Open House- March 2014: How Community Can Respond to Global Climate Change

Afternoon Workshop
Randall Jamrock – How Community Can Respond to Global Climate Randall JChange                                                                     

And His Report on the International Permaculture Convergence hosted in Cuba, Nov. 2013

 Randall Jamrok practices permaculture in Northwest Indiana and took his permaculture certificate training from Midwest Permaculture here in Stelle, IL. He recently attended the International Permaculture Convergence (IPC) in Cuba.

cuba picture randal jIt was his goal to bring what was the theme of the conference “Permaculture Solutions to Climate Change” back to his community and to the greater Midwest. This presentation is about the permaculture solutions to climate change that he learned while at the IPC and while touring many Cuban urban gardens and organoponicos (organic farms that came about during Cuba’s special period).

 After returning from Cuba, Randall put together a booklet based on the knowledge he took from the convergence: “Permaculture Solutions to Climate Change: Pieces of the Puzzle Learned at the IPC 11 Cuba.” It includes five main solutions and sixty seven additional solutions for communities to implement that are presented in a checklist-style format which can be used to prioritize and set goals. In the booklet he explains that it is imperative for communities to redesign the social system they use in their interpersonal communication first, since a dysfunctional community will likely fail at the important task of creating sustainable agricultural systems. The booklet is a tool that communities can use for taking on collective projects that will effect systemic change.

Pictures from the urban gardens and other permaculture sites in Cuba will be featured and discussed as well.

This workshop will benefit those interested in community-building and community redesign (e.g., Transition Towns), social permaculture and redesigning food and shelter systems, as well as learning about Cuban urban gardens and their history.

To prepare for the coming changes we will likely change some of the ways we live by becoming conscious of–and by cooperating with–each other and the natural world.  Therefore, the discussion at this workshop will tie in with Midwest Permaculture co-founder Bill Wilson’s Agraria concept: combining the best aspects of suburbia and the farm to create a new tiny-village concept.


October 2013 Open House: Agraria – The Tiny-Village Concept



It’s not suburbia…and it’s not living an isolated life on the farm either.  

It is combining the best of neighborly-suburban living with being on the farm. The ‘tiny-home’ concept is grabbing hold in America.  It’s time to apply permaculture thinking to the ‘tiny-village’ concept.

Bill Wilson will host this talk and lead a tour of the CSC land.

Afternoon Workshop on Agraria – with Bill Wilson of Midwest Permaculture
What is it like to live in abundance and security? This will be an introduction to a lifestyle alternative — living close to the land, using natural building supplies and techniques, being mortgage free and having neighbors you cherish.  Bill will discuss how this might work and feel for the residents of such a place. 


 The Permaculture Design for the CSC is an example of an Agrarian Life

bill wilson

Bill Wilson will host the afternoon workshop. He is a co-founder of Midwest Permaculture with his wife and partner Rebecca and has hosted and taught at over 40 Permaculture Design Courses.

He also teaches Advanced Permaculture Training and provides permaculture design services and consulting.

Join Bill as he draws from his 35 years of research and experience in community living and permaculture design centered on working with nature.   Bill will discuss how it is possible to live abundantly off the land in a way that builds soil and people.  It is certainly possible. It can be as simple as education, research, and the willingness to move toward the beat of a different drum.  

June Open House: Permaculture Design Tour and Cob Building Intro

What’s it like to live, work, and play every day as a permaculturist?  See our design updates and learn to make some cob!
cob feet 2

This one-day Open House will be on June 8th, 10am-4:00pm.
In the morning, we will take a walking tour of town and show you some of the neighborhood’s examples of sustainable living–our wind turbine, rain gardens, and more.  In the afternoon, we will feature an introductory tour highlighting some of our recent work on the CSC landscape and including a cob-making tutorial.  And . . . stay overnight to take Midwest Permaculture’s Rocket Stove workshop on June 9th!

12:30 pmLUNCH
                              (meet at the Stelle community center)

We appreciate your contributions of $10 for the morning tour and lunch and $15 for the afternoon workshop. If you are coming for just the afternoon workshop, please arrive before the workshop begins.
Space can be limited, so please call or email to reserve a spot.  For more information on how to sign up, please click here.


Afternoon Workshop:
What’s it like to live, work, and play every day as a Permaculturist?
Our introductory tour and cob building intro will give you a glimpse into this world.

IMG_4996Mary-Kate Carter is a current intern who has been working to implement features of the permaculture design on the CSC property.  She will share our progress in the garden, pond, and chicken production, as well as her perspective in the continuing journey of building permaculture systems in the Midwest.  Mary-Kate is using her design skills from Austin Permaculture Guild (as well as Midwest Permaculture) in creating everything from chicken coops to food forests.

