Our Land-Based Projects

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

Our Three Key Projects
1.   Bending Oak Permaculture Farm – 25 acres in Ohio
2.   Heal the Planet Farm – 320 acres in Missouri
3.   Nonprofit CSC – 8.7 Acres in Illinois
(Scroll down to learn about each project or click on direct link)

Becky and Bill with Project Partners

Becky (L) and Bill  (R) with  Design Clients/Partners

Starting a full permaculture design project can seem daunting to many, so we extend our design services to include the management of implementation in the early years when most of the earthworks, construction and the key plantings occur.

This service also includes education and additional trainings for the owners and their team/family so that within a relatively short time (2-4 years) they can confidently carry their design project forward.

The exact services we provide will vary from project to project based upon what our new partner’s needs are.

We enjoy working with people who are dedicated to healing and nurturing their land and the surrounding communities.

…Learn More about Our Design Team Here…

∇ First Design ∇
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…


∇ Second Design ∇
Jordan Rubin’s ‘Heal The Planet Farm’ – Koshkonong, MO
Focus One: Turn 320 acres of degraded soils into prime pastureland
Focus Two: Create a Permaculture Demonstration Hub in the living area

Click on this link to learn more about best-selling author Jordan Rubin, his 4,000-acre organic farm (with pictures), and the PDC Courses we host twice a year.

This is a satellite photo of the 320 acres as we begin. These are 10′ topographical lines with the high ground at the top of the picture. Also included are some rain-runoff estimates.

1 Inch of Rainwater Runoff

The map details reveal that when this 320 acres receives a 2″ rain but only 1″ is absorbed, the remaining 1″ runs off the land totaling almost 9 million gallons (8,500,000).  That’s enough water to fill 13 Olympic sized swing pools or fill a 5-acre pond.  And that is with only 1 inch of runoff.  The annual rainfall for this part of Missouri is about 47 inches. In some rains 3-4 inches might run off contributing to flooding further down the landscape. And where the water does not soak into the landscape, the plants and water table decline some each year.

To hold much of this runoff our initial design includes many swales and ponds with the intention to keyline plow the pasture areas in-between the swales. The initial sketch or conceptual drawing we created to get a feel for how it might come together look like this.

Conceptual Swale & Pond Permacutlure Design

Thus far we have put in over 3 miles of swales that will hold 250,000 gallons of water when full. We estimate that an additional 2 million gallons of water has now be held and soaked into the landscape because of these swales and that amount increases every time it rains. The land and water table are recharging with every rainfall event.

On a high spot overlooking the Ozark foothills we are considering creating an intensive demonstration site to grow a wide range of foods for farm and local residents as well as to grow a variety of super-foods that Jordan wishes to study and use in some of his product formulations.

This focal point will include many different elements and techniques we use in permaculture design. Here is how the design basemap is shaping up.

Conceptual Zone 1 Permacutlure Design

Click on the map to view the Food Forest on the right in greater detail. Feel free to download and share.


Creating a Permaculture Hub in the Living Area
Between the farm office and the cabins lies this 2 acre area. We call it the Permaculture Hub. In here we are raising chickens, bees, fish, worms and crickets while harvesting eggs, growing food in our greenhouses and planting in a permaculture food forest.

Click Here for larger size to read the picture captions.

Elsewhere on the property and not far from the classroom is a old in-ground swimming pool that has been untouched for about 10 years. Wonderfully, it still holds water but there is much repair and maintenance to do.

Rather than recreating a relatively sterile swimming environment with painted concrete and chlorine impregnated swimming water we are going to redesign the area into a natural swimming hole.

Field stone, pebbles and plants will dominate the pool landscape with several river-gravel-filled containers cleaning the water on a continuous basis. Imagine swimming in pool surrounded by plants and cleaned by nature, not chlorine.

River rock filled beds create biofilters for our natural swimming pool conversion

 ∇ Third Design ∇
Nonprofit CSC – 8.7 Acres in Illinois

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.)

We started on this project in 2012 and are making gradual progress with mostly volunteers.  The design will include all of the below elements, many of which will also be included in the other 2 designs.

We expect it will take about 8-10 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.

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

  • Attend one of our permaculture trainings with us in Stelle, IL. You’ll be able to walk the land, learn more about the design, and even help us work on the hugelkultured swales.
  • Join us for an occasional work-party days. Our monthly 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 Linear Food Forests & Hugelkultured Swales
Year-Round Greenhouse From Orchard to Food ForestWood Gasification Chinampas Gardens  EarthCamp Village  
Season Extenders
 Season Extenders
 Integrated Gardening TechniquesCoppicing/Pollarding  Thermal Mass Rocket StoveChickens and Ducks 
Keline Plowing on Contour


- Root Cellars
- More....

(composting) Toilet
 Hedgerows Keyline Plowing   

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