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Ben Falk’s Cold Climate Permaculture Farm in Vermont

A lot of people wonder if they can apply Permaculture design to their farm if they live in a cold climate.

When Geoff Lawton visited Ben Falk’s farm in Vermont earlier this year, he saw the fruit of good permaculture design when applied with skillful observation.

The end result is a beautiful, cold climate permaculture paradise.

Ben’s farm is a wonderful place to walk through and to visit. Fish rise to the surface in a series of small ponds. Wildflowers and herbs dance in the breeze. Berries grow in profusion.

Ben grafts his apples onto his trees, resulting in over 50 varieties of apples that grow over a long season.

Maple trees are harvested for their syrup. The farm is located on a slope with a series of terraced ponds that trickle nutrients down to a series of natural storm water detention basins that just happen – through careful design – to grow rice, as well as building rich soil in the process. How he managed to grow rice in a cold climate is a feature element in the full 18-minute version of this video.

From assessing the slope, orientation and usage of rock as thermal mass, Geoff quickly covers the clever aspects of Hugelkultur – a way of depositing timber into mounds that rot and build soil fertility – perfect for cold climate regions of the world.

Freezing temperatures can be to your benefit when ice forms in deep ripped channels that are adjacent to swales. The heaving of the land in deep freeze was often seen as a negative, as Geoff illustrates in the full version of this video. Ice heaving can lift the footings of housing and warp the foundations. But, in typical Geoff Lawton style – the problem can become a gifted solution. Geoff used rip lines on swales in the Republic of Macedonia to encourage the heaving of ice to remineralise his fields. A benefit to the system if you understand what nature is attempting to do and work with her to maximize your design to its full potential.

We look at aquaculture and fish as well as using sheep in the system. Not many people know that Vermont was once the sheep grazing capital of the world. We look at how sheep are used to restore Ben Falk’s farmland in a holistic way.

The last part of this video deals with what to look for when designing your greenhouse. There are a number of elements you need to employ to get the best out of your glasshouse. Geoff outlines a very successful design theme that also warms the main house in Winter. If you live in a cold climate, this video is for you to enjoy. Make sure you take a look at Cold Climate Permaculture, available for free immediately on registration.

6 Responses to “Cold Climate Permaculture Video”

  1. Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor

    Geoff was referring to his work in the Republic of Macedonia in 1999, not Greece.

    Reply
    • Emmanouil

      Oh, ok. Just for clarification Macedonia is part of Greece. The country that you are referring to, its United Nations official name is FYROM. Former Yugoslav Rebublik of Macedonia. Not to be confused with Macedonians, who speak,write, and have the same traditions as Greeks.
      Thank you

      Reply
  2. Frank Wolf

    Great article!
    I find it especially intriguing that it is possible to grow rice in Vermot. Is there any chance to get to now what kind that may be? Or even if and how it would be possible to get some of it to experiment with.
    Thank you Ben Falk, thank you Geoff!
    Kind regards
    Frank

    Reply

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