Posted by: ethanappleseed | 110415

Regenerative Designs has Moved!

The Regenerative Designs Blog has moved!

Find all permaculture and 8 Forms of Capital content at

Posted by: ethanappleseed | 100617

Permaculture Design Firms Around the World

[guest post from Roots to Fruits blogger Mark Angelini]
Are you looking for a permaculture designer to transform your home, business, or institution into a thriving oasis of sustainability? I’ve assembled an initial list of all the permaculture design firms in the world (that I could quickly and easily find online). The graphic was created using VUE Mindmapping software. I’ve compiled these from one hours worth of research, so if you know of any firms missing from this list, please add your business name and website link in the comments!
Don’t see your permaculture design firm listed? Add the name and website link in the comments!
Posted by: ethanappleseed | 100502

Permaculture Pancake Polyculture


Updated at the Mosaic Farm Perennial Plan Design Charette in Easthampton, MA; originially composed at a Permaculture Design course in Vermont!

Here’s the species – function list :

Long-term overstory
• sugar maple (Acer saccharum) – syrup
• black walnut (Juglans nigra) – nuts, syrup
• shagbark hickory (Carya ovata) – nuts, syrup
• black birch (Betula lenta) – syrup, tea
• sweet-acorn oaks (Quercus spp.) – acorn flour for pancakes!
• chestnut (Castanea spp) – chestnut flour for pancakes! (see for a great selection)

Selected Understory
• pawpaw (Asimina triloba) – banana custard-flavored fruit, shade tolerant
• gooseberry (Ribes uva-crispa) – tasty tart fruit, shade tolerant
• currant (Ribes spp.) – tasty tart fruit, shade tolerant
• thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus) – tasty tart fruit, shade tolerant

Selected Animals
• chicken (Gallus domesticus) – eggs (for the pancake batter!)
• pig (Sos scrufula) – bacon! And fat for frying the pancakes!

This arose from our discussion of mixed-species sugar-bushes. My research & experimentation this spring shpowed that black walnut (Juglans nigra) trees can be tapped and boiled for a DELICIOUS syrup, and friends inform me that Hickories (Carya spp.) can also be tapped. Add these to the traditional sugar maple (Acer saccharum), other maple species (Acer spp.), and birch (Betula spp., especially B. lenta), and we’re looking at a significantly more diverse stand of locally-appropriate sugar production!

Add in the acorns and chestnuts for a delicious and sweet perennial starch, mixed with eggs from chickens free-ranging in the understory, and your batter is coming together. Then you can use bacon fat from the acorn & chestnut-finished pigs to oil the pan and fry your pancakes. Topped off with sauces from your understory fruit production (pawpaws, gooseberries, currants, thimbleberries), this is an incredible perennial meal.

Let’s step beyond the relative monoculture of sugar maples! And go even farther for some delicious perennial permaculture pancakes.

Posted by: ethanappleseed | 100418

Forest Gardening: Vision & Pattern Language

Forest Gardening: Vision & Pattern Language

We’re in the middle of the Design & Theory weekend of the 2010 Forest Garden Immersion Series. This 4-weekend series, one per month, immerses participants in the practice and culture of forest gardening. A few spots are still open for the upcomingweekends:

  • Install & Establish (May 28-30)
  • Caretake & Tend (June 18-20)
  • Food & Medicine (July 16-18)             …Sign up now at!

We’re compressing the entire Edible Forest Gardens design process (EFG Volume II, Chapter 3 & 4) articulated by Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeier into a single weekend – so our teaching team needed to get creative. Rather than uber-detailing each stage of the design process, we decided to trial a Pattern Language approach.

Pattern Languages, named and articulated by architect Christopher Alexander et. al in the 70’s, are one of the most powerful design tools that exist in the world. Patterns are defined as “solutions to problems across contexts”, which can be strung together to form complete designs for towns, buildings, and more… Since their original proposed use for architecture and planning, Pattern languages have been used in realms from medical training, software design, to the compositiong of zoning laws. An excellent resource is the collaboratively co-created “Liberating Voices: A Pattern Language for Communication Revolution” published by MIT press.

