The Resilient Farm and Homestead

The Resilient Farm and Homestead

The Big Idea: An efficient, eco-friendly homestead takes good planning and years of work to become stable and self-sufficient.

  • Modern, industrial agriculture is incompatible with a rapidly growing population and resource depletion.
  • Well-designed permaculture systems promote biodiversity and restore land back to health.
  • Nut trees are the core of good permaculture.
  • A nut tree is simply more effective and efficient at converting sunlight and rain into value, over the long-term. A nut tree orchard is also a pasture, a game reserve, a shelter for understory berries, and a site for medicinal plants.
  • (See chapter 2 for seventy two permaculture design principles.)
  • Before you begin, do a deep site analysis, observing water, sun, temperature, soil, topography.
  • The purpose of a plan is to avoid huge mistakes so you can know where to experiment.
  • Understanding and shaping water flow and storage is fundamental to your farm.
  • Understand keylines, swales, and ponds.
  • Overgrazing in the 19th and 20th century has destroyed most of America’s rich topsoil.
  • Strategies to rebuild your land’s topsoil:
    • Compost, urine, humanure.
    • Biochar.
    • Fungi.
    • Remineralization.
    • Cover cropping.
    • Tall grass grazing.
    • Subsoil plowing.
    • Keyline agriculture.
    • Deep root perennials.
  • Strategies for growing food:
    • Plant permaculture guilds.
    • Start a forest garden.
    • Emphasize perennial plants.
    • Know which foods should be staples (rice, meat, eggs, fruit, nuts).
    • Until your systems can produce staple foods, vegetable gardening will comprise the bulk of your yield and your work.
    • Among your annual vegetables, emphasize reliability and calorie foods such as potato, winter squash, cabbage, garlic, and carrots.
    • Learn to preserve food via kimchi and sauerkraut.
    • Emphasize crops that also provide medicine or rebuild the soil.
    • Fungi are very underrated.
  • Fuel and shelter advice:
    • Learn how to use wood as your main fuel and heat source.
    • Biochar has been used for thousands of years to amend soil.
    • Passive solar home design uses large, south-facing windows to trap the sunlight and warm the home.
    • Good home design considers sun, water, wind, surrounding landscape, elevation, views, noise, and road access.
    • Solar south is not always the optimal solar orientation. On a west-facing slope, a home has a late solar day.
    • Foundation advice: extend the foundation wall higher, go deeper for frost stability.
    • Roofs should be steel or slate.
    • Normally, go with a cheaper and faster stud wall frame home. A timber frame is prettier, though. You can do a hybrid if you like.
    • Never use spray foam insulation. Use cellulose for ease of use, low toxicity, sustainability, resistance to mice, and reusability.
    • In terms of insulation, a few large windows > lots of small windows.
    • Use daylight or LED for lighting.
    • Consider getting a landline for phone service.
    • A wood stove can serve many functions: space heater, water heater, stove, and oven.
    • Good home design can reduce the need for heating, A/C, and fans.