Mission

Deep Dirt Farm Institute is an authentic and beautiful model of resilience and regeneration that mirrors the system of Nature (humans included) and inspires an intimate relationship with place through education, artful practice and embodied skills.

Deep Dirt Institute (DDI) is a public benefit nonprofit corporation intended to inspire and educate individuals and their communities in living in resilient and regenerative ways. It will accomplish these goals through coordinated activities conducted at the 34-acre permaculture farm its sister organization, Deep Dirt Farm Institute, LLC has developed over the past ten years in Patagonia, AZ. These activities are organized according to three primary functions:

  • Education
  • Outreach
  • Inspiration

Education

Deep Dirt Institute will conduct workshops for individuals and groups interested in learning about permaculture principles and practicing them in their own homes and communities. Workshops on the following topics are planned:

  • Soil (making and improving topsoil, soil biota, chemistry and mechanics, mulching, converting parking lots to gardens)
  • Composting (home and field-scale recovery of organic waste, compost teas, sheet mulch, compost bins)
  • Growing food organically (seed saving, storage and sowing, transplanting, plant care and maintenance, harvesting, greenhouse vs. open air cultivation)
  • Food forests (benefits of growing fruits and nuts, tree and rootstock selection, preparing the ground, pruning techniques, care)
  • Water (rainwater harvesting, erosion control, conservation best practices, increasing effective rainfall, active vs. passive storage)
  • Pollinator and wildlife habitat development (plant selection, care and culture, natives vs. non-natives, hedgerows, integrated landscapes, enhancing wildlife connectivity)
  • Reading the landscape (basic permaculture philosophy and principles, developing observational skills, relationship with place, fresh perspectives, mapping your site)
  • Grasslands (carbon sequestration, role in soil stabilization, erosion management, aesthetics)
  • Landscape restoration, large-scale (site and flow assessment, maximize effects of intervention, nature of soils, local ordinances, stabilization structure choice and construction)
  • Landscape design (growing your relationship with place, planning for future growth, getting started, critical considerations, how our bodies inform good design)
  • Blacksmithing (introduction and history, heating on a coal forge, heating and hammering metal, hardening and tempering tool steel, shaping on the anvil)
  • Tiny house building (appropriate materials, creative repurposing of waste, growing materials for future use, siting for passive energy gain, living safely on the land)

Most workshops will be conducted onsite, utilizing the facilities and resources of Deep Dirt Farm. In response to appropriate demands elsewhere, workshops may occasionally be presented farther afield.

Deep Dirt Institute will also conduct tours of its site and all projects and activities encompassed therein. All interested parties—from school and youth groups to government agencies, retirees and everyone in between—will be invited to participate in DDI tours. Inclusivity is paramount.

Presentations to interested individuals and groups will comprise another major component of DDI’s emphasis on education. The Trust for Public Lands, Coronado National Forest managers, Bureau of Land Management, Rachel’s Network, Tucson Food Conspiracy board of directors, Free the Children’s Me to We Leadership Program, Patagonia Union High School, Borderlands’ Earth Care Youth Institute, Verde Valley School, Mexicayotl Charter School, Prescott College, and youth and elders of the Hopi and Navajo Nations are all examples of groups who have attended presentations at Deep Dirt Farm and who exemplify the variety of groups interested in hearing DDI’s message. Presentations will be offered onsite at DDF or in the requestor’s location if demand requires.

Deep Dirt Institute will offer three to five internships each year to individuals committed to the philosophy, principles and practices exemplified in the work of the Institute. Fees paid by these interns will constitute another revenue stream for the Institute. Interns will also serve as docents and be actively engaged in the educational and outreach activities of DDI. As the Institute grows, it is anticipated that a small core of dedicated staff will be developed. This core group will also participate actively in its educational mission.

Kate Tirion and Richard Connolly will serve as primary instructors, tour guides and presenters. As indicated above, the Institute’s interns and docents will join its educational staff. Workshops, tours and presentations will be funded through grants, paid participation (workshops) and donations (tours). Unless expenses are prohibitive, presentations will be given free of charge.

All education activities will be scheduled to occur from February 1st through the third week in November each year. We anticipate that exceptions to this practice may occur.

Outreach

Deep Dirt Institute will reach a much wider audience through a variety of outreach efforts. These include:

    • Newsletter.
      • The Institute will publish a quarterly, web-based letter to subscribers detailing recent and planned DDI activities, workshops, internships, volunteer opportunities and showcasing information pertinent to the work of the Institute)
    • Partnerships.
      • Deep Dirt Farm Institute LLC has participated in a robust, multifaceted partnership with Borderlands Restoration L3C for the past four years; this partnership will continue to be a cornerstone relationship for DDI. Deep Dirt Institute will also continue to collaborate with many organizations with which productive relationships already exist, such as the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Geological Survey, Town of Patagonia Flood Flow Committee, Sonoran Permaculture Guild, Patagonia Union High School, Borderlands Earth Care Youth Institute, Winsong Peace and Leadership Center, Santa Cruz County Fair, Somos la Semilla, Water Rock, Quenca los Ojos, Women Grow Food, Watershed Management Group and WhyHunger. Future partnerships with Baja Arizona Sustainable Agriculture, Patagonia Youth Enrichment Center, and many other organizations whose participants would benefit from exposure to DDI’s mission and broad array of activities—and who would in turn make their own unique contributions—are envisioned. Through this extensive network of partnerships, Deep Dirt Institute will cultivate an informed and engaged audience.
    • Research.
      • Deep Dirt Institute will be at the cutting edge of work in restoring natural processes in arid ecosystems, improving wildlife and critical pollinator habitat, managing watersheds responsibly and rehabilitating riparian zones, and supporting human food and material resource needs. Extensive monitoring conducted at Deep Dirt Farm for the past three years provides crucial data on local weather, erosion, and sediment deposition to the U.S. Geological Survey as a component of its TLIDAR system, as well as regional pollinator survival and productivity data to NatureServ [further detail here] to support its pollinator habitat restoration efforts. DDI will also continue to assist the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in developing best practice protocols for efficient native plant propagation and seed production.
    • Volunteers.
      • Deep Dirt Farm itself is the result of many thousands of hours of volunteer labor, and each of the volunteers involved has become a stakeholder in the success of the farm and its mission in the world. DDI will continue to welcome volunteer participation in its activities, and to divert the substantial stream of otherwise wasted material donated by volunteers to further develop its infrastructure in innovative ways. Deep Dirt Institute volunteers will be vital emissaries in our outreach efforts.
    • Facebook.
      • Kate Tirion’s personal and Deep Dirt Farm Institute’s Facebook pages are important links between the farm and the wider world. Through postings on this platform individuals are informed of recent farm activities, permaculture-related news, relevant philosophical musings, and inspirational quotes. Facebook is an excellent outlet for communication in a more humanist vein, and only one of several social media outlets that could potentially reach a worldwide audience. Deep Dirt Institute’s status as a 501(C) (3) will allow it to exploit these outlets much more fully.

Inspiration

Inspiration is the fount of creative problem solving; Einstein believed that inspiration is “more important than knowledge”. Deep Dirt Institute’s overarching aim is to inspire people--of all ages and from all walks of life--to become actively engaged in creating changes in their habitual patterns of living, both small and large, that contribute to a resilient and regenerative future on the planet. Through exposure to the living model of Deep Dirt Farm and active engagement in our coursework, internships, demonstrations and presentations, participants will be empowered to bring to bear personal agency in the shaping of a beneficial future for all life on Earth.