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Welcome to the permaculture lifestyle. Join us in discussion of permaculture, its many facets and the actions you are taking to implement sustainable living systems. Upload images of your designs. This is an image driven discussion group, but pure text is fine too. Link to your own blog and submit entries for links to great permaculture resources.

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

A+ Blog on a Local Home Energy Retrofit

For those interested in reducing the energy consumed when heating and cooling your existing homes there is a great opportunity to learn from the experiences of a local intrepid couple who are the pride of many permaculturists if only for their urban chickens and honey making.

The Brazeltons are providing daily content on their ‘minnePHit’ blog including, importantly, lots of construction site photos. What’s in the name ‘minnePHit’? For an explanation check out their blog or facebook page @

One thing I would like to highlight is the design for creating a highly insulated wall with relatively benign materials. I-Joists will be added to the exterior of the existing home and dense packed with cellulose insulation (i.e. recycled paper).

For those not familiar with these building products a demonstration of this insulating technique will be offered on Tuesday, August 16th and is open to the public. Check out the ‘MinnePhit’ blog for location and times.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Putting in the design

Putting in the design on land from a paper scale is a challenge. Like the first incision in surgery. Ripping up that first section of lawn or old landscape sets the actions in motion.  Big work started last week. Takes constant motion as the old is made new and the components are integrated. Big rain the next night and I worried like I have never before. It was all good though, all looked good in the rain too.


Friday, April 22, 2011

Thought on Harvest Extension with a Structure

I am having a great time with the art and integration of this structure to a garden design. Too bad I will have to fence it off as soon as it is planted. I have plans to cover it this fall for harvest extension and plant fall spinach to over winter and over cold tolerant crops. Even better would be to have the center dug down 3-4 feet for more thermal mass. It could even be sculpted or terraced from the North to face South.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Front loaded complexity takes the stress off the participants.

The more we use complex systems that are fully utilized and supported via resource partitioning and integrated ecological services, the less the participants be they plant, animal, or human, have to compensate with their own. Can a system be self managed? Integrated Diversity allows for each component to reduce stress on the others.

Like plants that are rooted, people needed to be assigned or accept a place to work/live that suits them. They also need to be surrounded by the efforts of others for moral and physical support. This increases fitness, the ability to cope with change, and builds shared resources. Proximity is key to all this, relative to the landscape. How many other competing systems do you have to cross to connect with your group? How much energy is used keeping the connections viable? Cooperating locally within a small area for physical needs reduces physical and environmental stress, while expanding intellectual resources beyond physical boundaries insures diverse and broader sources of intelligent information.

A plant's resources are localized except for new information which may come from afar in the form of pollen (keeping in mind some plants are self-fertile and rarely accept new information). Unlike plants we are instantly effected by the pollination of new information. It does not have to wait for the next generation seed to develop the traits and increased or decreased fitness. Our mind and bodies can instantly react to the acceptance of new information and improve our environment, nutrition, health, and fitness.

New information can change beliefs and create a physical response, but only for the receptive that can respond.

This April we will be installing 4 Mandala gardens. 132 opportunities to redefine gardening. This is totally new information to most all of them, but as you can see the human-centric design that incorporates beneficial habitat and partitioned resources will also create a new gardener and integrated garden community.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Windows as Heaters

With energy modeling tools now available to architects combined with the latest in window technology new homes for cold climates can now be designed to significantly reduce the energy needed to heat the home by leveraging freely available solar heat gains. In essence, while the sun is out windows can heat your home even when temperatures are well below zero.

The most advanced windows are being manufactured in Europe with some manufactures in Canada coming close in performance. These advanced windows combine an insulated frame, glazing that allows a high percentage of solar heat to enter the home - high Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC), and air tightness.

Single panes of clear glass allow around 85% of solar heat to pass through. However the early single pane windows were little better than a hole in the wall in preventing heat from escaping from the interior of the house. As factory production became more sophisticated and glass coating technologies were invented the capacity of windows to prevent heat from escaping was greatly improved. Sacrificed in this development though was the glass’ ability to allow solar heat to pass through reducing the SHGC to around 30%. This is still true for the majority of domestically manufactured windows.

