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
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:
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.
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.
We began designing CSC’s (Center for Sustainable Community) 8.7 acres of land in early 2011. The initial plan was presented, approved and adopted by CSC in the Spring of 2012. Then in 2021, we recreated the framework design to include our progress and help inspire our current direction of movement.
Asked to guide the design, Midwest Permaculture continues with implementation over a decade later. 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 trainingswith 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.)
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:
What is your vision for the land over the next 5 years, 15 years, 30 years, 60 years, etc.
What do you expect or need from the land?
Food (how much of annual consumption?)
A lot of income?
(List all others)
Will the focus be on buildings, plants, animals, agroforestry, education or something else?
Does the vision include the public? In what ways?
What resources are available (labor, design talent, experience, equipment, money, etc.)
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?
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.
Whereas wood gasification turns wood scrap into a flammable gas to run engines (generating electricity power and heat), a thermal mass rocket stove simply 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:
Relavtively simple to understand, construct and use
Inexpensive to build
Beautiful, functional and warm.
Fueled from current sunlight (i.e. wood)
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!
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:
Burns less than 1/4 the amount of wood you typically burn
Keeps you as warm or warmer
Allows you to easily burn sticks, twigs and branches instead of just large chunks of firewood.
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.