This project started with video from a three day workshop. The workshop coverered the earthworks for building a pond without a liner, a swale, and a hugelkultur bed on a terrace. Then we added more footage by doing the same workshop over again in a colder climate.
A year later, we returned to the first workshop site and added even more footage! We even had an evaluation by the Crown Prince of Permaculture, Geoff Lawton.
DVD 1: Sealing a Pond Without a Liner
At the high point of the property, water is rushing in whenever it rains. This water is cutting a deep channel through the property. The idea is that we would like to capture this water and use it to create an oasis! Of course, water coming off of a road will probably contain some heavy metals and petroleum residue. So we need to clean the water first. A pond is dug so that the heavy metals will sink to the bottom of the pond, and gross stuff that floats (like oil) will be caught by the vegetation. We then do some minor re-shaping to the road so the water will enter the pond.
DVD 2: Ditches and Swales
Several ideas are mapped out about where to put in some swales. The land owner would eventually like a natural swimming pool, so we decide to put a finger on the pond to route the water to the natural swimming pool. And just in case we get an exceptionally heavy rain event, we extend the finger to a swale. The swale is designed to soak the excess water into the land. We demonstrate the use of laser levels to make sure our finger runs downhill and the swale is level.
DVD 3: Hugelkultur and Terracing
Now we talk about food production. This location gets frost in the winter and can be really hot in the summer. A lot of the surrounding area looks very desert like. We decide to make a hugelkultur bed shaped into a sun scoop. And the angle of the slope is optimized to the level of the sun in winter. We also talk about how swales are excellent at creating frost pockets which works to your advantage in the summer. What type of wood and different variations for hugelkultur are covered. A terrace is constructed to hold the hugelkultur bed.
I've got the streaming version of the DVD set and have watched the three a few times, going back and forth listening to different parts, and I'll continue watching over and over.
The overall impression is that it was a great job and very interesting for those that attended the workshop at Alden's place. You feel though that the idea of making the dvd's came later. All the 30 hours of filming where for sure useful and had to be brought down to a viewable length and divided in subjects. But you sort of feel that there is not a continuous plot, I know by now Paul does'nt like scripts or fixed ideas, he follows his creative impulse, but you feel you miss some pieces of what was the actual discussion.
The pond dvd is maybe the one I prefer because you have been capable of giving a lot of info and clear explanations of how one can design a pond, or imagine a system for harvesting water. The parts where you explain how to test the dirt, and how you can seal a pond are very useful.
I noticed the difference in the parts where you filmed in Missoula or you went back to california, there you see that there is more info and a coherent discussion.
The parts with Geoff or Neil where you discuss the decisions you or Alden made are great.
The worst thing, and it's nobodies fault it's just nature, is that we did not get to see the system after a good rain. this could be an idea: create a topic that Alden fills with pic's. I am the sort of guy that needs to see how the swale functioned or how the plants grew on the hugelkultur.
I think the next filmed project will have to be thought as a dvd form the start, so that you will be creative but knowing that you will have to end up with a finished dvd that has a start and an ending. Lets say a compromise between these three dvd's and the dvd of Stefan Sobkowiak or Geoff's video's
It's like I was waiting for season two next fall, yeah ok but how does it end!?!! did Paul run away with Jacob or did he marry to Nature next to his lemon tree out on a cold Montana day? I mean jokes apart it's awesome to see you speak and all that but, we want more!!
thanks for your work and the work of all that helped on this project.
I'll wait for season two
In order to give these DVD's a fair judgement I propably would have to watch them once again. Due to the fact that it was filmed during the workshop has made it quite chaotic. It is probably just me, but I prefer more focused approach. I had a feeling that between one scene and another some important information is missing. Maybe one has to watch it once again in order to grasp all the details, I will surely do that when time allows.
Nevertheless, all three films are loaded with knowledge and well worth watching. I especially liked the one about building hugelkultur bed on a terrace. One thing is to read about hugels, another thing is to see it being set up. I have clearly learned what mistakes I have made when doing my small hugel. It would be great to see this hugel bed in a few years from now.
I really liked the way Paul explains where, how and why the swale should be done.
As to the pond video, I wish I had soil that allows me to build one. Sitting on almost pure sand allows me just to admire this work, but not to copy it.
Overall, this DVD set is well worth its price and I recommend it. As I said, I will watch it once again for sure.
I give this one 8 out of 10 acorns! It was a little bit jumpy in parts, but overall I think it was really well put together. Getting the flow right on a workshop filmed like this can be tricky and I think the editors did an admirable job. A lot of good info was passed along in regards to site eval and prep for pond making, and the hugelkulture section clears up some of the common questions in the proper construction for proper function. Overall a good primer on basic earthworks construction.
