Book Notes: The Permaculture Handbook :: Chapter One

Here are my highly personal notes on Chapter One: Garden Farming in Peter Bane’s The Permaculture Handbook (2012). Any misrepresentations of Bane’s words or work are mine alone and completely unintentional. Notes on each chapter will be linked here.

Self-reliance vs. self-sufficiency: Self-reliance is taking responsibility for household needs as part of a resilient local economy, including trade and barter; self-sufficiency is not needing external resources. Self-reliance is an aim of the permaculture design system; it increases resilience, the ability to withstand shocks and get through them. The journey toward self-reliance involves continually “replacing things we consume with things we produce” and “eliminating consumption of needless items altogether.”

He gives examples from his own household: “Our southern Indiana household is unlikely any time soon to grow tea or lemons, or to forge our own wrenches or strike our own nails. We haven’t turned off the water from the public system, but we use very little of it and should the need arise, we could supply our own for many months (or indefinitely) from roofwater caught and stored in tanks.”

olives growing in Longwood Gardens’ conservatory (July 2017) – Olives are a food item I can’t grow here in NH without a lot of energy input, but I love them, so I will keep buying them.

He calls the US Dept. of Agriculture “an august but deeply corrupt agency.”

Regenerative agriculture – the kind that doesn’t collapse under its own weight of soil exhaustion, irrigation salt, erosion, climate damage due to overpopulation and over-cutting of trees. We need to see regenerative agriculture “not as a fringe or retrograde activity … but as a heroic and undersung achievement in the face of overwhelming institutional neglect, cultural dissipation, economic monopolies and dire ecological challenges from chemical, nuclear, and genetic pollution, climate change, and an eroding resource base in the land and in society.”

He speaks of industrial agriculture, multinational conglomerated food processing industries, and the pharmaceuticals industry as having “roots [that] run through the death camps of Nazi Germany and the laboratories of the nuclear and munitions complex of war and empire, eventually consolidated into a global oligarchy enclosing food, medicines, and seeds, and vernacularly called ‘Big Pharm,'” from which have come patent-protected seeds and “genetic manipulation of plants and animals to increase their control over the world’s food supply.” (That statement is linked by footnote to Dan Morgan’s Merchants of Grain: The Power and Profits of the Five Giant Companies at the Center of the World’s Food Supply, 1979)

In a section of the chapter called “Another Way,” Bane talks about seed-saving groups and networks, the 1970s “explosion of small-scale experiments in organic gardening,” Mother Earth News (formative for me in my 20s and 30s), Harrowsmith Magazine, poet and farmer Wendell Berry as “a prophet of this new movement with the publication of his 1976 book, The Unsettling of America …, a call for a renewal of the agrarian roots of the country,” and the establishment of subscription-based Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in 1981.  (And lots more — the book is very dense and the writing oftentimes blunt.)

my winter CSA haul a week ago

Bane predicts a collapse of the “juggernaut of industrial agriculture and Big Pharm,” perhaps suddenly, and notes that “they have grown fat on an empire of oil, that their fortunes are tied to it, and that the empire is now well into its final decades of decline.”

A system that imposes one solution on everything and everyone is death.

New Science of Holism: i.e., thinking about wholes and their relationship to other wholes – each element as its own integrity, and if alive it’s self-regulating, and it also relates to the other elements in the system. Ecological thinking — studying how living communities relate within and without — is the fundamental tool for regenerative farming and underpins permaculture design. Organised complexities – lots of variables that affect all the others. Gives example of killing a garden “pest” with a chemical spray and how that action has consequences far beyond it because of relationships among elements in the system.

The last section of the chapter is headed Permaculture Envisions a New Commons and describes Bill Mollison and David Holmgren’s permaculture vision from the start.


Featured image is one garden — with berries and veggies — at permaculture practitioner Lauren Chase Rowell’s Dalton Pasture farm in Nottingham, NH, taken by me in July 2014.


