paul has a new video  

 



visit the thread.

see the DVDs.

  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Permaculture design plan  RSS feed

 
Posts: 177
Location: California
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I was wondering if anyone would care to pitch in design ideas (or even a complete design if someone's bored and got a bunch of spare time on their hands?) for our property. I was introduced to the concept of permaculture through these forums several months back and have learned much since through study with our friends Mr. Mollison, Lawton, et al., as well as from many of you here. As a result the business plan for our 3 acres (which we closed on in late June) has rapidly evolved (more like been demolished and is in the process of being reconstructed) from a more conventional picture of organic farming (by this I mean lots of mechanical cultivation, rows, irrigation schedules, etc.) to what we feel is a much more progressive, regenerative way to farm/live (permaculture). I wanna sneak in a thanks here too to all the folks in these forums who've helped through sharing their experiences to allow me to form a more comprehensive plan for our piece of dirt.

The property is near perfectly rectangular (most land around here is cut into neat squares for tractor farming) running 600' E-W and 200' wide (N-S). The road frontage is the eastern property line. It slopes very gently west to east, only a total of about six inches drop over the whole 600'.

The 200' by 200' area running west from the road contains the house, barn, septic, driveway, etc. Because of limitations on what can be done on the ground in this area so far as cultivating food which vary from lead paint having been used on concrete walkways, to a buried swimming pool foundation, to the aforementioned septic system, we've slated this third of our land for drought tolerant perennial flowers, desert trees, succulents, and native scrubs like deer grass, coyote brush, wild rose, et al. with an emphasis on plants that will provide food/pollen/habitat for our local fauna.

The other two-thirds, roughly 400' by 200' (basically 2 acres), is a blank slate. We have access to water (canal district, plus our domestic well), machinery (you name the implement.. we know a slew of conventional farmers glad to bring it over and pitch in for free - real nice folks, however misguided they may be in their methods).

We are going for extreme diversity here, not looking for a 'niche' crop. Well-established markets exist in our area for high quality produce, pastured meat and eggs, honey, etc. We have friends and neighbors who have expressed interest in a CSA and are confident we can sell more shares than we will be able to offer. We have experience with/are interested in keeping goats, bees, sheep, turkeys, and chickens, and would like to learn ducks as well. The four legged friends will be for homestead use only, as we're well familiarized with the loops which must be jumped through in order to sell large-breed animal meat (and dairy products) in our state.. not worth the hassle, thanks.

What would you do with two flat acres of sandy loam given the "client's" wishes, money being a non-issue? How would you set it up?
 
pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
one thing I'm fairly sure of..if you are going from grassy farmlands to possibly trees..you might need to change the substance of your soil from bacterial to fungal..which means that you need to innoculate your soil when you plant your trees with some scoops of soil from a woodsy area..in the root area or at least on top of the soil around the trees..to get them to grow well..

it doesn't work well to plunk a tree down in a grassy area and expect it to grow, it needs different soil microbes.

our area was a grassy celery farm, and now I have a lot of trees growing, but still have to move some of the soil around a bit to keep the new ones alive.
 
Posts: 98
Location: Eastern Colorado, USA
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
M. Edwards wrote:

What would you do with two flat acres of sandy loam given the "client's" wishes, money being a non-issue? How would you set it up?


If money is a non-issue, allow me to suggest you hire a good PC designer in your area.  You'll get much better advice from someone who knows your climate, and can put boots on the ground, than you will from random people from all over the planet.  Free advice is usually worth what you pay for it.
 
            
Posts: 177
Location: California
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
TheDirtSurgeon wrote:
If money is a non-issue, allow me to suggest you hire a good PC designer in your area.  You'll get much better advice from someone who knows your climate, and can put boots on the ground, than you will from random people from all over the planet.  Free advice is usually worth what you pay for it.


I've thought about that.. main issue I have is that I don't necessarily think a three day design course and certificate qualifies someone as more competent than myself to design the layout of my property. I know people personally who've taken the courses who have little to no practical knowledge (read: don't know how to use a shovel), which in my book counts for a lot more than having taken a crash course and been branded an expert as a result. If it were someone with dozens of designs to their credit with follow up and references to support, maybe. Would someone like that give me a phone/e-mail consultation at a reasonable rate? If you're the individual I've just described as you sit there reading this, send me a PM and let's talk prices.
In the mean time, there's a million experts on these forums, and I myself am no "newbie".. I feel perfectly competent to sort through whatever opinions are given and draw my own conclusions from them, and I can be grateful of their authors' input whether I personally fancy their particular idea or not.  I disagree that advice given freely is usually worthless.. and I'm leery of "experts".
 
                                
Posts: 98
Location: Eastern Colorado, USA
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
M. Edwards wrote:
I've thought about that.. main issue I have is that I don't necessarily think a three day design course and certificate qualifies someone as more competent than myself to design the layout of my property. I know people personally who've taken the courses who have little to no practical knowledge (read: don't know how to use a shovel),


No argument there.  Really good practitioners of any trade or profession are few and far between.  But here, we're talking about a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary system of design that at minimum requires a working knowledge of botany, biology, ecology, forestry, entomology, meteorology, animal husbandry, soils, hydrology, architecture, construction... just for starters.  That really narrows the field.  (Added: It's pretty clear from Mollison's Permaculture: A Designer's Manual that he expects you to know a fair amount of stuff already.)

