Free School is back this summer with the theme of Sustainability, after last year’s success with Empowerment! The annual event isn’t really school at all, but rather an alternative approach to education, focused on communal and participatory learning that encourages everyone to adopt the role of both teacher and student. Falls Brook Centre provides a forum for community members from diverse backgrounds to both teach and learn in a space that fosters open communication, innovation, and a hands-on, hard-skills culture. At our beautiful demonstration site in West Glassville, New Brunswick, we host over 250 participants each year!
On why Free School focuses on Sustainability this year, Free School Committee’s Max Mathies says, ”the goal is to show different ways in sustainability” With sustainability in our community, many see it as it relates to environmental sustainability, such as efficiency energy, and/or renewable energy. Furthermore he explains that sustainability can also take in individual mental health and communities as a whole.
One of the sustainability workshops is a permaculture workshop based on polyculture planting around fruit trees. What is permaculture? As Executive Director Afton Conneely describes it as “a design methodology to create sustainable human habitat.” She goes on to explain that “sustainable human habitat” means increasing over time our ability to create individual and collaborative economic security while at the same time increasing soil fertility, watershed health and safe places for our natural neighbors to survive and thrive. “Yes, it sounds completely counter-intuitive”, she agrees. “But it works. You just have to plan things out differently and accept that, as humans, we don’t have all the answers and very often nature has figured out a better or more efficient method. What we have to do is figure out what we want, set up our systems that encourage or mimic natural ones, then get out of the way. That’s how we achieve real sustainability.”
At our 9th Annual Free School, attendants will have a chance to learn various aspects of permaculture both as part of several workshops and though open conversations throughout the event. Participants will be also be able to walk through and enjoy our trails, our various types of forest examples and enjoy the sounds of local musicians strutting their stuff on our stage. Camping on-site will add the finishing touches to a wonderful day.
Free School is a celebration of New Brunswick culture of which the recognition of other people’s experiences and skills as being valuable is a cherished trait. We welcome people from all walks of life to sign up to teach a workshop on any topic that they feel will add to the knowledge base and experience of the other participants. While our overarching theme is Sustainability, any topic idea will be welcomed. Know how to mimic bird calls? Best methods of keeping pesky critters out of places they shouldn’t be? Effective stretching regimes after working out? The list of possibilities is literally endless and we look forward to finding out what your chosen topic will be this year and learning all about it.
We are excited about our 9th Annual Free School and what we will have on offer for you. So why not take a drive through this beautiful province and come join us for a fun-filled day of outdoor activities and add to your vault of knowledge at the same time. Sustainability will never seem the same again!