David Holmgren’s second principle of permaculture is “Catch and store energy” (Holmgren, Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability, Holmgren Design Services, 2002), often described with the proverb, “Make hay while the sun shines.” The idea of this principle is that we should be alert for and take advantage of opportunities to capture energy and slow down its flow through the landscape around us, thus ensuring a steady flow of energy through the system rather than an ebb and flow. One illustration of this principle is the pattern of any water drainage – for example, when the mountains above a river remain forested, the river flows at a more constant and predictable level year-round. But when the forests are clear-cut, the river floods extensively during the rainy season and can run dry during the dry season or a drought – both situations devastating for human settlements and for the local ecology. The saga of the Loess Plateau in China (denuded and desertified after centuries of overgrazing and deforestation) illustrates this phenomenon well, with the upshot being that the people living in some parts of the Loess Plateau are now working to reforest their high places, improving the vegetation, soil and water in the entire watershed in a domino effect begun simply by capturing and storing water (energy) higher on the landscape and slowing down its movement.
Original Objective: Raise some chickens for food and to also help with insect, grass and weed control in our 2-acre organic community orchard…!!! New Objective: Keep our birds alive so that we will have some sort of chicken harvest. Ouch!
Over the last 5 weeks we have been stretched to learn more about the habits and characteristics of these inquisitive and entertaining birds. They have been doing a fine job of keeping the orchard grass under control (we have only mowed once this year) and as a result, the amount that we have paid for chicken feed is significantly less than if they were confined to a small area. This was working really well.
Thank you to our hosts Dr. Kelly Cain and Cynthia Wells-O’Mally of the University of Wisconsin, for hosting us for a second year. The bulk of the training was held on campus. Although we had some university students, most of the people taking this training came from the general public and from 5 different states. We had a fantastic time.
The harvesting of greywater is an important technique that we often use in permaculture designs. Not only does it utilize what is considered a ‘waste product’, it helps our gardens grow, reduces the amount of fresh water required for our gardens, remediates this ‘waste water’ better than municipal systems can, recycles nutrients, and it creates a direct connection to where we live. Good greywater design can save us time, money, and improve the environment.
She is a long-time admirer of Cal-Earth’s work and studied under Nadir Khalili (founder of Cal-Earth) while she was earning her masters degree in architecture. It wasn’t long before she became friends with Nadir and several Cal-Earth staff.
She will be leading the installation of a greywater system from a washing machine located in the interns house at Cal-Earth to the permaculture/hugelkultur garden system that we will be designing and building during the training.
Candace has a masters degree in architecture from the Southern California Institute of Architecture, is certified as a LEED accredited professional by the US Green Building Council, and is an experienced Permaculture designer.
In 2009, Candace trained with Greywater Action in the Sand Francisco Bay area and also completed the Green Plumber Training for water professionals.
Her current work with RainThanks is managing, consulting and designing water harvesting systems, sustainable landscapes and water conservation products.
See Pictures of her work below… or by clicking on “Continue reading…”
Pictures by Milton Dixon and Bill Wilson — Narrative by Bill
We delivered what we believe to be the first Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) Course at this world renowned location. The Arbor Day Foundation is a leader in promoting the importance of trees for us as people and for the health of our planet. This is solid permaculture thinking.
Objective: Raise some chickens for food and to also help with insect, grass and weed control in our 2-acre organic community orchard…!!!
As most of you know, in permaculture design we attempt to:
garner the greatest amount or number of yields
from the minimum amount of work
while creating no waste (at least minimal)
and restoring the environment.
Let’s see what additional benefits we can obtain from this project other than just the insect, grass and weed-removal help from 100 chickens. This will be our chicken saga as it reveals itself in real time. We’re always learning too and raising this many chickens at once, and in this way, is stretching us some.
We will take the experience we do have, plus apply permaculture design principles, while adding in good-ole common sense (with help from some great books, friends and the internet) to work creatively and see what we might come up with.
You won’t! Most all of the hands-on activities we undertake at our regular PDC courses we can also do at our winter courses. These include:
Learning to use the A-frame and sight level.
Building a dry-brick rocket stove and firing it up.
Making a clay model of a landscape to learn about swales, keylining, and ponds.
Touring Midwest Permaculture’s yard and the CSC land
Doing fruit tree grafting
Making cob from clay, sand and straw
and touring the Malchow’s (our neighbors) permaculture home to fire-up their thermal mass rocket stove couch/bench.
The one thing we cannot do because of the frozen ground is continue to work on the hugel-swale we are constructing for CSC, but this basically consists of digging a section of a ditch, putting logs in, and then covering them up. We’ll show some pictures of the details related to this so you’ll get the information without the tactile experience.
The one thing we do extra for this course is focus a bit more on the growing of food and what it takes to create a successful farming/growing/permaculture operation.
Many people want to make part or even all of their annual income from growing food. This is certainly possible but it requires quite a bit of knowledge and then real practical experience. Our objective through this training is to save you years of time and money by giving you some critical information and fresh insights.
To help anchor this learning experience we’ll be taking an extra field-trip over to Spence Farm in Fairbury, IL, to meet Kris and Marty Travis who are doing pioneering work in these areas.
If the timing works for you to attend this winter course, we are confident that you will not leave feeling like you missed any hands-on activities. It’s an amazing and very-full 8 days like all of our other PDC Courses.
Here are Pictures from one of our Winter PDC Course (from 2012) Narration by Hayden Wilson (Standing, far right, son of Bill and Becky)