Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I heard he's a pretty fun guy....

woke up this morning- looked out the window, and found a thick blanket of snow.
it was beautiful.
finished the day, looked out the window, everything is green, snow totally melted, sun shining brightly.
the sun is a pretty amazing ball of fire and heat. goodness!
today was the day of MUSHROOMS!!!!
we inoculated straw with oyster mushrooms and inoculated logs with shiitakes.

so much fun. we also spent time working on our own designs. We ironed out some of the plans for the new forest garden here, with 7 fruit trees that need planting as the main focus. A fabulously fun day. Tonight includes Kalekopita (yum!) house meeting and a hella fun game of Bohnanza
the best german-style card game about beans, ever!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

what is this cold white stuff falling from the sky?

oh, it's snow. SNOW!!!!!!
even though i've been following the forecast, I was not expecting snow today.
we left way too early in the morning to go to a nursery near plainfield- Nicko specializes in cold hearty nuts and fruits and it's a pretty amazing place. I was there during permaculture class, but this time we got to get down and dirty. In the rain we composted and mulched around a bunch of toddler age trees and got to watch two fruit trees be planted, and demonstrations of a few different kinds of grafting techniques. so exciting. At this point we were all soaking wet- then it started snowing... We got to see the site of the (now not in the space anymore) Institute for social ecology- a really cool place, make me sad I didn't get to see it in its hey day.

I called panicking from the car, an hour from the school, and my lovely co-interns covered my little greens bed, carrots, kale, and broccoli with fabric to keep it warm- hopefully it didn't get too cold.

amazing lectures today about specific edible perennials and about edible neighborhoods- and shifting the trees and plants in urban spaces to community edibles and multi functional plants... soo cool!
check out this video about the artist Fritz Haeg and his edible estates art project...
he takes lawns in a bunch of different climates around the world and shows how they can be transformed in to edible gardens and be community building...

final thought of the evening:
Lisa has a fabulous polyculture (three or more plants in the same bed) that she plants in a container garden (just throw it all together in a pot- vs, in the ground)
a "tea tree"
a lemon tree (they can live in VT, or MA or MO, just inside most of the year, in a sunny south facing spot)
and chamomile as the ground cover...

Monday, April 26, 2010

plants! plants! they are amazing piles of living goodness

so much information about perennials, planting, multiple functions and new ideas for 'gardens' are running around my head... they are moving at lightening speed- but I will harvest a few interesting nuggets of information that stuck with me today.
interesting plant facts:
willow- can be used to make living fences and for coppice. has a rooting hormone in its bark- used to make willow water to encourage rooting in other plants. is 'nature's aspirin' super medicinal
violets can tolerate full shade or full sun
seedlings take 8 years to bear fruit
paw paws need shade when they are first planted to get established
persimmons are a late season fruit AND are the most eaten fruit in the world
climbing spinach ( perennial, leafing edible vine, grows in shade, doesn't get bitter like other spinach family plants, in march produces 'asparagus like' edible shoots

I convinced the 2 teachers of this course to frolic to the garden with me and give me some of their wisdom- out of it came some good ideas about how to transition the annual garden in to some perennial crops, and some ideas for ground cover, plants to add color, etc. over all it helped me relax a bit more, and confirm that I am not doing a terrible job, and that I can make things grow. it will be ok.

really interesting folks in the class- so fun to hear people's stories and vast amounts of wisdom and experience...and music, so many instruments here right now.. i feel like it's just the beginning of the busy, crazy fun summer season here: the next 4 or so months will just fly bye, I feel.
working hard to stay in the present moment- and daily appreciate the amazingness I live in..