Book Notes: The Permaculture Handbook

This is the landing page for my idiosyncratic notes on Peter Bane’s The Permaculture Handbook (2012). Any misrepresentations of Bane’s words or work are mine alone and completely unintentional. Notes on each chapter — which vary widely in length, from 6 pp. to 38 pp. — will be linked here (just below the next paragraph) as published.

Bane provides a short biographical sketch in the book, from which: “Peter Bane has published Permaculture Activist magazine for over 20 years and has taught permaculture design widely in the temperate and tropical Americas.” He’s from the Illinois prairie and has travelled to the Himalayas, Norse fjords, Argentina, Chile, and the Caribbean, among other places, studying permaculture. He helped to “create and build Earthaven Ecovillage in the southern Appalachian Mountains,” building a small off-grid solar cabin. Later, he created a small suburban farmstead in Bloomington, Indiana. He and his partner design and consult at Patterns for Abundance. There is a website for this book, The Permaculture Handbook, with a somewhat enhanced table of contents and a couple of videos.



Part I: Attitudes
Chapter One: Garden Farming
Chapter 2: Who Am I To Farm?
Chapter 4: Gardening the Planet
Chapter 5: Permaculture Principles
Chapter 6: A Garden Farming Pattern Language

Part II: Elements
Case Study A: Renaissance Farm, Bloomington, Indiana, USA
Chapter 7: Land – Scale & Strategies
Chapter 8: Labor – Can You Lend a Helping Hand?
Chapter 9: Running on Sunshine
Chapter 10: Water From Another Time
Case Study B: Jerome’s Organic’s, Basalt, Colorado, USA
Chapter 11: Soil – the Real Dirt
Chapter 12: Plants, Crops, & Seeds
Chapter 13: Setting Plant Priorities
Case Study C: Old 99 Farm, Dundas, Ontario, Canada
Chapter 14: Animals for the Garden Farm
Chapter 15: Living with Wildlife
Chapter 16: Trees & Shrubs, Orchards, Woodlands, and Forest Gardens
Chapter 17: Productive Trees and Where To Grow Them
Chapter 18: Structures, Energy, & Technology

Part III: Outcomes
Case Study D: Radical Roots Farm, Harrisonburg, Virginia, USA
Chapter 19: Diet & Food
Chapter 20: Culture & Community
Chapter 21: Markets & Outreach
Chapter 22: Making the Change

Appendix 2: Bee-Forage Species
Appendix 3: Nitrogen-Fixing Species and Biomass Producers

Book Notes: The Permaculture Handbook :: The Dedication

Peter Bane’s The Permaculture Handbook (2012) is a large-format, 430-pp book packed with information in 22 chapters and 4 case studies. It’s a deeply political book, beginning with the dedication: “To the memory of Ivan Illich, defender of our humanity.”

Ivan Illich (1926-2002) “was an iconoclastic social critic, Jesuit priest, radical Christian, historian, scientist and public intellectual who was especially famous in the 1970s and 1980s for his searing critiques of the oppressive nature of institutions and service professions.  His writings also explored the nature of the nonmarket economy, or ‘vernacular domains,’ as he put it, which are the source of so much of our humanity …. He was passionate, humanistic and contemptuous of the harms caused by modernity and economics to the life of the spirit, especially as seen from within the Catholic tradition.”

(Ivan Illich. Source:

His books “explored the functioning and impact of ‘education’ systems (Deschooling Society), technological development (Tools for Conviviality), energy, transport and economic development (Energy and Equity), medicine (Medical Nemesis), and work (The Right to Useful Unemployment and its Professional Enemies; and Shadow Work [which looked at the economics of scarcity]). Ivan Illich’s lasting contribution was a dissection of these institutions and a demonstration of their corruption. Institutions like schooling and medicine had a tendency to end up working in ways that reversed their original purpose. Illich was later to explore gender, literacy and pain.” (from “Ivan Illich: deschooling, conviviality and lifelong learning” at Infed, a resource of the YMCA George Williams College, London)


“The habitual passenger cannot grasp the folly of traffic based overwhelmingly on transport. His inherited perceptions of space and time and of personal pace have been industrially deformed. He has lost the power to conceive of himself outside the passenger role. Addicted to being carried along, he has lost control over the physical, social, and psychic powers that reside in man’s feet. … He has lost faith in the political power of the feet and of the tongue. As a result, what he wants is not more liberty as a citizen but better service as a client. He does not insist on his freedom to move and to speak to people but on his claim to be shipped and to be informed by media. He wants a better product rather than freedom from servitude to it.” — Ivan Illich, “Energy and Equity” (1974).


