WHAT IS PERMACULTURE?
Permaculture is a set of principles that guide social and agricultural design in a way that utilizes the patterns and features of natural ecosystems. Care for the earth, care for the people, and fair share are the ethics that permaculture is grounded in. The goal is to create systems that are functional, sustainable, and that work with nature to become self-sufficient. The word permculture combines the terms permanent and culture. With that we ask ourselves, how can we create permanent culture?
what we have so far...
Our first earth shelter shown above was built in 2013 by our community. The structure is made from cob which we are lucky enough to have right below our feet here in Stelle.
In this area of the design, we are coining the term "Earthcamp Village". We plan to build eight to nine structures using natural building materials such as cob, which is made from a mixture of clay, sand, and straw. The intention is that this will be a space for visitors, students, or interns to stay. There will be no grid-tied electricity or running water designed into these cabins; it will be top shelf camping. For now, these structures are for educational and recreational use, but we hope it will demonstrate the possibility for alternative ways of living.
With sustainability being the foundation of our work, we are always looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint. In society today, we are restricted by building methods that generate 40% of the waste and pollution streams from the entirety of "civilized" cultures. Our objective in building Earthcamp Village is to see how close we can get to creating structures that last a very long time, but create and generate very little waste or CO2.
We incorporated livestock into our property because we wanted to have a more cohesive design that demonstrates multiple facets of farming. The goats and chickens provide a natural fertilizer for our land, pruning of trees and shrubs around our orchard, companionship, and most importantly, an opportunity to learn. Long-term, these goats could provide us with milk, fibers, and meat. The livestock is maintained by a Midwest Permaculture co-op and they graze on a rotating pasture.
Last year, we raised money as a community to excavate the pond because it had been taken over by cattails and algae. The pond was completely emptied to allow us to rebuild the ecosystem from the ground up. This past spring, the pond naturally filled up over the course of a few months. During that time, we stocked the pond with fish such as bluegill, catfish, and red sunfish. Fish habitat made from bundles of sticks and old irrigation pipes were also added to give the smaller fish an opportunity to grow. In May, Caron Wenzel from Blazing Star Inc. lead a workshop on pond restoration and helped us plant native plants along the perimeter. Moving forward, we hope to see the pond thrive
Our community gardens provide a space for where we can strengthen our community through collaborative effort and connection to nature. It's a space where creativity can quite literally come to life. We encourage our community to participate by choosing a space of their own or helping with the gardens designated to CSC.