Author Archives: RC

McKinley-Brighton Artwork & Student Garden at Rahma Edible Forest Garden

It’s taken quite a few years to figure this out, but we finally created a relationship with McKinley-Brighton school that worked! The kids and teachers did a great job with integrating their artwork into the garden, and we even coordinated a new growing space just for them to have fun and learn in. :>) Check it out when you’re heading down South Salina St! By the way, strawberries are ripening as we sleep and breathe, grab a snack, and take a look at what’s new, what’s old, and what’s in real.

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Permaculture Principle #6: Produce No Waste

Waste not, want not.

What of a tree goes to waste in a tree-based community (a forest)?

Everybody eats, everybody gets eaten. If not for you, what is this food for? Earthworms or entropy itself?

What are you made of? See what you can do!

A Rap on Monthly Permaculture Principle 5 – Use & value renewable resources & services

Principle 5: Use & value renewable resources & services

Trees. A central part at the heart of every ecosystem supportin’ human habitation. A station for renewal of many a good & service: fiber, fuel, food (for humans), fodder (for animals), farmaceuticals, and all kinds o’ fun. Did I mention they live off the sun? And the soil. And in a few hundred million years, they may be renewed to rock oil. But unlike oil, dead ‘nd deadly indeed, trees can be better than free for what you need. Paying you back in fact and potentially if the way you both act is of mutual benefit, then you’re sending it: succession through time. May the force of the forest be with you!

Monthly Permaculture Principle: 4 – Apply Self-Regulation and Respond to Feedback

This month we’re kicking off our Monthly Permaculture Principle series. Each month we’ll introduce a permaculture principle and highlight examples of it. We encourage folks to join in, seeking out and sharing examples of permaculture design principles in action.

To start with, what are permaculture principles? Briefly, they are design principles, used in the continuous and evolving process of designing one’s landscape and lifestyle.

“Continuous and evolving” is a key phrase for this month’s permaculture principle:

4 – Apply self-regulation and respond to feedback

A go-to location for permaculture principle explanations and examples is PermaculturePrinciples.com:

We need to discourage inappropriate activity to ensure that systems can continue to function well.

The icon of the whole earth is the largest scale example we have of a self regulating ‘organism’ which is subject to feedback controls, like global warming. The proverb “the sins of the fathers are visited unto the children of the seventh generation” reminds us that negative feedback is often slow to emerge.

via https://permacultureprinciples.com/principles/_4/

And a thoughtful bit about reflecting backward and forward in self-regulating:

I always thought the Native American idea “think of seven generations” meant to think ahead seven generations into the future. But I have been shown that it also means thinking back to our own great-grandparents, grandparents, parents, and ourselves, as well as forward to our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.In a garden, it means behaving as though we are part of a continuum, starting with an appreciation of the harvest of the land stewards of the previous generations, and planting perennials and enriching the soil so that years later our future grandchildren can continue to enjoy and reap the harvest of our labors. Responding to feedback can also mean remediating our own mistakes or those of our predecessors. This may mean replanting unproductive areas of the garden, or improving soil that has been impoverished.

via https://www.timberpress.com/blog/2013/02/12-principles-of-permaculture/

What examples of self-regulation and responding to feedback have you found in your own or your peers’ work designing landscapes, lifestyles, and other systems? Please share in the comments, and pass this principle on to others!

Syracuse Grows Member Garden Meeting: March 19 Notes

The resource drive will take place on April 27th. We need 2 or more people and shovels on site to unload compost and woody debris/mulch. Also, Syracuse Grows is looking for pickup truck drivers to help move material around and will pay for cleanup costs. The HQ for the Resource Drive will be on the corner of Colvin & Salina St.

Spring seedlings partnership with the Brady Farm was announced: member gardens will get a $20 credit to pickup seedlings at Brady Farm. The images below link to the available seedlings list passed out at the meeting (front and back). Most items will be available starting May 6th (farm is open Monday-Friday 9am-3:30pm and Saturday 9am-1pm). Spring greens/brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, collards, mustards, pac choi) are only available the week of April 22 – 27th, 9am-3pm.

