Logo primary
Logo secondary
Stephanie Ladwig-Cooper 's Profile
Stephanie Ladwig-Cooper
Last Updated:
Chico, California, United States
Climate Zone:
Web site:

My Projects

(projects i'm involved in)


(projects i'm following)

Green Road Permaculture Zaytuna Farm, The home of the permaculture Research Institute   Sierra Permaculture Guild Chico Permaculture Guild Roundel Wood Cornflower Response (Ireland) the Utilisation and conservation of native species Incredible Edible Ramsbottom Sector39 Feral Feet Knoxville Permaculture Guild Spiral Ridge Permaculture Homestead Old Chimney Farm Wildstar Farm and Folk School Love Creek Center For Permaculture Sanctuary One Millison Family Farms OSU Student Sustainability Center East Fort Worth Montessori Academy Permaculture Project Milkwood The Love & Haiti Project 241 Bondi Rd Community Garden Kamiah Permaculture Institute Self Sufficient House and Land Sunflower House The Transformation of Our Urban Home Pleasant Park Istituto italiano di permacultura PermaLot Permaculture Institute Pajaro Valley High School - Grizzly Garden Voluntourism: Conscious Permaculture colibri organic farm Permaculture Siebzger The Farm Ecovillage Training Center Al Baydha Project The GrowHaus Garburgh Gardens project Manchester Drive Forest Garden My home garden No Small Dreams Kendall Permaculture Farm Practical Permaculture Research Institute Farm School Cedar House Inn Demonstration Project "The Backyard" Djanbung Gardens Permaculture Education Centre Permaculture College Australia Casa nella Foresta Farming for Dummies Quinta do Vale da Lama Afristar Del Monte, Arcola Common Kettle Farm 49 Farms
alex jackson Alexandra Berendt Bethany Warren Brad Hamilton Bronwyn White Cathe' Fish Chowgene Koay Chris Muscat Daniel Carpenter David Braden Deb Pepperdine Don Hansford Donna Schwontkowski Eden Gal Ellie Lightfoot Heiko Vermeulen Ivy Glasgow Jack Wagner Jesse Brooks Joakim Pettersson Jodell Bumatay Joel Nisly Jon Holland Julie Pagliaro Kaeyli Kynes Kevin K Lilly Zeitler Maree Beveridge Matthew Trumm Megan Bridge Neil Bertrando Nick Huggins Owen Hablutzel Pietro Zucchetti Rae Fuller Richard G. Powell rob durham Scott Morgan Simha Bode Tim Oliver Ute Bohnsack Vanessa Monge Augusto Fernandes Victor Barahona Zeljko Serdar
Albert Bates Alder Burns alex jackson Alex Vincent Andrea Woloschuk andy macey Angelo Eliades Bee Winfield Benjamin Fahrer Bethany Warren Bill Mollison Brad Lancaster Bronwyn White Cathe' Fish Chowgene Koay Chris Muscat Daniel  Parra Hensel Darren J.  Doherty David Braden Dominic Allamano Don Hansford Eden Gal eric seider Eric Toensmeier Frank Gapinski Geoff Lawton Gregory J. Yurash Heiko Vermeulen Jack Wagner Jadene  Mayla Joakim Pettersson Jude Hobbs Juliana Birnbaum Fox Julie Pagliaro Kate Beveridge Kelly Pagliaro Maree Beveridge Mari Korhonen Nadia  Lawton Neil Bertrando Nichole Ross Nick Huggins Nicole Vosper Owen Hablutzel Paul Racko Pietro Zucchetti Rafter Sass Ferguson Rhamis Kent Richard G. Powell rob durham view all(61)

Back to Stephanie Ladwig-Cooper's profile

Urban Permaculture Project -2 years in progress

Posted by Stephanie Ladwig-Cooper over 9 years ago

We're writing on-going articles about the many aspects of this urban permaculture project in a Mediterranean climate 2 years underway. Pool to pond conversion -complete!

My husband and I have been actively working on an urban 2/3 acre permaculture project for 2 years this month. We began the design and subsequent installation at a residence in October of 2009 and it continues in multiple phases today.  As we complete the swimming pool to aquaculture pond conversion and reflect upon our progress thus far we would like to share our experiences -the trials, corrections and successes made along the way and to basically let more people know about this Mediterranean climate permaculture project.

