Tag Archives: permaculture

Permaculture – the multiple discipline education

Many people are just starting to learn about permaculture. While some say it isn’t rocket science, it is a combination of many traditional disciplines from school. I spent years in school for Chemistry, Physics, Engineering, Business in addition to years in the working world of Pharmaceuticals, Engineering, Electronics and never found a discipline that put so many pieces together as I did with permaculture. I received an e-mail one day about a job that is opening up, Urban Agriculture Extension Specialist. I thought wow; this may be just up my alley. I just completed my permaculture certificate and I wanted to specialize in suburban and urban settings. No luck, they wanted a Masters degree and several semesters of agriculture classes, but why? Permaculture is so much more. In my opinion, it is way beyond anything I learned in school. Here are some examples of how the sciences are blended, and some common terms that are thrown around in permaculture circles and my own interpretation of what they mean.

Agronomy – science of soil management and crop production. This is one of the fundamentals of permaculture. Without rich soil it is hard to grow anything.

Anatomy – The study of organisms and their parts. To fully understand the relationships of plants, organisms, animals you have to understand how they work, and then how they work together.

Anthropology – The study of the origin, behavior, and the physical, social, and cultural development of humans. While it is not in much detail, learning about how previous civilizations and cultures worked the land, gives insight and we are now often repeating some of their practices.

Bacteriology – The study of bacteria, especially in relation to medicine and agriculture. Definitely here used in permaculture. Bacteria are in the soil, in aquaponics, in circles of organisms used in permaculture designs.

Biochemistry – The study of the chemical substances and processes in living organisms. How to the plants and animals interact, nitrogen fixing, and bioaccumulation.

Biology – The science of life and living organisms. Basically all of permaculture relates to biology in some way.

Botany – The study of plants. You will get to know plants on a whole new level, how they act, who they work well with, who are their enemies.

Business – While many wouldn’t associate business with permaculture, at one of its cores is minimal inputs for maximum outputs. This is a fundamental for how businesses work. But rather than money you use energy and resources. Not only energy in the form of electrical or gas, but people energy, work and labor. Resources can be from things you buy, to seeds, to materials.

Cartography – The art or technique of making maps or charts. Designing maps, layouts for properties, how to read various types of maps and layouts. Designing your own maps and layouts is a key aspect in permaculture design.

Chemistry – The science of the composition, structure, properties, and reactions of matter, especially of atomic and molecular systems. From chemistry of the soil, to chemistry of plants, chemistry of nutrients in feed, to aquaponics. Chemistry is all over.

Ecology – The study of organisms and their environment. This again is basic permaculture. Before I heard about the term permaculture, I had considered going back to school for ecology. Glad I didn’t. It is just a small portion of what I have learned.

Engineering – The application of scientific, economic, social, and practical knowledge in order to design, build, and maintain structures, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes. From building, dams, waterways, bridges, houses, water catchment. There are all sorts of engineering concepts at work.

Entomology – The scientific study of insects, both beneficial and harmful insects. What bugs like to eat your plants, and what bugs like to eat the bugs eating your plants? Who is a good pollinator, and who will make you cry when it is harvest time.

Forestry – The science and art of cultivating, maintaining, and developing forests. From edible food forests, to orchards, to harvesting trees for fuel or other properties, trees are a big part of permaculture.

Genetics – The study of heredity and inherited traits. Breeding your own plants, what plants will cross pollinate. How to get a species to grow in your area with your soil makeup, your temperature, be disease and drought resistant, and produce a good edible product?

Geography – The study of the earth and its features. Using the features of the land to work with your design, rather than making the land features what you want. Learning about terrain, and natural makings of the earth’s features are a key component in permaculture.

Herbology – The study and use of medicinal properties of plants. The vast majority of today’s pharmaceuticals aka drugs came from plants. There are some many beneficial medicinal plants out there, you will learn quite a bit.

