Designing our permaculture zones

I wish I had footage of the work all of us did today. I was having so much fun, and was so busy, that I forgot to get any film or photos of my day at the farm. There were two main jobs that had to get done today; one was organizing the nursery and the other was mapping the market garden.

Antonio, the full-time farmer, lead a group of apprentices in the nursery. Their tasks were labeling plants, such as jackfruit, setting up more nursery tables, and doing a inventory of the plants that were recently moved from a different site to “The farm at Verde Gardens”.

Since I have had experience with mapping out sites before, including the Food Forest at “Verde” and my recent un-named farm, I lead the other group of 3 fellow apprentices. I taught the others about why the market garden is going where it is, the importance of proper design, and permaculture zones. It took us the whole day, but by the end we were able to finish the mapping out the market garden, and parts of the alley crops. Now that we finished the mapping, we can get down to the design. Since fall is right around the corner, time is running out fast. The five farmer apprentices need to finish the design so we can start the soil building and planting before it is too late.

On another note, I imagine most of you are wondering what is a permaculture zone. Below is a quick write up and a short video of what permaculture zones are:

Zone 0 – The house or central location. This zone is the center of your site, it is where you spend most of your time. This location will be designed to reduce the amount of energy used here, including water needs, and creating a harmonious environment in which to live and work in.

Zone 1 – The zone nearest to the central location. This is where you place the elements that need most attention and visiting. Here you will place your salad crops, herb plants, soft fruits, propagation/nursery beds, worm bins, and whatever else you feel you need to pay close attention to.

Zone 2 – Use this area for perennial plants that need less attention and maintenance, such as main carbohydrate crops. You may need to do some light spot mulching or even pruning in this area. You can place your large scale compost bins or even keep bees in zone 2.

Zone 3 – This site can be used for larger animals, grazing, large ponds and swales, and your larger main crops. You may decide to place your food forest here, or you can place it back in zone 2.

Zone 4 – Your semi wild area, and also used for farmed forestry. This is a great spot to set up a timber production and to forage for wild foods. You may also choose to place a forestry system for poles, craft, or bee fodder.

Zone 5 – This area is kept completely wild. You use zone 5 to observe, gather information, meditate, and to remain in tranquility.

The great piece to zones is that they can overlap each other. You design your zones accordingly to the way you function, the places you walk through most, and the areas that are most convenient (or not) to get to. These initial steps to planning and design are crucial as this is where you decide the most effective way for you to live and function from day to day.

Take a moment to watch this amazing documentary from Geoff Lawton describing permaculture zones:

If you enjoyed that short video, I suggest for you to check out the full Introduction to Permaculture by Geoff Lawton posted by Permaculture Ideas is loaded with really clever ideas of recycling old “junk” into useful items around your homestead.

Keep posted for future blogs to see the final design and how you can build the best soil.


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