Black Creek Permaculture is the only black dirt (muck soil) permaculture site in the Hudson Valley, and possibly the entire world!


The black dirt


Located in Highland, NY, two miles west of the Hudson River, the site is the only black dirt farm left in production in the county. Black dirt, or muck soil, forms when an impermeable bedrock called marl is covered with anaerobic eutrophic wetland plants living and dying for thousands of years. The result is depositions of nearly pure organic matter. Essentially, it’s a 30 acre bowl of finished compost in a drained wetland. The site also contains upland soil where the orchards, house, and buildings are located.


Young orchard planting on the upland ‘brown dirt’


Black Creek Permaculture is owned and operated by Erik Schellenberg. The site houses a commercial nursery, organic vegetable farm, and an incredibly rich and diverse ecological community.


As a permaculture site, activities are almost as diversified as the eco-niche aims to be. The vegetable farming operation supplies farmers’ markets, wholesalers, and donates large quantities to gleaning programs and food pantries.


Black Creek Permaculture started donating organic produce in its very first year of operation and aims to increase donations yearly


The nursery offers heirloom, rare, and highly adapted specimens – mostly fruit trees and bushes, with a selection of other perennials – which are for sale directly from the farm and at farmers’ markets. In addition to vegetable and plant sales, Black Creek Permaculture is also committed to education via a variety of workshops, talks, and courses.


A variety of heirloom apples and fruit bushes in the nursery