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(note:  this document is still under construction - feel free to comment!)

sand badge

Build a hugelkultur
Chop and drop (50 square feet)
Ruth Stout style composting (2 spots)


straw badge

seed saving
encouraging volunteer or wild plants (probably mulching or chop and drop)
grow, harvest and preserve 100,000 calories
   - from at least 12 species
   - note (fyi): there are 10,000 calories is in:  
          o 35 pounds of potatoes
          o 10 pounds of prunes
          o 40 quarts of salsa
          o 6 pounds of dried strawberries
          o 55 pounds of onions
          o 50 pounds of winter squash
          o 30 pounds of sunchokes
          o 7 pounds of field corn or rye or most grains
          o 7 pounds of dried black beans
          o 4 pounds of sunflower seeds
   - note (fyi): an average person eats one million calories per year
build a hugelkultur 7 feet tall and 12 feet long
all systems are polyculture systems
direct seed perennials
   - no transplanting
   - the seed is planted outdoors
   - plant 50 of each and verify that at least 1 has sprouted
           o fruit trees
           o black locust
           o nut trees

all of this is completed without imports (except seeds) from more than 500 feet away


wood badge

grow, harvest and preserve 1 million calories
   - from at least 30 species
   - half the food is grown without irrigation
   - all systems are polyculture systems
build a hugelkultur 7 feet tall and 24 feet long
build a ¼ acre food forest
grow perennials from seed
   - no transplanting
   - the seed is planted outdoors
   - verify that each of these have at least 12 that have sprouted
       - apple
       - plum
       - peach
       - cherry
       - apricot
       - pear
       - mulberry
       - seaberry
       - walnut
       - hazelnut
grow: raspberries, rhubarb, melon, summer squash, 3 sisters, tomatoes, peppers, onions, potatoes, garlic, peas, broccoli, carrots, lettuce, cucumbers, daikon radish, sunchokes, strawberries, rye, stinging nettles, sunflower seeds,  horseradish, sweet clover, comfrey, crocus, daffodils, grape, chives, parsley

all of this is completed without imports (except seeds) from more than 500 feet away


iron badge

grow, harvest and preserve 4 million calories in one year
   - from at least 30 species
   - half the food is grown without irrigation
   - all systems are polyculture systems

build hugelkultur 7 feet tall
   - total of 150 feet long
   - at least six beds
   - no straight lines
   - no frost pockets
   - designed to keep wind out
   - mulched and planted

Harvest fruit from 12 trees that you started from seed

food forest
   - sun scoop shape
   - no frost pocket
   - covers at least an acre
   - full seven layers

landrace seed saving and use for at least 12 species for at least 3 generations
save the seeds for particular traits, encourage those traits for 3 generations

all of this is completed without imports (except seeds) from more than 500 feet away







COMMENTS:
 
steward
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what have i left out?
 
steward
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It would be helpful to me if PEP was defined.
 
paul wheaton
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:It would be helpful to me if PEP was defined.



How about this:

https://permies.com/t/96687/PEP-PEX

??
 
pollinator
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Okay I love this!

I don't need to be certified in my situation but it is like merit badges for permaculture where you have created challenging but doable achievements. I am looking forward to seeing the details as you nail them down and adding some of them to my checklist . And I can definitely see the value for the reasons you described.
 
pollinator
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I have mixed feelings about this sort of ranking, I'll admit, but I do see a sort of usefulness.

I would feel more sanguine about it if there was a spreadsheet checklist that would quantify individual achievements outside of a completely finished larger project.

For instance, I would love a metric that would allow me to use my 7 foot wide, 7 foot tall (including 3 feet dug down, so 4 feet above ground level), 18 foot long hugelbeet. This was a feat for an urban backyard, and except for the composted organic manures I had to bring in, all the biomass was either composted kitchen scraps or chop-and-drop from the whole backyard.

As the top layers included mostly-finished compost, I had six volunteer butternut squash plants that produced a total of 42 butternut squash, each around 18 inches long and about 8" diameter. All my 13 tomato plants that year were volunteers out of my compost, the basil and oregano I interplanted with them were from seed, and I couldn't get to the sides and back of my bed (it was up against a fence) because of the density of the sunchokes.

