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Posts: 10
Location: Fishtail, Montana
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Ben,

Your place is beautiful, and looks very productive. Are you able to eat year round off of the land and what you put up for the Winter? Are there staples that you still need to purchase?

Has there been anyone in Permaculture who has inspired or influenced your design style the most?

Thank you!
 
gardener
Posts: 213
Location: 40N 112W On the Edge Between the High Steppe and High Desert
48
forest garden greening the desert hugelkultur solar tiny house wofati woodworking
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Ben, I'm impressed by your website. While digging through some of the images on it, I saw what looked like drawings of a possible oehler structure / hobbit house / wofati? Can you tell us more about this? Is this a project in the works or completed (I see some actual pics in the gallery that look similar)? What can you tell us about the building materials choices as they pertain to location and climate? Also, I'd be interested to know who did the drawings. I thought they were excellent.

http://www.wholesystemsdesign.com/projects/whole-systems-research-farm-mad-river-valley-vt/
 
Posts: 14
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One thing that is always buzzing in the back of my head, and making it hard for me to completely embrace many of the projects i undertake is building materials. It is essential that the materials support locality, and clearly you take that into account in your projects, but when it comes to metals like nails, or the mining of limestone for cement... i find it impossible to see how to sustainably use these materials in our modern world. I try my best to reuse old materials, yet i find myself visiting the hardware store on the corner, by far more often than i would like to admit. Thing is, locality does not mean sustainability, specially here in Costa Rica where most construction materials are imported... and small stores depend on bigger companies. What alternatives are there to cement and nails? How do we tackle this in our current colonized and modernized system?
 
pollinator
Posts: 3738
Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
87
bee books chicken dog duck fungi solar trees
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As a fellow Vermonter, I have the seemingly enviable problem of too many trees. What ways do you recommend to open up the canopy? We only need to cut down one or two trees per year for fire wood. Have you tried girdling? Either way, is it better to do this slowly or all at once?
 
Posts: 59
Location: Southern MN
1
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I want to know more on the rapid topsoil production!

I am on the board of directors for a sustainable farm association and the biggest topic of the past few years has been transitioning gMO fields to productive topsoil based management. Note that 95% of newbies to natural farm systems do not have animals. Can this be overcome? And you list stuff that goes into the key line plowing, but is there a more specific recipe?

The general thinking it can take 5-7 years to transition fields, but any info you have to do it in 2-3 is seriously appreciated!!

The loss of topsoil has been one of our biggest challenges and though we have a speaker booked at our 2013 annual meeting, but I'll email you to get details on your costs to speak in MN.

Thanks in Advance- and Great Job!
 
Author
Posts: 55
Location: Mad River Valley, VT
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The Dunns wrote:Ben,

Your place is beautiful, and looks very productive. Are you able to eat year round off of the land and what you put up for the Winter? Are there staples that you still need to purchase?

Has there been anyone in Permaculture who has inspired or influenced your design style the most?

Thank you!


Thanks! It's getting there...
Yes, we eat rice, meat and eggs year round (eggs fade out for a bit in this climate) and many veggies too from the cellar.
We don't buy much staples anymore except some quinoa from time to time and some beans, but we are going more paleo each year.
We buy chocolate and spices though!

Probably sepp holzer, fukuoka conceptually, and recently mark shepard. And old european and asian farmsteads.
 
Ben Falk
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Posts: 55
Location: Mad River Valley, VT
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Jesse Biggs wrote:Ben, I'm impressed by your website. While digging through some of the images on it, I saw what looked like drawings of a possible Oehler structure / hobbit house / wofati? Can you tell us more about this? Is this a project in the works or completed (I see some actual pics in the gallery that look similar)? What can you tell us about the building materials choices as they pertain to location and climate? Also, I'd be interested to know who did the drawings. I thought they were excellent.

http://www.wholesystemsdesign.com/projects/whole-systems-research-farm-mad-river-valley-vt/



That's probably our wood heated sauna...
 
