Erik Peterson – Permaculture Teacher/Designer/Builder
Hey permies! In this blog post, we’re going to get the skinny on rainwater harvesting…
Bill asked if I could share with you all the process of designing and installing the rainwater catchment system we constructed for the Youngstown, Ohio permaculture project that Bill and Becky have been leading, known as Bending Oak . So herein we will explore the nuts and bolts of our own install, and give you the essential information that you will need to consider in designing a rainwater harvesting system of your own.
At Bending Oak I have been involved with tending to the fruit and nut orchards, finishing the construction of the shipping container barn, planting native wetland plants around the newly installed pond, and more. Now that the rain catchment system is in place, we’re one big step closer towards off grid, self-sufficiency! So let’s dive in…
We created the video below for a local-food summit which we were invited to co-host. It includes many pictures and information about our (Becky and Bill Wilson) reasons for starting Midwest Permaculture and how we designed and evolved our own home. The blog-post that follows is a condensed version of this hour-long video presentation.
This is an April 2016 Blog Post on how we built a Thermal Mass Rocket Stove at Jordan Rubin’s ‘Heal the Planet Farm‘.
(We cover the foundations of rocket stove building at every Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course we host.)Schedule of Upcoming Courses
We call it the Epic Greenhouse Rocket-Mass Heater because of it’s sheer size and multiple modifications we designed into it. The whole stove is built around an 8″ flue system that exits outside of the greenhouse below floor level, under the greenhouse end-wall, and then turns towards the sky.
Designed by Bill Wilson (MWP) and Kevin Kepplinger (HTP Farm) Construction and Design Assistance from Heal the Planet Farm Team (All are Midwest Permaculture PDC graduates)
The key modifications we made to this stove that are not usually found on more traditional rocket mass heaters are:
The feed chamber is very large capable of holding full-sized firewood logs so it can be loaded to burn for up to 4 hours at a time and produce a lot of heat.
The thermal battery or thermal mass is below grade and insulated so the heat will not wick into the soil surrounding it but instead radiate up to keep fish (aquaponics system) and bedding plants warm even in the dead of winter.
We installed a multiple-speed flue fan and a flue damper near the end of the exhaust pipe to give ourselves greater control over the speed of the exhaust and even the burn. We can slow the exhaust down to hold the heat in the thermal mass longer when it’s hot or speed it up when we need a stronger pull to get it started. We know this is unorthodox and a bit like cheating, but it’s very helpful and the fan is variable speed using very little electricity.
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 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”
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.
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:
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.
Why ‘EarthCamp’ Village is part of This Permaculture Design
In William McDonough’s book, Cradle-to-Cradle, he talks about the importance for us as humans to reexamine the way we build our homes and other structures/buildings. The big question is, how much waste and pollution is generated while building, maintaining and finally demolishing our structures? It is about 40% of the entire waste stream of “civilized” cultures.
Our objective in building EarthCamp Village is to see how close we can get to creating structures that last a very-long time but create and generate very-little waste or CO2.
The timber framing for the cob cabin is up…!!! The first structure for EarthCamp Village
Click Here for Picture Summary of the Building of Earth-Shelter #1
Ground breaking has begun for EarthCamp Village which is part of our 8.7 acre permaculture design for Center for Sustainable Community here in Stelle, IL. We started working on Earth-Shelter #1 on July 15, 2013. All updates related to this one cabin will be posted here. Feel free to leave messages, ideas or comments. Let’s learn about this together.
Imagine waking up in the morning and stepping out of a cabin with a view like this? EarthCamp Village overlooks Mint Creek Farm–an organic farm with pasture-raised animals.