Read David Bollier’s talk, “The Quiet Realization of Ivan Illich’s Ideas in the Contemporary Commons Movement (Aug. 2013) for a description of the commons, examples of its success (vs. the misconception of “the tragedy of the commons”), threats to it past and present, how it challenges the cultural paradigm and the “bioeconomic worldview that conjoins Darwinism and free market economics,” and the need to preserve and reestablish the commons. Bollier says that Illich cared deeply about the commons because “[i]t serves as a paradigmatic response – a counterpoint – to the pathologies of modern markets, government, science and large institutions. He understood how the commons could foster a different, more spiritually wholesome pattern of life. … [H]is writings still resonate today … because we remain dangerously entangled and confused by a culture of modernity from which there seems to be no escape.”

Boston Common, with ancient fish weir art project, May 2016

The “great, unacknowledged scandal of our times” is how the commons (the physical, geographical commons) have been enclosed — starting with “the collusion between the English aristocracy and Parliament in seizing village pastures, forests and farmlands in order to convert them into market resources,” forcing inhabitants “into cities to become beggars, shanty-dwellers and exploited wage-slaves.” The core values of the commons, as stated by Bollier, are “participation, inclusiveness, fairness, bottom-up control, community-based innovation, accountability, …[which] all seek to combine production, consumption and governance into an integrated paradigm of change.”

Reading this essay, I feel that Illich’s ideas about the commons represent the intersection of permaculture — meeting one’s own household and community needs in a simple, efficient and effective, sustainable, respectful, ethical manner; building individual and community resilience and self-reliance (not self-sufficiency); developing ways to sustain local and regional communities — with heterotopias, places that subvert cultural paradigms: “The commons challenges some deep structural categories of belief and institutional life. The commons movement seeks to reconfigure many of the embedded dualities of our time – the state and market; public and private; objective and subjective, the universal and the local.”


“In a consumer society there are inevitably two kinds of slaves: the prisoners of addiction and the prisoners of envy.” — Ivan Illich, in Tools for Conviviality (1973).


More about/by Illich:

Illich’s obituary in The Guardian (8 Dec. 2002), subtitled “A polymath and polemicist, his greatest contribution was as an archaeologist of ideas, rather than an ideologue.”

Links to a bunch of Illich’s works online at the Preservation Institute. Links to lots more Illich works and some audio at David Tinapple’s website.

Powerful words of Illich at Wikiquote.


A transformation of the environment from a commons to a productive resource constitutes the most fundamental form of environmental degradation. This degradation has a long history, which coincides with the history of capitalism but can in no way just be reduced to it. Unfortunately the importance of this transformation has been overlooked or belittled by political ecology so far. It needs to be recognized if we are to organize defense movements of what remains of the commons.” — Ivan Illich, Silence is a Commons (1982)


I’ll post next about from the first chapter of Bane’s book, “Garden Farming.”

page from chapter one, “Garden Farming” (Peter Bane, The Permaculture Handbook)





Book Notes: Introduction to Permaculture :: Chapter Eight

Finishing my notes on the book Introduction to Permaculture (1991/2009) by Bill Mollison, here is the last chapter, Chapter Eight: Urban & Community Strategies.  (Intro and Chapter One) I am relying mainly on my sketchy notes here, without a book in hand to check quotes, accuracy, etc. (there is a version of the book online, with lots of illustrations by Reny Mia Slay). Any misrepresentations of Mollison’s words or work are mine alone and completely unintentional.

CHAPTER EIGHT: Urban & Community Strategies

“Before 1900 every city contained farms and orchards within the city. Although there are still such pockets of productivity left in the developing world, the modern need for more commercial buildings, industry, and living space has effectively pushed food-growing beyond the outskirts and into the distant countryside. Cities have become totally unable to provide for themselves in terms of food and energy, and now consume far more than they can produce.”

Permaculture aims to bring food production back to urban areas.

8.1. Growing Food in the City

All cities have unused open land, vacant lots, industrial areas, roofs, balconies, corners, lawns, parks, etc., where edible fruits, berries, nuts, and herbs could be grown. Urban woodlots – aesthetically-pleasing and also “filter pollutants from the air, produce oxygen, add to city fuel sources, and act as a wildlife habitat or birds and small animals.”

8.2 Planned Suburban Areas (Village Homes, in Davis, CA)

Residential areas and developments can be planned for food production and energy self-reliance.
Village Homes in Davis, CA:
Solar orientation: Every house faces the sun and incorporates passive or active solar space and water heating designs.
Water drainage: All water run-off is led to swales, which provide a natural drainage system to replenish groundwater supplies. Trees and shrubs are planted beside swales to take advantage of moist soils.
Greenbelts and common areas: The space saved through the use of small front yards (fenced for privacy) and narrow streets is given over to community-owned greenbelts for orchards, mini-parks, bike paths and common areas.
Shared resources and food production: The community lands contain not only a meeting centre, playing fields, and swimming pool, but extensive areas for community gardens, grape orchards, and strip plantings of nuts and fruit trees. In 1989, 60% of the residents’ total food requirements was produced on site.

Shade trees are required by law in Davis for parking lots.

8.3 Community Recycling

Incentive to reduce waste and to recycle: In Devonport, in Auckland, NZ, e.g., recycling is free while trash bags cost $7 per bag. The town also “promotes the use of home composting to handle small units of domestic waste. It prepares publicity materials and homemade composting bins, and sells four types of bins at cost to residents. This means individual gardens receive the benefit, rather than concentrating the compost at the tip site. For tree prunings and other compostable material, a large-scale composting operation is mounted at the depot. The material is chopped and shredded, and some animal manure is added to activate the heap.” When the compost is finished, it’s sold to the residents.

8.4 Community Land Access

Community gardens, co-ops, gleaning systems to redistribute unwanted food, farm clubs — which sounds similar to a CSA but not the same: “Garden or Farm Clubs suit families with some capital to invest as shares, with an annual membership. A farm is purchased by the club near the urban area (within 1-2 driving hours). The property is designed to serve the interests of members, whether for garden, main crop, fuelwood, fishing, recreation, camping, commercial growing, or all of these. People either lease small areas or appoint a manager.”

City farms: “The essentials of a successful city farm are that it lies in an area of real need (poor neighbourhoods), that it has a large local membership, and that it offers a wide range of social services to the area.”

Functions of city farms can include: Community garden allotments; demonstration gardens; domestic animals (rabbits, pigeons, poultry, sheep, goats, cows, pigs, horses) or demonstration and breeding stock; a recycling centre for equipment and used building materials; a plant nursery of multi-functional plants; seminars and demonstrations, training programs, educational outreach to develop community skills; retail sales of seeds, books, plants; technical teams to provide home energy investigation and fitting of homes with weather-stripping or doors and windows; an information centre on food preparation, insect control, nutrition, home energy topics, etc.

8.5 Community Economics

Local employment trading system (green dollars); revolving loan funds.

8.6 Ethical Investment

Need to direct money to positive, life-enhancing projects, not armaments, biocides, environmental harms. Not just take money away from detrimental things but use it to fund beneficial things: conservation, reforestation, clean transportation, clean energy, co-ops, production of useful and durable products.

Examples of investment, funding, and trading tools include guarantee circles, ethical credit unions, ethical brokerages, community loans trusts, common fund agencies for bioregions, and non-formal systems of labour and workday exchanges, barter systems, direct market systems, and no-interest ‘green dollar’ systems.

8.7. The Permaculture Community

In Mollison’s opinion, there is no other solution to the problems facing humankind than the formation of small responsible communities involved in permaculture and appropriate technologies. Retribalisation of society is inevitable as centralised power diminishes.

