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Hurricane Irene: The Road to Resiliency

Two years ago Hurricane Irene ravaged Vermont—displaced families, isolated communities, and washed away homes, roads and bridges.

Many communities and families are still rebuilding from the devastation caused by this powerful storm—a storm that hit Vermont harder than almost any other state.

Could much of the damage caused by Hurricane Irene—and similar storms—be prevented by implementing some basic permaculture principles on open land? Below, Ben Falk convincingly argues that point using video from his research farm taken during Hurricane Irene to show how swales can productively retain water on farmland.

Hurricane Irene and Swales at the WSRF from Ben Falk on Vimeo.

Nothing defines the nature of a place more than water. The quantity, qualities, forms, distribution, and intensity of its entry into a landscape determine nearly everything else that happens ecologically in a place,” Falk writes in his recent book The Resilient Farm and Homestead. “Though there are many physical aspects of a place, including the type of bedrock, soils, and climate, it is the play of water that most directly determines an ecosystem’s behavior and capacity for production or regeneration. Thus, the most optimal design within which to fit human activities in a place start and end with water.”

As we continue to rebuild and look for ways to become more resilient in the wake of these powerful, and unpredictable, storms, Falk urges us to consider how we can slow, spread and sink our water according to the condition, climate and needs of the landscape.

Though we cannot always accurately predict the weather, we can prepare to endure anomalies with care and consideration in our design.

August 29, 2013: Farm and Homestead Resiliency Strategies with Ben Falk
As part of their Summer Workshop Series, NOFA-VT and Ben Falk host a tour and report on the Whole Systems Design Research Farm. Register for the workshop and start preparing your pressing permaculture questions!


Essential Earth Day Reading from Chelsea Green

In 1970, the first Earth Day celebrations were organized across college campuses in the United States, sparking a movement that Chelsea Green has both inspired and been inspired by for more than three decades. Today, as folks across the country prepare for a Peoples Climate March in Washington, D.C. next weekend, we’re pausing to reflect on how […] Read More

Chelsea Green embraces new vision

After 33 years in business, Chelsea Green Publishing has decided it’s time to re-energize the company with a new mission and vision statement. In light of the current world situation, it seems like “the politics and practices of Viking living” is the way to go. “We tested the water with Make Mead Like a Viking, […] Read More

Chelsea Green Seeks Editorial Intern

Chelsea Green Publishing, independent Vermont book publisher, seeks an Editorial Intern for help with administrative tasks, to start June 1, 2017. This will be a paid, full-time internship for a duration of 3 months. Applicants must have attention to detail, the ability to prioritize, strong writing skills, and an interest in sustainability and the following […] Read More

Chelsea Green is Hiring!

Publish books that change the world. Do you have a passion for sustainable living? Are you concerned about the future of our planet and committed to doing something about it? Do you love to read and are you fascinated by the changes underway in the publishing industry? Then you could be our next Digital Marketing […] Read More

In Remembrance: Toby Hemenway

It is with deep sadness that we announce the death of Toby Hemenway, a beloved teacher, author, and permaculturalist. In October of 2015, Toby was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Despite treatment that seemed to be working, the cancer returned this fall, and eventually Toby signed up for home hospice on December 16, 2016. He died […] Read More
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