Permaculturists + Biomimics Team up

2015 Biomimicry Global Design Challenge logo
For the next two years, the Biomimicry Global Design Challenge will focus on food systems and who better to tackle this challenge then a team of permaculturists and biomimics!  Tonight, February 12th, at 9 pm a Kickoff webinar is being hosted to cover the details of the challenge and we are hosting a brainstorming potluck on Friday, February 20th beginning at 6:30 pm at our location on McDonald Farm (10S404 Knoch Knolls Rd, Naperville). Come and share your ideas for how we can design a better food system that is innovative and nature inspired!


Edible Forest Gardens

fruit trees, herb spiral, compost, bees, water management, keyhole garden

An Edible Forest Garden is a land management system that mimics a woodland ecosystem but substitutes in fruit and nut bearing trees and shrubs, perennial vegetables, herbs, flowering and medicinal plants.  Companions or beneficial plants are included as insectaries, pest confusers, dynamic accumulators, nitrogen fixers, and mulch plants. Together they create relationships to form a forest garden ecosystem able to produce high yields of food with minimal maintenance.  Edible forest gardens can play a significant role in cultivating community food security and reconnecting people with nature.

Benefits of Edible Forest Gardens:

Pat Armstrong Yard Tour

  • Provides fresh local food to the community
  • Demonstrates a commitment to food security and ecological restoration
  • Reduces or eliminates lawn maintenance costs
  • Creates a community park
  • Serves as an outdoor classroom or educational resource
  • Connects people to food and nature
  • Inspires the growth of individual edible forest gardens
  • Increases wildlife habitat and biodiversity

“As Masanobu Fukuoka once said, ‘The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.’ How we garden reflects our worldview. The ultimate goal of forest gardening is not only the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of new ways of seeing, of thinking, and of acting in the world. Forest gardening gives us a visceral experience of ecology in action, teaching us how the planet works and changing our self-perceptions. Forest gardening helps us take our rightful place as part of nature doing nature’s work, rather than as separate entities intervening in and dominating the natural world.” ~Dave Jacke, Edible Forest Gardens

Why Grow an Edible Forest Garden?

feedingamerica-foodbank-illinois-northernillinoisfoodbank-2012Food security is achieved when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life. With 1 in 8 families facing hunger in Northern Illinois, our suburban communities are not food secure. The current food system's dependency on cheap fossil fuels and transportation infrastructure cannot be sustained as resources become constrained, not to mention the impacts their practices have on soil, air, water, and human health. If food delivery trucks stop coming into your community, how long do you think you will be able to feed your family with the food you have access to in your home and from your land? Most communities are said to have only about three days worth of food in their local grocery stores.

It is imperative that we begin growing a new food system that places food security as the primary goal. With more than half of the U.S. population living in the suburbs and an abundance of land, the suburbs can become food producing communities able to feed themselves and support neighboring urban and rural communities.

The Resiliency Institute sees a new suburban reality where underutilized and resource intensive lawns are converted into productive and abundant edible forest gardens growing fresh, nourishing fruits, nuts, vegetables and herbs for public consumption. Fruit and nut trees have supported human grow-pear-tree-cutting-800x800nutrition for thousands of years, but as the population has urbanized, people have lost touch with their food sources—even the ones that grow right in their front yards. The Resiliency Institute's Growing Food Security program aims to change this by bringing tree based food gardens back into communities and reconnecting people with their food sources.

The pleasure of picking a ripe pear, plum, or persimmon from a tree in your yard or neighborhood garden is not just a sweet seasonal joy. It also offers fresh and nutritious food to communities that may lack ready access to quality produce. It educates people about food sources and growing cycles, and about basic tree biology and agriculture. It brings neighbors together to dig and plant and prune and harvest, and to enjoy the delicious bounty of their trees. It engages residents to alter their landscape, turning vacant lots and derelict spaces into beneficial gardens that can help turn a neighborhood around.



The Resiliency Institute offers edible forest garden consulting to non-profit and private businesses with land and public access. We invite collaborations with hunger relief organizations, park districts, forest preserves, counties, and municipalities interested in addressing food security and regenerative land management. Designing and installing an edible forest garden involves goal creation, community building, and a commitment to creating and maintaining an enduring, productive, ecosystem.

Contact us to schedule an appointment.

