“I Would Like to Build My Own LEHR Garden”

One of the questions I get asked frequently is whether a person can get a set of plans for a LEHR Garden, can have me come teach them how to make one, or something similar. While I’ve worked at various ways to make this happen over the last several years, the short answer is no, I don’t and can’t. The reason for this is that a LEHR Garden is a highly complex engineered system. I have worked over the last several years to train several people on how to build the basic system that I typically build and the process has been instructive.

Several years ago I worked with a potential partner in the business. When I explained to him how the garden worked, he went and started looking into all of the various aspects that are combined to make a LEHR Garden, doing a deep dive. After a few days of reading he came back with “how did you design this?!?” The day after that, he came back with “how has nobody else designed this?” I think that that second question is telling. To me, the whole system is simple and pretty intuitive. However, if it works this well, how is it that nobody has come up with this design already? Why is it that nobody figured this out before now?

I think that the answer is in the complexity. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I combined twelve different methods and disciplines to create a LEHR Garden. In order to be able to do that, one has to be able to understand each of those disciplines well enough to see how their jagged edges fit together. But it’s more than that. Just the theory isn’t enough. One has to experiment and figure out how to make it work. I got lucky and my first iteration worked surprisingly well. If it hadn’t, I might not have continued, chalking it up to a failed idea. How many people got to that point? But even my first attempt had issues. I did my best to diagnose why they happened and then redesigned to fix them, and I kept doing that for about 7 years until I got to my current design. And even that design is under constant redesign.

I have made several attempts to create the content people have asked for. I first started writing a book on the process. At about 20k words into it, I ran through some mental math and I believe that that book is going to be about 150k words. While that’s the full detail needed to understand the process, I’m fully aware that that’s going to be really intimidating to most. I started writing a manual where DIYers could follow some basic instructions to design and build their own system. I figured it would be about 10 pages of simple guidelines that they could follow, including pictures. The document I came up with was 18 pages without pictures and had so many factors that I found it intimidating and don’t think that most people would be able to follow along well enough to produce a successful LEHR Garden. As for the current design that we build, I never created a plan for it. I never needed one. I designed it in my head and built that. I’ve trained my team how to build it without a plan. I haven’t had the time to actually sit down and create a plan.

As I mentioned above, I have taught several people how to build LEHR Gardens. What has happened every time is that they proceed to build to their understanding, and it often fails. Usually this is because they missed some subtle but important detail or, eager to contribute, they modify some part of the system to consequences they don’t quite understand. Imagine, for a minute, that you get your hands on a recipe for garlic mashed potatoes. This recipe is from a Michelin starred restaurant in New York City and a plate of food there typically costs $200. But you have their exact recipe for garlic mashed potatoes. Nearly every home cook is going to look at it and modify the recipe, deciding they need a little more garlic or a little less salt. DIY-ers are the same. You give them a woodworking project and they say “cool, but I have a better way to build that.” And some of the details are flexible while others are absolutely critical that they remain unchanged. Of the dozen or so people who I’ve worked with to train how to build LEHR Gardens over the last several years, only a few are proficient enough to build one unsupervised, and even those still have questions frequently.

I want to be clear here, that the intent is not to create a tech company where I jealously hoard my intellectual property, sharing with none. The goal here is to start a movement, to make a difference in the world, and a LEHR Garden has SO much potential in this area. But that movement will die on the vine if most of the people who spend their own money and build their own system fail in that endeavor. At this point, all this movement has is a reputation for success and that reputation cannot withstand a situation where most of the people who build these systems fail at it.

Where do we go from here? Right now, my team and I are working to design a manufactured system. This should work to meet the needs of people who want to try a LEHR Garden but aren’t close enough for me to build them one. As for building the current system in other areas, the plan is to develop a training program. As professionals in other areas see opportunities in their areas and want to be a part of the movement, they will come to me and we will have intensive, hands-on training to teach them how to build a LEHR Garden. The level of complexity is on par with a Permaculture certification and we think that the process will take at least 2 weeks. If you would be interested in going through this training, please contact us and we will talk about it.

There’s another higher level of training, though. A LEHR Garden brings some incredible opportunities to the table in terms of creating integrated, fully-functioning farms. That’s the direction that we are currently moving and innovating. The training for that will take literally years, as it is a new way of engineering things. We plan on handling that as on-the-job training. As our business grows, we will hire engineers and train them to design these systems through employment in our company.

As like anything else, our ability to move forward with any of these initiatives is dependent on our resources. Our availability of resources is dependent on our visibility and our ability to find partners and customers who can help us move the movement forward, so please share our content and help us spread the word.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Jayson Barnes

    Hey Ed, Morgan’s assistant Jayson here-very interesting how you guys have never actually wrote out a plan, pretty cool that you are constantly redesigning it. I still live in an “apartment” but I have a little side yard that gets little to no sun and it is a very small area. I am thinking of devising my own lehr garden that will be quite smaller and more easy to move but also big enough to hold a decent amount of food waste and compost. Thanks for a this article as it gives me motivation to make it however I would like.

  2. zoritoler imol

    I savor, cause I discovered just what I used to be looking for. You’ve ended my 4 day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a great day. Bye

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