Spiral Ridge’s Design Studio is a professional ecological design firm servicing Tennessee and the southeast U.S.
Spiral Ridge is committed to regenerating land and culture by integrating innovative technologies within the field of regenerative agriculture, permaculture homesteading, agrarian villages and urban farms. We see the following systems and technologies necessary because of their ability to make use of renewable energy, mitigate drought, increase profits, create resilient ecosystems, regenerate soil, improve nutrition, sequester carbon, increase biodiversity and save family farms.
Below is a list of practices we employ to make our designs functional, productive, resilient, and ecological. Click the link to see our design services to get a better idea how we can help you with your project. Contact us for our client design package and price list.
Permaculture is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive
ecosystems, which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people providing their food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way. Without permanent agriculture there is no possibility of a stable social order. Permaculture design is a system of assembling conceptual, material and strategic components in a pattern which functions to benefit life in all its forms.
Edible Forest Gardens
“Forest gardening is an idea whose time has come. We can consciously apply the principles of ecology to the design of home scale gardens that mimic forest ecosystem structure and function, but grow food, fuel, fiber, fodder, fertilizer, “farmaceuticals,” and fun. Indeed, we must begin learning to apply ecological principles to the design of our food production systems now—we are rapidly approaching or are already at the peak of planetary oil production, and the world of energy descent is upon us. This sea change in our culture will require that we learn to live within our energetic means and begin to rebuild ecosystems that support human and humane lives without diminishing the ability of the ecosystem to support our children and grandchildren.” Dave Jacke
We have trained with Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeier over the past three years learning how to design and build these dynamic edible ecosystems. When it comes to small scale permaculture, edible forest gardening is the best approach.
“The Keyline Plan is a set of principles, techniques, and systems, which coordinate into a development plan for rural and urban landscapes. The result is a strategic master plan to develop the natural or existing landscape through its regeneration and enhancement.” (Yeomans, Water for Every Farm)
We work with the natural climate and lay of the land to bring your property to its most productive potential with little to no off-farm inputs. We have access to a Keyline® Plow to service your land. We were trained by Darren Doherty and Owen Hablutzel on Keyline® Design and have been using the technique on farms across middle Tennessee.
Keyline® Subsoil plow
We use a Hybrid Yeomans subsoil plow to break up anaerobic soil compaction layers while leaving the majority of the surface intact. This way, erosion is not an issue following the use of the plow. The slits that are cut in the land allow air and moisture into the soil which spurs biological growth.
Roots are also able to grow deeper and faster and, with the help of all the new soil biology, are able to convert subsoil into biologically active topsoil. The plow is equipped with Seed Shaker Pots that seed directly into the rips. The plow also has two compost tea barrels that pour biologically active compost tea into the rips.
Soil Food Web and Remineralization
Nurturing and regenerating soil is a top priority for us and should be for anyone tending the land. We use the work of Elaine Ingham, a proponent of establishing healthy soil biology through proper use of compost and teas, to reestablish this vital component of soil. When necessary, we also use Remineralization to heal degraded soils and grow the most nutrient dense crops possible. We regularly spray high quality compost tea on our homestead, as seen in the picture to the left.
Agroforestry is an integrated approach of using the interactive benefits from combining trees and shrubs with crops and/or livestock. It combines agricultural and forestry technologies to create more diverse, productive, profitable, healthy, and regenerative land-use system.
Agroforestry systems can be advantageous over conventional agricultural and forest production methods. They can offer increased productivity, economic benefits, and more diversity in the ecological goods and services provided.
Biodiversity in agroforestry systems is typically higher than in conventional agricultural systems. With two or more interacting plant species in a given land area, it creates a more complex habitat that can support a wider variety of birds, insects, and other animals.
Agroforestry is the best way to transition from an annual energy intensive agriculture to a perennial regenerative agriculture.
Holistic management describes a systems thinking approach to managing resources that builds biodiversity, improves production, generates financial strength, enhances sustainability, and improves the quality of life for those who use it.
At its core, the holistic decision making framework uses the holistic goal to guide decision making. The holistic goal ties people’s desired way of life, based on what they value most deeply (materially and spiritually), to the ecosystems and resources that support their vision. All actions and decisions are tested to determine whether or not they will help reach the established holistic goal. Testing and management guidelines, planning procedures and a feedback loop assure constant monitoring of the success of decisions.
The holistic management framework also considers the key role that animals play in renewing the land, and recognizes the nature and importance of four basic ecosystem processes: the water cycle, the mineral cycle, energy flow, and community dynamics (the relationship between organisms in an ecosystem). The framework identifies eight tools for managing these ecosystem processes: human creativity, technology, rest, fire, grazing, animal impact, living organisms, and money and labor.
We were trained in Holistic Management from Owen Hablutzel and Kirk Gadzia.
Holistic Planned Grazing/Browsing
“The opportunities that exist for changes in grazing management are many and diverse. Maintaining set stocking invariably caused species change in the plant cover and often promoted rates of soil loss greater than soil formation rates. Rotational, time-control, cell, holistic, pulse, high intensity/short time, are all grazing systems that limit the time when plants are exposed to animals. Longer periods between grazings promote greater species diversity and more complex age structure. Longer recovery also increases leaf area index, which could be important for returning ecosystems to a more balanced hydrology. Greater leaf area increases the potential for sunlight capture and thus maximises growth potential using a free and renewable energy source – the sun. Greater leaf area means larger root systems, which adds to soil organic matter and root biomass, both major determinants for prolific soil life. Better ground cover results in more effective use of rainfall, reducing run-off and erosion.” (White, 2003).
With proper management animal grazing can help:
- eliminate upstream erosion
- create microbial rich soils with deep-rooted perennial grasses
- increase the water cycles for wells and springs
- provide a fertile understory for forest and orchard systems.
“Bamboo is a versatile, income producing crop. You can harvest and sell bamboo shoots in spring and early summer. You can cut and sell poles in summer or fall. When you cut the poles you can feed the tops to livestock. They will strip the poles of leaves. You can run poultry under the bamboo canopy. These birds will eat weeds and the small bamboo “grass” that comes up. Meanwhile their droppings fertilize the grove. Move them to a new section as they clear the ground. This is a great addition to all farming systems.” Daphne Lewis Bamboo Farming
We are long time lovers and proponents of bamboo. We have trained with Adam Turtle, co-director of the Earth Advocates Research Farm and owner of a bamboo nursery.
We also specialize in: