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I have land, does anyone want to design it or help me design it?  RSS feed

 
Aaron Dailey
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We just bought 5 acres in southern Ohio. It has a 1700 square foot double wide on it with 24ft. by 48ft. pole barn. We bought it a couple months ago before i got hooked on Permaculture. I am very new to Permaculture and lack understanding in many ways. What i have learned so far suggests to me that this is the way the world ought to be thinking and i want to be an example for those in my area. I dream of this land we bought becoming a tool for the expansion of Permaculture. The thing I am concerned about is whether or not it is a good piece of canvas. It used to be a corn field. It is very flat. One of my questions is how hard would it be too make it productive. Would it be better to sell this and look for a different layout. I know any place can be transformed but I am wondering the amount of work it would take.

I have 5 kids and the house on this land is in great need of attention. I have trouble finding the time to watch all the videos and research materials that i need to to be able to design this property correctly and effectively. I really have just newly came onto the Permaculture scene and need as much dense information as i can possibly get as time is limited. I want to teach my kids also as we home school and I believe this would be awesome for them. My oldest son is very into gardening and I believe he has the makes to be a great inventor.

I have even considered paying someone to come out and design or consult, but resources are indeed limited. It was hard to spend the money on the course but I feel like it is worth the investment though I am worried I dont have the time to make the most out of the resources that will be available during the PDC. I have went to part time to be able to spend more time with the family and focus on more important things (relationships). The system of consumerism grieves me and am looking to break free. It has been my heart for a long time to have a homestead and live off of our own land.

I dont know what options I have and am basically reaching out to let anyone know who might be interested that I have a basically blank slate and am open to whatever is best for the advancement of Permaculture (hint hint wink wink Geoff if you are reading this: my land is your land if you have any desire to make it into a Permaculture research center ) or something else for the greater good.

P.S. sorry for any blundering and babbling as I am typing this with a great amount of pressure due to all the things that need done to this house and land. On that note the distribution box to the septic is broken and septic leach line system was noted by the health department that it could fail soon because the installer cut some corners. I had a deadline of today to fix the D-box but the inspector seemed kind and understanding. If anyone has an idea to a better system that would be great. Would like all the things i do from now on be with a Permaculture approach but I am so new to this I have no idea where to start. I imagine as long as i tell the inspector my plans to remedy the situation he will increase the time limit.

Thanks for your time believe me i know how valuable it is,
Aaron

This message was cross posted from Geoffs website
 
Tracy Wandling
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Location: Cortes Island, British Columbia. Zone: 8ish Lat: 50; Rainfall: 50" ish; sand and rocks; well water
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Hi Aaron;

Congratulations on your land purchase, and on embracing permaculture! You're in good company here.

I think that the community here on Permies.com will be happy to help you with your projects, but we will need some information from you.

a) Where do you live?
b) What is your climate like?
c) What is your average rainfall?
d) Do you have an overview map of your land? A Google image works well.
e) Are there any trees or other native plants on the land?
f) What are your goals? Do you envision being self-sufficient in food? Food forest? Ponds?
g) Do you want to raise animals? What kind?
h) Are there any bodies of water near you? Rivers, streams, lakes?
i) Do you have neighbors who farm? What are they growing?

Any other information you have about your property, and your future goals will help us to offer information that might be helpful to you.

I can commiserate with your septic/plumbing problems - we are going through the same thing. There are some really good threads about grey water and black water systems. This my favorite - packed with great info - Greywater & blackwater systems These are alternative systems, so they might not be allowed where you live. It's worth looking into though.

Again, if you supply us with more info, we can start sharing some ideas with you about how you might proceed.

Cheers
Tracy




 
Roberto pokachinni
pollinator
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Location: Fraser Headwaters, B.C., Zone3, Latitude 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
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Unfortunately there is only so much that can be done with inspectors and bureaucracy when it comes to damaged infrastructure like septic.  The biggest issue here, from the inspector's point of view is health.  You have to be able to convince him that a different option might be even healthier than the previous system.  That said, you may not be able to convince the inspector in this regard, without really hard evidence.  He might be the sort of inspector that will completely refuse to look at alternative ideas.  So there's that; which right off the start is a pretty big potential hurdle.  You could try to explain what you envision, but without some kind of credentials or... major outlined plan, the inspector would definitely laugh at you.

