Graduates in the News

It’s always exciting when we hear about the mainstream media picking up on permaculture and even more so when they’re talking about graduates of Midwest Permaculture. Here are a couple of these recent appearances in the news:

Kate Heiber-Cobb 

Wisconsin State Journal

Kate Heiber-Cobb, A graduate of our Fall of 2007 PDC course, was mentioned recently in The Wisconsin State Journal. The article highlights several Madison residents for whom “…being green is an everyday commitment”.  Also, be sure to check out her upcoming event with Brad Lancaster, author of the book Water Harvesting in Drylands and Beyond

Chicago Tribune

Even I, Milton, (a graduate of the Summer 2009 PDC), was recently quoted in an article in the Chicago Tribune about a Gary, IN man, Marshall Willoughby, who has gone to the extreme to create a sustainable lifestyle. They didn’t quite capture my full thought, though. It went something like: “You can spend energy working against nature and fit in with society or you can spend energy working against society and fit in with nature.” In the end, though, nature is going to win.

Marshall Willoughby 

Wind & Sun Farm – A Permaculture Design (Part 2)

 Part 2 of 2

Click Here for Part 1

 

Pictured:  
Initial drawing of a keylined hillside with swales and linear food forest overlaid. 

 

Current Conditions

  • The field is east facing with a substantial slope (approximately 20%) that is presently planted with alfalfa and a host of other prairie and pasture plants. The land sustained many years of agricultural practices including tilling and chemical use which has caused two significant areas of erosion indicated on the map with tan, squiggly line in the sketch below.
  • The excess water running off the hill (during rain events and snow-melt) flows northward at the bottom of the hill where a substantial wet spot, located mostly on the neighbor’s property, has sprouted up many moisture loving trees and shrubs, most notably, black willow.
  • Some aged maple trees boarder the north/south highway, providing substantial shade on the lowest part of the property in the mornings.
  • Area 2 comes right up to the work and living area of the farm (Area 1) and picks up again just south of said area for 200 feet where the ridge meets the southeast corner of the property.

Permaculture Design Recommendations

Keylining and Swales

In order to deal effectively with the two distinct areas of erosion, (cream colored squiggles in aerial photo below) while simultaneously preparing the soils for an abundance of food production, we recommend keyline plowing in years 1 through 3.  Keylining is done until dramatic improvement to soil quality is achieved.  

Continue reading “Wind & Sun Farm – A Permaculture Design (Part 2)”

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. 

Wind & Sun Farm – A Permaculture Design (Part 1 of 2)

Permaculture Design Charrette — July 2011

Above: The Design Crew – Completion of a Cup Swale

So often in the world of permaculture we focus on the elements of a design, like gardens, herb spirals food forests, or chicken tractors. It is all too easy to get distracted from what the real goals of permaculture are, which is how we assemble the items in the landscape into a cohesive and synergistic whole; the permaculture design.

Creating a design is an important part of our Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) courses but is not the only way that a design can be made. At the invitation of John and Ann Hippensteel of Wind and Sun Farm, Midwest Permaculture hosted a permaculture design charrette at their farm in Door County, WI. The charrette was opened up to their family & friends and the greater public.  In attendance were 4 family members, 6 other students, and 3 Midwest Permaculture instructors/designers — Bill Wilson, Milton Dixon and Bryce Ruddock.

We will share some of this design beginning with an overview of permaculture, the farm, the goals of the design, and our process. 

Continue reading “Wind & Sun Farm – A Permaculture Design (Part 1 of 2)”

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

Hugelkultur

‘Hugelkultur’ Your Woody Materials
Burying Woody Material and Junk Firewood to Help Next Year’s Plants Grow 

Someone asked us upon hearing the word “hugelkultur” for the first time if it was appropriate to use the word in proper company. It’s a mouthful alright.

Hugelkultur is an old German concept/word meaning “hill-culture”. Wood is buried under topsoil (either in a hole or right on the ground) and as it breaks down, it holds lots of moisture and provides sustained nutrients for plant growth. It is one of the best methods that Becky and I incorporate to use up all of the extra woody materials from around our house. Why not put all the good carbon to use below the plants we want to grow?

More on “Hugelkultur” Definition

Pictured: Students Proudly Straddling Wood-Chunks in Hugelkultur Bed at one of our Permaculture Courses in California

Click Here for a Picture Sequence
of the digging of this Hugelkultur Bed

Hope in a Changing Climate

I Loved this Documentary – I Recommend the Trailer 

Even if you only watch the first minute of this trailer, it is worth it. With logging and over-grazing on the hillsides on the Loess Plateau in China, the land had become devoid of all vegetation. This was of little concern to the large urban population centers until the flooding began. With no vegetation at the head of the great watersheds of the Yellow River, the rain waters washed down the river valleys in torrents carrying topsoil and flooding the cities.

Take a look at what the application of basic permaculture principles were able to accomplish over a 10 year period. – such principles as ‘hold water on the landscape where it lands’ and ‘use plants to hold water, build soil and sustain life.’   AMAZING FOOTAGE.

Click here to watch the trailer.
You can watch the full length version here.

The Case for Permaculture


Part 6 – Two Trillion Barrels of Oil?Free 18-Part ‘YouTube’ Video Series
All 18 parts of our newly created series are uploaded now. I recommend that you start with the overview or the ‘trailer’ as we call if you just want an idea of what is in the series. This is the foundational information we give every student who takes a training with us. 

Access the 18-Part YouTube Video Series