Category: Design

Health Benefits of Natural Earthen Construction

Somehow or another, the modern day, industrial world in which we live convinced us that dirt is unclean, impure, and well…. dirty. We worry when we see our children headed for a mud puddle, we agonize when a mud footprint makes its way onto our kitchen floor, and we´ll gladly walk an extra couple strides on the sidewalk to avoid even a step or two through the dirt. The idea […]

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Earthships: A Sustainable and Alluring Housing Option

The homes that we live in are the epitome of industrial pillage of the earth. Massive amounts of cheaply built lumber teeming with damaging chemicals from the structure of our homes. To heat and cool our homes, fossil fuels are pumped into our homes leading to excessive greenhouse gas emissions. Despite the comforts and luxuries that modern-day housing offers, for the most part, it is one of the most unsustainable […]

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Productivity in the Temperate Understory

I started my permaculture journey in Central America. I was introduced to the term in Nicaragua. I spent time with it in Panama, Guatemala, and Belize. Then, I learned more in Colombia and southern Spain, Andalucía. What I’d never done until recently is spent much time—at least not with regards to permaculture—in cool temperate setting. Now, I’m in North Carolina, reimagining much of what I know and learning new plants […]

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Deer-Resistant Plants and Trees That Are Edible

Up until very recently, deer have never been a great concern of mine, at least not in terms of gardening. I’d seen beds suffer at the spurs of the neighbors’ chickens, watched my wife running out of the greenhouses with her arms waving, mouth like a G-rated sailor. Once in Belize, we’d left a fenced garden for a couple of weeks only to return and learn that an agouti (you […]

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Storing Water in the Landscape: A Swales and Ponds Primer

Rain is one of the leading causes of soil erosion. The problem isn’t with rain itself, but rather with bad land management practices and farming practices that aren’t designed to take advantage of rainfall in a holistic manner. The best place to store water is in the landscape itself, and through the process of design, water can be effectively stored in the landscape for increased fertility, longer growing season, and […]

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How to Pack Zero Waste Lunches For Your Kids

Keeping up with a sustainable lifestyle with children can be a difficult feat. Kids make messes, and messes create garbage. Kids want things they believe they need, and sometimes it’s very tough to say no. They probably don’t understand the refrain – reduce – reuse – recycle concept either, but there are things you can do to assure your child is playing their part for the planet, even when they’re […]

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Techniques for Making Your Own Biodegradable Seedling Pots

Those of us who practice permaculture take our mission seriously, and we are doing our best to minimize our use of factory production methods (and the petroleum-dependence, pollution, and inefficiencies that go along with it) and take advantage of all of the resources around us. This is commonly observed in things like repurposing pallets, compost piles, bio-digesters, and passive solar heating. In other words, any time we can find ways […]

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How to Make a Compost Water Heater

Everyone loves hot water in the home, but the ecological cost of long, hot showers powered by fossil-fueled water heaters adds some guilt to those long hours in the bathroom. What if you could have a huge supply of hot water heated by the compost pile in your garden. Instead of greenhouses gasses, the byproduct of your hot water would be more fertile soil. The Ecological Cost of Heating Water […]

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Benefits of Evaporation Fridges

If you are planning on going off grid or living in a tiny home, a huge obstacle can be putting in a refrigerator. If you are using solar or wind power, a refrigerator can be extremely taxing on an already stressed system. You could completely forgo a refrigerator and opt instead for preserving food and a root cellar, but that doesn’t let you keep cold drinks or many dairy products […]

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Benefits of a Composting Toilet

Benefits of a Composting Toilet

When contemplating living off-grid, a tiny home, or reducing your use of natural resources in your home, one of the biggest things to come up is what type of water system you will use. There are plenty of options to choose from, you could use a well, a gray water system, water directly from a stream or river, or the simplest kind, a rain catch. If you are choosing a […]

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Passive Solar Design with Earthen Homes

During a long and cold winter, many of us might wonder if it is possible to stay warm without the benefit of a fossil fuel powered central heating system. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that close to 50% of all the energy used in American homes is for heating and cooling purposes. While it is nice to be able to walk barefoot in one’s home during the dead of […]

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How Realistic is Going Waste-Free?

When people say they have gone completely waste-free, they’re inaccurate. That’s not to say they’re “lying”; they probably avoid garbage like the plague, carrying totes, eating food with compostable scraps, the whole to-do! They may think they live a zero-waste lifestyle, but the truth of the matter is that the way our world currently works, that statement is just not feasible. While the effort is humbling, there’s so much happening […]

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