Horticulture – The science, technology, and business involved in intensive plant cultivation for human use. While this is permaculture the big schools have made this into monocroping and how to grow corn, soy, and wheat and not much else, and adding lots of chemicals in the process. At its base, horticulture is permaculture.

Hydrology The study of the properties and effects of water on earth. Here again, a base fundamental of permaculture. Hydrating the soil and making the most of the water.

Ichthyology The study of fish. In ponds, streams, and aquaponics, knowing what the appropriate fish for your application are, and what ones to avoid are important.

Medicine The science of diagnosing and treating disease and damage to the body. Similar to herboilogy we can grow so much of our own medicines; we could potentially put the pharmaceutical companies out of business.

Meteorology The study of weather and atmospheric conditions. Studying the weather patterns, winter sun, summer sun, and rainy seasons, are an iatrical part of permaculture.

Microbiology The study of microorganisms and their effects on other living organisms. From under the soil, to in the compost bin the various microbes in the soil are an important part of permaculture.

Mineralogy The study of minerals, including their distribution, identification, and properties. Knowing what minerals are in your soil is important, but what is also important is how to obtain lacking minerals, where are those minerals found, what plants can harvest certain minerals, and how to use them.

Mycology The branch of botany that deals with fungi. From breaking down toxins, to making new soil fungus is among us in permaculture.

Nutrition The study of food and nourishment. What plants produce what nutrition? What does your body need, what plants and nutrients to the animals need? What nutrients do the plants need? It is all related.

Thermodynamics The study of relationships and conversions between heat and other forms of energy. From making greenhouse, to heat sinks out of rocks, to how to design you house or structure so that you are using less energy to heat or cool. Understanding thermodynamics and how it works is important.

Toxicology The study of poisons and the treatment of poisoning. Some plants are toxic, some are beneficial in small amounts but overdue it and it is death. Some species thrive in toxic environments. But like herbology, understanding how much of a good thing to use before it becomes something bad.

Zoology The study of the structure, physiology, development, and classification of animals. Lifecycles of plants, animals and insects, or when to introduce chickens into an area to break the invasive insect species life cycle is part of permaculture.

These are but a few examples. There is so much more to permaculture. Once you get hooked, it is a paradigm shift for many. You look at every problem through permaculture principals, not just a landscape.

If you are just getting into permaculture there are some terms you may hear that sound odd, but are simple to explain.

“Chop and Drop” – Chop and drop is a means to get green compost. It simply means to cut living plans and drop whey they lay or apply to another area. The plants break down, and give back their nutrients to the soil. They also hold moisture in by covering bare ground.

“Contour” – The parts of the property all at the same elevation. Think of a hill. If you were to take a giant samurai sword and cut through the entire hill all at exactly a level horizontal line, that would be a contour line. Now, keep slicing up and down every few feet. You would get a topographical map. The lines on a topographical map are all on the same elevation.

images6J0P2MWB

“Food forest” – This is an intentional planting of trees, bushes, plants so that once established will need very little maintenance and will continually produce food for people and animals.

“Middle story” – The middle layer of tree or shrub growth part of the forest.

“Monocrop” – Growing only one species of crops in an area. What you see conventional farming. This required large amounts of chemicals to be sustainable, which it is not, and is killing the soil.

“Nitrogen Fixer” – a plant that absorbs nitrogen from the air and through a symbiotic relationship with bacteria deposit the nitrogen into the soil at the roots.

“Over Story” – The upper part of the canopy or forest.

“Swales” – Ditch with a hill on the down side of a slope. A swale can be any number of sizes it all depends on where it will be used. From a few inches across and deep to large enough to drive a large tractor in. It is a ditch, with the dirt piled on the downhill side of the ditch. The goal is to trap water, allow it to seep into the ground as opposed to running off the property. Trees are typically planted in the piled up earth.

“Understory” – The lower part of the food forest. Ground level.

“Water flows at 90 degrees to contour” – What this basically means is water will run downhill. If you were on a contour line, and emptied a pail of water it would run 90 degrees to the line. Or another way of saying it, it would try to dun downhill. But when you are trying to map out a property, and keep the water on the property as long as you can, it is important to know which direction the water will go wherever you are standing. A common way to say this is it will run 90 degrees to the current contour line you are examining.

