““If the entire world sought to make itself worthy of happiness rather than make itself happy, then the entire world would be happy.”
― Criss Jami,
Connection, acceptance, patience, laughter, frustration, joy, overwhelming feelings of joy. These are just some of the feelings that may rush through your body during your first on-the-field permaculture earthworks experience. Week 6 of my Permaculture Design Certificate, we spent the weekend with a client looking to create an alpaca permaculture farm. We got the chance to learn about and practice with various tools to mark contour lines, practice a real client interview, and build a swale. Finally! A chance to build a real swale!
Manipulation of Earth to Reduce Energy Needs
The manipulation of the Earth can harness energies and forces. We can use them to our advantage and the advantage of surrounding ecosystems.
Thermal Banks: a bank of earth used to store heat collected in the summer for use in winter to heat buildings.
Gravity Feed: A system making use of gravity to maintain the flow of material such as water for irrigation.
Micro-Hydro: hydroelectric power produced by using the natural flow of water.
You can diversify the landscapes around you by…
- Creation of micro-climates
- Distribution of soil
- Moisture generation
- Moisture accumulation
- Inducing/avoiding frost
Planning for a Permaculture Earthworks Design
- Pegging and Surveying: Choose a site with maximum water retention for least amount of work. Mark a long route for the swale, and clearly mark the emergency spillway location.
- Testing the Soil: Check the soil in many places as soil can change quickly from spot to spot.
- Managing the Top Soil: Keep the top soil in an accessible and marked area to ensure minimal loss.
- Replanting: Plant cover crops as quick as possible to beat the weeds. Add seedlings and medium-sized plants to begin stabilization of berm.
A popular rainwater harvesting and soil conservation strategy. Swales are used to slow and spread out water across a landscape. Ditches are dug along contour lines, with the excess soil piled on the downhill side to create the “berm.”
Swales on contour are dug to help infiltrate and spread out water accross a landscape. This can help restore ground water stocks and stop erosion. You can find contour lines by using tools such as;
- A Frame
- Water Level
- Dumpy Level/Transit Level
- Laser Level
Here are a few types of dams mentioned:
- Saddle Dam
- Turkey Nest Dam
- Contour Dam
- Ridge Point Dam
- Valley/Keypoint Dam
Building a dam can be a key element in water retention on a landscape. Water that would normally just run-off after a rainfall is a potential for energy-harvesting, irrigation, aquaculture, and more.
When building a dam, it is very important to do lots of research and in many cases, it is advised to take an advanced earthworks course. If you are building a very large dam you most likely need to hire a professional.
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Agent: Emilie “The Bee” Bradford;
Mission: Travel the globe to discover positive and new information on how to live abundantly in harmony with the Earth
Objective: To encourage the world to support the passions of their neighbours, to give more than they take, and to live positively.