The Permaculture Podcast

    Episode 1477: Integrated Forest Gardening with Bryce Ruddock


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    My guest today is Bryce Ruddock, a permaculture practitioner and co-author, along with Wayne Weiseman and Daniel Halsey, of Integrated Forest Gardening.

    After speaking with Bryce and reading the book I find him to be a guru on creating functional plant guilds. We talk about that topic as well as how to discover ecological niches and system mimics so that we can adapt our designs to ever changing conditions, whether they arise from climate change, disease, or simply because a chipmunk or raccoon does not like a particular plant.

    In this interview I mention natural heritage programs. What I was refer to is a specific program that collects and provides information about important natural resources. These are in cooperation with the Nature Serve network covering Canada, the U.S., and Mexico. The Pennsylvania Heritage site was a go to reference I used repeatedly in my resources management program and is a useful resource for permaculture practitioners. The state specific site for me includes material on local plant communities, inventories at the county level of various plants and animals, species lists for the state, as well as ongoing projects and publications. It is worth looking for this kind of program in your area as the wealth of information is a great for your ongoing research when creating a design. A link to the PA site and NatureServe are in the show notes.

    That ongoing research and education is important because we can’t take a Permaculture Design Course and think that is enough. Something one of my teachers imparted on me was that the PDC is just a beginning, our first step. From there we need to develop a niche based on our interests and passions, something David Holmgren recommended, to really know what it is we are doing, to have relevant experience, and be the experts in our areas of interest. In turn we can find people of like mind and take permaculture further. To be able to show examples that work anywhere in the world, and at the same time have the flexibility in our thoughts and a depth of understanding that we can answer questions truthfully. Be willing to say, “I don’t know,” or, “I haven’t done that before,” and a willingness to find a real solution.

    Something else Bryce mentioned was building resilience groups. Resilience groups, as presented at, are a way to build connections that coincide nicely with the transition movement. Resilience groups are a broad umbrella under which we can connect with other people on various topics including the transition movement, farm to school initiatives, and the efforts of Interfaith Power and Light. If you are in an area and considering starting a transition group or other organization to create a more bountiful world, definitely look to see if there are any resilience efforts underway in your area.

    Integrated Forest Gardening
    Plant Guilds eBook
    Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program
    Nature Serve

    I want to thank Jen Mendez at for support of this podcast and her work on teaching permaculture to children. Two ways she does this are through her Education Design Course and EDGE Alliances.

    The Education Design Course (EDC) is a way that you can learn to map a learning landscape to reinvent and redesign what it means to learn, educate, and be educated with children. The next EDC begins on January 9th, 2015.

    The next EDGE Alliance is on Saturday January 10th from 12-1pm EST when Kelly Hogan of the Institute of Permaculture Education for Children (IPEC) returns to share how to integrate traditional permaculture learning into the lives of young children and adolescents.

    After that, on Sunday January 25th, from 8-9pm EST, Jen focuses on New Year’s Resolutions, specifically the goals and actions we are taking to better care for ourselves, our families, our communities, and the earth.

    Find out more about the EDGE Alliances and Education Design Course at

    The Library Project
    A copy of Bryce’s book is being included in the library project. If you haven’t participated already, but would like to be a part of that sign up by sending an email to:

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    1 Comment

    1. RLM McWilliamsRLM McWilliams
      April 12, 2015    

      Appreciate the long-term perspecitve Mr. Ruddock brings to the practice of ‘permaculture’. As he alludes, it is not completely dissimilar to earlier self-sufficiency or ‘back to the land’ movements, particularly in the ’60s and ’70s. It seems that permaculture may have grown out of those earlier eco-and socially minded land-based movements.

      Enjoyed hearing about the doves, but am having trouble seeing how they fill the niche of chickens. Does Ruddock’s family harvest surplus eggs from them? Do they ’till’ or ‘cultivate’ the soil as effectively as chickens? Doves here don’t scratch open the manure piles of the larger livestock harvesting parasite and/or fly larvae and speeding the return of the nutrients to the soil. And, though they are tasty, it takes a few more doves than chickens to feed a family. 🙂 Ideally, it would be doves/pigeons (very similar) AND chickens, maybe.

      But one does what one can within whatever parameters exist, eh? An enjoyable and informative interview of a highly creative permaculture practitioner and teacher.

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