Our Land-Based Projects

Our Land-Based Design Projects
Design and Implementation
Students attending any of our PDC Courses will learn more about these projects.

Our Two Ongoing Projects:
1.   Bending Oak Permaculture Farm – 25 acres in Ohio
2.   Center for Sustainable Community – 8.7 Acres in Illinois (Quick Link)

Our schedule is tight but we have taken on multiple projects from design to implementation. Here are the two major projects we are working on now.

Bending Oak – 25 Acres in Youngstown, Ohio

The framework basemap thus far:

Click Here if you wish to Enlarge (so you can Zoom in and read details)

The Ponds
The map above shows the pond shortly after construction when it was only 1/4 full in October of 2016. There is a 2.5 acre watershed that feeds this pond and over the year-end holidays there was a 5 inch rain when the ground was still frozen underneath the soft surface. The pond filled in one week. Here  is it on Feb. 1, 2017.

Click Here for full size of above view.

Here is quick view of what the pond area looked like before clearing it.

Before construction we created a basemap showing the approximate shape and size for our excavation team noting several shelves we wanted to include to support fish and aquatic plant propagation.

The Shipping Container Barn
For a 25 acre design with plans for active production of various berry and nut crops, it is important to have a place one can work, store equipment and tools and process the harvest. To do this while reusing some recycled materials we designed a barn with a foundation base of shipping containers.

The containers provide the walls and structure to hold up the prefabricated 50′ trusses, and each also doubles as a weather tight and secure (lockable) storage room.

With the cement floor, lockable roll-up and people doors, and an off-grid solar-powered electrical system this barn has proven to be invaluable.

The Double-Deer Fencing in Fruit and Nut Orchards
Deer love to eat young trees and shrubs. Because of the large population of deer we knew that to grow anything we would have to protect it. This permaculture concept of placing two fences close together has really done the trick.

There is something about the depth perception of deer that they are just uncomfortable if it is not clear where they will land. Around the outside of both of these fences there are regular deer runs with hundreds of deer track. Inside both areas there are NONE.

DD Fence (Left): The two wire fences are 4 feet high and spaced 4 feet apart. This system is designed for another purpose, that of a chicken run. The chickens will keep the weeds down and eat plenty of the insects heading into the orchard.

DD Fence (Right): This is a single 4′ wire-mesh fence with a single white nylon cord running through pigtail stakes that are about 36″ high. The stakes are placed about 30″ from the wire fence. Bungee cords at the gate areas make it easy for access in and out and they also keep a fairly constant tension on the line so it does not droop should it stretch. The pigtail posts make it very east to pull the system up 4 times a year for mowing.

The Elements in the Bending Oak Design

  • A Double-deer-fenced Enclosed Orchard Area (done)
  • Plant a Polyculture Orchard (Overstory fruit trees are in – Cover crop established)
  • Chicken Run Established in the Double-deer-fenced Area (ready for the chickens)
  • Plant a Polycultured Nut Orchard of Hazel, Chestnut, Hickory, Oak) (first tree plantings are in)
  • Multiple Plant Guilds Designed Into the Natural Microclimates and Biomes (Begun)
  • Establishment of an Oak Savannah Area (Observing areas – favoring the oaks)
  • Build a Utility Barn made from Used Shipping Containers (Done)
  • Rainwater Harvested for Clean Potable Water (planned for 2017)
  • Underground Cistern Storage for Clean Rainwater (2017)
  • Small State-of-the-art Photo Voltaic System on Barn Roof for Electric Needs (Done)
  • Classroom Building Built on the old Gun-Powder Storage Building Foundation (2018)
  • A Residential Internship Program (2018)
    • Students Build The Homes they Live In
    • Develop the Annual and Perennial Gardens for Food
    • Create a Source of Income for Themselves Off the Land
    • Provide for Most of Their Other Need from the Property
  • Establishment of Functional Chinampas in the Low Ground Areas for Polyculture Food Production (2019)
  • Utilizing the Forest Edge and Meadows for Honey, Wild Medicinals, Elderberry and More (first harvests have been made)
  • Utilizing the Woodlot for Fuel, Mushroom Growing and Maple Syruping (underway)
  • Use of Free Woodchips for Paths, Mulch, Composting and Fuel (doing this)
  • Creating On-going Educational Programming for the Public (started – see Meetup group)
  • And there will certainly be more…

CSC Nonprofit- 8.7 Acres in Illinois
Center for Sustainable Community

Becky (right) with members of CSC’s pond restoration team.
Our pond as it is today, ~4 years later

This acreage sits immediately next to the community where Midwest Permaculture (Bill, Becky and team) reside.  We are supporting our non-profit organization, Center for Sustainable Community, with the long-term establishment of a permaculture design upon their land.  Here is a quick overview map. (Click on map for larger view.)

Our current framework design as of 2021

Like any good permaculture design, this framework layout has evolved over the years. This updated map encourages us to remain energized, inspired, and helps us continue on the path towards fulfilling the vision of CSC as we respond to the ever-changing patterns of life here. We have come a long ways on this project in the establishment of our food forests, building of healthy soil, pond restoration, and community outreach. We have begun to attract more visitors through renting our Earth Shelter Cabin on Hipcamp, (Click here to learn more about the Earth Shelter) and are continuing to maintain and establish new projects such as:

Mushroom Cultivation
Community Work Parties
Keeping our Pond Ecosystem Healthy
Creating New Tent Sites for Hipcamp

We continue to keep our Blog updated with the long list of various exciting projects we have ongoing here at CSC. There is much work to be done!

We have been working with CSC on this project for several years and are making gradual progress with mostly volunteers.  The design will eventually include all of the below elements.

We expect it will take about 10 years to fully establish each element of this design and then another 5 years to see them all move into greater maturity.  We want the implementation to be a learning experience for hundreds of people so we are in no hurry.

Our hardest workers- the CSC lawn mowing goats!

We welcome your interest and participation. Here are a couple of options to get involved.

  • Stay with us at one of our Hipcamp sites, and request a tour! You’ll be able to walk the land with a member of our team to learn more about the design, history, and see all the ways we are working to create abundance and fertility here in Stelle.
“My family and I had the most wonderful stay! We had plenty of room in the cabin and outside for our tent. Highly recommend taking a tour… Such a cool property to experience!” – Kristen, camper from Summer of 2021
  • Join us for an occasional work-party days. Our occasional emails will notify you of these.

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
Year-Round GreenhouseFrom Orchard to Food ForestWood Gasification 
Season Extenders
Season ExtendersIntegrated Gardening TechniquesCoppicing/Pollarding 
Keline Plowing on Contour
Composting ToiletsHedgerowsKeyline Plowing
Linear Food ForestsHugelkultured SwalesChinampas Gardens 
 EarthCamp Village   Thermal Mass Rocket StoveTree-Range Chicken
Mushroom CultivationVermicompostHipcamp


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