Blog Archives

Ant Village Podcast #1

I’ve decided to record a podcast from time to time to share in more detail what is going on with my Ant Village homestead project. This is my first time recording a podcast, so it is a bit rough around the edges.  In this podcast I talk a bit about my journey in learning permaculture so far, and what brought me to the decision to move to Montana and take a shot at the Ant Village Challenge.  I also talk about wrapping up my yard conversion project in San Diego, some of the lessons I learned from the experience, and about a visit I made to my Permaculture Bike Park project in Orange County.  Finally, I go over some of my strategies for the Ant Village project, and talk a bit about my feelings on animal systems.

Length: 25 minutes

Jesse Grimes Ant Village Podcast #1

Advertisements

Become a Permaculture Bike Park Patreon

As you may or may not know, I have recently been applying my passion for permaculture to my long time passion for building and riding bicycle trails. Through this work I have realized that this is a big part of what I am here to do, the unique gift I have to offer the world. I have always had a goal of working to get more bike parks built, as I know that bicycles have been a hugely positive influence on my life and I would like to help provide more opportunities for the next generation to develop a love for cycling. Now I have developed my knowledge and skills in permaculture design, I know that I can create bike parks that are also beautiful thriving gardens! The bike park could be a positive gathering place for the youth, a pleasant environment for their families to relax, and an abundant habitat for wildlife. We could create public recreation facilities that are far more beautiful, far more functional, and much more ecologically friendly than the thousands of grass lawns and baseball fields that currently inhabit public parks.

Patreon.com is a website that allows anyone to become a patron of artists and creators. Like an ongoing kickstarter campaign, it allows individuals to directly support other individuals who are working to express their unique creative gifts. Inspire by my sister Chelsea​, who has her own patreon page at http://www.patreon.com/Chelseamaewesley, I have created a patreon page so that I may be supported in my mission to create beautiful and functional permaculture bike parks. Click on the link and watch the video to get a glimpse of what I am doing, and make a pledge to help me offer this gift to the world.

https://www.patreon.com/jessegrimes

Permaculture Bike Park – Project Overview

I have been riding BMX and building jumps out of dirt ever since I moved to Southern California in 1997. In the last few years I have been studying permaculture design, and I’ve found that the principles and concepts within permaculture can be applied to my love of building jumps, resulting in easier maintenance and a more enjoyable riding experience, as well as a overall healthier ecosystem. Over the past 2 months I have been experimenting with permaculture at my local trails, which we call the “Sandbox.” This area was once a dirt disposal site, so it is full of sand bags, chunks of concrete, and other construction debris, which has since grown over with native chaparral vegetation A small group of local riders, including myself, have managed to dig and carve out a very enjoyable set of jumps into this landscape, and are now nearly completed with the features we intend to build. Our focus now has shifted towards addressing drainage and maintenance issues, as well as beautifying the area. I have found that the techniques I’ve learned in permaculture are quite useful in addressing these issues, and can be applied to help revegetate the areas which have been dug up and are now bare soil.

My vision for the “Sandbox” is that it can be turned into a beautiful and thriving natural garden, one that provides endless enjoyment to bicycle enthusiasts as well as a healthy environment for the native wildlife. The ultimate goal would be to have the place protected and designated as a public bike park, much like the many other skate parks and bike parks around the world. The “Sandbox” could become a special place for people to gather, to enjoy the thrill of bicycle riding, and connect with the wonders of nature. This video is a journal of my first steps towards making this vision a reality.

Slow That Water Down

It begins with rain…

 

 

Here in Southern California rain is a rare occurence, but when it does rain it often rains hard.  This causes a whole range of flooding and erosion problems all across the region.  These problems could be easily mitigated with the application of well designed earthworks and water management techniques.  We can use permaculture earthworks to slow water down and spread it out across a large area, robbing it of its erosive energy while allowing it to passively soak into the soil where it can recharge aquifers and springs.  With our culture’s current methods, we often have too much water when it rains, and not enough when it doesn’t

At the bike park, we have similar problems when it rains.  The smooth surfaces so vital to a safe and exciting riding experience are quickly eroded by the force of rain drops hitting the ground.  The shape of the lips and landings naturally funnels water into the low spots between jumps, making them unrideable until the puddle dries out.  This leads to hours of rebuilding, resurfacing, and removing water after each rain storm.  In the dry season, which can last for 10 months, the bike park is often a hot and dusty place with little shade.  The more we dig and expose bare soil, the more the site dries out.

There is a saying in permaculture, “the problem is the solution.”  With that mindset, I am taking a new look at how we manage water at the bike park.  I have begun to re-shape the land to direct the rain, allowing it to passively flow into swales and infiltration basins, leaving the riding surface dry and allowing the water to soak into the soil.  The water that is stored underground will be used to grow fast growing leguminous trees, which will eventually provide shade to the site.  These same trees will fix nitrogen into the soil, while also providing a large amount of mulch to cover the bare soil, reducing evaporation.  As a bonus, having trees interspersed with the jumps will also provide a more enjoyable riding experience.

Every element in a design, such as a tree, should have multiple functions.  This is often called stacking functions, and ensures that the energy you put into implementing an element is returned many times over.  Furthermore, no element stands completely alone.  Each element interacts with the elements around it, and we can design to take advantage of beneficial relationships between elements, all within the context of nature’s inherent patterns.  This is the essence of a successful permaculture design.  The challenge lies in having the perspective to observe and predict what these relationships will be.

For now, I am starting small with the simple goal of directing rainwater off of the riding surfaces and into the soil.  As I observe and keep my mind open to new perspectives, I will hopefully see how I can facilitate beneficial relationships between the many elements of the bike park site.

 

051

I’ve begun to dig infiltration basins that are below the grade of the riding surface. Here you can see the mud puddle left by the last rain, and the beginning of the basin that will collect the water from this part of the jumps.

 

040

I dug this infiltration basin before the last rain storm, and it appears to be working. The loose soil to the right of the basin will be planted with trees, which will utilize the water soaked into the soil.

055

This swale/basin demonstrates the permaculture principle of edge. By digging in lots of curves we can fit a very long trench into a small area, while also maximizing the edge between water and land. The edges between different environments are where nature is most diverse and abundant.