Observations of Initial Site This project was started in 2009 as a fish byproduct composting and soil remediation site on a 1.2 acre Native allotment parcel that was once used as a landfill site for the region’s first salmon cannery. Slowly, gardens would be added and a high tunnel would be erected. The site suffered from drainage problems resulting in stagnant pools of water and mud. Gardens beds were designed with little regard to the topography or seasonal drainage patterns. The native soil is mostly sand with very little organic matter. Despite abundant run-off, water was brought via neighbor’s hose and there was no electricity on site. The only on-site building was a small tool shed and the owners live off-site. A few of the neighbors were opposed to the project and have contacted the authorities to no avail. Their fears are based on unverified assumptions and fueled by political reasons revolving around the proposed Pebble Mine. Little outreach has been made to the community to dispel fears.
Project Overview Slowly, the site developed into a neglected farm in need of much love and care. In 2014, the landowners were given a large undisclosed amount of money by an anonymous benefactor to turn the site into an experimental permaculture project. A house was built and gardens were developed as the previously infertile, sandy soil was transformed. Various outbuildings and renewable energy systems were installed and livestock were incorporated. Soon after, economic recession, peak oil and social upheaval would have severe impacts on the world. Access to fossil fuels and imported goods would become prohibitively expensive. Amazingly, the community would largely avoid the chaos by coming together to forge a new era of civilization. Dependent on local, renewable resources and strong community ties, the principles and ethics of permaculture would echo the advice of the elders and would be widely accepted.
The Transformation Process Determination to change for the better Careful and detailed observation Slow steps Continued soil remediation Consciously designed earthworks Pond and wetlands construction House construction and outbuildings Constant collaboration with neighbors Improving composting by using community waste products Planting of food forest Water delivery improvements Bringing electricity on site Obtaining a yield Adding animals to help close loops Acceptance of feedback and continued adaptation Photo: Cristinekane.com
Permaculture Site (2025) 50 ft. house Shop/ Wood Shed greenhouse Wind turbines Guest house Steam Bath Barn pond Farm Stand Kid’s Playground Animal Forage Food Forest Compost Piles Garden Cabbage and Potatoes Community Garden
Zones 50 ft. Zone 0 Home Shop/ Wood Shed greenhouse Wind turbines Guest house Steam Bath Barn pond Farm Stand Kid’s Playground Animal Forage Food Forest Compost Piles Garden Zone 1 (Daily) Zone 2 Zone 3 Zone 4 Cabbage and Potatoes Community Garden
Systems Outline Compost and Fish Hydrolysate Soil Remediation Farming Structures Earthworks Food Forest Water Catchment and Distribution Housing Energy Systems (Electricity, Heat and Fuel) Machinery Incorporation of Animals Waste Recycling Transportation Business Opportunities Photo: litpark.com
Systems Outline (The Soft Underbelly) Educational Opportunities Labor and Services Distribution Green Entrepreneurship Community Gardens Barter Native Title Community Events Natural Medicine Tool and Machinery Sharing Community Fish Cooperative
Compost and Fish Hydrolysate Composting systems consist of indoor worm bins incorporated into a composting toilet and two large outdoor piles. Fish protein is combined with animal manure, shredded paper, wood chips and cardboard donated from local businesses and residents and garden waste to produce high quality compost which is used on-site and as barter. Including some of the community’s waste allows for less reliance on the landfill. High quality, liquid fish hydrolysate is produced in small quantities and used both onsite and bartered locally. http://www.trashcandiaries.wordpress.com
Soil Remediation Improving soil quality is one of the first goals of this project. In addition to heavy use of compost, several soil building strategies were utilized including crop rotation, nitrogen fixing, companion planting and plant guilds. Soil testing is done annually and modifications are constantly being made. Photo: diggingri.com
Farming Structures Various structures have been built onsite all using local, and/or recycled building materials including pallets, lumber milled by a neighbor, and container vans. An old high tunnel was replaced by a more climate appropriate, insulated greenhouse built from a combination of recycled materials, straw clay mix, and local cord wood. Raised beds are used extensively. A container van has been converted into an underground root cellar. www.free-textures.got3d.com
Natural Building Materials Various natural building techniques are used for practicality and as community education tools. Techniques such as cob, light straw, and cordwood are used. Locally milled lumber is used as much as possible. Buildings needing heat will be built with an emphasis on minimizing heat loss. Passive solar design will be utilized whenever possible. Beach rocks and concrete rubble replace all applications normally requiring concrete. Photo: naturalbuildingblog.com
Earthworks One of the first on-site projects was to extensively modify the landscape with swales, berms and other earthworks in order to provide for both adequate natural watering of plants and to improve proper drainage. A pond was built to capture site run-off that had previously created undesired lakes and excessively muddy conditions. A wetland environment was also constructed utilizing native plants and fish. These strategies allowed for elimination of imported hose water. This was an example of the problem being the solution by putting to use what was originally flood water. Photo: http://www.Falderleaf-wilderness-college.blogspot.com
Food Forest Photo: Aktrekking.com A food forest was planted on two sides of the property and provides food for people and livestock as well create a windbreak and privacy screen. Plants will include crab apples, high bush cranberries, mushrooms, edible flowers and others. On a community scale, all landscaping will include edible plants. Fruit trees will be planted on many taiga edges and backyard, cultivated mushrooms will become a common and used for both food and medicine.
