Tallamy + Permaculture = Nature’s Best Hope

Doug TallamyIn preparation for this celebratory “Earth Month” which includes Earth Day on the 22nd, and Arbor Day on the 29th, our March TRIbe book discussion group featured Doug Tallamy’s latest book, Nature’s Best Hope, which offers the premise of a “Homegrown National Park,” which is created through the collective effort of landowners everywhere to establish individual yards as networked nature conservation areas.  Tallamy proposes the following actions - which align with many permaculture design principles, every landowner can do to make this ecological restoration possible:

  1.  Use NATIVE PLANTS, and remove invasive species. Non-native plants, including hybridized and cloned cultivars of natives, do not adequately support our local ecosystem food web necessary to support the biodiversity that will ensure full ecosystem functioning.  Of primary consideration are food and habitat for CATERPILLARS, which are the foundation of the food web for other species.  Some native trees and shrubs we highly recommend for HUMANS as well as for wildlife include:  Black cherry, native plums, persimmon, paw paw, and serviceberry.       

             Resources for determining good native plant selections include:

    1. Wild Ones:  https://wildones.org/
    2. Pollinator Partnership:  https://www.pollinator.org/guides 
    3. National Wildlife Federation Native Plant Finder: https://www.nwf.org/nativeplantfinder/ 
    4. Dr. John Hilty’s Illinois Wild Flowers website for Illinois gardeners:  www.illinoiswildflowers.info
    5. The Conservation Foundation’s “Conservation@Home”:  https://www.theconservationfoundation.org/conservation-home/  
  1. Shrink your lawn 50% and increase the overall number of plants in your yard.  Follow the permaculture principles, “Design from patterns to details” and “use small, slow solutions,” by adding a few new native plants each year -- make sure you put the right plants in the right place and you don’t have to do it all at once.  This also applies the permaculture principle, “Work with nature rather than against,” when you replace lawn with native resources.
  2. Plant “keystone” species that also support “specialist” pollinators:  Oaks, Black Cherry, Willow, Goldenrods, Asters and Sunflowers, along with your monarch supporting milkweeds. Permaculture principle:  “Work with Nature rather than against it.”
  3. Network with neighbors.  Different yards can provide habitat for different species.  Not every yard can do it all.  Permaculture principles:  “Use and value diversity” and “Integrate, don’t segregate”
  4. Incorporate supportive hardscapes.  Eliminate continuous nighttime lighting (Permaculture principle:  “Produce no waste”), include water for wildlife (Permaculture principle:  “Use edges and value the marginal”), mow lawn to 3-4” (Permaculture principle:  “Catch and store energy”), install several nesting areas (Permaculture principle:  “Use and value diversity”), cover window wells.
  5. Create ground level habitat.  LEAVE YOUR LEAVES which supports pollinator larvae, and make sure soil around plants is not compacted (lawn). Permaculture principles: “Catch and store energy” and “Use and value renewable resources."
  6. Do not use chemicals for fertilization or destruction. Permaculture principle: “Apply self regulation and accept feedback.”
  7. Share your knowledge and talk to your neighbors.  Permaculture principles:  “Observe and interact” and “Integrate, don’t segregate.”

Tallamy provides detailed rationales for each of the above recommendations in the book and we highly recommend reading the book in its entirety for full understanding of the importance for each.  In celebration of Earth Month, we encourage you to pick one recommendation to implement this month, and even better, to additionally create a plan to incorporate as many as possible over the next year or two.

Register for Permaculture Forest Gardener

If you would like to learn how, and be guided through the process to create a plan to transition your own yard, we encourage you to enroll in our Permaculture Forest Gardener certificate course, which starts April 24 and meets once a month live online with our instructor Connie Kollmeyer, or you can take it independently online without the certificate.  Additionally, if you would like to visit and “observe and interact” with gardens and landscapes employing natives and permaculture principles, be sure to enroll in our Permaculture Forest Gardener Field Immersions (almost full)!

TRI + Created for More Ministries = Permaculture

The Resiliency Institute is excited to expand our Growing Food Security program by working together with Created for More Ministries on an inspiring "Seeds for Change" Permaculture Garden project at the Illinois Youth Detention Center in Warrenville, IL!

Wheaton College student, Isabella Wallmow, approached The Resiliency Institute about her idea for the project after seeing our Ferry Forest Garden as she passed it on her way to and from volunteering with her Juvenile Justice Ministry at the youth prison, which is right down the street from the garden on Ferry Rd. in Warrenville. Isabella, with a passion for social justice and a new student of permaculture where, "the problem is the solution," brilliantly identified how the youth at the facility are commonly viewed as unwanted products in our society which if given proper support and direction can easily become valuable resources. We happily jumped on board and the “Seeds for Change” Illinois Youth Center Permaculture Garden Project was born!

Permaculture Design is about systems thinking, integration, and closing loops, so one of the goals of the garden is to include all the systems of the youth center, from the faculty and administrators, to the counselors, to the guards, volunteers, culinary staff, maintenance, visiting families, and the incarcerated youth themselves, so they can all enjoy time in the garden and experience the mental and physical benefits that come with time spent in the outdoors. We plan to include therapeutic and sensory plants, soothing and uplifting herbs, native plants and plants for pollinators, and of course lots of edible, highly nutritious, nurturing food plants in the garden for all who enjoy use of the space. There is an existing gazebo and cookout area in the space that will stay, and we’d love to create an outdoor classroom space to be used for school classes as well as meditation and mindfulness sessions, nature therapy, yoga and more.