One thing to note about our ability to share this project: we will not be able to give tours to the local public. Respecting our Clients wish for privacy is very important to us so we will not be naming our Clients or where it is located.  We could look at this as an unfortunate situation, having restrictions placed on the sharing of resources and information (especially when when we feel a project is important to local food security).  Instead we chose to turn a potential problem into a solution... we will write photo essays of the project and post them online so the global community can share in this information.  So, with our fair share in mind I've been very busy getting all of our photos and notes together...

Mind map showing the connections between project elements/systems.

Below is a short list of what the project entails (including the mind map above), a tiny synopsis of what we've done so far as well as a few photos of the pool to pond conversion.  More posts will be coming soon and please feel free to contact us if you have questions or comments!  This is an incredible project to work on and we'd love to connect with more people about it.

Project completion will include an integration of the following elements and systems:

  • conversion of ~22,000 gallon swimming pool to aquaculture pond (pond receives 2x filtered rooftop rainwater -large first flush device and 55 gallon sand filter- roof and pond water has been tested repeatedly, importantly heavy metals were found to be non-detectable; seasonal pond overflow moves passively into rainwater mulch basin in one area of forest garden) -rooftop sand filter, biofilter and pond completed 10-2011, stocking in progress

  • extensive rooftop rainwater harvesting (passive collection from all downspouts to infiltration trenches and basins located throughout the property for storage in soil) -evolving, new gutters and first flush device installed 2011

  • raised pathways throughout (rainwater allowed to flow from slightly elevated pathways to sunken garden beds) -mostly finished

  • extensive forest gardens (canopy, subcanopy and subsequent edible layers planted in staged succession) -in progress

  • coppice gardens (onsite harvesting of wood product for multiple use) -in progress

  • chicken pasture (rotation schedule -potential for duck integration) -in progress

  • greenhouse/aquaponic system (designed, built and maintained by property owner -rooftop rainwater from structure collected into existing RHS)  -evolving at owner's pace

  • outdoor solar station (pond pump, greenhouse aquaponic system, other outdoor needs) -begin building 2011

A Permaculture Property Guidebook is being compiled for our Clients so they have detailed records of what has been completed and how as well as what to expect in the future -including budget history and projections.  The Guidebook also contains concept maps, final designs and overlays and (the vital component) comprehensive management plans for forest garden succession, rainwater harvesting systems, pond and biofilters, chicken pasturing, crop harvesting, insectary calendars and more.

We began the project with our Clients in 2009 by setting goals during many design meetings.  It is their first desire to ensure a sustainable source of irrigation water for their property should municipal water sources ever become a problem.  Growing diverse crops and ensuring a surplus for family, neighbors, friends and community is also very important to them.  

Utilizing Water, Access, Structures as our guide for the design process we began by designing extensive water harvest systems and raised pathways which weave throughout the entire property.  We then installed the complete rooftop rainwater harvesting system and integrated the system with the overall forest garden design.  We also planted ~25 canopy and sub canopy fruit and nut trees for the forest garden and began planting the first succession of initial plant species (to help out-compete the existing legacy of 'weeds').  Later in 2010 we branched off to convert the unused swimming pool into a habitat, plant and fish producing pond system. The conversion of the pool took over one year to complete and now, today, we are back to working with forest garden succession and solar station design.
FYI: My husband has performed 90% of the manual labor for this project himself, about 3 days a week -off and on- as he worked other landscaping jobs.  He was meticulous to video and photograph every stage of the pool to pond conversion and we now have over 500 images to sort through for this phase of the project alone.  Picking and choosing which images to publish is going to pose a real challenge but we hope you'll enjoy the ones we chose to begin this ongoing project article...

POOL to POND CONVERSION -a sample of photos

Unused and unchlorinated swimming pool before pond conversion 2009 showing 55 gallon drum 'filtering' 300 gallons per day.  The pool had been refilled regularly with freshwater for years as well as stocked with a few catfish.

Pond after Biofilter installation 2011 with tomatoes and juncus growing in the first chamber.