There are "permaculture instructors" out there who can tell you all about "orgiastic, ecstatic, Tantric communion with Mother Earth Gaia spirits" but don't know which end of a hammer to pick up. 

Anyhow... I did specify a good designer in my post! Look for biceps and calluses!   

 
            
Posts: 177
Location: California
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Lol.. fair enough.
 
Posts: 225
Location: Adelaide, South Australia (Mediterranean climate)
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If you are looking to actually produce something, having a few niches may not be a bad idea.  It is hard to be across tens of different types of products and their processing.  And when you are processing in very small quantities all the time, the cost of processing can be high per unit of output.  Some things also need specific equipment for processing, e.g. some types of nuts, which require an investment.

I second the advice to have someone local give you some opinions.  Being familiar with the area is massively valuable.  It doesn't mean you have to do everything they say, or even get them to do a design for you, but I guarantee it will change your mind on at least a few things, and hopefully get you seeing things in your land which you did not notice before.  All part of the observation process. 

Make sure you are clear with your criteria.  What is most important to you about the result?  What level of production do you need?  How much time do you want to spend on it, both initially and ongoing?
 
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
291
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hmm.  Buried swimming pool?  What was it back filled with?  Since they buried it, it was probably leaking = good sign for you.  Probably close to the house too.  I'd dig it out (auger + backhoe) about half depth, then do a large hugel bed with it.  That would be the kitchen/herb garden.
 
Hugh Hawk
Posts: 225
Location: Adelaide, South Australia (Mediterranean climate)
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Also remember, as cliched as it sounds, spending a few extra thousand now to get the right advice will save you much more in avoided mistakes down the line.  And you can never recover wasted time.

John Polk's comment may be worth consideration.  Your initial idea has it all the wrong way round in terms of zoning as you're probably aware - kitchen food crops should be close to the house and wildlife area are usually furthest away as they require less maintenance.  No problem with breaking the rule but make sure it is a conscious decision that you have thought out fully.
 
Posts: 2134
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Well if you are following Mollison Lawton you would want, I have listened more carefully to the tapes pioneer trees or bushes, they dont mention pioneer bushes as far as i recall but pioneer plants here in spain are often bushes. That is pioneer treees and bushes as as well as mulch and nitrogen fixing plants and animals to produce manure to get the soil up and working as fast as possible. of course there are pioneer herbaceouse plants to.
 I am using this thread of yours as an excuse to talk of pioneer plants those that grow where for different reason things have degenerated and are a long way from climax veghetation for the region. Climax being the optimum ,that could exist in your soil at your latiud with your rainfall etc. geographic features. When you read of wild flowers here you are all ways reading that these grow were things have degenerated they are pioneer plants,
     I suppose pioneer plants change a lot according to were you are. For brenda groth they are the willows and poplars that help dry up the marsh she lives in while in spain they are the pines the hardy dry country pines that can bare poor soils and dry weather. Evergreens are hardier than decidouse trees because they are have thinner water carrying tubes xylem and and these thinner tubes less given to embolias than the thicker water carrying tubes of decidouse trees and embolias that make the water pipes of trees useless, as they dont easily refill if emptied, happen where there are frosts that create airbubbles in the water which expand when things warm up and where the plants get very dry so in the extreme north of near desert coniferers are often your hardiest tree.
      Pines are what the governments in the mediteranean use as pioneer plants, because they are a money crop I should think, as well as because they can to grow on poor soils and in difficult climates.
    Junipers are also very hardy as concerns drought but slow growing. I have pictures of the incredible roots of these trees, both going deep into the ground and going out wide,  i suppose there are a lot of other trees that are pioneer trees I cant pretend to be an expert on them, so anyone who knows anthing on this give it out. I am just guessing or just using the little i know. Acacias grow on the border of deserts in north Africa, that is your mimosa type tree. There are prosopis trees  like your mespuite of arizona much mentioned by the permaculturist Brad Lancaster of arizona, or your propospis cineraria of the middle eastern deserts and india,  another pioneer and leguminous tree, and these don't only have edible beans as the mesquite tree does, their leaves are famously great fooder for live stock, palm trees must be good in deserts too.  
    As to pioneer bushes, in moor land in britan that is the least fertile places of England i suppose, there is  broom a leguminouse family bush that definately seems to be a pioneer plant and heather and in Spian cystus bushes are what takes over when hill sides are totally overgrazed till the earth is lost and the rock bared and also different types of gneist, brooms grow where things have got rough and heather. Gorse is a plant that can be feed to live stock too as are rosemary and time which are pretty hardy. agri rose macaskie.
   
 
,
 
                                
Posts: 98
Location: Eastern Colorado, USA
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hughbert brings up a good point -- processing.  On two acres in your area (I suspect) you'd extract little income from selling raw crops.  Not that you'd have a hard time selling a couple bushels of strawberries, for example, but you're limited by your acreage. 

The easy way to make more money with a small crop is to add value; e.g. turn your strawberries into jam.  Then you're getting 5-10x the revenue from the same crop.  If you have bees, you'll get 3-5x the money for your honey as mead than straight honey.  Heck, any crop turned to booze is worth more money, enough to well justify the added labor input.  Throw in the enormous personal satisfaction of taking more customers from the likes of Anheuser-Busch, and you've got a humdinger. 

