Tag Archives: Geoff Lawton

What a year!

                This week I received a congratulatory e-mil for having my site for one year. Many things have changed, evolved, grown, since that first month. While the site has been up for one year, it wasn’t until June that I began putting real content.

                During the entire month of November 2012 I had only 102 hits to our site. While I still don’t have the total numbers for November as of yet, in October it was 1,621 and November is trending to be bigger than October.  My average hits for November 2012 was 4 hits per day. Today, November is trending at 69 hits per day. Although most of my earlier hits were where I checked to see how updates looked and navigate the page.

                A year ago I was not posting regularly, had no Facebook presence, no twitter presence. I was actually opposed to Facebook but decided to use it to reach more potential readers in June of 2013. That is about the time I started to regularly publish blogs and information. I have integrated my site to post updates on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and LinkedIn each time there is a new article. You can follow, like, or + on any of these social media sites and I encourage you to like, and share. Help me reach more audience members. Adding these social media outlets has allowed me to reach people, and make new friends whom I normally might not have come across some local, some as far as Singapore, London, and Australia.

                A year ago I was working full time, trying to farm and garden, blog about it, and spend time with the family. I was spreading my time too thin across everything in my life. Today I am at home with the family, building more relationships, and focusing more time on building the farm, and educating others. I used to dread getting up each day, driving into work, and couldn’t wait for the weekends. I wake up each day happy and looking forward to “work”. When you do something you love it really isn’t work. I love teaching classes, I love expanding people’s knowledge and sharing what I have learned.

                This year I scheduled my first full day class on Homesteading. Up until 1391797_568973436507889_510742523_nthis point I had been giving smaller classes to help a small business grow. I gave my first Trade School Indy class with more planned for next year.  I also collaborated with two other presenters Jason Akers from The Self Sufficient Gardner, and Darby Simpson from Darby Simpson Consulting for my first 2 day conference on permaculture and sustainable agriculture and cofounded Midwest Sustainable Education Conference. Both of which still have openings, but are having seats filled almost each day.

                After learning about permaculture and beginning to implement at my property five years ago, I was finally able to achieve my Permaculture Design Certificate. Due to the distance, and time constraints I would have probably 001never been able to take one of these onsite at a location and especially from Geoff Lawton himself. I was able to be part of Geoff Lawton’s online PDC. I think I actually got more from the online class than I would have gotten from an onsite course. I can and have reviewed the videos on a few topics. There was the Earthworks bonus DVD, Soil DVD, Edible Forrest I and II, then all the bonus Q&A videos. I estimate the 72 hr course was really more like 120 hour.  Some skills and principals I had learned over the years, but the course put things into a different perspective, and I understood why the principals worked vs. just knowing that they worked.

                A year ago I had one aquaponic system which was an ever evolving design. Today I have 4 systems in operation. A year ago we had 8 laying hens, today we have 25. Not all reside at our suburban home however. A year ago we would have never let people tour our property. Today we have regular tours and help show people just some of the possibilities of what you can accomplish in a suburban back yard. A year ago we had three fruit trees on our 0.2 acre lot and had not gotten any fruit thus far. Today we have 8 fruit trees, numerous fruiting bushes, and vines climbing all over. We now also have access to 20 fruiting trees, berry bush patches we nurtured over the last year. We were able to can over 100 jars of homemade applesauce. We harvested peaches, pears, raspberries, blackberries, and a variety of apples this year. Normally we would have bought all this fresh fruit. We reduced our water bill significantly by using deep mulch and water collection through rain barrels.

                A year ago we were spending thousands of dollars on child care. This year we have none. A year ago 90% or more of our food came from the big box stores. Now it is less than 40%. What we don’t produce ourselves, we buy or barter with other local producers. A year ago we paid big bucks to bring dangerous chemicals into our house in the form of soaps, laundry detergent, and toothpastes etc. Today we make our own from natural alternative at a fraction of the cost and without the harsh chemicals. As a result we feel out health has improved.

