Living Systems Institute Educational Programs


Integrated Closed Loop Production Systems

A Closed Loop Production SystemThere is no need to go "off grid" to live in a more sustainable way.  Without giving up your day job, you can begin to build the capacity to live in a sustainable way by employing integrated closed loop production systems to provide for your basic needs. 

In closed loop production, all inputs are produced as a part of the production cycle which results in reducing costs to zero.  In integrated production, all of the by-products of each process are used as feed stock in other processes, reducing waste to zero.  That is the essence of sustainable.

At the Living Systems Institute we study, design, build, and test production systems with reduced cost because we produce inputs as a part of the process, and with reduced waste as a function of integrating processes.

Learning how to deploy these systems in your neighborhood is how we will build the kind of world in which you want to live

. . . a world where every one has the food, clothing, shelter, education and health care they need to thrive . . .

without government telling you what to do and without limiting your opportunities in life.

An Integrated Production SystemOwning these systems will enhance your flexibility when you compete in the market.  Owning these systems in cooperation with your neighbors will enhance your flexibility even more.

We understand your skepticism.  Come take a tour and let us show you.  You will want to learn how you can get involved, then









Kisok SignIf you are not investing your discretionary time and money into integrated closed loop production systems, you are not contributing to a sustainable world.  These systems address your concerns no matter your political bent.


  • If your primary concern is social justice, these systems create a place where all humans can contribute their skills and receive what they need to thrive in return.
  • If your primary concern is the environment, these systems create healthy ecosystems where ever they are employed.
  • If your primary concern is the health of the economy, these systems create a social safety net that is not a tax burden on the economy.


Learning how to work with these systems sets the stage for humans to have a long and happy tenure on this earth.  It is how we can survive the end of the petroleum age.  It is how we can reduce atmospheric carbon.  It is how we leave a planet worth living on for our children and grandchildren.





JB in the Garden 2011You do not build these systems the way you put together a puzzle.

Nature's systems run on cycles.  Learn to work with these cycles and you begin to live in a sustainable way.  There are daily cycles, seasonal cycles, annual cycles and the life cycle of each species.  Your job is to facilitate the interactions that produce the cycles.  The system teaches you how to facilitate by the way that it responds to your actions.  You are never "done".  The system is always growing or declining.

Each of the classes listed below will introduce you to parts of these cycles.  Attend the basic 11 classes and you will begin to see the patterns.  Join the Greater Denver Urban Homesteading Meet Up Group and keep up with the supplemental events that will be hosted through Living Systems Institute and by others who are developing similar skills.

We also offer a more intensive, year long, course.  The course takes about 20 hours a month, over a full year, giving you direct experience with all the cycles.  Course content will be individualized for each student, and includes working directly with David Braden and the systems he facilitates at the Living Systems Institute.  The cost for the intensive course is $1,000 for the full year or $100 per month if you take it as you have time.





Living Systems Institute is a Colorado non-profit corporation.  Our letter of confirmation of tax exempt status (501(c)(3)) is dated July 16, 2014 and has an effective date of January 11, 2013.

This is a series of 11 classes spread over a year, each appropriate to the season, that demonstrate how humans can participate in the cycles of the natural world and enhance the habitat for humans and other living things.

We also invite people to assist in the development of the systems in operation at the Living Systems Institute.

The classes are free, unless noted, because the people who could be most powerful in building these new systems cannot afford to pay a fee to attend classes.  If you can afford to pay a fee, there is no better investment in the future of this planet than supporting the work of the Living Systems Institute.

Check for Dates and Times at the Greater Denver Urban Homesteading Meetup Group


Building 15 of Don's Hive This is both the beginning and the end of the course.  In this event, 8 people are invited to put up $150.00 and help the Living Systems Institute Gardening Team build 15 complete bee hives.  The eight people putting up the money will each go home with a complete hive and the experience of working in community to develop the capacity to produce for our own consumption.  The lessons learned in this exercise apply to all aspects of investing in integrated closed loop production systems.  It is the practicum of Principles of Community Design.


Introduction to Closed Loop Production Systems This class will give you an overview of natural systems and how we can employ natural processes to meet human needs in a sustainable way.  We will cover the basics of Complex Adaptive Systems and the limitations we face when we try to influence their behavior.  Given the limitations, we will cover how you can develop your ability to influence positive change in the world you experience.


Contained Systems for Greenhouses/Food Cells  In this course we will explore heat storage systems, thermal mass, venting, aquaponics, vermiculture, animal husbandry, planting mediums, plant cycling relative to heat cycles and other interesting tips on facilitating integrated closed loop production in a heat retaining space.


Cool Season Planting and Starting Plants Indoors  Some seeds and plants like the cold season, some need help to produce in our climate.  Learn the tricks to get the most out of your no-till garden systems.


Warm Season Planting and installing Drip Systems  The average last frost date in Colorado is around May 11.  Start putting in your warm season crops and bringing out the plants you started indoors.  A drip system frees you up to enjoy the coming harvest.


Seeing the Edges and Flows in a Suburban Habitat In natural systems the edges, such as the edge between a woodland and a grassland, or a wetland, are the most biologically productive.  This is because species adapted to each community have the opportunity to interact, increasing the diversity of interactions, and the variety of nutrients flowing through the system.  Learn to recognize the edges and you can use that to influence increases in the flows. 


Green House Construction/Food Cells In this course we will take a step by step approach to building a cell to contain the processes discussed in the March class.


Facilitating the creation of a Bee Safe Neighborhood  In this class we will take a step by step approach to facilitating a change in the relationship between your neighbors and the living things around them.


Chickens in a Suburban Habitat Chickens are perhaps the most useful of the species to integrate into suburban closed loop production systems.  They will eat almost anything, produce a reliable source of protein and manure and supply you with chicken stock, soup and meat.   Incorporating chickens into your way of life is easier than caring for a dog or cat.


Sheet Mulch/Hugelkutur If you are tilling the soil, you are destroying the habitat for the most complex and productive integrated closed loop production systems we know.  Tilling diminishes your soil ecosystem.  Learn to facilitate enhanced soil ecosystems with these deep mulch gardening techniques.


Building Community to Improve Your Life  Your life is a series of interactions with the things around you.  In popular parlance, these are your "connections".  The more connections you have the more resources you have to respond to change.  This is a one day seminar in which we explore the principles that apply to developing new connections.  You will gain understanding of your existing community and how you can engage it in a new pattern of interactions.  Learn to use your influence on the community to improve its resources and your own.



  • In this course David Braden will share his insights into the way all the “things” that we know fit together to create the world we experience and how we can use that information to build the kind of world we would like to live in. The course involves three meetings per month over the course of a year and independent study appropriate to each student. Price is $1,000 for the full course, or $100.00 per month.


Contact Us

  • David Braden IV, Executive Director, Living Systems Institute
  • (303) 549-9787

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