One point of awareness there, though... [s]if you should be so foolish as to[/s] when you ask the permission of your local authorities, you will find that your initial setup would exceed a decade or two of projected revenue.  Read Joel Salatin's book Everything I Want to do is Illegal for more on that.  It's only a matter of time, I suspect, before they regulate the sale of plain old vegetables from a market garden.
 
rose macaskie
Posts: 2134
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I  have been longing while i wrote of trees to talk of totally reshaping the land. Make it into one big hill, take earth from the edges to fill in the middle or make it into and enormouse dip a bottom as they are calle din somerset there is a place called abrahams bottom,  maybe its called Abrahams bosom. Put in some banks that wind in and out i have seen a photo of a wall made like that,all a long series of Ses  that make lots of alcoves, the niches hughbert talks of. They can be cold niches on the north side of the banks and hot ones on the south side. Look at Sepp Holzers videos he does some pretty impressive earth works.
There is a strange garden in japan that is a big basin made into a modern garden photos of which you can just stare at a bit, it takes me a while to see whats in the ph¡to and think about it, to get ideas about moving earth in strange ways. I can get in the name of that tomorrow its on line. It has got rather late without my noticing it.
  If you move the earth so that it has ups and downs then you get lots of microclimates, shady bits and moister bits and drier and sunnier ones, any way land is normal flat because farmers have flattened it so some bumps and dips should be returned to it, look into Brad lancasters smallish dips where there will be more moisture in the soil, he makes them to plant plants in, but then he is planting in a desert. You have not mentioned you climate. I am giing out all these extravagante ideas because you said tha tmachines is not problem i am pretending you can do what you like. agri rose macaskie.
 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
291
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It seems that every book on 'making money with a small farm' talks about the highest profits are in 'value added' products.

The problem with that is that most states/counties have very strict regulations on any form of processing.  (And those that don't, will soon have them.)

What would it cost you to completely remodel your kitchen (appliances and all)?  Triple that figure, and you would be close to what it would cost to set up a 'commercial' kitchen...and most states will not allow it within your home, so you will also need to build a separate structure for it.

Unless you want to make a full time business out of producing a finished consumer product, I would avoid that market.  You will be competing with the big boys and their million dollar facilities.  Laws are going to get tougher each year.  Most homesteaders cannot compete in that environment.

 
gardener
Posts: 856
Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
15
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Washington State is starting to crack that the other direction.  http://www.urbanfarmhub.org/2011/04/washington-cottage-food-law-headed-to-the-governor/

Many communities are building food policy networks to change the laws and regulations that keep communities dependant on industrial economies.
http://www.sustainablesouthsound.org/programs/local-food-systems-program/

Olympia has community-based organizations to help people design businesses.
http://www.enterpriseforequity.org/index.html

We either act like a soverign people or we don't.
 
            
Posts: 177
Location: California
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks everyone who has contributed thus far. Want to try and respond to a few of the talking points.. I'll follow the same order in which the responses were posted; it's hard for me to select snippets w/the quote feature on my mobile.

Hughbert: The idea of niche marketing doesn't appeal to me. IMO diversity=protection.. against disease in your garden/stock, fluctuations in financial or regional food markets (i.e. a bigger producer comes in and fills "your" niche), etc. Don't wanna be so singularly focused in my everyday work either.. variety is the spice of life. On the note of the unfortunate pool foundation, it wasn't backfilled.. it was an aboveground type. So when they did away with it they just knocked the walls down and buried the foundation (which looks like 1-2' of concrete on rebar, though I've not examined it closely). That's only like maybe 100 sq. ft. of our "yard" area though. My real concern as I stated previously is the lead paint they've used around the patio areas and concrete walkways; however, this really only puts off limits the front patch between the house and road because thankfully they didn't think it necessary to paint in the back where no one would see it. Anything from the backdoor of the house west is basically included in the 400x200' rectangle I referred to in describing the place initially, so I've allowed for some "zone one" planning as per Mr. Mollison's design principles. And per your suggestion I hire in "professional" advice, I'm seriously considering it. It depends on who I can find and what they think their time is worth in dollars.

Dirt Surgeon: Our scale is, naturally, limited by what space we have available; however, we weren't planning on monocropping it to strawberries    . There's good money to be made selling a seasonal progression of a wide variety of fruits and veg through the CSA model, and a lot of people are/have been successful at it (and a lot of them on less than two acres, I might add). We obviously see eye-to-eye in regards to government officials. Better to beg forgiveness (read: claim ignorance) than to ask permission.

Rose: No need to apologize for the hijack, I like where you were going with that. I imagine our climate here in central CA is similar to yours in Spain. Arid Mediterranean with dry, hot summers and mild, wet winters. As for pioneer trees/bushes, we are looking at acacia and mesquite which I think you mentioned, as well as ceanothus, honey locust, and desert willow.