Roughly speaking the European manufactured windows from countries like Germany, Switzerland, and Austria have twice the insulation value, allow twice the amount of solar heat gain, and maintain more air tight seals. All these qualities are particularly important for energy efficient buildings in cold climates. Installing the latest in window technology in new construction in cold climates should be considered a conservation measure and given higher priority over adding renewable energy systems.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The House the Land Built

The House the Land Built
2x2 No. 4 presents the journey of two high school sweethearts who, after 26 years of marriage, are transitioning from Minneapolis city life to 60 acres of restored prairie on bluffs overlooking the Whitewater River in Southeastern Minnesota. Locus Architecture clients Linda Nelson and Michael Larsen share their transformative experience navigating everything from material reclamation centers, composting toilet manuals, energy cost spreadsheets and meetings with off-the-grid gurus.
They'll explain how a transcendent connection to their land inspired it all.

Saturday February 26, 2011, 7:30 pm

Locus Architecture Studio, 1500 Jackson St. NE, Suite 333, Minneapolis

Bring 2 guests to make your own 2X2! RSVP before Monday, February 21st to secure a spot

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Planning Little Earth Keyhole Garden Plots

 Placement by size , harvest frequency, and compatibility.  Setting our life size plan out helps define spaces and previsions the summer feast.
Seen in these images is LEUT garden farmer Dawn Segura.  All plants are open pollinated from Seed Savers, High Mowing Seeds, or Native Harvests.

Friday, February 11, 2011

PRI - Southwoods Design Classes

 Twelve designers filled the papers with well planned perennial designs. We met each Thursday for four weeks of classroom instruction and assignments. The little cabin classroom helps us focus on pour designs and the process of building a ecologically supported landscape.

We had designers working on plans for properties in California, Vancouver Island, B.C. as well as large holdings in Minnesota, Wisconsin and South Dakota. Residential lots were well represented and developed solutions for tight spaces.  

Thanks to Lynn Mayo for taking photos.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cold Climate Challenge #1 – HEAT

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m only a wannabe permaculturalist. My background is in construction and architecture. However as I sit all day in front of a computer designing houses I wish that I were outside in the elements among the plants and other beings. I enjoy attending permaculture events and learning in more depth the in and outs of the interbeing of local species and all about which plants you can put in your mouth.

Hopefully I can contribute to larger discussions of appropriate cold climate living from my experience in residential architecture. I’ve had the fortune to work on a home recently which is energy modeled to produce more energy than it uses on an annual basis. Monitoring equipment has been installed it to see how well the actual performance compares to the model. Before talking about that project in specific I would like to point out an interest growing among the residential architecture professionals in the U.S.

Most of you are likely aware of the pioneering efforts to reduce residential energy consumption in the early 70’s with techniques like passive solar design, super-insulated construction, and the installation of photovoltaics. In the 80s as the mainstream construction industry in the US lost interest in energy saving measures, researchers and designers in Germany understood the potential of these pioneering efforts and continued to develop them to overcome many of their pitfalls – uncomfortable buildings due to high fluctuations, overheating, excessive energy loss through windows, etc.. Tools, methodologies and building components were advanced culminating in the world’s most stringent energy standard - Passivhaus. Currently in Germany and other European countries thousands of buildings have been constructed that require factors less power to heat and cool conditioned spaces. This is primarily achieved through a principle well understood among permaculturalists, “Capture and Store”, which in this case is referring to the heat manifest within the sun’s rays.

To avoid too long of a post I’ll expand on this further in subsequent blogs.

For now I will leave you with a picture of the next generation of windows appropriate for a cold climate (image credit – Optiwin Windows) and the fact that we in Minnesota have the same passive solar resources as the Mediterranean countries.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Thanks PRIcc.

I only was able to go to a small part of Penny Livingston's presentations, but gathered some great concepts.
Anyone take photos?


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Welcome to the Permaculture Discussion Group for the Twin Cities.

We are here.  Got a link, a photo, an idea, solution, design, or a concepts?  Lets get the ball rolling. Upload photos with your entry if you want, but drawings, sketches, designs are good too. If you are a follower, you will get e-mails of entries. If you are an author you will also get alerts to comments on your entries. Authors are invited or apply to create new entries and discussions. You can also go back and edit and add to a previous entry.  The direct url is:


Dan, your Co-Author.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Down Spout Adapters Help Collect Roof Water.

We will bury the black pipe by the house. It runs underground from the garage to the swale and comes out the overflow pipe. The overflow water flows back down the oversized green pipe to the swale during big rains.

After this photo was taken I added and extension to send the water to the bottom of the pond instead of out on top.
All the parts came from the local lumber yard.