Posted by: ethanappleseed | 090926

Agile Manifesto Principles & Permaculture

The software development world is doing excellent work to move holistic & dynamic design processes forward. My friend and Gaia University colleague Patrick Gibbs pointed me to an ‘Agile Manifesto‘ for software development, whose principles seem very applicable to collaborative eco-social & permaculture design.

You can find the principles here: http://agilemanifesto.org/principles.html

I’ve re-organized them, pulling the most-useful for ecological and social landscape design to the top. I’ve also replaced the word “software” with “outcome” to generalize the ideas. I’ve slightly altered a few of the principles and marked them with an asterisk*. If there is an immediately corresponding permaculture principle, I’ve included it afterwards in (parentheses).

MOST USEFUL FOR DESIGN PROCESS

MOST USEFUL FOR SOCIAL PROCESS

  • Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
  • The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
  • At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly. (Pc Principle: Apply self-regulation and accept feedback)
  • The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
  • Business people and designers must work together daily throughout the project.*

OTHER PRINCIPLES

  • Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable outcomes.
  • Deliver working outcomes frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
  • Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, designers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.*
  • Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.

Several of these agile principles map very closely to the Principles of Collaboration I articulated for my Master’s Thesis at Gaia University:

Fertile ground! what do y’all think? Anybody using similar principles in their design work?

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Posted by: ethanappleseed | 090911

Backyard Bounty: Permaculture is Taking Root

AppleSeed Permaculture was featured alongside gardening guru Lee Reich in a recent issue of the locally-focused Chronogram magazine. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Not-So-Strange Fruit
Ethan Roland teaches and practices permaculture at the Epworth Center in High Falls. His goal is “to establish local food security and deliciousness in a time of dramatic change.” He talks about each separate polyculture planting as a metaphor for the movement as a whole; as they grow and spread outward, he will mow less and less space between them until they connect to form a complete fabric.

[Lee Reich, Ethan Roland] …and other experts provide advice, classes, and assistance in making some positive changes to the flora around our homes and doing it in a way that works for us. We don’t all need to become self-sufficient overnight. But if we make choices that gently move us in that direction, relying less on imports, spending more time (and less money) connecting with our food—and enjoying luscious fruit along the way—we can spend less, eat better, and have enviable yards. What’s not to like?

You can read the whole thing over at the Chronogram website: www.chronogram.com

RESOURCES

Lee Reich www.leereich.blogspot.com
Ethan Roland www.appleseedpermaculture.com
Green Phoenix Permaculture www.green-phoenix.org
Catskill Native Nursery www.catskillnativenursery.com

Ethan Roland’s Top 5 DIY Permaculture Books
1. Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway (2009, Chelsea Green)

2. Edible Forest Gardens, Volumes I and II by Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeier (2005, Chelsea Green)

3. Food Not Lawns by Heather Coburn Flores (2006, Chelsea Green)

4. Landscaping with Fruit by Lee Reich (2009, Storey Publishing)

5. Sustainable Landscaping for Dummies by Owen Dell (2009, For Dummies Press)

Ethan Rolands’s Top 5 Regional Permaculture Nurseries

1. Catskill Native Nursery, Kerhonkson
2. MiCosta Nurseries, Columbia County
3. St. Lawrence Nurseries, Potsdam
4. Tripplebrook Farm, Southampton, Massachusetts
5. Oikos Tree Crops, Michigan

Permaculture designers: It’s time to get serious about profitability.
Farmers & Greenhorns: You already know what I’m talking about.

I’ve been working on an integrated ecological farm design for the Ashokan Center in the Hudson River Valley bioregion. The design calls for a mega-diversity of organic enterprises: Multi-species rotational grazing, hardy kiwi vineyards, mixed-fruit orchards, agroforestry & silvopasture, no-till & greenhouse vegetables, gourmet & medicinal mushrooms, and more. There are 200+ edible & useful species spread across 13 acres of farm and 200+ acres of forest.