John: Per my description of the pool foundation, how would you set about putting that space to use? I agree with your assertions about value-added goods/processing. The exemptions we have out here for homestead/farmstand/direct-to-consumer only allow for canned goods with high acid content e.g. pickled preparations. Beyond that you start having to retrofit buildings and court the USDA. That's saying nothing of the labor involved to do it on a small scale without specialized equipment.

 
rose macaskie
Posts: 2134
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
     I mentioned a japanese garden with some extravagant earthworks in it. It is called, "Site of Reversible Destiny" design by two zainey interior decorators, Arakawa and Gins, you can find it in the internet, the picture which shows how they make dips  that have a hill beside them made of the soil taken out of the dip can be seen if you click on the, Images, of the "site of reversible destiny" and then click on the forth image. The garden has been made to look, from a distance, like and abstract painting with patches of coloured earth or sand contrasting with the grass, green or dry and greyish and also with a few patches of plants with leaves that are red or yellow or grey instead of green.
    Its earthworks mostly consist of basins dug out and the earth converted into a hill next to the artificial basin. There is a place where they seem to have dug out a trough and created a bank that has the trough to one side of it and a basin to the other these are all very big structures. They are fair sized troughs and basins and berms or banks and hills, a medium sized tree looks fairly small in them, the garden is more a park than a garden.
In other photos of this garden taken from other veiw points its earth works appear to consist of ridges and canyons so they dig out valleys and witht the earth pile up a ridge, a bit hugglkulture style.
    It is a strange looking place but i need example of what others have done, if i am to think of doing things myself. It is usefull to have an example of what others have done moving earth or anything else or because you can take their idea or because it makes you think i dont want that or because you think if i modified that a bit I would like it better or I think it would work better and so on.
    This modern garden does come from a tradition, in japan and china probably in other parts of the far east too they have a tradition  of creating mini landscapes, these mini false landscapes are called stroll gardens, I imagine that you can find images of them with the words stroll garden. Stroll gardens imitate a landscape, are places where they construct hills and valleys.
     One of these gardens is described in the book," The Story of the Stone" or called, "ream of Red Chambers" by Cao Xue Qin. It consists of a garden  in which you can stroll over a hill and come to a small summer house among bamboos that is where one of the cousins lives, the characters in the book are teenagers of a very rich family and then skirt the hill walking beside a pond and come to another building, a barn temple country cottage, construction, with an aspect of being from a country landscape, the cooking and all practicle things that keep this family alive are done in ohter parts of the compound, the cooking in the houses in the walls that surround the compound, so that cooking does not to burn down the main house and others things in the main buildings.  All these hills and ponds where crammed into a  pretty small place, according to the transalator of the book who visited what was meant to be the site of the novel, it is an autobiographical novel, and was suprised to find the space the garden was meant to have occupied was not half as big as he had imagined. agri rose macaskie.
 
rose macaskie
Posts: 2134
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have just thought, the chinese book i mentioned in the last post talks about how an administration can have lots of bits to it that are expensiv e and that have become obsolete, and how difficult it is for them to cut down what has become unecessary,  how they can start spending more and more money,  it is very interesting on this.
    The now de3ad grandfather of the family of the book recieved the commision to manage the salt in all of China, that naturally made them very rich, in the household of the family the hareem, the complex that ohuses them that includes the male quarters and receiving rooms and them female quarters, where male cousins enter and leave, a quarter for each woman, granny, mother, auntie and such and such etc. Aunti such and such, a nineteen year, old manages the housekeeping, they have lots of maids and women working for htem on the outside. They keep adquiring new employees adding to the post the family is then expected to fill for ever, such as if granny starts to have five maids instead of four, and then it seems it seems that that number can never be reduced aand also everyone else starts to want to have five maids instead of four.  Say if she got ill one day and they decided to employ another maid during the illness later on  reducing number of maids she had in the illness would mean  it seems that  they were on hard times, it would be embarrassing, it would look bad and also people just expect them to go on offereing the same number of posts need to or not, it seemed to become a sort of duty for the family.
      At the same time as they suffer from this sort of inefficiency, they suffered from the new haed of hte famiy not being a good head of the salt trade, he is not like his father, a dedicated civil servant and busimess man, he spends his time trying to look like an intellectual and so to keep in with the smartest circles in the town. The emporer takes away the post from the family and they get ruined.
      I thought it was interesting to read how everything kept getting bigger and more expensive, I thought "that would happen, it must happen in the civil service too", so maybe it is possible to cut down on things by simply cutting out what no longer is necessary without cutting programs that really matter. Of course any cutting down is to take away a job from someone and that is necessary for that person very necessary.
    This chinese book is also a fun book to read , the first volume not so much it is a bit confusing but then it is easy and full of suspense, you find it hard to put down.
  I suppose the same thing about cth civvil service growin gmore and more anhnd some of the old offices becoming of no further use  some of goes for regulations to you forget to get rid of regtulations that have lost their usefullness, you soon get regulation that were once a good idea and no longer are, and so  regulations become so slow and stupid that they just stop people doing things, so they just need to be tidied up all the time, trimmed down and such. agri rose macaskie.
 
rose macaskie
Posts: 2134
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
    Changing the whole lie of the land totally, adding hills or big basins because it is flat, presumibly because ploughing has gradually flattened it, is not  a part of permaculture as far as i know, it is a thought i had that arouse from Bill Mollison saying that we had flattened the land and squared it off. I just thought maybe we should return some bumps to it. I have not fully thought through the consequences for growing food of introducing a hill where there was not one before as far as we know, beyond thinking that it might vary the climate of the place the north side giving you a place for plants that like the cool would work as a herb spiral does. I suppose that if you are following a permaculture design plan, the answer to M.Edwards question aboutwhat to do with land with just a slight slope to it is to put in berms, banks and swales, wide shallowditches on the level and in this way help rain to sink into the land.