Other than the septic issue, and the in-bad-shape house, and the potential of roundup poisoning your likely GMO corn field, your canvas seems fine.    If you are within a couple hours of a city where you can gain potential future students easily enough, then you are even better off.  Are there no other out buildings?

Considering your stated issues:

A) Sounds like you have your work cut out for you.  I can't say that it will be worth it, but it might be.  It is actually a better teaching tool to start with crappy infrastructure and make it bountiful than to start with the ideal and have it easy.  Be sure to take lots of pictures and notes so that you have this tool available.  These places deserve to be examples of potential rehabilitation.

B) I hope you got a good deal on the farm.

C) Consider this book Restoration Agriculture

I'm assuming that since you have a septic system and a house that there is water on site.  How much can you use?-more on that in the following points.

1.) Primary Consideration: Research a composting toilet system.  Buy the humanure handbook.  Consider a small outbuilding sealed composting toilet system outside your barn, sharing a wall... accessed by stairs both from the loft and the ground floor, and pray that you can convince the building inspector of it's safety.  Lend him the book. Get an understanding of greywater (this is non-septic water from sinks, laundry, shower, bath), and consider a system that works for your location.

2.) Is the barn in good shape at least?  Could you portion off part of it in the spring, dismantle the house, and rebuild it more efficiently inside, maybe, the loft of the barn?

3.) Buy a large sack of field peas (organic is best, but whatever you can afford...) to plant early in the season in the corn field to get microbial nutrients/nitrogen back in the system. Irrigate if possible to get the peas established.  Buy a scythe, scythe stone, and perhaps the scythe book and practice proper scythe technique on spare time.

4.)Consider a field mix that is rich in diversity, including nitrogen fixers like clovers and vetch and broadleaf plants like chicory, dandelion, annuals like barley and oats, and annual greens like mustard and radish, and herbs like dill, oregano, and cilantro.  When the peas are starting to flower, broadcast this mix in the living system, and then scythe the peas down.  Irrigate if you can.  After this you might not need to irrigate nearly as much.

5.)Plant a garden between the barn and your house, if that works with solar aspect, if not consider the best solar aspect and make a garden (small enough to be manageable), and focus attention on paths/garden beds that span the area for patterns of movement... example: I'm going to the barn to bring this, or get that and there is an unwanted weed, I'll pull it, and figure out what it is, and if I can eat it later.  I'm on my way to the field, and I see that this bed needs more mulch (note to self).
6.)Harvest the rain off your barn.

  

That's all I got so far.  


    
 
Rene Nijstad
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Location: La Mesa, Cundinamarca, Colombia
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Hi Aaron,

First of all, don't panic... You do not have to come up with a complete design tomorrow or next month. Since it sounds like you're new to the farm, that would also be nearly impossible.

Focus on 'first things first' while you continue the course. Start with the house, your family needs living conditions that are OK for them. Once you have the house sorted out, start with (preparing) the garden. Experiment, try things, and observe how they do. If things don't work as you thought they would, remain calm and keep trying to figure out what nature is trying to tell you.

Watch what the weather does, where the water flows and / or collects. How are the winds? What's the angle of the sun and how does it change during the year? Do you observe any patterns?

What do the neighbors grow? Which trees and plants do you see all around you that do well? Can you find out which species they are?

If you want to work with animals, start small, if you start with many the problems you encounter may grow over your head fast. With only a few animals you can try how it goes, so you can get a good feel for how to approach them, what functions they can fulfill on your land, what they need and more. When you feel comfortable with them you can add more, or another type of animal.

If you need structures, like stables or sheds, build temporary ones at the start, until you have figured out with certainty what the best place for them is, then build the permanent structures.

Permaculture is more a journey than a fixed approach. The land will 'talk' to you, you need to learn to listen to it and that takes time. So try to take the time you need. But keep experimenting and observing, while you try to follow at least two of the design principles: 'observe and interact' and 'obtain a yield'.

Every step you take on the journey you can post to permies if you feel the need for outside input. There are enough people here who would like to help or answer questions.
 
Aaron Dailey
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Tracy Wandling wrote:Hi Aaron;

Congratulations on your land purchase, and on embracing permaculture! You're in good company here.

I think that the community here on Permies.com will be happy to help you with your projects, but we will need some information from you.

a) Where do you live?
b) What is your climate like?
c) What is your average rainfall?
d) Do you have an overview map of your land? A Google image works well.
e) Are there any trees or other native plants on the land?
f) What are your goals? Do you envision being self-sufficient in food? Food forest? Ponds?
g) Do you want to raise animals? What kind?
h) Are there any bodies of water near you? Rivers, streams, lakes?
i) Do you have neighbors who farm? What are they growing?

Any other information you have about your property, and your future goals will help us to offer information that might be helpful to you.

I can commiserate with your septic/plumbing problems - we are going through the same thing. There are some really good threads about grey water and black water systems. This my favorite - packed with great info - Greywater & blackwater systems These are alternative systems, so they might not be allowed where you live. It's worth looking into though.

Again, if you supply us with more info, we can start sharing some ideas with you about how you might proceed.

Cheers
Tracy






Wonderful!! I'm so happy to have a response already and i am happy to hear i am in good hands Ok so i will just go down the list to answer your questions and if there are details i am leaving out or am not giving a very good answer please let me know and i will try my best to correct.

A) I live outside of Leesburg Ohio 45135

B) I am on the edge of zone 5 and 4. I believe it would be considered a cold climate. we have hot summers but rarely hitting 100 farenhieght like maybe a few days a year. winters get below zero sometimes but i think the average is like 20 degrees

C) average annual rainfall of 39.23 inches, I'll see if I can attach a graph of monthly averages IECC moisture regime is A (whatever that means)

D)I attached a screen shot from the county auditors page and both parcels are mine. At the end of the drive way is the pole barn 24x48 ft. Next to the loop in the driveway is our house 1700 sq feet. The house is a double wide. there are two wells and two septic systems on our land. if needed i can draw up something to show where those are located. the pond by the driveway is dry now and has been since we first looked at the property in august.

E) There are some very small evergreens randomly planted near the house. there is a thin tree line at the very back of the property with some large mature trees. The black locust is the only one i knew for sure what it was because of the knarly thorns sticking out of it. the front around our house is all grass except for the evergreens. Back by the pole barn is a mix of different weeds. There is alot of clover which makes me happy.

F) My vision is a system that will provide an abundance of food for my family and friends and neighbors. Maybe even a community garden of sorts but instead it would be like a food forest possibly. I would like to have an out reach to help people and show case permaculture at the same time. A pond is a possibility but would be alot of work but would be willing to do the work if it is necessary though.

G) We love animals but am back and forth because of the being tied down are still undecided. Will almost definitely get chickens as they are not as big of a commitment. What chickens are best for egg laying without being lazy? Have some experience with chickens but not in a permaculture design. If we got anything else it would be a milk cow and maybe a pig or two every year

H) No substantial bodies of water within a mile

I) The farm land around me is corn and soy bean which we are surrounded by on almost three sides. our neighbors had small gardens with the normal veggies


PLease let me know of anything thing else that can be helpful that i have left out and thank you for the info about grey water and septic systyems
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Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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With that pole barn, your land is not flat - you have a rainwater collecting "hill."  A really interesting book about using harvested rainfall is "The Bio-integrated Farm" by Shaun Jadrnicek:  https://permies.com/t/55622/Bio-integrated-farm-Shawn-Jadrnicek

Personally I don't think the flatness is a problem because you can unflatten it by making Berms  https://permies.com/t/60407/permaculture-superpower-berms

and Kraters  https://permies.com/t/44679/Zach-crater-garden

 
Eddie Conna
Posts: 88
Location: Los Angeles for now, Maybe Idaho soon...
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Aaron,

Congrats on the purchase.  Don't be so quick to think you need to bail or settle.  You don't have to do everything at once, take your time.

Regarding the distribution box.  A distro box in a septic system isn't all that complex.  It's merely a box where on line comes in, (from the septic tank) and multiple lines go OUT, (to the leech field) to "distribute" the waste water.  The distro box should be level, so water flows evenly into each leech line.

If it's NOT level, water will flow more into one line or another.  Not really a big deal. 

Septic systems are expensive because most people don't want to deal with them... because they are "icky"... so plumbers and septic companies can charge a fortune for what an average homeowner with basic skills and knowledge can do.

