Posted by: Small House Under a Big Sky Homestead | December 1, 2013

Permaculture-Creating an Edible Ecosystem – Part II

When I first wrote a few weeks ago about an Australian gardening concept called permaculture,  I had a surprising amount of interest and response from readers. Read that first post here…ening-our-goal

Today I want to share a second book of interest that I am currently reading called, Growing Food in Hotter, Drier Land: Lessons from Desert Farmers on Adapting to Climate Uncertainty  by Gary Paul Nabhan (with forward by Bill McKibbin.)


Gary Paul Nabhan is an internationally celebrated nature writer, food and farming activist. He works to build more just, nutritious and sustainable and climate resilient food-sheds.

While I’m familiar with the term and meaning of “watershed” this is the first time I heard the phrase, “food- shed.” What exactly is a food-shed? A food-shed is the area that includes where food is produced, where it is transported, and where food is consumed. It includes the land it grows on, the routes it travels, the markets it goes through, and the tables it ends up gracing. First used in the early 20th century to describe the global flow of food, “food-shed” has recently been resurrected to discuss local food systems and efforts to create more sustainable ways of producing and consuming food.

This topic interests me greatly because I believe in living in an environmentally responsible manner and that sustainable living and gardening is in the future of us all. And, while in my lifetime, I hope to never experience the lack of natural water in the Midwest that is being experienced in Mexico, Texas and other states, I am learning techniques that will serve me and my grand children as the Midwest becomes dryer.

2011 was the driest season on record here in my community and throughout the US as well, and my response to that drought was to get prepared. For me, preparedness was to purchase two 250 gallon water totes to capture the spring water run-off from our metal pole barn roof and to capture it for later use in the vegetable garden.


IBC totes hold 275 gallon of rainwater or run off water.

As an avid gardener of both food and flowers, sustainability interests me greatly. While I happen to live in Michigan, one of the Great Lakes states, one of the geographically “lucky” states water-wise, I live in an area that has experienced both droughts and floods during the thirteen years I have been gardening here. With Global Warming a certainty and climate unpredictability looming at my front door, I felt it was time to begin to educate myself for that unpredictability.

When I first read The Vegetable Gardeners Guide to Permaculture by Christopher Shein  it was like a light bulb turning on in my head and mind telling me this is something worth pursuing.  It was then that I began this journey of looking at newer methods for growing more food while using our precious natural resources more efficiently.


The Vegetable Gardeners Guide to Permaculture was the first book I read on this new journey we are taking towards creating a more environmentally responsible life. This is one of those “must read books” that can be enjoyed and benefited from by all gardeners. No,matter what state or country you live in, no matter what your USDA zone is or growing conditions are, permaculture as a system is a whole new, practical way of thinking, living and gardening.

Once a fringe topic, permaculture is moving to the mainstream as gardeners who are ready to take their organic gardening to the next level are discovering the wisdom of a simple system that emphasizes the idea that by taking care of the earth, the earth takes care of you. Even my dear husband Gene, the consummate “grow your vegetables in a straight row kind of gardener” is reading this book!! Wonders never cease.

Small House / Big Sky Donna

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: