Saturday, July 26, 2014

Another Vortex

Lot of folks in Joshua Tree talk about the vortex-like nature of the place. It pulls you in, entices you with its hard beauty and makes it difficult to leave. Williams Oregon has a vortex too. We never intended to stay for 4 days but the connections just kept coming on. Williams is a lush remote agricultural valley where lovers of pot, organics, kombucha, Rudolf Steiner, biodynamics, ceremony, fermentation and permaculture (to just name a few of the passions) come together. Thanks to the citizens of Williams for being so kind and open to us!

Open mic night in Williams

The lush food forest at Seven Seeds Family Farm.

Jill helps harvest Calendula at the Herb Pharm.

Tim discovers Mesquite flour in the Williams general store.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Gate Crashing

Capturing ideas from the NorCal Transition Leadership meeting

We arrived in Sebastopol to find a Northern California Transition Leadership meeting happening that we gate crashed. Despite being the water usurpers from the south, we were welcomed with open arms. We met LOTS of the Transition leadership from Transition Initiatives all over Northern California, all doing the work of all works. It was great to connect up again with Scott Mckeown, a founding member of Transition Sebastopol and our Trainer for Transition in Joshua Tree. Turned out we had good things to offer at the all day meeting about our successes particularly in transitioning to an elected Coordinating Council. Very few Transition groups have successfully made this change. We gave due creds to Scott who helped us with Best Practices suggestions through the process. Maggie Fleming, new co-director of TransitionUS asked us to write an article about it for the TransitionUS newsletter. 

Water harvesting systems at OAEC
Our OAEC digs for the weekend

We spent our 2 nights in the area at Occidental Arts and Ecology Center where I did my PDC in 2012. Tim got to meet one of my teachers, Kendall Dunnigan. We were able to hang with her a bit and hear about her recent work in Haiti with the SOIL group - putting together a humanure (cholera is rampant), soil building, tree planting program permaculture-style.

We stayed up on the hill in the tipi by the pond. Very sweet digs. The hot tub didn't hurt either.

Coffee and research to figure out our next destination

Take aways for the desert:

1. Reconomy efforts are working well in some of the Transition Initiatives, one in particular is Transition Humboldt.

2. We can be very proud of our Transition Joshua Tree successes! Having a well functioning Coordinating Council and learning group processes techniques are essential.

3. While traveling make sure to immerse yourself in a body of water every day (bath tubs and showers don't count).

Thursday, July 17, 2014

On The Permie Road 1

My permie design biz partner Tim DeLorey and I have hit the road for a 2 month exploration of all things permaculture in the Pacific NW including the Gulf Islands off Vancouver. Networking is a permie art. Two days out and the connections are coming fast. We are currently in Paso Robles staying at Franklin Hot Springs (funkified!) where the owner, Norm Franklin, has just taken steps to lease his barn to a compost tea maker. His daughter is going to chefs school and wants to start a farm to table restaurant on the land. Cal Poly is helping work out some possible aquaponics using fresh water shrimp.

Way funky pump at the hot springs.

Yesterday we visited Ambeyth Certified Biodynamic Vineyard and learned about "dry farming". No irrigation. The harvest depends solely on the rains. This kind of drought training drives the grape roots down deep to find water (they can go down 100 feet!) and intensifies the flavor and nutritional value of the fruit. They age the wine in clay amphori imported from Italy. Thanks to owners Mary and Phillip for taking the time to show us around! Later that day we bought a watermelon that had been dry farmed. It was incredibly delicious with an edible rind.

clay amphora for aging biodynamic wine

Today we met Jim Coles who helped start Oak Commons Co-housing, teaches a PDC course and is a founding member of the local Transition Initiative. We compared notes on what it takes to launch and maintain a Transition Initiative. The Commons includes a 10 acre, Blue Oak woodland. Jim has started a discussion with the other co-housing members about using permaculture techniques to jump start the "succession" process of the woodland - the natural process by which nature builds bio-diversity. The correct kind of grazing could help with this. He's considering turkeys.

Take-aways for the desert:

Investigate water harvesting techniques to aid in dry farming.

Grape varieties from the Rhone valley are well adapted to dry conditions.

Try dry farming some Klondike water melons under the grapes.