Connor Stedman at NOFA Summer Conference

Connor Stedman, consultant and designer for AppleSeed Permaculture, will lead a pre-conference intensive at NOFA’s Summer Conference. He will be providing an overview of farming practices that can help stabilize the global climate by sequestering atmospheric carbon in soil and perennial plants.IMG_0740_smallThis will be the forty-first annual Summer Conference and will be held from August 14-16 at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

For more information and to register go to :

Organic Farming in Kazakhstan

In February, Ethan Roland was interviewed by Kazakhstan’s Astana Times for a feature article on organic farming in Kazakhstan. The full article, with additional photographs of the wild apple forests, is included below. It originally appeared at”


Draft law on organic farming awaits vote; private initiatives work to support organic development

ASTANA – As Kazakhstan pushes to develop its agricultural sector with increased funding for farming even in times of belt-tightening, organic farming and permaculture experts are hoping the concepts maintain a foothold in the country.

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Ethan Roland Soloviev overlooking wild seaberry shrubs, apple forests, walnut groves near Alma Arasen, Almaty.

Though overlooked in recent decades, the practices are part of the country’s not-too-distant past, and today, Kazakhstan is working toward exporting its own ecologically “clean” products under its own national brand, Vice Minister of Agriculture Yermek Kosherbayev said during a seminar on supporting the development of organic agriculture and institutional capacity-building in Kazakhstan in Astana on Feb. 27. However, Kosherbayev said, a lack of legislation is slowing the process down.

“Until less than 100 years ago, all Kazakh agriculture was organic,” Ethan Roland, head of the nonprofit Apios Institute of Regenerative Perennial Agriculture based in Massachusetts, told The Astana Times in a Feb. 27 interview. “And it sustained itself for literally thousands of years. … In my opinion, the current ‘development’ of Kazakh (and most other global ‘green revolution’) agriculture towards fossil-fuel-dependent industrial monoculture is highly unsustainable. This alone will drive a shift to more climatically and culturally appropriate agriculture.”

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Wild rose hips in apple forest area.

Moving Away From a Destructive Past

A Nov. 24 roundtable discussion organized by the Astana Centre of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the ULE Coalition for a Green Economy and the Development of G-Global brought together government, business and nongovernmental organization representatives to discuss the state’s role in supporting organic farming, including providing incentives, as well as specific agricultural technologies.

“The current methods of farming in Kazakhstan are leading to the destruction of natural vegetation that protects the land from erosion and accelerate the process of soil mineralization, which result in drastic decline of its fertility, crops yields and harvest as a whole,” said head of the OSCE’s Astana Centre Natalia Zarudna at the roundtable, as reported by the Times of Central Asia on March 14. Organic farming practices could contribute to solving the problem, she said.

An OSCE report on the discussion said that the group noted that developing organic farming and implementing Kazakhstan’s transition to a green economy depend a great deal on the development of appropriate legislation and government regulation, as well as using domestic and international experience effectively.

Participants called for active policies to stimulate innovation and gain experience and offered 12 concrete recommendations. These included bringing the Ministries of Agriculture and Energy together with the roundtable organizers to draft regulations based on international experience and increase awareness of the green economy transition and organic farming in Kazakhstan; creating an online exhibition of Kazakhstan’s innovative, organic products for EXPO 2017 in Astana; involving Kazakhs more deeply in the organic agriculture category of G-Global’s annual EXPO 2017 competition and passing a draft law on organic agriculture. (The draft law sets out the provision of state support for organic agriculture, including setting rules for labelling organic products from Kazakhstan.)

At a media briefing on March 12, Zhibek Azhibayeva, secretary of the Trade Committee of the Kazakhstan’s National Chamber of Entrepreneurs, said Kazakhstan’s organic products market had been estimated at more than $500 million and that plans were in place to introduce an organic products production chain, the Times of Central Asia reported.

