Broad Scale Permaculture, Integrated Animal Husbandry & Forest Management: PDC Reflections [Part 6/8]

This series of eight blog posts by Melissa Ott about the Santa Cruz Permaculture fall-winter 2017 Permaculture Design Course was originally posted on the Green Gal blog in April 2017.

Weekend Five: February 4-5, 2017

In February, we visited the Mountain Feed and Farm Supply pilot aquaponics greenhouse in Ben Lomond and explored Camp Joy Gardens in Boulder Creek to learn about raising chicken, goats, and bees. Then we drove up the coast to Markegard Family Grass-Fed ranch in Half Moon Bay to learn about holistic planned grazing. We also learned about winter fruit tree pruning and Sudden Oak Life back at the NEST.

Aquaponics at Mountain Feed & Farm

A group of people standing in a hoop house-style greenhouse with one man speaking and other taking notes

We learned how aquaponics systems cycle nutrients so that both fish and plants can grow together. Mountain Feed & Farm is piloting this system inside of a hoop-style greenhouse to decide if it’s something they would recommend to their customers.

Integrated Plant, Animal, and Pollinator System at Camp Joy Garden

Four images in a square: Jim Nelson standing at the gate to Camp Joy Garden; a goat in its pen; David Shaw and participant Colby waving from Camp Joy Gardens; beeswax from Camp Joy Garden bees

Jim Nelson of Camp Joy Gardens gave us a tour that included a chance to hold chickens, pet goats, taste fresh honey, and walk around the beautiful gardens. It was a wonderful example of an integrated system that includes fruit trees, annual vegetable and flower production, pollinators, and animals that produce eggs and milk.

Holistic Grazing & Animal Husbandry at Markegard Family Grass-Fed

Group standing on a grassy hill in a circle facing the Pacific Ocean in the distance. Doniga Markegard is speaking to the group. There are cows in the distance.

Doniga Markegard gave us a tour of their ranch in Half Moon Bay, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The Markegard Family Grass-Fed website describes, “Our philosophy in grazing is to manage the cattle herd to simulate the large herds of Elk and Antelope which once roamed California’s grasslands. We accomplish this by keeping the herd moving with Holistic planned grazing, so as never to overgraze an area, but to stimulate growth and grass-land health through properly timed grazing. Watershed Stewardship is at the forefront of our management practices.” Their methods not only produce “locally born, raised and processed certified grass-fed beef and lamb, chicken and pasture raised pork,”but also restore the natural ecosystem of their ranch.

Forest Management: Fruit Tree Pruning & Sudden Oak Life


Two images: Left image shows David Shaw on an orchard ladder demonstrating winter fruit tree pruning to a group. Second image shows a group of people looking up into the trees in the forest at the NEST.

The next day, David led a demonstration of winter fruit tree pruning, and we had a chance to get hands-on in the orchard with some pruners and a lot of guidance. We also learned about Sudden Oak Life with Dr. Lee Klinger. His work to bring oak trees back to a thriving life in the devastating wake of Sudden Oak Death is fascinating and inspiring. Learn more about his methods for improving the health of oak and other trees based on his research at

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