The Bio-Integrated Farm
A Revolutionary Permaculture-Based System Using Greenhouses, Ponds, Compost Piles, Aquaponics, Chickens, and More
The Bio-Integrated Farm is a twenty-first-century manual for managing nature’s resources. This groundbreaking book brings “system farming” and permaculture to a whole new level. Author Shawn Jadrnicek presents new insights into permaculture, moving beyond the philosophical foundation to practical advanced designs based on a functional analysis. Holding his designs to a higher standard, Jadrnicek’s components serve at least seven functions (classical permaculture theory only seeks at least two functions). With every additional function a component performs, the design becomes more advanced and saves more energy.
A bio-integrated greenhouse, for example, doesn’t just extend the season for growing vegetables; it also serves as a rainwater collector, a pond site, an aquaponics system, and a heat generator. Jadrnicek’s prevalent theme is using water to do the work. Although applicable in many climates, his designs are particularly important for areas coping with water scarcity.
Jadrnicek focuses on his experience as farm manager at the Clemson University Student Organic Farm and at his residence in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. These locations lie at the cooler northern edge of a humid subtropical climate that extends west to the middle of Texas and north along the coast to New Jersey. He has created permaculture patterns ranging from raising transplants and field design to freshwater prawn production and composting. These patterns have simplified the operation of the 125-share CSA farm while reducing reliance on outside resources. In less time than it takes to mow his two-acre homestead, Jadrnicek is building a you-pick fruit farm using permaculture patterns. His landscape requires only the labor of harvesting, and the only outside input he buys is a small amount of chicken feed. By carefully engaging the free forces of nature—water, wind, sunlight, convection, gravity, and decomposition—Jadrnicek creates sustenance without maintenance and transforms waste into valuable farm resources.
The Bio-Integrated Farm offers in-depth information about designing and building a wide range of bio-integrated projects including reflecting ponds, water-storage ponds, multipurpose basins, greenhouses, compost heat extraction, pastured chicken systems, aquaculture, hydroponics, hydronic heating, water filtration and aeration, cover cropping, and innovative rainwater-harvesting systems that supply water for drip irrigation and flushing toilets.
Reviews and Praise
"Jadrnicek, a farmer, educator (he teaches at and oversees Clemson University’s organic student farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains), and perpetually tinkering designer and inventor, implements the permaculture principle of 'stacking functions’—'Every component of a design should function in many ways'—and pushes its limits. 'Something very special happens when a component within the design exceeds seven functions,’ he writes. 'Once the odd magic number of seven is breached, the design takes on a life of its own.' With curiosity, imagination, and exuberant obsession, he shares his successful manifestations and ongoing experiments and shows readers how to implement them in their own agricultural pursuits, whether a market farm or steep urban yard. He provides both broad conceptual overviews and comprehensive specifics. Less committed growers may balk at the complexity of these living designs and the basic physics, chemistry, and algebra needed to realize them, but permies and others committed to developing a regenerative agriculture—as well as ambitious weekend gardeners dreaming of an in-town, self-sufficient aquaculture greenhouse—will likely be impatient to try it themselves.”
“The Bio-Integrated Farm provides practical solutions for farmers and homesteaders facing the dual challenges of sustainably feeding an expanding global population and building resilience into their systems in response to climate disruption. Shawn Jadrnicek’s designs for greenhouses, irrigation, composting systems, and more are based on the most enduring answer: let’s look to nature. From experience, Jadrnicek knows how to create organic, resilient, and highly productive systems based on creative use of water, solar energy, and other free forces of nature.”--Courtney White, author of Two Percent Solutions for the Planet
“The Bio-Integrated Farm is an invaluable resource for market farmers, homesteaders, and serious gardeners who are interested in improving their relationship with the land. Shawn Jadrnicek’s creative use of materials, animals, and space, which he clearly and thoroughly explains in this book, will inspire and teach you how to improve the efficiency and resiliency of your farm or garden. I can’t wait to implement some of Shawn’s designs at my site. While reading through this book, I was reminded of the ancient gardening techniques mentioned in F.H. King’s Farmers of Forty Centuries. Shawn has integrated these simple and effective technologies into his modern-day working farm; his book will allow readers to access some of that ancient wisdom, too.”--Jerome Osentowski, author of The Forest Garden Greenhouse
“Harvesting, multiplying, capturing, conveying, sloping, fertilizing, irrigating, heating, cooling… ‘at least seven functions’ is the genius of Shawn Jadrnicek’s stacked systems in The Bio-Integrated Farm. Shawn turns almost everything we think we know about farming on its head, beginning with the notion that the odds are stacked against the small farmer and permaculturist. Instead, he stacks the odds in our favor by requiring every component of a farm to serve at least seven functions. These stacked systems create biological and mechanical efficiencies that maximize production and ecological diversity. While innovators abound in the permaculture world, Shawn is unparalleled in the practicality and detail of his innovative designs.