According to Azhibayeva,150,000 hectares of farmland in Kostanai oblast have been certified as eco-friendly. At the Feb. 27 seminar, the Kazakhstan Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (KAZFOAM) reported that 25 farms in Almaty, Kostanai and North Kazakhstan have 296,000 hectares of certified ecologically clean fields.

However, the country’s legacy of environmental damage can be felt today. According to the report, the Agriculture Ministry said 21.4 million hectares of land were used for agriculture in 2014, which should be increased to 22.5 million hectares by 2018. However, according to Deputy General director of the Kazakh Research Institute of the Agroindustrial Complex and Rural Development Vladimir Grigoruk, “according to our calculations, it is possible today to grow on only 11.5 million hectares of arable land, as the rest of the area, almost half, is polluted by industrial waste, various chemicals, buried animals or radioactive waste.”


Wild apple forests at site with grapes, hops, licorice, and other economically useful species.

Replanting Organic Roots

Roland is working with the Kazakh Research Institute of Fruit Growing and Viticulture (KazNIIPiV) in Almaty and the Institute for Ecological and Social Development (IESD) in Almaty. They work primarily on preserving and regenerating the biodiversity of Kazakhstan’s apple forests, but also plan to branch out into other areas of biodiverse farming.

“This work is just beginning,” Roland told The Astana Times. “Some of my colleagues … have been working on different aspects of this – e.g. IESD promoting sound agricultural practices within the matrix of the existing biodiverse apple forests. Going forward, we intend to offer workshops on the benefits of biodiverse farming and explore research projects.” He expects to find a receptive audience. His Kazakh colleagues are also enthusiastic about developing organic agriculture, Roland said, especially as its products will likely demand higher prices in local and export markets.

Raul Karychev, laboratory chief at KazNIIPiV, told The Astana Times on March 10 that his institute is studying and implementing elements of organic fruit growing, including identifying varieties most adapted to local conditions and which don’t need chemical treatments and studying adaptive orchard design and crown formation systems, drip irrigation, high-technology farming, organic fertilizer and more.

With international partners including the Apios Institute, the institute has established wild fruit ecosystems in the Zaili Alatau region, Karychev said. He also noted that the Horticulture Master Plan of the Agribusiness 2020 Programme provides for a phased increase in orchard areas in Kazakhstan. “The Kazakh government has embarked on the green economy, so the area of organic orchards and the demand for environmentally friendly products will only grow,” he said.



Wild apple forests, cultivated orchards, overlooking Almaty.

From Wild Apples to Sustainable Traditions

“The wild apple forests of Kazakhstan are part of one of the world’s biodiversity hot spots – it is one of the centers of origins of many fruits, and could potentially hold the keys to a sustainable agriculture of the future,” Roland says. But beyond apples, Kazakhstan also has an important agricultural tradition, and one which is beginning to be recognized and supported.

“Kazakh food production has a fascinating and beautiful history, with two interwoven threads of livestock-focused semi-nomadism and advanced mountainside and outwash valley horticulture,” Roland explained. Now is the time to look back to the country’s early food production methods.

The country’s grasslands and forests would be particularly well-suited to organic and biodiverse agriculture, he said. “Modern ‘organic’ agriculture often does not do much more than change the sprays and offer a bit of focus on soil health. If the overall framework is still industrial-scale tillage, then ‘organic’ alone isn’t much of an improvement.” He proposes instead regenerative agriculture, permaculture and carbon farming.

“In the long term,” Roland said, “I believe that truly sustainable economic and ecological growth will come from Kazakhstan focusing on its ancient agricultural history and incredible resources.”

These include biodiverse food forests and vast grasslands, which can produce useful yields with little to no input, Roland said. “Mimicking the natural Kazakh ecosystems could produce a new form of mixed perennial agriculture, with many opportunities for unique value-added products.” Among these products could be fruits like pears, plums, peaches and many more; nuts; a variety of berries; vegetables; herbs; honey and maple syrup; plus some smaller livestock. Most of these, Roland said, have been part of Kazakhstan’s indigenous ecosystem for years.

