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.’

Enter to Win a Copy of “Forage, Harvest, Feast” by Marie Viljoen

The Alchemical Nursery Project has  teamed up with the folks at Chelsea Green Publishing to offer one lucky person the chance to win Forage, Harvest, Feast by  celebrated New York City forager, cook, kitchen gardener, and writer Marie Viljoen. 
 
“In this groundbreaking collection of nearly 500 wild food recipes, Viljoen incorporates wild ingredients into everyday and special occasion fare. Motivated by a hunger for new flavors and working with thirty-six versatile wild plants—some increasingly found in farmers markets—she offers deliciously compelling recipes for everything from cocktails and snacks to appetizers, entrées, and desserts, as well as bakes, breads, preserves, sauces, syrups, ferments, spices, and salts.”
Thank you for following and supporting The ALchemical Nursery Project, follow this link to enter until November 25th:
Read all about this title at https://www.chelseagreen.com/product/forage-harvest-feast/
The regular price is $40.00 for those who would like to purchase it outright, but we are able to offer our readers a discount of 35% off. The discount code CGP18 is valid through 12.31.2018 (cannot be combined with any other offers).

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?

Continue reading →

Herb and Plant Walk at Rahma Food Forest

Tuesday July 17, 5pm-6pm

        Rahma Edible Forest Snack Garden,

3100 S Salina St, Syracuse, New York 13205

Our landscapes are filled with beneficial and useful plants, so close at hand yet unrecognized by many, even when they are literally beneath our feet! Urban spaces in particular tend to be abundant with edible and medicinal plants due to the unique and diverse ecosystems created by human impacted environments. Some of these medicinal plants can made into tea or tincture to improve digestion, reduce stress, support the immune system and much more. In this workshop Nick Cavanaugh will help to you learn to identify some of these common plants, how to harvest them from clean locations, and how to consume them for health and enjoyment. Nick is an herbalist from Syracuse, currently practicing as a clinical herbalist in Burlington, VT and helping to run a retail herb store and herbal classroom. You can learn more about Nick’s work at www.nickherbalist.com.
https://www.facebook.com/events/1849817231773315/

FIC Affiliate Online Bookstore Sales

The Alchemical Nursery is now an affiliate vendor for the Fellowship for Intentional Community (FIC) online bookstore.  Click on the banner below, which shows some of the newest titles in the store, and 10% of your purchase will be donated to The Alchemical Nursery!

https://www.ic.org/community-bookstore/category/community-books/all-titles/ref/76/?campaign=INTRO

2018 Opening Season Clean-Ups and Special Events Schedule

Opening Season Garden CleanUps and Resource Drive

  • Clean-Up Cuse and Resource Drive on Saturday April 21
    Rahma Food Forest Garden from 10am to 3pm
    3100 South Salina St
    In addition to trash pick-up at the food forest and surrounding streets, we will be propagating hardwood cuttings of currants and gooseberry by plugging them directly into the ground in areas that we have targeted for restoration work.  We will also be digging and separating root/bulb perennials to have on stock for our upcoming plant swap and sale (see below).  Finally, we’ll be receiving compost and mulch deliveries from Syracuse Grows that we’ll need volunteers to unload and haul around the site.

    Clean-Up Cuse and Resource Drive on Saturday April 21
    610 Gifford St Community Garden from 11am to 1pm
    Trash pick up at the garden and on surrounding blocks as part of a neighborhood wide effort coordinated by Take Back The Streets.  We’ll feast on rice and beans too provided by our volunteers.  We’ll also start seeding cold weather crops as the ground is supposed to be thawed, and propagating cuttings and other perennials as possible.  Finally, we’ll also be receiving compost and mulch deliveries from Syracuse Grows that we’ll need volunteers to unload and haul around the site.

Special Events

  • EarthFest at Thornden on Sunday April 22
    Thornden Park from 12noon to 4pm
    Come paint garden art signs with us!  Participate in a  community painting event by sharing your style in painting a garden art sign that depicts one of the species in our gardens.  We then use the signs for education in the gardens, and fundraising.  There is no cost for folks to paint!

