Starting an ecologically-based farm business on marginal lands in the highlands of western MA

by Kate Kerivan

The rough-mowed trail led through an old field of asters and goldenrod edged with native high bush blueberry and American cranberry, humming with native pollinators. The trail continued through a stand of multiple-trunked ash, red maple, and beech typical of New England’s often cut woodlands. At woods’ edge, native water lilies, and yellow water poppy bloomed in a goodly sized pond. Continue reading

by Rebecca Leung

Reprinted with the author’s permission from the Spring 2013 Wellesley College Botanic Gardens News.

During the summer of 2012, one of the projects undertaken by the Environmental Horticulture and Sustainable Agriculture interns at Wellesley College was the planning and implementation of a permaculture garden at Ashland Middle School located about ten miles west of Wellesley College. Continue reading

Paradise Lot: Two Plant Geeks, One-Tenth of an Acre and the Making of an Edible Garden Oasis in the City
Written by Eric Toensmeier, with contributions from Jonathan Bates
Published by Chelsea Press, 2013

Reviewed by Penny Lewis

Like a well-designed polyculture, Eric Toensmeier and Jonathan Bates have packed a lot of valuable and interesting information into a small space. And unlike many plant books, this one truly is a page-turner. Continue reading

by Dave Jacke and Keith Zaltzberg

On April 2nd, 2011, a team of perplexed students, gardeners, and community members gathered with shovels and rakes in hand at the base of Wellesley College’s observatory telescopes pondering the forest of purple, orange, and green stakes poking up from a snow-covered meadow. Mother Nature pulled an April Fools prank of dumping 3” of snow on the site of the Edible Ecosystem Teaching Garden (EETG) for the first morning of our weekend-long implementation workshop. This did not chill the spirits of those who had come to help Kristina Jones, director of the College’s Botanic Gardens, and our design team, as we began planting this experiment in applied ecology. Continue reading

by Ben Falk

Sue Reed’s article, “A Talk of Three Garden Shows: Progress?” oversimplifies an important and complex issue. Since Sue did not attend my talks at the ELA Conference, I will offer some of the perspectives we work from when practicing permaculture. When referring to permaculture she states: “Like all the worst systems of agriculture and horticulture in our past, this new approach still places human wishes and desires (often called “needs”) in the center of the equation.” Actually, permaculture does the opposite of most agricultural systems as it facilitates the development of diverse, highly complex, and resilient ecosystems in which human needs such as food, water, and shelter are provided for locally. Continue reading

by Lauren Chase Rowell

” That land is a community is the basic concept of ecology, but that land is to be loved and respected is an extension of ethics.” -Aldo Leopold

Part 2
Conscious Design in the Yard and Landscape

Dalton’s Pasture is a historical name our family has chosen to call our nineteen-acre, permaculture “farmstead” in honor of the folks who first planted their roots in the soils and harvested its timbers to build the farmhouse. We say they did the “really hard work” by building the post and beam structure, clearing the land with an axe and team of horses, and surrounding the fields and pasture with over a mile of stone walls. Here they eked out an existence, raised a family, and died as the cemetery on the northeastern corner of the property affirms. Continue reading

by Lauren Chase Rowell

“The finest design for society will not be one worked up by specialists but a design created by the people themselves to fit their needs. Planners and designers are needed, but to help, not to preempt, the democratic work of creating a new society”. –Wm. S. Coperthwaite

Part 1
Conscious Design in the Kitchen

Permaculture, simply put, is the conscious design of everything humans do. Good design is critically needed at this juncture in our human story if we are to succeed as a species, and good design can be done by anyone. In this sense, permaculture is inclusive and its current popularity speaks to everyday people making design decisions and re-skilling themselves to fit their needs and fulfill their wishes. The blend of mindful intention, good old Yankee ingenuity, and common sense that constitute permaculture principles and practices, has made permaculture the main stay of my lifestyle for many years. Continue reading

by Mollie Babize

Jono Neiger (second from left) shows Conway students the site plan for Wildside.

On a south-facing hillside in Conway, Massachusetts, an eight-acre experimental landscape and permaculture classroom is evolving. In its third year, this outdoor “learning lab” sits in close proximity to the Conway School, a ten-month graduate program in sustainable landscape planning and design. Jono Neiger, principal of Regenerative Design Group of Greenfield and the primary designer/“editor” of this landscape, also teaches at Conway and uses this property to illustrate the principles of regenerative design to his students. Continue reading

by Tricia Diggins

The first plantings of the Edible Ecosystem Demonstration Garden at Wellesley College Botanic Gardens (WCBG) went into the ground this spring, beginning the multi-year implementation of a garden designed by Dave Jacke of Dynamics Ecological Design and Keith Zaltzberg of Regenerative Design Group. The garden “is designed to explore the question, ‘How well can we design a plant community that mimics the properties, principles, patterns and processes of natural ecosystems but produces food and other products useful for humans?’”1 Continue reading