There was a lot more going on there, but that should illustrate my point. If it were possible to check off individual achievements and accumulate incremental progress towards full badges where it might otherwise not be possible to complete the stated project to every last detail for everyone who would like to, we would end up with a more inclusive metric.

That might be too complicated for the intended goal, but you asked, Paul.

-CK
 
gardener
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Not sure hazelnut and rhubarb can be grown in my area. That's the only possible issue i see.

Give option for raspberry/blackberry instead of just raspberry
 
master pollinator
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I could complete the Iron Badge next summer easily enough, the one exception would be starting the fruit trees from seed. I do not need too do that as my family has been here for 9 generations, my fruit trees are a foot in diameter.
 
paul wheaton
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Travis,

We currently have the badge stuff built into permies.  Maybe we need to get the badge images made for gardening, set up the threads for each BB (badge bit) and get started on knocking the bits out.    Then we can test to see that the badge system is working correctly.

 
master steward
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It's looking good to me.  I like the merit badge analogy, hopefully that's a correct analogy.

I'm wondering if the Sepp Holzer grains could be better suited to the Straw level?  It's hard enough to make a hugelbed and plant/find comfrey and sunchokes (for a newbie).  Especially since "most" planted species need to be nitrogen fixers and I believe you're spelling out three non-fixers.  Pretty much means the rest of the bed needs to be N fixers.  There's some food in N fixers but a beginning gardener may get some happiness from annual crops as they start this journey.

Maybe for Straw the Black Locust could be replaced with a few choices?  Black Locust isn't legal to plant in my state and isn't hardy at my end of the state.  How about "fence post species" including BL, cedar, larch or equivalent?  Nut trees are tricky at zone 4a.  I only have butternut that I know is hardy.  Not sure if that would work for zone 3.  Hazelnuts will work up there but they aren't really trees.

People can use excavators for the hugelbeds, right?

Hopefully we don't have to mention that the food is grown without fertilizer or -cides (organic or otherwise)

For Iron, do they really need to preserve all 4 million calories?  What if they eat or sell or give away the majority and preserve what they need for winter?  4,000 lbs of prunes or 1600 qts of salsa is a lot (I know it would be divided between many crops but I hope you get my point).

I'd think Iron would be fully without irrigation, or at least fully without imported water or groundwater.

Might there be a reason to deliberately have a frost pocket in a hugelbed?  Delay flowering on an apricot?  Maybe not...

Looking good, I'll keep my eyes out for other PEP/PEX merit badge posts.  

 
Mike Haasl
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Just re-read the PEP/PEX post and discovered that this is oriented at your site in Montana.  Please ignore my geographically related comments above ^^^
 
paul wheaton
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Excellent questions Mike!


I'm wondering if the sepp holzer grains could be better suited to the Straw level?



It is a super tall grain that is freaky good at building soil.    I am open to the idea of an alternative.


Maybe for Straw the Black Locust could be replaced with a few choices?



I cannot think of anything that would be as good as black locust.  Do you have a suggestion?  You mention cedar and larch, but they are not nitrogen fixing.  Nor do they have the massive buffet of perks that black locust does.  


People can use excavators for the hugelbeds, right?



Yup!


For Iron, do they really need to preserve all 4 million calories?



First, there needs to be some sort of picture of all this.   Second, it isn't "food" if people cannot eat it because it rotted.  

I like the idea of the gert path a lot more than the idea of the market farmer path.  

Plus, sunchokes are "preserved" for several months by sitting in the ground.  That one will be super easy.  And a lot of food can be simply dried.  



I'd think Iron would be fully without irrigation, or at least fully without imported water or groundwater.



I think that most hugelkultur will need full irrigation the first year to build soil.   And will need a little irrigation the second year.   This is all part of a growing system.



Might there be a reason to deliberately have a frost pocket in a hugelbed?



Yes!   Growing food that loves the cold in the middle of winter!

Sometimes I think about making a picnic spot in a frost pocket - so you can be outside and it is deliciously cool!





 
paul wheaton
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Mike Jay wrote:Just re-read the PEP/PEX post and discovered that this is oriented at your site in Montana.  Please ignore my geographically related comments above ^^^



I think that some people will be able to do PEP in utah, colorado, south dakota, upstate new york, etc.   And, at the same time, there could evolve to be PED, PEM, PEL, PEK, PES, PET, PEH and mabye Erica will choose to develop PEE.  :)

 
Mike Haasl
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paul wheaton wrote:

I'm wondering if the sepp holzer grains could be better suited to the Straw level?



It is a super tall grain that is freaky good at building soil.    I am open to the idea of an alternative.


Unfortunately I don't have an alternate.  I was just thinking of the PEP levels as steps up the eco scale and that maybe finding and procuring Sepp's grain would be too hard for a level 2-3 person.  If you have it available, then it's perfect for PEP.

Maybe for Straw the Black Locust could be replaced with a few choices?



I cannot think of anything that would be as good as black locust.  Do you have a suggestion?  You mention cedar and larch, but they are not nitrogen fixing.  Nor do they have the massive buffet of perks that black locust does.  


Black Locust is awesome and is great for Montana.  This kind of goes along with my realization that this badge is for Montana...  I mentioned cedar and larch for their fence post properties.  There would be other locally appropriate species for the other benefits of black locust but it very well may take more than one plant to do the work of locust.  When I do a PEM for Wisconsin I'll have to figure it out
 
paul wheaton
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I suspect that there will be some people in wisconsin that will get pep certified using BL and HG.  But I also support you setting up PEM!  :)

 
pollinator
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Badges would be beyond me.  

Sand Badge.......can't grow sunchokes
Straw Badge .......black locust won't grow here
Wood Badge...... these won't grow here: plum, cheery, apricot, walnut, hazelnut, rhubarb, sunchokes, stinging nettles, crocus, daffodil. And these die because of disease and pest pressure without taking non-permie action: apple, peach, pear, raspberry, melon, garlic, grape

And some of the requirements have no sense on a functioning homestead farm like mine. For example, I have multiple hugelkultur beds already, but all are within my normal working distance of 600' from the residence. Wood for making my hugelkultur comes from over 1000' beyond that, from the wooded area of the farm. Thus it makes no sense to construct a hugelkultur in the woods far away from the active working section of the farm. And in the working area, there are no trees suitable for hugelkultur.

I really like the idea of earning badges. I think its a great tool for getting people ingrained in permaculture or even simply gardening and woodcraft. But perhaps there needs to be some flexibility to tailor the requirements to the situation.
 
pioneer
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My only issue with this is the emphasis on huge hugelbed. I understand that they work best if very large,  but for one man and a shovel I wouldn't find it practical to make any 7 feet tall.
 
paul wheaton
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Su,

PEP stuff is optimized for my property in montana.   I suspect that there will be people in the US, Canada and several other countries that will be able to do PEP stuff without a problem.

For hawaii, I think somebody might explore the idea of making a PES program (permaculture experience according to Su Ba).  
 
Su Ba
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Hey Paul, you've instilled an idea in my head! Maybe our little local "farm school" would like to start up a badge program.
 
paul wheaton
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Trace Oswald wrote:My only issue with this is the emphasis on huge hugelbed. I understand that they work best if very large,  but for one man and a shovel I wouldn't find it practical to make any 7 feet tall.



:)

I made a new thread just for this topic in a feeble attempt to address your concern:

https://permies.com/t/96953/making-quick-foot-tall-hugelkultur

 
paul wheaton
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Su Ba wrote:Hey Paul, you've instilled an idea in my head! Maybe our little local "farm school" would like to start up a badge program.



:)

If it smells a bit like PEP, then maybe yours and mine would be the first two in the "PEX" framework?