Find a company that sells septic components, get a new box, and dig out the old one.  put the new one in, and your distro box problem is solved.

If there's an issue with the leech lines, those can be replaced easily as well.  A leech line is built by digging a trench several feet deep.  put in 2 feet of 3/4' gravel, then a perforated pipe with the holes facing down.  The leech lines should have a very slight slope to them, about 1/4" per foot or so.  That way water flows downhill.  Add another 6 inches of gravel over the pipe, then cover with dirt.

Leech lines and septic systems should be placed where vehicles will NOT be driving over them, as the weight of vehicles over time and compact the soil, and crush the system.  It's possible your box got wrecked when someone drove something over it.

I'm confused how an official would know the leech lines are "likely to fail" since there is no easy way to inspect them.  (unless of course the field has bene dug up)  That seems like someone basically talking out their arse, as many officials like to do.  The ONLY way to know if a leech line is failing is if the following is happening:

1) The system is backing up into the house AFTER having been pumped... meaning water is NOT going INTO the leech system, (which could happen with a bad bistro box.)

2) Water is rising to the surface in the leech system area.  If that's the case, then the leech field is either plugged, OR over saturated.  In that case, it's POSSIBLE the ground has been "oversaturated" and a new leech field is needed.  Not a big deal if you have 5 acres of flat land, plenty of room for a field. 

If water is rising to the surface near the septic TANK, then water isn't getting into the leech field. 

Of course leech lines should be far away from lakes, rivers, water sources, wells, etc, to avoid contamination, and they should be placed in soil that will allow the water to soak in.  Areas with lots of rock and clay aren't great, but can work depending on how porous they are.  A soils test would determine the suitability for such a system.  If you know the general soil makeup in your area, that may not even be required or necessary.

I've built septic systems for a few thousand dollars where septic companies wanted TENS of thousands.  Spend some time on google, look up the basics of a septic system, and you will see how simple and easy there are.

Of course if you're going to go to a composting toilet system, that's all unnecessary.  HOWEVER, if a working septic system is required by officials, you can always fix your system easily, then bootleg a composting system in.  Many people will do that. 

Feel free to ask specific questions about the septic system if you wish.  But from what I've read based on what you wrote, your "problem" isn't that big of one... if you're a little bit handy. 

Here are my questions for you:

1) how does the official know your bistro box is failing/broken?

2) what makes them think the leech field/system is about to fail?

3) any info you can share specifically about the system that you know would be helpful in diagnosing your issues. 
 
Eddie Conna
Posts: 88
Location: Los Angeles for now, Maybe Idaho soon...
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So here is a picture of a commercially avoidable concrete distribution box.  Pretty simple item actually.  They come pre-made  in concrete and plastic mostly, but I've seen ones where someone built their own using concrete, blocks, and pipes.    I've also seen one where a guy took a 5 gallon bucket, cut a hole where the line from the tank came in, and then he cut a few holes for where the lines going out head to the leech field.  IF money was super tight, you could EASILY do that and it would work fine. 

The black line comes in from the septic tank, and the white lines go OUT and lead to the leech field or leech lines.  Again, NOT difficult at all.

Once you understand how the system works, it's pretty easy to fix/replace stuff.  The nasty part is if the system is full.  If the house sat vacant for awhile, it may not even be all that disgusting.  It's possible it's even dried up.   I'd recommend wearing heavy rubber gloves when dealing with an old system, just to avoid getting any bacteria, etc, on your person.  Have a functioning hose nearby to wash off if you splash yourself. 


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Aaron Dailey
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i guess this screen shot failed to attach to my last message


EDIT: sorry this was put in the wrong forum. you can erase it, i dont see how i can erase it.

edit num ber 2: i was wrong LOL i just didnt realise so many people had posted to this thread since last time i looked and thought i had somehow got into a different forum oops hehe
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Aaron Dailey
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Aaron,

Congrats on the purchase.  Don't be so quick to think you need to bail or settle.  You don't have to do everything at once, take your time.

Regarding the distribution box.  A distro box in a septic system isn't all that complex.  It's merely a box where on line comes in, (from the septic tank) and multiple lines go OUT, (to the leech field) to "distribute" the waste water.  The distro box should be level, so water flows evenly into each leech line.

