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    I was wondering if anyone else working on a design project would like to exchange ideas, links, progress, images, processes etc. I’m currently working on a project on my own property which I’m thinking of presenting on wordpress–it could be kind of fun to go through the process as a group. Personally, I’m working on the certificate program, but would be interested in exchanging with anyone who is going through the steps of implementing a permaculture project.


    Nathan Storm


    Are you Urban? rural? temperate? arid?
    What size?
    What are your resources and challenges?

    I’m more interested in creating a food forest on my recently acquired land, than doing the design and certification, but my initial thought was to wonder if our design choices and land constraints are compatible.

    I believe if you gave an outline of your project you would attract more interest.

    For example, my property is:

    An almost rural woodlands in central Massachusetts.
    On town water, sewer and electric grids set back about 100 yards from a street in a “Right to Farm” community.
    2 acres in 50 foot Maple forest adjacent to 16 acres of “unimproved” forest completely surrounded by a river, streams and a large brook.

    My main goals are:

    Create a Food Forest
    Build an animal, bird and human sanctuary surrounding the existing a “traditional” home.
    Reduced energy use and carbon footprint with increased food storage

    The main challenges are:

    Heavily shaded meadows
    Mosquito breeding in swampy wetlands
    Balancing the beauty of plants and landscape with the perceived need for greenhouse structures for extending growing seasons

    – –

    I hope my comments encourage you 🙂



    Hi Trisha,

    It would be good to know where you are located. I’m working on the certification as well but i’m only half-way done with the lectures,however i’m already working on my yard. Kinda doing it all wrong from a design process perspective.

    I’m in Hungary, about the same latitude as upper-state NY with extreme weather conditions, very cold to very hot,very wet or very dry – all changes from one year to the next – though if you ask me, we may have another very dry summer after last year’s. I’m trying to grow as much as i can on my fenced yard – about 30 m by 20 m (900 ft by 600 ft)- which includes my house, which is not permaculture friendly at all.




    Hi Trisha and Annamaria,

    I’m about halfway through the lectures as well and plan to do the design project on my backyard in Melbourne. Melbourne is a temperate climate dealing with periods of drought and extreme heat so I want to address those issues in my design, as well as be child-friendly (I have a toddler) and pet-friendly (for the future). I have a rough design in mind and plan to finalise details as I progress through the lectures and read the materials. My concern is that the design project specifications seem to be only available once you’ve finished watching the lectures, is that right? I’m keen to attack the project in stages according to the season, and I’m worried about missing something for the assessment. I’m interested in the idea of capturing the project via a blog. I’ve just set up a blog with WordPress for this purpose and that looks like a learning journey in itself.



    Yay! Thanks for the response. It’s true, I didn’t share my own location, but I’m almost as interested in how people go through the process of planning as I am in site-specifics.

    About our site:
    In my case, I’m in South Eastern France–but in a mountain area at about 1000 feet. I’ll be designing a plan for our home an 80 square meter house on 1000 square meters of land. Like Annamaria, our house wasn’t built with permaculture in mind per se, but it’s not so bad–southern facing, a glass house for heating our home in the winter. . .we can work with it.

    We are situated just downhill from rocky pine forests and just uphill from agricultural land–mostly sheep-grazing sites with lucerne/alphalpha, winter wheat or just a mix of naturally occuring plants for the sheep to chew on.

    It’s a tough place to grow food–in my opinion. I’m originally from Southern California so (obvious water issues asside) I’d never faced the challenges of snowy winters, late and early frost, and just plain cold north winds that seem so prevalent in the South of France. I was surprised to discover that summers weren’t hot or long enough here to grow say, peppers or tomatoes reliably without a greenhouse–ok, I’ve had some tomatoes each year, but they don’t taste like tomatoes grown in places with hotter summers. Soil is also an issue: ours is quite poor. So I’m looking into plants that can survive our local climate–cold winters and a couple of hot/dry summer months–although compared to SoCal or even Marseille, it’s not really hot here 😉 Maybe someday I’ll work in a greenhouse, but we’ll see. . .

    Part of my project will also be management of a tiny plot of land behind our house which doesn’t belong to us, but that is our job to keep ‘cleared’ so that it doesn’t become a neighborhood nuisance. I want to try to get a small (neighbor-friendly) food forrest established. I’m sure the city just wants me to mow, slash back the shrubs and burn the waste each year, but I’m going to mulch and encourage local plants (oak, poplar, maple, chestnut, walnut, hazelnut, wild rose, lavendar) that are edible to people and/or animals. I’ve even seen groves of what locals refer to as ‘wild cherries’ or ‘wild plums’ growing here. I’m not sure if they’re actually local or just versions of cultivated trees started from seeds, but I may transplant a few onto the plot as well.

