Erik Peterson – Permaculture Teacher/Designer/Builder
Hey permies! In this blog post, we’re going to get the skinny on rainwater harvesting…
Bill asked if I could share with you all the process of designing and installing the rainwater catchment system we constructed for the Youngstown, Ohio permaculture project that Bill and Becky have been leading, known as Bending Oak . So herein we will explore the nuts and bolts of our own install, and give you the essential information that you will need to consider in designing a rainwater harvesting system of your own.
At Bending Oak I have been involved with tending to the fruit and nut orchards, finishing the construction of the shipping container barn, planting native wetland plants around the newly installed pond, and more. Now that the rain catchment system is in place, we’re one big step closer towards off grid, self-sufficiency! So let’s dive in…
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.
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 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”
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”
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.
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…”
6-day “Hands-on” Training – August 2011 Held at Midwest Permaculture in our Sustainably Oriented Community of Stelle, IL We expect to be offering a ‘family friendly’ training every summer. See Here for Details
How many people live near a running creek, but the creek sits low enough on their property that there is no good way to get the water up on to the land for irrigation or for a small pond without running electricity for a pump? This simple, homemade device will do the trick.
Of note, the water pump wheel will lift water 2 to 8 times higher than the diameter of the wheel. Basically, the more loops you have in the wheel the higher and farther you can ‘pump’ the water. However, the more loops in the wheel makes the wheel heaver and harder to turn, so one needs a larger or faster running creek to do the work. Regardless, there appears to be a happy median, and to move any amount of water uphill on a piece of property gives one a very valuable resource to work with.