Fall Update

The dust has settled following our full schedule of trainings in August. It feels good to be home and to be getting into the garden harvest while starting to think about the upcoming winter season.

Becky made some fresh salads from our gardens including pickled beans, tomatoes, nasturtium flowers and fresh sauerkraut.
Yesterday we had two cords of oak delivered for our winter heating needs. I have cut and split our wood many times and believe me, it is a real blessing (and a bargain) to purchase the finished product.  

Michigan Speaking Tour

Picture Summary of Michigan Speaking Tour
As most of you are aware, I recently spent the better part of a week in S.E. Michigan on a speaking and consulting tour. Our events were well received and I learned much about grassroots initiatives that are pioneering the way into a more sustainable and compassionate world in Detroit, Flint, Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. This picture summary will share some of the highlights and offer some good permaculture examples and ideas to most everyone.

Pictured: Raised Bed Made from Old Tires and Cob

Bill Interviewed on NPR’s Here on Earth

“Here on Earth – Radio Without Borders” – NPR Syndicated ShowWisconsin Public RadioHost Jean Feraca interviews Bill Wilson of Midwest Permaculture about Suburban/Urban Permaculture

Broadcast Live from the MREA Energy Fair on 6-19-09

Click Here – More about Jean and ‘Here on Earth’

Click Here to Access the 1-Hour Interview

Jean Feraca

The Downdraft Wood Gasification Unit

Could this be one of the key missing pieces? 

In its simplest form, we are harvesting the finite, underground, carbon- based resources (coal, oil and natural gas), converting them into usable energy, and leaving excess CO2 in the atmosphere and fewer resources for future generations.. Here is a hypothesis which I am contemplating. If over time we converted much of our industrial agriculture into edible food forests, the trees would absorb excess CO2, provide food for us, and leave an annual crop of branches and dead limbs (i.e. stored carbon).

Could we not take this excess carbon source, turn it into wood chips and with the use of these small gasification units, provide the energy we need? In effect we would be harvesting current sunlight and eliminating our need for oil, coal or gas while simultaneously sequestering excess CO2 from our atmosphere. Hummmm….
Follow this link and scroll down a bit to take a look at a video of a home-made unit
and leave your thought on the networking page for others (and me) if you like.

Invasive and Delicious

This Spring, I’ve discovered a new plant growing in profusion in our garden. I noticed it last year, but it was just a small mound. This year, it quickly grew tall and flowered. Before I had a chance to look it up, Milton stopped by and said that it was Garlic Mustard, and it makes great pesto! Sure enough – it was wonderful, with both flavors in abundance. Use the leaves just as you would basil. We picked lots of it before it went to seed, as it can be quite invasive; and we’ve enjoyed it several weeks before our basil will make a showing. Let’s hear it for free food!

Couple Convert Older Home into Carbon Free

A 75-year-old traditional home taken off the gird with modest and affordable changes

I wanted to be sure to share this with all of you on our ‘Friends of Midwest Permaculture’ list. Stephen and Rebekah Hren of Durham, N. Carolina built the perfect ‘energy free’ home miles out of town on their own land – their own patch of heaven. How many of us hold the idea that ‘some day’ we are going to buy a small piece of land, build an energy efficient home, go off the grid and finally, leave our troubles (and annoying neighbors) behind and live happily ever after?

Rebehah and Stephen did just that but then, returned to the city a few years later. Why? The article below will share the reasons, but suffice it to say, they are a lot happier today being back in the city and have found their own way to convert their older and affordable house into an energy lean, beautiful and bountifully home.

A Great Article from Ode Magazine

Our New Networking Site Launches

Share your Knowledge & Experience – Learn from Others 

Our friend and technology consultant, Milton Dixon, and I have been working on a new networking site for over two months now. It was created to facilitate connections between the public, all of you (our ‘Friends of Midwest Permaculture’), our incoming students, and our grad students, all on the subject of permaculture. 

Please Note: You are welcome to explore the site all you want, but if you want to make an entry such as leaving a comment or participate in any of the public forums, you’ll have to join up. It is really easy and we never use your information for marketing or spamming purposes. Just follow the prompts. It’s quick.

Click Here for New Permaculture Networking Site

Hanks Horn of Plenty

A Little Ingenuity Goes a Long Way
This 2-minute gem was forwarded to me by one of my good friends in Stelle, Mark, who is from Maryland. It is priceless in its charm, brevity and message – ‘we can feed ourselves from our own backyards’. As that itch to get our hands back into the soil continues to grow with spring drawing near, consider what is truly possible from our own back & front yards, empty lots, balconies and rooftops, especially with a little human love and ingenuity as Hank here demonstrates. By the way, Stockton, Maryland gets plenty of near zero temperatures during the winter. It’s solidly a temperate climate zone. And when the video clip is done, ask yourself how you would go about duplicating what Hank has created but with only organic inputs and renewable energy options. That’s a permaculture approach. Enjoy. I found it inspiring. 

Click Here to Enjoy the Video
If the first link doesn’t work click here to try a different path in
(Note: This video requires Windows Media Player and may not work on your computer. Darn. Hope you can view it.)

First 2-Day Transition Town Training in Illinois

Becky and I will soon host the first Transition Training in Illinois in our home town of Stelle. Not only is it convenient for us, but we think most people will enjoy visiting our sustainably oriented community as well. A big part of the transition process is finding ways to decrease our carbon imprint while building some resilience into our communities, and residents in Stelle have been dabbling in this for decades. People taking this training in Stelle will receive a quick tour of our community to include the windmills, our solar powered telephone company, the tool co-op, garden co-op, chicken co-op and more. 

Here is quick 5-minute video of Rob Hopkins (left), the Transition Town Network’s founder, talking about community resilience as well as giving his quick overview on just what the Transition Movement is all about.

425 Gallon Rain Tank

Permaculture Ideals:  – Hold water where it falls.
– Slow it down.    – Use it as much as possible.

Constructed Summer 2007



Every time there is an inch
(1 inch) of rain, there are 1,248 gallons of water coming off the roof of our 2,000 sq/ft ranch-style home.

2/3rds of the water drains off the front of our home (now captured by our rain gardens in the front yard) and 1/3 off the back.

During the growing season, all of the water from the back of the our home flows through this tank first.

We started with a 55-gallon drum but when it filled in about the first 3 minutes of a good rain, we knew we wanted something much bigger.


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