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Class Descriptions

Mad Skills for Urban Self-Sufficiency

listed by category

GREEN means GO These classes Are OPEN for registration
RED means STOP, THIS CLASS IS FULL contact us to get on the waiting list
GREY means NOT YET OPEN FOR REGISTRATION
, please check back later.

Pre-registration is required and exact location is given once you have registered.

TO START YOUR REGISTRATION PROCESS PROCEED TO REGISTER HERE

Many classes will repeat if there is enough interest. If a class is past or you do not get in on time,
please contact us and we will let you know if another session is forming.
Classes are for age 12 and up unless otherwise indicated.


SKIP TO:
Fiber & Handcrafts

Foraging & Wildcrafting
Homemade Health & Beauty
Householding: Water, Power, Building/, Repairs
Permaculture

NEW!! Community Design Clinics

Community Design Clinics
Design clinics are evening gatherings for our students and extended community to gather and share information on specific topics. We'll have a couple of our faculty on hand to facilitate and give their experienced perspectives
. Donations requested, no one turned away for lack of funds (NOTA). You can register and pay ahead, or just contact us for location and donate when you arrive. Locations TBA, central to Berkeley or Oakland along major transit lines. Potluck snacks or dinner provided --see specific clinic below.

Design Clinic: Urban Gardening Wednesday April 23 2014 7pm-9pm suggested donation $5-25, NOTA
Design Clinic: Natural Beekeeping Thursday June 12 2014 7pm-9pm sufggested donation $5-25 NOTA
Design Clinic: Permaculture Skills Saturday June 22, 6pm-9pm Dinner provided donation $15-30
Design Clinic: Urban AnimalsTuesday July 22 , 2014 -6:30-9:30pm Suggested donation $5-25 NOTA
Design Clinic: Preservation, Fermentation & Other Heirloom Kitchen Skills
Wednesday September 24. 2014 7pm-9pm $5-25 NOTA


Fibers & Handcrafts

Colors From Nature: Introduction to Natural Dyeing with Local Plants
Sunday August 3, 2014, 2pm-6pm
Instructor: Deepa Presti Natarajan
Location:
South Berkeley/Ashby BART
Cost: $40-
70
sliding scale plus $10 supply fee
In this class you will learn the basics of creating beautiful colors from local plant materials. We’ll explore familiar plant by-products that are common in the kitchen including onion skins, pomegranate skins and avocado pits as well as native plants and easily foragable materials. You'll leave the class with an understanding of how to apply basic dyeing techniques to a wide range of plants. We'll cover mordanting, fiber selection, color, and how to care for your textiles in an ecological way. You'll leave with a wealth of inspiration to dye all your own clothes as well as samples of plants and fibers

From Fleece to Fiber -  Spinning Wool to Yarn
TBA. Fall 2014
Instructor: Lou Grantham
Location: Oakland
Cost: $35-65
sliding scale  plus $10 supply fee         
We will start by learning to evaluate a sheep's fleece to determine it's grade and use potential. We’ll then sort the fleece and learn how to scour (washed correctly) it.  We’ll prepare the wahed fleece  for spinning by carding (combing).   We’ll learn and practice spinning on both hand spindles and  the spinning wheel.  We’ll learn about different types of spinning wheels available and how to get them as well as options for making hand spindles from commonly found objects  such as a door knob, plastic CD, or home made clay disk. 

Hand Sewing Basics
Saturday November 8 2014 10am-1pm
Instructor: K.Ruby Blume
Location: North Oakland

Cost: $40-65 sliding scale
Learn some needle & thread skills in this new class offering! We will learn basic stitches and processes in hand sewing for mending and for making small gifts such as camera & phone cases, sachest pillows and more. We will learn proper threading and knotting of a needle, 3 or 4 useful stitches, different types of seams, & hems as well as how to sew a button, darn socks and patch the hole in the knee of your favorite blue-jeans. You can bring things to mend or make several small stocking stuffers. This class is a must for folks who want to beef-up their reuse and repair chops.

Machine Sewing Basics
Saturday November 8,2014 2pm-4pm
Instructor: K.Ruby Blume
Location: North Oakland

Cost: $35-65 sliding scale
Has your sewing machine got you down? can't figure out how to thread it or remember how to make it go?
In this evening course we'll learn to proper threading and care of our machines and how to sew basic stitches to make perfect seams. Time allowing we'll look at a few repairs and hems that are easily managed for even the beginning sewer and talk about manageable fist sewing projects. Small class size, personalized instruction.

