Tag Archives: water harvesting

DIY Mulch Pit Greywater System

Greywater is a resource that can be awesome if capitalized upon, especially on a farm with unpredictable rainfall. We’ve just finished a simple greywater system that we’re pretty darn happy with.

Up at the woolshed we have two greywater sources: the washing machine, and the outside sink. Both these water sources provide pulses of water that could be helping grow a gorgeous living environment if used properly, so after a good deal of talking about it we finally did something… Continue reading

The saga of the middle dam

First off, i would like to make an important point: we are yet to meet a challenge at Milkwood Farm that we could not fix with careful thought, good advice, relentless research, a strong dose of creativity and a stronger dose of humor. That said, the saga of the middle dam nearly had us stumped. But we got there in the end, with a strong brew of the above.

Secondly, I would like to point out that sharing our challenges so nakedly on this blog is not something I really enjoy doing. Sometimes I would rather paint a rosy picture of first-generation farmers awash in successfully implemented permaculture solutions and photogenic fields of nitrogen-fixing perennials. But hey – where’s the fun in that? Continue reading

Gravity fed water for Milkwood Farm

One of the most powerful concepts in permaculture for me is ‘keep the water high’. All water stored high in the landscape is potential energy, thanks in part to gravity. If your water is high, you can make that water available to everything below it in the landscape, via gravity feed and piping, with no energy spent on pumps. At all. Which makes for one resilient landscape.

So when it came to designing the rainwater harvesting for our drinking water at Milkwood Farm, we knew we wanted to store the water high. This way, if we didn’t have power for some reason, we would still have drinking water at our house, because we wouldn’t be relying on a pump to deliver the water to us. But we aren’t building our home on top of the hill – so how to get the water up there? Continue reading

Water Tank comparisons for drinking water: defining clean and green

All drinking water at Milkwood Farm comes from the sky. This means catchment and storage of drinking-quality water is a very big deal for us. And since we’ve got the opportunity to define the quality of our drinking water here (a luxury so many millions of people do not have), we’re determined to get it as healthy as we possibly can. Both for our family, and for this planet of ours.

Which led us to the seemingly mundane but actually quite complex task of selecting water tanks for drinking water. Which kind to go with? Plastic, aquaplate, cement or stainless steel? Continue reading

Re-setting the spillways

Our very full swale snaking past the house and into our very full dam

For the last 2 and a half years we have waited for the big rain which would test the capacity of our water-harvesting earthworks. And waited. We’ve had a bit of rain here and there, but the summers have been hot and dry these last two years, and we had gotten used to life with half-full dams and swales which were good roads, but rarely wet.

And then, when we least expected it, our system filled up. Finally. Continue reading

Water and me. And you.

garlic chives and pear tree

Water woz ere. A clearly hydrated landscape thanks to good hydrological design at Strathcona Community Garden, Vancouver Canada

We’re all becoming acutely aware of the value of water. And so we should, as water’s role in our lives and in the planets’ cycles cannot really be understated. When designing and planning a Permaculture system, it’s top of the list – the order goes: Water, Access, Structure. Design and sort out your water catchments and systems before you design anything else. Give them priority. Water is not an optional extra. Without water, you’re stuffed.

So it’s very strange to consider that, in most temperate and dryland urban biospheres (and, god help us, many rural ones), water is not top of the list in terms of how living systems are designed, and therefore how our lives are led. Designing water into our landscape is still seen by many as an optional extra in terms of habitat and urban design. Because worst case scenario, you can just turn on a tap. Or a drill a hole down to the shrinking ground water. Water is still seen as someone else’s problem, or something we deserve to be handed on a plate with no conditions or responsibilities. Continue reading

Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands


Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond is a much awarded series of titles out of the USA by Brad Landcaster. Brad’s a Permie who has worked extensively in grassroots greywater re-use and has also worked on many community projects in both developing and developed nations in the realms of rainwater harvesting systems.

Volume I focuses on designing and implementing rainwater harvesting systems for domestic, rural and community use, with a wide range of examples form various countries. Drylands processes are emphasized, but there’s plenty of other examples and the techniques hold true for any biosphere. It’s a great overview of the basics of rainwater harvesting for a range of environments, and full of tips and tricks for designing a complete system, or for the 1% rule of small, slow solutions. Continue reading


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