Testimonials - General
"Thanks for the inspiring workshop on Saturday. It has me thinking about my 20 acres in a whole new way."
"Your work is at the cutting edge of food and energy security"
~Dennis D., Waitsfield, VT
"Your talk was packed with more valuable information per minute than any talk I've been to in a long time." ~Brian Tokar, after a Bioneers VT Presentation by Ben Falk
"Ben Falk was fascinating. By far the best speaker I saw at the conference; my only complaint is that his lecture ended too soon!" ~ NOFA VT Conference Attendee
"The work of Whole Systems Design is fascinating, visionary, and vital. They craft living solutions out of what a place is and what it can be. They are testing the waters for a new wave of design that embraces social and ecological complexity and finds a fundamental fit between the two."
~Paul Cawood Hellmund, ASLA, Director, Conway Graduate Program in Sustainable Landscape Planning & Design
"Falk actually rebels against the notion of the designer’s prerogative. “We’re not trying to get to a solution just from our heads,” he says. “We’re trying to let the place and the conditions bring the process to its solutions.” It is true that WSD’s site analysis is exceptional."
~From an Utne Reader feature article "Future Farmers" on Ben and WSD
"Amazing, brilliant, excellent...could have listened to Ben all day long. inspiring!" ~ NOFA MA workshop attendee
Testimonials - Learning Landscapes
"Everyone I spoke with was excited and blown away by the fact that we’re growing shiitake mushrooms on the Hotckiss Farm. The mushroom inoculation workshop was phenomenal. The students were completely engaged for 3 hours, which is tough to do with teenagers. Thanks a ton!"
~Charlie Noyes, Science Teacher, The Hotchkiss School
“We approached Whole Systems Design with the goal of turning the sloping lawn of our dining center into a campus vegetable garden. Drawing on the campus’ Olmsted and Leopold legacy they designed an integrated annual and perennial food garden system that models the best in sustainable agriculture. They also integrated an outdoor classroom and study space into the design and graphically outlined a compelling long-term vision for the dining center to become a pioneering sustainable food production facility complete with rooftop food gardening, year-round greenhouse cultivation and much more. Their plans were produced to serve directly as a curricular tool in design and ecology-based classes. With the help of their illustrative plans we are well on our way to raising the funds necessary to implement the long-term sustainable learning landscape plan. Whole Systems Design exceeded our expectations and has outlined a path toward successes in opportunities we hadn’t yet identified.”
~Joshua Hahn, Ed. M., Harvard University
Former Aldo Leopold Fellow, Lawrenceville School
Testimonials - Healing/Inspirational Settings
“Ben Falk is a visionary craftsman with a sensitive eye to the land and to the relationship between people, land and community. Whole Systems Design has worked with Center for Whole Communities for three years helping us create a design benchmark for the kind of natural building that inspires people and is a core component of our programming. WSD helped us to design and build a solar bathhouse using materials directly from the site. The structure has successfully met its goals and is a source of constant inspiration and education for us and for the participants in our programs. We turn to Ben often for his perspectives on design and whole thinking.” ~Peter Forbes, Author and Director of the Center for Whole Communities.
"Your visit was very inspiring. Our director Vanessa, who was prior to your visit a bit hesitant to make changes, came out and said lets do it."
~Rowen H. Coordinator at a Buddhist Retreat Center in Vershire, Vermont
Testimonials - Working Landscapes
"I know from personal experience at Teal Farm Center that Ben's ideas are not pie-in-the-sky, they are realizable. We are harvesting seaberries, quince, aronia, goumi, cold hardy kiwis, currants, cherries, plums, raspberries, strawberries, asparagus, horseradish, hazelnuts, and shiitake mushrooms – all of which were planted as part of Ben's Master Plan. Teal Farm is also producing a bumper crop of wild berries (raspberries, blackberries, thimbleberries), and mushrooms (chanterelle, oyster, lobster, pheasant back). We're in our second season of Teal Farm Center Seaberry Juice production – and the feedback from everyone who has been lucky enough to have some has been consistent "it's the best juice I've ever tasted"….and it is." ~ Shawn Smith
“The approach at Whole Systems Design is to combine ecology, design and compelling communications in the creation of landscapes that are simultaneously beautiful and regenerative. This is landscape design that reflects true environmental sustainability.”
~Amy L. Seidl, PhD
"Falk's firm, Whole Systems Design, wrote the 100-year master plan for the soil, water features, plants and animals on the site-from the willow trees to the algae in the ponds. It's a prototype for sustainable, fossil-fuel-free food production. Beginning this fall, they'll harvest wild rice and cranberries from the wetlands, hickory nuts and mushrooms in the 1000+ acres of forest, plums and gooseberries in the orchards, and grains and strawberries intensively on rotated sites. Perpetual agriculture at Teal Farm looks less like the monoculture fields of traditional agriculture and more like an enhanced wilderness. In place of "conventional organic farming" – monocrops with intensive, albeit natural, fertilizer and pesticide inputs – permaculture transforms the entire landscape and puts in "guilds" of different plants that work together to support each other and enhance the soil. Food comes from orchards, gardens, ponds, bogs, annual vegetable and seed gardens, hedges and terraced hillsides. Nitrogen-fixing plants, crop rotation, and grazing animals will restore the soil; Food will be dried and preserved on site, seeds saved, and new varieties introduced..."