Ben Falk
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Location: Mad River Valley, VT
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Ginna Quesada wrote:One thing that is always buzzing in the back of my head, and making it hard for me to completely embrace many of the projects i undertake is building materials. It is essential that the materials support locality, and clearly you take that into account in your projects, but when it comes to metals like nails, or the mining of limestone for cement... i find it impossible to see how to sustainably use these materials in our modern world. I try my best to reuse old materials, yet i find myself visiting the hardware store on the corner, by far more often than i would like to admit. Thing is, locality does not mean sustainability, specially here in Costa Rica where most construction materials are imported... and small stores depend on bigger companies. What alternatives are there to cement and nails? How do we tackle this in our current colonized and modernized system?



We timber frame most buildings using no metal for joinery. BUt still there are metal roofs, insulation, energy to build it, metal tools.
Building ain't sustainable, so we aim to get infrastructure in place soon while energy and materials are really cheap and available.
I am not saying you can't be more or less bad with building we try to some extent but mainly we try to build things that are local, non toxic and LAST a long time so we don't have to keep pouring energy into non living systems.
 
Ben Falk
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Location: Mad River Valley, VT
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Cj Verde wrote:As a fellow Vermonter, I have the seemingly enviable problem of too many trees. What ways do you recommend to open up the canopy? We only need to cut down one or two trees per year for fire wood. Have you tried girdling? Either way, is it better to do this slowly or all at once?


We clear for building materials things like white pine and then plant polyctultures in their place.
We do girdle sometimes when we don't want to drop the whole thing damaging other trees in the process.
 
Ben Falk
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Location: Mad River Valley, VT
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Sherry Jansen wrote:I want to know more on the rapid topsoil production!

I am on the board of directors for a sustainable farm association and the biggest topic of the past few years has been transitioning gMO fields to productive topsoil based management. Note that 95% of newbies to natural farm systems do not have animals. Can this be overcome? And you list stuff that goes into the key line plowing, but is there a more specific recipe?

The general thinking it can take 5-7 years to transition fields, but any info you have to do it in 2-3 is seriously appreciated!!

The loss of topsoil has been one of our biggest challenges and though we have a speaker booked at our 2013 annual meeting, but I'll email you to get details on your costs to speak in MN.

Thanks in Advance- and Great Job!



Checkout Joel Salatin and the like doing mob stocking. Allan Savory's lecture on cattle as the cure for the climate crisis is the best thing I've seen as well.
We build soil rapidly over large areas on site with sheep, doing intensive rotational grazing...
 
Ben Falk
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Location: Mad River Valley, VT
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Hi Folks,
On the question of what's in this book and how's it vary from others - there's a couple more points I should mention.
1) The book has a heavy emphasis throughout on management of systems. Being a report from a site 10 years in, it is focused on what we've tried, what actually has worked and how. Most of the perm literature seems heavy on systems design but light and sometimes non existent on management and how these systems play out over some time.
2) A resource of new principles and strategies - 75 of them presented. And very few of these are in the literature in permaculture, ecological design or systems thinking - they stem from what we are learning here on the ground.
3) Heavy emphasis on graphic displays of design approaches, characteristics of living systems, and approaches toward resiliency and regeneration. These are through drawings, graphs and images. There are over 120 photos, diagrams and drawings in the book.
4) Cold climate depth on heating, buildings and microclimates - more in depth on these than I've seen in any one resource and integrated with one another.
5) Innovative water management strategies discussed in depth, similar to what sepp holzer has presented but expands more on certain aspects and explains the approaches differently - based in what we see here on our site.


