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Homes For 1/4 The Price

Had to Share This With You
Building Homes for 1/4th the Price
of Traditional Housing
Old bottle caps, used wine corks, spiky glass shards, odd planks of wood and chunks of bone — things other people might consider worthless — become valuable building materials in the hands of Dan Phillips. During the last 12 years, the maverick homebuilder in Huntsville, TX has either built or supervised the building of a dozen houses made of materials that would otherwise have been thrown away. 

To lower living costs, he believes in building sustainable houses with up to 90% recycled materials, tankless water heaters, rain water cisterns and plenty of insulation.

I don’t think Dan even mentions the word permaculture in this video or article, but in my book, it is urban permaculture all the way.

Video: Recycled Houses – 7min.
Dan’s Website – Phoenix Commotion


Home of Recycled Materials

Fall Freeze

Our first freeze is soon to be here so it’s decision making time for Becky and me… what to protect, what to consolidate and possibly replant, and what to let go of.

These tomato plants (left) grew to over 6 foot high and have produced very well. They are located on a berm that is fed water from the rooftop, 2 rain gardens and a swale. We hardly watered except to get them established early in the year. Rather than protecting the plant from frost we will go ahead and harvest all of these green tomatoes and enjoy them over the next month as they slowly ripen, turning red, in a box in our home.


Here is some more of our harvest in a holding area near our back door. Our permaculture students coming to Stelle in a week for a their training will enjoy a majority of their meals from local gardens and farms.

Picture Summary of 2008 California PDC Training

Last November, Wayne and I headed to Grass Valley, California to deliver a permaculture certification course at the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm. It was a great training and we have been invited back to repeat the training and continue the design project of the Farm.

Check out the pictures from our 2009 course.

National Guardsmen Take our Michigan Design Certification Course

What a great surprise to have 4-National Guardsmen join us for our Michigan PDC Course. One of the officers had been exposed to permaculture years earlier while in the Peace Corp and instinctually knew it was the training needed before their deployment to Afghanistan. Part of the mission for these guardsmen will be to help the Afghans rebuild their farming infrastructures which have been largely destroyed by the war. These Guardsmen will bring the expertise and knowledge of their civilian jobs while remaining sensitive to traditional farming methods.In a country with little rainfall and few available resources, permaculture provides a design approach with small-scale intensive systems that will help conserve moisture while providing ample food, shelter and drinking water.

Our 4-National Guardsmen
with Becky and Wayne

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