We Grow From Here's Blog

A Community Garden Project


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On the Radio: WMNF Sustainable Living and Alternative Health Show

Listen to my ‘plug’ for justice here:   Making Our Living Spaces Greener

Please come to the courthouse on August 8th at 8:30 AM to show your support for “Food Not Lawns”, and whether you can make it in person or not, please sign the petition:  Support Statewide Recognition of Permaculture Design Certificates 

Bee HappytatRead the history here:  Casa Seranita

 

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TONS OF FUN

“Our painful experiences become compost in which the seeds of wisdom grow.” Venerable Dhyani Ywahoo

– See more at: http://jenniferhadley.com/2013/06/freedom-activation/#sthash.Lw3LnRsI.dpuf

So, (sow?) it’s been weeks since I’ve written a blog post, and much has happened—large flurries of activity seem to blow through my life like the tornadoes they resemble. I have sat down, several times, and started to write about this or that, but simply could not get past the idea to put it to words. Perhaps not enough sun, too little fertilizer (seem to generally have plenty of that, many might say), but these seeds of inspiration just did not bring forth anything of substance.

Until today, that is—today, with the sunny rain outside, the functional AC indoors, when I read the quote above: there it was. That’s right, folks—all that time we’ve spent in the dark, dank mush-room feeding on the rot tossed to us—it’s all going to pay off, in spades. Like “Daisyhead Maisy” we shall sprout lovely blooms of pain to delight and inspire others…if I read this correctly.

(Oh no, you might rightly be thinking—this is not a happy fluffy post after all—she’s going toThe Dark Side.

But not for long, the sun keeps peaking in and out of the clouds and I cannot keep my head in the muck for long when there is Vitamin D to absorb, dirt to dig, water to flow or follow. All of these well-intentioned self-help gurus constantly force me to look at some of the cold, hard facts of intentional creation—namely: “Be careful what you ask for,” and “Be VERY specific”. Which is my somewhat awkward segway into the “tons of fun” title…my task this morning, yesterday afternoon, and two days before: loading and unloading (literally) tons of bricks. This comes on the heels of the ton (again, 2000 lbs—I counted) of potatoes I spent another three days labor on. And what kind of baby, might you ask, will several tons of labor produce?

Good question—we’ll get back to that one later.

I expect this may sprout some potato plants when all is said and done, but most certainly some nasty, stinky compost until I manage to get enough ‘brown’ added to the mix (once I’ve removed all of the bags, that is…). I did also score some nice pallets with this particular delivery, which I needed for rain barrel stands—one of the next projects to be tackled at Mi Casa. Which leads me again to The Dark Side, because at this point it does not appear that I can hold this particular project together any longer, not without much more significant help, like someone living there fulltime. Problem is, no one seems to be willing to share the space, (people are funny that way—wanting ‘privacy’…oh, don’t get me started—I may go there), which is basically what needs to happen, so I am forced to look for ‘traditional’ tenants again, at least for the short term.

There are, however, so many other worthy projects and plans in the works! The spirit of ‘Mi Casa’ may be carried forward with a larger-scale, more farm-oriented property in Bushnell fondly referred to as “The BSF”. This scope of this project is hundreds of acres of land which are slated for small farm business incubation, much of which may be livestock based—apparently that’s what our government feels is most worthy of financial aid and attention. To ‘Big Ag’—if it don’t have hooves or teeth, it better be grown in the large-scale mono-crop methods we now know have led to disastrous results for our environment. See, to conventional minds, “Farmer” means rows and tractors and chemicals…or pigs and cattle and chickens. Which is why those of us who have the “Permaculture” mindset might benefit greatly by partnering with those who grow livestock—if that is where the monetary value is given, that is what would be called “the edge” of the current system. We play in the edge—this is where the greatest growth lies (so sayeth my mentor Geoff Lawton). This place is a lovely place to begin, as we found when we herded our happy long-haired selves up there last week:

Imagine living in a place like this…where time and space blend in the symphony of nature…

~ * ~

Before we get too heavy into philosophy or politics, let’s divert back to the initial tonnage…the bricks.