TRI Growing Food Security Logo DONATE HERE

One of our favorite times was when clearing out a muddy area and one of the youth was happily relishing his discovery of worms buried in the debris and causing the rest of the youth to scream and recoil in horror--but only for a short while!  After explaining the significance of worms to our food supply, it only took a few minutes for ALL of those in attendance to begin gleefully "rescuing" the worms from the clearing to the raised garden beds from The Growing Works Project last year which we had all just replanted.

The Permaculture garden project not only offers opportunity for learning life skills, job skills, hobbies, nature connection, community connection, and the increased health, independence and food security that comes with growing our own food, but it also offers the opportunity for all involved to learn some Permaculture principles and be inspired by discovering how we can apply them to all areas of our lives, including successful transitions upon completion of time served. Some of the guiding principles of the project that we can apply to our everyday lives in addition to using in the gardening project are:

*Integrate rather than segregate

*Use small and slow solutions

*Apply self-regulation and accept feedback

*Produce no waste (the problem is the solution)

*Use and value diversity

*Use edges and value the marginal

*Creatively use and respond to change

Learn more about the Seeds for Change Permaculture Garden Project and its many potential benefits that Isabella shares in this video. If you’re as excited as we are to support this beneficial project, please consider making a tax-deductible donation toward the project  HERE, and reach out to us or subscribe to our email newsletters for project updates and to watch for future opportunities to support programming in the garden. We are grateful to be part of this work and we appreciate your support for the project, the changes it can inspire in our youth, and the changes they can make in our communities and our future!

Capture and Store Energy

This month we encourage you to focus your attention and efforts to collecting energy.  During the Naperville Earth Fair we helped people make feeders for our nature friends as a place for them to capture some energy.  We constructed five different types of feeders and want to share the simple instructions with everyone so that we can support our birds, butterflies, and nature friends everywhere.  ENJOY!

Fun for the whole family!

1)      Use hammer and nail on wood block to puncture 4-6 holes in lid of container; trim sharp edges of holes off with trimmers

2)      Trace Washer in center of lid; Puncture center by hammering a hole with nail

3)      Cut out center circle with trimmers so that bottle neck fits through (tightly)

4)      On wood block, use nail to hammer 3 holes in bottle cap. (Put top of cap face down flat on wood block to hammer)

5)      Use screw to puncture two holes on opposite sides of bottom (which will be the top when finished) of bottle for hanger ends.

6)      Bend ends of one hanger to make a hook.

7)      Decorate bottle & container lid

8)      Insert bottle neck through hole in container lid, screw on bottle top, attach container, insert hanger hooks on each side & VOILA!

9)      Filling:  Only make 1-2 cups of food at a time because it goes bad fairly quickly.  Pour about ½-1 cup in bottle then attach container and invert to hang.


·          Mix 1 part sugar with 4 parts water (for example, 1/4 cup of sugar with 1 cups of water), and bring to a boil to dissolve.

·         Cool and fill feeder.

·         Extra sugar water may be stored in a refrigerator.

·         Red dye should not be added.


Teamwork with fantastic North Central College Students helping out!

1)      Using screw, puncture two holes on opposite sides near bottom of bottle.

2)      Using screw, puncture opposite sides of the bottle about 1/3 of the way down from the neck of the bottle.

3)      Use trimmers to cut out larger feeding holes on each side of the bottle.

4)      Using screw, puncture two holes on opposite sides near neck, but still on main body of bottle.

5)      Enlarge slightly with trimmers, just enough to insert chopstick

6)      Insert chopstick through lower holes.

7)      Attach cap

8)      Invert & Insert hanger ends through holes at top

9)      Fill with seed through feeder opening.

10)   VOILA!


DuPage Forest Preserve President, Daniel Hebreard and family joining in the fun!

1)      Insert screws through three evenly spaced holes in rim of container.

2)      Attach nuts.

3)      Tie string around screws

4)      Connect strings at top and knot

5)      VOILA!

6)      FEED:  Hang feeder in a sunny spot and place sliced fruit into dish.

http://www.pbs.org/parents/crafts-for-kids/butterfly-feeder/; http://www.readingconfetti.com/2013/07/easy-butterfly-feeder.html

Building is always better with a friend!

1)       Use screw to puncture four holes on top edge of container

2)      Attach pipe cleaner by inserting through holes and twisting

3)      Add additional pipe cleaner for hanging between two that are attached to container.

4)      VOILA!

5)      USING:  Fill with sand and a couple of rocks, partially fill with water to moisten.   Hang in sunny spot.


Peanut butter for the birds AND our four-legged friends

1)      Bend wire around pine cone for hanging

2)      Fill cone with peanut butter

3)      Coat with bird seed

4)      VOILA!

Hang in tree and watch the feast

My Permaculture Journey

Hi! I’m Susan. I’m an educator, a lifelong learner, and a newbie on the permaculture scene. I’m passionate about learning and discovering new and exciting outlets for my insatiable need for knowledge. In the past, I have taught myself how to bake pies, how to crochet (and then knit), and once took a disastrous foray into sewing. In my pursuit to live a greener life and to be more mindful, I’ve begun making my own body care and bath products and enjoy reading books about trees, bees, and birds.