Mollison writes: “I believe we must change our philosophy before anything else changes. Change the philosophy of competition (which now pervades our educational system) to that of cooperation in free associations, change our material insecurity for a secure humanity, change the individual for the tribe, petrol for calories, and money for products. But the greatest change we need to make is from consumption to production, even if on a small scale, in our own gardens. If only 10% of us do this, there is enough for everyone. Hence the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens, who depend on the very system they attack, and who produce words and bullets, not food and shelter. … . It sometimes seems that we are caught, all of us on earth, in a conscious or unconscious conspiracy to keep ourselves helpless. And yet it is people who produce all the needs of other people, and together we can survive. We ourselves can cure all the famine, all the injustice, and all the stupidity of the world. We can do it by understanding the way natural systems work, by careful forestry and gardening, by contemplation and by taking care of the earth.”

Further: “Beware the monoculturalist, in religion, health, farm or factory. He is driven mad by boredom, and can create war and try to assert power, because he is in fact powerless. To become a complete person, we must travel many paths, and to truly own anything we must first of all give it away. This is not a riddle. Only those who share their multiple and varied skills, true friendships, and a sense of community and knowledge of the earth know they are safe wherever they go.”

That’s the end of the book, except for the handy Appendix A: List of Some Useful Permaculture Plants, with 14 pp. of plants listed from A-Z and information about each.


Appendix B is Species Lists in Useful Categories (categories like edible flowers for salads, pest control plants, species for very dry sites). Appendix C is Common and Latin Plant Names. Appendix D is 2-page glossary.

I’ll be providing my notes for other permaculture books soon.

(* Featured photo is Beach Plum Farm community garden in Ogunquit, Maine, in mid-June 2015.)

Wednesday Vignette: Changing of the Guard


12 November: Last mowing of lawn (actually chopping of leaves). As mower returns to shed, snowblower emerges from its long summer hibernation in the shed for its annual migration to its winter home in the garage. (Photo credit: Bushnell motion camera, in twilight)

Wednesday Vignette is brought to us by Flutter & Hum.

Book Notes: Introduction to Permaculture :: Chapter Seven

Continuing my notes on the book Introduction to Permaculture (1991/2009) by Bill Mollison, here is Chapter Seven: Animal Forage Systems and Aquaculture. (Intro and Chapter One)  I am relying mainly on my sketchy notes here, without a book in hand to check quotes, accuracy, etc. (there is a version of the book online, with lots of illustrations by Reny Mia Slay). Any misrepresentations of Mollison’s words or work are mine alone and completely unintentional.

CHAPTER SEVEN: Animal Forage Systems and Aquaculture
Note: Because I don’t keep farm animals, and don’t intend to, I more or less skimmed this chapter.

7.1 Intro
This chapter begins with one of Mollison’s famous quotes: “You don’t have a snail problem; you’ve got a duck deficiency!”

Mollison says that animals are essential to pest control and for the basic nutrient cycle of a farm [Will Bonsall, in his Essential Guide to Radical, Self-Reliant Gardening, disputes this and is in fact the living proof that kept animals — versus wild ones, like bees and other insects, reptiles and amphibians, birds, etc. — actually aren’t necessary to an efficient large-scale gardening operation.]

Animals are an inefficient protein source but provide diverse products: manure, pollination, foraging (collecting dispersed materials), heat sources, gas producers, soil diggers (poultry and pigs especially), draft animals, “pioneers for clearing and manuring difficult areas before planting” (goats, pigs), pest control, cleansers for water (mussels). Vegetarians can use animals as providers of fibers, eggs, milk, manure-providers, and grazers for fire control.

Animals need the diversity and regularity of a free-range diet, not a concentrated one.

7.2 Zone 1 Animals

Animals near the house include: rabbits, pigeons, quail, guinea pigs, ducks, geese, and bees. Mollison provides a schematic of needs and products/functions of animals.



