Permaculture Quickstart

Permaculture? Is it swales? What on earth is a swale?

Swales are a dry-climate, tree-growing system. Permaculture may use swales, but that is a small, small part of permaculture.

Permaculture is often described as “Permanent Agriculture.” However, Permaculture is better described as “Permanent Culture.” That includes:

  1. Earth care
  2. People care
  3. Returning surplus

Permaculture transcends politics, religion, and country. You can throw a prepper, a tree hugger, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a capitalist, and a communist into the same permaculture class and have them all walk away determined to use the knowledge they gained in their individual pursuits. In fact, I’ve seen that happen.

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Water Rights Course

I want to put a well on Dove Ranch at some point. I’ve tried figuring out Utah’s water laws and have failed for the most part. Then I found out that there is a Water Rights course offered by the Utah Division of Water Rights and the Rural Water Association of Utah. I decided, this would complement my permaculture training nicely, so I’m going to sign up for it.

water rights brochure 2017

If anyone else is interested, you can sign up online at

Before Permaculture at Dove Ranch

Geoff Lawton emphasized in the Permaculture Design Certificate course that I’m taking, that you really want to have as many before shots as possible when applying permaculture to land, so that you can see the progress made over time. So, in keeping with that strong suggestion, I’ve taken a few pictures that are typical of the ranch, now.

Driveway Before Permaculture
This is our modest driveway in 2017 with my Subaru Forester parked in it.
2017 Eroded Flood Plain
This is the majorly eroded flood plain down in the wash. This is pre-permaculture in 2017, looking south along the west property boundary.
2017 Flood Plain
This captures a view of the 2017 snowmelt running off on the north side of the floodplain looking south before I’ve applied any permaculture design to the eroded muddy mess.
2017 Looking East at Fork in the Wash
Using permaculture I intend to introduce dryland trees and erosion control methods to the wash. This is known to create water plumes and often creates natural springs where there were none in the past.

Permaculture and the Homestead

I intend to use permaculture to create my homestead. I want a small homestead where I grow my own food and enjoy working the land. I also want to improve the land I am not using in a natural, water-wise way that doesn’t encourage more desertification and erosion.

My wash does not currently have the native biodiversity that permaculture can design into it using typical permaculture techniques. Cottonwoods are native to Utah washes, so I’m introducing a stand of them to grow in my wash.

My dream property would have under five-acres of land. After years of looking at land, I finally bought 72-acres in early 2014, not because I want that much land, but because I could afford it and not the smaller parcels I was interested in.

The land I ended up purchasing was described in the real estate listing as “good for nothing but sagebrush.” However, after seeing what permaculture design has done to far worse chunks of dirt, I’m willing to give it a go, even though I have limited time and money.

Finding the Farm
The piece of dirt and sage we could afford. It’s not much, but it’s ours.

This piece of dirt and sage will make a great permaculture demonstration site.