Category: Design

8 Abundant “Fodder Forest” plants, and how to use them

This morning when I went to feed the animals I thought I’d start with collecting some pigeon pea for our horse, Trippy, and see what I could find for the pigs in the fodder forest while I was there.   Our fodder forest is a small beginning in my long-term goal to reduce and ultimately eliminate our dependence on fossil fuel-based agriculture. It’s an area roughly an eighth of an acre, […]

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Win-Win Situation. Retrofitting Farm Dams to Increase Freeboard and Increase Wildlife Habitat and Productive Edge

The first thing I look for in a dam retrofit other than the spillway, is the freeboard. The freeboard is the height of the dam wall above the spillway. The freeboards presence is critical to the safety of the dam.  After looking at the spillway and the freeboard, I would look at the batters of the dam wall bot. inside and outside.  What degree slope are they?  Can you build […]

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Killer Natural Plaster Recipe

In this article I’m going to share with you my killer recipe for a final plaster that I have used and evolved over the last eight years. The final layer is what you will see day to day, so it’s worth making it nice. If you’re interested in a recipe that is non-toxic, made from easy to find natural materials and has a beautiful finish then read on. I first […]

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Texas Food Forest and the Results of Good Design.

Five years ago we moved to our current property in North Texas.  While the general area is not particularly challenging, the property itself was.  The three acre property has anywhere from 11 inches (28cm) to as little as 3 inches (7.6cm) of soil, sitting atop a limestone slab.  Note: not rocks but solid slab. An insane place to build a permaculture property but we set to making it happen. In our […]

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Battery Technologies for Off-Grid Living

There are so many battery technologies out in the marketplace, and it is highly likely between me writing this and you reading it there will be another new fandangled world’s best battery that has hit the market. What Elon Musk has done with Tesla is to create a market awareness of wanting to install home battery storage and reduce our impact on the environment from burning fossil fuels. This has […]

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Slip Straw, Earthen Floors, and Tadelakt: A Recipe for a Perfectly Natural Home

Slip straw is an easy and energy efficient way to build lightweight homes or walls. It uses materials that are almost always locally available and also offers quality insulative properties. To build with slip straw you will need an abundant supply of straw, clay and some sort of wood to make forms. The straw you use should be from some sort of grain such as rice, wheat, barley, etc. Hay, […]

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Thoughts on a Permaculture Kitchen

For Emma and me, our permaculture fantasies involve building our own home, growing 90-plus percent of our food (I guess it’s 100% if we are going full-blown fantasy), and living largely in whatever space we can find for ourselves. We hope for at least a couple of acres, one of which has already been cleared because we don’t want to cut down existing forest. We envision a “natural” swimming hole […]

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Principles for Designing a Holistic Food System

Most people have an unconscious feeling that we can´t continue down the path we´re currently on. The supposed abundance witnessed on the shelves of our local grocery store might seem promising, but deep down we know that we can´t continue to outsource our need for food to a system that is so deeply indebted to the quickly depleting reserves of oil and other fossil fuels. We know that something needs […]

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Heating (and Cooling) Passively When It’s Too Late to Design Your Home for It

One of the more difficult things about taking on a permaculture lifestyle when we already have an established residence is that, because the practice is based on efficient design, many times we having seemingly come to the game too late. Once a brick-and-mortar house is built and our savings are invested, it’s no small task to start renovating it to have a built in grey water system or south-facing aspect. […]

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Assessing a Property Before Designing It

For the purpose of this article and the scope of which I’m looking to explore, we are going to begin by assuming a hypothetical property is already bought and paid for. In short, we won’t be going into all of the legal assessment ideas that might be involved when buying a property, though many of these thoughts could help in choosing one to buy. Instead, we’ll be looking at assessing […]

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The Need to Limit Energy Use

Energy: An Addiction or a Necessity? Energy is arguably the most defining aspect of industrial civilization. For the first couple hundred thousand years of human existence, our ability to affect the world around us was limited by the amount of energy the human body can produce. It is estimated that, on average, a fit laborer can produce about 75 Watts of energy over an eight hour period. To those of […]

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Diversity and Scale

Functional, productive diversity is an essential element in the design science of permaculture. Diversity is a very good thing and we absolutely want to be stacking as much useful diversity into our designs as we can. There are a few things to note, however, about the use of diversity in design. Firstly, as mentioned above, we want our diversity to be functional and productive. This means that we want a […]

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