Dave Jacke & Eric Toensmeier created the first draft of a Forest Garden Pattern Language in Edible Forest Gardens Volume II, which Connor Stedman of Turkey Tail Permaculture concept-mapped last year:


Connor and I also typed up the Name, Problem Statement, and Solution Statement for all of the 57 patterns in Edible Forest Gardens — you can download a PDF of these statements here. As I looked through the patterns in preparation for our course, I realized that I and other designers have been using patterns in my forest garden design work that were not included in the first draft. So, drawing on our collective experience (especially the brilliant pattern-articulators Dave Jacke, Eric Toensmeier, Jonathan Bates, Dyami Nason-Regan, and Christopher Alexander et. al), I’ve gathered 14 patterns and proposed 23 new ones for the language. I also re-arranged the patterns into a new six-step forest garden design process, which is laid out  as a Flower Petal Bed (pattern #46) in the following diagram. To design a forest garden (after articulating goals and analyzing the site), simply choose 1 or 2 patterns from each “pattern bed” and connect them together into a design. You can download the map by clicking on it.

The Apios Institute for Regenerative Perennial Agriculture (which I’m on the board of) has just released a very exciting new co-creative resource: the Edible Forest Garden Wiki. The wiki itself is an ecosystem of information, automatically inter-linking useful forest garden Species Pages to mutually supportive Polycultures to fully designed Forest Gardens – much like the Internet Movie Database connects actors, films, and production companies. Wiki-members (subscription is about $2 per month) can add their own experiences growing 700 forest garden species, add new polycultures and forest gardens, and comment on other people’s designs. Check out the free content and become a wiki member!

Part of my longer term vision is develop the Forest Garden Pattern Language through a similar co-creative online space, where we can all propose patterns and try them out in our designs. The patterns that work across contexts will emerge through our collective research and experimentation. Sound like fun? Want to play? Let me know in the comments!

Posted by: ethanappleseed | 100224

Natural Swimming Pools

Natural Swimming Pools:

Multifunctional Tools for a Permaculture Landscape?

In Bill Mollison’s Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual, he says something along the lines of, “While we’re not using Chlorine to make mustard gas and poison our drinking water, we fill our pools with it and have a great time swimming around. Why would I want to immerse myself in a liquid that no other living thing can survive in?”

Natural swimming pools provide a completely biological method to create clean, clear swimming pools. They can be designed and built on nearly any scale, from small backyard pools to huge public swimming areas. Used extensively in Europe (especially Germany), they have yet to really take off in the US. Today I attended a seminar by James Robyn of BioNova Natural Swimming Pools, who gave a 400-slide overview of the systems and offered some basic design principles and guidelines. My complete set of notes from the day is available for free download here: Natural_Swimming_Pool_notes.

Basically, Natural Swimming Pools (NSPs) are just like normal pools or ponds that pump water slowly through “Regeneration Zones” – which are simply Constructed Wetlands. Using a gravel substrate 3 feet deep, a diversity of locally-adapted aquatic plants (including submerged, emergent, and floating plants) are planted at a density of 2-5 plants per square foot. Water should flow through the pools at a rate of 26 gallons per square foot of per day. Costs for constructing Natural Swimming Pools are roughly $100 per square foot – which apparently is similar to the cost of a conventional chemical pool.

From my perspective, a simple permaculture-inspired earth pond with a constructed wetland would serve exactly the same purpose. Especially if the pond was being used for multiple functions – agricultural irrigation, aquaculture & food production, light reflection, microclimate, etc. Better yet, take a walk to your nearby pond or creek and save the $80,000-250,000+ that one of these Natural Swimming Pools could cost you.

