Permaculture 101

After our presentation at Soup Roast we decided to take a step back from the house design and consider permaculture in order to get a better understanding of the conditions of the site. Permaculture can be be defined as meeting human needs through ecological and regenerative design.

Soup Roast Presentation

In order to gain a further understanding on what permaculture is and how we can incorporate it into our design we had a rapid flash intro to permaculture taught by our very own Eric Ball. Eric is Rural Studio’s farm manager since 2012 and he holds a Permaculture Design Certificate from Oregon State University, in addition to his BS in Biology and Philosophy from the University of Oregon. In a series of two hour long classes we learned that permaculture is a design strategy that allows one to integrate systems within the design. This gave us the stepping stones to better analyze our site and how all the systems will work together as well as a way to present them to others who don’t know the site as well as we do.

Ashley reading “Practical Permaculture for Home Landscapes, Your community, and the Whole Earth” by Jessi Bloom & Dave Boehnlein

Through this process we developed three site analysis maps: a sector analysis map that documents how energies move through the site (such as noise), a water flow and topography map that shows how water moves through the site, and a microclimate analysis map that clearly documents the areas on our site that different in climate, soil type, and ground conditions. Microclimates can be affected by an area’s aspect, solar orientation, airflow, and vegetation.

Our next steps are to take the information we learned and create a master plan of our site. This will allow us to lay out good patterns for the landscape before we get down to the details.

Zak starting our master plan design

In addition to the permaculture class we built Reggie a composting outhouse before we left Newbern for winter break. We have been researching composting toilets as a part of our design, and this will be a great test run to see if Reggie is comfortable with it. In this dry system, all Reggie has to do is use the bathroom and add sawdust to start the composting process. Composting is not only great in the sense that it will minimize water usage but it also doesn’t smell bad (against popular opinion!) and the humanure can be mixed in with regular compost to be used in a garden. 

Diagram from “The Humanure Handbook” by Joseph Jenkins

In order to build the outhouse we re-used a closet mock up from Horseshoe Farm Homes Project as the structure. Once we made adjustments to the closet we collected sawdust from the Breathing Wall Mass Timber Research Project team and put it in a barrel for Reggie to have on site.

Composting toilet behind Reggie’s temporary home

Our next step is to continue research with the soil in our site to determine what areas are better for growing different plants. We also plan to gather data on the temperature and humidity of the earth tube system on the storage house on Morrisette Campus to verify if it would be an effective passive strategy for our design. 

Until next time!

Reggie’s Home