Friday 28 February 2014

Resiliency and Regeneration Principles

I've just written my first review on Amazon. I know I shouldn't really use Amazon, but it is a good resource for checking things out and reading reviews, plus my account with them allows me to earn small referral fees - so if you buy a book after following a link from this site I can get a little closer to my dream (although so far I haven't earned enough in two years for them to bother sending me a cheque!).

Anyway I reviewed The Resilient Farm and Homestead: An Innovative Permaculture and Whole Systems Design Approach by Ben Falk. I mentioned this in my recent post Looking forward to some good eating, and now I've got the book and I'm loving it. I said in my review that there are big chunks that I want to type out and put in this blog - particularly a piece about dwelling on the land and cultivating nut trees with an understorey of plants and animals - and getting massive long term returns on investment.

For now I'm going to list Ben's Resiliency and Regeneration Principles. I really need to get these into my head, and do quite a lot of work and thinking through many of them, and this is the first stage for me. Of course you need to buy the book to read all his extra notes, I'm just going to list the headings.

    Resiliency and Regeneration Design

  1. Maximum outputs for minimum inputs
  2. Transform dead matter into living
  3. System establishment vs. system maintenance
  4. Biological complexity, technological symplicity
  5. Resilience = diversity x redundancy x connectivity x manageability
  6. Regeneration metric = biomass and biodiversity
  7. Facilitate the vital force
  8. Human management = primary limiting factor
  9. Stress as stimulus
  10. Responsiveness, not habit
  11. Human resource x site characteristics = ideal site design
  12. All design should be modular
  13. Structural diversity begets biological diversity
  14. Habits of mind
  15. Spread pulses
  16. Disperse and extend fertility
  17. Land as value distillation tool
  18. Multiply functions from single expenditures (always do or get two or more results)
  19. Moving things is entropy
  20. Value across time
  21. Essential functions provided by multiple elements
  22. Simplest solution is the best solution
  23. Efficiency does not equal resiliency
  24. Increase diversity, don't reduce it
  25. Quality-quantity relationship
  26. Scale and proportions are the most difficult
  27. Oil intervention
  28. Probability x impact = risk
  29. Niches in time
  30. Zone 1 site mimic
  31. Past is precedent
  32. Resiliency and Regeneration Habits of Mind

  33. Good design always empowers
  34. Passive vs active observation
  35. Observation action chronology
  36. Two is one, one is none
  37. Character of work over time of work
  38. Immerse in abundance
  39. Maximise site awareness
  40. Embedding skills and practice in daily routine
  41. Skills = most durable resource
  42. Awareness limits action
  43. Environment limits and manifests action
  44. Solutions = alignment
  45. Figure it out: try stuff
  46. Miracles everywhere
  47. Food and Fertility

  48. Constant organic matter accumulation
  49. Paths as biomass producers
  50. Seed often and lightly
  51. Passive forage-ability
  52. Plant as densely as you can afford to
  53. Animals above plants
  54. Pee on plants (or next to plants)
  55. Swales everywhere
  56. Ecology and Management

  57. Disturbance stimulates yield
  58. Succession determined by disturbance and its aftermath
  59. Fill open niches immediately
  60. Systems establishment overshooting management capacity
  61. Biology in place of technology
  62. Annual-perennial balance in system
  63. Modularity and agility
  64. Ecosystem partnering, not stewardship
  65. Partnering with vigour
  66. Sculptable landscape
  67. Native to when
  68. Cheap tools are too costly
  69. Quality of work affects labour and management capacity
  70. Apply present resources now
  71. Storage always runs out
  72. House as water tower
  73. House as dehydrator
  74. Clarity points and leverage points in time
  75. Principles are only useful if actually followed!
There are several things I like about this list. It is fairly familiar and comfortable for me, although it also contains quite a few new ideas, good reminders, and challenges. Some of the headings remind me of the sort of thing Christopher Alexander writes in his book A Pattern Language which I also love (and Ben quotes). And I like the mix of fairly obvious headings with some intriguing ones and others that seem wrong on the face of it until you read the notes.

