My first design experiment was my city lot in Lawrence KS. It was a quarter of an acre on the corner of a residential street and a cul-de-sac with existing trees and grass. Over the course of several years, we transformed the space into a food producing paradise with fruit trees, berries, grapes and a huge vegetable garden. We successfully raised over 1200 lbs of food every year to feed ourselves. In the process, I got to test out many permaculture concepts and plants to see how they really worked.
Our family bought 40 acres in rural Jefferson County in 2012. We began construction of our slip form stone and timber frame home in 2013 and that process continues (who knows if we'll ever really be done). Along the way we have also mapped out our overall design plan for the property, begun rotationally grazing goats and established a new vegetable garden.
Doug Dubois contacted me for help designing a small food forest on his homestead. He wanted something that would produce food and be low maintenance and that he could expand over time. Together, we designed a small swale system to maximize his water catchment, a fruit and nut tree layout and a full food forest understory for one section of the planting.
The Hall Foundation sponsored a community garden on the lawn of the Ronald McDonald House in Kansas City. I led a group of volunteers to transform the space into a food producing tranquil space for the residents of the RMH. The garden was maintained by volunteers from Hallmark Corporate offices across the street and all of the food was provided for the families staying at the RMH. In its first year, over 400 lbs of food were delivered to the RMH kitchen! For me, this design was incredibly gratifying. We integrated perennials with the annual vegetable garden with dwarf fruit trees, grapes, edible herbs and berries.
I consulted with the Saunders family to help find a solution for the water that kept washing out their vegetable garden. A few suggestions and a lot of ingenuity from them, and now they have a productive vegetable garden using a swale system on contour to handle the water flowing down their hillside.
This project happened very organically. Amy contacted me for a short on-site consultation before beginning earthworks on her new homestead. As we walked and I learned about her goals for the property, I suggested several design ideas that she loved. Her site was very sloped and wooded, but she wanted to grow a significant amount of annual vegetables. She also wanted a secluded house site and a plant nursery. I proposed terracing the open area on the homesite to provide a good space for annual vegetables. I also suggested incorporating swales into the driveway to move more water toward the vegetable growing area. After the initial consult, she asked me to help oversee the earthworks to make those ideas became a reality. The results have been exciting so far and I can't wait to see how she puts her new vegetable growing area to use!