“Water Harvesting” – This cam mean several things. But basically you want to collect all the water you can. From rain water, to runoff, to creeks, etc. water is the backbone of your permaculture project. You must have water to feed the microbes, which feed the soil, which in turn feeds the plants. Harvesting can be in the form of rain barrels, swales, or dams and ponds.

DIY Rabbit tracor

To give our buns more open air time, exposure to fresh greens, we decided to make a rabbit tractor. So far, they have all spent time in it and loved being out in the open. This will eventually be used to house the grow outs until freezer camp day. I took several designs I saw and combined what I liked, and used materials I had available. If you click on the images you can enlarge them for more details.

I had a small section of chain-link fence left over from another project. This looked like a good base, and size for the tractor.

We had some extra tubs laying around. This looked good to make a hiding hole, shade for them.

Using a jigsaw I cut a small opening into one side.

Left over 1×3 lumber from the demo of the office (the inside of our tiny house). I chose an A frame to minimize materials needed, and weight. And I only had 2 rolls of wire and didn’t want to go to store. The frame is screwed together with deck screw we had from another project. The base is made of treated 2x4x8. Left over from building the greenhouse attached to the building.  I happen to have 10 feet of chain link fence, and the 2×4 was 8 feet long. Bonus, no cutting.

20150910_105932

2 rolls of left over 1/2″x1″ welded wire. This was going to be a grow out pen in the coop, but we liked the tractor idea better. The wire is stapled to the frame.

Because I was working alone, and needed to stretch the chain-link tipping the tractor on edge was the easiest thing to do.

This is metal fastening tape, found in the plumbing section.  I use this stuff all over the place. Works great. It is woven between the chain-links and secured to the bottom of the tractor frame. This way I can move rabbits and everythign without ever having to get them out. It also prevents them from digging holes, and protection from predators.

I hinged the whole side of the tractor. This allows easier access to the rabbits inside. If I opened from one end, someone (not me) would have to crawl in there to get rabbits.

The door is kept closed with bungee cords connected to the bottom chain links and the wire mesh on the sides. It is tight enough that the rabbits or predators cannot open it. The pet litter box is actually a waterer.  I drilled the bottom and made a shelf for it to sit on.

20150913_123335

The hole in the bottom is connected to rabbit nipples (tubing, connectors, and nipples available though Amazon)

20150917_094336

I had all the materials on hand, and made do with what was available. If I had to make it again and buying materials it would probably cost around $60-80 and that is a high estimate. You can scrounge materials from various places or buy used materials.

 

Lumber can be from used pallets = free

Cubbie can be made from Rubbermaid containers from goodwill  <$3 Goodwill. You can also find hinges at goodwill, Habitat for Humanity Restore. or asset Recycling.

Instead of watering nipples you can use watering dishes/bowls/tupperware/etc. = free

Wire may need to be purchased, but if not overnighting rabbits can use chicken wire. Check craigslist.

Many places like Habitat, and Asset Recycling will have sections of chain-link. you really don’t need it, but we will be overnighting the rabbits in it, and ease of moving them.

 

Presenting at the Harrison Center Food Con

We will be presenting at the Harrison Center Food Con on Friday July the 3rd in Indianapolis. We will have a table and be talking about Permaculture aka Sustainable Agriculture aka Food Forests.

Have Permaculture questions, want to lean more, stop on by, it is free to the public.

Food Con

Free Q&A

Seed, seedling and plant exchange-sale

A friend had an idea about how every year he always starts way more seeds than he needs. Just as a precaution to make sure all his vegetable beds are filled. Well, what to do with all the seeds that germinate that you won’t need? Not enough to sell at a farmers market, IF you can get in to sell. no time to sit at home waiting on people to show up to pick up or buy. Hate to throw a way, or compost. What to do?

