On a ten-acre site in the Mad River Valley of Vermont, Ben Falk is growing rice… and berry bushes, fruit and nut trees, vegetables, mushrooms and sheep. Falk has planted eight acres with 2500 plants of 250 different species, intended to provide a thriving foodscape while also enhancing the soils, hydrology, habitat and ecology of the region. He raises rice and lamb, heats water by pipint through a compost pile, and teaches classes in permaculture design.

Shortly after graduating from Conway, Ben founded Whole Systems Design, a consulting firm that provides site design and land planning services for residences, schools, camps and other educational settings. His designs anticipate a future when oil will be scarce, food will be produced locally, and communities—regardless of climate—must learn to be resilient and innovative. His work (profiled in the March 2011 issue of Landscape Architecture) includes a master plan for the 1600-acre Teal Farm–what he calls an “agricultural ecosystem.”

Ben’s 2013 book, The Resilient Farm and Homestead (published by Chelsea Green), summarizes his philosophy and experience. It offers practical steps for turning even the most abused and depleted site into a multilayered productive site.