Linear Food Forests along Hugelkultured Swales

In this design we will be planting linear-food forests all along the downhill side of each of three hugelkultured swales.   What is a hugelkultured swale?

 

While the tress and shrubs are in the early stages of growing (small) we will use the open space to grow some of our annual vegetables. We will also plant some nitrogen fixing ground covers and dynamic accumulators to help build the soil.

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Connect Africa Hub – A Permaculture Design

Illustration of the Final Design

Permaculture Design Course Graduates – Summer 2011 – Stelle, IL

 Context:

Grant Shadden took his PDC Training with us – summer 2011.  While here, he shared about his upcoming 2-month trip to Africa to support the work of the Connect Africa hub. 

We were all moved by the work of this organization and by Grant’s, and his wife Paige’s, devotion to assist in the work there.  Grant was actually taking this training in order to come up with a design for this organization and a 20-acre site they want to develop.  

As such, we made the decision to assist him by making it one of the final design projects for the PDC Course.  4 other students self-selected themselves to work on this design with Grant. 

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Design Tools – Calculating The Sun’s Path

The sun is an important influence on any permaculture design and has a huge effect when it interacts with a building, our gardens or solar PV. I thought it would be good to highlight some tools that are available to help us assess where the sun will be at any given point in time.

SunCalc
A Solar Pathfinder for Google Maps

SunCalc allows you to drag the tool to different points google maps. It shows you where the sun will rise, set, or be at a given moment on a specific day of the year. The shaded area shows the highest and lowest point for the sun over the year. 

Sun Path Chart Program
University of Oregon Solar Radiation Monitoring Laboratory

If you enter your latitude and longitude or just your zip code you can make a chart with this online tool. I find this chart very useful to print out and take to a site to help me estimate where the sun is in the sky at different times of the year.

 

 

The Solar Pathfinder

While expensive, the solar pathfinder is a neat tool that allows you to to see where the sun will be at a particular spot, at different times of the year. This gives a very accurate picture of where the sun and shade will be and is a useful tool that is often used by PV installers.

 

 

Wind & Sun Farm – A Permaculture Design (Part 2)

 Part 2 of 2

Click Here for Part 1

 

Pictured:  
Initial drawing of a keylined hillside with swales and linear food forest overlaid. 

 

Current Conditions

  • The field is east facing with a substantial slope (approximately 20%) that is presently planted with alfalfa and a host of other prairie and pasture plants. The land sustained many years of agricultural practices including tilling and chemical use which has caused two significant areas of erosion indicated on the map with tan, squiggly line in the sketch below.
  • The excess water running off the hill (during rain events and snow-melt) flows northward at the bottom of the hill where a substantial wet spot, located mostly on the neighbor’s property, has sprouted up many moisture loving trees and shrubs, most notably, black willow.
  • Some aged maple trees boarder the north/south highway, providing substantial shade on the lowest part of the property in the mornings.
  • Area 2 comes right up to the work and living area of the farm (Area 1) and picks up again just south of said area for 200 feet where the ridge meets the southeast corner of the property.

Permaculture Design Recommendations

Keylining and Swales

In order to deal effectively with the two distinct areas of erosion, (cream colored squiggles in aerial photo below) while simultaneously preparing the soils for an abundance of food production, we recommend keyline plowing in years 1 through 3.  Keylining is done until dramatic improvement to soil quality is achieved.  

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Wind & Sun Farm – A Permaculture Design (Part 1 of 2)

Permaculture Design Charrette — July 2011

Above: The Design Crew – Completion of a Cup Swale

So often in the world of permaculture we focus on the elements of a design, like gardens, herb spirals food forests, or chicken tractors. It is all too easy to get distracted from what the real goals of permaculture are, which is how we assemble the items in the landscape into a cohesive and synergistic whole; the permaculture design.

Creating a design is an important part of our Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) courses but is not the only way that a design can be made. At the invitation of John and Ann Hippensteel of Wind and Sun Farm, Midwest Permaculture hosted a permaculture design charrette at their farm in Door County, WI. The charrette was opened up to their family & friends and the greater public.  In attendance were 4 family members, 6 other students, and 3 Midwest Permaculture instructors/designers — Bill Wilson, Milton Dixon and Bryce Ruddock.

We will share some of this design beginning with an overview of permaculture, the farm, the goals of the design, and our process. 

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What is a Permaculture Design Charrette?

A-Frame being used during a Permaculture Design Charrette

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.

Door County – Permaculture Design Charrette – June 29-July3