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Permaculture in semi arid, high plains (Montana)

Nicole Merrill

Joined: Jan 10, 2013
Posts: 4
Hi all!
My husband has tasked me with getting as much info as I can on sustainable farming, permaculture in semi arid, high plains area. We get little rainfall in our area and have a short growing season. We'd like to do more with our 4 acres, but much of the literature that I have talks of building ponds, or grazing.... I know a pond here would dry up pretty quickly, and our soil isn't good enough (yet) to sustain livestock. Can anyone point me in the right direction as far as gathering information on this? Does anyone know of any permie groups in my area?
Thank you so much!
Helena, MT
Miles Flansburg

Joined: Feb 03, 2011
Posts: 1889
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
Howdy Nicole welcome to permies. You might find some contacts on this list ?

Be sure you take some time to read a bunch at permies too !
Dave Hartman

Joined: Jan 07, 2012
Posts: 41
Location: Off grid in the central Rockies of Montana (at 6300') zone 3-4ish
Howdy, My family and I are practicing permaculture on our small off-grid homestead outside Basin(30 miles away from Helena). I also planted and tend some perennial polycultures at the Boulder Hot Springs in Boulder. We are also working with a small greenhouse at the springs. We would love to meet you sometime and chat. Send us a message in the private messages and well exchange contacts if you like.
Bill Kearns

Joined: Feb 13, 2009
Posts: 151
Location: E Washington steppe
Welcome Nichole and family!
In perhaps a shameless plug, Columbia Basin Permaculture has been working on just such an environment for the past six years.
For a basic synopsis of what we in dry/hot summer/cold winter/windy environs are up against, check out

The initial condition is evapo-transpiration exceeds precipitation. This means that anything and everything we do to capture and preserve moisture (whether in storage ponds/tanks or in the soil) is essential. The goal is to "effectively" reverse the inequality such that we end up with an abundance of water with which to live and grow our forests/gardens.

Mulch, compost, obtaining just about any organic debris, windbreaks, shade techinques, hoop houses, earth sheltered greenhouses, hugelkultur ... all contribute to rebalancing the initial inequality in our favor.

Bill Kearns - Ritzville
Columbia Basin Permaculture

Permaculture is a gestalt ... a study of the whole. Not just how to produce more and better food, but how human life on the planet affects and is affected by the surrounding environment.
Bill Kearns
Bonnie Eveland

Joined: Feb 18, 2014
Posts: 2
Hello, fellow Helena-area permies! I am interested in meeting/communicating with any of you for the purposes of learning and support. I am minutes outside Helena on nearly 13 acres, which are begging to be utilized in a sustainable fashion. I would love to have the place running to a point of being able to help train and sustain lower income folks to help them become more self-sufficient and healthy. Long term, would like to host training for gardening, food preservation, nutrition and maybe even cob-house building. I am new to permaculture, but quite committed to the concept.
Miles Flansburg

Joined: Feb 03, 2011
Posts: 1889
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
Welcome to permies Bonnie !
Erica Wisner

Joined: Feb 10, 2009
Posts: 682
Location: Okanogan Highlands, Washington
I just started a possibly-related thread asking for tips on local mulch plants for the Okanogan Highlands, a dry-ish elevation about 3000 feet, kinda ponderosa-and-sagebrush country overall, but with mixed conifers up in the clouds.
If nobody pokes their heads in, I'll share what I've tried so far to answer my own question.


Play with nature, make nifty stuff:
subject: Permaculture in semi arid, high plains (Montana)
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