Kazakhstan’s grasslands, if managed holistically, could be systems adaptable enough to withstand changing climates, weather and politics and that could produce enough meat for domestic and export markets, Roland said, sustaining horses, sheep, goats, deer, elk, buffalo and other smaller animals producing cheese, yogurt, kumis, leather and fur.

“The Kazakh people are brilliant and resilient,” Roland concluded. “Despite attempts to crush nomadic culture and massive apple forest biodiversity, Kazakhstan’s ecosystems and organic farmers can hold the key to a sustainable and regenerative future.”

How “Keyline Design” Saves Our Soil


Click here to see this article which was originally posted by Shane Hardy on

Our new South field is wrapped around slopes and ridges where plowing nice straight rows can lead to erosion and soil loss in a heavy rain. To solve this problem we used a system called “keyline design” to plot our furrows so each one remains level.

Although our wee little plants are still rather small, I post this picture to show how this new system is working.  The large quantity of rainfall we had Tuesday evening through this morning would normally have caused water to go coursing down the pathways of our raised beds, taking some of our precious topsoil with it.  As you can see in the pathways shown in the photo, water is held along the entire length of the pathways, meaning it will soak deeply into our soil for future use by the plants, and the nutrients and soil will be retained where they are in the field, rather that racing away into the nearest stream.  How exciting when things actually work out like you planned!  Thanks again to Ethan Roland at Appleseed Permaculture for helping us lay this out.

Read Shane’s post about Ethan Roland’s visit and more about keyline design at Cropsey Community Farm.

AppleSeed Permaculture Opens New Jersey Branch

Red Bank, NJ, August 7, 2014 –

AppleSeed Permaculture, an ecological design and development firm with a history of innovative projects, has opened a new branch location in New Jersey. Based in the Hudson Valley of New York, the new New Jersey office expands AppleSeed’s regional service area to include NY, NJ, and surrounding states. In business since 2006, AppleSeed has designed over 3000 acres of homes, farms and campuses across six states.

Sean Walsh is heading the New Jersey branch. Sean, a New Jersey native, is a permaculture designer, ecological landscaper, gardener, and teacher based in Monmouth County. He holds a Masters Degree in Sustainable Landscape Planning & Design from The Conway School of Landscape Design.

Permaculture is a design science that weaves together all the elements of sustainability—organic agriculture, renewable energy, green architecture, natural building, biomimicry, ecological engineering, biodynamics, triple-bottom line accounting, and more are combined to provide 100% sustainability anywhere in the world.

According to AppleSeed Permaculture founder, Ethan Roland Soloviev, “We are very excited to open our first branch location. This makes it easy to share our years of experience so that more people can design for 100% sustainability. I want every community in New Jersey to have access to delicious organic food, pure clean water, and renewable energy – straight from their own back yards!”

AppleSeed Permaculture offers services including sustainable master planning, ecological farm-design, and site pre-purchase assessment consulting. AppleSeed also offers turn-key installation of beautiful, organic, edible landscapes. AppleSeed works across scales from residential to broad-acre for private, institutional, and community clients. Contact AppleSeed Permaculture for cutting-edge sustainability vision and practice with professional service.

For more information:
AppleSeed Permaculture

New Jersey Location
Sean Walsh

New York Location

Keyline for Organic Farmers

This is a guest post from the Rockland Farm Alliance. AppleSeed Permaculture consulted with their community farm earlier this year to implement a keyline layout for their organic vegetable production CSA.

