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”

Chinampas Gardens

Why Chinampas Gardens are part of This Permaculture Design

Chinampas Gardens are artificial islands or peninsulas created by scooping nutrient-rich lake, swamp or pond muck into a woven cage so that crops can be grown above the waterline in a wet environment. Within this simple design, several unique functions are accomplished at once: a micro-climate that prevents early frost damage; an extremely productive soil that is mostly self-sustaining; a self-watering system created by water wicking in from the sides as moisture evaporates from the surface of the beds; and the growing of plants and fish within the same area.

In Particular we want to: 

  • Test the efficacy of Chinampas in our northerly-temperate climate
  • Assess their productivity and labor requirements compared to regular garden beds
  • Try something very different and creative.

 

 

Continue reading “Chinampas Gardens”

Wood Gasification

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:

  • Running trucks, tractors and other vehicles and machinery
  • Generating heat and electricity in the winter for greenhouses and homes
  • Being able to harvest the energy from sunlight stored in woody plants, from our own land
  • Using the waste product, biochar, to increase the fertility of our gardens and food forests which will also be pulling excess Co2 out of the atmosphere and locking it up

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.

Truck Runs by Wood Gasification

Truck Runs on Woodgas

Continue reading “Wood Gasification”

Linear Food Forests along Hugelkultured Swales

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?

 

While the tress and shrubs are in the early stages of growing (small) we will use the open space to grow some of our annual vegetables. We will also plant some nitrogen fixing ground covers and dynamic accumulators to help build the soil.

Continue reading “Linear Food Forests along Hugelkultured Swales”

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)”

Burning Wood to “Cool” an Entire Lodge

Arbor Day’s Lied Lodge:
It is Air Conditioned with Current Sunlight
(i.e. Scrap Wood)

Becky at the Fuelwood Energy Plant, one of the places we'll be touring during the March PDC.

 

In our last post we talked about thermal mass rocket stoves and the great benefit they held by being able to heat our homes using current sunlight in the form of firewood.  (The sunlight energy stored in coal, oil and natural gas is millions of years old.) With these stoves we consume as little as 1/4 the amount of firewood it would take to heat the same amount of space with a traditional wood stove.  This is a huge savings in energy consumed for the same results.

Last February, Becky and I visited Lied Lodge and were surprised to discover that they not only heated their water and the Lodge with scrap-chipped wood, but they also air-condition the entire Lodge using the same fires…!!!   How can this be? Continue reading “Burning Wood to “Cool” an Entire Lodge”

Water Wheel Pump

This is just too cool…!

How many people live near a running creek, but the creek sits low enough on their property that there is no good way to get the water up on to the land for irrigation or for a small pond without running electricity for a pump?  This simple, homemade device will do the trick.

Of note, the water pump wheel will lift water 2 to 8 times higher than the diameter of the wheel.  Basically, the more loops you have in the wheel the higher and farther you can ‘pump’ the water.  However, the more loops in the wheel makes the wheel heaver and harder to turn, so one needs a larger or faster running creek to do the work.  Regardless, there appears to be a happy median, and to move any amount of water uphill on a piece of property gives one a very valuable resource to work with.  

Here is a link to a simple article about how the water wheel pump works and how to build one.

Just had to share this with you…. Bill Wilson

Cal-Earth – The PDC Portion of the Combined Earth Building and Permaculture Training

Week 2 – The Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course.
(Click here for Photos of Week 1)

 
We not only taught this course to 24 students from around the world (Europe, Middle East, Africa) but we also trained 7 of Cal-Earth’s staff. and 2 of their interns. Nader Khalili was just months away from hosting the first PDC course at Cal-Earth when he unexpectedly passed in 2008. To honor their father and the 20th anniversary of Cal-Earth, Dastan and Sheefteh Khalili, Nader’s children, invited us to deliver our PDC course.  As Ian Lodge (director at Cal-Earth) told us , “the hard work of proving the viability of superadobe structures is done.  It’s now time to look at the total environment, to see how much better the buildings and the land around them can function together to benefit the people living in them.”

Continue reading “Cal-Earth – The PDC Portion of the Combined Earth Building and Permaculture Training”

Introducing Hayden (Permaculture, An Alternative To College Education)

Hi, Everyone!

My name is Hayden. For those who have not met me or have not heard of me, I am the son of Bill and Becky Wilson. I will be working with Midwest Permaculture as an intern for at least the next year and contributing here on the blog.

Last year I was a junior in high-school, “the time when I’m SUPPOSED to decide what I want to do with the rest of my life.”  Whenever I thought about this, I remember I felt very stressed, as if I was being pulled in many different directions.  At that point in time I had mostly assumed that I HAD to go to college; all my brothers went, and all my friends were planning to, so I figured, “that’s what I SHOULD do too.”  However, I had no specific interest or path that I wanted to pursue in college. Long story short, I spent quite a bit of time thinking about what I should go to college for, what college I would go to, and ended up beating myself up for not being able to get clear on what I was going to do.

When my junior year was nearly over, after a lot of bruised knuckles and sleepless nights, I had decided that it would be in my best interest to get a Permaculture Designer Certificate under my belt, especially since this was the family business anyway. I had always been around it and had experience doing some permaculture projects and gardening, but I still didn’t have a very strong grasp on the general/basic principles of permaculture. At the very least, I knew I was interested and that I wanted to learn more as well as broaden my knowledge and life skills.

As the date to the training got closer and closer, I began to realize that I was more interested than I had originally thought. Once the PDC training began, from then on, it all clicked for me. I thoroughly enjoyed learning with a group of people who were there by personal choice, rather than societal pressure. I knew that working in permaculture is what I really wanted to do. I finally realized, why go to college when I don’t really know what I want to go for? I knew I could end up wasting time and money, and my heart just wasn’t into it. Instead, I could create an internship with Midwest Permaculture and do something that I love and have the motivation to do.

Throughout the following year, my parents and I brainstormed ideas as to how I could become part of the business and make a significant contribution. My senior year ended up feeling great to me because I could enjoy one last year of high-school while knowing that when it was all over, I had a plan for what I was going to do next.

Now here I am, 3 months after graduation, and I’m ready to kick off the start of a new part of my life. I’m really excited about this internship and I’m looking forward to getting into some fun and interesting permaculture projects. A few days ago I said to myself, “Hayden, you seriously need to start doing some sort of work for your internship” then I took a minute to think about the past 4 weeks and the various permaculture trainings I helped out with here in Stelle, and surprisingly I realized, “wow, Hayden, you have been doing quite a bit work. But it doesn’t seem like it? How can that be? Ohhh… You’re having fun.” 


Hugelkultur Video

Check out this time lapse video we made of the construction of a hugelkultur bed…

Hugelkultur is a raised bed filled with wood. As the wood decomposes it slowly releases nutrients to the plants in the bed. It also acts like a sponge, holding more water for the plants to access in between rains. We built this bed in Bill & Becky Wilson’s yard as a part of our Hands-On Permaculture Training this past August.