While attending an agroforestry conference recently, Bill was pleasantly surprised to learn that Simple Mills was being referenced as a cutting-edge business doing “all the right things” to encourage environmentally sound, regenerative agriculture.
Two years earlier, Simple Mills founder Katlin Smith, was a student in one of our week-long Permaculture Design Courses when the lightbulb moment happened for her!
Buying ‘certified organic’ for her company’s food products was no longer enough. She wanted to support the health of the planet by supporting farmers who not only refuse to use herbicides and pesticides on our food plants, but she also wanted to support farmers who were building topsoil health, holding more water in their soils, caring for wildlife and watersheds, caring for farming communities, and caring for future generations.
She made a decision right then and returned to the Simple Mills corporate offices with a mandate:
Let’s find and buy our food stuffs from regenerative/permaculture farmers. And if we can’t find them, let’s help create them!
Larry Korn 1948-2019 Free Webinar posted as a Tribute to Larry
We are saddened by the recent passing of our friend, Larry Korn. He is best known for being the translator/editor of one of the most influential books to touch the lives of scores of natural farmers and permaculturists, The One-Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka.
Why is this book so influential? The Middle East and Northern Africa were once very fertile areas. With widespread annual tilling/plowing, a civilization will always end up losing it’s topsoil and become arid. One-half of the topsoil has now be washed away on the North American continent. The One-Straw Revolution shows us how annual grain growing can be done without tillage so that we can grow food WHILE building topsoil!
Why late flowering fruit tree cultivars? We have a couple of clients with South facing slopes in Missouri. These slopes warm up much faster than North facing slopes and as such will tend to flower before the last frost thus killing the pollinated blossoms and eliminating the crop. So I emailed our Plant Guy, Bryce Ruddock, to make some recommendations.
We are making early progress on our 320-acre Missouri permaculture-farm project (Jordan Rubin’s Heal the Planet Farm). Last fall, a local dozer operator was brought in to dig the first swales. It was a small dozer but it did a respectable job and did the work in a relatively short period of time compared to an excavator. See the blog post with video here.
Before we brought the dozer back in this spring, Kevin, a long-time farmer in the area who is also Jordan’s lead farmer on this project, suggested that we simply try the 135hp farm tractor with it’s 9-foot tilting scraper blade (it’s just over 6′ wide when fully angled at 45 degrees) to see what kind of swales it would cut. It certainly seemed worth trying though I’d never seen it done before.
Adam and I headed out early one morning with the laser level and marked off about a mile of swales with white-wire flags. When Kevin arrived later in the morning with the tractor all he had to do was adjust the angle of the blade, drop it down, and start running. He ran three passes on every swale we had marked and did it all in about 60 minutes!Continue reading “Rapidly-Cut Swales with Tractor Blade”
Click on Image to View the Full Size (10MB) Feel free to download, forward, print or share with others. It’s really interesting.
As part of the full design for Jordan Rubin’s Heal the Planet Farm in Koshkonong, MO, we will be creating a demonstration food-forest walk consisting of 6-distinct plant guilds, all designed by Midwest Permaculture’s official plant guy and co-author of Integrated Forest Gardening, Bryce Ruddock. We thought you might like to take a closer look at the final design sketch which was digitally crafted by our fellow teacher/designer, Milton Dixon.
The earthworks and tree planting are scheduled to happen either this fall or in spring of 2016. We’ll keep you posted.
Below is the overview image of where the guild fit into the larger Zone 1 area.
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.
Learning to Create a Permaculture Design With Others
Often times, the best way to learn something is by simply doing it. It’s one thing to read and study about the permaculture design process, but until one actaully sits down and goes through all of the considerations and steps involved for an actaul piece of property, do the intricacies of this work really hit home.
The purpose of a charrette (a group design process) is to go through the design journey with others, some with more or less experience. The idea is to tap the collective wisdom of the entire group to create a design that is likely better than any one person might create.
We will be hosting such a charrette in Door County, WI, over a 5-day period (June 29-July3) for a 40-acre farm. We will start by observing what is already there in the way of soil, sun, water, plants, local markets and other energy flows, move into what is possible with these combinations in comparison to what the land owners would like to create, and then dig into the research and design steps. By the time we are done, our hosts will have a permaculture design that they may implement over the next several years.
Time permitting, we may dig into some hands-on earth works such as digging some swales or rain-gardens. Food and camping are included with the training.
Wes Jackson has been a key figure in the sustainable agriculture movement through his work at the Land Institute in Kansas. Their work is all about creating a more ‘permanent-agriculture’ – incredibly important work.
A small team of internet videographers that traveled our nation last year (Your Environmental Road Trip.com – YERT) stopped in to meet Wes and to learn more about what he and his team were doing. This is the best short video I’ve seen that clearing and quickly explains the significance of Wes’s work.