      Above I wrote of pioneer trees, the ones nature sends to my land are plums that are very hardy and if i replant suckers that have grown from the roots they grow even with very little help through the first dry season.
    Apart from pioneer plants, ie.  plants that can live in difficult terrains like junipers and pines, permaculture design suggests the planting of nitrogen fixing trees such as acacias such as mimosa, as mimosas grow deeper into deserts than pines do, they are probably a better idea than pines as a green belt tree.  
     Planting nitrogen fixing plants, like clover, peas or a bean crop, is standard in farming but planting trees that fix nitrogen is not as far as i know. The trees M. Edwards is planning on planting are, most of them, nitrogen fixing so obviously he does not need advice on this, locust, mespuites, acacia and ceanothus that he is considering are all nitrogen fixing trees. I have in the end found out what goumi, a plant geoff lawton mentions in greening the desert is, i came across it looking up elaegnus, i was looking up o¡elklaegnus because of ken ferns comments o it in his video. Goumi is a type of elaegnus and elaeagnus are what Ken Fern mentions as producing edible berries with peanut tasting seeds, tha tfruit earlier in the year than any other plant does.
    Another plant that would probably do well in my garden where it is too cold in winter for most acacias, that is not mentioned by M edwards is the cercis siliquastrum, apparently not a canopy tree. They bare some frost and are mediteranean or have been for centures, so also bare the heat and lack of rain of a mediteranean summer.

     As far as i can make out the advantage of nitrogen fixing trees is that they find nitrogen for themselves and so grow in poor soils and then you can chop and drop them to feed the soil with. I dont know how big you let them grow, if you are to chop and drop them, it would be better to keep them small.  The organic matter that you get from chopping and dropping them produces notrogen in the normal way, as it rots.
      In hot places the shade pioneer trees might produce is also important, as long as it is the right amount of shade, here, in the province of Cordova where they grow their pig feeding oaks fairly close together, they lop of a branch when they notice that the shade the tree castes has too big an effect on the pastures at their feet.
   The shade also  helps in the accumuilation of organic material on the ground, as the break down of organic matter is faster in the heat, a bit of cool shade means the break down is not too fast.
    I wonder if it is usefull to have some junipers because they are scented and maybe keep off insects as well as being pioneer,  though they grow too slowly to produce much organic matter for a long time. When they have grown they produce a lot, i have a book that comments on the quantity per acre and also their organic matter is used in the stables because it is a natural insectacide, which keep the livestock a bit free of bothersome insects. agri rose macaskie.
 
            
Posts: 177
Location: California
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Wanted to bump my post to add this update. We've been looking for a designer now as per TheDirtSurgeon's favorite recommendation (that advice given freely is worthless and professional help should be sought) for a handful of weeks without a lot of luck. Most people who advertise as designers online prefer to stay close to home (like within 50-75 miles, say most of the ones I've corresponded with), and those that do travel extensively are folks getting hired out to do installs all over the world, i.e., their time is worth serious money (they think it is, at least). I'm not necessarily disputing that.. but on the other hand, I can't necessarily afford to pay their travel costs, plus hourly rates for time spent en route, plus the hourly rates for the consult once they actually arrive, then to draw up the design, etc., etc. I guess what I'm trying to say is, the average person's access to design services is pretty severely limited by what's available regionally. I'm looking at upwards of a $500 tab before anyone's boots even hit dirt at my place if I source them from the bay area, which at three plus hours out is the best I've been able to do. World's smallest violin is wringing out a sad, sad tune for me.. I know. But there's a lot I could do with $500. I'd pay it for Lawton to come do a design for me.. wonder what his going rate is?
 
            
Posts: 177
Location: California
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Just scanned a few of the posts above a bit further and saw someone say "better to pay a few thousand now to avoid costly mistakes later".. I was struck by the boldness of the figure (though it seems it's not far from the truth). I understand people need to make a fair living and I'm all for people doing it as permaculture designers, but don't these people take something analogous to the Hippocratic Oath and promise to do their best to advance the practice of Permaculture? An office visit to our GP back home cost $80 dollars. With no insurance. I'm just saying. Then again, I've heard the idea tossed around here about developing market niches in which you can charge someone $4000 for a ham, so I guess maybe the shoe fits, depending on the individual. Charging $4000 for a ham doesn't exactly smack of permaculture either, IMHO.
 
            
Posts: 177
Location: California
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Sorry for the triple-tap here, guess "I need to vent", like the poster in the Green Building section whose thread I'm following. Just wanted to add that one more thing irking me slightly: All the folks I find advertising services online are -way- more geared toward Bermuda reclamation (backyard lots) as opposed to larger scale installs. If I'm gonna pay a cool grand just to get someone to my doorstep, I want their portfolio to contain some "Greening the Desert"-type installs. Does that individual exist outside of flying in an international celebrity?
 
