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.

Worm Towers


“How to make a Worm Tower”
Blog Article from the Good Folks at Milkwood Permaculture – Australia
A Video Short
Easiest Way to Recycle Kitchen Scraps and Feed your Garden – Worm Towers…!!!
It’s as simple as digging a hole, sliding in a pipe or long narrow bucket with holes in the sides on bottom half of it, and burying it 2/3 of the way down into the bed. 

Then every day or two, you take off the top (which is there to keep the flies out) and dump fresh kitchen scraps in. The worms will digest the scraps and carry the fertility in their casting out into your garden bed.

Scraps + Worms + Moisture = World Best Fertilizer…!!!

Becky and I have plans to make several of these this year. I think it is a brilliant idea and will keep you posted on how it works for us.

Click Here for the 2-min. YouTube Video
Lonnie Shanahan (also of Australia) Explains

Hugelkultur

‘Hugelkultur’ Your Woody Materials
Burying Woody Material and Junk Firewood to Help Next Year’s Plants Grow 

Someone asked us upon hearing the word “hugelkultur” for the first time if it was appropriate to use the word in proper company. It’s a mouthful alright.

Hugelkultur is an old German concept/word meaning “hill-culture”. Wood is buried under topsoil (either in a hole or right on the ground) and as it breaks down, it holds lots of moisture and provides sustained nutrients for plant growth. It is one of the best methods that Becky and I incorporate to use up all of the extra woody materials from around our house. Why not put all the good carbon to use below the plants we want to grow?

More on “Hugelkultur” Definition

Pictured: Students Proudly Straddling Wood-Chunks in Hugelkultur Bed at one of our Permaculture Courses in California

Click Here for a Picture Sequence
of the digging of this Hugelkultur Bed

Heating His Home with Compost?


Meet Our Friend Rob Frost from the Milwaukee, WI Area
 

Back in the 1970s, a Frenchman by the name of Jean Pain of built a compost pile from woodchips about the size of a garage. Inside the pile he had coiled around a single, very long hose that he could run clean water through. In the very center of the pile was a very large-sealed-tank holding a slurry of cow manure.

Once the pile started to heat up he was able to run water through the hose at will and extract some of the heat. He had all the hot running water he needed for bathing, washing, and get this…for heating his home…for 18 months…!!! And from the manure tank in the center he extracted enought methane to provide gas to his stove and oven but more impressively, he compressed it into tanks and ran his automobiles from it. And when he was all done, he had a pile of fantastic compost for his gardens.

Our friend Rob Frost is attempting a mini version of this for his suburban home. 
Thanks for the inspiration Rob!

 

 


Rob’s Home Heating Experiment

Hope in a Changing Climate

I Loved this Documentary – I Recommend the Trailer 

Even if you only watch the first minute of this trailer, it is worth it. With logging and over-grazing on the hillsides on the Loess Plateau in China, the land had become devoid of all vegetation. This was of little concern to the large urban population centers until the flooding began. With no vegetation at the head of the great watersheds of the Yellow River, the rain waters washed down the river valleys in torrents carrying topsoil and flooding the cities.

Take a look at what the application of basic permaculture principles were able to accomplish over a 10 year period. – such principles as ‘hold water on the landscape where it lands’ and ‘use plants to hold water, build soil and sustain life.’   AMAZING FOOTAGE.

Click here to watch the trailer.
You can watch the full length version here.

Homemade Grow Boxes


Self Irrigating PlanterI Loved this YouTube Video
Frank and his Homemade Grow Boxes

Build Your Own Self Irrigating Planter (SIP)
Meet Frank Fekonia from Queensland, Australia. Living in a relatively dry climate on a south facing slope he needed to come up with a way of growing bountiful gardens on rocky soil, on steep terrain, and with little water. Similar to the SIP, why not build tall raised beds or planters that conserve water while minimizing the amount of bending over to work the beds. Certainly he could figure out a way to build them for under $200 each. He did better than that. He built over a dozen of them for almost ‘nothink’. I love the creativity of Franks idea.