You may have seen the fence go up around our new south field this winter, either on Facebook or in person. And you may have seen the lush cover crops of oats, field peas, rye and hairy vetch growing that we planted last fall to improve the soil for this year’s crops. Wednesday of last week was another exciting day for us at Cropsey Community Farm. Ethan Roland, of Appleseed Permaculture, came down to help us lay out our beds using the principles of Keyline Design. It was truly great to work with Ethan, an expert permaculture designer, teacher, and researcher based in the Hudson River Valley.

Ethan Roland of Appleseed Permacuture works with farmer Jose Romero-Bosch.

Ethan Roland of Appleseed Permacuture works with farmer Jose Romero-Bosch.

Jose, Ryan and I witnessed more erosion than we were comfortable with on the north field last year. Our fragile, sandy soil would wash down the pathways between our raised beds during heavy rains, taking nutrients along, and leaving the crops growing near the ridge in the middle of the field to struggle along with less food, humus, and topsoil. We’re not talking landslides here, but over time, this is one of the same processes that is leaving much of the incredibly fertile Midwest of our country with less than four thin inches of dying, drought-vulnerable dirt. Virgin prairie soils that settlers plowed up there were often two feet thick of dark earthen gold.

Maybe that comparison is a little severe, but we were not comfortable with what we saw, and were determined to set up our beds to minimize erosion. After trying to figure out how best to do this on our own, we finally decided to call someone with experience. Ethan survey

When Ethan showed up, I grabbed a bucket of landscaping flags and his clipboard, and he shouldered his tripod and laser level. The wind was whipping as we trudged up to the field and set up the laser level. We commenced straight away with marking contours in a few spots. Ethan quickly trained Jose and I to use the laser level ourselves, and with his keen eye for the land and experience we laid out the longest contour on the field, as well as a few that crossed the steepest, most erosion-susceptible spots on our hilly south field by lunchtime.

Jose, Ethan and Crayola

After lunch we went inside and mapped out the contours on paper. Ethan saw four distinct sections to the field. There are two little “bowls,” a ridge, and a corner where the land drops away again in the northwest corner of the field. In each of these sections, we chose a particular contour line, from among the ones we had staked out that morning, to base our plowing and beds off of. Here is a very abridged version of using Keyline Design to lay out a field like ours: you choose a basic contour in a given area so that when you plow or form your beds parallel to that contour, and they inevitable become slightly off contour due to the radius of the curve becoming greater or narrower, the water’s charge down the hill is stopped and directed ever so gently away from valleys and out towards ridges. The idea is that erosion is nearly stopped, water is dispersed more evenly through the field, and substantially more water soaks into the land than before.

This should result in healthier soil, and healthier, tastier crops. I think it will be really beautiful to behold. Though it will make some elements of our job more complex, such as planning where to put each crop since all of the rows will be different lengths, to us this choice was absolutely necessary. So thank you, Ethan for guiding us in this process. We are excited to see our the new field blossoms this year. Keep an eye out for us in the fields. If the ground dries up we’ll be out there real soon.

Shane Hardy, Farm Manager
Cropsey Community Farm

Permaculture Gardening Growing Fast

Although a fringe movement elsewhere, it’s booming in Maine.

By Tom Atwell (Originally published in the Portland Herald Press)

Permaculture design – landscapes developed to be useful, to sustain both the gardener and the land – may be a fringe movement, but it is the fastest-growing segment in the plant industry, according to Dale Hendricks, founder of North Creek Nurseries in Pennsylvania.

He compared the status of permaculture today to an eccentric-seeming gardening push in the 1980s that touted the cultivation of more native plants. At the time, many gardeners summed up that movement as the ideas of “a few crazies,” Hendricks recalled in a February lecture in Boston for New England Grows. “But now that fringe group has become almost mainstream.”

Similarly, “Permaculture…may be on the fringe now, but it is coming into its own.”

In Maine, the permaculture boom is already here.

The Resilience Hub, a nonprofit group in Portland promoting permaculture design, has 1,700 members, holds 50 to 60 events a year and helps people translate the principles of permaculture design to their homes, said Lisa Fernandes, the director who helped found the group in 2005. For one annual event, the “permablitz,” Hub members and others spend a day transforming someone’s property into a permaculture site.