 

  • Revolution’s Regard Art Show on Sat April 28 from 4pm to 12midnight
    The Gear Factory (Corner of South Geddes and West Fayette)
    Come paint garden art signs with us again!  Participate in a  community painting event by sharing your style in painting a garden art sign that depicts one of the species in our gardens.  We then use the signs for education in the gardens, and fundraising.  There is no cost for folks to paint!

 

  • Plant Swap & Sale on Sat May 5 from 11:30am to 2 pm
    405 Westcott St at Bread and Roses Collective
    Plant lineup will be on Facebook event pages of both organization soon (or contact us if you don’t use FB). This year, Worker’s Center of CNY will be serving Zapatista coffee & selling Handmade crafts, and Brad from Salt City Syrup will be selling his Syrup and Maple Cotton Candy!

Revisiting Rahma – restocking of Rahma Edible Food Forest after 5 years of tree growth

A fundraiser for $500 dollars

In 2012 we started the journey together through design, fundraising and organizing, to build a forest garden on the grounds of the Rahma Free Clinic.  In 2018, after 5 years of growing a forest, we will revisit and renew, taking an intentional look at what succeeded and what failed, redesigning plots and polycultures, and replanting and newly mulching spaces that haven’t yet fulfilled their potential at the Rahma Edible Forest Snack Garden in Syracuse NY, located at 3100 South Salina St.

For example, one of our first plots – the paw-paw/currant/gooseberry/mint polyculture – has been very stable, though we lost one pawpaw tree following a dry period during the summer of 2016.   Most of the groundcover and herbaceous layer is productive, but some spots have seen takeover by plant species that we would rather convert to other productive residents.  Thistle and wild lettuce will be replaced with  friendlier clover, gaps between under-story specimens will be re-mulched and filled in with cuttings from the adjacent gooseberry and currants, and the pawpaw loss will be replanted with two new 4-foot tall saplings (approximate cost with shipping $100.00).

Second, the center of out garden has often suffered from dry periods, and the trees planted there have either been mortality specimens or have grown very very slowly.  We will replant with a monarch waystation patch of 32 plants including 6 different species* ($136.85), as well as a triumvirate of Adirondack Gold Apricot trees ($104.24)!

The remaining funds from the $500 raised will go towards supplies and materials such as plant stakes, ID tags, snacks for volunteers, and clover seed.  If we raise more than the $500, we’ll be able to extend our revisit to other patches in the forest too!  Come take a look and share what areas you’d like to see receive some extra special TLC this year.

* (5) Butterflyweed for Clay (3″ Pots), (5) Rough Blazingstar (3″ Pots), (5) Common Milkweed (3″ Pots), (5) Sky Blue Aster (3″ Pots), (6) Hoary Vervain (3″ Pots), (6) Purple Coneflower (3″ Pots)

Picture above is from our annual Juneberry harvest!  The perks we are providing to donors of this campaign are not metered out in buttons, or keychains, or postcards, or any other trinkets, but in real food, and planting stock, and seeds, that we give away and share with anyone that visits the edible food forest, from the plants that we grow on site!

Planting the seeds of sustainable urban gardens in Syracuse

Adding to Alchemical Nursery In The News, here’s a throwback to Syracuse.com article “Planting the seeds of sustainable urban gardens in Syracuse” from 2015:

http://www.syracuse.com/living/index.ssf/2015/02/permaculture_flourishes_with_a_cornucopia_of_public_produce.html

The article details some of Alchemical Nursery’s origins, quotes leaders of the Rahma Edible Forest Snack Garden at the Rahma Free Health Clinic, and shares some of the hopes that animated the organization years ago and still today. Frank Cetera, co-founder and current president of Alchemical Nursery, is quoted: “A lot of people that don’t have a high income can’t afford produce,” he said. “We can help reduce the overall load to tax payers and social services agencies by providing a resource for people to grow their own food.” Get involved!