Sunday, March 15, 2009

Permaculture in the fast lane

In the past three months, every time I have tried to sit in front of this machine and tell a tale I find myself pulled away by other things. In order to catch up I will be light on words, and heavy on pictures. Do not mistake a lack of words, for little to say. More likely I have too much to say, I just wish to get up to speed and on to new things, as we have a lot happening this coming season.In January we taught two Introduction to Permaculture workshops. One was held in Calgary and the other in Canmore. We had a really great time and met some wonderful individuals, doing amazing things for the world. We made some new friends, Rob and Michelle Avis, and had a great exchange of information and ideas in regards to permaculture in BC and Alberta. We took the opportunity to visit some family and friends, while in Alberta, and were able to get to some pretty spots. When we arrived it was around -20 degrees in Calgary and two days later we went to Edmonton where it was -39 degrees. I have never been so cold before, but there is a special kind of beauty in a landscape so stark.
Permaculture is going wild and spreading across the province of Alberta at a blistering pace. With the energetic and dedicated contributions of Rob and Michelle, permaculture is gaining ground in the prairies. If you are interested in more courses being held there this summer check out Ravis Sustainable. While in Alberta, we had the honor of hosting our first children in an Intro class. Despite our hesitations, these to young eco-warriors exceeded expectations and added immensely to the experience.
We returned from Alberta at the beginning of February. Once back on the coast Jesse gave a series of talks and seminars in and around Vancouver. They all went very well and, while Jesse was a sharing our experiences with others, I was back on the farm pruning the apple orchard. In order to stay where we are and do what we do there is a certain amount of work that has to be done, on the farm. In between the work on the farm we surveyed our garden site to render a design and plan for the coming season.
At the end of February it was off to Kelowna, for the Building Sustainable Communities Conference put on by the Fresh Outlook Foundation. We were excited about this conference, as it was the very first invitation we received when our web site was launched in May of 2008. It was a great opportunity to share permaculture and our experience with members of the private, academic, and government sectors. The response was fantastic.
A day after the conference we were back on the coast to teach an Introduction to Permaculture workshop in Vancouver. With a full house and a lovely group of people it went very. Several of our students from that course have since enrolled in full length PDC course with us, it gives us a great sense of accomplishment to have such positive feed back. Hopefully we can assist some of these active and inspired people get on their feet, as teachers in the coming months. It is only through empowering local teachers and designers that we are going to turn the environmental boat around.
At the beginning of March we are back on Denman Island. For the next few days we worked hard to get our garden prepared for the coming growing season. We continued on from the surveying and planning phase into implementation. It took about one day of hard work to get most of the garden in place. This is the before picture, as we are trying to fix a gutter for rain water to flow into the garden off the roof.
We made on contour level pathways and used the rock that we pulled out of the site to help prop up three beds. We cover cropped and planted some mint and strawberry, both great crawling perennials, to help keep back the grass and weeds along the edges. This is to be an annual greens garden with a strong edge of perennials to help fill the space nature would otherwise fill for us. Below is a picture of the end product shaped, seeded and mulched.
I started my seedling early so that I can have nice strong plants to put in the garden this year. I was also a bit too excited and hopefully I am not too far ahead of the game. Gardening in a more northern area is going to be interesting but it is going very well so far.

And in our spare time...... well there is not much of it around but we do like to enjoy the island now and again. A few weeks ago we went out and dug a few dozen clams for Manhattan clam chowder. Even when we are playing we are working, we always try to come home with wild harvest food from our days off!!!
So here we are, garden planted, rain falling, seedlings growing, part time PDC starting on March 21st and now we have a crab trap out in Baynes Sound filling with food as I write. Busy, busy, busy and I haven't even mentioned what is on the horizon...another aid project?

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