Fernandes defined permaculture as “a design method based on ecological patterns. It is something you use rather than something you do.”

Ethan C. Roland of AppleSeed Permaculture in Stone Ridge, N.Y., who also lectured at New England Grows, defined it a little differently. “Permaculture design mimics the diversity, stability and permanence of natural systems,” he said.

What do these definitions mean in practise?

Permaculture, which is a contraction for “permanent agriculture,” attempts to minimize the outside elements brought onto a property, such as energy, water and raw materials from distant places. It also works to minimize the waste that leaves the property. It encompasses composting, rooftop solar panels, rainwater collection and vegetable gardens. A favorite vegetable garden mix among permaculture practioners is the so-called “three sisters,” the combination of crops that native tribes taught the Pilgrims to plant – corn, pole beans, and squash. The plants work together, and they make efficient use of space; the beans climb the corn, and the squash keeps the weeds down and the roots cool. These three happen to be native plants, but users of permaculture are more interested in how useful plants are than where they come from. They will grow native fruits, such as blueberries, elderberries and the paw paw tree, and non-natives, such Chinese chestnuts, which are resistant to chestnut blight; apple and peach trees, which have been grown in America for generations but are not native, and the Siberian pea shrub, which produces in a small space and improves the soil. Animals have a role to play in permaculture, too. Chickens, for example, provide eggs (and perhaps meat) for eating, as well as manure to fertilize the soil. They eat ticks that can spread disease and help mix up ingredients in the compost pile.

“When you walk into a well-designed permaculture garden, all the elements clearly work together,” ” Fernandes said. “There is biological diversity and a really heavy yield, whether that yield is food, flowers or herbs. There is a palpably different level of energy.”

Roland believes the Earth is sick, with climate change causing ever more storms, and many species going extinct or disappearing from their traditional ranges.

“Sustainable is not enough,” he said. “We have to go beyond sustaining to increasing the health of ecological systems. We need to heal the damage that has been done.”

You can start on that important work yourself by employing the practices of permaculture at your home. And you could well be part of the next big trend.

To schedule a consultation with AppleSeed Permaculture and get started, contact us now.

Permaculture Business Internship – Winter 2014

Unlike many landscape design firms, AppleSeed Permaculture LLC continues full-time permaculture design, research, and development work straight through the winter. This year, we are offering an exclusive internship opportunity focused on permaculture business management and research.


AppleSeed Permaculture LLC is a cutting-edge permaculture & sustainable farm design firm dedicated to regenerating ecosystems and multi-capital economies around the planet.

This internship uses hands-on action learning and direct mentoring from firm principals Ethan Roland and Dyami Nason-Regan to train you in the nitty-gritty realities of a permaculture business. This is not the “sexy” part of permaculture – You will not participate in hands-on planting projects, tour permaculture sites, or travel the world. You will learn basic entrepreneurial skills like project management, client communications, web development, bookkeeping, and accounting.

The internship runs for 1-2 days per week, depending on experience. 1 day per week takes place in AppleSeed’s Accord, NY office. Internship runs until April, 2014.

 Position begins when filled – apply immediately if interested.    


  • Project Management: Designing and developing systems for task tracking, accountability, and completion; managing business development projects.
  • Permaculture Research: Plant species and varieties, sustainable farm business planning, multi-local market research, eco-social investing research.
  • Finances: Quickbooks accounting; supporting tax preparation and filing for multiple enterprises.
  • Technology & Social Media: AppleSeed website maintenance and updates, including blogs and social media integration. Building and managing Facebook pages and email lists for AppleSeed and allied enterprise educational events. (e.g. Terra Genesis International Permaculture Design Courses.) Troubleshooting routine technology problems and coordinating tech support as needed.
  • Other business management opportunities, to be determined depending on competency and experience of Intern.


