Tag Archives: permaculture

Controlled Rot: Growing Mushrooms at MacLeish

27 Apr

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!” goes the proverbial phrase used to encourage making the best of what one has. At the MacLeish Field Station we have lots of forest that provides much shade. So why not grow food that does not require full sun—such as mushrooms? In April, eight students spent an afternoon inoculating logs with both blue oyster and shitake mushroom spawn. Their work was part of an agroforestry demonstration project being established this year at the Field Station.

Alexandra Davis ’18 and Lilly Williams ’18 drill logs in preparation for inoculation.

Inoculating logs is relatively simple. Holes drilled into recently cut logs are filled with mushroom spawn and then sealed with cheese wax.

Tracy Rompich ’21 inoculates logs with shitake spawn.

Tess Abbot ’20 and Molly Peek ’18 seal the spawn in the logs with cheese wax.

After being labeled, the logs are all stacked in the shadiest part of the forest. Over the 12 months the fungi will grow and spread throughout the logs, becoming well established, and hopefully begin fruiting mushrooms that we can harvest next summer!

Preparing hot chocolate for all the volunteers on the beautiful spring day are,
from left, Lily Williams, Molly Peek, Alexandra Davis, and Diana Umana ’19.

Student Spotlight: Julia Graham ’16

14 Dec

Julia Graham ’16 has a lot going on. She is an environmental science and policy (ES&P) major, a sustainable food concentrator, and potentially a Latin American studies minor. Graham is interested in how indigenous cultures and the environment in Latin America have been impacted by colonialism.

When JGraham.jpgshe transferred to Smith from Warren Wilson College her sophomore year, she decided to change directions, and instead of continuing to focus on Latin American studies, she jumped with two feet into ES&P. This jump was guided by Graham’s experiences during her year off, when she worked on two farms, including one associated with the Heifer International Program.

Julia Graham has undertaken a range of environmental work during her time at Smith. Her sustainable food capstone course has her scoping out the potential for a biogas reactor at Smith. Her special studies with professor Bob Newton (geosciences) involves exploring the relationship between vegetation, environmental history, and geochemistry. Graham even used to coordinate the House Eco Reps. She currently works as a MacLeish intern at CEEDS and as an intern for ES&P.

As part of fulfilling her sustainable food concentration requirements Graham went to Ecuador to work in a permaculture biosphere with Third Millennium Alliance. Since then she has earned a permaculture design certificate and even designed a permaculture garden in her parent’s backyard.

After Smith, Graham would like to work with a trail crew. She built trails in Alaska and the Colorado Rockies during her junior and senior years of high school, and she would love to continue the work after college. Ultimately, she would like to wind up in environmental education.

The one piece of wisdom Graham would like to pass on is how important it is while you are a student at Smith to realize that there is life beyond the Smith campus. Take a step back from academics, get off campus, see what is happening in the rest of the world.

– Brittany Bennett is a senior Engineering Science major and hails from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She hopes to educate engineers on how to best create a more sustainable world.

Spotlight: Amelia Burke, ’15

11 Mar

Meet Amelia: Amelia developed a well-established interest in Middle Eastern studies and sustainable agriculture in the year before she arrived at Smith. During her gap year, she worked in the West Bank, writing for a Palestinian news site, went WWOOFing in Italy and hiked a portion of the Camino de Santiago in Spain. She arrived at Smith ready to focus on environmental sustainability and land revitalization through sustainable agriculture. This spring, she will be graduating with a degree in Middle Eastern studies, a minor in environmental science and policy, and a concentration in sustainable food.


During her first two years at Smith, she worked on research projects relating to climate refugees and abuses of freedom in Northern Africa. By her junior year, she decided to take another year off to engage in foreign sustainability issues in agriculture. Amelia had plans to return to the West Bank for an internship at a women’s olive oil cooperative, but upon being denied entry at the border, she was forced to improvise the following year’s plans.

Working her way across continents, she lived in Jordan, worked on a dairy farm in Turkey, a horse farm in Bulgaria, and a kiwi farm in Italy. Her travels then turned south, where she worked on permaculture at an Eco lodge in Egypt and then headed to Zimbabwe for an internship at the Africa Centre for Holistic Management. There she focused on improving degraded soil through proper cattle management. She next headed up to Morocco with plans to use Smith’s Praxis scholarship. Up in the Moroccan highlands, she worked at the High Atlas Foundation, engaged with rural development strategies through fruit and nut tree cultivation and production. In her last year at Smith (oh yes, she accelerated a year) she applied for a Fulbright and is now a finalist for goat and sheep management systems on rates of pasture regrowth in the Middle Atlas.