Midwest Permaculture’s resident intern Hayden Wilson will join us for the afternoon; Hayden has worked extensively in permaculture design and holds a Permaculture Teaching Certificate (more about Hayden can be found here).  


Get an insider’s perspective on our internship and survey the giant leaps we’ve made in making our design a reality.  

We will tour CSC’s 8.7-acre landscape that adjoins Stelle, focusing on our new developments, including our newly-planted linear food forest, water harvesting via a solar pump, new mobile chicken tractor, and more!  We will also have a hands-on cob-making tutorial to show how we made our earthen oven from the ground beneath our feet!

Stay updated on what our interns are designing & building via our blog.

Stelle’s Annual Celebration of the Earth, May 5th

Hours:  10 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Regular Tours and Events

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPlease join us for Stelle’s annual Celebration of the Earth this May 5th. As tradition goes, various members of our community wish to share and educate others of their gifts and talents that are recognized as being inspired or modeled after some of the wonderful patterns and processes that the Earth shares with us.

Tour of the Off-Grid Stelle Telephone Company -1:00pm
Tim Wilhelm manager of the Stelle Telephone Company and Professor of Renewable Energy Technologies at Kankakee Community College will give a history and overview of Stelle Telephone. Stelle Telephone was the first totally solar powered digital telephone exchange and the first solar powered internet service provider in the U.S.

Jon and June Haemes’ Straw Bale Home with PV tour! 2:00pm
A bit too far to walk but just 3 and a half mile drive, the Haemes’ home was the first straw bale home built in Illinois. Jon works for Trina Solar as a technical support manager. He used his solar powered work trailer to power all his tools used to build the home. About 30 residents of Stelle helped stack the straw bales in a single day. Jon will also talk abou the ARE 110 wind generator and its energy saving features.

Kids Garden and Pond Activities – All Day at the Pond
(Children should be accompanied by an adult)

This year we are bringing back a time-honored tradition of having family activities in the community garden. Here are the activities that are planned so far:

Kids' Activities

Kids’ Activities will be going on throughout the day in the garden.

  • Family Fishing
  • Seed Planting
  • Garden Art
  • Nature Hunt

Join us throughout the day in between our other programs.  The activities are all simple and low key, but the more the merrier.  We will request that parents accompany children 10 years and younger. (Only a limited number of families will be able to fish at one time since we are furnishing the cane poles)

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April Open House: Applied Permaculture Demo

165486_10151414058102851_1770827148_nTake an in-depth look at how to build resiliency, one neighborhood at a time.  We will explore both cases of applying permaculture to the landscape–backyard examples as well as community endeavors here in Stelle.  We will demonstrate scaling-up:

  • from individual rain gardens to linear food forests
  • from backyard gardening plots to garden co-operatives
  • from backyard hens to pastured chicken production
  • and more!

In the morning, we will take a walking tour of Stelle and show you some of the neighborhood’s examples of sustainable living–our wind turbine, rain gardens, and more.  After lunch, we will tour CSC’s 8.7-acre property that adjoins Stelle, focusing on its current community use and future design aims, and will also touch upon how to design self-directed work enterprises and foster social permaculture.


This presentation will be a joint program by Rebecca Wilson, co-founder of Midwest Permaculture (shown right), and Ernest Rando, CSC member and permaculturist in Stelle.

12:30 pmLUNCH
We appreciate your contributions of $10 for the morning tour and lunch and $15 for the afternoon workshop.
Join us! For more information on how to sign up, please click here.

March Open House: Chicken Basics and Ethically Raising Them

That Spring Chicken Thing
March Open House Features “Ethics: The Basics of Raising Chickens Workshop”
It’s almost springtime, when chicks will arrive here and in many first-time chicken owner families throughout the country.  Join us and discover why keeping chickens is becoming so popular.  

In the morning, we will take a walking tour of Stelle and show you some of the neighborhood’s examples of sustainable living–our wind turbine, rain gardens, and more.  After lunch, CSC member and permaculturalist Ernest Rando (pictured above) will present strategies for raising chickens ethically in both urban and suburban environments.  We will spend time handling 50 broiler chicks and three hens that live in a sustainable backyard paddock system.  If you are considering keeping chickens for the first time, this workshop is for you!

12:30 pmLUNCH

We appreciate your contributions of $10 for the morning tour and lunch and $15 for the afternoon workshop.

Join us! For more information on how to sign up, please click here.

