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Earthworks for Home or Farm

By April 18, 2015 No Comments
Earthworks for Home or Farm


Apr 18, 2015 - Apr 19, 2015



What are earthworks?

Earthworks are techniques used to form earth to increase its functionality for ecological and human use. ion is any warning to us, harvesting every drop of water that falls on our property is not just ‘nice’, it’s essential. Earthworks can also help us have more land to access with the use of small home scale terraces. Adding natural swimming ponds that require no chemicals and need a fraction of the cost of

When we make a raised bed to bring the soil closer to us for working, when we build a road not only for transportation but also for harvesting rainwater or when we dig, line and build a dam for holding water for irrigation, recreation and fire prevention, there are earthworks – earth that has been formed for increased functionality.

So why come to a course on earthworks?

Earthworks can help our properties by increasing the amount of water that is passively harvested. If California’s current situat

maintenance of conventional outdoor swimming pools add beauty and function to our landscapes.

Those are a few of the earthworks we’ll be covering and a few that we’ll be physically putting in the ground during the course.

Before we tell you much more about the course, here’s all the details to see if the schedule is a fit for you:

Workshop Nuts & Bolts:

When: Friday April 17th – 7pm-9pm, Saturday April 18th and Sunday April 19th – 9am-4pm, 2015

Where: 621 Pottery Rd, Vernon, BC

Pre-Season Pricing: $275 + GST until March 29, 2015

Registration: $325 + GST after March 29, 2015

Please be aware as this is a hands on workshop, our maximum is 12 participants.

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Gord explaining how to remove vegetation before an earthwork for maximum regeneration of ground cover.

Schedule for Workshop

Friday Evening

Introduction to Earthworks – Principles and Practices


Reading the Landscape – How to see what water sees

Surveying – Using tools to accurately account for changes in topography

Excavator Direction – How to direct excavator drivers and how to evaluate exceptional work


Terracing – The ancient technique of recovering slope to arable field crop land

Swale connection to House Roof Runoff – Using the resources we have without great expense to rehydrate the landscape

Construction of Rock Walls – Stabilizing terrace slopes to ensure 100 year longevity

Compost Tea Mini Workshop and Cover Cropping – A whole other workshop introducing you into the world of microbes

Over the course of the workshop you’ll have a chance to tour and explore the site. Points of interest to explore include:

  • pre-existing swales
  • rainwater capture
  • grey water system
  • hugelkultur
  • raised beds
  • espalier trees
  • bokaski composting
  • composting
  • vermicomposting
  • repurposed shed for plant starts

We will be employing a mix of classroom, hands-on, experiential and social learning in this 2 and a half day workshop. We will teach you to read the landscape to recognize opportunities for harvesting water. A combination of classroom and hands-on exercises will give you the right tools you need to drought-proof your landscape.

We will be exploring the world of Earthworks and learning about such techniques as Swales, Keyline Design, Hugelkultur, Terracing and Earth Dams. We will delve deep into these concepts and discuss the correct application for each technique and why and where they work and don’t work. Throughout the weekend we will be employing our new knowledge to survey, site, design and construct some of these incredibly productive and effective structures.

You will learn:

  • The 8 principles of water harvesting
  • Types of water harvesting structures suited for your site including:
    • dams
    • terraces
    • swales
    • swale pathways
    • boomerang swales
    • hugelkultur
    • natural swimming pools
  • Earthworks construction techniques
  • How to use professional survey tools to site structures
  • How to size your structure for safety, functionality and maintenance

registration button

Gord listening to a student’s question on using a levelling rod and directing machinery to build the keyway of an earthen dam.

If you answer yes to any of these questions you might be a good fit for this workshop:

Are you a Landowner concerned about drought proofing your property?

We teach you practical ways to hydrate your land and even keep a little water in the bank for peak summer, when reservoirs are typically dry.

Are you a Farmer, Orchardists or Production grower?

Learn how to make the most of your existing infrastructure to harvest rainwater and snowmelt to extend your season and irrigation needs.

Are you an Earthworks Professionals or Machine Operators?

Learn new and exciting techniques that conscious landowners are looking for.

Are you a Permaculture Designer or Residential Landscaper?

We teach you to see the potential in any landscape and show you how to carve out beautiful, productive, functioning landscapes that your clients will love!


Gord working on a swale system for client in Kelowna that produces enough food to support a 3 family CSA

More about who we are:

IMG_1825-150x150Gordon Hiebert: Gord is the Owner, Chief Instructor and Project Manager at Element Eco-Design. Gord has in-depth experience in Forest Protection, Green Building and Permaculture Design. Gordon has learned personally from many of the top names in Permaculture including Rob Avis(Into to Perm., 2009), Geoff Lawton(PDC & Permaculture Earthworks, 2010), Daren Dorhety (Keyline Design, 2012), Anne Adams (Holistic Management, 2012), Dave Jacke (Edible Forest Gardening, 2012), Eric Toensmeier (Perennial Agro-Forestry, 2012) Mark Shepherd (Restoration Agriculture, 2013) and more. Gord is a passionate, dynamic speaker and holds a deep understanding of natural systems.

Javan Kerby Bernakavitch

Javan K. Bernakevitch:Versed in construction, natural building, environmental education, group facilitation and organic gardening,

1375720_618531001548211_64267737_n-150x150Javan offers a unique balance of content-focused education with student-centered learning. Javan has spent extensive time learning and installing Earthworks with Sepp Holzer, including time studying with him in Austria in 2013, Geoff Lawton, Darren Doherty and Mark Shepard. He’s recently back from Cuba where he lead a diverse crew of Cuban and International students installing over 220m of terraces with nothing but picks and shovels. Javan is a wealth of knowledge and has a fun upbeat teaching style that is bound to leave you grinning from ear to ear.

Still not sure if this workshop is a good fit for you?

Check out some of the videos below of previous projects….

Workshop Nuts & Bolts:

When: Friday April 17th – 7pm-9pm, Saturday April 18th and Sunday April 19th – 9am-4pm, 2015

Where: 621 Pottery Rd, Vernon, BC

Pre-Season Pricing: $275 + GST until March 29, 2015

Registration: $325 + GST after March 29, 2015

Please be aware as this is a hands on workshop, our maximum is 12 participants.

registration button

Join Element Eco-Design and learn how to use Permaculture Earthworks to drought proof your landscape and move your property from average to abundant.