We created the video below for a local-food summit which we were invited to co-host. It includes many pictures and information 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.
Originally constructed as an industrial sized greenhouse, this structure has been exposed and empty for the last 30 years. Located in the CSC apple orchard, it had been a popular roosting site for our orchard turkeys. Unfortunately for them we were determined to get some use out of the Buckminster Fuller inspired geodesic frame.
Now that we’ve wrapped up our last course in 2012, it’s time to look forward to our offerings in the coming year. Our first course of 2013 is our Stelle Winter PDC, with a focus on creating productive growing spaces from kitchen gardens to small farms.
We see this as part of an evolving pattern for our Stelle courses, one for every season.
Being in the midst of the winter season, with the short days and cold weather it brings, makes it a different experience than our other courses. At the same time this gives the students an opportunity to meet with farmers that would have less time during the rest of the year, like the folks at Spence Farm or our friends from Fox Hollow Farm.
We think this course is great for food growers, farmers that have downtime in January, students who have the month off, gardeners that want to head into the season with a new outlook, or anyone else who is otherwise occupied the rest of the year.
Also this course will have a few seats with at a discount, available to students and retirees.
In this design we will be planting linear-food forests all along the downhill side of each of three hugelkultured swales. What is a hugelkultured swale?
While the tress and shrubs are in the early stages of growing (small) we will use the open space to grow some of our annual vegetables. We will also plant some nitrogen fixing ground covers and dynamic accumulators to help build the soil.
Objective: Raise some chickens for food and to also help with insect, grass and weed control in our 2-acre organic community orchard…!!!
As most of you know, in permaculture design we attempt to:
garner the greatest amount or number of yields
from the minimum amount of work
while creating no waste (at least minimal)
and restoring the environment.
Let’s see what additional benefits we can obtain from this project other than just the insect, grass and weed-removal help from 100 chickens. This will be our chicken saga as it reveals itself in real time. We’re always learning too and raising this many chickens at once, and in this way, is stretching us some.
We will take the experience we do have, plus apply permaculture design principles, while adding in good-ole common sense (with help from some great books, friends and the internet) to work creatively and see what we might come up with.
It all starts with an order of 100 chicks (multi-heritage breeds from McMurry) that Hayden and Cameron (our two work/study intern students) selected. All were delivered through the U.S. mail. All survived! Hayden created a safe and warm habitat from a yard-storage container, a heat lamp, and some old boards and fencing. This structure lasted almost 2 weeks before they outgrew it. During this time we worked on a more permanent home/coop.
Permaculture Design Course Graduates – Summer 2011 – Stelle, IL
Grant Shadden took his PDC Training with us – summer 2011. While here, he shared about his upcoming 2-month trip to Africa to support the work of the Connect Africa hub.
We were all moved by the work of this organization and by Grant’s, and his wife Paige’s, devotion to assist in the work there. Grant was actually taking this training in order to come up with a design for this organization and a 20-acre site they want to develop.
As such, we made the decision to assist him by making it one of the final design projects for the PDC Course. 4 other students self-selected themselves to work on this design with Grant.
You won’t! Most all of the hands-on activities we undertake at our regular PDC courses we can also do at our winter courses. These include:
Learning to use the A-frame and sight level.
Building a dry-brick rocket stove and firing it up.
Making a clay model of a landscape to learn about swales, keylining, and ponds.
Touring Midwest Permaculture’s yard and the CSC land
Doing fruit tree grafting
Making cob from clay, sand and straw
and touring the Malchow’s (our neighbors) permaculture home to fire-up their thermal mass rocket stove couch/bench.
The one thing we cannot do because of the frozen ground is continue to work on the hugel-swale we are constructing for CSC, but this basically consists of digging a section of a ditch, putting logs in, and then covering them up. We’ll show some pictures of the details related to this so you’ll get the information without the tactile experience.
Raising Profitable Heritage Breed Hogs at Spence Farm in a very Humane Way
The one thing we do extra for this course is focus a bit more on the growing of food and what it takes to create a successful farming/growing/permaculture operation.
Many people want to make part or even all of their annual income from growing food. This is certainly possible but it requires quite a bit of knowledge and then real practical experience. Our objective through this training is to save you years of time and money by giving you some critical information and fresh insights.
To help anchor this learning experience we’ll be taking an extra field-trip over to Spence Farm in Fairbury, IL, to meet Kris and Marty Travis who are doing pioneering work in these areas.
If the timing works for you to attend this winter course, we are confident that you will not leave feeling like you missed any hands-on activities. It’s an amazing and very-full 8 days like all of our other PDC Courses.
Here are Pictures from one of our Winter PDC Course (from 2012) Narration by Hayden Wilson (Standing, far right, son of Bill and Becky)
Our Group Photo with Rocket Stove in Foreground and Midwest Permaculture Home-site (our house). Mom (Becky Wilson) is standing on far left. Dad (Bill Wilson) took most of these pictures.
6-day “Hands-on” Training – August 2011 Held at Midwest Permaculture in our Sustainably Oriented Community of Stelle, IL We expect to be offering a ‘family friendly’ training every summer. See Here for Details
6-Day Hands-on Training – May 22-28, 2011 Next Week –At Midwest Permaculture, Stelle, IL
Last fall, at the request of our host following one of our full PDC (Permaculture Design Certificate) Courses, I stayed on for an additional week to lead another group of beginning students for a hands-on permaculture training that included some classroom time on the foundations of permaculture. I’ll have to admit, I thought it would end up being a fine week but nothing like the excitement of our full PDC trainings. I was wrong.
If seeing is believing, then doing is knowing. We had a wonderful week tackling all sorts of projects during the day and exploring permaculture design ideas and principles in the evenings. The students loved it. I loved it. Everyone learned a tremendous amount and came away with many useful and practical skills to begin their own permaculture projects.
From this experience we have created our new 6-day Hands-on Training that we intend to be offering for years to come. And student who take this training, earn partial credit toward a PDC certificate.