    As for course details:
    I’ve recently finished the videos and am about 3/4 through reading Permaculture One–which I find kind of intimidating because I don’t have the property size or know-how to implement a lot of the ideas in there–however, I’ve learned quite a bit that is pertinent to my skill level and the size of my property. I also read Gaia’s garden which I found useful for someone who wants to do permaculture on a home-scale property. The author often focuses on examples from the temperate region of Southern Oregon which is not exactly the same climate, I’ve found it useful.

    Leah–as for the project specifications, that’s what they told me too–after finishing the videos. But I’ve got them now. Basically, they give you access to a discussion thread between you and the advisor (Vladislav, at least in my case). First you make a short project proposal–mine was accepted so I imagine that a residential site in Melbourne would also be fine. You’ll have a list topics to address: goals, who are the stake-holders, challenges, zones, sectors, how you address different permaculture principles etc. The other part is creating a visual of the site to show your plans. I’m going to put mine on wordpress too, I’ve started but don’t like how it’s organized yet. Once I get things a bit more finalized, I’ll put the address up–that would probably give you an idea of what they’re asking for.

    Anyhow, this is a very long post, but I look forward to exchanging ideas in the future!



    I’m about half way through the videos too although I am not doing this for a certificate. So far the projects I am working on are as follows: I have built a chicken tractor, which is a 8 x 4 (in feet) cedar cold frame (five 6 ft PVC S-40 electrical pipes hooped, with fencing enclosing it); there is a ramp door at one end. Since we live in Southern Virginia, it is considered the mid-Atlantic region of USA, in a Suburban neighborhood on about a 1/3 of an acre. In addition to the tractor, I am also working on a chicken coop, which is about 80% complete. Last weekend, we constructed an herb spiral, and it turned out well. Just not as tall as I would like it, but I am pleased with it. It is approximately 6 ft by 2 ft. Since we are in zone 7b, I have rosemary, thyme, lemon balm, mint, and chives right now. I plan to add basil, oregano, cilantro, and parsley next weekend. Finally, we have a portion of our yard that is along a storm drain area, outside our fenced yard; I have planted blueberries, a persimmon, and figs there. We are also harvesting rain water, but I’d like to be doing more of that, particularly near the chicken coop area since I am currently filtering our city water for their drinking water. I just took a fruit tree grafting class locally, and I’ve grafted two apple trees that I hope incorporate a guild with, on the south side of our yard in the fall. The vermiculture compost bin is thriving, and my organic vegetable garden is coming along nicely with asparagus, collards, tomatoes, eggplant and lots of marigolds. I am planning to plant a couple of three sister mounds staggered so that they yield at different times along with some potatoes. This is our second year with our organic garden, using companion planting concepts. In addition, we have a rose garden and an ornamental butterfly garden.

    Projects I am considering: rabbits for meat or bees or perhaps in time, both. In addition, we would like to incorporate a keyhole garden in a portion of the blueberry garden area, which is about 55 x 15 feet total. I thought I’d get inspiration from Gaia’s Garden for that project. Once my coop is complete, I would like to find plans and build a solar dehydrator. I will be re-purposing an old glass door and some screen doors for the project, along with left over wood from the other projects. I have not researched the grey water laws in our area, but lack of water is rarely a problem in our area with approximately 48 inches of rain fall a year. One thing I’d also like to research is whether or not I can harvest the excess water from our in-ground pool to water the fruit trees or ornamentals. I don’t know about the chemistry on that. Also, I am considering a solar powered pop door on our coop with a light sensor so that the door will open automatically at dawn and close at dusk to add some flexibility to our schedule, and the ability to leave for a few days without the danger of predators. Thanks for reading. Any suggestions would be appreciated. I am happy to clarify anything that may be vague or confusing.



    I am pretty new to permaculture and have recently purchased 30 acres of land in south west Victoria (Australia).
    We are about to deal with the steep driveway (approx 300 meters long) which suffers from a lot of water erosion in winter. It is highly vegetated with natives and bushland along the sides but the driveway is bare dirt allowing it to be the easiest path for the water.
    My current idea is to create a few rock swales across the drive and plant out the centre with a native or not overly invasive species to stabilise more of the bare ground. We would also make swales before the drive at the top of the hill to divert the water heading there in the first place.
    Firstly does anyone have any better ideas, anything can can further this idea or a suggestion on a ground cover or grass that suits design that would possibly be fragrant when touched or edible?
    Thanks in advance!!!!