            
Posts: 177
Location: California
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Lol.. brutal! Look, I'm not looking for a handout, and like I said before, I'm all for people making a fair living, especially at permaculture. It's just unfortunate for me that I don't live in a more permaculturey area I guess. I think it being a relatively new profession (more appropriately newly popular perhaps) also works against the favor of the folks seeking out these services (i.e., fewer practitioners=higher demand=higher fees). Other thing is, I wouldn't be looking to hire a design consultant to help plan a yard reclaimation project.. I've had a backyard garden before. We're looking at a large scale installation of trees, swales, and pasture over three acres with a lot of work, seeds, transplants, gas, manpower, etc. on the line. We basically want someone to double check our plan of action and offer corrections, additions, etc. for the sake of our personal sanity. With so much cash and effort on the line it'd be a real mess for it to fail, and though we feel competent and have taken great lengths to educate ourselves, this is fairly new territory to us as our former experiences were more based in "conventional" farming wisdom.

I think a big part of what I'm crying about is that the designer I'm looking for doesn't
seem to exist. All the portfolios I peruse are full of photos of 10x10 Bermuda grass plots which these designers sheet mulch with cardboard and compost, run the washwater to, plant some perennial flowers and call it done. I'm not paying $80 an hour plus travel expenses for someone to landscape my yard. Show me some slides that look like Mollison's work in Australia or Lawton's in Jordan, and I'll cough up the grand. Seriously. Has anyone here paid for these services? Anyone in the southwest, even better? Anyone who'd recommend their designer better yet?
 
            
Posts: 177
Location: California
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Golly, can't help but feel like I'm being condescended to.

I was referring to them sheet mulching over the Bermuda with cardboard and compost as most suburban designs involve yard reclamation (from grass). Sorry, I know my writing is a bit rambling and maybe doesn't read like it sounds in my head. And yeah, I e-mailed the design branch (actually a different website altogether) of that organization you linked.. going on four weeks ago, now that I check my outbox. You notice in googling there are only like five hits in the whole state for permaculture designers?
 
Paul Cereghino
gardener
Posts: 856
Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
15
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I haven't met someone who I was confident could develop a 20-100 acre complex polyculture installation and business plan without a lot of experimentation  (not just water and infrastructure, and crop plans but also harvest, process, marketing etc...).   A lot of folks I know in agriculture are hustling to survive producing annual commondities.   I am not sure that most Pc designs have really thought though the harvest, processing ad marketing sides of the venture. 

I would talk to traditional organic growers involved in your proposed commodity line and talk through issues there as well.

I suspect that the designer you seek is you.  and you'll likely need to parse our consultation just like you'll have to do for the construction.  Talk to a hydroengineer about your earthworks.. a plantsman about varietal selection...

I say, face it Mike... you're on the cutting edge... no seatbelt in this vehicle.

Then write it alll down so we learn something from your adventurous spirit.
 
            
Posts: 177
Location: California
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I should think any qualified designer would have at least a basic knowledge of hydrology, right? And I didn't mean to say I was expecting the consult to be done for <$500, just that I wasn't impressed with what I found on offer with $500 as a base price-point for travel fees to even get anyone here, not even talking about fees for the actual consult. Like I said, I'd be willing to pay real money for someone with the portfolio to back their fee schedule, but short of hiring an international celebrity like I mentioned before (subsequently the guy Ludi linked was speaking in Jordan last week with Lawton and Mollison), that person just isn't for hire.

On a side note, I didn't mean to piss anyone off with my bitching and moaning, though I seem to have engendered some hostility inadvertently. Sorry if I was being unreasonable.

Paul, the more I consider it the more I think you're right. I just need to suck it up and do it to the best of my ability.. screw stress, fear, trepidation.. if I make a mistake, own it and experiment my way out/forward. I just figured it'd be a little more insurance against failure to have someone to consult with who has a few more notches in their belt than I do.
 
Posts: 73
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
all of mine are drawn out on paper... no CGI yet... but working on it
 
Hugh Hawk
Posts: 225
Location: Adelaide, South Australia (Mediterranean climate)
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The few thousand I referred to was more along the lines of getting someone knowledgeable to spend some serious time looking at your site, and also doing any water/soil testing that may be beneficial.  Sounds like that person doesn't exist near you.  I think Paul might have it right.  Why not spend some time documenting your plans so they can be shared with others?  It will also help you to clarify your ideas in your own head.  Then you can get some feedback.
 
Paul Cereghino
gardener
Posts: 856
Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
15
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
What I meant was that if you have a big project in mind, you might find the knowledge and experience out there, but without synthesis.  THere are non-permies that really understand flood flow irrigation systems, and people that understand polyculture, and people that understand farm labor efficiency and marketing but not all three.

No complex systems project relies on one person for all technical skills, but the project manager needs to maintain the vision, and knows where the plan is weak, and where the risk is, and how to ask the right questions, and what the contingencies are. 

I am not sure that the first generation rollout of economically viable permaculture design fits well with a rugged individualism model as your social component.
 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
291
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Sadly, I must agree with Mike E.  From what I have seen, most PC "designers" seem to be catching the wave from the latest craze: suburbanites that want to be "green" (despite the the 300hp SUV in the driveway), and will sell them a package to turn their backyard into a "food forest".  I know that there are true designers out there, but in an urban/suburban environment, you are more likely to encounter the recent 'graduate' who merely wants to finance their dream, than a true designer with actual experience in making it happen in a real world environment.

Until enough dedicated people get into the movement, we will be stuck with a lot of wannabes who are just milking the ca$h cow.
 