That’s a lot of bricks…and yes, I counted them—I’m anal that way (and it really helps when you’re planning out designs)—it’s 2,402, to be exact. Pink Floyd would be proud of my walls! Not being so much a wall person in the garden however, these shall become pathways and edges…you’ll see. A big “thank you” to Pepe Slamdunk for the donation—along with some pots and a couple of rain barrels… the garden is beginning to look quite spiffy!

This one looks right at home, don’t you think?

We’re going to be hosting some official tours very soon, once some of the newest acquisitions have been planted and situated, so come visit, why don’t you?



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Casa Seranita Update: Two Events Coming up!

March looks to be the month for the winds of change to blow in with a breath of fresh air…no Ides of March here, my friend.

On March 2nd, We Grow From Here and the Tampa Bay Timebank will hold the first official “Barn Garden Raising”, which is the TBT term for a permablitz. In the days of old, barn-raisings were common community events, involving the entire community—from the oldest to the youngest, fit or infirm. They became symbols of the ideology of our young country, one which some of us would like to bring back into common practice.

A barn raising wasn’t just an organized work party, you see, they were truly community events—a chance for families who lived miles apart when transportation wasn’t so efficient to gather and celebrate the creation of something new, because the raising of a barn also meant the birth of a new family in the community. Everyone participated—each to his or her own ability or desire—not only on the swinging of hammers and climbing rafters, but also preparing food, toting water, chasing children, and no doubt a bit of matchmaking occurred.

This event on March 2nd, and the following weekend on March 10th, are opportunities for our young community to come out and get involved—learn a little about permaculture principles, meet some of those who have been practicing this lifestyle for a while, and yes, of course you are welcome to move some dirt! On Saturday the 2nd, beginning around 10 AM, we will be setting up the actual design of the permaculture-inspired community garden site, which is primarily the backyard all the way to Klosterman Rd. There will also be a community garage sale happening in Baywood Village, so attendees are advised to park on the North side of Klosterman Rd. behind the house, and to bring anything they want to get rid of to throw on the community sale tables, located on the driveway n front of the house. There will be plenty of shopping opps as well, so if you’re brave, bring your wallet as well. Rakes, shovels, pitchforks, wheelbarrows and any other dirt-moving equipment will be needed, and gloves and sunscreen advised.

For those who have yet to be introduced to the concept of time-banking, we will break at noon for some lunchtime sharing, at which time all of those who have been involved will have the opportunity to share their experiences with others who may not be familiar (hint: bring a friend, or three!). Lunch is potluck—bring a dish if you can—Casa will provide some snacks and beverages for a small number of attendees otherwise. Timebank members are also encouraged to submit any projects of their own which they wish to organize an event such as this one around—We Grow From Here will be helping to organize ongoing ‘barn raising’ and ‘quilting bee’ events for the Timebank and surrounding communities.

March 10th: Casa Seranita Grand Opening

Our first educational “Learn & Earn” event will take place on Sunday the 10th, beginning at 1PM (to give you time to make it to the Tarpon springs Sunday Market first!), we will have a series of presentations by local permculturists and timebankers, on subjects ranging from Florida gardening to nutrition, upcycling, well-being, wildcrafting, a seed swap and more! Timebank members may attend in exchange for hours, and presenters may earn hours for facilitating discussions. This is a non-monetary event, so there is no fee to attend for the community-at-large, however donations of needed garden equipment, plants, seeds, etc. are encouraged, as are additions to our newly-forming tool bank.

