with an orientation of the permaculture design process and project ideas to bring back home.

The action-oriented 3-Day Experience will host registered guests for three days of education and will address natural building methods, soil health, water design integration, planting techniques, edible food forests, container gardening, and much more. The complete immersion event includes prepared meals, camping, ceremony, evening discussions and a dynamic learning environment.

What is the workshop going to cover and who should sign up for it?
Anyone interested in gardening, natural building or permaculture. It is an introduction course, but we have something for advanced gardeners too! This year we have people attending who have already taken a PDC (Permaculture Design Course)  – as he said to me, “The more you learn the more you learn how much there is to learn”. 
Anyone interested in the future of our natural world will have something to gain from this workshop. AND, for those who attend the 3-Day, we can offer a volunteer pass to them for the festival as a Garden Host and help hold down the space of SOULPATCH during the festival. 
What can people expect when they visit SOULPATCH during the festival?
During the festival, SCampers can enjoy the garden by:
  • Bringing a blanket and enjoying laying in the grass, playing some garden games.
  • Attending one of the workshops, ranging from Natural Art, to in-depth panel discussions, to planting demonstrations. 
  • Visit one, or all 3 of our Activation Stations to get some seeds to take home and spread around to help the pollinators! 
  • Walking through the Garden Tour! We have over 30 walking tour points with informational signage to learn more about the garden concepts! 
  • Chat with a garden host in one of our lounges! Start a conversation talk about the future of our planet and what we are all doing on this earth.
  • Visit the medicine wheel area, talk with native elders. Walk the medicine wheel with a stone to release your intentions and concerns for this earth. 
There are three main festival components: the walking tour, the activation stations, and the workshops all weekend. 
SOULPATCH features a self-guided walking tour with over 20 different demonstration components. It is designed for patrons to casually explore, or interact with Garden Hosts fielding questions about the installations and enhancing garden ambitions back home. Guest can also engage with Garden Hosts at activation stations; curated experiential hands-on based activities coupled with in-depth discussions. 
Walking Garden Tour: Festival patrons can both passively and actively engage in demonstrations representing basic garden principles and advanced permaculture systems.  Placards with informative descriptions and laminated diagrams accompany each installation. 
The festival-goers can informally peruse through the garden, meandering at their own pace.  Alternatively, they can seek out the conversation and advise of a Garden Host. These volunteers, with a background in horticulture gardening and permaculture, can answer questions and help the patrons design and plan garden space back home. 
Garden Tour Points
Seed Starting Tables 
Cold Frames 
Willow Bender
Potato Towers 
Vertical Gardens 
Food Forest 
Rainwater Catchment 
Compost / Soil building
Keyhole garden 
Cob Oven 
Cob Wall 
Round Timber Framing 
Nurse Logs
Pollinator Garden
Herb Spiral
Strawbale Garden  
Activation Stations: These are curated experiential hands-on based activities coupled with in-depth discussions. At the Creation Station guests can learn about natural building, at the Restoration Station guests can learn about soil health, and at the Pollination Station festival goers can learn about pollinators, pollination and find seeds to take home with them. The stations are designed this year to work together. A the Creation Station attendees can make a cob pot, fill it with healthy soil at the Restoration Station, and then add seeds to it at the Pollination station. 
How can festival attendees get involved with SOULPACTH?
Follow us on socials, participate in the above during the weekend, and reach out as to what types of workshops they would like to see at SOULPATCH in the future! 
The Permaculture Experience is fast approaching, so grab your tickets now to be a part of it!
Combo Deal: SCMF ticket + 3-Day Permaculture Experience:

3-Day Permaculture Experience (No ticket for SCMF):

For more information visit:

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Camp Counselor Sasha
Camp Counselor Sasha
Sasha is an English-teaching, language-learning, jamband-following live music and travel junkie. He and his wife write about living abroad, long-term travel, and going on tour at Grateful Gypsies.