Pond Muck Berm Project

Building Raised Beds on Contour
When our community pond became stagnant from silt runoff and the build-up of plant detritus over 40 years, it needed some serious rehabilitation and excavation. In 2018 we hired a contractor to help us with the job (a nearby friend and neighbor of the community) but what to do with all of the muck?  Not knowing how much muck there would be we marked off two long contour lines in the field above the pond and had them dump truck-load after truck-load along side of our markers.
The goal? To build raised beds on contour. 

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Living Woven-Willow Brush Fence

Another Experiment at Midwest Permaculture
How one can attractively store woody brush to give it time to break down.

Our intern Meg trimming some of the new growth off the austree-willow posts in this willow-brush fence.

Hello permaculture friends. We wanted to give something a try. We have not seen this exact design in the literature or on YouTube (although it certainly could be out there) but the idea is to use our yard brush while also building a sturdy fence. Continue reading “Living Woven-Willow Brush Fence”

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.
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 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
Year-Round GreenhouseFrom Orchard to Food ForestWood Gasification 
Season Extenders
Season ExtendersIntegrated Gardening TechniquesCoppicing/Pollarding 
Keline Plowing on Contour
Composting ToiletsHedgerowsKeyline Plowing
Linear Food ForestsHugelkultured SwalesChinampas Gardens 
 EarthCamp Village   Thermal Mass Rocket StoveTree-Range Chicken
Mushroom CultivationVermicompostHipcamp


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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?





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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.  


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