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Edible forest fun camp

quite the long week...
since i have written we lost a chicken- found her on the floor of the coop one morning (Wednesday morning, i think) with a broken neck- so sad... Friday it was finally time for bill to go (the overly aggressive rooster) .... fabulous intern folk killed him on a tree over the river and Erin and I de feathered... it was intense.. I attempted to gut him and take out the organs but after poking for a bit with a knife Jose had to 'clean up my mess' and took over for me.. That night we got to go hang out with a friend who is staying in the Dimetrodon- it was amazing.
(Due to me being exhausted, and a tad lazy I'm going to use these fabulous photos and writings from a former student here to tell you all about this glorious place)
"Now, Prickly Mountain. In the 60's, when land was cheap and building codes were non-existent in the area, a bunch of architects moved onto Prickly Mountain and built insane houses. Some were awesome, some failed. It was a place to experiment.This house, the Dimetrodon, was designed as it was being built. It was originally intended to be built with 12 (I think) individual living units, but only got up to 6 (I believe.) So, now there are 6 families living there. The living units are all fully equipped with bathrooms and kitchens, etc, but each one is entirely different. Some have five very small stories, and they cross over and intertwine with each other."
The unit we were in is the first one that was built, so it was a communal space of parties and fun as the crazy thing was being built- so it keeps going on and on..some exciting features included: a round bed, wooden tub and sinks that sort of hung over the main room in a lofted space, built in beds and nooks, and a tower with a sort of lofted space and a huge north facing window... when it was built the folks thought the best way to use sun power was to put pipes out on the south side to warm hot water- so originally none of the whole south side of the building had any windows.... crazy. an amazing place, indeed.

Saturday I finally got to eat at the most amazing local foods cafe in Montpelier, Kismet .the huevos ranceheros and wheat grass, apple and lemon juice were both amazing, and it was warm enough to eat outside.

today marked the start of Edible forest garden class- a week of hands on work learning about perennial forest gardens, how to prune and transplant and split perennials and graft and all kinds of exciting things! even though there is a lot of rain in the forecast (exciting for the garden! not as fun if it means us out and about wet and cold) it should be a blast- learning so much to help me garden here and in the future...
this tired pants is going to bed! night!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

hey diddle diddle...fiddleheads!
Fiddle head ferns (photo taken from the blog Elevated Southern )

highlights from the week:
Monday's oat, banana, raisin waffles were fantastic! Tuesday I made muffins and they were a hot mess. I used 2 new recipes, was a bit rushed, overfilled them intentionally trying to do the "high rise" method. You fill the tins to the top and then bake them and in theory they puff up really high and turn beautiful. In reality, the puff out a bit, don't cook all the way, and are crumbly and their tops fall off when you try to take them out of the was awful. Some turned out though, and they were decently tasty. Wednesday breakfast was a ramp (wild onion) fiddle head (more in a second) spinach, kale and sun dried tomato frittata....and it turned out wonderfully- sorry i forgot to take photos.

which brings me to Tuesday... I got to go foraging for fiddle heads. Heidi took me out to look for them, and I learned so much, and got so addicted to the whole process of looking for them ,and then seeing them and then suddenly getting the eyes and just seeing them everywhere... I wasn't familiar with them as an edible delicacy until I moved here. When the ferns just pop up out of the ground, before they unfurl, you snap them off, cook them twice, and people love them and pay tons of money for them in markets and such...referred to as wild asparagus they are pretty mild in flavor, but really tasty... A friend brought me some goose eggs that were given to her, so soon there shall be some scrambled goose eggs with ramps and fiddle heads.

on garden news...I have one- that has beds, and things growing in exciting!!!
A farmer down the road came up and spaded it (used the spading tool on the tractor) which naturally shaped beds, so I've planted my first secessions of lettuce, mustard greens and spinach...Today some work traders helped me prep a few more beds (ie. pull pile after pile after pile of rocks out) and build a trellis for the peas to climb up! so tomorrow I will get the peas, carrots, parsnips in- and the broccoli, cabbage and kale transplanted from the cold frame to the bed... hooray!

it's starting to really feel like spring- so many exciting people, plants, and opportunities...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

back to being an intern

hi folks!
so my permaculture student days have officially come to an end.
the presentation of my site design for my parents' house went really well, and i got some good ideas for it. (I promise I'll scan those of to you soon mom and dad.)
I think a combination of running around in the rain barefoot, lack of sleep, long nights, and a bit of stress joined forces to make me sick. So I'm currently trying to nurse a cold, sleep a lot, and pull myself together for the buzy week ahead of me.

