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.
“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!