The Living Tipi

living-tipi-topIn today’s workshop we built and wove a tipi using mostly biological resources. Over the life time of anything we make there is deterioration and eventually things turn into compost. But a living tipi, like a living fence, can be more durable. Using nature and living resources we can train plants to replace the weave and to replace the poles, some small trees happily grow good central poles and will pleach their side branches. We talked about a range of weaving plants and suitable pole plants in the permaculture food forest. Some plants can happily produce both poles and weaving material.

There are abundant suitable weaving plants in the food forest. Now that the structure is strong and there are horizontal as well as vertical supports, we can plant vines to grow up and train them up and over the door and windows. We also talked about when it is best to harvest the prunings.

We had made the windows in the last workshop on creating dream-catchers.

In the true nature of permaculture this tipi can serve many purposes. The tipi will be a meditation space, a playhouse, vine support It can also be an anti-aviary if you include an internal recycled bed-net. In the design phase we played with the mathematics of the tipi, and discussed how different roof styles appropriate to the different climates.  The footings of a big tipi need a solid base. We had made the base in a previous workshop on weaving living fences.  We also discussed solar passive housing ideas to help make an enjoyable tipi design with an open top, windows to the morning sun, and how to get a cooling air flow.

Living fences (Hedges and woven fences) can last for centuries. They require a little protection from marauding chickens or foot-traffic, some basic weaving skill and patience in the setting-up period but their incredible strength and resilience over time is a valuable tool for gardens, farms, work and living spaces.