We created the video below for the Local Food Summit which just finished airing. This video includes some about our (Becky and Bill Wilson) reasons for starting Midwest Permaculture and how we designed and evolved our own home. The blog-post that follows is a condensed version of this hour-long video presentation.
We will be posting all 6 of our Local Food Summit sessions in the near future.
First…here is a quick overview of the full basic design of our Midwest Permaculture home.
Hello All. Our natural building workshop this weekend was a great success.
Hassan Hall, our natural-builder friend from Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, taught a great hands-on class this past weekend here at Midwest Permaculture.
Hassan in building flanked by Justin and Will
Everything was ready to start the next phase of construction on the first of 9-small earth shelters we have planned for EarthCamp Village. It was now time to put the rough coat (or base coat) of earthen ‘plaster’ on to the walls of clay-slip-straw that had been packed in last fall. Continue reading “Natural Building Workshop Successful”
Why late flowering fruit tree cultivars?
We have a couple of clients with South facing slopes in Missouri. These slopes warm up much faster than North facing slopes and as such will tend to flower before the last frost thus killing the pollinated blossoms and eliminating the crop. So I emailed our Plant Guy, Bryce Ruddock, to make some recommendations.
Late blooming fruit tree cultivars can greatly minimize frost damage.
This is a March 2016 Blog Post on how we built at Thermal Mass Rocket Stove at Jordan Rubin’s ‘Heal the Planet Farm‘.
It was built to keep one of the farm greenhouses well above freezing through the winters.
Designed by Bill Wilson (MWP) and Kevin Kepplinger (HTP Farm)
Construction and Design Assistance from the Heal the Planet Farm Team (All are Midwest Permaculture PDC graduates)
We call it the Epic Greenhouse Rocket-Mass Heater because of it’s sheer size and multiple modifications we designed into it. The whole stove is built around an 8″ flue system that exits outside of the greenhouse below floor level, under the greenhouse end-wall, and then turns towards the sky.
The key modifications we made to this stove that are not usually found on more traditional rocket mass heaters are:
The feed chamber is very large capable of holding full-sized firewood logs so it can be loaded to burn for up to 4 hours at a time and produce a lot of heat.
The thermal battery or thermal mass is below grade and insulated so the heat will not wick into the soil surrounding it but instead radiate up to keep fish (aquaponics system) and bedding plants warm even in the dead of winter.
We installed a multiple-speed flue fan and a flue damper near the end of the exhaust pipe to give ourselves greater control over the speed of the exhaust and even the burn. We can slow the exhaust down to hold the heat in the thermal mass longer when it’s hot or speed it up when we need a stronger pull to get it started. We know this is unorthodox and a bit like cheating, but it’s very helpful and the fan is variable speed using very little electricity.
Dripping water slowly on to the clay model clearly shows how rain water can be moved around a landscape and held to rehydrate the soil.
As permaculture teachers, we have landed on this simple clay-model demonstration as an excellent tool for explaining earthworks. We can cover how swales, ponds, key points and key lines all fit together. The appreciative response from our students continually confirms this.
We wanted to make this video available to more than just our own students so we videotaped this session at one of our summer PDC courses and are sharing it here.
Birth of Earthworks Model
We created this model out of necessity when hosting our first winter PDC course (2010) and realized that we couldn’t take students outside to carve into our earth-mound because it was frozen solid. A quick call to a potter friend produced this 15 lb. block of clay and the Midwest Permaculture Earthworks-Clay-Model was born.
The model also lends itself to an introduction or review of micro-climates, frost zones, house and garden placement, soil building, carbon sequestration, nutrient accumulation, variations in swale design, and more.
This video and demonstration is not an exhaustive study into earthworks, just a simple but clear model. We go into greater detail about keylining and pond building later in the PDC course but the model makes even those explanations more understandable too.
After viewing, you are invited to share your thoughts at the bottom of the page. Your ideas on how to improve the model are welcomed.
Note: We give our permission to other permaculture teachers to use this video or to share this model with their own students. We are openly sharing this educational idea under a Creative Commons License. Sharing is a permaculture pattern exemplified by the very gift of ‘permaculture’ that David Holmgren and Bill Mollison gave to the world years ago. Many other permaculture teachers continue this pattern today. Let’s be the change. Cheers.
We are making early progress on our 320-acre Missouri permaculture-farm project (Jordan Rubin’s Heal the Planet Farm). Last fall, a local dozer operator was brought in to dig the first swales. It was a small dozer but it did a respectable job and did the work in a relatively short period of time compared to an excavator. See the blog post with video here.
Before we brought the dozer back in this spring, Kevin, a long-time farmer in the area who is also Jordan’s lead farmer on this project, suggested that we simply try the 135hp farm tractor with it’s 9-foot tilting scraper blade (it’s just over 6′ wide when fully angled at 45 degrees) to see what kind of swales it would cut. It certainly seemed worth trying though I’d never seen it done before.
Adam and I headed out early one morning with the laser level and marked off about a mile of swales with white-wire flags. When Kevin arrived later in the morning with the tractor all he had to do was adjust the angle of the blade, drop it down, and start running. He ran three passes on every swale we had marked and did it all in about 60 minutes!Continue reading “Rapidly-Cut Swales with Tractor Blade”
Click on Image to View the Full Size (10MB)
Feel free to download, forward, print or share with others. It’s really interesting.
As part of the full design for Jordan Rubin’s Heal the Planet Farm in Koshkonong, MO, we will be creating a demonstration food-forest walk consisting of 6-distinct plant guilds, all designed by Midwest Permaculture’s official plant guy and co-author of Integrated Forest Gardening, Bryce Ruddock. We thought you might like to take a closer look at the final design sketch which was digitally crafted by our fellow teacher/designer, Milton Dixon.
The earthworks and tree planting are scheduled to happen either this fall or in spring of 2016. We’ll keep you posted.
Below is the overview image of where the guild fit into the larger Zone 1 area.
At the last minute this winter we decided to tap our mature maple tree (just one tap) and boil off some sap to make a small amount of maple syrup. I was equally interested in building an experimental rocket stove as an evaporator with the materials I had on hand. It worked great!
With some landscaping bricks, a dutch oven and a bit of home-made cob we had our stove chugging along in about an hour… maple syrup in 5 hours. 3+ gallons of sap made 1 cup. of syrup. Here are some pictures:
I built the stove by dry stacking (no mortar) the bricks to form a chimney and burn chamber. We nestled the dutch oven in to serve as the top of the burn chamber so it would receive direct flames for a hot, rapid boil.
Here is a brief picture summary of our 2015 Winter PDC at Midwest Permaculture in Stelle, IL. As expected, during a winter course with high temperatures below 32 degrees, we did not spend a lot of time outdoors but we did manage to capture a few pictures of these activities.
We have been invited by a family in Southern Missouri to assist with the design of a 320-acre farm. They want to transition the land into a permaculture landscape capable of producing a wide range of perennial foods (nuts, vegetables, herbs, fruit, etc.) as well as livestock (beef and goats).
Over generations, rain has slowly degraded this sloping landscape with a loss of nutrients and topsoil. It is not uncommon for a million gallons of water to wash off this landscape with a 1-inch rain. Continue reading “Bulldozer Digging Swales”