Students demonstrated a solid understanding and integration of permaculture principles and concepts (especially in the small-scale-intensive designs), good creative thinking in attempting to design for a large-scale site, and made a strong attempt at integrating a 4-year succession plan into their design.
However, this group struggled somewhat with the larger-scale application that this design brief required, due in part to the focus of the Permaculture Design Training course on the small-scale-intensive application of permaculture (to more closely match the project beneficiaries' needs), and in part to students' lack of experience in working on a large scale.
We were satisfied with the competence demonstrated in the small-scale-intensive systems they presented, and based on the level of improvements from the first design task to the second design task, are quietly confident that the lessons learned from mistakes made in this design exercise will contribute to a much stronger design the next time they are required to apply their knowledge to large-scale design.
Highlights from the design:
- Brilliant passive composting toilet design which found a use for coal ash (insulation) and dung ash (cover material). We hope to see this design implemented on a Bayan Ulgii demonstration site soon.
- Net-and-pan water catchment & distribution system.
- Beehive nestled in keyhole flower garden.
- Mobile chicken tractor design which self-waters.
- Summer shower attached to greenhouse for greywater catchment.
- Clustered animal shelter design to maximize heating efficiency.
- Swale system to catch and store water on-site.
- Summer ger (yurt) pad surrounded by insectary/bee fodder flowerbeds.
- Succession plan to establish windbreak for apple/berry tree orchard.
- Grain plot for winter animal fodder.
- Efficient and user-friendly root cellar design.
- Recycled car tyre potato stack garden.
- Creative attempt at using dam retaining wall as thermal mass (and rear wall) for passive solar greenhouse design.
- Creative attempt at utilizing electricity pole into garden design.
- Creative attempt at re-using plastic water bottles as irrigation system.
Improvements suggested by Instructors:
- Digging well not immediate option for client with limited resources (water table is 18m deep!).
- Precautionary principle: greenhouse built against retaining wall in dam is creative but risky (no team member has experience of knowledge necessary to implement this idea), so we must proceed with precautionary principles and opt for a simpler design instead. Safety first.
- Trees in retaining wall of dam are unsafe and will compromise structural integrity of the wall.
- Earthen block wall around site would be too costly and energy-intensive for this site, instead look to biological resources such as planting a living fence.
- Electric pole garden: water and electricity do not mix, so precautionary principle applies here too. Also, electro-magnetic fields can negatively impact plant health.
- Succession planning: address immediate needs (such as establishing windbreaks) and areas closest to house first to use energy most efficiently.
- Design succession plan in time for entire site (intead of drawing a line down the middle to separate years 1-2 from 3-4).