Water Catchment and Distribution Rainwater harvesting provides water for plants, domestic household water, helps reduce flooding and saves energy. There is no well on site. All watering needs are provided via rainwater and stored in cisterns, a pond and in the soil. All buildings on site are equipped with rainwater harvesting systems including the residence which features a closed-loop water filtration system for all household water needs. Various styles of cisterns are used for experimentation and for educational purposes. Photo: belvedereaustin.com
Housing The house on the property is built largely based on the Passive House Standard and designed to be super energy efficient while combining principles of green and natural building appropriate to the local climate. Features include super insulation, an airtight building envelope, mechanical ventilation, high performance windows and passive solar design. Locally milled lumber is used extensively as is earthen interior finishes. Recycled building materials such as metal roofing and a concrete rubble foundation are also used. The home’s minimal supplemental heat is provided by a high efficiency masonry stove. The home is fairly small and space is not wasted. Rainwater is utilized and no waste is produced. Picture: www.geneamundson.com
Energy Systems Installed energy systems and energy use plans help conserve resources, and provide electricity and heat for both comfort and for farm tools and machinery. Energy efficiency and conservation are the primary strategies used to reduce energy use and minimize the necessary size of renewable energy systems. Electricity is provided via an off-grid wind/solar PV hybrid system. Excess energy is stored in a “water battery” which is pumped through underground pipes for space heating in various buildings. Supplemental space heating is provided via rocket mass wood stoves. Domestic hot water is produced by homemade, passive solar water heaters during the warm months and from wood heat during the winter. However, most domestic hot water is avoided through use of a steam bath for bathing. Homemade energy systems are also designed and built using materials mined from the landfill and installed throughout the community. Photo: http://www.geology.com
Machinery All farm systems are designed to require minimal machinery by utilizing Biomimmicry, and following natural patterns and energy flows. Small machinery including a washing machine and some kitchen appliances and compost tumblers are powered via bicycle. All large machinery requiring fuel including a small vehicle, tractor, and wood chipper has been converted to run off of fish oil which is produced by a neighbor and bartered for farm products and other services. Battery powered and electrical tools are powered by renewable energy sources. Photo: www.opensourceecology.com
Incorporation of Animals Photo: www.Bucknrunranch.com Chickens, rabbits and goats are incorporated into the site to provide eggs, meat, fur and dairy products. Salmon remains the most common local protein and is supplemented by moose and caribou. Surplus animal products will be bartered for goods and services including use of a small- scale fish and meat processing facility. In addition, the animals will provide manure for composting, and entertainment and educational value for children.
Waste Recycling All “waste” is considered a resource. The house will feature a closed-loop greywater system and composting toilet. All garden and food wastes will also be composted..Since imported goods are a luxury and no longer the norm, very little waste is produced. The site accepts donations of yard waste and paper products in order to improve carbon to nitrogen ratios. A cottage industry designed around arts, crafts and household goods made from salvaged junk and natural materials is thriving and creating local jobs.
Transportation Photo: www.observedtrials.net Bicycles is the primary mode of transportation throughout the year. This is made possible partially due to the site’s central location near the beach and town center. A community bicycle shop provides repairs and has created jobs. A small vehicle will be maintained for longer trips, for hauling heavier goods and for fishing and hunting. This vehicle will run off of biodiesel manufactured from salmon oil by a neighborhood business.
Economics Although paper money will not be replaced, barter will become a common medium for business transactions within the community. The owners of the permaculture site rely on farm products such as produce, meat, eggs, and dairy products including soap as well as renewable energy design and installation services and other odd jobs. One family member is a teacher. Free and fair trade is emphasized and accumulation of wealth is no longer practical. Numerous businesses in the community provide services using local, renewable resources. Photo: flikr.com
Education Decreased state funding along with dissatisfaction with the public school system has resulted in the creation of a community school modeled after both Montessori and Waldorf methods. Village elders will help with teaching and curriculum development allowing for traditional cultural revitalization. Curriculum will consist of classroom and hands-on learning and subjects such as hunting, fishing, farming and animal husbandry will be taught alongside traditional subjects such as reading, writing, math and science. Vocational offerings will also be emphasized and include various construction trades, mechanics and Bush engineering. Students will help guide the learning process
Community Garden The neighboring property is the site of a community garden. This provides a space for individual plots for neighbors as well as an outdoor classroom for the community and local school. The garden will be based on permaculture principles and will incorporate many of the same features as the larger site including rainwater harvesting, earthworks, composting and chickens. The community garden will be operated and maintained partly by older children as a school subject. www.juneaucommunitygarden.org
Native Title and Shared Governance The site is a Native allotment parcel exempt from taxation and local zoning ordinances. However, property boundaries are no longer as relevant as in the recent past as sharing and gifting have become standard philosophies. In the larger community, co- housing has become popular as way to combine resources and foster community. Neighborhood decisions are now made by committee and take everyone’s needs into consideration. Photo: www.Flikr.com
Natural Medicine Reductions in subsidized health care have allowed the community to rely on natural medicine. Imported doctors and pharmaceuticals have largely been replaced by naturopaths and an apothecary. The traditional ecological knowledge of elders will be extremely valuable and the gathering and wild crafting of local plants will provide several jobs. An off-site greenhouse will provide additional medicinal plants to supplement native plants. Photo: www.Robertglennketchum.com
Tool Library A tool, equipment and machinery library will be available for the community. Donations of old tools will be accepted and tool refurbishing and creation will provide employment. Many hand tools and various machinery will be manufactured from recycled and discarded metals. This trade will be part of the Bush Engineering curriculum in the neighborhood school. Bicycles will also be available for borrowing. In addition, the lending of personal items not available in the library will be normal custom.
Community Fish Cooperative Salmon has always been and continues to be Naknek’s most valuable and plentiful renewable resource as well as being a connection to traditional culture. A community fish cooperative was formed to allow for sharing of the harvest and an equitable distribution of labor. Small neighborhood processors and smokers provide services in exchange for a share. Elders and those unable to participate in the fishery are given fish for free. Photo: www.national geographic.com
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