[permaculture] Structuring Topics and Information

Kenneth Benway ken at arcadiandesign.org
Sun Jun 3 00:52:26 EDT 2007

Hello Everyone, 
	I've only been on board for a just a few days and I'm very
impressed about the breadth of topics and the detailed information
coming in from around the globe. I've been processing a lot of this
information and had a few thoughts on how we might be able to categorize
and compile topics and info in a manner that makes it easier for us to
find important information as it accumulates over time. 
	Under the subject section of our discussions I was thinking that
we might start developing a structure that somewhat mirrors the
Permaculture Design Manual table of contents and relates to land use by
the zone, sector and bioregion characteristics and well as other
Permaculture related content. 
	For example: anything that relates to the built environment
(homes, various buildings, infrastructure etc. might be referred to as
Such as zonezero-homes-straw bale, or zonezero-bridges, or
zonezero-roads. To help us find information say, relating to lawns we
might use the term zoneone-lawn-conversions or zoneone-perennials or
zonefive-annuals. Say the topic being discussed has to do with getting
rid of our lawns and creating biodiverse options. At my home in Florida,
for example I have tried to make room for all 5 zones on the property.
Although it is work in process, I've tried to identify at least a small
area for each of the zones with the largest zone dedicated to zone one.
My home is intended to be a demonstration site and it's important to
give visitors an example of each zone on a relatively small urban site.

	I have a very unusual shaped lot, about 1/3acre, somewhat
pie-shaped with the point being chopped off at the east side about 45 Ft
in length. I have a wood frame house (1250 sq ft) with a detached two
car garage (600 sq ft) and various walkways and brick patio areas (about
600 sq ft) for a total zone zero footprint of about 2450 sq ft. Since
the total lot size is approx 14,500 sq ft. the zone zero footprint
represents about 17% of the lot. I have several large oak trees on the
lot and various native shrubs and small trees (mostly native) which I
estimate to be about 2000 sq ft., for a total zone five footprint of
about 13%. I am developing the remainder of the site with an emphasis on
zone one estimated at about 8,000 sq ft. or 55%, zone two 500 sq ft or
4% and zone three 1500 sq ft or 11% (all citrus trees). Obviously these
are only approximations and there is considerable overlap between some
of the zones and using container gardening on much of the patio surface
I am able to shift the zone zero to zone one. 
	I know this may seem like a lot of unnecessary number crunching
for no apparent good reason but I think it does help the reader
visualize the functionality of the site in terms that are familiar to
most of us. 
	In terms of describing my bioregion, I am in USDA zone 10, (in
the past 25yrs we've gone from USDA zone 9a to 9b to 10... Global
warming anyone?) West central Florida, about 12miles from the Gulf of
Mexico with an elevation of about 32 ft above sea level. I have bermed
the west edge of he site (about 100 ft in length) to prevent storm water
from entering the street. The site is relatively flat with a drop of
about 5 feet running west to east. Sector characteristics change
dramatically over the year, with prevailing winds shifting a full 360
degrees throughout the year. Rainfall averages about 60 plus inches, and
our dry season runs from January thru May, even though we get rain at
least once every month during the dry season. Our climate is best
described as sub-tropical. We have not had a freeze in over 15yrs.
Hurricanes are our greatest danger, and for some reason we have not been
hit by any significant storm in the past 22 yrs.
	Once again, I am going into this extensive detail to demonstrate
how describing things in Permaculture terms when possible makes our
communication more effective. 
	The main purpose of this exercise however is to begin a dialog
as to how we might begin the process of improving how we identify topics
in a manner that makes it easy for us to all to relate and share
information and over time compile this information so we can continue to
build our knowledge base and make it easier to retrieve this information
over time.
	Maybe I'm wasting our time here. I hope not. I am looking
forward to your input.
	One last note, there is a real need in Florida to identify plant
guilds for zones one thru four. Zone five has been handled very well by
the Florida Native Plant Society. Florida ranges from USDA zone 8 in the
north to zone 12 in the Florida Keys. Soil is mostly sandy and low in
clay content (there are exceptions) building carbon is our biggest
challenge and is best accomplished through sheet mulching. Soil in the
coastal areas has a PH of about 7 to 7.5 and inland from about 6.5 to
about 7. Pine straw or bark is the most effective way to lower the PH
using local resources.
	One of our goals is to create a Florida equivalent to Gaia's
Garden by Toby Hemenway. Perhaps even a couple of versions depending on
the USDA zone and one of the 12 or so natural ecosystems within our
	I appreciate any input you can provide in these areas as well.
Ken Benway
Arcadian Design
St Petersburg Fl

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