If it's NOT level, water will flow more into one line or another.  Not really a big deal. 

Septic systems are expensive because most people don't want to deal with them... because they are "icky"... so plumbers and septic companies can charge a fortune for what an average homeowner with basic skills and knowledge can do.

Find a company that sells septic components, get a new box, and dig out the old one.  put the new one in, and your distro box problem is solved.

If there's an issue with the leech lines, those can be replaced easily as well.  A leech line is built by digging a trench several feet deep.  put in 2 feet of 3/4' gravel, then a perforated pipe with the holes facing down.  The leech lines should have a very slight slope to them, about 1/4" per foot or so.  That way water flows downhill.  Add another 6 inches of gravel over the pipe, then cover with dirt.

Leech lines and septic systems should be placed where vehicles will NOT be driving over them, as the weight of vehicles over time and compact the soil, and crush the system.  It's possible your box got wrecked when someone drove something over it.

I'm confused how an official would know the leech lines are "likely to fail" since there is no easy way to inspect them.  (unless of course the field has bene dug up)  That seems like someone basically talking out their arse, as many officials like to do.  The ONLY way to know if a leech line is failing is if the following is happening:

1) The system is backing up into the house AFTER having been pumped... meaning water is NOT going INTO the leech system, (which could happen with a bad bistro box.)

2) Water is rising to the surface in the leech system area.  If that's the case, then the leech field is either plugged, OR over saturated.  In that case, it's POSSIBLE the ground has been "oversaturated" and a new leech field is needed.  Not a big deal if you have 5 acres of flat land, plenty of room for a field. 

If water is rising to the surface near the septic TANK, then water isn't getting into the leech field. 

Of course leech lines should be far away from lakes, rivers, water sources, wells, etc, to avoid contamination, and they should be placed in soil that will allow the water to soak in.  Areas with lots of rock and clay aren't great, but can work depending on how porous they are.  A soils test would determine the suitability for such a system.  If you know the general soil makeup in your area, that may not even be required or necessary.

I've built septic systems for a few thousand dollars where septic companies wanted TENS of thousands.  Spend some time on google, look up the basics of a septic system, and you will see how simple and easy there are.

Of course if you're going to go to a composting toilet system, that's all unnecessary.  HOWEVER, if a working septic system is required by officials, you can always fix your system easily, then bootleg a composting system in.  Many people will do that. 

Feel free to ask specific questions about the septic system if you wish.  But from what I've read based on what you wrote, your "problem" isn't that big of one... if you're a little bit handy. 

Here are my questions for you:

1) how does the official know your bistro box is failing/broken?

2) what makes them think the leech field/system is about to fail?

3) any info you can share specifically about the system that you know would be helpful in diagnosing your issues. 


just want to quickly say you guys are awesome and thank you so much for the quick responses. I had two more messages before i finished replying to the first one and didn't even know it. I am glad to be told to relax as i have felt a bit overwhelmed with all that needs to be done. I really want to learn all i can to make this place sustainable in the future  but there is so much to consider. I feel pretty confident about replacing the Dbox thanks to your reassurance and will be making calls to find one and replace tomorrow. i thought it seemed simple but when officials get involved i get a lil nervous doing things myself. i thought about pouring concrete into a form to make one myself. Do you think that the inspector would be ok with that?

We got a letter in the mail and in the notes from when it was installed the inspector noted that half way through the installation the homeowner who was installing the system himself got injured. They didn't finish the project until the next spring and the septic tank floated out of its hole in the winter. it also said something about tieing lines together in an attempt to salvage system. due to these factors the inspector at the time warned the homeowner that there was a high likely hood of failure of the system in the future.

the inspector looked into the dbox during his inspection and found that it was broken is how he knew it was broken. he said it looked like someone had ran over it. the previos homeowner also put a pool over top of the leech field and the inspector said that i have to remove the pool. a small part of the field goes under our driveway

 
Jeffrey Sullivan
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Location: Michigan
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Congrats on your new home. You should be happy you have cleared flat land. That's a biggie. Any trees, irrigation, topographical changes can be made easily. Rene' is right, focus on your house first and if you do nothing else to the land right now plant a good cover crop. A pretty basic reply but take your time and learn as you go.
 