That said, if you have a design client dead-set on a pool, the comparable pricing and straightforward biological technology of Natural Swimming Pools is an attractive alternative to yet another unnatural chlorine-poisoned turquoise blotch on the landscape. Furthermore, NSPs offer the chance to add habitat diversity and plant species diversity — another way that ecological design can potentially enhance ecosystem health while meeting our human needs.

If you would like a Natural Swimming Pool consultation and feasibility assessment for your home or business from AppleSeed Permaculture LLC, please contact ethan[at]

Plants for Natural Swimming Pools

Note that I was quickly copying these off of slides in the presentation, so many spelling may be wrong. For some interesting tidbits about planting and substrates, you can download my complete notes from the talk here. You can also read Wikipedia’s “Organisms used in water purification” for some ideas.

Do you know any good books on Natural Swimming Pools? Can you correct any errors in these plant lists? Let us know in the comments.
Emergent Plants

  • Typha spp. (cattail)
  • Iris spp. (good for P uptake)
  • Lythrum salicaria (Purple loosestrife)
  • Eleocharis (spike rushes)
  • Butomus umbellatus (flowering rushes)
  • Baldellia ranunculoides (lesser waterplantain)
  • Acorus spp. (blueflag)
  • Caltha spp. (marsh marigold)
  • Swamp hibiscus
  • Myosotus spp. (?)

Deep Water Zone Plants

  • Ranunculus spp.
  • Myriophyllum verticillatum, spp.
  • Elodea canadensis
  • Potamogeton lucens
  • Chara aspera
  • Ceratophyllum spp.

Floating Plants

  • Water lillies
  • Nymphoides pletata
  • Ptamogeton natans (?)


Posted by: ethanappleseed | 100117

Carbon Farming: Concepts, Tools & Markets

Carbon Farming: Concepts, Tools & Markets

Here we are in winter farming conference season – I presented this talk at the 2010 Northeast Organic Farming Association’s  Winter Conference (Massachusetts), and got some great feedback on the idea of local carbon markets. I’ll be presenting again next weekend (January 23rd) at the NOFA NY conference – you can learn more and register here: Scroll down below the slideshow to download the handouts.

Anyone interested in starting a local carbon market? Let me know in the comments.


Carbon Farming: Concepts, Tools & Markets Handout

Young Farmers Conference 2009:

Permaculture for Farmers & Ecosystem Investing

Below are the slideshows and handouts for the two workshops I presented last week at the Young Farmers Conference, held at the incredible Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture. Let me know what you think in the comments – and Enjoy!

Permaculture for Farmers

Download the handout by clicking on the image below.

Permaculture for Farmers Handout


Ecosystem Investing

Download the handout by clicking on the image below.

Ecosystem Investing Handout

Posted by: ethanappleseed | 091125

A Dirty Story

A Dirty Story – Permaculture Poetry & the Microbial Beats

Fresh from the final party of our 2009 Permaculture Design Course at the Virgin Island Sustainable Farm Institute – Listen to these mp3s, download’em, and spread’em around. Lyrics are in the comments below…

Bale Shabaka –


Gabriel Vieira –

“A Dirty Story”

Is anyone interested in pulling together images for these pieces? I think they could be very powerful a la Greening the Desert, Project Survival Media, WeForest, etc.

Harvested abundance at the Virgin Island Sustainable Farm Institute

Permaculture Seeds Sprouting on St. Croix


Birds eye view of the Virgin Island Sustainable Farm Institute. Thanks to Google Earth - download the place file here.

St. Croix, a 6 x 20 mile island in the Caribbean, is exploding with positive action. Led by the Virgin Island Sustainable Farm Institute, locally grown food and ecological agriculture are seeding in with island people and travelers across the island. Now, in collaboration with AppleSeed Permaculture and Gaia University, the US Virgin Islands are being innoculated with the empowering principles and processes of permaculture design.