November Open House: Sustainable Home Tour

Handmade Thermal Mass Rocket Stove – Finished Concrete Floors

CSC Open House:  November 18th, 2012
Sustainable Home Tour at the Malchows’ 

Come take an in-depth tour of  Wayne and Bev Malchows’ property!  They have implemented numerous sustainable features into their house and yard.  Wayne is a permaculture design course graduate and used his training to improve his home.  Learn how.

We’ll explore:

  • a thermal mass rocket stove (more about these),
  • their garage made of strawbales, 
  • an earthen plastered wall over Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (AAC) blocks in the house, 
  • stained and finished concrete floors, 
  • and a permaculture planted yar

A 2 Year Old Willow Hedge – Free from Pond Over-growth

Making Cob for the Rocket Heate

1200 sq/ft. Home, AAC Walls, Weather proof exterior plaster, Earthen plaster on inside

How to Organize a Large-Group Visit to CSC


School Field Trips and Large-Group Tours

Over the years we have hosted many groups requesting a visit to Stelle. Tour groups have ranged from college students and their instructors, who seek fresh insights into sustainable living, to local public-school children who romp through our orchards and gardens in the fall and get hands-on experience making their own apple cider using an old-time cider press. For more information call 815-256-2204 or e-mail us at [email protected] Group tours are managed on request and tailored to meet specific needs.

Workshop: CSC Land Tour

CSC Land Tour

August 1, 2010 1P.M. – 4:30 P.M.

Offered by:
Ed Homeier on the Chicken Cooperative,
Argena Marie on the Orchard, and
George Blackman on the Garden.
Location: CSC, Stelle, IL

Tour Highlights
The CSC recently formed a Land Committee to act as caretakers of its 7- acre property adjacent to Stelle. One of the objectives adopted by the Land Committee is to demonstrate the sustainable production of healthy food while decreasing outside inputs. The land tour offers an opportunity to observe progress toward that goal. Components of the tour are: one half hour at the Chicken Cooperative, one hour at the Orchard and two hours at the Garden.

The Chicken Cooperative Tour
Ten Stelle families established the Chicken Co-op four years ago on the CSC property by written agreement with CSC. The objective was to illustrate the production of chickens for meat and eggs at cost. During the first two years of operation, the co-op raised and harvested two 100-member Rock-Cross rooster flocks, which were fed certified-organic grain blends and grazed, using home-made chicken tractors. Currently, seven families manage a mixed-breed laying flock of 30 hens (Buff Orpingtons and Rhode Island Reds) and four roosters. Eggs are shared at cost among co-op families who sell regularly to families in Stelle at a slightly higher cost. Ed will describe the co-op’s experiences, with attention to the features of the current flock and the coop, which is fitted with solar lights, rain water catchments, and AC power.

Topics on the Chicken Cooperative Tour:

  • How the co-op works: members, duties, finances, etc
  • Breed selections
  • Feeding options
  • Seasonal care
  • Medical Care of the flock

The Orchard Tour
The CSC orchard contains over 100 mature fruit trees. Argena is a member of an orchard co-operative established by written agreement with the CSC to use a variety of organic techniques to restore this 35-plus year old orchard. Argena has also worked with children, passing on her knowledge to the next generation. Two goals of the Orchard Co-op are to improve the tree-health, creating high quality fruit, and to develop a park-like environment. Tour participants will be invited to take home some of the ripe apples and pears from this year’s crop.

Topics on the Orchard Tour

  • The Orchard Co-operative and how it works
  • The Junior Orchard club and how it works
  • Results of different pruning techniques
  • Pests and preventive options
  • Seasonal care for the trees
  • Mowing and mulching

The Garden Tour
The tour will conclude with an overview of the CSC gardens, describing what has been planted this year. Different growing methods will be identified, along with the features of our composting systems. George will then focus on the Bio-intensive growing method which affords more vegetables on less land using less water than other methods. He will demonstrate one of the features of this time-tested method, “double-digging” cultivation, which he is using to create a new garden bed for a fall crop. Participants will receive handouts and references for further study.

Topics on the Garden Tour:

  • Double- digging: tools needed, preparing the bed, how to dig, benefits of the method and planting in the new bed.
  • Creating a living mulch in the bed 
  • Companion planting 
  • Pests and organic solutions
  • Growing various vegetables
  • Seed saving

Registration for this event
The cost of the 3½ hour Land Tour is $35.

An optional free Open House Tour of the Stelle Community will begin at 10:30 and, at an additional cost of $10, you are also invited to share a lunch featuring locally grown and organic foods in the Stelle Community Center. The lunch will begin at noon followed by the workshop at 1:00. We hope you can join us!