Our Perennial Yields Increase

I’d like to invite you to take a walk with me around our yard at Midwest Permaculture.  None of these plants existed 5 years ago when we started experimenting with perennial plants, trees and shrubs.  

And all off this was produced with almost NO WORK on our part this year!!!  

Other than caring for the general area, the plants surrounding these productive crops are doing the majority of the work of keeping ‘weeds’ down, fertilizing the area and holding in moisture.  

We are really experiencing the benefits and yields of permaculture designing with the use of perennial plants!

10 Perennial Crops at Midwest Permaculture – July 2013

1 – Peach  

Bill and the Peach Tree

Perennial Walk  at Midwest Permaculture (1)Above is one of 4 peach trees we have on our property. The tree is locate on the back of a berm that we constructed which holds overflow water from our rain tank and side yard.  With little extra watering it has grown to this size in 3 years.  It was a two year tree when we planted it.  We had to knock off half of the peaches this year because there were just too many but we estimate there are still 300 on this one tree.  The peaches should be ripe and ready to pick soon.



  Continue reading “Our Perennial Yields Increase”

Spring Rains Fill Our Earthworks Multiple Times

While the city of Chicago was shutting down due to too much rain last week just 60 miles north of us, the swales, ponds, berms and rain gardens we have put in around our home and in Stelle did their job of filling up and holding water back from the creeks.  Over several days they will slowly release that water into the water table rather than let it run down into our creeks and rivers all at once.  

In this hugelkultured swale, both the ditch and the wood in the berm are holding rain water.

In this hugelkultured swale, both the ditch and the wood in the berm are holding rain water.

The water we are holding back will eventually make it to our creeks and rivers anyway, but it will do so slowly… and over a long period of time… thus trickle-feeding our creeks and rivers all year round.  This is the way a normal hydrological cycle works. Continue reading “Spring Rains Fill Our Earthworks Multiple Times”

Cal-Earth and Permaculture in the Bahamas

Bill in Bahamas
At the same time as the 36-inch snow storm hit the East Coast of the US in early February (2013), I found myself standing on an island in the Bahamas.  With no way to ‘escape’ I decided to accept my situation and make the best of it.  I had been invited to speak at a Peace Symposium hosted by the Sivananda Yoga Retreat located on Paradise Island just north of Nassau.  
 Eleuthera Island School - Bahamas (1)
When the symposium had finished, I make my way to the island of Eleuthera (map) where I had learned about a school and research institute that had incorporated permaculture into their campus.  As long as I was in the area I wanted to be sure to visit. With my good friend Swami Omkaranada, we arrived at the Cape Eleuthera Institute and found almost a dozen superadobe vaulted arches that are exactly like the ones we stay in when we teach our annual Permaculture & Earth Building Course at Cal-Earth in Hesperia, CA.
  Continue reading “Cal-Earth and Permaculture in the Bahamas”

A Cal-Earth Permaculture Course Picture Summary

Post Update (Oct. 2017)
Our 7th Annual Combined
Super-Adobe and Permaculture-Design Certificate Courses

Oct. 16-28, 2017

Oct. 16-20 Super Adobe Core Curriculum Workshop
Oct.21-28 Permaculture Design Certificate Course

Sorry – This Course is Now Full
Please Check Back for Next Year’s Dates

— About the world renowned Permaculture Design Certificate Course here.
— How Midwest Permaculture delivers this comprehensive training (regardless of the location) here.
— Download a .PDF of the PDC course curriculum outline here.

Below is a picture summary from a previous joint training to give you an idea of how full and rich this combined training is. 
Please Note: Geoff and Nadia’s visit was a one-time event. They are not expected to join us this year (2017).

Cal-Earth Interior

Interior View of ‘Triple-Vault’– A Super-Adobe Structure at Cal-Earth   –   Students will learn the basics of how to build structures like this and how to design the total environment surrounding it at this combined training.


Blog Post of Previous Combined Course
Pictures and Text by Bill Wilson of Midwest Permaculture

For a second year we co-delivered with the Cal-Earth teaching staff a combined Superadobe Earth Building and Permaculture Design Certificate Course.  At the close of our training we were pleased to host Geoff and Nadia Lawton of PRI-Australia who shared their work in desert environments with us while they were in the USA for a brief visit.  This workshop was also opened to the general public seen here at the end of a really great day of learning.

Our 2012 Cal-Earth PDC on Guest Day with Geoff and Nadia Lawton – Picture taken on one of the Cal-Earth buildings.