 
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wayne fajkus wrote:Not sure hazelnut and rhubarb can be grown in my area. That's the only possible issue i see.
Give option for raspberry/blackberry instead of just raspberry



Really? you cannot grow hazelnut? They are all over here. They are not very good, [small, wormy] but terribly abundant.
So is it too hot for rhubarb? Maybe substitute asparagus? I think that perhaps there would have to be substitutions by growing zones. I'm in a very cold zone 4, so apricot, peaches, persimmons figs are out.
Yep, maybe use a more generic word like "brambles"?
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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paul wheaton wrote:what have i left out?



Creating "merit badges" like the boys scouts is, IMHO and excellent idea: Most of us are folks already doing some homesteading, so going to a distant University and paying through the nose at a cost we may never recoup just is not in the cards. [Besides being time consuming too].
I love the framework/ organization of these merit badges as well if they can be modified to suit the various growing zones / soils we have. It may be a huge undertaking, but perhaps making many little centers, like one or 2 per county: There could be one or two mentors per county for the next generation of Permaculturists.
Keeping it local has to be a challenge, so this framework gives the possibility for local adaptation. I like that. Until things are set, the county conservationist might be able to add invaluable expertise, even if they, themselves are not into Permaculture. Here in Central Wisconsin, I have found their insight pretty good: At least, they can give you some parameters on what can and cannot be grown. Withing those guardrails, folks can slowly find their way.
As a retired teacher, I understand that you gain knowledge by doing, little bit by little bit, and I would take advice from someone local who could give me advice on a specific aspect of Permaculture, even if that person was not 'certified' in every area of Permaculture. As the field grows and more and more people understand the benefits of it
 
pollinator
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This is looking good. Badges are a very cool idea--it's like scouts meets apprenticeship but without the drawbacks of either.
 
Mike Haasl
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Cécile Stelzer Johnson wrote:It may be a huge undertaking, but perhaps making many little centers, like one or 2 per county


Dave's already thinking along those lines Cecile.  You're in good company  Locations to do PEP/PEX
 
pollinator
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I have I think a few things going for each of the badge levels.

I like the idea especially of certifying remotely because I have my own land I'm trying to permify near Ronan. The problem is I would need to obtain a lot of timber to build the Hugels to specifications. It would be nice on an experimental level at least to build the lowest level hugel bed to see how it does. So maybe I will do that.

If the Hugels requirements were loosened for those of us who have to plant their trees and get pretty attached to them by the time they are large enough to build a hugel with I think I could garden my way through the levels pretty quickly.

Edit: I've been thinking and I've remembered where I can get quite a bit of Hugel wood if I have the time to do it. Hmm...

"all of this is completed without imports (except seeds) from more than 500 feet away" Here is a quote from the second badge level. To do the second badge level with this requirement on my current property I would need to plant some poplars where I plan to do a future Hugel and wait! Or do it somewhere else.

For the first level badge I think the only question I have is where can I get a dozen Sepp Holzer grains?

 
paul wheaton
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I think that if you are going to get certified remotely, then there might be some bits where you have to make it work.  

For each question about a BB I think it would be good to take it up in the BB thread.  

 
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Just trying to brainstorm some ideas to add to the sand badge for gardening, it just looks a little lonely.

Some could be...

-Plant 10 different types of annual vegetables, direct seeding at least 5 of them.

-Plant 5 different types of perennial fruiting plants. (Fruit trees, berry bushes, or grape vines)

Both of these would establish necessary components needed in place to achieve the next level of the straw badge.
 
paul wheaton
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Steve,

Are you thinking of "in addition to" what is already there?  Or are you thinking that this stuff would be in the hugelkultur?
 
Steve Thorn
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I really like what's already there, lots of good stuff!

I think the hugelkultur one is really good, it just may be a lot in one BB for the sand badge.

What if they were split as...

1) hugelkultur with just the hugelkultur and mulching it

2) planting the original mentioned plants currently with the hugelkultur, in a mixture of some on the hugel and some in a polyculture not on a hugel

3) planting 5 diferent varieties of perrenials and mulching them

This would add a few more BB's while also making them a little easier for the sand badge. What do you think?
 
paul wheaton
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I hear your point about having smaller BBs, but at the same time I am thinking that there is a lot of value in a bigger BB also.  