Now I've typed all of these out I think I'll create a little spreadsheet for myself where I'll go through them and make extra notes that I need to think about for Orchardy Haven. I also need to read through this section of the book again to refresh my memory on some of the points. I'm sure I'll be returning to this book again and again over the coming years for inspiration and guidance.

Monday 24 February 2014

Planning ponds and water management

Following on from my last post about our water supply I've ended up reading loads of stuff about permaculture again. Really sorting out the water supply issues on the land is one of the first things we need to do. I mentioned at the end of that other post that I wanted to dig a well at the top of the land and maybe supply a pond from that - and I certainly want to do that now!

All the well known permaculture practitioners and teachers seem to have ponds and aquaculture as a key part of their land designs. Water is such an important key for life, for the regeneration of soil, for the transport of nutrients, for the support of biodiversity, for the capture and storage of energy, and much more besides.

I've bought an old engineer's level from Ebay and I plan to survey the land so we can identify good places to create ponds and ways of linking them together, as well as systems of swales or hugelkulture beds. I can't buy detailed contour maps of our land as far as I know and the image quality from Google Earth isn't great, so it's hard to visualise at the moment, but I've dug out a few images that convey some sense of the lie of the land:
View from NE, from neighbour's field.
This gives a good image of the S-N down slope of our meadow.
This is from the N. The seasonally wet foreground isn't ours.
Getting towards the top of our plot, looking NW down over the farm
buildings towards the sloping meadow. There's also a lesser slope down from W-E.
From the same spot as the previous photo, facing SW. The high point
of the land is in the birch plantation, about 200m N of our southern boundary.
The dream at the moment is to have a pond near the top of the land, one or two more near the house, leading down to the meadow where we will hopefully create a series of swales planted with fruit trees and shrubs and nitrogen fixers and perennial vegetables with enough space between the swales to graze animals or cut hay (and more ponds in the meadow too).

Miracle Farms, a 5-acre commercial permaculture orchard in Southern Queb...

This is great, and in southern Quebec I bet they have cold winters like us in Podlasie...

Wednesday 12 February 2014

Looking forward to some good eating!

One of the big aims for our land is to make it a fertile oasis full of fruit trees and vegetables and herbs and lots of things to eat - and probably organic ducks and chickens and pigs too... :)

I've known about and been interested in permaculture since 1997 when I first met Andy Goldring from the Permaculture Association, and I think this is the most effective way to achieve this abundance. Recently I've been enjoying and being inspired by Geoff Lawton's excellent short permaculture films, and this has distracted me a little from the housebuilding plans that have been going round my head since the new year.

Although that's the background to this post (and hopefully more to come soon) the WOW moment was when I followed a link from Geoff Lawton to Ben Falk, a permaculture designer and teacher from Vermont. He said (paraphrased from memory a couple of weeks past)...
"The produce from our land is so delicious and so healthy that we rarely get ill, and if we do we recover quickly"
So there's a lot of good new permaculture stuff appearing all over, but my taste buds have been working overtime in anticipation and I thought I'd refer to some other sources of good taste inspiration related to permaculture that I've enjoyed over the years.

So I'll start with our friends Rachel and Martin at Old Sleningford Farm near Ripon. They are certainly dedicated to good food and good living, and everytime we go there they tickle our tastebuds as well as our enthusiasm. They also have the most established forest garden in Yorkshire which is well worth visiting and volunteering in.

There's also Alan Carter from Aberdeen who writes the blog Of Plums and Pignuts which is full of taste inspiration as well as good information and good examples of testing and experimenting in his forest garden. He also has recipes and tips for using ground elder which will be useful as we've got plenty of that!

I'm now realising that this isn't and area that I've got lots of links for after all, but this blog is supposed to be a scrapbook for starting off ideas and developing them over time... It's also true that there are loads of tips for good food and good eating from lots of different permaculture related places. So hopefully I'll be able to share more tasty treats in the future