I give this 9 out of 10 acorns! Paul is a super entertaining narrator to me. These videos gave me the kick-start I needed to build by first hugel raised beds, and know i know how to build my own pond without the expense of a a liner! The camera work isn't perfect, but the the content matter more than the presentation to me.
The core question that is on my mind when rating such a DVD is:
Would a novice be ready to build the same sort of earthworks safely and effectively after watching these video?
For the hugelkultur I believe that this provides more than enough detail for a newbie to get out there and dig.
For the pond construction, I would not be informed enough to build a pond safely and effectively. Stacking up large quantities of water is inherently dangerous and requires a lot of planning, site knowledge, and engineering which are not well enough covered.
For the Terrace construction, I am on the fence. If one is only build a single terrace on a moderate slope, then I think the video does a good job of demonstrating the technique. However, for a more intensive construction of several terraces in succession I would not have enough information from these videos to take into account the subtleties of the
Paul is very engaging and demonstrates a lot of the core points of how earthworks can be used to create water retention landscapes. The many hours of footage and conversations galore are all very helpful for those cutting their teeth on small to medium scale earthworks.
All in all, this is a great DVD Set that provides those new to Earthwork construction an important practical example of the core principles involved - taking the multitude of abstruse diagrams on the written page and bringing them into real life.
For experienced earthworkers 5 / 10 acorns
For those who've worked with crews before, there is a lot to be gleaned simply by watching how Paul and the others built these earthworks. "A picture is worth a thousand words" and the hours of video are very informative for those who already have knowledge and experience doing similar work.
However, without a further detailed instruction and conversation about the broader application of these techniques (such as how does this particular site compare to other sites, or principles of subsurface hydrology that effect slope stability) this DVD set is only so valuable to the experienced earthworker.
I thought it had lots of useful information and tips on these three topics; pond, swale and hügelbed. I particularly liked the fact that we could see how things were doing one year later. Would like to see it after two, three and five years too…
Watching all the three DVD’s I found there was a lot of repetitions, and it could have been much better edited. It was also a bit confusing that the plans changed, and each DVD sort of returned to a previous stage in the planning. On the other hand, it was also great to see that things don’t always work out according to the first plan you make. That was kind of reassuring …
I still don’t feel confident starting to work on ponds on my own, but the swales and hügelbeds I am ready to tackle.
I would recommend the DVD’s to people with some knowledge of permaculture, but without too much practical experience.
I bought the digital downloads and I felt the series was definitely worth the $20. They're full of information, easy to follow, and have high production value which makes it a joy to watch. I would suggest this to others.
It covers many of the "advanced basics" of hugelkulture and water retention strategies and tools, as well as what seem like some finer points, as well. Some of this info I've seen or read in Paul's other works, but much of it here is new to me; and all of it bears repeating.
I appreciate seeing Paul's design process (go look at the dirt), as well as how he alters the design to accommodate changes in the existing conditions or previous assumptions. I really appreciate the 'sit-down' debriefing talks with Paul, Geoff, et. al, to obtain the different ways they each might 'flavor' the design. I feel like I attended the workshop by watching the videos, apart from getting dirt under my fingernails. All three videos are Paul-tastic, which I enjoy very much as well.
As an edu-tainment video, it has good pacing, and a nice narrative for each of the three videos (given that the design consult/workshop was not structured specifically for this end, that's a decent feat!). The information delivery stays in the Goldilocks zone for all three videos; just right: it was neither too fast (rapid fire info, with constant re-winding and/or bewilderment), nor too slow (get bored, skip ahead, catch sentence mid-way through, rewind to beginning of sentence, rinse and repeat). Good pacing does not happen by accident, and the effort there was well spent.
I also appreciate the graphics showing the layout and successive design ideas on the California site; that helps a great deal in getting one's bearings. By the end; I feel like I could visit that site and understand the locale of everything featured in the video.
The videos also give insight into Permaculture design being a client-based endeavor. Namely that though the designer lays the groundwork, they then hand off the baton to the client/owner to carry it forward as they see fit. It's not a point explicitly made in the video, but it is on display.
I've watched it once, and I know that when I garner more knowledge and experience, I will be re-watching the videos to cement the principles in play, and gather the new information I wasn't ready for the first time.
I purchased the streaming version, which works great; my dumb internet connection notwithstanding. At ~7 hours of video for $20, that comes to $2.85/hr; all for something I'll definitely watch multiple times in order to glean all the information from the projects. World Domination Gardening is well worth the cashola.