                A year ago I was working on a job I hated and worked 40+ hours a week, spent a great deal of time in the car during a commute, and had not much more money in my pocket if I had not been working. After gas, child care, and other related expenses, I wasn’t really bringing home that much more money. While at home, I spend more time with my family, I can get more chores done around the house, make my own soaps, grow my own food, and make more home cooked meals. What I save from doing these activities makes up for what little money I lost by working full time.

               I have started writing for a variety of publications such as Aquaponics Survival Community, PREPARE Magazine, Brink of Freedom, and Midwest Sustainable Education Conference in addition to what I publish here.

                I think I have come a long way in just a year. This is not to brag about all that I have done. It is a way to journal, and show what you too can accomplish. This is just after one year. 2014 will be better yet. We have more classes, more growing activities, more tours, and more expansion of our microfarm. Many plants that were planted this year will be producing next year such as Kiwi, Goji berries, hops, and grapes to name a few. With new partnerships, new friends, and new connections I can reach more people, teach more people, and share more on how you too can accomplish things like this. While it is only November, think about what you want to accomplish next year. Is it to grow more of your own food? Is it to have your own back yard flock? Do you want to learn how to can some of your own food? Do you want to free yourself from harsh chemicals in your home? Do you want to free yourself from the 40 hr work week? Do you want to learn how permaculture and sustainable agriculture can help you accomplish this? Start thinking about how you can take control of your life and stop letting things and others control it for you. Attend one of the upcoming classes.  Or contact us for how we can help.

November 23 full day on homesteading

January 11-12 Sustainable Agriculture which is for both urban and rural properties.

PDC certificate in hand

It’s official I passed my submission for my PDC certificate. This was a relief as there was so much information in the class and applying it was a bit overwhelming. The combination of so many disciplines into a single philosophy was amazing. If you don’t know what permaculture is, check out an earlier post.

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Backyard Gardening for a Sustainable Lifestyle – Class Scheduled

Summer is dwindling down and fall will soon be upon us. Come find out why this is the perfect time to start planning and even starting your productive gardens. Landscaping and gardening doesn’t just have to be about pretty flower garden or doesn’t just have to be about vegetable gardens. You can combine them. Come learn about aquaponics, back yard chickens, medicinal herb gardens, edible landscapes, water harvesting, permaculture and much, much more. Recent graduate from Geoff Lawtons Permaculture design course and willing to help you turn your space into a productive one. Reduce your grocery bill, turn your hobby into an income generator, reduce your dependency on pharmaceuticals. Live in an apartment, or rent, you can garden too! Come learn how. This talk will be a broad coverage of many topics, and more in-depth class on topics will be scheduled for interested people.

Meeting at the Franklin Township Civic League
8822 Southeastern Ave. Indianapolis IN 46239

Meeting to start 7 pm

Alternative Gardening

Indiana Disaster and Survival Preparedness

Permaculture, What is it anyway?

Permaculture in my opinion is landscaping and designing property or a homestead, working with the environment, with system that already exist, for an optimal sustainable output.

There is no way I could explain permaculture in one blog post or a combination of posts. There are so much better teachers and information already out there. Instead I can tell you how discovered permaculture, then my take on each of the sources, and how I apply some of the teachings.
First I googeled the term when I first heard it. Here is the wiki link for permaculture.

I was turned on to permaculture idea about a year ago from listening to Jack Spirko from The Survival Podcast (TSP). Here are the tagged episodes and blog posts from his site. Jack spoke of Geoff Lawton and had him on several episodes. Recently Geoff offered an online version of his course, and being a Member Support Brigade (discount program through TSP)

Currently I am taking Geoff Lawton’s Permaculture who took over for Bill Molison one of the founders of the permaculture education. Bill’s book Permaculture Design manual is a massive source of information and while taking the course I got the book at a discount. While at Geoff’s site be sure to check out the micro gardening. You have to register each time you go to the site. He does not, will not, sell e-mail address. The only thing I have ever gotten from Geoff is an announcement when a new video is out. No spam increase at all.

Through Jack and the TSP I found Paul Wheaton from Permies and Rich Soil. Paul is a little out there at times, but I take what I want from his podcast and forums. I get good nuggets of information here and there.