A plant and seed exchange and sale.  This is the 1st of hopefully an annual event. Idally we would like to have spots set up on the North, South, East, West and Downtown sides of Indy and outlying areas too. If you want to host an event like this contact us.  I thought it would be nice to have one every weekend from mid April to end of May each weekend at a different part of  the area. If you don’t sell out in week one, move to spot two on the opposite side of town.

I will have a “booth” there and talk permaculture, maybe a few plants we have for sale. Stop by and say hi.

More information at the link here.

Here are the details.

Do you start more seeds than you need? Do you hate to just get rid of them? Don’t. Sell them, trade the, exchange them. Are you wanting to market unique plants and seeds but no place to sell them? Do you need to thin your plants, and hate to compost or trash them? Sell them. Do you have a side business selling plants, plant starts, or even seeds? Come out and sell your stock. It is not too late to start seeds for this event. Some people cannot start seeds, some don’t have the space, and some don’t have the materials. Whatever the reason, we are looking for vendors. Only plants, roots, seeds, etc. at this time. No animals or animal products (except maybe manure/compost). Worms, worm casting, and Black Soldier Fly approved for sale.

This is the 1st, but hopefully not the last, Seed, seedling, and plant sale-exchange.  We are meeting in the church parking lot, and there is additional parking at Perry Park (adjacent to the church), and across the street at Douglas MacArthur elementary school. 

Vendors or sellers will pay $20 for a parking lot size space, and if not muddy a lawn space behind the space. All money generated from space sales will go to Cub Scout Pack 120. There will be no power, Wi-Fi, or utilities available. There is a limit of 20 vendors. Contact Rick at wolfbeachfarms@gmail.com 317-997-5554 to get a spot (Paypal, CC, Cash, accepted for spot payment, all payments minus mandatory electronic transaction fees will go to the Pack).

Buyers are Free

Vendors or sellers may charge, collect, trade, exchange, as they see fit for their plants, seeds, trees etc. Some may be able to take Credit and debit cards with their smart devices, some may only take cash. So plan accordingly. 

Sale 10-2pm; setup 9-10am; take-down 2-3pm, so you can setup then go park the car and have more available space. Or, sell out of your trunk.

The Boy Scouts will also be selling food and drinks. Cash only please. 

If you RSVP your are RSVPing as a buyer. Use the email listed to secure your spot as a vendor.

Come on out, support the Scouts, and get your garden going. Buy local.  

The Church and the Pack are not affiliated with any vendor, and are not responsible for any transactions, accidents, or disputes that arise from the plant/seed sale. 

Bring new education to your church or organization and build community

I had a meeting yesterday with a good friend who is part of a church with an aging congregation and some have never gardened before. They have a large meeting room they barely ever use. We talked about having a class in the meeting room and have a class about organic gardening now that spring is around the corner to get people something to look forward to and start planning. The more I thought about it the more I thought this was a great idea so I have come up with a solution to both help not only church groups but other organizations as well. Both options are a way to get your organization more exposure, and possibly a way to generate additional income, and help get more people involved.

Option 1

Book 3 hrs of classes and get 1 hr FREE. This could be 1 hr free consulting for the church or other group on how to build a community garden on the property. It could be 1 hr of time given, raffled, or auctioned with the proceeds to benefit the church or other organization. It could be added with the classes for a total of 4 hrs of instruction. We have lots of great classes to choose from such as aquaponics, beginning gardening, container gardening, permaculture, practicing permaculture, back yard chicken, and more. For more detailed list check out the Classes page. This could be closed to only members of your organization, or open to the public. I can advertise to bring more people in to become familiar with your organization. We have a direct reach of about 6500, and then organic reach of significantly more through shares, likes and other social media sharing. We also have options to charge for each person attending if so desired. Need flyers to tell your organization about the event, we can do that too.

Option 2

Open up your facilities to classes. We will charge per person in attendance with either select number of free tickets for your organization based on size of space, classes being taught, and length of time on site, or a percentage of ticket sales to go to your event or organization. Lots of different options available to suit your needs.