We are currently designing and installing two edible forest gardens and one Growing Food Security garden. Each of these projects demonstrates how lawns can be transitioned into food producing systems that regenerate soil, ecology, and biodiversity. People will visit the edible forest gardens and experience the joy of harvesting fresh fruits, nuts, vegetables, herbs, medicinal, and dye plants. They will see bees, birds, butterflies, dragonflies, and other animals. Areas for children and picnics invite people to enjoy the shade and beauty. Combined with educational components and hands-on activities, people will have the tools to grow an edible forest garden in their own yards and begin the transformation of the suburbs into resilient permaculture communities.

The Resiliency Institute Demonstration Edible Forest Garden

McDonald Farm Edible Forest Garden, Fall 2013
McDonald Farm Edible Forest Garden, Fall 2013

In 2013 we began the installation of the FIRST edible forest garden in Naperville on The Conservation TCF Color LogoFoundation’s McDonald Farm! McDonald farm is a 60-acre farm surrounded by suburban development, preserved for conservation, education, and agriculture.  Over 8,000 people visit the farm annually to participate in activities and learn about renewable energy, water conservation techniques, native landscaping, green roofing, organic farming, and soon, how to transform lawn into an edible forest garden. The Conservation Foundation, a 41-year-old non-profit land and watershed protection organization, owns the farm and is headquartered there.

The Resiliency Institute demonstration edible forest garden (135’x40’) includes areas for WFM_NPV_Logorecreation, children’s exploration, and inspiration. The design incorporates existing trees, re-purposes materials currently there, and reuses the water from the vegetable washing station to irrigate the site through a connected swale/berm system. Being added to the area are 12 trees, 73 shrubs, 14 vines, countless herbaceous and ground cover plants, bridges, rock gardens, rain gardens, mandala garden, kiwi igloos, and hop arbors. It is a demonstration and educational programming tool for how we can transform suburban lawns, grow food security, and have beautiful, self-maintaining landscapes.


Ferry Forest Gardendupage-logo

Ferry Forest Garden site Warrenville, IL
Ferry Forest Garden site 2014
Naperville, IL

Soon Illinois Prairie Path users will be able to enjoy foraging and relaxing at the Ferry Forest Garden, a third-acre of DuPage County right-of-way land along the Illinois Prairie Path on Ferry Road just west of 59 in north Naperville. With the help of volunteers, The Resiliency Institute began the land's transformation with sheet mulching in November, 2014.ipp-contextual-logo

In spring 2015, we planted 20 trees funded by the Illinois Prairie Path. Over 30 shrubs and a hugelkultur berm have also been installed funded by The Resiliency Institute until sponsorships can be secured.  We would love to include a gazebo made from pruned branches with a mosaic tiled floor growing with grapes and artwork crafted from scrap materials inviting path users to enter the garden and explore. This project is expected to cost $16,000 including all plantings and signage. All labor has been volunteered.



Northern Illinois Food Bank Growing Food Security Garden

Northern Illinois Food Bank Growing Food Security Garden
Northern Illinois Food Bank
Growing Food Security Garden 2014

The Resiliency Institute is developing a Growing Food Security pilot program to introduce Northern Illinois Food Bank and its network partners to permaculture as another approach to growing food security. Through the installation of “Growing Food Security Gardens” at the food bank and its network partner locations we will be providing an educational tool and a scalable model for building community edible forest gardens. Nutritious, organic fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and herbs will become freely available for food insecure people to harvest within the communities served by the Northern Illinois Food Bank and its network partners.

Northern Illinois Food Bank serves 13 counties surrounding Chicago and has 800 network partners (pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, child and senior sites) assisting 600,000 people annually. The demands placed on hunger relief organizations have increased dramatically in the last few years with 46.5 million people living in poverty, the largest number since statistics were first published more than 50 years ago. This program is designed to offer another option for feeding people that increases self-reliance and decreases use of hunger relief organizations.

Please visit our Get Involved page to learn how you can support these projects!

PDC with Peter Bane – Spring 2014

The Resiliency Institute is hosting a Permaculture Design Course (PDC) with Peter Bane this coming spring.  The course is tailored to suburban working adults and will be hosted over three weekends (4-3-3) in March and April. Only 25 seats are available, so register today!

A PDC opens your eyes to designing resilient systems for lifestyle, land and community.  The course will cover the core permaculture ethics, principles, and practices. We will introduce you to good design through classroom experiences, field trips, and hands-on activities.  Intro to Permaculture cover

Permaculture is an ecological design system for sustainability in all aspects of our lives. Permaculture teaches us how to build natural homes, grow our own food, restore diminished landscapes and ecosystems, catch rainwater, build communities, take care of waste and much more.

