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Help create a list of things for a permaculture demonstration site

 
steward
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I'm helping build a community garden with a permaculture education element to it.  We'll have self-guided walking trails that take visitors past a bunch of permaculture features.  What sort of features should we design into the site?

We'd have signs along the way that describe particularly interesting things.  Perhaps a naturally build shed that has lots of stacking functions.  Or a particular guild with descriptions of the plants and their contributions.

Here's my current list, what more should we consider?  For now this is things we'd want to demonstrate that are reasonable for zone 4a in an area with decent precipitation (northern WI).  We'll have room for experiments but that list comes later.

1.  Suburban pollinator/food planting
2.  Deer resistant planting (outside the deer fence to prove it works - hopefully)
3.  Fruit tree guild (plant 1 per year so people can see how they evolve over time)
4.  Composting toilet
5.  Hugelkultur (Paul made me put this on the list)
6.  Arbors over the path with grapes and hardy kiwi
7.  Living fence
8.  Wind break (this is a windy open site)
9.  Pollinator planting with lots of identification signs
10.  Large medicinal herb mandala circle (already in place, needs to be expanded)
11.  Herb spiral (already in place)
12.  Food based plant guild
13.  Green bean teepee with bench or kid's play space under
14. Terrace gardening, likely on a berm since our site is flat
15.  Small pond (tricky due to sandy soil - maybe show off how we can seal a pond?)
16.  Rainwater catchment system
17.  Rocket oven and cob pizza oven
18.  Berms
19.  Compost bin

Can you think of more things?
 
steward
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A weed garden full of beautiful weeds like dandelions, thistle, etc. with a sign telling what the weeds and and whether they are edible or medicinal.

Or maybe a foragers garden with plants normally foraged where you live.
 
Mike Haasl
steward
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Good ones!  We have a few edible weeds that are everywhere so maybe just a sign with pictures and details so people can "hunt them down" as they tour.  The dandelions in May are truly breathtaking at our site.  Fields of yellow...

Great idea about foraging.  We do have lots of berry bushes and likely other stuff too.  The college where this garden is located holds some foraging activities as well.  Our site is full sun so some foraged plants would fit but the part shade and shade ones won't work for a few years.
 
gardener
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  • Before and after photos
  • Perhaps plants that are useful for other things than food, i.e., fiber plants and fencing plants
  • Solitary bee houses
  • Would anything for greywater processing--like a reed bed--work here?
  • Stored seeds that were collected on site for people to take home and plant
  •  
    pollinator
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    Mike Haasl wrote:What sort of features should we design into the site?

    1.  Suburban pollinator/food planting
    2.  Deer resistant planting (outside the deer fence to prove it works - hopefully)
    3.  Fruit tree guild (plant 1 per year so people can see how they evolve over time)
    4.  Composting toilet
    5.  Hugelkultur (Paul made me put this on the list)
    6.  Arbors over the path with grapes and hardy kiwi
    7.  Living fence
    8.  Wind break (this is a windy open site)
    9.  Pollinator planting with lots of identification signs
    10.  Large medicinal herb mandala circle (already in place, needs to be expanded)
    11.  Herb spiral (already in place)
    12.  Food based plant guild
    13.  Green bean teepee with bench or kid's play space under
    14. Terrace gardening, likely on a berm since our site is flat
    15.  Small pond (tricky due to sandy soil - maybe show off how we can seal a pond?)
    16.  Rainwater catchment system
    17.  Rocket oven and cob pizza oven
    18.  Berms
    19.  Compost bin

    Can you think of more things?



    -Mushroom logs / mycological info.
    -Seed saving or sharing station.
    -Good central area map
    -Rest nooks: seating, hammocks, swings, reclined Adirondack chairs you can lay down on
    -Tables and grassy nooks for picnicking
    -Drinking water, or portable hand washing station with bio-compatible soap
    -First aid kit, mounted
    -Presentation area for smaller breakout workshops (standard blackboard, or a chalk-and-talk-table, or a sand-table with figurines and models for illustrating zone and sector design concepts and relative element placement)
    -Wind chimes to draw attention to points of interest or trail heads
    -Bonus points if a kids-play area powers a useful thing, like a kid powered water pump or electrical lighting feature, or phone charging
    -Solar phone charging station
    -Lawn games or sports: bocce, ring toss, bean-bag toss, hard-core croquet area, disc golf, frisbee field
    -Garden gnomes and artwork
    -Guest book
    -If it is a remote area with long trails, open during cold periods and heavy snow, consider emergency shelters with appropriate wood supply and hatchet integrated into BBQ/picnic spots
     
    master steward
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    You've got a great list there already. I really like the tree guild succession idea - demonstrate both a starting and (eventually) a mature garden.
    Make sure you have plenty of perennial edibles, especially those that people can forage on safely. I used to like the 'cooks garden' at Ryton, where in a very small ornamental garden (12ft square?) everything had an edible nature.
    Do you have time for some native American planting? I'm thinking not everyone will know of the "three sisters" - does that work in your area? I guess Camassia is further west, but are there other local curated planting schemes that are still known?
     