    For the pool. I dont’ think chlorinated water is good for your fruit trees. I’m not sure if there are plants that filter chlorine out before you can use it for watering but there are naturally filtered swimming pools. Bill has a few pages on this topic in his PC principles (the bible) book. Basically, you filter your pool water through a small marshy area, instead of using chlorine or other chemicals. I think it’s worth looking into.




    Everyone’s ideas for projects are so engaging. Glad to hear I am not so far behind in the requirements to start a design project. Reading the last few hundred pages of “Permaculture a Designer’s Manual” before the challenge of making a submission of project for approval.

    I am located in Northwestern New Mexico, near the Four Corners, in Farmington (elev. 5640′) which receives an annual rainfall of 8.5″ (mostly in the summer monsoons). The city is nestled in a three river valley fed off of the snow melt from the Colorado Rocky Mountains. I have access to irrigation water from a nearby reservoir by property rights, however this is threatened, as are all water rights in the western lands, so that my project goal will be to design a plan for my 1/3 acre urban lot which fully utilizes the potential of the irrigation system passively, plus annual rainfall to supply my needs without using “City Water”. The end goal will be to create a system which could totally thrive off the rain water alone. Before discovering permaculture I started my garden features (such as raised beds) which will be reworked as hugel boxes eventually. As much as possible I will plant perennial systems reserving the raised beds for annual vegetables mixed with some beneficial perennials. Unfortunately, attracting wildlife and having dogs will be the extent of animals in the system by City Ordinance.




    Roads should be placed on contour to make them more maintenance free, but Bill Mollison also advocates against cutting existing wild land. In a lot of cases, though, long steep drives are the rule as they more cost efficient to cut (as I picture yours to be). In the “opinion only” bracket (since I cannot see your road) there are some things to keep in mind or are already aware of in your planning. Roads should be higher than the runoff; bar ditches to carry water are a good idea; build swales to handle the water away from the road; crown the road for even runoff; culvert where water wants to cross the road, and if on the cheap I would use resources available as an interim step by using logs (especially hard wood) instead of rock mounds, for two reasons. First rocks would be exposed when it rains making it hard and uncomfortable or difficult to drive over several of these as you come and go. Secondly the logs slightly exposed a few inches would slow the water as it traveled down and could be placed to give direction of flow off of the road in a gentle manner (doing flow “this way and that” alternatively as you place them perhaps). I would definitely use logs which are wider than the road at the beginning and end of the series of logs (maybe 5-6 rows/installation site), and cap with a thrust block mass of large stones down hill minimum to hold the logs from washing out in heavy downpours. A series of holding ponds might benefit from your efforts. However, correcting the problems of this road might find resolution by planning a road on contour and at ridges in your master plan, thus you could making certain the repair and solutions for the existing road dovetails into the master plan and you will possibly get you that improved road. Remember that I cannot see you land so take what you like and discard the rest. A local competent person is your best resource.




    Have you read Gaia’s garden? There was a really interesting example/case of a property–I think in New Mexico–which was in a very low rainfall area. We have a lot more rain here, but it really inspired me.

    And for anyone out there, I have kind of a basic question that I’ll post elsewhere in the forum: what the heck to do with weed-infested gravel all around the North and West sides of my house? Our driveway is gravel too, but that’s not the same kind of problem since driving over it and shovelling snow off it keeps the growth pretty low a few wildflowers and some thyme along the edges–I don’t really care about that. But around the sides of the house the gravel is invaded by basically anything. We’re on a pretty steep slope and I’m thinking the gravel might be mandatory to keep water from pooling up on the flat area around the house, especially since we have thick clay soil??? Part of me just wants to get rid of the gravel and let grass grow, but I’m not sure about drainage issues. I know a number of people locally with gravel around their houses and I’ve asked how they maintain it and some spray with weed-killer, others constantly weed. That seems kind of nuts to me. Any ideas?




    Haven’t started Gaia’s Garden yet, but am looking forward to the read. I understand that it is focused on home gardens, and watched his video on comfry which made me instantly comfortable with him as a guide. Lord knows that I need some guides for gardening: far more comfortable with building, grades, and elevation work with a construction background. The whole permaculture concept is well laid out in “Permaculture a Designer’s Manual” in terms of design, yet actually growing stuff is new to me and I am constantly watching youtube for more input.

    I have the same issue with gravel and weeds on the narrow south side of the house. Today I decided to add more gravel mulch on top of the rock that has already migrated into the soil (as gravel does). I do not want wood mulch too close to the house or grow trees too close for that matter, because resale and insurance costs are affected by such in an urban setting, so trying to work it out with extra layering of gravel mulch seems worth a go to me. Underlayering with wet cardboard or weed cloth might help as well. Your situation might benefit from using tree plantings to function as possibly a wind and shade duo to cool the house and shade the weeds out, or as a wind break (strategically placed) that shades the weeds out as well (you mentioned the wind). Since I am using a vague picture of your place, please ignore anything that doesn’t ring true to you in your circumstance: just brainstorming from stuff I read in the text.




