Archive for the ‘iowa permaculture’ Category

Caucus of the Future

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008

I was asked to do a presentation on Permaculture at the Caucus of the Future being held today and tomorrow at the Drake Legal Clinic.  It went well and I enjoyed meeting a variety of people.

In particular, I enjoyed meeting Elton Davis.  Elton is heavily into permaculture and is working on a crop rotation of sorghum and sunflowers.  Sorghum is high in sugar and useful for ethanol.  Sunflowers are high in oil and useful for biodiesel.  I hope to learn more about his projects and share them with you.

I’ve uploaded my presentation as a series of web pages if you care to take a look.  I hope you’ll find it informative.  Special thanks to Bill Wilson over at Midwest Permaculture for putting together the majority of it.

We talked about Kris and Marty Travis’ success in harvesting thousands of dollars worth of wild edibles from their farm while they waited for organic certification.  A really good book to check out for identifying wild edibles is Steve Wildman Brill’s Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants in Wild (and Not So Wild) Places. If you buy it after clicking that link I get a tiny commision from Amazon, or head on down and support your local bookstore.

I mentioned that one of my New Year’s resolutions is to add a post to this site each week so I how you will add comments and keep after me to get it done. 

Permaculture Class

Friday, June 29th, 2007

Well, my permaculture class at Mark Shepard’s farm in Viola, Wisconsin was excellent.  We covered everything from the philosophy of permaculture to the challenges that real people were facing as they started farms/businesses with permaculture approaches.

Mark Shepard Permaculture Farm

Our first tour was of Mark’s own farm.  He has approximately 100 acres of ground that he has swaled (small water retaining terraces) and planted in hazelnuts, chestnuts, cider apples, berries, annuals and more.  He is testing various intercropping approaches and trialing numerous varieties.  He has created a non-profit foundation and developed a hazelnut cracking machine.  He will soon have hard cider available for sale.

Mark Shepard Permaculture FarmAnother of our tour stops was at The Trout Palace Fish Farm.  We saw how Jim Pierce is making the best use of his site conditions with trout aquaculture and how he used a discarded whey tank as the basis of his root cellar inserted into his hillside.  While many aquaculturists attempt to maximize their profits by adding electrically powered aerators, Jim is limiting his production levels to what his natural spring water flow can support.

Mark Shepard Permaculture FarmDave and Erin Varney started One-Sun Farm and Bakery five years ago.  They are intercropping garlic, raspberries, annuals, and hazelnuts.  We heard first hand the struggles that a small farmer can go through… the Varneys had their income slashed this February when the State Department of Inspections notified them that they can’t wholesale the meat pizzas that they have been producing in their licensed food processing kitchen without a meat processing license.  They are struggling to make up that income with their veggie pizzas, bakery items, berries and other crops. 

I have many more photos to share, I’ll soon be putting them on my Flickr page at:


Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

So have you heard of permaculture?

Wikipedia describes permaculture as a “moral and ethical design system applicable to food production and land use,” as well as community design. It seeks the creation of productive and sustainable ways of living by integrating ecology, landscape, organic gardening, architecture, agroforestry, green or ecological economics, and social systems. The focus is not on these elements themselves, but rather on the relationships created among them by the way they are placed together; the whole becoming greater than the sum of its parts.”  Here is a good book written by one of Permaculture’s creators Bill Mollison: Introduction to Permaculture.

Permaculture can be applied to a tiny yard to a large farm.  I am lucky enough to be signed up for a permaculture class at Mark Shepard’s farm in Viola, Wisconsin this June.  It is being put on by my friends at Midwest Permaculture.

I am planning to post photos and info from the class.

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