Here's a table of contents:
Chapter One: Creating a Positive Legacy while Adapting to Rapid Change
• Regeneration—Enhancing Life Systems
• Resiliency—Becoming an Adaptive Animal
• Using This Book
Permaculture
• Zones and Their Definitions
• Who Are “We”
• WSRF Site Specifics
• Site History
• Site Future—What’s Possible?
• Fleeing
• Dwelling
• Energy Cycling
• Reinvestment
• The Green Distraction and the Political Black Hole
• Exodus from Consumer Society
• Becoming Useful in the Transition
• When Systems Fail: Emergencies and Resiliency


Chapter Two: The Design Process and Site Establishment
• Planning and Design: Observation before Action
• The Designer’s Set and Setting
• Site Establishment Leverage Points
• Ecosystem Management: Steering Succession
• Resiliency and Regeneration Principles
• Understanding Your Site and Finding the Synergies
• Goals Identification and Requirements of the Design
• Assessing the Site
• Land Analysis
• Design Criteria
• Imagination: Limiting Factor to Design
• Schematic Design: Sorting Through Multiple Development Options
• Adaptating Land to Rapid Change
• Diversity and Connectivity
• Working Plans and Implementation Documents

Chapter Three: Water and Earthworks
• Brittleness and the Quest for Resiliency
• Gravity-Feed Systems
• Locating Water
• Slowing and Infiltrating Water
• An Agriculture as Diverse as the Landscape
• Water Ridges with Valleys: Keyline Agriculture
• Ponds

Chapter Four: Fertility Harvesting and Cycling
• Compost, Urine, Humanure, and Biochar
• Fungi: Quiet Ally to the System
• Remineralization
• Cover Cropping and Winter Cover
• Tall-Grass Grazing
• Pasture Reclamation: Why Not to Let Your Field “Go”
• The Benefits of Mowing
• Scything: The Most Resilient Biomass Harvesting Method
• Ducks, Chickens, Dogs, and Sheep
• Grazing and Perennial Food Crop Integration
• Keyline Agriculture and Fertigation
• Leach Field Cropping: Making the Most of a Faulty System

Chapter Five: Food Crops
• How Perennial Guilds Enhance Resiliency
• Staple Crops: Paddy Rice, Meat, Eggs, Fruits, and Nuts
• Annual Vegetables
• Growing Food as a Response to Toxicity
• Food Processing and Storage: Spreading Abundance across the Entire Year

Chapter Six: Adaptive Fuel and Shelter
• Using Wood for Your Main Heat Source
• Compost –Powered Water Heating
• Managing Fuels on the Homestead Farm
• Adaptive Shelter
• Mechanical Systems
• Water: Passive Supply for the Resilient Home

Chapter Seven: Resilience and Regeneration for the Long Haul
• Enhancing Vitality in a Time of Biospheric Toxicity
• Growing Health and Resistance, Not Just Calories
• Money: One (Important) Means to Get Work Done
• Staying


Appendix A: Assessing Resiliency Aptitude Quiz
Appendix B: Practical Curriculum Outline
Appendix C: Crucial Skill List for Emergencies
Appendix D: Tools and Materials
Appendix E: Homestead Vulnerability Checklist and Strategy Summary to Reduce Vulnerability in Acute Events
Appendix F: Vocabulary and Concepts
Appendix G: Resources
Index

 
Jesse Biggs
gardener
Posts: 213
Location: 40N 112W On the Edge Between the High Steppe and High Desert
48
forest garden greening the desert hugelkultur solar tiny house wofati woodworking
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The book sounds great, kind of like The Barefoot Architect meets Mollison's big black book. Are there any books or resources you could point out as resources for learning about all wood joinery? I know Ben Law is widely known in permie circles, maybe some others? I think I saw a detail where you scribed a round wood post onto a rock. How did you acquire this type of skill?
 
Ben Falk
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Posts: 55
Location: Mad River Valley, VT
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Steve Chappel's book on timber framing has taught me a lot. I also worked for a timber framing company full time for a bit. A lot of building for me has been teaching myself. Wait, a lot of everything for me has been that. Who is there to turn to anyway? Not many...
We have to teach ourselves most of what we need to know i think. Didn't mean to rant but that's been a constant theme, personally.

Taunton press has a lot of good building books. There are many on joinery. Law's isn't really on joinery as far as i know.
 
If you have a bad day in October, have a slice of banana cream pie. And this tiny ad:
Roots Demystified by Robert Kourik
https://permies.com/wiki/39095/Roots-Demystified-Robert-Kourik
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