On March 5 the Club was fortunate to learn more about the concepts of permaculture and hugelkultur from area farmer Chad Van Tol who practices both at his Benzie County farm, Cold Creek Permaculture.
Chad explained permaculture as a set of  agricultural and social design principles that model or utilize patterns observed in natural surroundings.  An example: if  an area of the farm is found to support a thriving population of wild strawberries, then it is a likely location for successful cultivated strawberries.  He also practices minimally invasive cultivation techniques that allow the naturally occurring microbes in the soil to affix nutrients.  This in turn results in produce that has significantly higher levels of naturally occurring nutrients.  Another example provided was avoiding a monoculture in his orchard.  To avoid species-specific diseases that are spread from tree to tree, he alternates varieties of apples or other fruit trees reducing the opportunity for infection.
Hugulkultur is the creation of a low to no dig bed by burying trees in stacks in such a way as to capitalize on the natural flow of water.  Water is retained in the soil rather than running off,  and the ongoing decomposition of the trees in the soil leads to a highly productive bed that can be easily harvested.
Finally, we again got an education on the ability of his potbelly pigs to enhance the soil in a way no other fertilizer could achieve.  This was  a lesson learned from our speaker from Lost Lake Farm in Honor