Seedling List – Back

Seedling List – Front

Syracuse Grows Mini-Grant Program for member gardens is available this year. Applications are short and just call for receipts and status updates if awarded. Awards are reimbursement-based with a maximum of $400 per garden. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis at the 2nd Tuesday of each month.

Other funding opportunities were discussed: the Parks Conservancy offers up to $2,000 grants and Syracuse community gardens within the city are eligible. The Gifford Foundation’s What If grant is another potential funding source, with rolling applications and a history of awards to community gardens.

We announced the upcoming Plant Sale & Swap hosted by Alchemical Nursery & Bread and Roses.

Ecological Hero Highlight: Masanobu Fukuoka

Fukuoka, a farmer leading landscapes and lifestyles toward smoother paths. Daoism emphasizes the importance of relaxation to let the natural way flow within your mind, speech, actions, and beyond. Fukuoka cultivates peace of people and of places, finding paths of least resistance to move well with the Way.

Masanobu Fukuoka (Japanese: 福岡 正信 Hepburn: Fukuoka Masanobu, 2 February 1913 – 16 August 2008) was a Japanese farmer and philosopher celebrated for his natural farming and re-vegetation of desertified lands. He was a proponent of no-till, no-herbicide grain cultivation farming methods traditional to many indigenous cultures,[1] from which he created a particular method of farming, commonly referred to as “natural farming” or “do-nothing farming”.[2][3][4]

Fukuoka was the author of several Japanese books, scientific papers and other publications, and was featured in television documentaries and interviews from the 1970s onwards.[5] His influences went beyond farming to inspire individuals within the natural food and lifestyle movements. He was an outspoken advocate of the value of observing nature’s principles.[6]

via https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masanobu_Fukuoka

To learn more about Fukuoka and natural farming methods from him, check out www.permaculture.com/node/140

 

August 6 is a day to celebrate this person – perhaps a ‘saint’ for the green spiritually inclined – though acknowledgement, knowledgement, and embodiment any day is the way to The Way!

Learn Trade Skills

Motivational graphic for repairing, building, making (and don’t forget gardening!)

“An ally in leaving the world better than one found it!” – My own saying

“Build a better world by doing good things instead of being angry at bad guys.” – Paul Wheaton of Permies.com

Repair, Recycle, ReUse

Go to a Repair Cafe near you!

– Fun hobbies
– Fulfilling & educational
– Meaningful, build resilience
– Direct action to build a better world environmentally, socially, productively
– Save money

* Not all trade skill applications equal, YMMV

[originally posted at https://alchemecology.com/?p=1209]

On the Issue of Exotic and Native Plants in Permaculture

Paul Wheaton in a Permaculture Keynote, discussing the role of exotic plants in permaculture systems to maximize net benefit of productive conservation:

‘Native plants are important and most permaculture systems are made up of them – I can’t think of a permaculture system that didn’t! – but a lot of people keen on native plants believe that you should only plant native plants. I ask them: what do you eat? Nearly all of them eat food that’s not native, at least a little bit every week. Most people, 99% of their diet is not native.’ By gardening, people can grow a lot of their food, and gardening can serve as conservation while also providing many benefits! Some invasive plants certainly aren’t suitable for intentional planting and cultivation, but where’s that fine line? There are many useful plants which were once exotic and are now considered staples.

 

And a more detailed description/conclusion of the overall presentation:

‘food problems, fuel problems, petroleum and irrigation – we’ve solved a lot of these problems and we just need to get the word out and more people doing this around the world. … We could go be angry, but I think it’s much better to keep sharing the info we’re sharing, pass it on as much as we can share…it’s very important! …we’re doing something wrong, and the solution just turns out to be that shaking your fist at bad guys just isn’t really doing the trick. However we have other means, and thankfully it’s much a much smoother ride to tell somebody about an idea than to be angry at them.’