From Paul I got turned onto Sepp Holzer and his books. Sepp doesn’t speak English so watching his videos are difficult if there are any. His book has quite a bit of information.
Also through Jack I found Joel Salatin from Polyface Farms. Joel manages a variety of animals without hormones, antibiotics, and rotates his animals in a fashion that is sustainable and more productive than currently used practices. Joel has more than one book, so here is the selection.

While I am on a suburban lot of only 0.2 acres the information I got from Joel was good for consulting purposes and my future homestead when we are able to get more land.

Again through Jack I found Darby Simpson who is local and is literally the next town over. I have gotten to speak to Darby several times, and met in person at our local farmers markets. He runs a consulting business and has a family farm managed in the style of Joel Salatin. Joel is big time, and chance of my asking him a question is slim. Darby is local, same climate and environment, and knows the area and markets. This information has been key for me. He has enlightened me to the ins and outs, rules, regulations of local farming, farmers markets, and networking.

I have blended bits and pieces from all of these sources. I own several of the books, videos, visit the blogs, forums, and online videos often. I wish I had discovered some of these sources before we started designing our suburban lot, but we are constantly evolving it as we learn more and what works and what doesn’t. The principals were the key factor. We rarely have to water our gardens thanks to what Geoff, and Paul have taught us. We free range our chickens so we learned that anything we want to grow, from medicinal herbs to veggies have to be protected from the ravenous hoard. They eat EVERYTHING. If they don’t eat it they scratch around it killing the plant. We tried keeping the birds in a run, but they were just unhappy. With a six foot privacy fence we have never had one want to escape. In the last two years I feel I have learned more than I had in the previous 20 about gardening, the environment, land management, homesteading, self sufficiency, and the value of producing your own food. I can help on your own piece of land whether it be an apartment to acreage. Information is available on the consulting tab or use the contact us page.

A frame level

The A frame level is used determine contour of land and in my case for permaculture and slope of property. Taking Geoff Lawtons permaculture design course this is a tool that I would need. Technology has come to the point where you can use laser levels, GPS indicators, and even heavy machinery equipped with the technology to measure, shape the land easily. I don’t have access to money for the equipment, and technology can fail you.  So I made my own. I first learned about a frame level from Jack Spirko on The Survival Podcast. I took the design from a podcast he did, and adapted it to my own, and made a slight improvement. Since I am consulting and my frame needed to be portable I added a few improvements to suit my needs.

Here is the finished product.

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My improvement was adding thumb screws and treaded connections.

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I can easily take it apart and transport in my car/tuck for a consult.

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I marked the center 1×2 with lines where the plumb line should be if the ground was level.

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A laser level could cost hundreds for determining contour of property. GPS the same. I had the 1×2 left over from another project. It cost me 4$ for the hardware, and the plumb and line were center strands from paracord I had and a fishing weight I found that is too big for the kind of fishing we do.

It doesn’t need software updates, no batteries to charge or die while using it, no manual to read and memorize. This kind of technology has been used for a long time, and I think some of this knowledge is lost. I believe it is time we brought some of it back.

Farm update June 2013

There has been a huge delay in posting and that is mainly because we have been busy teaching classes, taking classes, and getting our own homestead up and running with spring. We now have some more time so look for new posts and we are trying for one a week, and with photos. For instance, making a strawberry barrel, what the homestead looked like 1 year ago and today, more chickens, new gardens, new aquaponics, rebuilding greenhouse aquaponics. Stay tuned.

I am now taking Permaculture Design course from Geoff Lawton. I should gain my certificate in design and teaching later this summer. Already learning lots of new techniques and principals. If you have never heard of permaculture and Geoff Lawton, check out www.geofflawton.com .

We are now offering consulting on getting your own homestead up and running. From apartment dwellers to the 5 acre homestead. Until completion of the class larger acreage I can defer to someone else running a beyond organic farm. Check out the consulting page, for more details. This is just a rough idea on what we can offer. We also offer tours of our own homestead to allow you to see some of the principals in action.

In addition to the consulting we are also offering certain items for sale. Strawberry barrels, raised beds, aquaponic builds. Contact us for your specific request.