    gardener
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    Great project Mike! I have really fond memories of gathering wild rice in N WI. Maybe, including wild rice among the indigenous food plants as Nancy suggested would be a nice local permaculture exhibit. You probably have a low spot on your site already. The wild rice marsh cut-dirt could be used to form the hugelkultur exhibit. Here is a nice video about growing wild rice in WI:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxWdWg6stl0
     
    gardener
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    We're incorporating self-watering beds and grey water harvesting displays. Worm bin? We use a large cooler in the greenhouse buried, available for any clippings in addition to compostable's, worms are happy all winter.
     
    Mike Haasl
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    Rachel Lindsay wrote:

  • Before and after photos
  • Perhaps plants that are useful for other things than food, i.e., fiber plants and fencing plants
  • Solitary bee houses
  • Would anything for greywater processing--like a reed bed--work here?
  • Stored seeds that were collected on site for people to take home and plant

  • Oh yeah, we already also have a fiber and dye garden with associated workshops to do indigo dying :)  Good idea!
    And a seed library is in my head as well.
    Not sure we'll have grey water but a demo could be worth it.  Bee houses for sure!
     
    Mike Haasl
    steward
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    George Yacus wrote:
    -Mushroom logs / mycological info.
    -Seed saving or sharing station.
    -Good central area map
    -Drinking water, or portable hand washing station with bio-compatible soap
    -Presentation area for smaller breakout workshops (standard blackboard, or a chalk-and-talk-table, or a sand-table with figurines and models for illustrating zone and sector design concepts and relative element placement)
    -Bonus points if a kids-play area powers a useful thing, like a kid powered water pump or electrical lighting feature, or phone charging
    -Garden gnomes and artwork


    I particularly like these!  We do have a shade structure or educational space planned for this year.  And we're affiliated with an art non-profit in town so artsy stuff should be an easy sell.
     
    Mike Haasl
    steward
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    Nancy Reading wrote:Do you have time for some native American planting? I'm thinking not everyone will know of the "three sisters" - does that work in your area? I guess Camassia is further west, but are there other local curated planting schemes that are still known?

    I think 3 sisters would work and we'll likely have something like that.  Not sure about other plantings, we'd want participation from local tribal representatives before we delve too deeply into that arena.
     
    Mike Haasl
    steward
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    Amy Gardener wrote:Great project Mike! I have really fond memories of gathering wild rice in N WI. Maybe, including wild rice among the indigenous food plants as Nancy suggested would be a nice local permaculture exhibit. You probably have a low spot on your site already. The wild rice marsh cut-dirt could be used to form the hugelkultur exhibit. Here is a nice video about growing wild rice in WI:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxWdWg6stl0


    We don't have a low area but there's rice in the area.  Probably too hard to get it growing to be worth it but a class on processing rice is in the works for this fall :)
     
    gardener
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    Wow, these are all such great ideas! I'd love to visit a garden like this!

    If you have a kids' area, things for them to play and interact with, loose parts like stumps, sticks, and rocks to build with. A loom for nature weaving. A flat-ish boulder to water paint on and other natural art materials with nature art prompts. You mentioned a living fence- a nature center near us has a living tunnel of willow for kids to walk through. Logs to balance on. Scavenger hunts- plants, bugs, animals, permaculture stuff throughout the garden, etc.

    As a mom, I like to take my kids to explore different places to learn but if there is a spot where the kids can run around and do hands on stuff, then we will keep coming back. Plus, I think most adults like doing "kids" activity too, even if they won't admit it.
     
    Mike Haasl
    steward
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    Thanks everyone!  We're having our next meeting in a couple hours so I'll take this expanded list to the group
     
    Jenny Wright
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    Mike Haasl wrote:Thanks everyone!  We're having our next meeting in a couple hours so I'll take this expanded list to the group


    How did your meeting go?
     
    Mike Haasl
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    It went well!  About 7 people were there and three more have signed on to join the group.  

    We went through the list and picked a few no-brainers that we felt we had to do and then voted on the rest.  We came up with the following for this year:

    No brainers:
    - Deer resistant planting outside the fence
    - Fruit tree guild (first stop on the walking tour)
    - Pollinator plantings in the community garden plot intersections (we have little boxes to denote the corners and we'll plant stuff in them)
    - Expand the medicinal mandala garden bed

    Top vote getters:
    - Hugelkultur (with hobbit doors, a tunnel through it and a glass window to see the innards)
    - Kid's play area
    - Weed identification sign

    Other little things like mason bee houses might happen if a class gets organized
     
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