Why Plant a Food Forest? Internship Highlights Thinking Long-Term

To read what else the internship program staff and interns have been doing, see Midwest Permaculture’s blog update.

We still have a few seats remaining in our upcoming internship sessions.

Hayden and Ernest walk along newly planted berm, where, in 10-15 years, a fruit overstory will shade the same place.

Hayden and Ernest walk along newly planted berm, where, in 10-15 years, a fruit over-story will shade that same spot.

Our spring interns, along with the internship staff of Ernest, Hayden, and Megan, have been busy digging into Permaculture ideas — literally.  Over the course of three weeks, we have designed, ordered, prepared, and planted a linear food forest, a multi-story edible patch of groundcovers, shrubs, fruit/nut trees, and companion plants placed along a water-catching swale.  As the forest grows, these perennials will be a lasting contribution to our yearly local harvest and provide us with tons of extra raw materials such as firewood for rocket stoves or our own living mulch.

But why plant a food forest, when it won’t truly be a forest until 10-15 years from now?  Food forests are the ultimate in slow food; in our fast-paced and mobile culture, this design doesn’t appear to work for us as individuals.

1095488_af5c674bIn my (humble) opinion, it isn’t working today simply because we haven’t recently been thinking long-term.   Imagine if your parents had planted a few trees for you at birth.  By age 20, you’d have raw materials at your disposal.  Sure, it’s not a new car, but even if you just chop up the trees for firewood, your effort is minimal.  Nature did most of the work.

Besides the estimable value of raw materials growing out of thin air, our interns brainstormed other ways in which food forest planting is useful:

  • If you are an orchardist whose wish is to maintain a healthy and productive orchard, a food forest design is insurance.  Also, with multiple harvest-able products, you aren’t putting “all your eggs in one basket.”
  • Learning to design and start food forests is a learning experience in itself, and is best learned through doing.  You learn not only how to plant a food forest, but how to work with others, and how to imagine how a place can change over time.
  • In 5-10 years when the forest does start producing, the harvest will be much more meaningful and will less likely go to waste.

Permaculture isn’t about designing something to be unchanging and final–nature doesn’t work like that– but it is about designing something that will be useful through multiple stages of growth, and not only to oneself, but to all beings sharing the same environment.  We (the intern staff) hope that this exercise in thinking long-term will, in itself, have a long-term impact.

Slide3-640x480Click here to read more about our food forest design and why we are using it in our Permaculture Design for CSC’s 8.7 acres.

Come visit our newly-planted food forest (and see other exciting innovations!) here on June 8th.

June Open House: Permaculture Design Tour and Cob Building Intro

What’s it like to live, work, and play every day as a permaculturist?  See our design updates and learn to make some cob!
cob feet 2

This one-day Open House will be on June 8th, 10am-4:00pm.
In the morning, we will take a walking tour of town and show you some of the neighborhood’s examples of sustainable living–our wind turbine, rain gardens, and more.  In the afternoon, we will feature an introductory tour highlighting some of our recent work on the CSC landscape and including a cob-making tutorial.  And . . . stay overnight to take Midwest Permaculture’s Rocket Stove workshop on June 9th!

Schedule:
10:00 amINTRODUCTION
11:00 amWALKING TOUR OF THE TOWN
12:30 pmLUNCH
1:30 pm- 4:00pm:   PERAMCULTURE DESIGN TOUR AND COB INTRO
                              WITH
  MARY-KATE CARTER & HAYDEN WILSON
                              (meet at the Stelle community center)

We appreciate your contributions of $10 for the morning tour and lunch and $15 for the afternoon workshop. If you are coming for just the afternoon workshop, please arrive before the workshop begins.
 
Space can be limited, so please call or email to reserve a spot.  For more information on how to sign up, please click here.
Aerial-Master-CSC-Land-Midwest-Permaculture-Design

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Afternoon Workshop:
What’s it like to live, work, and play every day as a Permaculturist?
Our introductory tour and cob building intro will give you a glimpse into this world.

IMG_4996Mary-Kate Carter is a current intern who has been working to implement features of the permaculture design on the CSC property.  She will share our progress in the garden, pond, and chicken production, as well as her perspective in the continuing journey of building permaculture systems in the Midwest.  Mary-Kate is using her design skills from Austin Permaculture Guild (as well as Midwest Permaculture) in creating everything from chicken coops to food forests.

Midwest Permaculture’s resident intern Hayden Wilson will join us for the afternoon; Hayden has worked extensively in permaculture design and holds a Permaculture Teaching Certificate (more about Hayden can be found here).  

Hayden-3-Edit-226x300

Get an insider’s perspective on our internship and survey the giant leaps we’ve made in making our design a reality.  

We will tour CSC’s 8.7-acre landscape that adjoins Stelle, focusing on our new developments, including our newly-planted linear food forest, water harvesting via a solar pump, new mobile chicken tractor, and more!  We will also have a hands-on cob-making tutorial to show how we made our earthen oven from the ground beneath our feet!

Stay updated on what our interns are designing & building via our blog.

