Aaron Jerad BIO
(Moved from: northforkpermaculture.com)
I grew up in Western Colorado where my family ran an organic apple orchard including veggie gardens and various farm animals. In university I got a degree in art with a minor in Japanese studies. After graduation I immediately joined a rock band and continued years of work as a drummer and didgeridoo player. Between bands and projects I continued with visual arts, mostly painting, with some occasional teaching. The need for a band web page led me to learn web design and graphic design which I found satisfying as both an aesthetic and functional art.
The constant touring necessary to survive as a musician gave rise to a longing to re-connect with the earth and eventually I took a break from music to explore this yearning. Not knowing what was next I traveled to India several times and about 5 years ago found myself in the country-side in Thailand. Scott Pittman, one of the prominent students of Bill Mollison who along with David Holmgren had originated the concept of permaculture, had designed and was helping build a yoga and meditation center there. Scott gave us an introduction to permaculture as we worked on the foundations of buildings, surveyed swales and dug ponds. Permaculture hooked me and I was ready to study more.
My early exposure to organic farming and agriculture as well as my passion for visual design seemed to finally come together. After returning home and spending a year of reading and gardening I was ready to find a teacher. Who to learn from? Permaculture originated in Australia as does the didgeridoo, my main instrument, so it was there that I began to look. I saw Geoff Lawton’s video Greening the Desert and knew I wanted to learn from him.
I arrived in Australia in January, 2009 and took my Design Certificate Course with Geoff. The timing was very fortunate as he had room for interns and from 2 months I extended my trip to one year. Learning and traveling with Geoff was a transformational experience which eventually led me to connect with other teachers and farms in Australia and New Zealand including 3 weeks with David Holmgren.
On a side note, I didn’t play the didgeridoo much, though I did manage to find an authentic termite hollowed tree and make my own. Returning to the U.S. I dove into design, gardening and teaching, while continuing to learn from the wealth of local experts here in the North Fork and beyond. Wind Clearwater, Gerome Ostentowski, Kitzia Daniels, Lance Swigart, Peter Marshall, Adam Brock, and my dad, Bernie Heideman, are some of the amazing people who I am grateful to for sharing their knowledge and experiences.
For me the most satisfying design work comes from blending functionality and usefulness with creativity. Permaculture design puts these two together. As an art-form the canvas and media which permaculture uses are living environments, plants animals, peoples lives, our homes, and communities. As a practical science it looks not only to the cutting edge advances in modern technology but to tried and true methods passed down for generations or practiced by indigenous people. Permaculture seeks the most efficient, beneficial, high yielding, low cost ways to do something, but never at the cost of peoples’ well-being, nor that of the environment or ecosystems.