The philosophy within permaculture is one of working with rather than against nature, and of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than premature and thoughtless action. Permaculture design techniques encourage land use which integrates principles of ecology and applies lessons from nature. It teaches us to create settings and construct ecosystems which have the diversity, stability, and the resilience of natural ecosystems. In the spirit of sustainability, it also teaches us to allow natural and designed ecosystems to demonstrate their own evolutions.

You can make Permaculture design a career, or choose to incorporate the principles in your own discipline.  The certificate gives the holder the right to use the word “permaculture” in a business or other professional practice, and signifies successful completion of the permaculture design course. It is the prerequisite to further training in permaculture design such as teacher training courses, and other advanced permaculture trainings. The design course is the first step in becoming a permaculture practitioner, whether in design, education, construction, or any one of many other fields.  Holders of the certificate join a growing community of many thousands of design-course graduates who share a common body of knowledge.  This course has been approved for 35 APLD CEUs.

A $200 deposit reserves your seat, so register today

March 13-16 Thursday & Friday
Saturday & Sunday
8:30 am – 6 pm
9:00 am – 6 pm
April 11-13 &
April 25-27
Saturdays & Sundays
8:30 am – 6 pm
9:00 am – 6 pm


Peter BanePeter Bane is the primary instructor for the course.  Peter has published Permaculture Activist magazine for over 20 years and has taught permaculture design widely in the temperate and tropical Americas. He is a native of the Illinois prairie whose interest in good food and simple living led him at mid-life to become a writer and teacher of permaculture design. They also drew him into the arcane world of intentional community as fate presented the opportunity to help create and build Earthaven Ecovillage in the southern Appalachian Mountains. There he discovered his inner architect in the course of building a small off-grid solar cabin and later took on the more prosaic job of rehabilitating a pair of suburban ranch houses in the Midwestern college town of Bloomington, Indiana. That was the first step toward creating a small suburban farmstead where he now lives with his partner and apprentices. A prolific writer in journals and collections on forestry, building and all things sustainable, he consults with universities and municipal governments as well as for private landowners.


fruit trees, herb spiral, compost, bees, water management, keyhole garden

Permaculture is an empowering philosophy that establishes a design system, techniques and strategies for developing an abundant and resilient life.  It is applicable to all aspects of human living, in homes and gardens, schools, businesses, community spaces, cities and countryside. It is the mission of The Resiliency Institute to spread permaculture through our educational programming: speaking at events, hosting classes, workshops, hands-on trainings, and Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) courses.

Please visit our Course Calendar to register for an upcoming course.

As we are developing programming, we welcome comments on types of classes (classrooms, hands-on demonstrations, design), site visits, collaborative partnerships, or other supportive comments.

What is Permaculture

permaculture, principles, ethics, circular, sustainable

Permaculture was created by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the mid-1970’s as a response to the pollution and destruction of the land and its natural resources. It is a philosophy they developed from observing nature and utilizing the wisdom of natural systems. In Introduction to Permaculture by Bill Mollison, he defines permaculture as “… a design system for creating sustainable human environments. […} The aim is to create systems that are ecologically sound and economically viable, which provide for their own needs, do not exploit or pollute, and are therefore sustainable in the long term.”


 Permaculture Ethics

Permaculture Ethics
Care of Earth, Care of People, Fair Share

The foundation of permaculture is built on three ethics:  care of earth, care of people, and fair share.  To illustrate how the ethics are applied, we can consider the act of planting a pear tree.  Planting the tree cares for the earth by creating a niche ecosystem, exchanging carbon dioxide and oxygen, shading the ground, feeding the worms and soil organisms, supplying pollen for bees, habitat for animals, and countless other benefits.  Planting the pear tree cares for people by providing fruit to eat, shade, the aesthetic beauty of the tree, and pruned wood can be used for mulch or energy.  Fair share means we think of others and only take what we need, leaving enough for other people and future generations to enjoy.  Planting near a neighbors yard or public area, allows others to access fruit and share in your bounty, generating good will.  Fair share includes maintaining the health of the tree so that it lives a long and fruitful life to supply fruit for the next homeowner or generation.


Permaculture Principles

Permaculture Principles
Permaculture Principles


There are also twelve permaculture design principles that evolved from 'systems ecology' and create the framework for designing permaculture systems.  Incorporating vermicomposting (worm composting) into your kitchen or garden practices principles #5, #6, and #9.

Of course this is just the beginning.  Once your eyes open to see the amazing power of permaculture, you won't be able to imagine any other way of thinking or designing.


We look forward to seeing you at one of our classes where we will explore all aspects of Permaculture.