Capturing and Storing Energy with Homemade Chokecherry Wine

This post is made by one of our students as part of their PDC Completion Home Correspondence Course.

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.

Chokecherries as harvested from the bush:

Chokecherries

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Pictures from our July 2012 PDC Completion Course

You can see and read more about our PDC Completion Course in an awesome blog post by one of the students in the course: These Light Footsteps – Permaculture Design Course Completion.

Wayne & Bev’s rocket stove mass heater

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Pictures from our July 2012 Hands-on Permaculture Course

You can see and read more about this course in an awesome blog post by one of the students in this course: These Light Footsteps – Hands-on Permaculture.

 

Classroom Panorama

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Pictures From our June 2012, Stelle PDC Course

 Pictures by Milton Dixon and Bill Wilson – Captions by Bill

Day 1 in the Classroom – The World Map on the Wall is a Nice Addition to any Learning space. – Becky Wilson Teaching

“Thank you Bill and Becky for such an incredible, life-altering week.”
Jody T. – Community Organizer

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Chickens for the Orchard (Part 3)

Part 3:  8-13 Weeks of Age (As Adventurers)
Part 2:  4-8 Weeks of Age (As Kids)
Part 1:  0-4 Weeks of Age (As Chicks)                                                                                                                                                       

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.
  Continue reading “Chickens for the Orchard (Part 3)”

Picture Summary of UWRF PDC Course

Pictures and Text by Bill Wilson and Milton Dixon

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.

PDC Course Graduates – University of Wisconsin, River Falls – June 2012

 

Panoramic View of Dr. Cain’s Permaculture Oriented Residence

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Applying Local Resources to Capture Greywater

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.

We met Candace Vanderhoff (greywater and rainwater collection practitioner) while we were in So. Calif. last year and have asked her to join us for our permaculture design course and super adobe earth building training (Oct. 8-10, 2012)  

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 Vanderhoff, M.Arch, LEED AP
Founder/CEO RainThanks & Greywater

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…”

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Picture Summary: PDC Course at Arbor Day Farm’s Lied Lodge – March 2012

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.

Our PDC Design Course on an exploratory walk early in the week.
The Arbor Day Foundation hosts their Arbor Day Farm, orchards, hazelnut research field, agri-forestry operation, and the beautiful Lied Lodge, all in Nebraska City, NE.  
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Chickens for the Orchard (Part 1)

Part 3:    8-13 Weeks of Age (As Adventurers)
Part 2:    4-8 Weeks of Age (As Kids)
Part 1:    0-4 Weeks of Age (As Chicks)   

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:

  1. garner the greatest amount or number of yields
  2. from the minimum amount of work 
  3. while creating no waste (at least minimal)
  4. 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.

It all starts with an order of 100 chicks (multi-heritage breeds from McMurry) that Hayden and Cameron (our two work/study intern students) selected.  All were delivered through the U.S. mail.  All survived!  Hayden created a safe and warm habitat from a yard-storage container, a heat lamp, and some old boards and fencing.  This structure lasted almost 2 weeks before they outgrew it.  During this time we worked on a more permanent home/coop.

  Continue reading “Chickens for the Orchard (Part 1)”

Photos of a Winter PDC at Midwest Permaculture

Special Note:
Wondering about missing some hands-on activities at our annual Winter PDC Courses?

Grafting Workshop at Winter PDC
Grafting Workshop at Winter PDC

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.

 

Raising Profitable Heritage Breed Hogs at Spence Farm in a very Humane Way
Raising Profitable Heritage Breed Hogs at Spence Farm in a very Humane Way

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)

Our Group Photo with Rocket Stove in Foreground and Midwest Permaculture Home-site (our house). Mom (Becky Wilson) is standing on far left. Dad (Bill Wilson) took most of these pictures.
  Continue reading “Photos of a Winter PDC at Midwest Permaculture”