If I were going to have farm animals, I’d choose ducks (having seen them in action in real life in gardens and on farms, and based on what I’ve read about them):

Ducks are excellent permaculture animals and have many advantages. They can be raised without elaborate housing, and will readily thrive on natural foods. They clean up waterways of green algae, water weeds, and tubers, at the same time fertilising watercourses which aids in fish and eel production. They eat insects, and slugs and snails in orchards and gardens, and because they do not scratch or eat mature greens, can be let into the garden at appropriate times to consume insects. Caution: they will destroy small plants with their feet; also some duck species (Muscovies) are vegetation eaters, although they confine themselves mainly to grasses. Because ducks do not scratch mulches, they can be ranged in mulched gardens and orchards.”

Magpie duck (one of several) at Steeplebush Farm in Maine, 2008

Geese are good weeders, herders, and guard animals.

Bees: “To keep bees on site all year round, a complete forage system must be planned for each month. However, flowering and yields of nectar varies greatly from year to year, depending upon weather conditions, so at times bees are fed sugar water or the hives are moved some miles away to another nectar source.”

7.3 Poultry Forage Systems (zone 2)

chicken in the comfrey at a NH friend’s, 2013

Chicken are scratchers. They eat insects, greens, and fallen fruit; they need protein (insects). Products are meat, eggs, feathers, manure. Mollison details plant species for their forage and household waste they can/should eat. He offers lots more detail on chicken-keeping than I took notes on.

7.4 Pig Forage Systems

Pigs are forest and marshland foragers. They graze, forage, and root, and they like to eat scraps. “Pigs are most cheaply kept where some dairy, orchard, root crop, or meat wastes are available,and do well on restaurant or household food scraps. Good range pasture is of legumes (clover, lucerne), comfrey, chicory, and young grasses. Pigs will eat 11 kg [24 lbs] wet weight of this material per day, and have larger appetites than confined pigs. They also need seed, fruit, or kernels.”

Pigs are beneficial in mature orchards but can destroy young trees. It takes 3-5 years to develop the full complement of free-range foods for pigs.

Pigs are good at preparing land for other uses: “In a large system, 20 pigs per 4000 square metres (1 acre) will plough by scratching and rooting the area for planting comfrey, sunroot, lucerne, chicory, and clover. It then needs to rest. Pigs will remove gorse, blackberries, and small shrubs. They can be followed by sowing to pasture, then cattle, then pigs again.”

Lots of illustrations provided in the pig section.

7.5 Goats

goats at Hildene – The Lincoln Family Farm, in Manchester, VT, Oct. 2010
goat cheese (Hildene – The Lincoln Family Farm, Manchester, VT)

Much like pigs, goats are used to clear abandoned pasture for future planting. They are very destructive to cultivated plants and will debark trees. Goat husbandry in large numbers is incompatible with permaculture.

7.6 Pasture Crops and Large Animal Forage Systems

“Pasture crops and forage systems or cows and sheep are usually fairly extensive (8 hectares [almost 20 acres] or more will carry enough stock for a modest living, depending on suitable landscape and climate). Although much of the area is sown to grasses and legumes such clover, there is an emphasis on trees within the system” to feed animals in drought or when grass is sparse; to protect livestock from severe wind, snow, rain, and sun; to restore soil fertility through leaf litter and nitrogen-fixing legumes; to protect water catchment on slopes; and to prevent erosion.

sheep and chickens at a friend’s in NH, Aug 2014

Lots of illustrations and plant suggestions in the book.

Advantage of forest farming over pasture farming: “The goals of such pasture/forage tree systems is to constantly cycle nutrients from plants to animals and back to the soil via manures and nitrogen-fixing legumes, and to diversify farm products. Tree products such as carob and chestnut can also be more directly converted to sugars, fuels, food additives, flours, and so on. This is of great value when markets for wool, hides, and meat are in flux, and gives the forest farmer a very great advantage over the pasture only grower, who is tied to a single market or product.”

Animal association and interaction: Pigs and chickens should not mix (chickens can pass on TB to them, and to cattle). Ducks like to following behind rooting pigs. Outdoor cats are a definite disadvantage as they are destructive to small animals.

