Permaculture Design Document


I, John Marsing, an Elder at Living Messiah Ministries am writing this questionnaire so my biases will exist at some level (hopefully a small level). I am the person living on site and have been tasked with implementing permaculture on the property. Ultimately all decisions (especially big ones) are made by the Leadership of Living Messiah.

I. Goals

1. Property address:

2. Describe your Goals

Please describe your goals with the site. Be specific. The better you understand how your goal will look, sound, and feel, the more likely you will make it exactly what you want.
a. Include everything that you'd ever like to see done to or with the property
b. Include values that you wish to see fulfilled.

Your personal values are quite important.

Living Messiah Goals for Windmill Ranch

  1. Establish and develop the land for our Hebrew roots community.
  2. Implement Biblical Permaculture. More details upon request.

Our Values

3. desired uses of the property?

What are your desired uses of the property?

  1. Place for Sukkot. Living Messiah is a Hebrew roots not-profit, non-501C3 religious organization and one of the things we would like to do is have a place to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot). This is an 8-10 day event where we have in the past, hosted a place where like minded people can come together and honor this high holy day.

  2. Permaculture show place in a high desert context.

  3. A place for people to live full time in a rural community setting. This means developing small simple but efficient buildings for families that can leverage community facilities like centralized community kitchen, dinning area, showers and bathrooms, laundry, parking and worship center.

4. Production needed for Quality of Life

What do you need to produce to create and maintain the quality of life you want?

As time goes on and we find what's productive and the effort we put in it would be great to have the community be in a position to sell
the possibility of greater and greater production.

5. Larger Outcome

What larger outcome is this part of? How does it fit into who you are and your major beliefs and values?

II. Use

1. Who are the key decision makers involved with this landscape?

2. Who is the financial decision maker?

3. Who are other key stakeholders that are involved with your site?

4. What is your daily routine? Weekend? Seasonal?

5. Structures

What structures do you have and use the most for what purposes?

Main Area
Windmill Area

6. Livestock

Do you have/want livestock? What kinds and how many of each?

7. wildlife

How do you want to approach wildlife and varmints?

8. How do you use areas of your site presently?

9. Future usage

How might these uses change in the future (family and employment changes)

Being that Windmill Ranch was bought for the purpose of the community of Living Messiah, the future usage of the property could grow into many things that are in alignment with the beliefs of Living Messiah.

To answer this question, it becomes necessary to define family.

The property is not owned by an individual person/family but is held in trust and so the mission statement of the property, I would argue, has a far greater chance of living on in perpetuity as a land trust.

The definition of permaculture is that it is a culture that is permanent (i.e. long term). Biblical permaculture (a term I coined) is to practice permaculture with the power and authority gotten from rights found in scripture. Because success in permaculture requires that the skill, wisdom and knowledge of this practices needs to be ongoing. It seems to me that a community structure has great advantages over a typical family homestead setup because, amongst other things, you don't have all your eggs in one basket.

List of foreseeable changes that would be encouraged

a. People living in a community environment might want to live on the Ranch inexpensively and be able to telecommute for there jobs.

b. Beyond just Sukkot, making the ranch a hospitable place for like minded people who want to visit the site for a while. I'm thinking of a private RV membership location.

c. A base camp for community outreach.

d. Start a nursery of native plants.

e. Start a trustee service that specializes in setting up or managing property that's held in trust for religious, not for profit organizations like Living Messiah.

f. I find Joel Salatin's concept of Enterprise Stacking very appealing. The idea is that an entrepreneur minded person can suggest an idea that could be a successful enterprise on the property. The acceptance of vertical stacking fiefdoms necessarily means that identifying potential future use of the property is unknown. So, if it makes sense, whatever it is, should be embraced if the elders agree it's a good fit.

g. Final thought. Love thy neighbor as thyself takes on a different yet powerful meaning when all the neighbors on the same page and the residents have been vetted to believe the same thing (keeping the Torah as best we can). The welcome sign for at the entrance of the property is "See how good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity"

10. Energy

How are you currently powering or using energy on your site?

III Site & Maintenance

1. What is the size of the property?

2. Land use history

Are you aware of the land use history? Logging, farming, pasture, etc.?

3. What kind of maintenance are you planning?

4. Implementation and maintenance - Personal Labor

How much of your own labor is involved in implementation and maintenance?

