In the Zone


The cows are in Zone 2. Pasture close to the house. It’s fun having them so close, it gives us more time to observe them and less work too! I love catching them grooming one another. It’s very sweet. When we see them playing and grooming one another, we know they are satisfied, fulfilled, and happy which is what we strive for. It’s a hoot when the neighbors cows come to the adjoining fence line, they act like teenagers running off to see who’s there, calling out along the way. They nearly stampeded their way to them. They can be so curious.


In permaculture design there are zones. The house is Zone 0 closest to the house is zone 1, zone 2 next and so forth, extending to zone 5.  Our garden is in zone 1. In Permaculture you focus on energy input and output and stacking functions. When you have smart design, you can conserve energy and certainly resources. That’s why a kitchen garden is in Zone 1, close enough to the house to harvest food exactly when you need it for a meal. If you put the garden far from the house, at the end of the day while making dinner no one cares to trek out to the garden to harvest anything. You just want to eat!

"Do you mind?"(lady with camera)

But if you can see the garden outside your kitchen window, ah, that is perfect. At our previous homestead we could see the ducks, hens, and turkeys from the kitchen window and the garden. This is much simpler to create on smaller acreage. And the flock were great entertainment! I got familiar with the pecking order because I could watch them so frequently.

In Zone 2 you would have your greenhouse, barn, tool shed, shop, and wood storage. In addition, a compost pile stacks functions. It disposes of waste, creates fertile humus, boosts soil life, and offers the gardener a little exercise through turning and spreading. Basically the idea is that each plant or structure should do more than one job. A grape vine serves as an example. It shades the deck while letting in light in winter, cools the house, provides food, mulch, and propagation stock, and adds an aesthetic quality. I refer to Toby Hemingway’s book, “Gaia’s Garden,” for details on permaculture design. It’s a good read for anyone interesting in design that makes sense. Permaculture is fascinating.

Grazing in Zone 2, near the pond

Buxton is a very large farm and during the season we spread out over many many acres. When the cows are down the road we have to drive a few miles to harvest eggs. It’s our intention this year to be “in sync” and organized on these days so that we don’t spread ourselves too thin, or take on too many side projects. We appreciate stress free days!

Grazing under the willow tree, next to the stream

We’re also preparing now for next week’s first broiler harvest.Sometimes it feels to me that preparation is everything in life. We have old friends and new friends joining us. We’re so fortunate to have people willing to come to Buxton to learn this skill. We couldn’t do it without them, that’s a fact!

Zone 2 from the front side of the farmhouse




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About Grace

Grace and her husband Michael manage Buxton a Polyface satellite farm. Her first passion is to align with radiant health. She knows intimately that when you have your health you can do anything. Next, her passion for vibrant healthy food and beautiful landscapes along with her interest in permaculture influenced Grace's decision to align with the Polyface farming model. With 20 years of experience in the healing arts, she feels growing food and pasture raising animals is one of the greatest healers and a true source of personal empowerment. It's been said, "if you're not living on the edge your taking up too much space." Grace lives joyfully on the "leading edge" surrounded by the breathtaking beauty of the appalachian mountains where her and Michael steward 1000 acres with profound appreciation."

11 Responses to In the Zone

  1. Mrs H says:

    I like to see the photos of happy cows:) This is interesting, this discussion of zones. Permaculture, all this, is new to me, so I am enjoying your introduction. It makes perfect sense; after all, that’s how we design our houses, although it’s a little more implicit. Zone 1 is the bedroom, kitchen … things are convenient and close at hand! Zone 4 is the garage, zone 5 is the attic storage … put Christmas things up there, we don’t really like climbing up there! My background is lean manufacturing, and in that industry there are different terms but the concept is the same: conserve energy, movement, and save trips – result is efficiency, more energy to spend elsewhere (or to not spend at all, in the case of a tired mama in the evenings!).

  2. Brie Aronson says:

    Love this, Grace, so interesting. And great pictures!

  3. Thanks for the book recomendation. I was going to ask you for one but then you slid it in! My husband and I have just purchased a house on 5 acres (zoned agricultural) so we want to set up the use of the land as wisely as possible.

    • Grace says:

      Once you get into it, you will be amazed at how it makes such good sense. Fruit trees! Fruit trees around the house in zone 2! We put 18 in at our last homestead. The peaches were divine! Have fun with it.

  4. Dawn says:

    Great precis of permaculture principles – I’ve never seen such a succinct summary before. I’m also interested to see more of your posts with regard to permaculture on a larger scale like this, with meat production as a focus, as so much in the permaculture “culture” seems to refer to smaller scale, predominantly vegetative stacking and zoning. The reference to having to drive a couple of miles to get eggs when the cows are “down the road”, is an example. And I LOVE the picture of the cattle in the paddock beyond the outbuildings.

    • Grace says:

      In time I will know more about permaculture on a larger scale. The longer we live here, things will be revealed for sure. It’s so rich, this kind of design. I look forward to interpreting it as time goes on.

  5. Okay I know this probably isn’t the best place for this, but here is the latest News article on Vegetarian Diet not being the best thing as there are definite health risks as mentioned by Mother Nature’s Network. This will irirtate Mr McWilliams. Wonder what his rebuttal will be ?? And I love some of the responses by some Vegens in the comments section. How funny!

    • Grace says:

      Thanks for this, I read it over briefly. Flexitarians? What will we think of next. How about this:

      “I eat what I love and I love what I eat”

      Nice and simple!

  6. audio design says:

    superb precis of permaculture principles – I’ve never seen such a summary before. I’m also interested to see more of your posts with regard to permaculture on a bigger scale like this. And i love the picture of the cattle in the paddock exceptionally the outbuildings.

  7. Leilani says:

    Thank you for the book suggestion. I do some permaculture naturally but want to read about more ideas.