When asked how Smith has contributed to her academic goals she responded: “there is no defined outcome [for what you get out of an academic institution].” As we can see, Amelia patchworked her own academic trajectory through Smith and beyond.

Thanks Amelia for sharing your unique navigation through Smith and good luck with all your future endeavors!

-Odessa Aguirre is a senior at Smith College from Sonora, California. She studies Anthropology with a focus on immigration and Spanish. When she is not at Smith College, she is somewhere sunny and warm. Her future plans include backpacking in every feasible mountain range–and for the non-feasible mountain ranges, she has plans to train as a mountaineer.

Mountain Day and Maintenance at MacLeish Field Station

13 Oct

View of the Holyoke Range on the approach to MacLeish. (Photo by author)

MacLeish hosted a record number of Smithies for Mountain Day on September 29th and has been taking the past week as a resting period.  Student activities included hiking, enjoying the view of the Holyoke range around the fire pit, eating apple cider donuts, climbing the old apple trees in search of apples, taking on the new challenge course, and biking.

MHrange2View of the Holyoke Range from the fire pit area. (Photo: Julia Graham)

Last Friday afternoon, four CEEDS interns traveled out to Whately to fix a waterlogged section of the red trail with the help the Field Station’s neighbor Peter. We moved rocks from the parking lot using Peter’s great orange tractor and spread them along the section of trail that had been washed out. We enjoyed checking out the forest ecology in between tractor deliveries. It took the five of us about 45 minutes to complete the work, with much help from the tractor.

Anna, Ellen and Shelby, three STRIDE interns, work on regrading the red trail. (Photo by author)

We also did some maintenance of the fruit tree orchard in preparation for fall understory plantings and for building the comfrey utility bed. The comfrey will provide nutrients to trees and will be part of a research project with the Temperate Edible Forest Research Network. Much more work will be done in the coming weeks, including planting of comfrey and understory plants, weeding around the fruit trees, and applying white paint to the side of the trees to prevent harm from winter sun.

 flanigan comfrey
Comfrey plant in bloom.

Julia Graham, ’16 currently works as a CEEDS intern primarily at the Ada and Archibald MacLeish Field Station. She is the only student certified to facilitate the use of the challenge course at MacLeish. Julia is a Sustainable Food concentrator and manages to find connections between a lot of different things. We like that she asks a lot of questions and then shares back the connections she finds.

Learning to understand a food forest

1 Jul

The outdoor realm of the world has always held more fascination for me than that of the built environment, mostly, I think, because of the variety of smells. At home, those smells were pine needles and green peas, strawberries and mulch. In Ecuador, where I’m completing a two-month tropical food production internship on a biosphere reserve, the smells are vastly different but still provide fascination for me; the smells of maracullá and papaya, donkeys and thatched roofs mingle with motor oil and moist air for an intoxicating mixture of jungle community. When I first arrived in the 350-person community of Camarones four weeks ago, I made the three-kilometer trek up to the Jama-Coaque Biosphere Reserve. I unpacked in the bamboo tree house and became acquainted with the moist evergreen forest surrounding me. I looked out on the tree-covered mountains and immediately took stock of what was lacking from my normal view—power lines, roofs, and road cuts, to name a few. What was present was thereby made more special—I saw powerful hummingbirds hovering over passion flowers, countless bizarre insects, as well as a mish-mash of fruit trees and shrubs that would soon become my fascination. About an acre of the Jama-Coaque Reserve is a permaculture food forest, and this site is where I’m spending most of my time.

I’m learning more and more that a permaculture system looks akin to a half-forgotten forest. And even more, I’m learning this laissez-faire appearance is intentional—strived for even. This is hard for me to comprehend; I come from a suburban New England town where lawns were the norm and any stray dandelion was blasphemous and immediately attacked with any number of chemicals, from RAID to Windex. In school, I was praised for having all my papers in numerical order and at home I was rewarded for keeping the table clean. These subtle influences made me want to control everything in my reach. This tendency mostly manifests itself in a clean room, doing most of the driving on road trips, and taking on the mother role in many friend groups.

