Utne picks up a story on Whole Systems Design's approach to functional landscapes - edible, soil building, human health enlivening - not just aesthetic landscapes.
Ben Falk, Vermont Rice“We will probably find that many agricultural systems will thrive through fertigation,” says Falk, who calls the paddies “essentially edible storm-water-retention basins.” Overflow from the paddies trickles farther downhill to fruit trees and berry plants, so very little of the farm’s nutrients are lost to runoff. More on this article here.
March 2011: Landscape Architecture Magazine Features Whole Systems Design
The leading industry journal featured WSD in a hefty six page feature article on our work. What's this - a Dwell-esque "designery" magazine is noticing the work of a small firm doing 'agricultural' work in rural America? You can see the whole article here.
February, 2011: Bloom the Film Features Ben Falk
"Bloom" the film premiers across Vermont, produced by Bright Blue Ecomedia and Vic Guadagno. Ben Falk and the Whole Systems Research Farm are featured in the solutions section along with Abe Collins of New Soil Security and Carbon Farmers of America. Special thanks to the Lintilhac Foundation.
December, 2010: Aggroinnovations Podcast
Ben Falk interviewed on Frank Agarona's Agroinnovations Podcast about Whole Systems Research Farm's rice research in the Mad River Valley. A clip "... rice is the only example of a grain crop that's able to be grown in the same place for hundreds if not thousands of years in the same place over and over again without exhausting the possibility for growing the crop again..."
October, 2010: Barn Raising
Whole Systems Research Farm Barn Goes up:
Timber framed barn for animals and farm processing/storage is being built at our test site using wood from the land, milled on site, hand cut and joined traditionally using no metal. The frame was cut over the past several weeks by Will Schebaum and Ben Falk, designed with timber specifications and drawings from Micah Whitman.
Client's Passive House (Haus) featured in the NY Times. We've master planned the Landau's site for the past 2 years and consulted on this passive house project, advising on ways for the home to not only be a mechanically high performance shell but a functional house integrated within a permaculture working landscape. This includes root cellar design and other house-interior microclimate considerations for drying the harvest, keeping it cool and for extended season use via a greenhouse addition on the main passive house which we have designed. We've also planted a small orchard for the Landau's in this developing post-peak oil homestead including peach, pear, apple, plum, cherry, hazelnut, walnuts, oaks, edible hickory and other species including many berries.
The 2nd year of our rice research testing is coming to a spectacular close with full terraced hillside paddies of short grain brown rice. Sound like Java or the Phillipines or Japan? Indeed, but this sloped-land technique for perpetual grain production on marginal land has proven possible for centuries in other cold climates. Our site is testing this crop in what's likely the coldest place on Earth anyone is attempting rice. But the climate is shifting and we haven't tried all possibilities besides. So far the results are stunning: 4,000-5,000 lbs/acre on subsoil of grain that can be stored for years and used by anyone on the farm/homestead be it human or farm animal.
WSD works with the Town of Waitsfield to plant a community orchard in the Mad River Valley. WSD donated a planting plan and help in submitting a grant application which was subsequently awarded to the Town by the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation. The grant supplied the town with 50 apples, pears and cherries - the beginnings of an intergenerational food system which, once mature, will bear 5,000 lbs of nutrient dense fruit per year for say 50-100 years. That's a piece of the food security pie.
Northern Woodlands just featured WSD in their recent issue focusing on "Wild Farms" that work at the intersection of field and forest land use.
Our master planning and site developments in Barnard VT are coming along at an historic homestead. We've planted a post-oil food system with orchard, nuttery, berries (from currants to blueberries), vegetables, and a rice paddy, along with gravity feed (non electric) water systems for house and landscape and ponds/pools. Next up is a sauna next to the new pond and a pergola for outdoor eating with hardy kiwis growing above.
Design work continues on new projects in Sag Harbor, New York and at the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut. WSD develops a master plan with a private client in Sag Harbor/East Hampton Long Island focused on perennial and nutrient dense food systems and site planning for a future agri-tourism and local food destination. The Hotchkiss School contracted WSD to develop a conceptual master plan for communicating the possibilties for developing and involving students at a new farm site recently purchased by the school.
March 15th 2010
Mother Earth News Features WSD
Fuelwood security garners exposure in the national press. Our perpetual fuelwood hedge development work mentioned in the latest Mother Earth News here.
February 7th 2010
Whole Systems Skills Launched
10 years in the making, a learning organization takes form to train and share tools and techniques needed to respond to the unprecedented challenges of the early 21st Century including peak oil, climate change, economic impossibility and other resource system failure. Please click below to view the workshops. Click HERE if your browser doesn't show a viewable graphic above.
Fast Company Magazine Features WSD
"...Falk and his network of young University of Vermont graduates are not traditional environmentalists. In fact, he calls mainstream environmentalism, with its "nihilistic," minimize-human-impact approach..."