Book Notes: The Permaculture Handbook :: Case Study C

Here are my highly personal notes on the third of four case studies, Case Study C: Old 99 Farm, Dundas, Ontario, Canada, 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.


He’s deliberately chosen a middle path, seeking out old ways of living that are economical and practical, while embracing appropriate and transitional technologies. His strategy calls for reducing dependence on fossil fuels while retaining the convenience of grid systems (rejecting off-grid, primitive and unplugged approaches) — and also eschewing intensive horticultural work (such as that involved in CSA vegetable production) in favor of an experimental mode of research, demonstration and ad hoc marketing.” — Peter Bane 


I could not believe that the USDA zone for Dundas, in the Lake Ontario Basin of Ontario, Canada, at 650 feet of elevation, is 6a! Here in central NH we are 4b. The case study location gets 33″ of precipitation per year (we get about 40″ here).

This particular property is a long, narrow 25 acres (400 feet x 1/2 mile), located 8 miles from the city of Hamilton (over 1/2 million people). Other homes are at suburban distances from this parcel. Ian, a single man in his 50s (with two grown daughters), preparing for energy descent, has been tending the land since 2007; previously, it was conventionally cropped for soybeans.

So far, here’s some of what’s there:

  • solar array with battery backup tied to the electric grid
    — it can run the pump, the fridge, and a few lights
  • contour garden beds and cover cropping (winter rye)
  • hoop houses and greenhouses for winter produce to sell
  • a composting toilet
  • a root cellar
  • insulated space above the garage for guest quarters
  • a stream and pond with wetland plants and aquaculture
  • 3,000 gallons of roofwater storage
  • orchard terraces of apples, pears, and peaches
  • a hobby farm of livestock — heritage Canadian Lineback cattle, chickens, Dorset and Katahdin sheep (with geese and ducks on the way)
Site prep for the two greenhouses; installing the climate battery; erecting greenhouse frames.
Canadiennes cattle; swale for new orchard terraces; pond

Ian is experimenting with biofuels, geothermal, and wind.

Plans include:

  • solar preheated water and hot water on-demand systems
  • organic certification
  • a small cold-storage facility for fruits
  • production aquaculture
  • keyline subsoiling and remineralization for enhanced fertility and water capture
  • outdoor kitchen with grape & kiwi pergola
  • an ethanol project
  • a tree nursery

Eventually he would like to achieve food self-reliance for 12 people with surplus to sell.

Bane feels that the Ian’s challenge is to “develop a supportive community around the farm, including other resident farm help, and beyond that, to develop plans for a transition to his retirement.”

farm stand sign and one of Ian’s large terriers


Featured image: Ian’s Dorset sheep, which can lamb any time of the year. (All photos from Bane’s book.)


Leave a Reply