This controlling trait of mine has also applied to most of the gardening I’ve done in my life. Gardening brings me joy and peace because I have a hand in producing the food that I consume. Neat rows, not a single maple seedling in sight, and beautifully trellised tomatoes are my favorite TV shows and I could watch them for hours. Of course, there have been mishaps, including a slapdash pea trellis, and a bunch of tomatoes whose growth was stunted when I mistook their terminal buds for suckers (suckers are sometimes removed from tomatoes so that energy is sent to a few tomatoes to make them bigger—in this case, the tomato plants had to send lots of energy into a sucker stem to create a new terminal bud).

Nothing compares, though, to the chaos and beauty of permaculture. To my control-focused brain, a permaculture system is difficult to comprehend, but I’m coming to understand the purpose. Along with the general food production my internship entails, I will also be getting a Permaculture Design Certification. This certification will verify that I am capable of designing a system that might look like an overgrown forest but that is so productive the fruits of my labor will literally be falling on my head (this is not an exaggeration—I’ve had maracullá, or passion fruit, fall off its vine into my lap while reading in a hammock).

The food production side of the reserve is still young, but some of my favorite permaculture techniques that the reserve employs include a water filtration system that uses beneficial bacteria that inhabit sand and eat harmful microorganisms, making the river water potable; planting ginger rhizomes to outcompete weeds; and utilizing the cleansing properties of banana and yucca plants to filter our grey water. I am also learning the concepts of design, which really just define common sense principles of using a problem to create a solution, among other things. The crux of permaculture is to design sustainable human settlements, something we all need to put all of our time and energy into.

Life on the reserve is similar to a permaculture system—while most of our food still does not come from the backyard, bananas, oranges, limes, passion fruit, yucca, oreganon, spicy ají peppers and a spinach-like green called verdulaga come in from the food forest and supplement our diet. Our days are relaxed and full of learning. The day starts at eight, maybe clearing the understory with machetes or harvesting oranges and cacao in the forest, followed by an extended lunch, and then permaculture class. The day ends at four and a good two or three hours of my afternoon are consumed by reading (Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan and The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert are my latest obsessions). Since there is no electricity, dinners are shared by candlelight and then after a game of cards it’s to bed at 8:30.

One of the things I’ll miss the most when I return to the States is having an infinite supply of fresh local bananas at my doorstep. The coast of Ecuador is prime banana country—“banana heaven” is what my intern coordinator called it—and each week it’s someone’s chore to harvest a whole stalk. Bananas are actually overgrown herbaceous plants, not trees, and their vascular system is amazing. To harvest the fruit, one must cut down the plant, which then exudes copious amounts of sap. Each xylem tube of the plant is visible to the naked eye, making the cut stump look something like a beehive, but with rectangular holes instead of hexagonal. A banana stalk contains anywhere between 25-35 bananas and terminates in a long stem holding its purple flower bud. Since all bananas that are cultivated today are clones, bananas do not reproduce sexually, so this flower never gets to complete its natural cycle. Bananas produce pups at their base, which grow into subsequent plants in about nine month. I pretty much swore off of bananas a while ago for the well-known politico-social reasons, but while in Ecuador I’m planning to consume as many as my body can stand and appreciate this bizarre fruit’s sweetness while I can.

The most recent adventure in tropical food production surrounded a pile of light-brown fermented seedpods. These seeds had been harvested from age-old trees and their orange outer-pods sat fermenting in a bag for about three days and then spent the past two weeks drying in the sun. Yesterday, we toasted them over a low flame and then cracked open the casings to reveal a midnight black oval with a delicious fragrance. Once ground, this end result was turned into xocolatl—“bitter liquid” in the Aztec language Nahuatl. In other words, hot chocolate. From the tree to the cup, chocolate takes on many forms, and in the process I experienced we didn’t even make a classic chocolate bar. Yet I have to say my favorite part of this whole cacao process was not sipping of the panela-sweetened drink but sucking on the freshly harvested outer pods, which are coated with a sweet and slightly tangy goo that is absolute heaven. My fellow food production interns and I sat for about an hour shelling the pods and intermittently sticking one into our mouths to enjoy that sweet flavor. Cacao is actually native to Ecuador, yet most modern cacao does not come from here. However, the majority of the highest quality cacao is grown in coastal Ecuador, right near the reserve. So while I’m eating locally now, I will sadly never be able to taste the fine flavor of Ecuadorian cacao in a Hershey’s bar…but who needs those anyway? I’ll have my chaotic, fruit-falling permaculture garden design to keep me happy when I return.

