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Bullock's Permaculture Homestead Mini Tour  RSS feed

 
Dave Boehnlein
Posts: 294
Location: Orcas Island, WA
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Hey Folks,

With our Intro to Permaculture Weekend Workshop (http://www.permies.com/permaculture-forums/1476_0/events/introduction-to-permaculture-workshop-orcas-island-washington) coming up soon I thought it would be fun to share a sneak peak of what the Bullock's Permaculture Homestead is like. Of course we'll do an in depth site tour during the workshop as well.

The Bullocks have been working on their site for nearly 30 years now making it one of the most mature permaculture sites in North America. The Homestead was featured in Bill Mollison's permaculture documentary "Global Gardener" (http://www.permacultureactivist.net/booksvid/vid%20dvd%20cd.htm).

We've got a variety of innovative systems that work well for our site. For example, the picture of the plastic barrels below shows a method we use to produce deep-rooted vegetables. In this case we're growing gobo (burdock roots) and yamaimo (Japanese mountain yam), which both have roots that can go as deep as three feet. Who wants to dig that much for a harvest? Each barrel shown here is split in half vertically and held together with some bolts. When harvest time comes in the fall we simply lay down a tarp and pull out the bolts. The barrels split in two and we can pick the roots out of the sandy soil mix with no breakage or shovel damage. Then we simply put the soil back in and get ready to grow more next year.
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Dave Boehnlein
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Location: Orcas Island, WA
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We've got a fairly extensive system of more conventional annual gardens here to provide food for the three families, 10 interns, and friends that live here. Below is a picture of Maria Bullock with here little girl who is learning where good food comes from right from the beginning. The kids who live here all spend most of their time outside playing and learning. Family and food are connected in the most literal sense here.
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Dave Boehnlein
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In addition to our annual systems we've also got a wide variety of perennial systems producing many products for us. This ranges from basketry materials (willows & dogwoods) to medicines (comfrey & echinacea) to food (walnuts & the Karmine de Sonnaville apples pictured below). We try to derive as much as possible from perennials since they tend to be less work and have less impact on the soil than annual gardens.
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Dave Boehnlein
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Location: Orcas Island, WA
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All of this productivity leads to an abundance. In the picture below you can see a day's harvest from the middle of summer (eggplant, tomato, apples, pears, beans, melons, quince, & chiles). We feed a lot of people during the summer, but we can't eat it all. Therefore, we also practice a variety of preservation techniques including lacto-fermentation, canning, drying, smoking, & brewing.
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Dave Boehnlein
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Location: Orcas Island, WA
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One of the most unique features of the Bullock's place is the adjacent 9 acre marsh. They moved onto the land during an era when wetlands were considered a waste. The Bullocks, however, saw the potential for a perennial water source for gardens and productivity as a winner. They even went so far as to emulate the agricultural system of the Aztecs by creating islands and peninsulas known as "chinampas" in the marsh. These are incredibly productive areas. The picture below shows a crew of folks working on the chinampas during our annual summer bog toss. For more on chinampas see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinampa.
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Dave Boehnlein
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Location: Orcas Island, WA
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If you come to the Intro to Permaculture Weekend Workshop at the Bullock's you will likely spend some time in the aloha lodge, our outdoor classroom pictured below. This is where we do the classroom portion of our courses and hunker down when it's raining. it is a nice place to be when the weather gets hot and it provides us a dry, flat area for activities ranging from drying garlic to having dance parties.
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Dave Boehnlein
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If you come out for the course you will also likely eat a fresh baked pizza from our earth oven (pictured below). We've cranked out over 200 pizzas in one night in the past and we're not afraid to do it again! The oven has become a major community builder on our site as we occasionally have parties or potlucks for folks here on the island. Everyone benefits from the oven! When we're done making pizzas we'll often follow up with bread, cookies, jerky, and finally yogurt as the oven cools over the next 24 hours.
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Dave Boehnlein
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Location: Orcas Island, WA
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Well, that's what I've got for a micro-tour of our site. For the whole tamale you'll have to come out. The Intro Workshop includes a tour. If you can't make it out for that you can feel free to schedule a tour on another day. Check out the "tours" section of our website at http://www.permacultureportal.com/visits_tours.html.