Seaberry aka Seabuckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) – Plant Highlight

Seaberry Benefits

A list and table provided by Whole Systems Design, LCC: http://www.wholesystemsdesign.com/wsd-seaberry-products/

  • Exceptional essential fatty acid content.
  • Nitrogen fixer
  • Hardy from USDA zones 3 (maybe 2b) to 7 for sure, probably 8 (I’ve seen growing in Tuscany Italy and have heard first hand reports of them growing in central Canada where it gets to -50F)
  • Nearly deer proof (very resistant to browse once established and even early on with thorns present)
  • All parts medicinal from leaves to fruit to bark (non fruit parts used as a tea for centuries)
  • Fast growing and drought tolerant
  • Soil hardy – we’ve grown them well in everyting from sandy to heavy dense clay
  • Birds do not harvest them much if at all
  • But great bird nest habitat
  • Needs full to 3/4 day sun minimum
  • Exceptionally wind hardy – great wind heedge and snow fence
  • Salt tolerant – grows on Siberian coastal dunes
  • Bears every year, bears at a young age
  • Flowers hardy to below 20F – exceptionally reliable and resilient in the face of late frosts
  • Maintenance free once established -no need to prune
Constituents of Sea Buckthorn Fruit (per 100 grams fresh berries)
Vitamin C 200-1,500 mg (typical amount: 600 mg)
Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols) Up to 180 mg (equal to about 270 IU)
Folic acid Up to 80 mcg
Carotenoids, including beta carotene, lycopene, zeaxanthine; these contribute the yellow-orange-red colors of the fruit 30-40 mg
Fatty acids (oils); the main unsaturated fatty acids are oleic acid (omega-9), palmitoleic acid (omega-7), palmitic acid and linoleic acid (omega-6), and linolenic acid (omega-3); there are also saturated oils and sterols (mainly β-sitosterol) 6-11% (3-5% in fruit pulp, 8-18% in seed); fatty acid composition and total oil content vary with subspecies
Organic acids other than ascorbic (e.g., quinic acid, malic acid; ingredients similar to those found in cranberries) Quantity not determined; expressed juice has pH of 2.7-3.3
Flavonoids (e.g., mainly isorhamnetin, quercetin glycosides, and kaempferol; these are the same flavonoids as found in Ginkgo biloba. 100-1,000 mg (0.1% to 1.0%)

To hugelkulture or not to hugelkulture? Mulch is the question @ Rahma

Rahma Forest Garden is likely one of the most carbon rich soil sites in the city of Syracuse. Trees and perennial plants have been established there for over 5 years, and many truck loads of mulch have been spread on the site with Syracuse Grows’ annual garden Resource Drive. We chop and drop some plants like black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) and comfrey (Symphytum) to help build soil Carbon & Nitrogen. In addition to chop & dropping some plants, we accumulate a lot of plant matter from weeding, thinning, and pruning on site, which gets piled up in a low pallet fence roughly separating woody debris from green materials.

This piled up plant debris is useful in theory. In reality, the piles are too loosely stacked to effectively break down, they are unwieldy to move or turn over, and they ultimately end up an eye sore (or once upon a time, a nest for abandoned kittens!), needing to be brought to the curb for city pickup.

Mulch from Syracuse Grows waiting to be spread with pitch forks & shovels, buckets & wheelbarrows at Rahma Forest Garden September 22, 2018

City pickup is a nice option as the city has substantial mulching infrastructure & logistics, and the mulch made from city yard waste like that at Rahma Forest Garden is available for pickup at various locations for free. We end up cycling nutrients from Rahma Forest Garden, to the city composting facilities, then back to Rahma Forest Garden in some cases (or in some ‘Carbons’)! Taking a closer look at this nutrient cycle, city pickup means the use of fossil fuels (trucks, heavy machinery) and the removal of nutrients from on the garden. That yard waste grew from sun, water and soil. If the goal is to build soil with a low-footprint as part of the regenerative garden, isn’t there a more regenerative solution? Some options being considered are listed below. The question at hand is: what’s the best way(s) to handle plant waste from the forest garden, maintaining healthy nutrient cycles for the site and beyond?

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