Made BY Hand: Mosaic Making Intensive
Saturday March 8, 2014 10am-4pm & Sunday March 9, 10am-1pm CLASS FULL
Instructor: K.Ruby Blume

Location: North Oakland

cost:$200 supplies included limit to 5 participants
A thorough introduction to the wonderful world of mosaic tile setting. We’ll learn about substrates, adhesives and tools, options for materials including ceramic tile, glass and found materials, cutting and setting techniques, grout and how to use it. Each participant will create a finished 12 x 12 mosaic. Small class size and personalized instruction.

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Foraging & Wildcrafting

Soup & Salad Spring Foraging Expedition
Saturday April 19, 2014 10am-2pm
Instructor: Tanya Stiller
Location: Berkeley
Cost $40-70
sliding scale plus $5 supply fee in cash on day of class
In this class you will forage and taste greens and vegetables that you see every day, growing around your neighborhood. You will learn to identify, use and process both urban weeds and native East Bay edibles and explore which wild foods are best to eat raw in a salad, cooked into a spring soup, or used as medicinal tea. You will leave this class with a full belly, as well as an understanding of some traditional ethno-botanical uses of common East Bay plants and which may be safely harvested to eat. Bring clothing appropriate for weather, and comfortable walking shoes that can get dirty.


Wild Medicine :Natural Remedies from Local Weeds
Sunday June 1, 2014 1pm-4pm

Instructor: Maya Blow
Location: El Sobrante
Cost: $35- 65
sliding scale plus $15 supply fee to be paid in cash on day of class
Many of our most common garden weeds contain highly valuable medicinal properties that can heal you "on the fly" when you get a bee sting, cut your thumb, get a headache or have achy feet. These wayside weeds living all around us possess special nutritional and healing powers that often surpass cultivated plants. In this class we will spend the afternoon identifying some of these green allies in the field and learning how to use them for simple age old remedies. We’ll make our own herbal glycerin and vinegar tinctures and learn simple first aid tricks using plants we find along the way. This class will be geared towards begi
nners, so come with all your questions and we'll dive in!

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Homemade Health & Beauty

Local Medicine:Tinctures & Teas for Winter Health
Sunday September 28, 2014 1pm-4pm
Instructor: Maya Blow
Location: El Sobrante

Cost: $35-65
sliding scale plus $15 nsupply fee in cash on day of class
Along with re-learning vital skills such as growing and preserving food, it is also time to take health care back into our own hands. Everyone can learn basic preventative care and how to make a few natural remedies to care for themselves, their family and community. In this class you will learn to create "local medicine" from native, culinary and horticultural herbs right out of the garden! We'll learn about tinctures, decoctions , infusions and salves, how to make them,how to use them and the benefits of each. Working with seasonally available herbs that will tonify the body as we head into the winter season, each student will prepare a tincture, salve, and hand-blended tea to take home. You will also receive handouts herbal medicine making, a list of easily identifiable local plants which can be used for your health and resources for further study.


Herbal Medicine Demystified

February 16, 2014 10am-4pm
Instructor: K.Ruby Blume
Location: North Oakland
Cost: $60-90
sliding scale plus $12 supply fee
This course will give you a introduction and overview of the herbal medicine making process. We'll learn about plant constituents and actions, get an overview of different herbal products that can be easily made at home including salves, slathers, tinctures, teas, poultices and decoctions. We'll learn about local sources for herbs as well as a brief introduction to harvesting, drying and storing your own. Then we'll visit and learn about some of the medicinal plants available locally — both wild and those grown easily in the garden. While we will not go in depth on every plant (that would be a year long course), we will learn about a few useful 'starter' plants and go home with a sampling of remedies for common maladies. We'll learn about useful references and how to decipher them to become more proficien and confidentpurchasing, making and using herbal remedies at hme.

