Permaculture Earthworks – The Clay Model

Permaculture Earthworks lay Model
Dripping water slowly on to the clay model clearly shows how rain water can be moved around a landscape and held to rehydrate the soil.

As permaculture teachers, we have landed on this simple clay-model demonstration as an excellent tool for explaining earthworks. We can cover how swales, ponds, key points and key lines all fit together. The appreciative response from our students continually confirms this.

We wanted to make this video available to more than just our own students so we videotaped this session at one of our summer PDC courses and are sharing it here. Continue reading “Permaculture Earthworks – The Clay Model”

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”

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”

The Relationship Between Yoga & Permaculture

This video came out a a couple of years ago and we think Vidya (now Swami Omkara)  really speaks to why we’ve been working to organize courses with the Sivananda Yoga Farm in Grass Valley, CA. The registration for our course at the Yoga Farm this year is officially closed, but we’re holding a 6-Day Hands-On Permaculture Intensive immediately following it. The Hands-On training is a great way to not only get a deep introduction to permaculture, but also to anchor your Permaculture Design Course training. 

The Chicagoland Permaculture Meetup Builds a Rocket Stove

This Labor Day weekend the Chicagoland Permaculture Meetup traveled to Woodstock, IL to build a rocket stove. Here’s a time lapse video I made of what went on the first day. 

In case you it went by too fast for you in the video or you, I’ve pulled out some of the pictures from the video and posted them below.

  Continue reading “The Chicagoland Permaculture Meetup Builds a Rocket Stove”

Hugelkultur Video

Check out this time lapse video we made of the construction of a hugelkultur bed…

Hugelkultur is a raised bed filled with wood. As the wood decomposes it slowly releases nutrients to the plants in the bed. It also acts like a sponge, holding more water for the plants to access in between rains. We built this bed in Bill & Becky Wilson’s yard as a part of our Hands-On Permaculture Training this past August.

UMass Permaculture Garden

Click Here to View the 2.5 min. Video
of UMass Garden Project Beginnings

An Inspiring Video
University of Massachusetts
Turning Campus Lawn into a Permaculture Food Garden for the Dining Hall

I came across this short video of the the UM permaculture group transforming a grassy area adjacent to their dining hall into a permaculture garden. The goal is to increase the amount of fresh food available on campus.

They are not the only university where permaculture is gaining a foothold.  As you probably know, we have done trainings at Purdue, Edgewood College and the U.of Wis.and there are many other campuses beginning to see the brilliant of a permaculture approach to landscape design and quite frankly, daily living.

Consider Joining us for a PDC in Madison, WI
July 30 – Aug. 6
Permaculture Design Certification Course

Farewell Frank

Frank Fekonia – Queensland, Australia



A Great Video Short

Goodbye to a real Permaculture Innovator

There are many creative permaculture folk in the world (thank goodness) but few had the spunk and vibrato that Frank had. He passed away last month but some of his creativity lives on in the spontaneous YouTube videos that we continue to use in our Permaculture Design Certification Courses. They demonstrate clearly what ‘thinking outside of the box’ truly looks like.

A million “Thank-Yous” Frank for your generous and creative gifts.

Video of Frank and His Refrigerator Grow Beds

Loof for Frank’s other two videos on YouTube once you view this one.

Sepp Holzer’s New Book

Just a quick ‘heads-up’ on a great book that permaculture pioneer Sepp Holzer has just released. 

Sepp has been creating a permaculture paradise in the mountains of Austria for 40 years.

In this book, he shares many of the techniques he developed in order to grow bountiful crops on the sides of mountains. Many of the ideas apply to us flat-landers as well.

YouTube Video of Sepp

Purchase From Our Friends
at Chelsea Green

Worm Towers

“How to make a Worm Tower”
Blog Article from the Good Folks at Milkwood Permaculture – Australia
A Video Short
Easiest Way to Recycle Kitchen Scraps and Feed your Garden – Worm Towers…!!!
It’s as simple as digging a hole, sliding in a pipe or long narrow bucket with holes in the sides on bottom half of it, and burying it 2/3 of the way down into the bed. 

Then every day or two, you take off the top (which is there to keep the flies out) and dump fresh kitchen scraps in. The worms will digest the scraps and carry the fertility in their casting out into your garden bed.

Scraps + Worms + Moisture = World Best Fertilizer…!!!

Becky and I have plans to make several of these this year. I think it is a brilliant idea and will keep you posted on how it works for us.

Click Here for the 2-min. YouTube Video
Lonnie Shanahan (also of Australia) Explains