Ashokan Center Farm

But to start an ecological farm (in the USA at this point in time) takes money. In order to justify the up-front capital expense that my clients will have to invest to get this farm going, I need to be able to show them that this mega-diverse permaculture system can be profitable.

How can I do it? How can I predict the potential expenses, and calculate the possible profits? What can I show my clients to convince them that all of these great permaculture ideas make good economic sense?

By using Enterprise Budgets.

Enterprise budgets are summaries of actual data on the costs and yields of growing a particular crop — from asparagus to tilapia to black currants to walnuts to cattle to shitake mushrooms. The basic pattern is as follows:

INCOME – EXPENSES = NET INCOME

  • INCOME (aka revenue, receipts, gross revenue, gross income – sometimes shown with a break-even chart)
  • EXPENSES (aka costs – often divided into variable costs & fixed costs)
  • NET INCOME (aka margin, gross margin, annual returns over costs)

Pretty straightforward, right?

For example, download a simple Bell Pepper Enterprise Budget from Penn State here and take a look.

Bell Pepper Production

As you move into perennial crops (like this pear example), the enterprise budgets get a bit more complex. AND, there are currently very few enterprise budgets that focus on small-scale, organic and post-organic permaculture enterprises. So we’ll need to develop based on the small-scale enterprises we initiate — this means learning the basics of good bookkeeping and accounting, and keeping good records on our expenses and yields. Some of the best current documentation on this scale comes from Joe Kovach at Ohio State University – take a look at his work here.

Kovach Polyculture Research

In Kirk Gadzia’s Holistic Management module during the Carbon Farming Course, our financial planning exercise (which you can read about over at the Carbon Farming Course blog here) focused on choosing agricultural enterprises to re-invigorate an ailing farm. To bring the whole-systems thinking of permaculture into play, I needed to propose viable multi-functional alternatives to the simple and unprofitable hay production. Fortunately, I’ve been collecting every single enterprise budget available on the web for the last year — so I had many options, from seaberry & hazelnut orchards to perch & bullhead catfish aquaculture. (The systematic collation and organization of all these budgets creates the backbone of the economic design tool for ecological agriculture enterprises I blogged about here.)

In order to support the ongoing development of ecological agriculture, I’m making available to you all the all the enterprise budgets I have collected in the last 2 years – more than 1090 of them. I ask only that you keep seeking and creating out new budgets to add to the collection – especially ones that use real data from small-scale organic and permaculture operations. Download ’em here – careful, this is a 130mb file.

Any questions?

Permies, are you ready to get realistic about profitability? Let’s get this sort of economic sensibility into our designs.

Farmers & Greenhorns, how can I make this information more available and useful to you?

Posted by: ethanappleseed | 090812

Welcome to Regenerative Designs!

This blog replaces my old blog at www.permaculturedesigns.blogspot.com.

For now, check out the Carbon Farming Course!

Carbon Farming Tennessee – August 25 – September 16, 2009

Click here for more info.

Posted by: ethanappleseed | 090716

Economic Projections for Ecological Agriculture


Over the past 2 years I’ve been developing an economic design tool for ecological agriculture enterprises.

It creates ten to fifty-year profit and loss projections based on hand-collected & collated hard research data on the following ag enterprise areas:

• Permaculture food forests, forest gardens & agroforestry areas;
• Mixed-fruit orchards;
• Small fruits, berries & hardy kiwi + grape vineyards;
• Organic annual & perennial vegetable production w/ no-till beds & greenhouses;
• Rotational grazing layouts & keyline patterns for larger livestock
• Chickens, ducks, bees and other micro-livestock;
• Composting, worm composting, and aerated compost tea production;
• Short-rotation coppice biomass production for heating & biofuels;
• Gourmet and medicinal mushroom production;
• Wetland agriculture, aquaculture & pond polyculture systems.


Pilot farms using the tool’s projections are being developed in the Hudson River valley, integrated with residential and institutional developments. For an example farm prospectus created with the tool, click here.

Anyone interested in collaborating? Contact me: ethan[at]appleseedpermaculture.com and http://twitter.com/ethanappleseed

Posted by: ethanappleseed | 090623

All Permaculture Principles!?!

