Farm Small Farm Smart Daily

Geoff Lawton joins me today to talk about permaculture. Geoff talks about his early days in permaculture, where we are in permaculture today, and where we need to go in the future. He touches on what he has learned along the way and what he finds most valuable.

Geoff then goes on to answer a lot of audience questions about tree systems, water harvesting, his new chicken tractor for composting, and his upcoming online PDC.

Key Takeaways:

Consider starting a community group. They provide a whole lot of support to keep things moving in the right direction.

Realize the ability of pioneer plants and succession to work for you. One of Geoff's early mistakes was not allowing plants to work more for him. Later he embraced and accepted plant rampancy.

Don't just do things in patterns for the sake of patterns. Rationalize and legitimize every placement and connection you make.

So many people are stuck in the matrix. They know things, they just don't do anything.

Permaculture needs to focus on feeding people in urban and peri-urban areas.

Use chickens in your composting system. There is a huge benefit to using chickens at the beginning of a composting cycle.

Consider aquaculture as a use for wetlands in temperate wetlands. Whatever you dig in wetlands you gain in soil, so you intensify the water. You get drier land and wetter water using a temperate climate chinampa.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP031-01312014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture -- posted at: 7:04am PDT

Paul Wheaton of joins me to talk about intentional community. Paul discusses his views and experiences with variety of different intentional communities that he has been a part of, both on the leader side, and the follower side. He talks about what works, and what doesn't.

Paul also touches on some of the projects taking place within his community on his land and how we need to help increase the velocity of permaculture.

And we discuss Paul's latest Kickstarter for his Permaculture Earthworks DVD.

Key Takeaways:

-Possibly consider the central leader model over consensus. Consensus can take a lot of time and stall projects to resolve conflicts.

-There are a lot of advantages to having fiefdoms overlaying each other on the same piece of land where each fiefdom is inadvertently helping the other fiefdoms.

-Focus on the audience that get it and stop worrying about focusing on everyone else. Focus on the 1 person out of 20,000 that gets it.

-Embrace a lot of failure as part of the process to move forward. It takes a lot of trial and error to ultimately achieve success.


Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP030-01242014.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 6:40am PDT

Darren Doherty presents the regrarian platform. This is Darren's introductory presentation that he gave an open consultancy in October 2013. The presentation lays out the ten key components of the regarian platform - climate, geography, water, access, forestry, buildings, fences, soils, marketing, and energy.

This is the first podcast that takes you to one of Darren's open consultancies. The consultancies themselves are workshops that center around a real world farm planning and development process. The hosts and Darren open up the process so you can learn from a real world application of theory.

This audio was recorded at Darren Doherty's Regarian Open Consultancy at Markegard Family Farm on October 22 and 23, 2013. The workshop was open source, so thanks to Darren for allowing me to share this with you all.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP029-01172014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming,regrarian -- posted at: 7:03am PDT

Will Harris III from White Oak Pastures joins me to talk about his inspirational journey of converting his one time factory farm to a beyond organic farming operation that celebrates polyculture and closes the loop on wastes.

Will runs the largest USDA organic farm in Georgia farming 1200 owned acres and 2000 leased. He has over 2000 head of cattle and raises 60,000 pastured chickens. He has built two abattoirs on site - one for red meat, one for poultry. He has an organic vegetable CSA and heirloom orchard.

His farm closes the loop on sustainability through rotational grazing, solar power, and the recycling of all of his various "wastes" from his animal operations. All of the wash water, bones, and other animal "wastes" end up back on the land, building the soil over time.

But it wasn't always that way. Prior to 1995 White Oak Pastures raised cattle in an industrial system, a monoculture. Then Will made the decision to change what he was doing. So began the conversion over the beyond organic, mulch-species thriving farming operation that it is today.

Will's story in an inspiration, and another example of what is right in modern day agriculture.


Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP028-01102014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming -- posted at: 6:30am PDT

Ben Falk from Whole Systems Design, LLC joins me talk about permaculture design and what he has learned on his research site over the years.

He talks about how to break into the business as a designHe touches on cold climate infrastructure and heating with wood. And he goes into his thoughts on designing a property and why it's important to understand the land's capability and how you should relate that to your goals.

We also spend some time talking about the mass selection of plant genetics for a site, stressing the importance of over stacking the system in the beginning to see what works and what doesn't.

Key Takeaways:

Get some experience working with the land and systems before you start designing properties as "a designer."

You can reduce your wood usage by 30-40% by drying wood well versus haphazardly drying it.

Cold humid climates have a low tolerance for bad moisture detailing in structures. When designing a home detail carefully to keep the home dry and get water out.

Grow tree multi-purpose tree species for fuel wood. Consider black locusts - fixes nitrogen, fast grower, rot resistant wood, good fuel wood, and makes great saw logs.

Have goals but understand the land's capability so you can adjust those goals as needed. Don't fight against the land's tendencies and capabilities, work with it, not against it.

Most people have more land than they can manage well. Moving down in acreage might be advantageous. It is better to manage 5 acres right than 100 acres wrong.

Most people can have most of their needs met on 5-10 acres. Unless you have a commercial aspect or grazing component.

Have a good access plan for your site. Don't box yourself out. Start and maintain a clear access pattern which is based on the water flow throughout the site.

For site selection general location and access are a quick way to filter down a list of a lot of properties. Then look to the Keyline Scale of Permanance. Consider water security and controlling as much of a watershed as you can.

Focus on manageability with regards to plantings. Plant based on water access with on contour swales.

Not all permaculture techniques will work on all sites. So don't expect that.

Practice the mass selection of genetics. Identify the best genetics from your site by growing trees from seed. Plant as many tress as you can on a site, way closer than you would ever imagine, and cut out the ones that don't do well.

Use the first 3-5 years on a site to learn what does well. Years 5-10 are when you focus on plants and families that really want ot grow on your site - microclimate - aspect - soils. And there is no way to know which ones will work unless you start putting a lot of plants in the ground.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP027-01032014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture -- posted at: 6:43am PDT