Eddie Conna
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Aaron Dailey wrote:

just want to quickly say you guys are awesome and thank you so much for the quick responses. I had two more messages before i finished replying to the first one and didn't even know it. I am glad to be told to relax as i have felt a bit overwhelmed with all that needs to be done. I really want to learn all i can to make this place sustainable in the future  but there is so much to consider. I feel pretty confident about replacing the Dbox thanks to your reassurance and will be making calls to find one and replace tomorrow. i thought it seemed simple but when officials get involved i get a lil nervous doing things myself. i thought about pouring concrete into a form to make one myself. Do you think that the inspector would be ok with that?

We got a letter in the mail and in the notes from when it was installed the inspector noted that half way through the installation the homeowner who was installing the system himself got injured. They didn't finish the project until the next spring and the septic tank floated out of its hole in the winter. it also said something about tieing lines together in an attempt to salvage system. due to these factors the inspector at the time warned the homeowner that there was a high likely hood of failure of the system in the future.

the inspector looked into the dbox during his inspection and found that it was broken is how he knew it was broken. he said it looked like someone had ran over it. the previos homeowner also put a pool over top of the leech field and the inspector said that i have to remove the pool. a small part of the field goes under our driveway



You should ask the inspector what he'd be ok with.  Everyone is different.  It's possible just the TOP is broken, meaning make a new top, no need to replace the whole d-box.  But it depends on where the damage is.

I'm not surprised it broke from someone driving over it.  That's usually the cause.

The septic tank "floated" because of hydraulic pressure.  Basically water got under the tank, and lifted it.  Either from hydraulic pressure, or possibly because it froze, expanded, and lifted the tank.  Either way, an easy fix.  Pull the tank out, redig the hole, reset, cover it. 

Pool should be removed from the leech field area.  Driveway should be moved, if possible as well.

As for "tying lines together" that means absolutely NOTHING without specifics.  What lines?  How are they "tied together"?  A diagram of what was done would be VERY helpful.

All in all, what you describe isn't a disaster.  I actually have done well buying places like this, for cheap, because someone messed them up, or neglected them.  Then a little bit of work, and I've got a place worth a ton more than I paid for it.

Don't get overwhelmed working about the 'end goal" of making the place totally sustainable. 

My advice?  Make it LIVABLE.  If codes allow, go the "sustainable" route.  If they don't, then decide how far "outside the box" you're willing to go.  For me, I'd make it meet codes, get it signed off, then do what I wanted.

For example, once the septic is fixed, and signed off, you remove the toilet, put a plug in the hole, and build a box over where the toilet went and use a 5 gallons bucket humane composting type system if you wanted.  If you need to sell, toilet goes back in.  Boom.  Everyone is happy, nobody knows the wiser.

As for "grey water recycling".  When I redid a house I had, I put all the drain lines EXCEPT the kitchen sink and toilet into a grey water system.... which was basically a perforated pipe run along a line of hedges about 1' underground.  Those hedges immediately went nuts, and are huge now, because they get all the sink, shower, and clothes washing water.  But it was easy to do because I had a raised foundation and could climb under the house and easily access those pipes. 

   

 
Aaron Dailey
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As for "grey water recycling".  When I redid a house I had, I put all the drain lines EXCEPT the kitchen sink and toilet into a grey water system.... which was basically a perforated pipe run along a line of hedges about 1' underground.  Those hedges immediately went nuts, and are huge now, because they get all the sink, shower, and clothes washing water.  But it was easy to do because I had a raised foundation and could climb under the house and easily access those pipes. 


What do you use for washing your clothes? I imagine it is something other than normal laundry soap. We have tried home made laundry soap but my wife says it just doest get the clothes as clean as she would like. If i have the laundry water hooked to a grey water system i dont want to put chemicals into my plants root system. What would you suggest to use for laundry soap? Also i cant spend the extra money on the seventh generation stuff or any other of the fancy stuff lol
 
Eddie Conna
Posts: 88
Location: Los Angeles for now, Maybe Idaho soon...
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I use regular laundry soap.  Plants don't seem to mind.  From what i've read, the old soaps that were damaging to the environment aren't made that way anymore, but i'm not entirely sure of that. 