Cheers!

Dave
 
paul wheaton
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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I have a few pictures to add.

At one point, I jumped in the canoe and was paddling about taking pictures.  And then to get out of the canoe, I thought I would jog off the tip of the canoe onto the land - forgetting the part about "never stand up in a canoe."  It turns out that the water was plenty deep right there.  And I went fully under.  And I thought I had lost all of the pictures I took on my, now soaked, digital camera.  It turns out that the camera was shot, but the memory card had the pics.  Here's a few.

This first pic is Dave pointing out that the swamp is wet - be careful. 

The second is of the cob oven (really neat door) and the porta-solar-tunes.

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paul wheaton
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There are scads of eco structures all over the bullock farm. 

If I remember correctly, they are completely off grid.  There are three main houses, one for each of the bullock brothers.  These houses are pretty much off limits - let those families have a bit of privacy.

This first pic is one of those.

The second pic is the one I stayed in on my first trip.  I think it is a form of slip-straw (Dave?)

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paul wheaton
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There are lots of solar powered things around.

Here is a pic of one of about a half dozen electric solar collectors, followed by a pic of a solar electric water pump that moves water to an uphill water collection tank.

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paul wheaton
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Here is a solar water heater that heats the water for this solar shower.  After falling in the swamp, I used this shower.  That water is not just hot, it's damn hot!
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paul wheaton
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There are several ponds at the bullock's.  This picture is from the smallest pond.  The largest pond is probably an acre and a half and great for swimming. 

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paul wheaton
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The outdoor classroom is a fascinating structure.  Not exactly a tipi - but sorta.  It has a firepit in the center and lots of really comfy spots to sit. 

The first pic shows the outdoor ping pong table - bits of pine needles makes the game a little more challenging.

The second pic shows how right next to the undercover fire pit, there is an uncovered fire pit.  Sometimes fire is just much nicer under the stars.



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paul wheaton
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I have about 30 or 40 pictures of their gardens.  They just go on and on and on and on.  Gardens are everywhere.  Fruit trees are everywhere.  Grafting fruit trees appears to be one of the most popular activities at the bullock brothers farm - when I was there, I suspect there may have been over a hundred fresh grafts, all labeled. 

I just have so many pictures, and there is so much to talk about, that really cannot be properly discussed here - it would have to be a whole different thread.
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paul wheaton
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I like to call this stuff "hippie habitat" - I'm not sure what they call it there.

The first pic is, I think, ferro cement with abandoned satellite dish roofs. 

The second pic is one of the coolest, simplest little structures they have.  It's an eight sided little shack built right at the water level of the swamp - on a sort of micro island with a dirt bridge.  So when you sleep there, you are sorta out in the swamp.
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paul wheaton
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There are several spots that the interns have a platform in the trees where they have a nice tent ...
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paul wheaton
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Strapping on a feedbag at one of the outdoor kitchens.

The water that comes out of this outdoor kitchen flows into some garden beds shown here.  Of particular note in this picture is the dry stone work.  There are dozens of examples of dry stone work all over the farm.

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paul wheaton
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There are probably at least a dozen examples of this sort of pole structure - although technically, I think this is more of a "log structure" because it is on cement piers - thus dodging what, I think, is the definition of a "pole structure" where the poles are in the ground.



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paul wheaton
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I think the chinampa thing they are doing is really great and something you don't see very often. 

These first two are, I think, a new chinampa, out to a sort of man-made island. 
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paul wheaton
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These two pics are definitely a chinampa.

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chinampa4.jpg
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paul wheaton
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The first pic is a ferro cement water holding tank.

The second pic is a home-made solar dehydrator.