Lather 101:
Saturday April 26, 2014 2pm-5pm
Saturday October 18, 2014 2pm-5pm

Instructor: Serena Bartlett
Location: North Oakland
Cost: $35- 65
sliding scale plus $10 supply fee to be paid in cash on day of class
Making soap is so much fun! Join Serena Bartlett, travel author and DIY maven to learn the cold process method for making soap. You'll learn about the different types of bar soaps, how to balance your fats and alkalines with solid ratios, attributes of different plant oils, and fun things to add for various benefits like exfoliation or extra moisturizing. Then we'll walk through the process of making a batch of soap. We'll learn techniques for measuring and mixing, how to safely work with sodium hydroxide (lye), options for molding and details of the curing process . As an extra bonus we'll see how to turn these cold process bar soaps into liquid hand soap or shower gel, and you'll go home with samples and a cool recipe zine. Make bar formother's Day (session 1) or to give as holiday gifts (session 2)

Lotions and Potions: Make Your Own Beauty Products
Saturday July 19, 2014 2pm-6pm
Instructor: Tanya Stiller
Location: Berkeley
Cost: $35-65
sliding scale plus $12 supply fee in cash on day of class
Make nourishing self-crafted lotions, lip balms, and face creams using herbs, oils, and other everyday household ingredients. Empowering yourself to make your own skin care products will reduce your exposure to store-bought toxins in fancy, unnecessary packaging and allow you to make the decisions about what goes on and in your body all while saving you money. There will be information about different oils for different skin types, which herbs are best for your skin, and which compliment other health concerns. Together we'll create a luscious lotion, a lip balm and a silky face cream for you to take home. We will choose herbs that delight the senses and recipes that not only equip you to make your next batch at home, but also can be altered to fit your needs and creativity.

The BItter Truth: Making & Mixing Homemade Bitters
Friday November 7, 2014 7-10pm
Instructor: Tanya Stiller
Location: Berkeley
Cost: $40-70
sliding scale plus $10 supply fee in cash on day of class
Come learn the basic methods of small-batch artisanal bitter brewing. Experiment with differenct flavor profiles and fashion your own signature blend while learning several tried and true recipies. We will discuss the medicinal benefits of bitter herbs, spices and botanicals, and the digestive issues they can help remedy. We will go into the history of apertifs, digestifs and consider what cocktails and beverages pair best with different bitters. Come get your Mixology on.

Wild Medicine :Natural Remedies from Local Weeds
Sunday June 1, 2014 1pm-4pm

Instructor: Maya Blow
Location: El Sobrante
Cost: $35- 65
sliding scale plus $15 supply fee to be paid in cash on day of class
Many of our most common garden weeds contain highly valuable medicinal properties that can heal you "on the fly" when you get a bee sting, cut your thumb, get a headache or have achy feet. These wayside weeds living all around us possess special nutritional and healing powers that often surpass cultivated plants. In this class we will spend the afternoon identifying some of these green allies in the field and learning how to use them for simple age old remedies. We’ll make our own herbal glycerin and vinegar tinctures and learn simple first aid tricks using plants we find along the way. This class will be geared towards beginners, so come with all your questions and we'll dive in!

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Householding: Water, Power, Building, Repair

Basic Auto Mechanics: Emergency and Maintenance
Date: TBA Fall 2014
nstructor:Chad Mills

Location: TBA
Cost: $45-75
sliding scale
Come learn the basics of ermergency auto repair and ongoing auto maintentance, how to repair a tire, change your wipers and check your fluids. Chad will also give you tips aon finding a good mechanic and how to communicate with them once you've found them. Hands-on will include learning to change your tire.

DIY Home Electriic: Know-how and Repair
Sunday May 4, 2014 1pm-4:30pm
Instructor:David Langsam
Location: Fruitvale
Cost: $45-75
sliding scale
This class offers an introduction to home electrical systems and basic repairs anyone can safely do armed with the right tools and information. We'll start with an overview of the main components of the outdoor part of your electrical system including the mast, meter, main breaker, ground and circuit panel and how to safely turn your electricity off and on. Then we'll go on to learn about common electrical components, basic electrical theory and tools needed to get the job done. You’ll learn how to use a meter to test for electrical flow and how to replace an outlet, switch or light fixture. As a bonus we’ll also learn to replace a lamp cord or install an inline switch into an existing cord. This class has a required text and tools to bring along. We’ll send that information along with your registration confirmation.

DIY Tile Setting
Saturday August 2, 2014 1pm-5pm
Instructor: K.Ruby Blume
Location: North Oakland
Cost: $50-80
sliding scale
Setting your own tile is relatively simple yet amazingly satisfying and can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars. This overview class will take you step-by-step through the entire process. We’ll start with proper substrates for different projects, substrate preparations, options for adhesives, and layout strategies. We’ll talk about different kinds of tile and what they are best for, how to calculate what you’ll need and how to make a great visual and textural impact on a budget. Then we’ll look at tools and techniques for cutting and breaking and adhering the tile. We’ll address design challenges such as working around fixtures and things that are not square.. There will be demonstrations and hands-on practice of breaking and shaping tile, spreading adhesive, proper spacing and grouting techniques. Finally we’ll talk about where to buy tile and other materials in the Bay Area.

