Posts Tagged ‘permaculture’

Cool Blogs!!

Check ’em out!

The Halifax Garden Network has some great garden resources and events: http://halifaxgardennetwork.wordpress.com/

Great little permaculture blog with a diversity of  garden-related blog links links:  http://edenparadigm.blogspot.com/

Motheroak Permaculture Coop. This blog is a narrative of a young Nova Scotia mans enquiry and experimentation in an age of uncertainty and consequence. Through learning and sharing he aims to educate, illuminate, and ultimately stimulate the minds and actions of the people. http://www.downtoearthblog.ca/

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Global Gardener

A recommended link! http://youtube.com/results?search_query=global+gardener

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Ah, rain.

The EAT YER WEEDS! session with Savayda Jarone was postponed due to the delicious deluge.  We have re-scheduled for next Thursday, July 12,  same time –6:30pm, same place.  And I repeat, do come out;  this knowledge set is some of the most paradigm-shifting, re-connecting, and empowering wisdom attainable in two free hours.

Saturday July 7.  Our plumber friend has come through, mined the mines of his plumbing co-workers, and is going to purchase the goods to interconnect our rainbarrels.  Young plumbers gaining skills in low-tech, rain-harvesting strategies: it warms my heart.  And we are next.  Assuming it is not a total deluge, Saturday morning around 11am let’s interconnect our donated rainbarrels to gather these sweet rains.

And, on Saturday, lets build a big, phat, sheet-compost for our squash plants.  Second to knowing our medicinal weeds, this is one of the most useful, energy efficient, light-living skills we can know.

The following Saturday, July 14, perhaps we should do Intro to Permaculture.  I will have to bust my bootie to get this together, but it is the last of my free Saturdays, so let’s do it.

What is Permaculture?  Check out the good ol’ Wikipedia definition;  the collection of Permaculture videos on YouTube, put together by  Permaculture Activist; and this month’s New Internationalist is titled ‘Edible Earth:  In search of Permaculture’.

While I am not a certified teacher of Permaculture, I do have my design certificate through Linnaea Ecological Garden Program, which is an 8 month intensive taught by some of the first Permaculture teachers in north america.

The next free Saturday for me is August 11, and on that day, together with the EAC, we have organized a solar dehydrator building workshop.   A solar dehydrator is a box the size of a small fridge, on stilts, with drying racks, that collects solar warmth, creating a convection current to dehydrate fruits, seeds, greens, and herbs.  Dehydrating is the most energy effecient, and ancient, way of preserving food.  It is also the best of way of preserving food while retaining the nutritional integrity of the food.  Solar dehydrators are great for sun-dried tomatoes, dried fuits, tea herbs, and for safely saving seed.  The more dehydrators in the city, the better.

To build the dehydrators, here is a list of materials to scavenge:

  • Wood : 2X4 or 2X2 lumber (scrap is fine, but pieces at least six feet long), boards or plywood to cover the box
  • Glass: old windows or panes of glass
  • Steel: metal duct (to make a chimney), sheet metal for the sun absorber plate
    nails and screws

At the workshop we will have a dehydrator to reburbish, giving us an idea of what we are aiming to build and lessons learned from experience.  I am going to collect the gear to make myself one, and you can gather the gear for yourself to make your own there using the tools, or just come by and watch.

In the meantime:

  • June 28, Herbalist Association of Nova Scotia, annual Herb fair on McNabbs Island.
  • August 4.  Evolve!  Weeds and wild walks out there, and dancing energy into mama.
  • August 10.  Intro to Permaculture at Red Fox Farm, for Heliotrust.

Still in the works:

  • Start a Nursery:  its your duty to biodiversity.  workshop
  • Micmac medicinal plants with Laurie Lacey
  • The sweet sacred, with Little Grandmother
  • fence beautification
  • gathering native plants to create a woodland garden

Oh yes, and do check the HUGG wiki (Halifax Urban Gardeners Group) for some other great opportunities to get involved with urban agriculture.  Of note, there is a brainstorming session on July 18 at the EAC, 7 pm, for the creation of a garden freecycle site and new community garden.

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I am in the planning stage of the garden.  According to the ideas of Permaculture, it is of primary importance to Observe a site before implementing big changes, especially permanent changes.  Permaculture is all about “careful and protracted thought rather than careless and protracted labour” (Quinney, 9).  Permaculture has a bunch of principles which are related to ethics in that they are “culturally evolved mechanisms for a more enlightened self-interest” (Holgrem, 1).  The first principle is Observe and Interact.  It is important to observe a site, carefully and without judgement, for a whole year, at least a year, before making big changes.  I have not even been in province for a month! But actually, I see that as an advantage in sharing the process of learning how to garden successfully here, as many of us barely know the place we live at all.   To suppliment a year of observation, permaculture suggests to talk to lots of neighbours to hear, carefully and without judgement, a diversity of ideas and opinions.  So, the first folks I managed to invite to the garden were, Brad, the cute market mushroom man, and Alex Denicola, beloved organic-permaculture-activist market gardener who sets up beside Brad at the market.  They came by the garden on Saturday.