    I’m a pretty new gardener too and Gaia’s Garden was helpful. The Design Manual is much more in-depth, but in scope some of the projects are way beyond what I’ll be doing–at least in the near future.

    We were also thinking of just adding more gravel at some point, maybe scraping back the old stuff and putting down a weed barier as you said.

    Shading out might be an idea as well, although in the winter the north side doesn’t see any sun (October-March). It’s about a 2 meter strip between our house and a South-facing retaining wall. We’re already starting grape vines on the wall as it’s a nice, protected micro-climate where things don’t come out of dormancy too early in the spring. Maybe we could shade with the vines in an arbor during the summer as suggested in the Design Manual. Then I’d have a spot to grow my lettuce and such in the summer–it just tends to bolt in July.

    Thanks for the ideas! You’ve got me thinking!



    rani, i am from a small pacific island where forest rugged mountains, cyclonic seas and non resilient communities. is there some information/guide to help people and local government to generate good income from the abundat resources and little or no capacity to process the resources for high value market products? yet preserving the traditional and cultural environment as it is?





    Yes I am also working on a project. I am only half way through the lectures but I am also working on a sustainable agriculture certificate at the local junior college and took some time off from this to get through some difficult courses last semester, (soil science and plant nutrition, plant science, and ecology). I am trying to finish up this permaculture course during the summer. Anyway, I live in a temperate (Mediterranean climate) in Northern California (Santa Rosa). I have an east facing suburban home with a 16 x 25 front yard. The 16 X 5 feet closest to the house is shaded, The next 16 by x 3 square feet is patially shaded, full sun to the rest. The back yard is completely shaded. So to star,t I have sheet mulched the front 16 x 18 part of the front yard that was grass and weeds, and put in lasagna beds and an herb spiral. Is there any way to put pictures on here? It is going well so far but we are in a drought and I am using too much water even with the wood chip mulch. I will be volunteering with a local permaculture nonprofit this summer and learning how to install grey water reuse systems and rainwater catchment. So hopefully by January I will have it finished and ready to submit for this coarse. I started a good portion of my plants from seed in my east facing window and got them from a local Heirloom seed store (The Petaluma Seed Bank). There is a great place to buy perrenial permaculture plants in Occidental and I got those put in. Since this is a front yard the garden, the neighbors have taken a lot of interest in this project and I am hoping that someone will be interested enough to try it in their yard as well. The soil here is one of the best agricultural soils in the county and it was crazy to build a neighborhood on it. It used to be a plum orchard. There is a guy across the street from me that never sold his land and he grows and sells from his land. He says a relative of his owned the land I am on now and grew that orchard here. I am growing tomatoes, celery, arugula, asparigus, lettuces, beets, chard, artichokes, yacom, mashua, cape gooseberries, sun berries, sunflowers, (broccoli and cauliflower in a shaded area), stevia, french sorrel, chamomile, calendula, sage and thyme, comfrey, strawberries, geraniums, (California poppies and 4 o’clocks these volunteer every year. Bees just love those 4 o’clocks), corn ,beans, and squash all together as 3 sisters), garlic; marigolds, lobelia and other flowers (they help draw pollinators and marigolds are good protection from herbivorous nematodes). Everything is very close together because I don’t have much room and that is working out much better than I thought it would. So far I have had problems with leaf miners in the chard and I have resolved that with just checking the backs of the leaves 2 or 3 times a day to remove the eggs and and any affected leaves). I have seen some cucumber beetles but they don’t seem to be doing any harm as yet. I had a big problem with snails during the late rains we had but they are gone now. There is a mole or gopher around but so is the neighbors cat. One thing I learned was that I put the tomatoes out too early, and they struggled until the soil warmed up more. They are doing great now though. I was told to remove the first flowers to make the plants stronger or something. So they are flowering again and I hope to see them fruiting soon. The squash and beans are starting to fruit. Most everything else is flowering. The sorrel and arugula bolted and I have removed the terminus a couple of times so that I can get more leaves from them. I am getting great salads but I think they will be done long before I get any tomatoes and cucumbers, I will put them in shadier spots in the future. I added a bird bath near the big trees where they leave and those birds are eating some bugs. I have a bunch of lavender I started from seed in the window, but I am not sure where I can put them now, maybe I will keep them in pots til some of the plants are done for the year. Any comments, suggestions?

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