Category Archives: Permaculture

Solar Punk

Three months ago I fell down a rabbit hole on a topic I’d heard of but never investigated: Solarpunk. And really, I’m not sure I can say exactly how I ended up there but I suspect it started when I was doing a bit of research looking for a small battery back-up and solar panel. But, in any case, it did turn up and I started looking into it and what I found is a very inspiring, interesting genre of art and fiction that sits very well with permaculture and social ecology, both of which I am very familiar with. In fact there seems to be a good deal of overlap between the three, to the point that while each comes from a different origin point and developmental history, the general destination seems to be very similar.

Some links…

Podcasts
I’m discovering quite a few podcasts and podcast episodes. My favorite thus far is Solarpunk Now! which has, as of April 3, 2022 just gotten started with 2 episodes published and a third coming soon. Another is Solarpunk Permaculture

There are several podcasts that are not specifically Solarpunk but that that have episodes that explore it.

Beyond Species, April 27, 2020: Solarpunk Anarchism

The Fire These Times, April 4, 2021: Solarpunk, Youth Liberation and Why Revolution Needs Therapy (with Saint Andrew)

The Fire These Times, January 7, 2022: The Political Economy of Solarpunk w/ Andrew Dana Hudson

It Could Happen Here Daily October 18, 2021: Why You Should Know About Solarpunk

General Resources

Solarpunk Manifesto at Regenerative Design
Solarpunk: A Reference Guide
Solarpunk: Notes toward a manifesto

More to come as I gather and edit this post…

Swales and ducklings

In June of 2015 I was living a different life not too far from my current home1. During my time there I spent a month digging a series of seven swales for water harvesting which I wrote about here. I’d also made a little video for YouTube which gets a new comment every three or four months. I had one today and thought I’d rewatch the video. There’s something very satisfying about working in a landscape, creating a new, beneficial enhancement of the ecosystem with the intent of providing for other creatures. In this case our intent was to harvest water and to provide for our ducklings. The project turned out very well. The swales harvested thousands of gallons of water and the ducklings had a place to swim.


  1. After 5 years in my tiny cabin I had a 2 year relationship which took away for a bit ↩︎

Spring 2016 Garden Update

Been busy gardening and made a good bit of progress in March and April getting things  reestablished. Lots of natives put in for wildlife habitat as well as small food garden consisting of hugelculture beds. The kale and lettuce is looking great. Just got in a few peppers one tomatoes too. Oh, and two blueberries. Not as large as the gardens I had before but a good start at getting things going again. Depending on how my well holds up I’ll consider adding a bit more each year.

The fruit trees I put in back in 2008 are doing pretty good especially given they had little to no attention over the past three summers. Should have a nice crop of peaches, plums and pears. My three female hardy kiwi’s  didn’t make it but the male did. Will need to get in some female plants if I want any fruit!

Video: Swale Update

We started putting in the swales in the middle of April so they’ve had a bit of time to mature with clover as well as a variety of edibles ranging from perennial berries to rhubarb to annuals such as kale and cow peas. As luck would have it our muscovy ducklings hatched  just days after the swales filled for the first time. They wasted no time and began swimming in the swales on their first day.

Permaculture Progress

Three of four planned water harvesting swales are in and partially planted.

We’ve been making great progress in our effort to implement a permaculture design at Make-it-Do. Until recently the process has been one of observation. Kaleesha put in a very nice veggie garden when she moved to this property in 2006 and has expanded it ever since. In addition to the gardening she and the kids began learning about the plants growing around the property. They also started keeping chickens, goats and even a dairy cow at one point. She put in her first fruit trees, two apples, four years ago. We added another growing area last year which began the expansion beyond the fenced area and up onto the south sloping hill that the house sits on. That was a bed of rhubarb, comfrey, herbs, raspberries and flowers. Further up on the hill we added four blueberries. But it wasn’t until this spring that we began to really think of implementing a design based on the principles of permaculture.

The beginning of our design-a work in progress.

The process really got started a few weeks back when Kaleesha decided that she would give up any future of keeping goats on the property in exchange for a large fruit orchard. This quickly led to a discussion of what it would mean to create a food forest rather than an orchard and from there what it would mean to begin adding other elements of a permaculture design.

The next important step was deciding to build water harvesting swales on contour on the south facing slope to the east of the house. Up until now the side yard was mostly a heavily used play area for the kids so switching it over to planted swales was an important decision.  We were able to do this, in part, due to the decision to not keep goats in the future which allowed us to begin taking down the fencing which exists all over the property. Taking down the fencing means much easier access to different grassed areas for the kids to play in. The side yard is no longer a primary play area so much as a path to get to other areas further out.

Working out the details of our plan

We have a family of 9 living on this 5 acre property and we share it with chickens, ducks, cats, dogs and wildlife. The property itself is fairly complex with soft, fertile soil below the house, rocky soil above the house and 4 acres of woodland which includes a stream and rocky shut-ins consisting of mostly igneous rock running along the western and southern border. The land is mostly sloping with much of the slope facing south or west. In short, there’s a great deal of activity and intended purpose happening here and so the permaculture dictate that observation be step one is something we’ve taken very seriously. We observe and discuss a great deal before taking any action and developing a plan to guide us and to serve as documentation of what has been done is important.

The plan is not done but our work is in progress. We’ll proceed slowly as we co-evolve the design plan and the property at the same time. Eventually the written document will catch-up and become more of a plan for future action than a journal of what we’ve already done. In some aspects this has already happened as the plan has listings and placements for trees and bushes which will not arrive until next week (Pecans, Chestnuts, Goji Berries, and Lingonberries).

Progress!

Permaculture at Make-it-Do

Halfway through the dig!

A few years back I wrote about putting in my first swale . About a year later I offered up an update. In May of 2013 I left that site behind when I jumped into life with Kaleesha at Make-it-Do Farm. This spring we’ve been getting busy taking some important steps implementing permaculture here at Make-it-Do. In the past couple of weeks we’ve added blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and 12 fruit trees including peaches, plums, cherries and pears. This is just the first step towards a food forest and larger permaculture design. Still to come is adding in a variety of fruit bushes, herbs and ground covers to fill out the various layers between and around the fruit trees.

The biggest development in the kitchen garden: three new hugelculture beds built with lots of half rotted logs and ready for planting.

Planted with fruit and filled with rain!

In addition to the planting we’ve also begun putting in our swales. We’ve got the first of what will be a series of three or more swales on the south facing hill that has been a grass yard on the east side of the house. We’re transforming the grassy slope into a series of water harvesting swales that will be planted with various polycultures. The first has an estimated capacity of 400 gallons and has been planted with blueberries, rhubarb, strawberries and clover. Still to come is comfrey, a few herbs and a fruit tree. Each of the swales will be similarly planted though the specifics will vary. More updates soon!

YouTube Channel

I set up a YouTube channel a few years ago but never made it a point to post much. A couple months back it was pointed out to me that one of my YouTube videos had gotten quite a few views, 29,000+, and that perhaps I should invest more time in developing my channel. so, this is me putting in some time creating more video updates.

The funny thing is that I actually enjoy putting them together, its just something I need to work into my routine. I’m hoping to assemble 2 – 3 each month. Here are the first two, both are gardening updates. We’ve been busy with baby goats, spring gardening as well as putting up a raspberry trellis and a small duck pond.