My mother and father-in-laws, Win and Mike, live on a beautiful and rugged piece of land on Colorado’s Front Range known as Table Rock Ranch. For over 25 years, Win and Mike have raised a small herd of Scottish Highland beef cattle on the 85-acre property using a largely pastured, grass-fed approach. The ranch lies on the high plains about 15 miles as the crow flies from the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains and at about 7,300 feet elevation. The ranch is named for a mesa on part of the property called Table Rock, which is an easily-recognizable landmark in the area and which is an important Native American site. There is an authentic Native American medicine wheel on top of the mesa, which is still visited occasionally by members of the Ute nation. Table Rock was previously the resting place of a Native American holy man (who was exhumed in the 20th century), and may still be home to some as-yet unconfirmed Native American grave sites.
Why Wood Gasification is part of This Permaculture Design
Wood Gasification is the process of converting wood (any kind of scraps or trimmings) into flammable gasses by burning it at very high temperatures in an oxygen starved environment. These gasses, once cooled and cleaned of tars, can be piped directly into an internal combustion engine as a fuel substitute for gasoline…!!!
We have designed in the use of wood gasification units for:
And the wood gasification units burn much, much cleaner than wood stoves because of the high temperatures. They actually burn off almost all of the smoke and gasses, turning even these into additional energy.
|Below: A Self-Guided-Learning Tour into Permaculture|
Use these pages as an educational journey into applied permaculture thinking and designing. At the bottom of every page you will find the directory of the key elements included in this design. Each page is like opening a chapter in a permaculture design booklet that explains the element, its function, and why it was included. Enjoy your learning. We explore all of these elements in each of our Permaculture Design Certificate Courses.
|We began designing CSC’s (Center for Sustainable Community) 8.7 acres of land in early 2011. This plan was presented, approved and adopted by CSC in the Spring of 2012.|
Asked to guide the design in its early years, Midwest Permaculture has now begun implementation. We expect it to take us about 5 years to fully establish each element of the design and then another 5 years to see it move into greater maturity. We want the implementation to be a learning experience for hundreds of people. We welcome your interest and participation. Here are a couple of options.
Directory of Design Elements
The hyperlinked images below open a new page with more-detailed explanations of each element in the design as it relates to this project. The elements without a hyperlink will be linked-in once we complete the content of those pages in the coming months. (We wish they were all done as well.)
|Permaculture Design for CSC in Stelle, IL||CSC Vision for Property||Design Overview||Linear Food Forests||& Hugelkultured Swales|
|Year-Round Greenhouse||From Orchard to Food Forest||Wood Gasification||Chinampas Gardens||EarthCamp Village|
| Season Extenders||Integrated Gardening Techniques||Coppicing/Pollarding||Thermal Mass Rocket Stove||Chickens and Ducks|
- Root Cellars
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Why a ‘Vision’ is part of this Permaculture Design
Every permaculture design begins with the vision that the owner or owners have for the property. We will end up with quite different designs for the same piece of property should one owner have the vision of creating a pick-your-own fruit operation where another wants to create a healthy and safe environment for aging horses. Some elements will be the same – many others will be different.
Here are the sorts of questions we will ask an owner(s) when starting a permaculture design for their property:
Why a Design Overview is part of this Permaculture Design
When creating a permaculture design for a client, it’s very helpful to give a clear and brief overview of the existing resources, goals and key elements of the proposed design so that they can see the bigger picture. It is also a very helpful tool should they need to explain their plans to family members, partners, investors or lenders.
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?
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.
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.
Why Thermal Mass Rocket Stoves are part of This Permaculture Design
Whereas wood gasification turns wood scrap into a flammable gas to run engines (generating electricity power and heat), a thermal mass rocket stove simply turns scrap wood into heat…. lots of heat…with a lot less wood!!!
So, we have included them in our overall design, especially for Earthcamp Village, because they are:
Bottomline: They burn 1/4 of the wood to generate the same heat from a conventional wood stove and the outgases are 90% cleaner as well.
The Key? They burn the wood, smoke and gasses at very high temperatures…SAFELY!
Thermal Mass Rocket Stoves Explained
Not long ago, our friends and neighbors, Bev and Wayne, started to build a thermal mass rocket stove in their living room. Wayne took one of our PDC courses and was inspired by the rocket stove concept (See the illustration and links below).
Bev and Wayne have been sharing their adventure with us and we are very excited about the possibilities.
Imagine having a wood burning stove in your home that:
- Burns less than 1/4 the amount of wood you typically burn
- Keeps you as warm or warmer
- Allows you to easily burn sticks, twigs and branches instead of just large chunks of firewood.
- Burns cleaner than any wood stove ever made
The big thing for us, living here on the prairie in Illinois surrounded not by woods or forests but by corn and bean fields, is the very real shortage of easily available firewood.
What I am talking about are the large hardwood trees with trunks and large branches which are typically chainsawed to length and then split to fit into a wood burning stove. All of this tonage of wood then needs to be hauled out of the woods, dumped or stacked somewhere, then loaded back into a truck for delivery to be driven to someone’s home (a lot more energy) and then unloaded and stacked again for winter use.