P.S. I apologize for the lack of pictures—we operate with limited technology up here! If you’d like some photos of this project, visit the reserve’s website at http://www.tmalliance.org, their facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.780585085294384.1073741834.154975601188672&type=1 or check out my fellow intern’s blog at http://sarahkbarney.wordpress.com/.

-Julia Graham, ’16

Permaculture: UMass vs. Smith

31 Jul

It all began last semester when Helena Farrell, the woman who started the famed permaculture movement at UMass, came to speak to my LSS 100 class about her experience.  I had heard of permaculture before but had never really listened and I thought it was just some flashy new gardening technique.  But Helena Farrell made me and my fellow Community Garden org members in the class realize that this was a model that could really work for us and could help us solve some of the challenges we had been facing.  It would mean we would have less area that we needed to plant every spring with our limited crew of volunteers and it would help the garden be more sustainable and consistent from year to year, permaculture also appealed to us because it implied a deeper connection between the Earth and people and allow for both to be taken care of.  We went up to Helena at the end of her lecture and shared our excitement with her.  She encouraged us to look to the current model in place at UMass because it has been so successful.

I kept permaculture for the garden on a front burner in my mind and UMass on the back burner.  I knew that there were certain aspects of the UMass system that could only thrive at a school like UMass and might not be directly applicable to our garden, such as credits and work-study positions dedicated to managing the gardens on campus and planning for their development and planting.  In any case, I attended one day of the three day Permaculture Your Campus Conference that UMass was hosting earlier this summer thanks to funding through the Smith Students’ Aid Society.

Going in to the conference I wasn’t too sure what to expect, but it turned out to be extremely helpful and inspirational.  I learned all about how to analyze a site for it’s permaculture opportunities from Jonathan Bates of Food Forest Farm, the importance of partnering with other local organizations based on the Grow Food Amherst model and Sarah Berquist’s PC in the PV practicum course, and how UMass has been able to integrate their garden and permaculture efforts into the academic fabric of the campus and market their campaigns successfully.  I was able to talk to UMass permaculture staff and students but I was also able to meet and talk to gardeners from Michigan, New York and California.  They each came with a whole host of perspectives on permaculture, some were experienced permaculture gardeners, others were permaculture skeptics from traditional farming backgrounds. UMASSgarden                                           The permaculture garden at UMass.

Just hearing about the wide range of motivations that people had for coming to the conference made me realize just how big the permaculture movement really is and how the guiding principles of permaculture can be manipulated to suit the needs of any garden, no matter what the scale or the institutional context.  It made me feel better to know that we could be inspired by UMass and use their resources without having to walk perfectly in their footsteps.  The Community Garden can incorporate permaculture on our own terms so that the garden continues to fit within the fabric of Smith while creating positive social change through the principles the practice embodies.

-Claire Adams ‘16
Summer Manager, Smith Community Garden

Like us on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Smith-Community-Garden/161360427284689#

Meet Claire Adams: 2013 Botanic Garden and Community Garden Intern

26 Jul

Hi, my name is Claire and I am this year’s CEEDS Community Garden/Botanic Garden intern. I am a rising sophomore and an American studies major with a landscape studies minor. I am from New York City and have absolutely no experience with either gardening or landscaping, so suffice it to say that there has been a pretty steep learning curve for me this summer. But I love the feeling of being able to identify more and more plants every day. As the summer manager of the Community Garden, I am working to make the garden more sustainable both as a student organization and as an ecological landscape. My work has been focusing largely on the possibilities for permaculture in half of our garden and on planning for the years to come.


As I said I have no experience with gardening– I was initially drawn to the Community Garden because I wanted to gain a better understanding of where my food comes from and have the experience of eating things that grew from seeds I had put in the ground. But I realized that I had been thinking more about the garden half of our name and less about the community half. I realized that without the community there is no garden. How can we make the garden more engaging? How can we strengthen our connections with our community so that we can strengthen our garden? I think that part of the answer is outreach but I think that another part of the answer is permaculture.

A sampling of the delicious fruits ripening in the garden this past week.