The Virgin Island Sustainable Farm Institute (VISFI) is a 7-year old working farm and educational center designed with permaculture principles. The founder and executive director Ben Jones of VISFI reports, “The seed of inspiration for VISFI was born from the permaculture movement – and 7 years into the development of our farm institute, we are nurturing our first regional permaculture students. We are happy to come full circle with the vision of sustainable design, using scholarships to bring in the local community to learn with North American participants in a lush tropical farm paradise.”


Chicken tractor in tropical vegetable & forest garden

“This course marks an awakening of the permaculture movement into the Virgin Islands, and we’re really happy to be working with neighbours, former students, musicians, activist, farmers, and hope they leave our living campus full of new ideas to spread the fine ideals of permaculture around the wold.” The course also includes a true diversity of participants: from a St. Croix  conscious-reggae artist to a Certified Public Accountant from Pennsylvania, from a new Gaia University associate to a northeastern United States market gardener, and from an international agricultural development consultant to a Puerto-rican indigenous Jibara woman.


Participants from St. Croix, Puerto Rico, and mainland United States.




The lead teachers of this first-ever Virgin Islands permaculture design course are Ethan Roland of AppleSeed Permaculture and Dyami Nason-Regan of Starberry Farms. They connected with Ben Jones through the transformative action-learning degree pathways of Gaia University, and share his vision of global abundance through their permaculture design and teaching work. After training with Geoff Lawton of the Permaculture Research Institute in 2005, Ethan started AppleSeed Permaculture to spread permaculture through professional consulting and teaching work throughout northeastern North America and around the world – Ethan has since taught permaculture in Menominee, Thailand, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and beyond.


Participants preparing for an 18-day hot compost.

Working with the VISFI staff and the deep permaculture design process developed by Dave Jacke (, the teaching team delivers the standard 72-hour permaculture design course as a complete immersion in permaculture design and action. Participants are mentored through a full 2-week permaculture design process, including standard hands-on activities (compost-making, food forestry, gardening, natural building) and learning in a diversity of living classrooms.


Permaculture pattern understanding: Edge class in the tidal pools.

The mission of the Virgin Islands Sustainable Farm Institute is to provide a working educational farm enterprise that integrates sustainability in education, environment, and community through quality instruction in Agroecology and related fields.


…combines experiential learning, outdoor lecture, field laboratories, personal and group research projects, leadership development, and local environmental awareness into a comprehensive educational experience.


Participants present design site analysis drawings in the field.

…encourages personal growth, self-awareness, and community development in each student relationship with agriculture and the environment.  We promote healthy agriculture through intelligent, sustainable farm design coupled with environmentally conscious practices and principles.

…seeks to forge an economically productive link between the organic revolution and modern agriculture systems.  It is our aspiration that family and community based agricultural enterprises will prove sustainable for generations to come.


Harvest from the VISFI Farm - sugar apples, papaya, passionfruit, limes...


…staff, through years of academic study and disciplined agricultural experience, have developed a progressive curriculum that encompasses Sustainable Agribusiness, Tropical Organic Farming, Tropical Agroforestry, Permaculture Design, Cultural Mentoring, and Agritourism. A synergistic approach to agricultural learning will produce students with the skills and knowledge to survive in a modern world as small and medium-sized farm entrepreneurs.

VISFI sets the benchmark in advanced experiential education with our agroecological curriculum.  Our program is essential in today’s increasingly environmentally aware society. VISFI is confident that our blend of talented staff, natural farming practices, unique location, and progressive curriculum will help mold and create tomorrows farmers and agricultural leaders.


Project teams returning from an afternoon of design work.


In collaboration with Gaia University, VISFI is working to create a global network of small farm and educational farm campuses to facilitate the sharing of information, ideas, and sustainable agriculture and resource management technologies. Gaia University will host its first orientation in Integrative Eco-Social Design at VISFI in December 2009, kicking off programs for its accredited Bachelors, Masters and post-Graduate degrees.

Even though we’re only a week into the course, it’s clear that the teachings of permaculture are spreading on the island. Local participants have brought their friends and family to visit the VISFI, taking home seeds and cuttings from the vast array of fruits, nuts, and perennial vegetables on the farm. They carry with them the priniciples and ideas of permaculture, to plant and nurture in their own communities.