Posts: 182
Location: Long Beach, CA
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hughbert brings up a good point -- processing.  On two acres in your area (I suspect) you'd extract little income from selling raw crops.  Not that you'd have a hard time selling a couple bushels of strawberries, for example, but you're limited by your acreage. 


I know a family that has produced up to 6,000 pounds of food on 1/5 of an acre. Extrapolate that to 2 acres. That's a lot of food and potentially a lot of money with the right crops. "Yuppy chow" (salad greens) is a popular sell if you don't mind the labor. You can do a lot with 2 acres of polyculture. If you have an Asian, Mexican or other populations nearby, you can capitalize by growing food of their cultures.

Some processed food items like someone suggested is a great idea too as a value added product.

To get the most out of 2 acres using permaculture you need some good practical familiarity with designing sites whether you've taken a course or not. I've never taken a course, but I'll stack my experience up with the average person who has and still come out well. But that's having done my own research and practice over a decade and I still have much to learn. An experienced person with boots on the ground will help you avoid a world of costly mistakes.
 
Benjamin Burchall
Posts: 182
Location: Long Beach, CA
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Sadly, I must agree with Mike E.  From what I have seen, most PC "designers" seem to be catching the wave from the latest craze: suburbanites that want to be "green" (despite the the 300hp SUV in the driveway), and will sell them a package to turn their backyard into a "food forest".  I know that there are true designers out there, but in an urban/suburban environment, you are more likely to encounter the recent 'graduate' who merely wants to finance their dream, than a true designer with actual experience in making it happen in a real world environment.

Until enough dedicated people get into the movement, we will be stuck with a lot of wannabes who are just milking the ca$h cow.


That is so on the money!  I've been raising food in an urban environment and have produced more food than most of the people I've met who plunked down the $1,000+ to take a PDC. Currently, I'm a managing partner with a start up agriculture consulting firm specializing in urban agriculture. The founding partner and I met today. I'm teaching him permaculture. I said basically the same thing today you said above. It boggles my mind that so many permaculture folk are so far from doing sustainability in their gardens. When I look around and see the signs that their gardens are dependent on fossil fuels I wonder how they justify calling it permaculture. Everything from plastic rainbarrels and pvc pipes to being resource intensive in their start up to inputs of organic fertilizers and pesticides to having a customer base they had to burn a lot of fuel to deliver their goods to. I wonder what they would do if the oil went away.

I think part of the problem is the price tag on PDC's. Who else would you expect to attract at $1500 - $2500 a pop? People with money to spend who typically use money as a solution to problems to begin with. The people who really need permaculture knowledge and will practice it (because they need to) usually can't afford the fee. So, I think a new model of permaculture teaching is needed.
 
pollinator
Posts: 9744
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
189
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Part of what will keep people away from permaculture is requiring they not use plastic rain barrels and PVC pipe. 

<<< uses those things
 
            
Posts: 177
Location: California
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Man, really changes the flow of the thread and makes me sound like I'm talking to myself with the posts I was defending myself against removed. Guess maybe victims of the "be nice" policy or otherwise redacted by their authors.

Anyway.. Benjamin, I agree that a new model for certification is needed. To get a contractors license out here for example you need (correct me if I'm wrong) at least a year's worth of documentable understudy/apprentice work or to have worked on a crew under a licensed contractor, with the references to back your time spent. Then you can go in and apply for your license/take the pertinent exams.

Ludi, I tend to agree with you that some people get too caught up in trying to go totally au naturel.. I think true permaculturists are pragmatists as well. Also, I find a lot of people that tend to rant and rave about things like poly drums being evil machinations of the petrol beast and so on still do stuff like.. drive cars.
 
Paul Cereghino
gardener
Posts: 856
Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
15
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
"Until enough dedicated people get into the movement, we will be stuck with a lot of wannabes who are just milking the ca$h cow."

And as far as I can tell it is a pretty thin and dry cow around here.  Dedication can't overcome poor design.  Don't we have to design education and training and an industry as much as a garden?!

The  'new model for permaculture education' thing deserves more attention.  I learned about Permaculture parallel during my undergraduate degree, and it complimented well.  I studied photography, waste management, ecosystems, and agriculture and Permaculture theory made it fit together and have meaning.  Permaculture shaped what I did when I went back to grad school to get a better paying job and more project management opportunities -- I straddled Geomorphology, Ecosystem Science, and Environmental Hort.

The free standing Permaculture education system has always bothered me -- and created a 'us and them' kind of feeling that undermines what PC is actually good for.  Pretty much all the components of permaculture exist within the mainstream education system.  It seems like there is an opportunity to use system design theory to achieve the critical thinking and integration that are still the buzz in education, despite the testing fad, and thereby bring the challenge of ecosystem design as the organizing principle of primary and secondary education (like Montessori's 'Great Lessons' approach).  You don't have to be controversial and insult the dominant paradigm, and alienate people who are dependant on our ecological deathmarch, to build that analytical capacity.  Meanwhile you need demonstration sites.  Industrial society falls apart of its own failings under analysis - it is sustained by the tragedy of the commons.  The value of ecological design is in observation and analysis, motivated by values, not in dogmatic indoctrination.

