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Permaculture Earthworks – The Clay Model

Permaculture Earthworks lay Model

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. Continue reading “Permaculture Earthworks – The Clay Model”

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 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”

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

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.

Continue reading “Dry Brick Rocket Stove Maple Evaporator”

Pictures of Winter PDC in Stelle, IL

Midwest Permaculture Winter PDC Course 2015

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.

Continue reading “Pictures of Winter PDC in Stelle, IL”

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 “Bulldozer Digging Swales”

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.

 

Continue reading “Pictures of PDC at Fox Hollow Farm”

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 “1000+ PDC Graduates”

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.
($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

Continue reading “Our Webinar Series Delivered Live at the MREA Energy Fair”

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 “Season Extenders”