Permaculture Features

The resources on this page offer a glimpse at many of the exciting permaculture features that are installed and utilized at the Gibbs House for programming, education, and research purposes. Your idea or project could be the next exciting feature at the Gibbs House!  

Property Front 


Dwarf cherry trees, perennial grasses, and native flowers yield important ecosystem services consistent with the sustainability goals of the site. Each of the plants along the property front support soil health and habitat for beneficial insects and pollinators, while providing attractive blooms and fruits throughout the growing season.  


Living Fence



Native plants and fast growing perennial food crops such as grapes and hazelnuts provide food as well as aesthetic and utilitarian benefits. The living fence helps mitigate wind, wildlife, light, and noise from the road and adjacent sites. 


Hugelkultur Swales



Invasive trees removed along Parkview were stacked and buried to create large, fertile, and drought tolerant 6' tall garden beds. The process creates swales for irrigation and water absorption, increases available surface area for planting, and creates micro-climates, which support a diversity of plants on all sides of the hugelkultur bed. 


Hoop Houses



Two 30'x48' double wall hoop houses are used to extend the Michigan growing season for an assortment of greens and produce while expanding research opportunities for projects such as vermicomposting, aquaponics, passive solar demonstrations, and more. 


Food Forest


A young seven-layer food forest demonstrates how an agricultural system can be modeled after a native forest to produce a diversity of perennial food crops such as fruits, nuts, berries, and other valuable perennials. 

Annual Crop


Greens and produce grown at the Gibbs Site provide an unparalleled opportunity for students to learn how to grow their own food. Food grown here is used in meals prepared by WMU Catering Services and is featured at the Campus Cafe. We also host a seasonal produce stand that is open to the community. 

Outdoor Education Space



Students, professionals, and community members are working collaboratively to design and construct a Living Building Challenge inspired outdoor presentation and education facility to host and facilitate activities, workshops, and events at the Gibbs Site. 


Renewable Energy



A 6kW photovoltaic array will be incorporated into the design of the Presentation Space to provide a substantial percentage of the electrical demand at the Gibbs Site. 

Gibbs House Systems


The historic Gibbs House provides opportunities for Gibbs House Fellows and guests to develop sustainable living skills, test systems, and explore appropriate technology. Fellows live at the house and learn as they work on research and programs that create a culture of sustainability at WMU. One goal of the Office for Sustainability is to renovate the Gibbs House to historic standards while also making it a carbon negative demonstration feature and WMU Point of Pride.