Continue reading “A Cal-Earth Permaculture Course Picture Summary”

Picture Summary – Essential Permaculture Weekend – Kalamazoo 8/12

 Essential Permaculture Weekend Training – Kalamazoo, MI – August 2012

 We were invited to deliver our “Essential Permaculture” weekend training in Kalamazoo by a former student of ours who is one of the coordinators of the Trybal Revival Eastside EcoGarden (TREE).  
  Continue reading “Picture Summary – Essential Permaculture Weekend – Kalamazoo 8/12”

Pictures From our June 2012, Stelle PDC Course

 Pictures by Milton Dixon and Bill Wilson – Captions by Bill

Day 1 in the Classroom – The World Map on the Wall is a Nice Addition to any Learning space. – Becky Wilson Teaching

“Thank you Bill and Becky for such an incredible, life-altering week.”
Jody T. – Community Organizer

Continue reading “Pictures From our June 2012, Stelle PDC Course”

Picture Summary of UWRF PDC Course

Pictures and Text by Bill Wilson and Milton Dixon

Thank you to our hosts Dr. Kelly Cain and Cynthia Wells-O’Mally of the University of Wisconsin, for hosting us for a second year.  The bulk of the training was held on campus.  Although we had some university students, most of the people taking this training came from the general public and from 5 different states.   We had a fantastic time.

PDC Course Graduates – University of Wisconsin, River Falls – June 2012


Panoramic View of Dr. Cain’s Permaculture Oriented Residence

Continue reading “Picture Summary of UWRF PDC Course”

Picture Summary: PDC Course at Arbor Day Farm’s Lied Lodge – March 2012

Pictures by Milton Dixon and Bill Wilson — Narrative by Bill

We delivered what we believe to be the first Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) Course at this world renowned location.  The Arbor Day Foundation is a leader in promoting the importance of trees for us as people and for the health of our planet.  This is solid permaculture thinking.

Our PDC Design Course on an exploratory walk early in the week.

The Arbor Day Foundation hosts their Arbor Day Farm, orchards, hazelnut research field, agri-forestry operation, and the beautiful Lied Lodge, all in Nebraska City, NE.  
  Continue reading “Picture Summary: PDC Course at Arbor Day Farm’s Lied Lodge – March 2012”

Chickens for the Orchard (Part 1)

Part 3:    8-13 Weeks of Age (As Adventurers)
Part 2:    4-8 Weeks of Age (As Kids)
Part 1:    0-4 Weeks of Age (As Chicks)   

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:

  1. garner the greatest amount or number of yields
  2. from the minimum amount of work 
  3. while creating no waste (at least minimal)
  4. 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.

It all starts with an order of 100 chicks (multi-heritage breeds from McMurry) that Hayden and Cameron (our two work/study intern students) selected.  All were delivered through the U.S. mail.  All survived!  Hayden created a safe and warm habitat from a yard-storage container, a heat lamp, and some old boards and fencing.  This structure lasted almost 2 weeks before they outgrew it.  During this time we worked on a more permanent home/coop.

  Continue reading “Chickens for the Orchard (Part 1)”

Photos of a Winter PDC at Midwest Permaculture

Special Note:
Wondering about missing some hands-on activities at our annual Winter PDC Courses?

Grafting Workshop at Winter PDC

Grafting Workshop at Winter PDC

You won’t!  Most all of the hands-on activities we undertake at our regular PDC courses we can also do at our winter courses.  These include:

  • Learning to use the A-frame and sight level.
  • Building a dry-brick rocket stove and firing it up.
  • Making a clay model of a landscape to learn about swales, keylining, and ponds.
  • Touring Midwest Permaculture’s yard and the CSC land
  • Doing fruit tree grafting
  • Making cob from clay, sand and straw
  • and touring the Malchow’s (our neighbors) permaculture home to fire-up their thermal mass rocket stove couch/bench.

The one thing we cannot do because of the frozen ground is continue to work on the hugel-swale we are constructing for CSC, but this basically consists of digging a section of a ditch, putting logs in, and then covering them up. We’ll show some pictures of the details related to this so you’ll get the information without the tactile experience.


Raising Profitable Heritage Breed Hogs at Spence Farm in a very Humane Way

Raising Profitable Heritage Breed Hogs at Spence Farm in a very Humane Way

The one thing we do extra for this course is focus a bit more on the growing of food and what it takes to create a successful farming/growing/permaculture operation.

Many people want to make part or even all of their annual income from growing food.  This is certainly possible but it requires quite a bit of knowledge and then real practical experience. Our objective through this training is to save you years of time and money by giving you some critical information and fresh insights. 

To help anchor this learning experience we’ll be taking an extra field-trip over to Spence Farm in Fairbury, IL, to meet Kris and Marty Travis who are doing pioneering work in these areas. 

If the timing works for you to attend this winter course, we are confident that you will not leave feeling like you missed any hands-on activities.  It’s an amazing and very-full 8 days like all of our other PDC Courses.

Here are Pictures from one of our Winter PDC Course (from 2012)
Narration by Hayden Wilson (Standing, far right, son of Bill and Becky)

Our Group Photo with Rocket Stove in Foreground and Midwest Permaculture Home-site (our house). Mom (Becky Wilson) is standing on far left. Dad (Bill Wilson) took most of these pictures.

  Continue reading “Photos of a Winter PDC at Midwest Permaculture”