Book Notes: The Permaculture Handbook :: Case Study B

Here are my highly personal notes on the second of four case studies, Case Study B: Jerome’s Organics, Basalt, Colorado, in Peter Bane’s The Permaculture Handbook (2012). Any misrepresentations of Bane’s words or work are mine alone and completely unintentional. Notes on each chapter linked here.


“Like some alpine flowers, Jerome has developed and refined a tiny but persistent niche in this mountain community.” — Peter Bane 

Case Study B is of an 8-acre property — only 1/2 acre of which is actively gardened and productive — at 7,200 feet elevation on a western slope of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, down the valley from Aspen. USDA zone 4a trending to 5b, with 17 inches precipitation annually (mostly snowfall) and 300 days of sunshine per year. Ecosystem: “A full suite of wildlife: mountain lion, bighorn sheep, elk, mule deer, turkey, black bear and smaller creatures range through an extremely vertical landscape dissected by steep ravines.”

It’s an organic farm established in 1982, selling salad greens, edible flowers, herbs, figs (the figs have borne fruit — from August through October — for 20 years in a greenhouse), and nursery stock. “Virtually, everything productive about the site has come from Jerome’s persistence and ingenuity.” Cloches, greenhouses, fences, and waste products from the town (leaves, food) were used to get things growing in poor soil, in a difficult climate (frequent frosts, a long winter), and among hungry wild critters.

rabbits (raised for food), greenhouses with plants, worms, a hammock, a sauna, papayas …

Bane goes into some detail about Jerome’s greenhouses — if you’re thinking of using them to extend your season, even to grow year-round, you’ll want to read this section, which begins, “Greenhouses gave Jerome an early economic advantage, enabling him to raise crops that couldn’t otherwise be grown for a thousand miles around.” He can grow banana, chayote vines, pomegranates, papayas, citrus, agaves, and aloes. He’s got subtropical, desert, and Mediterranean fruit guilds in the greenhouses, which he also uses as a subtropical living room during the cold winters. If you’re really inspired or motivated, check out The Forest Garden Greenhouse: How to Design and Manage an Indoor Permaculture Oasis by Jerome Osentowski (Chelsea Green, Oct. 2015).

Nitrogen-fixing trees and shrubs, which Jerome coppices regularly for mulch, are plentiful on the property, as well as mature fruit trees (apples, apricots, cherries, grapes, pears, and plums) and walnut trees.


He also established the Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute (CRMPI), which runs a CSA-farm school to train young people as farmers. Local high schools and middle schools have forest gardens, and Basalt High School has a climate-battery grow-dome. The CRMPI produced a DVD, Natural Controls for Noxious Weeds.

a pond on the property – water is an issue in this climate, and Jerome has four sources


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