Permaculture Design: Part II

Design process.

| July/August 1984

  • Permaculture Design Dandelion
    Photo 13. Wild blueberries, strawberries and dandelions indicate acid soils.
    PHOTO: JOHN QUINNEY
  • Permaculture Design Thistle
    Photo 14. Thistle populations may increase as a result of overgrazing.
    JOHN QUINNEY
  • Permaculture Design Aerial Photo
    Photo 16. Aerial photographs can help conduct an inventory of on-site resources.
    ROBERT SARDINSKY
  • Permaculture Design Orchard
    Photo 15. Land near a large lake may remain relatively warm in winter because of the influence of the water's thermal mass.
    JOHN QUINNEY
  • Permaculture Design Compost and Mulch
    Photo 17. Leaves for compost and mulch.
    ROBERT SARDINSKY
  • Permaculture Design Windbreak
    Photo 19. The dense ground growth and interspersed poplar trees of this windbreak protect the field from hot, dry summer winds.
    JOHN QUINNEY
  • Permaculture Design Integrated System
    Photo 18. An integrated system using human manure to fertilize an aquaculture pond in China.
    JOHN QUINNEY
  • Permaculture Design Intercropping
    Photo 21. Vegetables intercropped with fruit trees.
    ROBERT SARDINSKY
  • Permaculture Design Mulberries
    Photo 22. Try some uncommon crops, such as mulberries, as a long-term investment.
    ROBERT SARDINSKY
  • Permaculture Design Peach Orchard
    Photo 20. A peach orchard with an understory of nitrogen-fixing white clover. 
    JOHN QUINNEY

  • Permaculture Design Dandelion
  • Permaculture Design Thistle
  • Permaculture Design Aerial Photo
  • Permaculture Design Orchard
  • Permaculture Design Compost and Mulch
  • Permaculture Design Windbreak
  • Permaculture Design Integrated System
  • Permaculture Design Intercropping
  • Permaculture Design Mulberries
  • Permaculture Design Peach Orchard

The permaculture design process starts with the guidelines in Part I, adds a particular piece of land and specific farmers, and then uses the following step-by step procedure to arrive at a completed small farm or homestead plan.

Defining Goals

First, the person or persons operating a small farm or homestead must define realistic objectives and state them as precisely as possible. It's not enough to want "to be self-sufficient." Such vague statements immediately suggest other questions: Do you want to be self-reliant in everything, including energy needs? ... Or only food? ... Or only summer vegetables?

A workable goals statement could be as follows: On this land, within five years, we want to net $20,000 a year for 40 person hours of work per week and for a total capital outlay of less than $50,000.

No design will succeed if it's developed without such clear objectives. You must know what you want to do before you can figure out how to do it. So although you'll be tempted to avoid this issue and move on to the excitement of choosing a chicken breed or planning a crop rotation scheme, don't! A good design must precede the implementation. Premature zeal often results in mistakes that may be costly later.



Ideally, for the first year you should do nothing beyond defining goals and identifying the resources at hand. Rather than rushing out to dig a pond or build a barn, spend those first seasons getting to know the land and its resources. The only exceptions to this "do little" strategy are activities that are obviously necessary or involve a minimal commitment of time and money. These could include establishing herb and salad gardens near the farmhouse, upgrading insulation and weather stripping, and harvesting firewood from dead trees.

Identifying Resources

Goals can be well-defined and still be unrealistic, of course. The next step, completing a resource inventory, will give you a check with reality. Through careful observation, collect data about the on site and local resources, and closely examine your personal resources, as well.






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