[End Soapbox]
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9744
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
189
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I try to remove any posts of mine which upset someone.  I wasn't trying to upset anyone or post anything that needed to be defended against, so I removed those posts.  One can edit one's own posts.  I try to adhere to the "be nice" policy and if I inadvertently say something not nice, I remove it as quickly as possible.   

 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9744
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
189
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Paul Cereghino wrote:
Meanwhile you need demonstration sites.


Which all of us with access to yards or land can build and many of us are currently building whether or not we have a certificate.    Then we can give tours and show people our yards, still without need of a certificate.

 
            
Posts: 177
Location: California
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Paul, very poignant and well put. Don't think you need the extra projection offered by climbing up on the soapbox to point out that a three week crash course shouldn't qualify someone to call themselves a certified permaculturist.. as you pointed out, it's such an all-encompassing field you'd be hard pressed to find -anyone- with a complete grasp of+practical experience pertaining to all the concepts it entails.

I would also agree/argue that the fee schedules for the courses tend to discourage lower income students from attending, which I guess makes sense being that the same issues exist in most educational institutions in our country. Ironically (or perhaps logically?) it seems the financial elite are also the most likely to patronize/benefit from PC design services (the types of people who have the extra money to throw around at things like hiring out yard and landscaping services rather than mowing/mulching/weeding themselves). Though I agree Paul that there are great opportunities for learning science applicable to permaculture within the framework of the traditional education system, I think it still leaves the issue on the table of those resources typically being restricted to those who are financially well off. I really do think the temporary solution (and a big part of the permanent solution as well) lies in free sharing of information such as that taking place here. Pardoning my French and crossing my fingers this isn't overly political, but if the fucking idiots in power would put some subsidy moneys in the right place (like transitioning from industrial to sustainable ag, teaching sustainable design whether you call it PC or not) then we could really get the ball rolling.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9744
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
189
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Aside from not being able to benefit from the "branding" of the permaculture name, a person could learn permaculture all on their own or with others (like we're doing here, or could do in person) and then start one's own landscape design company (not using the words "permaculture design" using permaculture principles.

I think we need to be mindful of putting roadblocks in front of ourselves and others which may not actually be there.  There's nothing stopping people from learning and implementing permaculture without the certificate coming into the picture at all, in my opinion.

With enough information (photos, topographical maps, etc) folks here on the board could probably jointly design quite a complete permaculture plan or evaluate an existing plan, all without needing certification or the exchange of money.

In my opinion. 

 
            
Posts: 177
Location: California
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I totally agree Ludi, like I said I think this community is a big step in the right direction, and any way of moving the ideals forward shouldn't be overlooked, whether you wanna call it permaculture or not. But the thing is, IMO, the framework Mollison and Holmgren put together all those years back is still totally viable. It's there ready to be advanced and carried forward, it's got (almost) all the right bits and pieces contained within, and, big bonus, it's already got a well-established and catchy name. I never said it wasn't possible to learn about design outside of a PDC.. on the contrary I feel I at least implied if not directly stated the opposite. But I think it'd be a shame to scrap or shy away from the P word in favor of another term just because it's copyrighted and people (myself included) have some misgivings about the PDC system of education/certification. It's just one part of a very well thought out whole that might could use a little tweaking.

H Ludi Tyler wrote:

With enough information (photos, topographical maps, etc) folks here on the board could probably jointly design quite a complete permaculture plan or evaluate an existing plan, all without needing certification or the exchange of money.

In my opinion. 




I'd echo that in its entirety minus the "probably" and "in my opinion".

Any volunteers?
 
                                
Posts: 98
Location: Eastern Colorado, USA
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Mike E wrote:
Ironically (or perhaps logically?) it seems the financial elite are also the most likely to patronize/benefit from PC design services (the types of people who have the extra money to throw around at things like hiring out yard and landscaping services rather than mowing/mulching/weeding themselves).


I must be the only one who sees the positive side of that statement.  People with money can get things done.  Thus, if we wish to do more than spread ideas -- if we wish to actually terraform the planet -- then we get people with money to do it.  Am I crazy?  Because it seems pretty obvious to me.

And of course, any aspiring designers who hope to make it their bread & butter would do well to refrain from criticizing people of means.

Anyway.

I'm surprised your search for a qualified designer has proved fruitless.  I would have thought you were in a ripe area.  Strangely enough, there has been a conversation on another permaculture forum wherein is bemoaned the lack of work for consultants.  In your area! 

That doesn't seem to me the problem.  I could stay busy with tons of work, if I wanted to work for nothing.  (Not unique to PC design... it goes for any trade.)  The nice catch is the client with the means to implement my wild ideas. 

On a somewhat related note, I was talking to a friend the other day who manages a factory for a large company.  He's spent weeks trying to hire an engineer who understands basic ladder logic.  All the candidates look good on paper -- the right degrees, some experience, etc -- but put them to the test, and find they have no grasp of the necessary skills.  What's going on?  There are credentialed people everywhere, but skilled people seem to be in short supply.  Again, not unique to PC.

As someone suggested, you might have to put your own pieces together.  Talk to local organic growers, nurserymen, government scientists, etc. 

You probably don't want to pay Darren Doherty's fee... but take a look at his site & portfolio.  Might help.

http://www.permaculture.biz
 
Everybody's invited. Even this tiny ad:
This is an example of the new permies.com Thread Boost feature
https://permies.com/wiki/61482/Thread-Boost-feature
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!