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paul wheaton
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The first pic is a funky shack built around a massive rock - so when you go inside, it's like a massive boulder is taking up a quarter of the space!

And finally - Dave .... oh, sure, he looks like a doofus in this pic ...  I think to get a proper picture of him you have to not let him know you have a camera.

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Kathleen Sanderson
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That looks like a REALLY neat place!  But I don't see any animals -- are they missing that component?

Kathleen
 
paul wheaton
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When I was there, they did keep chickens

And there was a lot of wildlife spotted.

No hogs or cattle.

 
Dave Boehnlein
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We have chickens & ducks (pictured below) as well as cats, dogs, bees, & plenty of wildlife.

Dave
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Kathleen Sanderson
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Thanks, Dave.  I wondered if you had ducks, with all that water available.  Your chicken tractor looks like a good, simple design, maybe more durable than the 'rabbit-wire' I'm using.  I don't know how much snow you get over there, but we've gotten enough at times to crush the chicken tractors if I don't get right out there and clean them off.

Your place is beautiful.  I was raised at Florence on the Oregon Coast (when we weren't in Alaska), and love the lushness of the Coastal areas of the PNW. 

Kathleen
 
Judson Frederick
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That's really NICE, Dave, but I don't see any Bullock Brother's. Where's that element of your system?
 
paul wheaton
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Oh yeah.  I guess that could qualify as farm animals.

I do know that they have a bullock breeding program - and there is at least one more generation running about. 

I have pictures of bullock habitat, but not of an actual bullock.

 
                    
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What a wonderful bunch of pictures! Beautiful!
 
paul wheaton
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Yesterday we popped out to the bullocks. It was sorta short notice, and it turns out that Dave was off-island at the time. And Doug Bullock was there, but a bit under the weather.

The tour was given by an intern - although I think the interns are trying to call themselves "skill builders". (except when they refer to past interns - those are still interns) Overall, I think our tour guide did a good job of introducing what all is going on there to noobs. I think I actually picked up about 7% new bits of information, but for the most part I think I did a good job of biting my tongue.

Just as we were loaded up and about to race back to catch the ferry, the intern said that Doug was up and out of bed and asking for me. But the others in the carpool seemed to want to catch the ferry so we wouldn't be getting home at midnight.

I was asked what was new. The bullocks are now doing paddock shift chicken stuff which is great. That wasn't part of the tour - I kinda went looking for it. That was a bit of an odd thing - the tour seemed to leave a lot out that was covered in previous tours (I think this was my fourth time there).

Overall I guess I was kinda bummed out. I was looking forward to learning a gob of new stuff, but ended up hearing stuff I already knew and trying to not crush the the beliefs of others. If it were Doug or Dave I think I could say anything I want and they would have crushed me with their encyclopedic knowledge of plants.

Richard was on the tour with us, and he has listened to most of my podcasts. He asked some good questions. One was about hugelkultur. Apparently the bullocks don't do hugelkultur. Instead they do a LOT of water pumping and irrigation. The tour guide said something about how it would not be an appropriate fit for that particular piece of land. I then opened my pie hole and suggested that there could be a property next door to the bullocks where a different permaculture practitioner might use hugelkultur - there are many schools of thought.

A couple of times, the idea of profit came up and I shared something there that I think is important that I don't think I've ever shared anywhere before: First it is important to note that while the folks at the bullock brothers are bonkers about permaculture, they are about three times more bonkers about plants. They are plant geeks! How many different plants can they add to their jungle? So when the question comes up about money, it is kinda like asking a fish in the ocean if they want more water. What would they do with more water? If you doubled the amount of water, everything would be the same. So what's the point of seeking more water? Now if you had some crazy plant that they had never tried before that might grow on their property, well, hell-yes, bring it on!

Geoff posted a bit to his blog about our trip on this day: http://permietour2012.blogspot.com/2012/08/bullocks.html

 
paul wheaton
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Here is an older video I have at the bullocks:




And here is video that includes doug bullock on interns:



 
Helder Valente
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