I think this issue might be worth re-visiting in a year or so.  For now I think I want to focus on getting all of the other BBs up.   Once all of the badges and BBs have their first pass of definition, then we can call the whole program "version 0.7 beta".  And I think the stuff you are proposing is a worthy topic - but more like "version 1.1" stuff.

 
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I'm wondering about the 7x7x5 foot tall hugel, too. When looking at the other Sand Badges, the badges can get done in about 5 hours. (4-14 hours was another range you listed). I don't see how one could make a 7 foot tall hugel and plant and mulch it in 12 hours, let alone 5. The largest hugel I made was 4 feet tall, and maaaaybe 7 feet long and 3.5 feet wide. It took me at least 12 hours to make that thing. There was a lot of log hauling and moving dirt and then mulch!

I'm thinking that since the sand level is something that people should look at and say, "Hey, I could actually do that!" That's my response to the dimensional and roundwood woodworking sand badges. The fact that I think I CAN do it, really makes me want to try. I do NOT think I could make a 7x7x5 foot tall hugel...and I've made 5 hugel beds already!

Maybe a smaller hugel for the sand level, and a larger one for straw? Or, if small hugels are no good, maybe a keyhole garden?
 
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I started reading ... and stopped almost immediately to react.

My garden isn't that large. How can I build a Hugelkultur of 7 x 7 x 6 feet? There's no room for it. I made some small 'hugels', but they won't count for a BB ...
 
paul wheaton
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Nicole Alderman wrote:I'm wondering about the 7x7x5 foot tall hugel, too. When looking at the other Sand Badges, the badges can get done in about 5 hours. (4-14 hours was another range you listed). I don't see how one could make a 7 foot tall hugel and plant and mulch it in 12 hours, let alone 5. The largest hugel I made was 4 feet tall, and maaaaybe 7 feet long and 3.5 feet wide. It took me at least 12 hours to make that thing. There was a lot of log hauling and moving dirt and then mulch!



hint: excavator
 
Nicole Alderman
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True, but it's that what the earthworks badge is for? Not everyone has a large enough property to even put an excavator on it, and some people might not have the funds to rent an excavator. It pretty much makes the badge unattainable for most permies. I'm liking the idea that the sand badges are something most people could do, no matter where they are, so they get that dopamine hit of having achieved it and wanting bigger and better badges that might require visiting a PEP site and more monetary investment.

I'm also kind of viewing the sand badges as instructionals for basic skills. Most of them are: making a wood bench, carving a spoon, making a sign, Ruth Stout composting, etc. They teach you the basics in an easy to do, fun to achieve way, and you get something tangible out of it (a mallet, a spoon, a sign, a nourished garden bed, etc). I'm wondering if there's a way we could teach the basics of hugelkulture and gardening in such a way?

 
paul wheaton
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Not everyone has a large enough property to even put an excavator on it



If I try to make the PEP stuff work for everybody, it will take me about 200 times longer.   Please allow me to make a PEP program for people here, on my property, and if a few people can cobble something together remotely, then that's good too.   As is, this much shorter path is turning into a massive job just to document this "version 0.7 beta".   Maybe version 2.0 or version 9.0 will be more accommodating to lots of other folks.   And maybe we will see PEA, PEB, PEC, PED, etc. come to life and, thus, fit more scenarios.



 
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Im not sure I really qualify to make suggestions for this but how about adding a bug hotel into one of the lower house badges? It shouldn't be too hard for a relative beginner and needn't take up too much space in a backyard situation.
I think these ideas above are so interedting. Good luck!
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Amanda Launchbury-Rainey wrote:Im not sure I really qualify to make suggestions for this but how about adding a bug hotel into one of the lower house badges? It shouldn't be too hard for a relative beginner and needn't take up too much space in a backyard situation.
I think these ideas above are so interedting. Good luck!


Amanda, is making a 'bug hotel' not more like woodworking than gardening?
 
Mandy Launchbury-Rainey
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Mike Haasl
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My hunch is that bug and mason bee hotels are to be covered in Animal Husbandry, possibly for a vegan focus.  Maybe that was just random chatter I picked up on and not official.  So it is a good idea that I think is going to be included somewhere...
 
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