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Hoverfly Hollow

A Permaculture demonstration research and development site

6’ high wind row consisting of woody debris ready for burial to create a hugelkultur (“hill culture”) mound. The purpose of a hugelkultur mound is to act as a porous sponge to capture water and air below the surface of the soil, improving habitat for microbiota that convert minerals into bioavailable energy for plant growth, also reducing the need for irrigation.

Permaculture is a necessary future.

Permaculture is often defined as “Permanent” + “Agriculture”, but that is not an accurate current reflection of the design methodology, as Permaculture encompasses far more than just agriculture.  It is rather the conscious design of a conservation based socioeconomic system.

The term “Permaculture” was created by the late, great Bill Mollison of Tasmania (R.I.P. 2016), and great, but not late David Hollmgren of Australia in the 1970s.  The premise is a response of observing the self maintaining natural processes of the greater ecological systems (forests, primarily) and contrasting them with the impacts of waste and pollution from the conventional industrialized society which began in earnest in the mid 19th century.

In nature, nothing is wasted.  All natural waste is recycled in processes which in turn become assets to elements of the system, which in turn build more waste, and so on, creating a surplus of resources, which continue to build over time without human intervention.  Most of these processes have been in place long before modern humans inhabited the Earth.

Human life has been changed significantly by the industrial revolution, this website is a product of such development. Much of the initial negative impacts of pollution have been addressed and significantly reduced, and waste has decreased significantly, but there is much room for improvement in nearly all industries and more importantly, individual considerations of energy expenditure and the specifics of supply chains supporting products, services, and the activities we choose.

The current period (2017) is a transition period that is a fusion of industrial and ecological focus.  Modern homes, transportation, and current socioeconomic policies are still largely based on the premise of anthropocentric (self interest) instead of ecocentric (ecological interest).  Most people realize that we are living a conundrum: We value the luxuries of modern life, but who values the waste and pollution caused by the the energy that enabled these luxuries to be possible?

  There is a balance between the cost and benefits to such an existence, and while the benefits increase at a moderately slow rate, the costs are increasing at a higher rate. Permaculture is essentially a study and application of the conservation of resources to decrease the costs and maintain the benefits.  It is not an objective process. It is a continuous consideration of goals and consequences. 

Finishing the hugelkultur mound with broken down wood chips to prevent erosion and add carbon, minerals and nutrients for building high quality soil.  Susan Kegerreis, certified permaculture designer sits at the end of the hugel.

SMALL (<5A!) FARMS ARE THE MOST PRODUCTIVE FARMS!  Want more information? Read THIS.


A single summer (yellow) squash (Curcurbita pepo <cultivar>) planted in close proximity with Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) on overturned yard grass growing in mostly sand, mineralized with Azomite and mulched with broken down wood chips produced over 80 squash! Lemon balm is a companion plant to summer squash.  Based on our observations, companion planting produces significantly higher yields compared to mono cropping (planting one species of plant only). The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has published studies supporting that small farms are more efficient (productivity per area) than broad scale agriculture, worldwide.  There is huge room for improvement for conserving farm land resources and reducing energy consumption to produce high quality local food. Read more here.

Geoff Kegerreis, preparing to remove ~200 stumps from a previously marginal quality forest site into conversion of high quality organic agriculture demonstration site.  This grapple skidder is one of the most expedient tools to pull stumps out of the ground.  Thank you to Van Duinen forest products for loaning this 56,000 lb. machine.

Hoverfly Hollow  An 8-acre parcel with a very high natural vegetative and topographical diversity in a cold, humid climate.  It is a continuous experiment in design, observed function, and serves to not only support Timberline Forestry’s interests, or the interests of the current owners, but the interest of the future owners and offers insight for the portion of humanity who reside in temperate humid climates over time.

Burying woody debris with a Gehl skid steer and Terex 1y bucketThank you to George Giftos for loaning me your machine!

Some things we have been and are currently working on:

1. Landscape modification, seasonal hydrological function, and affects on the growth of vegetation and fungi.
2. The maintenance of useful non-indigenous vegetation and communities.
3. Silvicultural activities and response in vegetative growth.
4. Vegetation density and response in vegetative growth.
5. Expanded range of indigenous vegetation and observed production levels.
6. Woody debris structure and wildlife habitat presence.
7. Testing vegetation resiliency for foot and powered wheelchair (trails) traffic.
8. Multiple strategies of preventing or reducing wildlife damage.
9. Multiple strategies of adjusting wildlife travel, bedding, foraging, and nesting habits.

Some things we plan to work on in the near future:

1. Alternative structural design (super ferrocement, post and beam, straw bale, and cordwood construction tests)
2. The effects of solar geometry on heat and light capture
3. The comparison of non-conventional building materials on light, heat capture and storage
3. Indoor and outdoor aquaculture
4. Non-conventional energy production, transfer and storage methods.

Geoff Kegerreis, at the top of the ridge with the hollow below in the background.

A prototype modified dome greenhouse structure.  This greenhouse was constructed intermittently during the winter of 2014.  It is made of 1/2” electrical metallic tubing (emt) welded together into (4) substructures held together by 8 wing nuts.  It is portable, and modular to the extent it would be quite easy to add sections to increase the length of the unit when necessary. The primary glazing is Amerilux multilite (purchased from Menard’s home centers) 6mm twin wall polycarbonate and the upper glazing is 5mm Solexx, supplied by my local friend Doug Gingrich of Indoor Grower’s Edge in Cadillac, Michigan (Thanks, Doug! and Thanks Solexx for sending the sample!) This small 10’w x 8’d x 7’6h greenhouse has housed over 1,000 seedlings at once in the past. On one sunny winter day at exactly 0 degrees Farenheight, it remained in the 60s inside the greenhouse, with only a polyethylene tarp on the backside of the greenhouse. Greenhouses are an excellent way to extend the growing season in cold climates, and most of the continental United States is a cold climate. This prototype was built to experiment with light and heat capture as a precursor to a larger, more permanent super insulated structure. Prototypes are very useful in the research and development stage of creating any purposeful product.  We are perpetual experimenters and observationists here at Hoverfly Hollow.

Q. What on Earth is a hoverfly?

A. It is a grower’s friend!

More info about hoverflies here.


A swale (in partial completion) showing the action of water being held along the contour of the grade.  The surface of the water is held level by the ditch and berm (right side of ditch).  When the swale becomes full, the water rises and excess water is removed through the outlet, fortified with rock to prevent erosion. The water level reaches a maximum of 12”-18”.  The water will slowly seep through the bottom of the swale, keeping the area damp and moist for a much longer period than it would have, had the surface water just rolled right down the hill and into the wetlands. The purpose of this swale is to slow water, increasing biological capacity of the soils, and eliminating the need for irrigation during extended periods of drought. To see a picture of this swale in its completed state, click HERE.

Site tours available by request. There is much to see.  Contact me for more information.

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