Integrated Gardening Techniques and the Garden Co-op

This 2013 growing season marks the beginning of stepping-up our integrated techniques in the community garden on the CSC property, just west of Stelle.  It is part of our Permaculture Land Design.

Some quick background:  The community garden is a celebrated part of CSC’s history.  Each year, residents of Stelle (and the nearby neighborhood) can choose to become part of CSC’s Community Garden Co-op.  It works differently than most community gardens; rather than renting plots, the garden is planned and managed by a Garden Manager.  

A past year's garden planning meeting, where the "what to plant" and "who will be planting" is decided.

A past year’s garden planning meeting, where the “what to plant” and “who will be planting” is decided.

The Garden Manager holds a yearly garden planning meeting to get interested members’ input on what to grow and how much time they have to work in the garden. Members spend time throughout the season helping to mulch, plant, weed, water, and harvest.  The general rule for the co-op harvest has been:  work a little, take a little; work a lot, take a lot.

It has worked well for some years; however, it is still a lot of work, and plenty of members fizzle out in their volunteer hours when it starts to get scorching hot outside.  What happens?  The un-watered, un-weeded garden starts to give diminishing returns.

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Enter:  Integrated Gardening Techniques!  Some dedicated gentlemen (Ernest and Hayden)  have begun to rethink how to get the garden watered and weeded, to apply Permaculture principles to the garden and make it even easier than before to grow more food than before.  We like to call it lazy persons’ gardening.  What, exactly, are they doing? Continue reading

Stelle’s Annual Celebration of the Earth, May 5th

Hours:  10 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Regular Tours and Events

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPlease join us for Stelle’s annual Celebration of the Earth this May 5th. As tradition goes, various members of our community wish to share and educate others of their gifts and talents that are recognized as being inspired or modeled after some of the wonderful patterns and processes that the Earth shares with us.

Tour of the Off-Grid Stelle Telephone Company -1:00pm
Tim Wilhelm manager of the Stelle Telephone Company and Professor of Renewable Energy Technologies at Kankakee Community College will give a history and overview of Stelle Telephone. Stelle Telephone was the first totally solar powered digital telephone exchange and the first solar powered internet service provider in the U.S.

Jon and June Haemes’ Straw Bale Home with PV tour! 2:00pm
A bit too far to walk but just 3 and a half mile drive, the Haemes’ home was the first straw bale home built in Illinois. Jon works for Trina Solar as a technical support manager. He used his solar powered work trailer to power all his tools used to build the home. About 30 residents of Stelle helped stack the straw bales in a single day. Jon will also talk abou the ARE 110 wind generator and its energy saving features.

Kids Garden and Pond Activities – All Day at the Pond
(Children should be accompanied by an adult)

This year we are bringing back a time-honored tradition of having family activities in the community garden. Here are the activities that are planned so far:

Kids' Activities

Kids’ Activities will be going on throughout the day in the garden.

  • Family Fishing
  • Seed Planting
  • Garden Art
  • Nature Hunt

Join us throughout the day in between our other programs.  The activities are all simple and low key, but the more the merrier.  We will request that parents accompany children 10 years and younger. (Only a limited number of families will be able to fish at one time since we are furnishing the cane poles)

  Continue reading

March Open House: Chicken Basics and Ethically Raising Them

That Spring Chicken Thing
March Open House Features “Ethics: The Basics of Raising Chickens Workshop”
 
It’s almost springtime, when chicks will arrive here and in many first-time chicken owner families throughout the country.  Join us and discover why keeping chickens is becoming so popular.  

In the morning, we will take a walking tour of Stelle and show you some of the neighborhood’s examples of sustainable living–our wind turbine, rain gardens, and more.  After lunch, CSC member and permaculturalist Ernest Rando (pictured above) will present strategies for raising chickens ethically in both urban and suburban environments.  We will spend time handling 50 broiler chicks and three hens that live in a sustainable backyard paddock system.  If you are considering keeping chickens for the first time, this workshop is for you!

Schedule:
10:00 amINTRODUCTION TO STELLE & CSC
11:00 amWALKING TOUR
12:30 pmLUNCH
1:30 pm:  CHICKEN HANDS-ON WORKSHOP

We appreciate your contributions of $10 for the morning tour and lunch and $15 for the afternoon workshop.

Join us! For more information on how to sign up, please click here.

The Shifting Baseline, Food Myth Busting, and Food Forests

I just thought I would share some interesting information on the Shifting Baseline Theory, Food Forests, and Food Myth Busting. I came across these individual videos today while doing some research and some dots were connected in my brain. Each of these videos are short, less than 10 minutes, and together they are very powerful and absolutely inspirational (at least to me). I will give a brief explanation of each video with links and then give some extra credit to those that produced them. Continue reading

Practicing Biodynamics: Pruning in January

Permaculture Observation Journal Entry #1, January 7th, 2013: Hayden and Ernest “Practicing Biodynamics: Pruning in January”

Today Hayden and I (Ernest) practiced pruning in the orchard. According to the North American Biodynamic Sowing and Planting Calendar “Dec. 26th to Jan 9th and Jan 23rd to Feb 5th is the Northern Transplanting Time. The Transplanting time is a good time for pruning fruit trees, vines, and hedges, with Fruit and Flower times being the preferred times for this work.”  Today, Monday the 7th until 2 pm central, was a flower time and a good time to be out in the orchard pruning. We are wanting to get ready for the January Orcharding Permablitz which will be during the next Northern Transplanting Time, on January 24th and perhaps the first half of the 25th if anyone is interested.