The drain line is similar to that of a septic leech line.  Just dug a 2 foot deep trench, filled it 1' with gravel, put in a perforated pipe, and then covered it with dirt.  Been doing fine for years.  I did the same thing in a previous house I owned, and decades later, the system is still working fine.   
 
Aaron Dailey
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Eddie Conna wrote:I use regular laundry soap.  Plants don't seem to mind.  From what i've read, the old soaps that were damaging to the environment aren't made that way anymore, but i'm not entirely sure of that. 

The drain line is similar to that of a septic leech line.  Just dug a 2 foot deep trench, filled it 1' with gravel, put in a perforated pipe, and then covered it with dirt.  Been doing fine for years.  I did the same thing in a previous house I owned, and decades later, the system is still working fine.   


O wow that seems so simple. I will probably be able to put that in next year. What area do you live in? What is your soil like if you dont mind me asking
 
Eddie Conna
Posts: 88
Location: Los Angeles for now, Maybe Idaho soon...
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I'm in Southern California right now.  Soil is a mixture of clay, rock, sand...
 
Aaron Dailey
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Roberto pokachinni wrote:Unfortunately there is only so much that can be done with inspectors and bureaucracy when it comes to damaged infrastructure like septic.  The biggest issue here, from the inspector's point of view is health.  You have to be able to convince him that a different option might be even healthier than the previous system.  That said, you may not be able to convince the inspector in this regard, without really hard evidence.  He might be the sort of inspector that will completely refuse to look at alternative ideas.  So there's that; which right off the start is a pretty big potential hurdle.  You could try to explain what you envision, but without some kind of credentials or... major outlined plan, the inspector would definitely laugh at you.

Other than the septic issue, and the in-bad-shape house, and the potential of roundup poisoning your likely GMO corn field, your canvas seems fine.    If you are within a couple hours of a city where you can gain potential future students easily enough, then you are even better off.  Are there no other out buildings?

Considering your stated issues:

A) Sounds like you have your work cut out for you.  I can't say that it will be worth it, but it might be.  It is actually a better teaching tool to start with crappy infrastructure and make it bountiful than to start with the ideal and have it easy.  Be sure to take lots of pictures and notes so that you have this tool available.  These places deserve to be examples of potential rehabilitation.

B) I hope you got a good deal on the farm.

C) Consider this book Restoration Agriculture

I'm assuming that since you have a septic system and a house that there is water on site.  How much can you use?-more on that in the following points.

1.) Primary Consideration: Research a composting toilet system.  Buy the humanure handbook.  Consider a small outbuilding sealed composting toilet system outside your barn, sharing a wall... accessed by stairs both from the loft and the ground floor, and pray that you can convince the building inspector of it's safety.  Lend him the book. Get an understanding of greywater (this is non-septic water from sinks, laundry, shower, bath), and consider a system that works for your location.

2.) Is the barn in good shape at least?  Could you portion off part of it in the spring, dismantle the house, and rebuild it more efficiently inside, maybe, the loft of the barn?

3.) Buy a large sack of field peas (organic is best, but whatever you can afford...) to plant early in the season in the corn field to get microbial nutrients/nitrogen back in the system. Irrigate if possible to get the peas established.  Buy a scythe, scythe stone, and perhaps the scythe book and practice proper scythe technique on spare time.

4.)Consider a field mix that is rich in diversity, including nitrogen fixers like clovers and vetch and broadleaf plants like chicory, dandelion, annuals like barley and oats, and annual greens like mustard and radish, and herbs like dill, oregano, and cilantro.  When the peas are starting to flower, broadcast this mix in the living system, and then scythe the peas down.  Irrigate if you can.  After this you might not need to irrigate nearly as much.

5.)Plant a garden between the barn and your house, if that works with solar aspect, if not consider the best solar aspect and make a garden (small enough to be manageable), and focus attention on paths/garden beds that span the area for patterns of movement... example: I'm going to the barn to bring this, or get that and there is an unwanted weed, I'll pull it, and figure out what it is, and if I can eat it later.  I'm on my way to the field, and I see that this bed needs more mulch (note to self).
6.)Harvest the rain off your barn.

  

That's all I got so far.  


