Small scale permaculture design:
Design practice in temperate climate
During the last years, I have been practicing and observing permaculture and natural farming in a tropical climate in Southeast Asia. Designing a plot of land in a temperate climate is something very special for me and a great opportunity to gain more experiences for different climate zones. Our friends just bought a plot of land back home in Germany and we are on holiday to design and bring in new ideas and approaches. Want to see the main results? Read the blog post "Permaculture Design Example & Plan".
Author: Lars Blume
Tropical Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) valid in temperate climate?
After exploring natural farming and permaculture in Australia and New Zeeland five years ago, the center of our lives moved to (sub-)tropical Southeast Asia. Whereas natural farming and permaculture design just recently becomes popular at our first destination, Vietnam (like the Green Youth Collective), our new home Thailand already has a couple of successful established permaculture farms and projects. After gaining experience and going through the 72 hour permaculture design course at the Panya Project,I worked on different designs and implementations from urban to small scale plots of land. Most of the techniques and knowledge I gained in our new home Gaia Ashram. However, I did my first hugel bed, a permaculture classic back in Hannover in a temperate climate. Permaculture offers a box full of structures, functions, tools and systematic approaches that can be easily translated into each and every climate. The plants and their characteristics might be different and the growth potential might vary but the underlining approaches and tools are still valid and easy to adopt.
Our first temperate climate permaculture design project in northern Germany, Hannover
Coming back home to Germany always feels unique and being here in spring is something that is so wonderful and special. Nature is full of energy and the plants and animals are just waiting for the sun and rising temperatures to make the most of the next months. You can feel that live and growth is behind the door step and the breath of life will overtake the cold and gray. And so are we! After spending some time on the land, observing and talking to the owners, I can see the challenges and opportunities for this land. Within the next week we will create a great example how permaculture design can transform an existing plot of land into a regenerative system full of diversity. We will support nature to take over the land and guide natural growth towards a productive and self-regulating organism. We aim to create a system that is able to take care of the peoples’ and the earths’ needs and to share the benefits in a fair way.
Permaculture design on a living organism: what do we have to work with?
Working with existing structures, old trees and buildings is a great thing as you need to adapt your wishes and expectations even more to the given conditions. For this project, we have the following setting: about 1,000 sq. with a challenging slope on a longish and narrow land. Building structures are dividing the land in two parts and besides some old trees in the North, unchangeable structures outside the land are shading some parts of the land. Furthermore, there is an undeveloped horse pasture next to the property and some wildish tree population.
Permaculture design principle No. 8: Turn problems into solutions!
Having a slope gives great opportunities for terraces and swales to manage and store water. Furthermore, to keep most of the top soil on the property we need to come up with some solutions that are reducing the water energy. The existing structure is a reductive element. However, an existing natural stone wall gives great opportunities to establish some heat storage and is a super pretty and unique part of the land. Some parts of the land have great soil quality but some do not have any and require some years of restoration and soil enrichment. Another thing that is planned is to incorporate some new fruit trees and a medical herbal garden.
Permaculture design process: our way to a tailor-made design in Hannover’s climate condition
In order to create a tailor-made design for the land and the people we will use the five step approach in permaculture:
Observation: Spend time with the land, connect with the land, communicate with the land
Envision: Dream your dream and define your key goal
Plan: Design for function
Implement: Get your hands dirty
Evaluate: Change your design in line with nature
Creating a timeless permaculture design plan. What we are aiming for?
We have been lucky enough to have friends who were asking us to design their new property based on permaculture design principles and create a timeless plan and design they can follow in the future. The great thing is that we will come up with a full design but the time and budget constraints of our friends will determine when and which aspect of the design will be implemented. Having a design and plan for the land will help our friends to make use of time and money more effective. Whenever there is time or opportunities they can make use of it and create an oasis without stress and pressure. Every action, every hour spent in the garden will be one step towards the final design. What a good way to start early and work on the long-term objectives such as soil enrichment and fruit trees, and establish edible ground-cover, perennial plants and shrubs as we go.
You want to experience permaculture design?
If you want to experience a design process join one of our workshops or invite us to your property (Europe and Southeast Asia) and become the host for the next workshop. Just drop us a mail for further information.
Gaia Ashram together with NextGenoa and flowful will organize a Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) COurse between March 30 and April 18 at Gaia Ashram Thailand. You can find more information here or just drop us a message; we’re happy to hear from you.
At the moment we are designing the courses for our summer break (May/June) in Germany. We will have several weekend courses and also a PDC-Course happening. To get more information just write us a message; we will keep you posted.
Furthermore you can join Gaia Ashram an community based education centre in Thailand as a volunteer and learn more about gardening, spirituality and nature connection, For futher information check www.gaiaschoolasia.com.