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Milwaukee Permaculture Designers?

Posts: 5
Location: Milwaukee, WI (Zone 5b)
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Hello all! Long time lurker, first-time poster. Late last year the stars aligned for our family. A new baby came and we found our little slice of "Eden" - 2.5 rural acres in Milwaukee County (needle in a haystack) - close to my work as a Creative Director. We had been looking for municipalities with more lax zoning laws for livestock, etc., but still within a reasonable commute (less than 15 miles.) We found a property with about 1/2 acre dedicated to house/lawn, another 3/4 acre of forest, with the remainder as prairie. There is a seasonal stream that runs 8-months of the year, but lies at the lowest point in the property. Soil is a clay/loam mix that seems very fertile based on the prairie diversity. Fairly flat parcel with slight elevation slope towards the stream.

I've spent the last 9 months shoring up household stuff, building a chicken coop and workshop, clearing lots and lots of buckthorn (oh, and raising an infant), and I'm now to the point where I want to develop the prairie into a productive system. My ideal system would be a food forest that contains a fair amount of fruit trees and shrubs. Lots of wood makes me gravitate towards some large hugelkultur components as well.

I'm a bit paralyzed by where to start. (Recent google searches include "milwaukee skid steer rentals", "does my municipality allow controlled burns", "used 8hp wood chippers vs. using goats for brush removal", and "building a cordwood sauna.") I'm entertaining getting my PDC, but in the meantime I'm curious if there are any other Milwaukee are permies that I could bounce some ideas off? I'd consider hiring a PDC-certified consultant as well, but would like to see a portfolio of current work in that case. With a piece of land this size, I'd also be open to hosting a workshop or something as well.

I'm no slouch. I can build almost anything and live to work, but need some guidance on where to start with a grand plan. Holler if you know anyone in the area or if you are that anyone.


(The girls)
Posts: 236
Location: SE Wisconsin, USA zone 5b
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I'm just south of you in Kenosha County. Not certified, but I plan to be, hopefully next year. Great to hear about someone else in the area who is into permaculture.

Just a few questions;
Have you made a zone map, sector diagram, and slope map?
Have you read Bill Mollison's An introduction to permaculture design or Permaculture, a designer's manual ?
Have you watched Geoff Lawton's videos on design?

If not, then I suggest that those are some good places to begin. Remember that permaculture design is an organic process, meaning that your plan will change and evolve as you implement it. If you want to do big earthworks, then you need a well thought out plan, and that is worth waiting for and getting some experienced help. Otherwise don't feel like you have to have it all figures out at the beginning, just make small changes and observe, observe, observe.

Best of luck. I'd be glad to hear your ideas. There are also many smart people here that will answer your questions if you can communicate them effectively.
Von Herwig
Posts: 5
Location: Milwaukee, WI (Zone 5b)
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Nice to meet you Josef. Good to hear of other like-minded folks in my neck of the woods. I've read a fair amount - Mollison, Holzer and Shein's new book. Been reading lots online and have been through most of Paul's podcasts. Right now I'm trying to determine my zones. Thankfully, with my property (see shot below) is fairly straightforward.

I plan on Zone 1 being most of the "YARDE". Chicken coop is already built just south of the shed on the western edge of the yard. Herb and vegetable plots will go in next spring.

Zone 2 will come south of the creek, once I finish clearing out a bunch of buckthorn. The plan here is to use the fallen wood to create hugelkultur beds that will support an orchard. I hope buckthorn is suitable for this, because I have 3/4 an acre of the stuff. Not wimpy trees either - big, established trees. My chainsaw has been busy.

Zone 3 is the area marked "Prairie." It's fallow farmland (last farmed in 1967) that has a ton of diversity already. I hope to clear some areas any get some nitrogen fixation this fall before I do some test plantings in the spring. (Probably start with 3 sisters, some Jerusalem artichoke, etc. as an experiment)

Zones 4 & 5 would be on the southern end of the prairie. Because the satellite photo is in early spring and I think a bit outdated, it doesn't show just how dense the forest is here. I've already transplanted wild ramps here in the spring and hope to explore mushroom growing here, as it's a dark, established forest.

Also, I've started a blog at http://www.colloquial.org/ to document some of my progress. Maybe some folks here would be interested in following along. Excited to finally have a place to start planning for!

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My name is Bryce Ruddock and I am a Permaculture designer and teacher living in South Milwaukee. I'd be glad to consult about your site for free as you're not far from me if you're in the county. My background is a 2008 graduate of a PDC given by Midwest Permaculture and a 2010 certification as a Permaculture teacher by Permaculture Institute USA Cascadia Permaculture Institute. I have helped develop curriculum for Midwest Permaculture and am the primary teacher for Southeast Wisconsin Permaculture. I have also taught Permaculture at Kinstone and Purdue. My main strength in Permaculture is with plant guilds and plants in general. I'm available most times as I am retired since 2011 from a factory job in Oak Creek. You can contact me at bruddockjr@wi.rr.com
Bryce Ruddock
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