DIY Home Plumbing: P-traps, Sinks & Toilets
TBA Fall 2014
Instructor: TBA
Everyone should know some basic plumbing. In this class we'll learn the anatomy of your sink and toilet, how to fix a leaky faucet, snake a clogged drain , replace the guts of the toilet or clean out a P-trap.

Greywater Re-use : Laundry to Landscape
Sunday June 23, 3:30-6pm
Instructor: Yasir Cross
Location: El Sobrante
Cost: $35-70
sliding scale
This class is part of our Urban Permaculture Skills Weekend and can be taken as a stand alone or or as part of tha weekend.
In this time of drought it is more important than ever to appreciate our access to clean water and to consider using it twice when it is safe and legal to do so. In this introductory class you will learn how easy it is to create a branched drain irrigation system that flows directly from your washing machine into the landscape using the laundry pump to facilitate delivery to the garden. We'll start with an introduction to greywater and what it is, including information on safety, health, legality and greywater-safe detergents for your washing machine. Then we'll look at a functioning laundry-to-landscape system and learn how to construct one. We will learn about the tools and parts needed including information on creating a branched drain system, the importance of three-way valves and where to get them and how to create mulch basins to catch greywater effectively in the landscape. You will take home a list of parts and tools that might be needed and some ideas on specific design issues depending on where your laundry is located in relation to your garden and how much water you use.

Knife Sharpening and Tool Care
Saturday August 2, 2014 1pm-4:30pm
Instructor: Grant Marcoux
Location: Alameda
Cost $35-70
sliding scale
Tired of knives that just won't cut the mustard (or anything else)? Join blacksmith and cutler Grant Marcoux for course in kitchen and field cutlery sharpening. Learn about knife construction, steel types and how to get the perfect edge on your knives. The goal is to provide the student with the knowledge to maintain their own knives. Students will learn the techniques of hand-sharpening using the oil-stone, steel and strop. Students should bring at least one knife to sharpen. Purchasing a 5" or greater sharpening stone (about $15-20) is very helpful, but not mandatory. As a bonus we'll also talk about other metal tools, their care and upkeep.

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Permaculture

Biochar for Urban Gardeners: Soil Fertility and Eco-Resilience
Instructor:Paul Taylor
Saturday September 13, 214 1-5pm
Location: Fruitvale
Cost: $40-70
sliding scale
Come learn about the multiple benefits of Biochar for home-scale gardeners and commercial and small-scale land use. Biochar is a 2,000 year-old practice that converts agricultural waste into a soil enhancer that can hold carbon, boost food security and mitigate climate change. The process creates a fine-grained, highly porous charcoal that helps soils retain nutrients and water. Biochar is found in soils around the world as a result of vegetation fires and native soil management practices. In this presentation Paul Taylor, author of The Biochar Revolution will discuss the specific benefits of using biochar in agriculture as well as potential global benefits through more widespread use. We'll learn how to build simple devices for making biochar at home and we'll see one of these devices in action. We'll also learn how to blend and apply biochar to enhance soil fertiility in the garden as well as how it can be used in vermiponics, aquaponics and hydroponics. Copies of the book, The Biochar Revolution will be available for purchase as well as small Biochar ovens.

Urban Permaculture Skills Weekend
Saturday June 21 10am to Sunday June 22 7pm
Instructors: See Individual offering below
Location: various
, carpooling will be arranged.
Cost:$160-325 sliding scale includes Saturday Dinner and Sunday Lunch
Individual Classes and Meals may also be purchased.

Have you ever wanted to know more about permaculture, but can’t afford the time or money for a two week design course?  This weekend intensive is an opportunity to get a handle on the permaculture basics and learn some of the most beloved urban permaculture techniques. We'll be seeing several well developed urban permacultures sites as well as learning abour food forests, perrenial vegetables, and greywater design.Permaculture stand for “permanent culture” and is not only about agiculture, though that is certainly a big aspect of i, since food is such an essential part of our human experience. But permacuklture is so much more. It is a collection of ethics and principles that can be applied to any system to close the loop and make it more self-sustaining.  Applied Permaculture  is  about caring for and improving our world:  leaving it in better shape  than it was when we arrived.

