Permaculture Via Gift Economy

Aprovecho Sustainability Education Center wants to teach you how to make soap, manage cattle and learn other permaculture-related activities for little cost. Aprovecho began giving workshops this spring on a gift economy basis — the nonprofit education center will teach you permaculture and in return ask that you give back in some way through donating, sharing a skill that you know or even simply bringing a friend. Workshops are held every Sunday. Aprovecho, which was started more than 30 years ago, is on 40 acres of land outside Cottage Grove.

Mujahid Abdallah, the administrative coordinator and coordinator of the communication education program at Aprovecho, says that the premise behind using the gift economy model was to make the workshops affordable. Aprovecho is currently looking into using a rideshare program so that residents from Eugene will have an easier time making it to the workshops.

“Being part of the community for 30 years, we decided it was our responsibility to make sure our local community benefitted as well,” Abdallah says.

Prior to the gift economy model, Aprovecho operated on a tuition/fee-based education where students would live in dorms for as long as eight months. This system still exists, but Abdallah says that the workshops that take place every Sunday are much less intense.

Having residents of Eugene, Springfield and Cottage Grove attend these classes has given insight to what Aprovecho can get back from the community as well.

“Just having this space open up for community education here at Aprovecho has made me realize what a bank of knowledge each individual contains,” says Jordan Chestnut, Aprovecho’s community resiliency intern.

The next workshop is called “Adding High Mass in the Home: A look at cob, adobe and rammed-earth,” and will be held Sunday, May 18. For more information check out

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