~Anya Kamenetz on Teal Farm Writing in Fast Company Magazine
"A truly inspirational presentation. He was a very dynamic, clear, compelling, and engaging storyteller, and the pictures were astounding. He had some wonderful philosophies on how the farm is run too, which were great to hear and take back to my own life." ~ NOFA MA organic farming conference attendee
"Thank you so much for the tour of Whole Systems Design yesterday. You have beautiful examples of how systems are integrated, loops are closed, and the landscape is regenerative. The students really enjoyed your tour and were commenting on how interesting they found it; I could tell they were looking at things from new perspectives." ~Marlys Edddy, Horticulture Professor at Vermont Technical College
"Thanks for the tremendously inspiring visit and tour. It was stunning to see your place and the work you've done. Everybody came home really jazzed. I was really blown away by the effect of earthworks and rotational grazing on your bedrock hillside, holy cow. Very reassuring to see put into practice some of what I've been reading about and see it work so dramatically." ~Susanne Hale, Professor of Plant & Soil Sciences, University of Massachusetts Amherst
"I was thrilled when I ran into an octogenarian member and she said that she loved the fact that everybody was so happy after your talk. In her forty years as a garden club member she had never seen the crowd be so energized and happy after a meeting. You gave people a sense of how to move forward. Most people are so bummed out about climate change that they become numb rather than doing anything positive about how they are living. They try to ignore it because they find it overwhelming. The ladies were impressed by your balanced presentation of the facts and thoughts about moving forward." ~Lolly Gibson, Coordinator, North Shore (Boston) Garden Club
"Your team did a top-notch job on the public meetings for the Windsor Southeast State Correctional Facility master plan design project. The public meetings were better attended than most of our town meetings and you facilitated them superbly." ~Steve Cottrell, Former Windsor, VT Town Manager
"An impressive synopsis of how a degraded farm parcel can be given a regerative "jumpstart"." ~NOFA MA workshop attendee
"Your Bioneers presentation was a rich compilation of permaculture principles and highlighted how we can rethink agriculture to enhance the health of water and people. It was truly an inspiration for change and offered clear understanding about the importance of recreating our landscape." ~Jesse Lovasco
"...So they invited Ben Falk, Vermont's premiere permaculture designer, to meet with a group of residents interested in making their land more productive, regenerative, and sustainable. With Falk’s guidance, several have already begun to envision how they might transform decorative lawns and gardens into vegetable gardens, fruit and nut orchards, raspberry and blueberry patches, and other sustainable sources of food." ~Chris Bartlett writing about Ben's visit to a Sustainable Woodstock, VT event
"Thanks so much for a fabulous workshop. And I thought because I grow blueberries I was practicing permaculture!! It's been years since I've attended a workshop where I learned so much and felt so inspired." ~S. Davatz, Vermont
"Ben Falk was engaging, funny, relaxed, informative. The best qualities possible in a presenter. It was a great talk!" ~ NOFA MA organic farming workshop participant
"I've seen Ben before and he's an excellent presenter. Poised, humorous, efficient, giving good answers but always keeping the presentation moving on. The ideas and photos were inspirational and the discussion stimulating. More of Ben please!" ~~NOFA MA workshop attendee
"Thank you for leading our group around your property yesterday. It was extremely helpful to see permaculture theory put into actual practice." ~L. Ide, Vermont
"This presentation should have been required on all days of the conference. The information imparted is what all green industry folks need to know and plan for accordingly. Kudos to Mr. Falk and NEG for having him speak." ~Conference Attendee to New England Grows, Boston
“Ben, your presentation was terrific! Students have been raving about it. Great stories, great images and great examples of systems thinking and interdisciplinary problem-solving in action. I can't thank you enough.” ~Matt Kolan, Professor UVM Rubenstein School of Natural Resources
"I wanted to thank you again for your outstanding presentation to the Mountain Gardeners last week. The scope of your knowledge is remarkable and we all left with our heads swimming with new ideas, a sure sign of a successful afternoon" ~Liz Weller, Community Organizer
"Ben, we were thrilled by your presentation! We got about twice the attendance we expected, and people left beaming and thanking us profusely. I learned a lot, and I'm sure there weren't many people there that didn't go away with a much better understanding of permaculture and the skills and tools we will need post-oil." ~Kye Cochran, Transition Town White River Junction Organizer
“I’ve learned more practical skills in this course than in any of my other classes at UVM. The opportunity to engage in real projects with actual clients was invaluable and an experience not normally available in liberal arts education. In this course we’ve produced a product and had an experience that will serve us well past graduation.” ~Student in University of Vermont’s Ecological Landscape Design: ENVS 295, 3 credits