As a connoisseur of college farms, I’ve visited several dozen such operations across the United States, and I have yet to see another academic farm demonstrate the level of careful design and innovation found on the Clemson University Student Organic Farm, one of several permaculture masterworks Shawn has helped create. As much an engineer as he is an ecologist, Shawn teases out nature’s secret systems with a covey of collaborators—students, prawns, soldier flies, chickens, and thermophilic bacteria to name but a few—and he shares all his best designs in this paradigm-altering guide. Be prepared to have your vision of a farm’s limits shattered. Fear not, Shawn shows you how to reassemble those broken pieces into a ‘7-plus mosaic’ that can take any homestead or farm to the next level.”--Philip Ackerman-Leist, professor, Green Mountain College; author of Rebuilding the Foodshed
“What is unique about permaculture, at its heart, is integration of elements like fish ponds, greenhouses, chickens, and crops. The Bio-Integrated Farm highlights real-world farm management experiences, including particularly innovative practices such as raising freshwater shrimp in greenhouse tanks that also provide thermal mass. The authors also respect and acknowledge the ancient roots of many of these ideas.”--Eric Toensmeier, author of The Carbon Farming Solution
“Nature knows no waste, and cutting-edge farmers should start today to incorporate the bio-integration principles that Shawn Jadrnicek describes in detail in this book. Shawn shares his in-the-field experience using easy-to-understand formulas and charts to encourage the reader to develop a plan and translate project descriptions into hardworking results. I have seen Shawn’s transformational power in person at Clemson University, and his visions are addictive, teaching you not just to think outside the box by harmonizing natural systems but to act outside the box to create inexpensive and highly functional growing environments that are much more profitable and efficient than traditional growing systems. Even at our mushroom farm, we are incorporating Shawn’s design approach with aquaponics, black soldier fly composting, and passive heating. Farmers need all the financial help they can get, and The Bio-Integrated Farm will help readers prevent costly experimental failures. Every farm's needs and layouts are unique, and this book allows the reader to customize and hybridize systems that harness the power of nature to transform ordinary farms into models worthy of world-class learning centers for permaculture.”--Tradd Cotter, author of Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation
“As climate change drives increasingly challenging weather variability and extremes, ecosystem-based strategies such as those presented in The Bio-Integrated Farm will be crucial to successful adaptation efforts. In this practical, clearly written, and beautifully designed book, Shawn Jadrnicek shares his unique ability to conceptualize, design, and manage water for whole-system benefits at multiple scales. A must read for anyone interested in design and management of water systems for resilient homesteads and farms.”--Laura Lengnick, author of Resilient Agriculture
“Shawn Jadrnicek has spent the last decade getting his hands dirty and taking risks, experimenting with how to create systems that actually work. The Bio-Integrated Farm covers areas often neglected in the current permaculture literature. Shawn's systems-based designs show permaculture's relevance beyond typical gardening scenarios. He offers a load of detailed practical advice based on personal experience, demonstrating how to make connections that result in greater yields and ease. His zeal for making the most out of the resources on hand has inspired to me to find ways to further integrate my own permaculture homestead!”--Rain Tenaqiya, author of West Coast Food Forestry