Be Prepared Series

The Be Prepared Series is a group of classes to help organizations and groups come together as a community and in the event they need them, have skills to rely upon during an emergency. For more information on the Be Prepared Series click on the link.

 

We can schedule the classes, accept payments online, in person, or over the phone. We can produce flyers, or other promotional materials to announce your event. All materials are provided for you.

If you are interested in booking some classes or want to learn more please use the Contact Us page we would be happy to help.

New project/Opportunity available

Southside Project (NEW)

I have a client who is looking for assistance with physical build of raised bed boxes. Approximately 10, and all materials already onsite. There is also additional projects for large in ground aquaponics, removing trees for in ground vegetable garden, and removal of chain link fence. Property is on the Southside of Indy around the Stop 11 and Bluff Road area. Work to be started ASAP. Property owners on site to help, just lack of time preventing project completion. This is a multi phase project and the raised beds will be 1st, and later projects developed and may need further assistance

For a list of other projects see the Projects Page.

If any projects interest you use the Contact Us Page.

Projects and Opportunities

Throughout my travels and networking I learn of opportunities and various projects that some may find interesting or a right fit for their skills or situation. This will be an ever-changing page as new opportunities are found and existing ones are filled.

The page is here that list current and future opportunities

If you are interested use the Contact Us page.

July 26th General “Farm” tour

People have asked to have another general farm tour. We are having another on July 26th 9am. It will again be $20/person.

If weekend tours do not work for you schedule, please contact us and we can try to arrange one that better fits into your schedule.

Signup and register here.

Come out see, ask questions, see what is going on. It is estimated 3 hrs but I like to talk, and if there are more questions we are not on a time constraint. Some areas may have more questions or information if people are interested.

Suburban “farm” tour. Come out and see what is possible on 0.2 acres of suburbia. We have ducks, chickens, 5000 gal outdoor aquaponics, 4000 gal frog pond, a new 50 gallon indoor aquaponic system, fruit trees, berry patches, edible landscaping, rabbits, grapes composting, vermicomposting, vertical gardening, rain harvesting, and medicinal herbs. The goats may be on property, if not we will discuss different aspect of back yard goats as well.

In addition to covering all of the above and lessons learned through “failing”

We will cover how to use an A-Frame level for finding contours on your property as well as how to make an A-frame level.

Anti-chicken tractors

Where to find materials for cheap or free

We will talk and show different aspects of permaculture we are practicing.

Talk about the many ways to use a aquarium air pump to benefit your property.

Making and using compost tea

Possibly have a plant exchange as well (please if attending put what you will bring in the comments so others may benefit/trade)

Seem like a lot? We are only using about 40% of our 0.2 acres.

This is our home, and please respect we do not let the public in our home, so no public restrooms are available. You may also park in the drive as we will have moved our vehicles to accommodate you.

We can/do accept PayPal/credit debit cards. However cannot do both cash and electronic payments on the Meet-up space. Our PayPal ID is wolfbeachfarms@gmail.com and we use both Square and Paypal Credit/debit payments. Space is limited.

Start time is 9am. If you need to make payments or otherwise, please show up a few minutes early.

 

Chicken Podcast on 2 Midwest Guys

The 2 Midwest Guys latest podcast is up. In this episode we talk about back yard chickens. From suburban chickens to rural chickens. SOme lessons we learned along the way and some things to consider. Come on over and give it a listen at 2 Midwwest Guys.

 

Just a reminder the tour of Brambleberry Farm is June 7th. Darren and Espri are offering discounts on plants for the tour. Check it out here.

Brambleberry tour podcast

Our latest podcast is up at 2 Midwest Guys where we recap our tour to Brambleberry Farm a permaculture nursery and farm. If you are looking for permaculture plants, want a local source, and what to see what you are getting before ordering online or from a catalog they have quite a bit, including Comfrey.

Brambleberry Farm

189555_154269164633114_6690397_n