Check back for the list of presenters and facilitators, and if you have something you’d like to share, please contact Loretta@wegrowfromhere.com to be added to the roster. The schedule of events will be posted on the website a week before the event.  So far, we have interactive workshops planned for:

  • Worm bins
  • Backyard chickens
  • Market Gardening
  • Upcycle Wizardry
  • Timebanking/Alternative Currency
  • Garden Art
  • Digestive Wellness and Your Diet
  • The Kinder Garden
  • Permaculture Design 1.01
  • Seed Swap
  • Drum Circle

And I’d REALLY like someone to do fermentation…kombucha…canning (I can do canning, but…)  ;^)


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Gratitude

“If you build it, they will come.” ~ (Field of Dreams)

Sometimes, when you build it, they really do show up.

Here is my blatant plug for a movement I became involved with last year: Timebanking… IT ROCKS! Our local ‘chapter’, Tampa Bay Timebank (TampaBayTime.org), is fairly new, and even so has really begun not only to grow by leaps and bounds, but also in the energy it has generated. See, that’s part of the equation in timebanking—currency as energy rather than paper. But I digress—let me first explain what timebanking is, then we’ll talk about what it does.

  • Timebanking is egalitarian, which means that no one person’s time is valued more highly than another’s. Time = Time. One hour = One hour. Some doctors, for instance, might not get the concept so much, when their time is valued exactly the same as, for instance, a cook, or a plumber. (Although I must point out: most plumbers I’ve hired make about the same per hour, if not more!) I once had a long-term relationship with an MD, and I often wonder whether he would ‘get’ that I always considered my time with him as valuable as, say, my time with my daughter, my job, etc. See, time is time—my time, your time—if we choose to share it with someone else, it really is all the same—no value judgments. It is in fact when we begin placing values on time that the conflict begins, and oftentimes when communication stops: “I’m sorry, I don’t have time right now, I have to_(fill in the blank with something you don’t particularly enjoy)___.” Think of all of the relationships you know which might have benefitted if you had not said or heard those words! Some common questions and/or misconceptions:
    • So, if I’m a dentist, and I normally charge $100/hr for a consult, I have to offer those services for ‘nothing’ through the time bank?
      • NO, you offer whatever services you choose to offer—perhaps you also have a sideline interest in, say, cooking, and you just happen to have taken culinary classes at a world-renowned institute: offer cooking lessons, or supply catering for special events. Or, perhaps you are a musician: offer music lessons, or to play at events. You really love to sew: offer lessons, or services. You have rocking mechanical skills: offer to fix things.
    • What if there is more than just time involved? (ie., food for the cooking, materials for sewing, etc.)
      • The details of supply-related stuff is simple: you work it out between those who make the exchange; this includes gas and travel time—if that is a factor, you simply agree what the ‘exchange rate’ will be, and that becomes part of the agreement.
    • So, this is just like bartering?
      • Similar, yes, but the main difference is: you don’t have to make a one-to-one exchange. You can accept an offer from one person, and provide a service to someone else in the timebank. Better than barter.
    • What can I get from the timebank…there are lots of things I can do, what will I get in exchange?
      • What don’t you like to do? Clean? Cook? Organize? Fix gadgets? Fuss with computers? I’ll just betcha there’s someone in timebank who does that!
  • Timebanking is not ‘volunteering’, but it does work very well with organizations who utilize volunteers. Many new to timebanking will refer to their time spent in timebank activities as “volunteering’, however it is not—this is compensated time, it is just not compensated in the same currency as a ‘real’ job. The currency is, in part, the energy generated by the exchange. I like to think of this as ‘green energy’, and this type of energy, not having physical form per se, increases in value and scope in the course of each exchange.

Which brings me back to “Gratitude”…it has been my extreme good fortune to have connected with several very helpful, not to mention pleasant and fun, timebankers. Yesterday, one of them even brought his son along to help in moving some large stuff, including a couple of mountains of dirt. What we accomplished in one day I could not have hoped to do in weeks–it was truly amazing. Here’s the other side of the “time” equation: the amount of time this one day has saved me is far greater than the time I took, or awarded to these two guys. Consider the amount of time you spend worrying and griping and recovering from all of those tasks you’d prefer not to do—this is, again, “true cost accounting“.