  1. How much money and time is available to implement the design? To maintain it?

Money: This is our limiting factor right now. We called on our community to collect enough money to purchase the property (which we did in full Halleluyah) so having money to right now anyway is limited. Therefore we need to be more creative going forward so any suggestions are welcome. It's catch-22. If people could see the potential of quickly turning the dessert green and see the potential for production then it would be easy to ask and receive donations for the project.

Time: I'm living on sight and have no intention of going anywhere else at least for the foreseeable future. I want to teach Torah by creating videos, but I can do that onsite. My intent is to ask for donations to my Torah teaching ministry and direct as much as possible to the financing of advancing projects at the Ranch.

6. What kinds of places surround your site?


Zooming out, here's a map of the Chihuahuan Desert which is where the Windmill Ranch is located.

Contour map surrounding our 40 acres


Southern Arizona Google Map


What do you like about your site?

8. Dislikes

What do you dislike about your site?

9. Erosion

Do you have any drainage or erosion problems?

10. Sewer/Leach line location

Do you know where your sewer and leach field are or where your sewer lines cross?

11. Additional Information

To the best of your knowledge, list or describe any additional constraints/beliefs/ non-negotiable aspects that you need for our team to be aware of that could impact the design process that have not already been described in your previous answers. Examples can be regions of the land that must be kept in a certain way, financial constraints, legal constraints like conservation easements and managed forest law contracts

IV. Homework

1. Documents Needed

Please include the following documents or files (in the appropriate format requested) so that we can be better prepared for your consultation. Much of this content can be obtained through contacting your local USDA office, NRCS, USGS as well as your county zoning board. If you are not able to obtain this information, we can work with you to develop it as part of our services. (office rates may apply):

Aerial photos (jpeg or other files)

Topographical maps

Topographical maps (PDF’s, kmz’s from Google Earth, lidar images, RTK renderings). These may be obtained through contacting your local USDA office and sometimes your county zoning board.

Contour Map I embellished

Features of this map

Regenerative Agriculture - Getting Started at the Windmill Ranch

Property to our South - End of Wash

Property to our South - End of Was

Soil maps

Soil maps (PDF’s, USDA soil maps). These may be obtained through contacting your local USDA office, your state NRCS office or NRCS state soil scientists. You also may go online to Web Soil Survey (WSS) to obtain this information web soil survey

Wild land Maps

Maps showing linkages to surrounding wild land

Parks, rivers, lakes, natural areas, etc.
pre-European vegetation

Maps or descriptions of pre-European vegetation

My initial best guesstimate of current vegetation
parcel map

Legal parcel map or county assessor’s map. These may be obtained through contacting your local county zoning board or county assessor’s office.

Instructions how to view the property on Cochise county website

a. Go to the Cochise County GIS website.
b. Check the I agree to the above terms and conditions dialog box and click OK
c. Type in 10139004D for the Parcel #
c. Click the Basemap Gallery button (top left corner, looks like 4 squares)
d. Click Image Gallery

Cochise County GIS Parcel # 10139004D

2. More Info (Temperature, Rainfall, Winds, Soil)

Please send us the following information in whatever format that you have it.

Temperature & Rainfall


Bisbee Average Precipitation

Temperature Type Low High
Average Summertime Temp ? ?
Average Wintertime Temp ? ?
Absolute high temperature ? ?
Absolute low temperature ? ?
Rainfall Type Inches
Average annual rainfall 19 Inches
Largest single rainfall event ?

Prevailing Winds

Prevailing summer and winter wind patterns

Wind History at KDUG link

Wind History Map

Map showing Windmill Ranch and KDUG link

Wind History Map

Soil tests / Bedrock

Bedrock (what kind, depth to)

Soil tests (ideally from Midwest Labs, or another company that measures biologicals and CEC capacity)

For Midwest Labs, access or call 402.334.7770 and ask for the S1A Basic and S3 tests. You may order additional analyses for your samples, but the above S1A Basic and S3 covers the essentials.

Mail your soil samples and order forms to Midwest Labs:
Midwest Laboratories
13611 B Street
Omaha, NE 68144

3. Specific questions

A list of specific questions. Common examples relate to site establishment, maintenance, planting choices, and how to phase-in the next steps.

V. My Questions and Ideas

  1. One of the tasks that your questionnaire asks of me is to get soil tests so my questions it how important are soil tests? I've been listening to various people (like Christine Jones, David Johnson) that it's the biology in the soil that really matters. My question therefore is how important are the soil tests?

