Rapidly-Cut Swales with Tractor Blade

3 Miles of Swales Cut in 5-Hours

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 8-foot tilting scraper blade 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

Plant Guild Designs for ‘Heal the Planet Farm’, Missouri

Midwest Permaculture Plant Guild Designs, Bryce Ruddock, Rubin Project - Compressed Version

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.

Bill Wilson Continue reading

Dry Brick Rocket Stove Maple Evaporator

Greetings…

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:

 

Built by stacking the dry bricks into a chimney and burn chamber. Sap is boiling. All smoke is just the steam from the dutch oven evaporator.

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.

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Bulldozer Digging Swales

The Design

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

Pictures of PDC at Fox Hollow Farm

Hayden and Bethany

Hayden Wilson and Bethany Gardner of Midwest Permaculture

Hi Friends of Midwest Permaculture.

Bill, Ernest, Hayden and I ( Bethany) are at our farming PDC course here at Fox Hollow Farm in Ohio. Bill is doing most of the teaching while the three of us support the delivery of the course along with the Rickard family (the farmers) and staff.

Bill asked me and Hayden to make a brief photo-log of the course and to drop the pictures here into a single blog post.

We’ll break it down into daily selections which we hope will give you an idea of what happens at a typical PDC course along with the unique aspects of this wonderful farming course.  We’re having a great time.

Hope you enjoy…. Bethany 

 

 

Day 1

Students

On day 1 we toured the farm meeting one of the Rickards horses, Polly. It is a halflinger breed used to pull logs and other heavy items around the farm.

 

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1000+ PDC Graduates

Over the last 7-plus years, Becky and I and our Midwest Permaculture team have hosted 49 PDC Courses.  Course #49 graduated today (July 13, 2014) and with it our 1000th student earned their PDC Certificate.

Midwest Permaculture's 49th PDC Course and Student #1000 - July 2014

Midwest Permaculture Course #49 — Students Posing on the Hugelkultured Swale They Built — There were people in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s.  Permaculture is appealing to many regardless of political, racial, religious or socioeconomic differences.

As most of you know, Midwest Permaculture was started on a shoestring with the belief that permaculture was an ethical-based design tool that could be applied to most challenges facing us in the 21st century.  We felt that this brilliant approach to creating security and abundance on our planet needed to be shared with the larger culture. Continue reading

Our Webinar Series Delivered Live at the MREA Energy Fair

June 20-22, 2014 — Custer, WI

25thEnergyFairLogo(640)

New This Year… MREA Fair Special.

The Foundations of Permaculture
Webinar Series

…offered live… 

Friday: 10:00am – 1:00pm
Saturday: 2:00pm – 5:00pm
Sunday: 10:00am – 1:00pm

9 Hours Total
Fee: $150 (Portion goes to support the MREA)

Students return home with the Full Webinar Series as well.
(DVD & Text -$195 Value)

An 8-day Completion Training Immediately Follows just 3 Hours down the Road
June 23-30, 2014

Register for the Prescott, WI, PDC Course and receive the webinar series now so you can prepare for the course ahead of time. You can still enjoy the live presentations at the MREA as part of your training free.

Teaching at the MREA Energy Fair

Click Here to Register

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Season Extenders

Why Season Extenders are part of This Permaculture Design

For those of us who garden in a temperate climate (freezes in winter), we know only too well the disappointment when, for example, our indeterminate tomato plants are full of tomatoes in the fall, they are producing wonderfully, and then the first frost hits. The tomato season is now over and the plants were producing so well for the last 4 weeks.

Now, suppose we created a very simple cold frame or low tunnel to start our tomato plants earlier in the spring so that they had a 4-week earlier start.  That would mean that we would now get 8 weeks of tomatoes by the time the fall frost came calling.  We just doubled our production from 4 to 8 weeks with a little protection in the spring.

But what if we constructed some kind of added protection in the fall as well, before the frost hit, and ended up getting yet another 4 weeks of production?  We just tripled our yield with a little help from our season extenders. 

Our Objective:
To include in this permaculture design a variety of hoop-houses, cold-frames and other frost/wind protection techniques with the goal of increasing our yields while minimizing the work typically required to get those yields.  This is a primary permaculture design principle.

Season Extenders

 

Season Extenders Explained

Here is an introduction to various options–some traditional, some creative.

1) Common Seasonal Hoop House

hoop houses Continue reading

Bill to Teach a Farming-Focused PDC in Michigan

Josh and Brian Shultz

Josh & Brian Shultz

This was a great Course
We are Considering Repeating it in 2015
Please Check our Schedule

Training was May 6 – 13, 2014
Pierce Cedar Creek Institute – Hastings, MI
Start 1-pm May 6 —  End 3-pm May 13

I am very much looking forward to teaching this upcoming PDC with fellow permaculture designers/farmers, Josh and Brian Shultz. Both are Midwest Permaculture PDC Graduates but had been doing advanced permaculture work long before that.

PierceCedarCreek

Pierce Cedar Creek Institute

Starting off however, the training, meals and lodging will be hosted at the beautiful PCC Institute.  Be sure to check out these pictures of this wonderful location.

While there, we will learn about the work they are doing on behalf of the environment and how they are teaching ‘care of earth’ to school students and the general public.  The people at PCCI are walking the talk every day.  We will be in great hands and at a great location for this training.

Bill with Bloomingdale the cat

Me (Bill) with Bloomingdale the cat.

And when it is time to get out of the classroom and learn by doing and seeing I will be taking everyone over to Josh and Brian’s combined endeavors, Fair Lake Farm and Cedar Creek Permaculture Farm (see picture summary below).  They have both done amazing work in various fields and I know that as students, you will be learning a great deal by examining what they have accomplished and are planning to do.

To be clear, since this will be a PDC course I will be teaching the full PDC Curriculum including urban, suburban and residential permaculture applications.  We will be looking at how to design for various climates and for unusual circumstances.

Students will also be invited to bring their own design projects for we will set aside an entire evening to do nothing but explore the real-life design challenges of those who have a specific project.  Not everyone will or is expected to bring a project but we will all learn by exploring those projects that are brought to the table.  This is going to be a fabulous training and I am looking forward to meeting many new permaculture minds and hearts.

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