7.7 Aquaculture and Wetlands

Uses of a pond or lake: mirror, heat store, run-off area, pollutant cleanser, transport system, fire barrier, energy storage, recreation, part of an irrigation system.

Can raise, grow, or attract fish, crayfish, mollusks, waterfowl, water plants, edge plants, algae, frogs, insects. “We can design the system to make our main crops any of these: fish, water chestnut, wild rice, honey from marsh tupelo, bait fish, brine shrimp, freshwater snails, aquarium fish, water lilies as flowers or root sets, prawns, fish eggs, rushes or willows for basketry, fungi grown on rotting logs, and so on. All are ‘aquacultures.'”

edible Sagittaria latifolia (duck-potato arrowhead) growing in aquatic garden at Paradise Lot, Holyoke, MA, June 2016

Pond construction: have island refuges for waterfowl, and shallow shelves on edges

Pond depth and shape: the number of fish is related only to the surface area, not to the depth or volume, because the surface area controls the amount of the food supply. Usually ponds should be at least 2-2.5 meters deep [6-1/2 to 8 feet] so fish can get cool and escape birds. Regarding pond size, he says “We need not think pond cultures are suited only to the standard half-acre pond; there are some useful products from small to large ponds: l-2 square metres [about 10-20 square feet]: Domestic watercress, taro, water chestnut, and a few frogs for garden pest control. A rare waterlily, or a small breeding population of a rare fish or aquarium plant. 5-50 sq. metres [about 50-500 square feet]: A large range of plant foods, and at the upper pond size, enough carefully-selected fish for a family.” Above about 50 square meters you’re talking about a commercial breeding crop of plants or animals.

Mollison describes ponds in a series, ponds in parallel, or canalised ponds.

Reny Mia Slay illustration, at Scribd

Beneficial aquatic polyculture: Plants (edible root species, floating aquatics, shallow edge plants, seepage edge plants) + invertebrates + fish + waterfowl.

Also sections on water quality and pond fertilisation, feeding fish, stocking the pond, and brackish or salt water ponds, including structures in mud flats or intertidal areas.

Next up, Chapter Eight: Urban & Community Strategies.

(* Featured photo is of aquaponics in a greenhouse at Paradise Lot in Holyoke, Massachusetts, taken in June 2016. Paradise Lot is (was) the home of permaculturists Eric Toensmeier and Jonathan Bates and their families; Jonathan and his family moved in 2017 to a farm in Ithaca, NY.)

Full of Trees & Changing Leaves

“All the lives we’ve ever lived and all the lives to be are full of trees and changing leaves.” — Virginia Woolf, from The Waves (1931)

A little more than a month ago, spouse and I walked a loop on a nearby trail that twists and turns through woods, partly along a brook, and then it intersects, if you like, a wider grassy trail that runs a short distance to the local drinking water reservoir in one direction and back to the parking lot in another. Early October: leaves still turning, water flowing, apples dropping, and light rain just beginning to fall as we were the farthest distance from the car. Fortunately, it was a short walk, only about 1.5 hours, and the rain was gentle.

From start to finish:

doggos lost tennis balls in the brook
rocky brook with some Hudson River School painting beyond it
disheveled boulders
curved tree trunks, yellow beech leaves, sunlight
waterfalling brook
mossy enchantment
maple carpet
flowing brookery with yellowness
blurry beau braving brook boulder
trees growing where they can
red hobblebush leaves + maples + air
brook placid
autumn, with rain, at the utility right-of-way
goldenrod still blooming (note wet leaves)
roots ‘n rocks
tree colour riot along wider path
uh-oh (Japanese knotweed) + yay (ferns)
tartish apples (but we didn’t die)
rock cairn encircled at drinking water reservoir
misty autumn at reservoir
substantial red clover leaves
jack in the pulpit berries (seeds inside)
very red red maple leaflet
le rouge et le noir: hobblebush berries
blushing maple tree
oak leaves in colour
pale aster

(More 2017 field trips coming soon!)

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