The long-term effects of Permaculture Design Courses are always difficult to predict. But here on St. Croix, an island with a painful history of slavery and devastating agriculture, the practices of permaculture are already beginning to heal the ecological and social landscape.


Permaculture: meeting human needs and increasing ecosystem health.

May our work in the world continue to create abundance, joy, and positive action for these uncertain and quickly-changing times.

To learn more:

Posted by: ethanappleseed | 091008

2010 Internships with AppleSeed Permaculture

Spring & Summer Internships with AppleSeed Permaculture

3-6 month action trainings in positive systemic world-change

ASP_InternshipIn a Nutshell – Three to six-month internships with AppleSeed Permaculture, a cutting edge ecological design firm in the mid-Hudson River Valley. Internships run 2-3 days per week from March 1st to May 31st and June 1st to August 31st, and fall into two categories: Regenerative Media and Permaculture Design. Interns must be self-directed and self-sufficient, organize their own accommodations, and provide their own transportation. Internships cost $100 per month and provide the intern with high-quality mentoring and guidance on professional permaculture design and regenerative media projects. Application period November 1st – December 1st, 2009. Please submit a letter of introduction with goals and interests and a 1-2 page resume to See below for full details.

Who – Self-directed, motivated permaculture designer committed to creating positive ecological and social change in the world. Must have completed a Permaculture Design Certification Course. Computer skills and computer (ideally a mac) are necessary.


What – Action learning internship with AppleSeed Permaculture, a cutting edge ecological design firm combining disciplines of sustainability to integrate humans into the landscape by designing productive ecosystems for homes, businesses, and communities. Internships are a mix of research and hands-on project-based learning. Interns will learn about all aspects of running a small business while collaborating with professionals in the fields of activism, international aid and development, architecture, design, and engineering. Skills learned include communication and high tech digital design combined with low-tech methodology in the field. The program is flexible, seeking to achieve the learning goals of the intern while meeting the needs of the firm.

Internship Sessions & Topic Areas

Interns may apply for one or two internship sessions in either of the below topic areas. Session 1 runs from March 1st to May 31st, 2010 and Session 2 runs from June 1st to August 31st, 2010.

• Regenerative Media – Action documentation of ecological, economic, and social solutions to global climate change & financial collapse (e.g. small explanatory youtube videos like the one below). Interns will also work on ecosystemic business management & development, focusing on collaboration, marketing, web and social media networking. [Skillsets developed: Digital Video + Audio, Web 2.0, wikis, blogs, eco-social networking, Digital organization]

• Permaculture Design – Communities require local food security to thrive in the coming years. The intern would help build community through integrative farm & agriculture research. For example, a current client is a residential developer-gone-green, for whom I am designing 120 acres of farm & community gardens integrated housing & community spaces. Design and research for international development with Permaculture Across Borders is also available.

Economic Projections for Ecological Agriculture Economic Projections for Ecological Agriculture MMH_DesignThumb

Where – The internship will take place in the northeastern United States, mostly in the mid-Hudson River Valley bioregion (Primarily Kingston & New Paltz, NY). Intern is responsible for making housing arrangements.

When – 2-3 days per week during one or both internship sessions: Session 1 runs from March 1st to May 31st, 2010 and Session 2 runs from June 1st to August 31st, 2010. Application period November 1st – December 1st, 2009. Internships will be awarded on December 15th, 2009.

Why – In sustainable work we must seek leverage points for positive change that work fast and affect large numbers of people. This internship is a training in systems-thinking that prepares and empowers the intern for real world action.

How – A mixture of self-directed and collaborative project work. Direct mentoring empowers intern to take on and lead their own projects.

Your Next Steps – If you are interested in the position, please submit a letter of introduction with goals and interests and a 1-2 page resume to during the application period from November 1st – December 1st, 2009.

Download this announcement here.

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