  Biofilter 9-2011 (tomatoes harvested and removed) filtering over 5000 gallons per day. There are 3 chambers water fills until the weir, slightly angled toward the pond, allows the filtered water to fall about 3 feet into the pond -aiding the oxygenation of the water.

 The pond system 9-2011.  Algae still presents a maintenance chore at this point but as the system evolves it will soon be a thing of the past.

  Steps during the conversion process...

Steps after...the steps create a diverse habitat for floating, marginal and bog plant species.

Swim step before...


Swim step after... habitat for floating, marginal and bog plant species here too.  Note the water lily floating nearby; the roots are at the very bottom here which is well over 10 feet deep.

Pond eco-infrastructure -creating as much edge for habitat as possible.  The more edge that is created in the water and surrounding the pond the more diverse the system will become.  The amount and size of available edge effects the overall sustainability of the pond too -particularly a swimming pool conversion as most pools intentionally lack surface area for living things to grow upon!


September 2011 pond water is clear; animals and plants all seem quite happy.

2 adult catfish swimming among the submerged Anacharis.  The catfish were removed while the pool was emptied and the eco-infastructure built.  At this point there are only catfish and mosquito fish living in the pond -and all are breeding very well!  Forage fish will be stocked soon building up to add predator fish next year.  Small, slow solutions...

Catfish feeding off Anacharis.  Besides the submerged plant, Anacharis, there are floating plants like water lilies of various flower color, yellow flowering water fringe and parrots feather.  Marginal and bog plants are planted in the shallow steps -juncus, horsetail and pickeral rush to start.  Many more plants (edibles like water chestnuts) will be planted in and along side the pond overtime.

  Yellow, pink and white water lilies.

 Just for fun: water lilies after a quarter sized hail storm.

Eco infastructure%20after%209 20 2011

Comments (6)

You must be logged in to comment.

Report on Urban Permaculture Project -2 years in progress


or cancel

Report on Urban Permaculture Project -2 years in progress


or cancel

Wen Rolland
Wen Rolland : Great work, love the pool conversion!
Posted over 9 years ago

Report Wen Rolland on Urban Permaculture Project -2 years in progress


or cancel

Richard G. Powell
Richard G. Powell : Fantastic! I love the photos and the explanation. Two thumbs up from Orlando.
Posted over 9 years ago

Report Richard G. Powell on Urban Permaculture Project -2 years in progress


or cancel

Stephanie Ladwig-Cooper
Stephanie Ladwig-Cooper : Thanks all for your kind words and encouragement! We will post more on the pool conversion process soon. Unfortunately I had to remove an image and crop another photo in this article per our Client's request.
Posted over 9 years ago

Report Stephanie Ladwig-Cooper on Urban Permaculture Project -2 years in progress


or cancel

J.C. Naumowicz
J.C. Naumowicz : Hi Stephanie,

Wonderful job! The photos really help and are very inspirational. Used to live in Chico and work at the airport back when A.U. was still there. Could you elaborate on the natural algae negation of the system?
Posted almost 9 years ago

Report J.C. Naumowicz on Urban Permaculture Project -2 years in progress


or cancel

My Badges
My Permaculture Qualifications
Type: Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course
Teacher: Cathe' Fish
Location: Nevada City, CA
Date: Mar 2009
Other course verified
Advanced Permaculture Intensive
Type: Earthworks
Teacher: Geoff Lawton
Location: GreenFriends Farm - Castro Valley, California
Date: Oct 2012
Other course verified
Edible Forest Gardens & The Commercial Food Forest
Type: Other
Teacher: Eric Toensmeier
Location: Urban Roots Farm
Date: Oct 2013
Other course unverified
Soil Food Web Intensive: Microscope Use
Type: Soil Biology/Compost
Teacher: Elaine Ingham
Location: Green Friends Farm
Date: Mar 2014
Other course unverified
Permaculture Theory & Practicum, Open Consultancy
Type: Other
Teacher: Darren Doherty
Location: Green Friends Farm
Date: Aug 2014

Report Stephanie Ladwig-Cooper


or cancel

Hide Stephanie Ladwig-Cooper


or cancel

Hide Urban Permaculture Project -2 years in progress


or cancel

Report Urban Permaculture Project -2 years in progress


or cancel