Ever notice that there seems to be a plethora of permaculture principles? And that every permaculture teachers tends to use a different set?

How could this have happened? Is this a lack of consensus in the permaculture movement? Is there a definitive set of permaculture principles?

To understand these questions better, I started to collect EVERY PERMACULTURE PRINCIPLE that I’ve ever seen anywhere. I’ve created a first-draft graphic collection of all the principles that I’ve found so far, organized by originator/lineage — take a look below!

You can download a .pdf of this first draft at here.

What do you think? Is this useful?

Have you encountered a principle that’s not on this map? Let everyone know in the comments below!

(Thanks to permapower for the post that encouraged me to post this!)

Posted by: ethanappleseed | 090522

Financial Permaculture & Ecosystem Investing

Yesterday, Greg Landua of BooyaCacao and Nemawashi Venture Altruism presented at the Green Ventures Conference. Our slideshow, which presents ground-breaking work on the new realm of Ecosystem Investing, is posted on slideshare.net and below:

The summary of ecosystem investing is as follows:


Would you like to invest in any of these businesses? Or have us give this talk elsewhere? Or, do you think this is all crazy? Comment below.

Posted by: ethanappleseed | 090517

Permaculture Earthworks in the Hudson Valley


Yeehaw! Working with permaculture water-harvesting principles, we dug a small pond and connected it to more than 400ft of rain-capturing-forest-garden-watering contour swales. I worked with Tristan Vis (a past PDC student of Geoff Lawton‘s and mine) and a local earthmover Dick Stokes for 8 hours yesterday to get everything in the ground, cleaned up, and seeded with a mix of nitrogen-fixing groundcovers.

Dick skillfully operated an 8-ton CAT D4C Bulldozer in concert with a 4-ton excavator to dig the swales and excavate the pond. We calculated the water catchment on top of the ridge to be approximately 19,000 gallons per month (average), and the 400ft of swales (3 ft wide at the base, 4 ft wide at a height of 1.5 ft) have capacity to catch and infiltrate approximately 18,000 gallons into the ground when full.

We seeded the swales with red clover (Trifolium pratense)& Alfalfa/lucerne (Medicago sativa).

Here’s Tristan & I in front of the lower swale.

Interested in permaculture earthworks for your property? Contact me over at www.appleseedpermaculture.com

Posted by: ethanappleseed | 090513

PDC Apple Tree Surgery

Young apple tree bark stripped off by rodents! Oh no! What can we do?!? Ethan Roland of AppleSeed Permaculture attempts a bridge-grafting technique (basically a skin-graft!) to heal the tree — connecting the root system back to the living bark further up the tree. This is at Jason Kass’s place in VT during a Permaculture Design Course. For more on bridge-grafting, see here: http://www.bit.ly/mJybO

Posted by: ethanappleseed | 090501

Directives for Architects

So what’s the role of architects in all of this?

Architects often become the de-facto landscape designers, because the majority of money in any development budget is spent on the buildings. Any landscapes design, much less integrated landscape design, is a often a tired afterthought. To go beyond sustainability, we need to step past this paradigm! The following notes are from a talk I gave at the University of Massachusetts in September 2008

As architects for a resilient & thriving future, here are your tasks:

• OBSERVE – prolonged at thoughtful observation instead of protracted and thoughtless action

• DESIGN the simplest, most functional, and most vital built ‘environments’ possible.

• INTEGRATE your buildings with the landscape so that they functionally interconnect with as many living systems as possible

• REGENERATE openly seek out and heal the damage and oppression done to living systems — both internally and externally.

• LEVERAGE your work to do the greatest good for the greatest number of beings for the longest amount of time by EMPOWERING people to design with you. Spread your energy and knowledge and excitement through the networks as fast as possible.

Ask yourself:
– What is the simplest solution? what’s the most functional? and what will serve the interests of all life-giving forces on the planet and meet their needs in the most harmonious way?

Whad’ya all think? Do these directives resonate with any of you architects out there?

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