Permaculture Internship Program – Update 1, 2013

Hayden and Mary-Kate

Hayden and Mary-Kate moving the chicken tractors along.  Wherever this goes, a rich layer of chicken ‘compost’ is left in its wake for any young trees or shrubs to be planted behind it.

We have a few seats remaining in our upcoming Internship Sessions

During their first 8-days, our interns immersed themselves in:

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”

Coppicing/Pollarding

Why Coppicing/Pollarding is part of This Permaculture Design

Coppiced Tree

We teach the fundamentals of coppicing and pollarding at every Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course we host.
Upcoming Schedule

Coppicing and pollarding are two methods of wood pruning that allows us to continually harvest wood from the same trees while keeping them healthy for centuries. They produce a sustainable supply of timber for many generations while enhancing the natural state for wildlife and native plants.

 Why We’re Employing Them In Our Design

  • Provide continuous supply of sustainably-harvested wood for:
  • Increase the biodiversity of the CSC property
  • Support the hydrological cycle of the area
  • Sequester carbon and humus in the soil

Continue reading “Coppicing/Pollarding”

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”

The Permaculture Design for CSC in Stelle, IL

Below: A Self-Guided-Learning Tour into Permaculture
Use these pages as an educational journey into applied permaculture thinking and designing.  At the bottom of every page you will find the directory of the key elements included in this design. Each page is like opening a chapter in a permaculture design booklet that explains the element, its function, and why it was included. Enjoy your learning.  We explore all of these elements in each of our Permaculture Design Certificate Courses.
Click On Map to View Larger Size

Basemap Full-Color Aerial Background

We began designing CSC’s (Center for Sustainable Community) 8.7 acres of land in early 2011.  This plan was presented, approved and adopted by CSC in the Spring of 2012.

Asked to guide the design in its early years, Midwest Permaculture has now begun implementation.  We expect it to take us about 5 years to fully establish each element of the design and then another 5 years to see it move into greater maturity.  We want the implementation to be a learning experience for hundreds of people. 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

 Coming...

- Root Cellars
- More....

 
Moldering 
(composting) Toilet
 Hedgerows Keyline Plowing   

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CSC Vision for Property

Why a ‘Vision’ is part of this Permaculture Design

Every permaculture design begins with the vision that the owner or owners have for the property. We will end up with quite different designs for the same piece of property should one owner have the vision of creating a pick-your-own fruit operation where another wants to create a healthy and safe environment for aging horses. Some elements will be the same – many others will be different.

Here are the sorts of questions we will ask an owner(s) when starting a permaculture design for their property:

  1. What is your vision for the land over the next 5 years, 15 years, 30 years, 60 years, etc.
  2. What do you expect or need from the land?
    • Beauty
    • Privacy
    • Food (how much of annual consumption?)
    • Some income?
    • A lot of income?
    • Community?
    • Family stability?
    • (List all others)
  3. Will the focus be on buildings, plants, animals, agroforestry, education or something else?
  4. Does the vision include the public?  In what ways?
  5. What resources are available (labor, design talent, experience, equipment, money, etc.)
  6. Is developing a piece of property really what you want to do with your time and money (your life energy)?  How does this fit into your life’s work?
 

 

 

 

  

Continue reading “CSC Vision for Property”

Design Overview

Why a Design Overview is part of this Permaculture Design

When creating a permaculture design for a client, it’s very helpful to give a clear and brief overview of the existing resources, goals and key elements of the proposed design so that they can see the bigger picture. It is also a very helpful tool should they need to explain their plans to family members, partners, investors or lenders.  

 

Continue reading “Design Overview”

Thermal Mass Rocket Stoves on our Minds…

Why Thermal Mass Rocket Stoves are part of This Permaculture Design

Thermal Mass Rocket StoveWe cover the foundations of rocket stove building at every Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course we host.
Upcoming Courses

Whereas wood gasification turns wood scrap into a flammable gas to run engines (generating electricity  power and heat), a thermal mass rocket stove simple turns scrap wood into heat…. lots of heat…with a lot less wood!!!

So, we have included them in our overall design, especially for Earthcamp Village, because they are:

  1. Relavtively simple to understand, construct and use
  2. Inexpensive to build
  3. Beautiful, functional and warm.
  4. Fueled from current sunlight (i.e. wood)
  5. Very…very… efficient at converting wood into clean heat!

Bottomline:  They burn 1/4 of the wood to generate the same heat from a conventional wood stove and the outgases are 90% cleaner as well.

The Key?  They burn the wood, smoke and gasses at very high temperatures…SAFELY!

The exhaust system of Bev and Wayne’s stove before cobbing it over into a bench for heat extraction. More pictures at bottom of this post.

Thermal Mass Rocket Stoves Explained

Not long ago, our friends and neighbors, Bev and Wayne, started to build a thermal mass rocket stove in their living room.  Wayne took one of our PDC courses and was inspired by the rocket stove concept (See the illustration and links below).

Bev and Wayne have been sharing their adventure with us and we are very excited about the possibilities.

Imagine having a wood burning stove in your home that:

  1. Burns less than 1/4 the amount of wood you typically burn
  2. Keeps you as warm or warmer
  3. Allows you to easily burn sticks, twigs and branches instead of just large chunks of firewood.
  4. Burns cleaner than any wood stove ever made

The big thing for us, living here on the prairie in Illinois surrounded not by woods or forests but by corn and bean fields, is the very real shortage of easily available firewood.

What I am talking about are the large hardwood trees with trunks and large branches which are typically chainsawed to length and then split to fit into a wood burning stove.  All of this tonage of wood then needs to be hauled out of the woods, dumped or stacked somewhere, then loaded back into a truck for delivery to be driven to someone’s home (a lot more energy) and then unloaded and stacked again for winter use.

Continue reading “Thermal Mass Rocket Stoves on our Minds…”