We are all coming from a similar perspective; we are all familiar with the ideas of permaculture, and passionately believe that we, meaning the collective we, are going to need to get serious about producing our food for ourselves, soon.   To do this we need to think carefully, act wisely, use what we have, and employ a diversity of tactics.  We need to maximize our use of space, which also means reconsidering our relationships to (non-productive) shade trees and (non-productive) lawns, pathways, and all other spaces.  We need to shift what and how we see.  If we imagine Superstore not being accessible, then this re-visioning takes on a sharp poignancy, perhaps something like a hunger pang.

First off, what is the vision for the space?  Who is getting educated and on what?  Is it a variety of ways to grow food, or is it to grow as much food as we can?

The vision that I have for SeeMore Green is that of a space that functions as a demonstration site, and training-learning ground, and a resource hub.  By demonstration site I mean a place to see successful urban food production;  by training-learning ground I mean a space for a diversity of people to learn a diversity of strategies and tactics; and by resource hub, (or urban ag. hub) I mean a place to get seeds, plant cuttings, ideas, compost innoculant, pots, etc, so that other garden projects are supported.

A couple really strong points that came out of our conversations were 1) we need to do some careful consideration about our use of space in Seymour green.  If we are going to be an inspirational demonstration of urban food production, we need show some good use of space.  I cannot help but agree.  My thinking on this had been to do a lot of creative container planting, vertical gardening – using vines and trellises as well as trying some of the suspended pipe beds that Solviva uses.  Alex challenged the garden’s primary layout and suggested we shift the wooden frames there now.  I have to admit, I don’t really like wood in the garden:  it can harbor insects, rob nitrogen and moisture, but mostly because it is an inefficient use of space.  And they encourage conventional thinking that plants belong in boxes.  But they look tidy, and we are on a university campus, and like to be liked by administration.  We also need to keep in mind wheelchair accessibility.

So, for sure, the grass in the pathways needs to get replaced with some more useful. And the whole area we are using to produce food needs to be critically looked at.
The second great point that Alex made very clear was that if you want to grow food in the Maritimes you need to use transplants.

Start seeds in flats in some sort of greenhouse, cloche, or other season-extender, and then transplant them out.  One can get a lot more food out of a small space, and waste a lot less time and energy that way.   (For more good info on this strategy, check into John Jeavon’s ideas on square foot gardening).

So next weekend we are going to build a cloche.  (A cloche is non-permanent greenhouse by my definition:  definitions vary, but that is how I use it.  PVC hose and plastic= cloche.  Glass and woodframe=greenhouse).  Alex has some re-useable plastics around and I have a screwdriver.  With a little cloche we can help the tomatoes and peppers grow enough to bear some fruit, start some veggies for fall crops and second successions, and hopefully demonstrate a successful strategy for growing food locally.

Brad had some great ideas about doing terracing with innoculated hardwood logs  to demonstrate how to increase surface area for small yards (because the folks with huge yards are most often wealthy enough for a while;  the majority have tiny yard and less cash).  By using hardwood logs innoculated with shitake or oyster mushrooms built up in the corner by the porch and stairs, we could possibly successfully harvest mushrooms from the cool, shady, moist area under the back deck, which is making productive use of a classicly unused space.  Pretty great ideas if you ask me: let’s hold this idea in mind and do some more observation and discussion before making such a big thing.

Jen Scott from the Food Action Committee and Heliotrust farm just gave us an elder tree and an mountain ash.  So there are two gorgeous trees to plant, and planting trees is a big beautiful decision.

And we have a load of compost coming early in the week, and a bunch of transplants and perennials coming next Saturday.  On Tuesday I go out to Acadia University to check out their native plant gardens with another super-sweet knowledgeable one, Ahktar.

Friends, we have some fun work to do.

–    get the bulletin boards up.
–   move raspberries and rhubarb away from where the compost is coming in
–    think about garden space: reframe a bed?
–     connect existing rain barrels, add spigot;  get more rain barrels for other downspout
– start sheet compost corner near house
– start getting rid of grass in walk areas and replace with lovely useables
– start sheet composting under the maple to prep for woodland garden
– flyer neighbourhood to bring us containers – and pathway plants: camomile, mints, lemonbalm, wooly thyme, hollyhocks, plantain!, calendula, even dandelions are better than grass!… I would like to learn more plants that could used – are there some appropriate natives? Hmmm…

SeeMore Green collective garden and urban ag hub. A thriving space with beautiful little gardens that inspire and provoke action, frequented by a diversity of cool folks to learn from, and a place to possibly get some plants, starts, seeds, cuttings, inoculants, and other shit you might need.  Always good for a nibble and a giggle.

If you share this vision, come add in to it.  It needs you to happen.  Yes, you.

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