This morning was my first breakfast back cooking in the kitchen- smokey chipotle black beans, sauteed yellow squash, red pepper, spinach and tomato, scrambled eggs, salsa, and cheese on the side. We have a bunch of classes going on, so lots of people around and some favorites back for new classes. It's fun to get to the point where I already know people from earlier in the year and am excited to see them again.
tomorrow: waffles!

on other notes, I think it's finally gotten to be the time that our overly aggressive, and frankly mean rooster, Bill, will become chicken soup. Other folk offered to kill him, but I will be in charge of defeathering, taking out the organs and making the soup... a few weeks ago erin and rob brought home a dead pigeon and did the process to the lil bird, and i couldn't really handle it- it freaked me out a i'm not sure why i think i could handle doing that to bill- but I think it's my job too... working up the guts...

not much else new- once it drys off enough the garden will get spaded and beds shaped.. wish I could have gotten it done a bit earlier- but between class and the ground being really wet- there was no hope..

hope ya'll are well- send me some stop being sick thoughts!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

someday i'll be a farmer to work with my hands

still so much fun. Today we walked the campus here and identified streams, springs, and water sources. found fiddleheads just wanting to grow big enough for us to eat, some good examples of silly architecture in the woods (a solar shower really far off in the woods made with lots of concrete and pressure treated lumber) some scarlet elf cup fungi... etc.

the past few days I've had the Melanie song "Someday I'll be a farmer" in my head- so I wanted to share it with you:

I've also been reciting to myself my favorite poems/ writings:
Let the trees be consulted before you take any action
every time you breathe in thank a tree
let tree roots crack parking lots at the world bank headquarters
let loggers be druids specially trained and rewarded
to sacrifice trees at auspicious times
let carpenters be master artisans
let lumber be treasured like gold
let chainsaws be played like saxophones
let soldiers on maneuvers plant trees
give police and criminals a shovel
and a thousand seedlings
let businessmen carry pocketfuls of acorns
let newlyweds honeymoon in the woods
walk don't drive
stop reading newspapers
stop writing poetry
squat under a tree and tell stories.
- John Wright

rain today! I love the smell of being in a forest in the rain.

Monday, April 5, 2010

the opposite of Dubai

permaculture class!!!
so interesting. it's funny how much I can be excited about things, and think about things and then one day find out that there is a whole practice dedicated to the interconnection of these things that excite me. My whole being is radiating with the excitement of permaculture principles.. it all just makes so much sense... I kind of just assumed that this is how we think as a culture- and it isn't... oh, can't even form words..
but I can link to exciting videos and the work that Geoff Lawton is doing- especially his "greening the desert"... so fascinating what we can do when we work WITH the earth and natural systems and land contours.... and when we don't we use a desert to create places like Dubai....

Sunday, April 4, 2010

bikes and bikes and books and ramps!

ah! I love spring. everything feels alive again.
Friday morning I went to a seed starting workshop at Knoll farm- It was perhaps a bit silly for me to be there, as I already started a lot of seeds and have my garden plan in the works, but I met people who have gardened here for many years. The networking was good, reassuring to hear i am on the right track and got to see the lovely property of knoll farm, and meet some baby Icelandic sheep. beautiful!!!
yesterday I slept in for the first time in quite a while... leisurely woke up and went on a bike ride in to town, hung out by the water for a long time, and bathed in the sun. The afternoon was full of adventure including:
  • I found a bike! bought it from a guy on the side of the road (garage sale style) a blue and black Trek cross-track 720 in pretty good shape with newish brake pads and working tires. so exciting
  • went to my favorite bookstore/ cafe in Rochester and met the owners this time.. we hung out with them for a while, and got a beer with them- fantastic and quite interesting folk.
  • also met a guy who is teaching our root cellar class, and lives a farm that cultivates medicinal plants and mushrooms- totally going to buy starts from him (especially callendula) and hopefully some mushrooms
  • fire and fireworks at a co-workers house
  • sleeping outside under the stars

cooked breakfast on not quite enough sleep. Asparagus, roasted red pepper, caramelized onion, broccolli , chedar frittata and a zucchini, parm, caramelized onion, broccoli, sun dried tomato frittata. chipotle breakfast potatoes, and a strawberry mango fruit salad.

bike ride to some waterfalls and I start my permaculture class in the evening. woot!!!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

spring: revisited

after a good stretch of rainy days and temps in the 40's it is 65 ish and sunny today. so nice. spent the morning cooking breakfast- inspired by Karie: brown rice with balsamic sauteed onions, mushrooms and kale, with a fried egg on top. fruit plate of strawberries, pineapple, and orange.
spent the afternoon taking soil samples to get our soil tested for all of it's nutrients and deficiencies and other garden tasks.
dinner from last night. I made:
brown rice
Dal with greens (recipe from cousin Kate- yum!)
eggplant, chickpea and red pepper coconut curry
tomato raisin chutney

with sorbet for dessert