Bending Oak Permaculture Farm, Design-Element Permaculture Posters

We recently visited a long-term project of ours, Bending Oak Permaculture farm in Youngstown, Ohio. We have been designing and implementing for this demonstrative site for over seven years, and to see it transform from a plot of barren land into an abundant, regenerative ecosystem has been incredibly rewarding.

To help share what we are creating and learning with others, we set up an 18-Stop Self-guided Tour with posters like this at each point.

Click on Poster to View in Full Resolution – 8 More detailed posters in this post below.
Here is a quick look at the map you will find at the Welcome Center at Bending Oak, Youngstown, OH. Check out the Bending Oak website to learn about the tours, workshops and overnight accommodations.

We created these Design-Element Permaculture (DEP) Posters to explain the inner workings of the farm. Read more to learn about Bending Oak and why we created these posters. Continue reading “Bending Oak Permaculture Farm, Design-Element Permaculture Posters”

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”

Low-cost, knock-down, outdoor shower house

Here is some information about the progress we are making with our outdoor shower house projects. With campers coming to our Stelle (Il) and Bending Oak (Youngstown, OH) projects this summer we want to have a way that they can take a warm shower using current sunlight (scrap wood) to heat the water. (More on solar vs. wood burning hot shower water systems below.)

The goals for our shower houses are 5-fold;
     1. Non-permanent and portable
     2. Knock-down for winter storage
     3. Inexpensive (easily available or recycled materials)
     4. Easy to assemble/duplicate
     5. Attractive (Has to have a welcoming factor)

Prototype #1

The first concept we came up with that cost the least turned out to be more of a job to construct than first imagined, may not hold up in a hard wind, and frankly, looks a bit tacky (to me). But the price is right at $65.

Low-cost outdoor shower house made with T-posts and a tarp
Prototype #1 – Tarp and T-posts

Continue reading “Low-cost, knock-down, outdoor shower house”

Residential Design for Midwest Permaculture Home

Below is the full design map of our Midwest Permaculture Home. Click on the picture to enlarge and zoom in on any details that interest you.

Click on Above Image to Enlarge or Save if you Like

Click Here to View a PDF of Each Layer as it Develops
or Download to your own computer by right clicking, then – ‘Save link as…’ 

We created the video below for a local-food summit which we were invited to co-host. It includes many pictures and information about our (Becky and Bill Wilson) reasons for starting Midwest Permaculture and how we designed and evolved our own home.  The blog-post that follows is a condensed version of this hour-long video presentation.

Continue reading “Residential Design for Midwest Permaculture Home”

Natural Building Workshop Successful

Hello All. Our natural building workshop this weekend was a great success.

Hassan Hall, our natural-builder friend from Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, taught a great hands-on class this past weekend here at Midwest Permaculture.

Hassan in building flanked by Justin and Will

Everything was ready to start the next phase of construction on the first of 9-small earth shelters we have planned for EarthCamp Village. It was now time to put the rough coat (or base coat) of earthen ‘plaster’ on to the walls of clay-slip-straw that had been packed in last fall. Continue reading “Natural Building Workshop Successful”

Rapidly-Cut Swales with Tractor Blade

3 Miles of Swales Cut in 5-Hours

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”

Plant Guild Designs for ‘Heal the Planet Farm’, Missouri

Midwest Permaculture Plant Guild Designs, Bryce Ruddock, Rubin Project - Compressed Version

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.

Bill Wilson Continue reading “Plant Guild Designs for ‘Heal the Planet Farm’, Missouri”

Bulldozer Digging Swales

The Design

We have been invited by a family in Southern Missouri to assist with the design of a 320-acre farm.  They want to transition the land into a permaculture landscape capable of producing a wide range of perennial foods (nuts, vegetables, herbs, fruit, etc.) as well as livestock (beef and goats).

 

Over generations, rain has slowly degraded this sloping landscape with a loss of nutrients and topsoil. It is not uncommon for a million gallons of water to wash off this landscape with a 1-inch rain. Continue reading “Bulldozer Digging Swales”

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.

Continue reading “Linear Food Forests along Hugelkultured Swales”

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)”