Gerald Henderson

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since Aug 11, 2015
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hugelkultur forest garden books
Grand Rapids, MI
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Recent posts by Gerald Henderson

I own 8 acres that I'm converting to food forest this spring with about 700 fruit and nut trees.  I also have an extra bedroom and bathroom sitting empty.  I have completed a PDC and have experience with several permie pursuits.  

This would be a good opportunity to live cheaply and learn by doing or watching me do haha.

Rent would be $400/month all inclusive. Could negotiate lower based on labor trades.
30 minutes from Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo.
I have a 5 year old son so I will want references.

Feel free to check out my Facebook page at Hennessy Hill Farm and Nursery for a bit more info, or reach out!

On a related note, I'm also single, but at this point I would most likely prefer a roommate. Just sayin.
2 years ago
Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions here and for giving away a few books!  
I have a couple of questions.  First, is there anything special or difficult about expanding a pond in the woods?  It is already sort of a seasonal pond that fills up with the snowmelt each spring to about a foot deep but dries out completely nearly every summer.  We're thinking of digging it deeper and expanding it from the woods about 20 feet out into the yard a little bit.  

Second question - It is already a pretty high water table relative to the house.  It's typically about 2 feet below the basement, but when there's heavy rain it take two sump pumps running to keep the basement from flooding as the table rises.  The woods/yard pond would be about 100 feet away from the house and would be probably less than a foot lower in elevation.  Is there any way we could use the pond to help stabilize the water table?  Would it make things worse to bring more water storage into the landscape?

Thanks in advance for any and all advice!
3 years ago
Congrats on getting the homestead, Mike.  Do you do market gardening on the 1 acre then?  Have you found any ways to obtain a yield from the wet woods?  My parents have some wet woods as well and the only things we've come up with so far is hunting and plugging some mushroom logs.
3 years ago
Thanks for pointing that out, Mike.  I should clarify - as many acres as possible, within our limited budget.  While 40+ acres would be amazing, it is pretty much out of the question.  We are probably going for fall somewhere in a range between 5 and 20 depending on how far out we go.  I am thinking at this point it is best to be flexible and keep options open and then to narrow in on details based on site specifics.
3 years ago
We are looking to buy as many acres as possible, which typically means quite a haul to the nearest city.  Does anyone make a commute to sell their goods like this?  Would you recommend it to others?

I also like The Permaculture Orchard guy's approach.  He does not live on the land and uses it as a CSA style market where people pay yearly and drive out to the orchard to harvest themselves.  Anybody doing something more like this?  Seems easier this way, but more reliant on the honor system and missing out on actually living in or near your orchard.

I can predict the basic pros and cons of each way, but I'm sure reality is more nuanced and I would love to hear from people about their experience with choosing how and where to market.
3 years ago
Nice, that's awesome!  Unfortunately for us, my construction skills are nowhere near the level of leading a build, so I have to rely on somebody else for the biggest investment of our lives... sorta nerve-racking.  We may go with a modular "eco-friendly" house although I know it's nowhere near as small of a footprint as cob or straw.  I'd love to see some of the designs you're thinking of to deal with the intense changes in seasons, lake effect snow, etc.  We also would love to connect with fellow permies so when you guys relocate feel free to send me a message or something and maybe we could come camp out and lend a hand with your build!
4 years ago
Peter Ellis...
Where are you looking in Michigan?  My wife and I are looking to build in the Grand Rapids area and have not been able to find any contractors willing to work with strawbale or cob.  Any ideas about what the code is or if you have any contacts in the area would be much appreciated!
4 years ago
Thanks for posting this, I appreciate the conversation here. Although it is hard to pin down with all of the variables, there is good general advice to be found in this thread
I too am looking for land around the Grand Rapids area and would love it if anyone had specific feedback on the surrounding bioregion. We are looking for something close enough to commute to the city for a few more years before establishing our homestead/farm/home business. Specifically, we have been looking at Lowell, Sparta, and Sand Lake recently, but are open to pretty much anything in the area. We would also be interested in starting a bit of an intentional community in the area so if anyone knows if this already happening or would be interested, please let me know!
4 years ago
Thanks for the replies everyone. I appreciate the experience of anyone who has done alternative heating methods, even if it isn't "Ultimate Permaculture". It is important for us to discuss and try to conceptualize what that Ultimate Permaculture would look like, but then people have to actually go out and test a bunch of stuff and document and share results before we can make real progress.
I definitely wouldn't want to do the air circulation method now that I've read your replies and thought about it... who knows what kind of gunk is building up deep underground in those pipes and then being channeled into your house everyday? As for water radiant heat I'm sure there is a lot of embodied energy in establishing that type of system, but I'd be interested in how long the payback period is and how long these systems typically last.
Thanks for the links Terry, I'll check those out when I have some time!
4 years ago
I've noticed that in Oehler's books and videos, and in Paul's wofati's that there are typically woodstoves or rocket mass heaters. I'm wondering if anyone has tried it or if it would be helpful to add some below-ground thermal mass heating to eliminate the need for any other heat. I'm thinking a greenhouse either on one side of the wofati or on the uphill patio with pipes taking hot summer air below ground under the house and storing the heat into one giant thermal mass.

Here's one of Geoff Lawton's videos explaining how the thermal mass storage works in a few different settings:

4 years ago