Saturday
10-1 Introduction to Urban Permaculture
12:30-2pm Bag Lunch & Travel
2-5 pmUnusual & Perennial Vegetable & Fruits for the Bay Area
6-9pm Dinner & Design Clinic

Sunday
10-1 Food Forests , Plant Guilds and Polycultures
1:30-3:15 Lunch & Tour of Soulflower Farm
3::30-6pm Greywater: Laundry-to-Landscape
6-6:30pm closing

Introduction to Urban Permaculture
Saturday June 21 2014 10am-1pm
Instructor: K.Ruby Blume
Location: North Oakland
Cost: $35-70
sliding scale or included in Urban Permaculture Skills Weekend package
Have you ever wanted to know more about permaculture, but can’t afford the time or money for a two week design course? This class will introduce you to the framework of permaculture, its ethics, principle and design elements. Using an established permaculture garden as our source we’ll see permaculture principles in action and talk about the tools permaculturists use in what they call the re-design process. We’ll look at the zone system, stacking functions, herb spirals, keyhole beds, bio-diversity gardening, biochar and more.

Unusual Perennial Vegetables (and Fruits!) for the Bay Area
Saturday June 21, 2014 2pm-5pm
Instructor: Anders Vidstrand
Location Emeryville
Cost: $35-65
sliding scale or included in Urban Permaculture Skills Weekend package
From the common Asparagus to the incredibly rare Ulluco, we’ll learn about the propagation, culture, and preparation of unusual perennial vegetables from around the world. Many of these strange, beautiful and delicious edible plants grow very well in the our unique Bay Area climate. Following an overview of the best species and varieties, including Andean vegetables and grains, ancient crops from Europe and Asia, and other tasty and productive plants we’ll learn how to integrate perennial vegetable crops into our landscape design, as well as how to how to propagate and grow them. As a bonus we'll also look at a small selection of the best rare fruits. Finally we’ll talk about how to prepare your unusual harvest with tasty recipes.

Design Clinic: Permaculture Skills
Saturday June 21, 6pm-9pm
Location: North Oakland
Cost: Dinner provided donation $15-30

Gather for dinner at 6pm and for a permaculture design clinic at 7. We'll be addressed peoples design questions in a community forat, sharing ideas. IUH Faculty and local permaculturists will be ob hand to answer questions.

Food Forests, Plant Guilds and Polycultures
Sunday June 22, 2014 10am-1pm
Instructor: Giancarlo Muscardini
Location: West Berkeley
Cost:
$35-70 sliding scale or included in Urban Permaculture Skills Weekend package
Perennial Food Forests are a much beloved element of permaculture design, yet most food forest experimentation has been done in the tropics, where plants grow lushly year round. Come learn the ins and outs of temperate food forests and see how the DaTerra family food forest is weathering the drought. After a tour of the property we’ll learn the theory and practice of assembling perennial plant guilds, the different roles that each plant play within them and how to aseemble several guilds into a functioning food forest. We'll hear about experiments in tropical regions and how to take those ideas and apply them in our own climate including tips for maintenance and pitfalls to avoid. Then we'll get hands-on practice assembling a guild. As a bonus we’ll touch on polycultures, which utilize some of the same principles in the annual vegetable garden.

Lunch & Tour of Soulflower Farm
Sunday June 22, 2014 1:30-3:30pm
Host: Maya Blow
Location: El Sobrante
Cost $15-30
sliding scale or included in Urban Permaculture Skills Weekend package
Enjoy a simple vegetarian meal and take a tour of Soul Flower Farm a model of ubiodynamic and permaculture farming on a small scale. You can read a description of soul flower here.


Greywater Re-use: Laundry to Landscape
Sunday June 23, 3:30-6pm
Instructor: Yasir Cross
Location: El Sobrante
Cost: $35-70
sliding scale or included in Urban Permaculture Skills Weekend package
In this time of drought it is more important than ever to appreciate our access to clean water and to consider using it twice when it is safe and legal to do so. In this introductory class you will learn how easy it is to create a branched drain irrigation system that flows directly from your washing machine into the landscape using the laundry pump to facilitate delivery to the garden. We'll start with an introduction to greywater and what it is, including information on safety, health, legality and greywater-safe detergents for your washing machine. Then we'll look at a functioning laundry-to-landscape system and learn how to construct one. We will learn about the tools and parts needed including information on creating a branched drain system, the importance of three-way valves and where to get them and how to create mulch basins to catch greywater effectively in the landscape. You will take home a list of parts and tools that might be needed and some ideas on specific design issues depending on where your laundry is located in relation to your garden and how much water you use.

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