Permaculture is about more than just perennial plants arranged to look more like a forest than a garden, it is an approach to garden design that is based on the health of the earth but also on the health of the social context in which the garden exists. I am excited to get current org members excited about a new garden plan and get new students who may never have been exposed to gardening or food production to get outside and get their hands dirty. If you can’t imagine the excitement of a city kid pulling their first carrot out of the ground I can tell you from personal experience that it involved yelling and exclamations with every bite at how delicious the still dirty carrot was. My roommate can also tell you that I was still talking about that carrot several hours after the fact and now here I am still talking about it several days later.

Stay tuned for more posts in the very near future as I attempt to make up for lost time and share more of my thoughts and inspiration for the garden.

-Claire Adams, ’16

Like the Community Garden on FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Smith-Community-Garden/161360427284689#

Franklin Permaculture Garden

31 Oct

Recently, I was able to attend a tour of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (UMASS Amherst) permaculture garden next to the Franklin Dining Commons. Permaculture is a kind of environmental design that mimics the surrounding natural ecosystem or attempts to represent the land as it historically used to be. The garden at UMASS Amherst uses a design that is based in natural ecosystem design, but provides food that people need. One of the main reasons that this technique is becoming more common is that it provides a more natural landscape, while producing great services.  The unique things about this movement is that the design and growing process can vary; the UMASS Amherst garden is very well planned out, with pathways and tables, but it can also be a plot of land that if left to grow over,  might produce some basic nuts and crops.

I got to meet some students that were involved in the development of the garden and they were able to provide a brief history of the project. John Gerber, Professor of Sustainable Food and Farming, was teaching a class on Sustainable Agriculture and asked his students to come up with an idea that would change the world; what they came up with was a permaculture garden outside one of the biggest dining halls on campus. The area used to be a green lawn and was actually supposed to be transformed into an extension of a nearby parking lot, but after a couple of months that project was dropped and the students got the chance to pitch their idea. At the same time, a grad student, Ryan Harb, had designed and build a permaculture garden on his yard as part of his masters education and hosted an Open House where much of the administration was convinced that permaculture was beneficial. In 2010, Harb was hired to implement the first UMass Amherst permaculture garden. It took many volunteers, but after two years the garden is flourishing. Students take the crops from the garden at sell them at the UMass Amherst Student Farmer’s Market.

The garden has become an important educational and community building tool that students and the community can take advantage of. This garden is also important because it shows what students and volunteers can do in regards to building a more sustainable campus.

Stephanie Cervantes ’13, CEEDS Intern

Notes from the Field Station: Student Involvement in MacLeish Site Design

1 Dec

This week I will be focusing on Smith student Tia Novak (’13) and her involvement in the permacultre designs that will be implemented in conjuncture with the Bechtel Environmental Classroom.

Students Tia Novak '13 and Brittany Innis '13, caught on film on a hot day in the Botanic Garden flower bed this past summer. (http://www.smith.edu/news/potd_archive_display.php?id=1040)

Having been surrounded by impassioned horticulturists and landscape designers throughout her youth, Tia found it impossible to resist the fascinating world of plants, their innovative evolutionary adaptations, and how we cultivate and interact with them. Now at Smith, Tia is a Biology and Environmental Science & Policy major, who is also pursuing the new Sustainable Food Concentration.

Throughout her undergraduate experience, Tia has become increasingly interested in agriculture, given that it is a fundamental necessity for human existence, yet also one of the largest consumers of natural resources and producers of environmental pollutants. Especially, Tia was struck with the need to supply tangible, grounded solutions for the every growing problems facing big agriculture in the United States, while taking into account economics, social perspectives, and even just the day-to-day challenges facing the modern American farmer.

Trellised Orchard

After receiving some background in botany this summer as an intern at the Smith College Botanic Garden, she decided to take an agriculture class at UMass so she could “get a taste of what growing a crop was like”. Newly enrolled in “Deciduous Orchards” this fall, Tia was presented with the challenge of designing her own hypothetical orchard, including species selection, layout, pest control systems, and pricing out the entire project. Having some knowledge of the construction underway at the MacLeish field station Tia proposed to Reid Bertone-Johnson (the Field Station Manager) that, using this class assignment as a guide, she could design an orchard for the field station. She believed the implementation of an orchard at this site could serve as a learning tool for horticulture or natural science classes and provide the dining halls with produce, in addition to satisfying the productive agriculture requirement of the LBC imperatives.