  • Clear, direct, peaceful communication.
  • Internal resilience and self-sufficiency.  Ability to cheerfully improvise and adapt in changing circumstances.
  • Systems thinker, highly organized, able to clarify and simplify complexity.
  • Ability to attend to diverse details while staying connected to the big picture.
  • Excellent writing and speaking skills.
  • Warm, welcoming, connected phone presence and email “voice”.
  • Experience with Word, Excel, WordPress, Gmail, Google Docs, & Dropbox.
  • Familiarity with Quickbooks accounting.
  • Solid familiarity with Apple/Mac software and hardware.
  • Ability to design, streamline, and maintain efficient systems of operation and record-keeping.
  • Strong desire to contribute to regenerative eco-social enterprise development.
  • Familiarity with any of the following tools and languages is a plus:
    • Permaculture Design
    • Spiral Dynamics
    • Re-evaluation Counseling
    • 8 Shields / Art of Mentoring
    • 4-Hour Workweek
  • Passionate about personal growth and organizational development.
  • Willingness to go to new edges, learn new skills, and try new approaches.
  • Sense of humor, curiosity, and creativity.
  • Local to Accord, NY (mid-Hudson/Catskills region) is a plus.

Please reply to with a resume, three references, and a concise letter describing:

  1. Your business management experience and qualifications related to the Internship,
  2. Your reasons for applying for this Internship.


Ethan Roland & Dyami Nason-Regan

Principals, AppleSeed Permaculture LLC

Permaculture Consulting for Farmers

Ecological production by design.

To support our local and regional farming community, AppleSeed Permaculture offers low-cost agricultural consulting to full-time farmers. Our areas of expertise include:

  • Crop selection & market development
  • Agroforestry plantings & tree crops
  • Keyline design for soil-building & water harvesting
  • Whole farm financial planning & design

Using a specialized design process co-developed with Mosaic Farm, we help farmers choose appropriate permaculture crops, landscape patterns, and productive polycultures for ecological and economic prosperity. Contact us today for more information.

Open Enterprise Budgets

AppleSeed Permaculture designs diversified organic farms using permaculture principles and processes. Our designs integrate agroforestry, keyline planning, holistic management, biodynamics, aquaculture, and restoration agriculture.

We also install 1000-tree nut groves, plant permaculture food forests, dig earthen ponds, and more – whatever it takes to bring your farm to the next level. And, we do farm business planning to figure out how to make it all profitable.
Now, we’re collaborating with the good folks on to offer new tools for the farming community: Open Enterprise Budgets. These tools are not for deep ripping or easy weeding – they’re economic. They’ll help you understand the numbers and choose profitable crops. They’ll help you make smart decisions and avoid costly mistakes. Basically, they’ll help you do less work and make more money.

Unlike standard enterprise budgets, which often offer an average of many farms’ finances and are focused on large-scale conventional agriculture, Open Enterprise Budgets use an online wiki-like format to preserve the diversity of different farms’ experiences. You can view a full range of financial realities and use them for your own farm planning. You can also contribute your own financial data, improving the overall usefulness of the tool for other farmers. For the first time, small farmers and organic farmers can pool their knowledge to create budget tools appropriate for their scale and management practices.

Extensions officers and university folks who have created the bulk of all enterprise budgets to date (Thank you!!!) are equally welcome to participate, adding your perspective and considerable knowledge alongside the voices of farmers who are on the ground growing food.

These budgets will stay up-to-date and relevant to farms of scales and management practices, simply by crowdsourcing (crowdfarming?) real time data from farmers around the world.

To view the budgets, head on over to our Open Shop on We look forward to your input.

Also, to continue our research for the farming community, we’re teaming up with the Carbon Farming Course and doing a Time Use Survey. Complete the survey and receive a 5% Discount on the next Carbon Farming Course!

Survey: Click Here