    


Thank you for you advice I think we are in a good location for students. we are 20 inutes from three decent size towns and then cincinatti and columbus are an hour away which are really big cities. There are only two buildings on the property right now and we are in the process of moving our other manufactured home onto the back lot by the pole barn. was thinking of connecting the pole barn to the manufactured home and making half of the pole barn into living space. There is a shed we will be moving along with the MHome that is about 13ft by 8ft. The Mhome is 66x14 ft.

I felt like we got a pretty good deal on the land but i dont know from a permaculture point of view since i am so new to it. The section with the barn on it was 22k and the portion with the house was 25k. There is five acres all together.

There are actually two wells and two septic tanks on the site since there used to be another home back by the pole barn. The leach lines from the septic system has been on my mind alot because they take up a large portion of the property. is it unwise to plant things over top of these lines? I would thing it would be good fertilizer but there is gravel under the lines and I don't know for sure how deep they are. also was thinking it might be bad for the plants since the humanure hasn't went through much of a composting stage. I dont know how much water i can use from the wells but the neighbor says he has never had his go dry and he uses it to water his garden.

The pole barn is in decent shape structurally but there is no loft. the roof is supported by a truss system and the the bottom of the trusses are about ten feet from the ground. but we could use the other home to live in though we were thinking of renting it out to get some extra income while working on this place.

I know from the over head picture the corn field looks bare but that is an old pic. The field is covered in lush weeds which i think alot is clover. Thats good right? Should i Still spread pea seeds and then do the field mix thing? Is the field mix for food harvest or does it serve another purpose?

I like that idea about having the garden btween the barn and the house. we travel there alot lol. So it would be really cool to walk through a garden all the way there.

 
Tyler Ludens
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It is safe to plant over septic leach lines, though generally it is advised not to plant trees or vegetables.  But grass or crops for compost are fine.  Greywater is also an important resource if you can plumb it separately from the septic.

Greywater info:  http://oasisdesign.net/

General permaculture design info:  https://permies.com/t/55751/Permaculture-design-basics

http://www.geofflawtononline.com/
 
Aaron Dailey
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awesome thank you tyler
 
Gilbert Fritz
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Hi Aaron,

As other people have said, there is no need to get things all planned right away. In fact, better plans can evolve slowly. I don't know how many plans I've gone through with my tiny lot; each time I know more, both about permaculture and gardening in general, and about my site and desires in particular. Now I know people are encouraged to have a complete detailed plan to make sure everything ties together harmoniously BEFORE doing any work; but I think having a really vague overview and only designing each piece in detail as one gets to it works better. For one thing, as a self described beginner, your overall master plan probably wouldn't be perfect anyway! In fact, there is no such thing as a perfect plan, and once everything is "done" you will probably find yourself coming back and redoing things you'd like done differently. Actually doing things gives one more perspective for the second shot.

Welcome to the wonderful world of permies! As a beginner myself, I can certainly relate! So much to do, all at once!
 
Taryn Hesse
Posts: 58
Location: Rainy Cold Temperate Harz Mountains Germany 450m South Facing River Valley
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Hi

Before you get someone to design your system have a few goals in hand. It takes a bit of direction from specialists, sure, but its your day to day life your designing. Do want you want to try or know you enjoy doing, and build it sustainably is more likely going to see you through the long term than being the cog in another persons design. For inspiration I looked at my relationship to the area as if i had made a permaculture zone map for the whole region, a smaller lot (2 hectares) between two villages so it has potential for secondary production to carry it eg. jams and other prepared items. It had a very small but functioning campground for tourists (since 1928!) I keep. It had a lite commercial brown trout lake and small resturant that needed upgrading that i did not keep (i don´t want to spend all day washing up). The building is 350 years old and I want to build up tourism as an enterprise by introducing a seventeenth century garden out front and permaculture set up out back because the work and job sounds satisfying and heaps of tourists walk past my house and often stop to read the historical info sign on the wall. The place needs to support myself, my partner (a wood worker converting the second story of the barn for his workshop) and hopefully at least one of my two kids takes it over. But then, ultimatly im at the mercy of what works out, its other people paying you that brings in income. So, design, I think, is better done slow and steady based on what ever you can face doing every day that pays enough to get by, and design it along the permaculture ethos. All of the techniques are there to look up when you need it and as i go through putting things in place, Ive found a better idea\ design than when I started planning anyway. don´t throw all your money at it in the start is my advice for what its worth.


 
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