Tall Spindle Orchard

The proposed orchard will be on a 2.5 acre plot northwest of the Bechtel Environmental Classroom next to the proposed parking lot. The orchard will be organic, using only benign sprays to prevent bacteria, fungal and insect pests. The design will incorporate various aspects of integrated pest management (IPM), such as “trap trees” for Plum Curculio (Conotrachelus nenuphar), to expand the horticulture classes IPM experience. Smith alumni Jodi Lew Smith from High Mowing Seeds is advising in organic IPM and in the selection of disease resistant varieties. The planting plan will include disease resistant apple varieties such as Liberty, heirloom English-origin Russet varieties, Honeycrisp, Zestar, and Snowsweet, potentially with the addition of some varieties of peach and asian pears. As this project is geared to education, in addition to sustainability and productivity, Tia plans to combine a variety of rootstock and planting systems (such as the tall spindle and Y-trellis systems). The overall goals for the design are to maximize space and food production while being mindful of the use of water, materials, and energy in creating an education-oriented setting.

Assisting Tia in her research efforts for this project is Stride student Ellena Baum, ‘14, who is also beginning design work on another aspect of the site’s permaculture gardens, located to the north of the classroom.

This is an incredibly exciting project, and I can’t wait to see every Smithie’s favorite Mountain Day tradition become a delicious educational opportunity. Coming up soon we have another construction update- so stay tuned! Things are really starting to take shape out there at the field station.

Just for fun: Below is a UMass archives photo I found- check out the skis and snowshoes!

Winter school class in pomology students pruning apple trees in M.A.C. orchards (http://clio.fivecolleges.edu/umass/photos/130women-students/)

Jessa Finch (’12)

CEEDS MacLeish Intern

Notes from the Field Station: Permaculture Principles

10 Nov

Permaculture Tree

In order to satisfy the imperatives put forward by the Living Building Challenge, all projects are required to host sustainable agriculture on site. In the case of the Bechtel Environmental Classroom (BEC) our design team has chosen to implement permaculture gardens including an orchard of native fruit trees. Over the next two weeks I will introduce the basic concepts of permaculture, how those principles operate in practice, and the impact permaculture gardens will have on the design and operation of the BEC.

Put most simply, permaculture is a design system used in the crafting of sustainable human environments. The name itself speaks to the intended longevity of these designs, being a contraction of permanent and agriculture.  In essence, permaculture focuses upon the interrelationships of plants, animals, buildings, and infrastructures based on their placement within a landscape. Although the meaning of the word sustainable has become increasingly convoluted in recent years, in this context I am using it to mean a system that is ecologically-sound as well as economically viable in that it has achieved a balance between consumed resources and output wastes. To achieve this, permaculture makes use of the inherent qualities of plants and animals, in addition to landscape features, to produce a highly efficient self-sustaining system on the smallest possible area.

Permaculture draws upon the wisdom and common sense of traditional farming systems, as well as current knowledge of natural systems. The hugely influential book The One Straw Revolution (Fukuoka) most succinctly outlines the basic philosophy of permaculture: to work with nature rather than opposed to it, long and thoughtful observation over reckless labor, and the utilization and appreciate of all plant and animal functions. The principles of permaculture design are highly interdisciplinary, merging ecology, energy conservation, landscape design, and environmental science. They include:

  • Every element is placed in relationship to another so that they assist each other
  • Each element performs many functions (“stacking functions”)
  • Each function is supported by many elements (basic needs served in two or more ways)
  • Efficient energy planning for house and settlement (4 zones based on intensity of use)
  • Emphasis on use of biological resources (plants and animals) over fossil fuel
  • Energy recycling on site (fuel and human energy)
  • Using plant succession to establish favorable sites and soils
  • Polyculture and diversity of beneficial species for a productive, interactive system
  • Use of edge and natural patterns for best effect

Based on your familiarity with design and permaculture, these theoretical principles may seem highly abstract without the grounding of concrete examples. Next week I will continue this post by discussing “Permaculture in Practice”, in which I breakdown permaculture designs in action, as well as discuss the role permaculture plays in the BEC design and qualifications for the LBC. Stay tuned!

A great resource on permaculture principles and designs for sites large and small, rural or urban, is an Introduction to Permaculture by Bill Mollison and Reny Mia Slay.

If you have yet to read my initial post on the overall design scheme for the BEC feel free to check it out now.

Jessa Finch (’12)

CEEDS MacLeish Intern

* Permaculture Tree drawing is from Introduction to Permaculture by Bill Mollison