 

And the list goes on…I am grateful, thankful, fortunate…and I have some time. Do you?

 


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Who is “We”?

maypop01-24-13(*) Who is “We”?
There is something truly daunting about the blank page, as well as something else purely inviting, as if it begs to be filled with scribbles or these regimental symbols we call “words”.
It is 4:14AM. Sleep has been erratic, at best, since “The Great Shift” in December last. I am in the Vata stage of life now as well, which means my energy is shifting from primarily fire to air and water.
I thought a few words of introduction would be appropriate, because, while “We” is indicative of multiple people, and in fact I have been that in this life, the writer of this blog is one person: Me.
Some facts which have brought me to this point, and particularly, to this “permaculture” thing:
• My father’s family have been farmers in this country for over two hundred years. I know this, because until this past century, pretty much everyone did, in fact, grow at least some of their own food—it was necessary for survival. I’ve always been a little confused when, in Permie circles someone poses the question: “Can we grow enough food to sustain us?” (Meaning, of course, in our own backyards.) Of course we can—how do you think our ancestors brought us to here? But, back to the family—the Buckners were in fact a prolific bunch, who bred their children by the dozens to work in the fields…at least, that’s how my father tells it. (They did breed in nines, but I’ll tell that story another time.)
• In 1978, also known as “The Last Great Recession”, this same father, a bit ahead of the curve some might say, was living on what was then the family farm: 160+ acres in Siler City, NC. Along with organic farming—something unheard of in that region at that time–he was also attempting to sell solar heating products (water tanks), and synthetic fuel. Are we noticing any patterns here? Let me help: recession: recession; fuel shortage: fuel shortage; alternative energy and chemical free food growing: we’ll get to that in just a moment.
This is the part where I go into more detail regarding my involvement: my sister and I each went to NC to help—we were teenagers, fairly typical–full of romantic ideas and not terribly in touch with the realities of what goes into putting food on the table, even though we may have known a little more than the average American even then. She–my sister that is–was far more responsible than I: she took on the role of learning to cook and can and such things. I attempted to grow controlled substances and got a job at the local convenience store. (Rebellion has always been my forte.) I did learn about the market economy, however—I will never forget my father telling me that a cantaloupe was priced according to how many other cantaloupes were also for sale that day, and that this was known as “supply and demand”, regardless whether they were pale and tasteless.
• Leap forward thirty years (we’ll skip the garden which actually did quite well when my daughter was pre-school—I had tomatoes and peppers, cucumbers, herbs—many of which I’m sure grew out of simple ignorance of the fact that they weren’t supposed to grow well in this climate).
As most people are aware, the real estate market began to tip and tank in 2006, shortly after I shifted from accounting and finance, becoming a real estate broker (emphasis on the first syllable). It seemed like a safe bet at the time—in 1998 I had noted that the homes in Orange County, CA, were virtually identical to those in Pinellas County, Florida, the regions also quite similar, and yet the prices of these tiny suburban block homes were three times the price in the OC. When I returned to Florida in 2000, I began investing in real estate, and watched my wee rental portfolio climb in value for the next six years.
I don’t think I have to tell you how the rest of this story goes—suffice to say that depression was a big part of my reality by 2010. Everything I had worked for, from nothing, for ten years, was worth just that. With the knowledge that my property was not even really “my” property, now that the bank truly owned more of it than I did, the only thing I could do was make the best use of it that I could think of:
I planted a garden.
I might not make enough money to pay the mortgage, but I can eat what I grow on the land. Thus, “We Grow From Here” came out of the process of removing my own head from my… I mean the sand.
(*) A note about post date/time: Several weeks ago, after having spent two months attempting to switch from Bright House to Verizon, I chose to unplug instead, just to see exactly how important having a house phone, internet and TV really are. In short: I don’t miss them, and now I am writing (more!) blog posts offline, and posting once or twice a week, from the library or some charming, locally owned coffee shop, such as I am today, at Eco-Bean in Tarpon Springs!