  2. Creative finance. Can you give advise on this?

  3. Religious based community permaculture.
    a. Do you have an opinion of their efficacy?
    b. Are there examples that you can point to?

  4. After you evaluate the Windmill Ranch project, can you give us a vision of what the land will look like in two or three years? This would be helpful to better "sell" the project to our congregation.

  5. Should we get a greenhouse going? We have the frame for one, about 20' x 50', but it's not at this location and it would obviously need a cover? If you think we should set it up, where would we put it?

  6. any thoughts on the windmill that's currently not producing water?... should we go with a solar pump or fix the leathers (that's what we are told needs to be fixed)?

  7. Water retention / harvest
    what would be best?
    a. Ponds
    b. Swales
    c. Ponds and Swales
    My thinking is that ponds are riskier (they could leak and they could fail)

  8. What's should we do with the pond in the middle of the wash?
    a. Should we apply a layer of bentonite to better hold the water?
    b. Make radical changes to it's current configuration e.g. digging out more to find a layer of clay?
    c. Do nothing because it's not worth messing with?

What I think should happen


The wash going through the middle of the property that covers about 8+ acres has great potential to implement mob / intensive grazing and maybe silvopastures or alley cropping. I think it is the most valuable part of the property within the context of regenerative agriculture.

By implementing the 5 principles of regenerative agriculture to the wash area we can not only hold water, but hold it where it's need, in the top soil. Whatever else we do, holding as much of the water on the property I think would be the biggest improvement that you can make and it's effect is a positive whatever else you do. Below is a picture of what I would like to accomplish. ⤵

6" of rain on the Las Damas ranch compared to neighbor

Alejandro Carrillo's Las Damas Ranch in Chihuahua Mexico, see
6" of rain on the Las Damas ranch compared to neighbor


Mesa Hilltop

Rain Harvesting Potential

Rain Potential

Possible Fenced in area

Possible Fenced in area

Windmill Area


Open Desert

Permaculture people I respect

Mark Shepard

Obviously or I wouldn't have bothered to

fill out this questionnaire.
What I like about Mark is that he is not afraid to say what he means because he is trying to take permaculture practices to a higher level. To some this might be off-putting but for me it's refreshing.
I like how he emphasizes the need to scale up which is a good fit for a religious based community.
I also like that he is part of the Organic Valley Coop which enables him to sell his products and get a higher profit. Also, coops is a good fit for a religious based community (think Moshav).
I also like the emphasis on trees with Silvopastures or Agro Forestry. Trees make shade and shade in the desert is a premium.
I like the STUN approach to finding the things that want to grow on the property.
My only concern with Mark is to ask how much experience does he have in the High Desert environment. I know principles of permaculture are transportable so it could be argued that I'm answering my own question, but regardless it is a concern.

Bill Mollison

What I like about the "Permaculture Design Manual" is ideas found chapter 14. This is the only chapter I have read and I would argue should be the first chapter and not the last. Anyway, the extensive notes I took on that chapter which included injecting my thoughts from a religious based perspective was very compelling to me.

Joel Salatin

The "Great American Farm Tour" YouTube video of Justin Rhodes interviewing Joel was what got my attention regarding permaculture.
I like his unique message that comes from a Christian / Libertarian perspective.

Gabe Brown

Seeing Gabe and others (e.g. Neil Dennis ) in the Soil Carbon Cowboys video really inspired me to leverage cattle as how I would like to implement permaculture. He is the one who solidified to me the need to follow the five principles of regenerative agriculture.

Glenn Elzinga

Glenn employs Inherding on his Alderspring Ranch. His insights of how to go about working with cattle in an open range is useful because that is the context of the Windmill Ranch.

Geoff Lawton

An obvious wealth of information which I appreciate. I like his videos on Greening the Desert. If you can do this in the harsh desert of the Jordan you can surely do this in Bisbee Arizona.

David Johnson

I like his fungal dominant static Johnson-Su Bio Reactor.
I like the improvement of the by Diego Footer see these videos
Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3

Alejandro Carrillo of Las Damas Ranch, Chihuahua, Mexico

I don't know much about Alejandro Carrillo but I think he would be the one whose context would be closest to the Windmill Ranch

More Maps

40 Acres - No Contours

40 Acres - No Contours

Close up of the two Trailers on the Bluff

Close up of the two Trailers

Sole Source Aquifers