But for now, here is what we learned on our orcharding adventure today. Continue reading

January 24th Orchard Pruning Permablitz

This January the 24th, the Center for Sustainable Community will be hosting its monthly permablitz. We will be pruning and collecting scions in our community’s three-acre orchard. We will begin by reviewing some of the main principals of orcharding at 9 a.m., then begin pruning trees throughout the orchard. We will also demonstrate how to harvest scions and perform various grafting techniques. We will, of course, allow anyone who desires to harvest scions to take them back to their own communities for propagation. Continue reading

Preserving the fall harvest, Center for Sustainable Community Canning Kitchen

Here are photos of some of the first fall harvest vegetables that we preserved in the Center for Sustainable Community Canning Kitchen. We started off the season with storing strawberry corn kernels,canning tomatoes, beets, applesauce, BBQ sauce, sweet & sour sauce, chutney, and lots of peach jam. It was the first time that Megan and I had ever canned this much food from a garden. Enjoy the photos and if your ever in the neighborhood give us a call and come join us to share in the harvest!

Table of preserved food 2012

Strawberry Corn Kernels, Tomatoes, Chutney, Sweet & Sour Sauce, BBQ Sauce, Applesauce, & Beets

The Chutney, Sweet & Sour Sauce, and BBQ Sauce are all part of one recipe. With each recipe you preserve half of the ingredients and then add some new ingredients to what is left making a new sauce. Then you preserve half of those ingredients and add some new ones. We will definitely have to find more recipes like this. Continue reading

Workshop: CSC Land Tour

CSC Land Tour

August 1, 2010 1P.M. – 4:30 P.M.

Offered by:
Ed Homeier on the Chicken Cooperative,
Argena Marie on the Orchard, and
George Blackman on the Garden.
Location: CSC, Stelle, IL

Tour Highlights
The CSC recently formed a Land Committee to act as caretakers of its 7- acre property adjacent to Stelle. One of the objectives adopted by the Land Committee is to demonstrate the sustainable production of healthy food while decreasing outside inputs. The land tour offers an opportunity to observe progress toward that goal. Components of the tour are: one half hour at the Chicken Cooperative, one hour at the Orchard and two hours at the Garden.

The Chicken Cooperative Tour
Ten Stelle families established the Chicken Co-op four years ago on the CSC property by written agreement with CSC. The objective was to illustrate the production of chickens for meat and eggs at cost. During the first two years of operation, the co-op raised and harvested two 100-member Rock-Cross rooster flocks, which were fed certified-organic grain blends and grazed, using home-made chicken tractors. Currently, seven families manage a mixed-breed laying flock of 30 hens (Buff Orpingtons and Rhode Island Reds) and four roosters. Eggs are shared at cost among co-op families who sell regularly to families in Stelle at a slightly higher cost. Ed will describe the co-op’s experiences, with attention to the features of the current flock and the coop, which is fitted with solar lights, rain water catchments, and AC power.

Topics on the Chicken Cooperative Tour:

  • How the co-op works: members, duties, finances, etc
  • Breed selections
  • Feeding options
  • Seasonal care
  • Medical Care of the flock

The Orchard Tour
The CSC orchard contains over 100 mature fruit trees. Argena is a member of an orchard co-operative established by written agreement with the CSC to use a variety of organic techniques to restore this 35-plus year old orchard. Argena has also worked with children, passing on her knowledge to the next generation. Two goals of the Orchard Co-op are to improve the tree-health, creating high quality fruit, and to develop a park-like environment. Tour participants will be invited to take home some of the ripe apples and pears from this year’s crop.

Topics on the Orchard Tour

  • The Orchard Co-operative and how it works
  • The Junior Orchard club and how it works
  • Results of different pruning techniques
  • Pests and preventive options
  • Seasonal care for the trees
  • Mowing and mulching

The Garden Tour
The tour will conclude with an overview of the CSC gardens, describing what has been planted this year. Different growing methods will be identified, along with the features of our composting systems. George will then focus on the Bio-intensive growing method which affords more vegetables on less land using less water than other methods. He will demonstrate one of the features of this time-tested method, “double-digging” cultivation, which he is using to create a new garden bed for a fall crop. Participants will receive handouts and references for further study.

Topics on the Garden Tour:

  • Double- digging: tools needed, preparing the bed, how to dig, benefits of the method and planting in the new bed.
  • Creating a living mulch in the bed 
  • Companion planting 
  • Pests and organic solutions
  • Growing various vegetables
  • Seed saving

Registration for this event
The cost of the 3½ hour Land Tour is $35.

An optional free Open House Tour of the Stelle Community will begin at 10:30 and, at an additional cost of $10, you are also invited to share a lunch featuring locally grown and organic foods in the Stelle Community Center. The lunch will begin at noon followed by the workshop at 1:00. We hope you can join us!