We Grow From Here's Blog

A Community Garden Project


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Please Help Fund Our “CSD” Scholarship Fund!

What’s a “CSD”?  Community Supported Design – at We Grow From Here, we don’t just start gardens–we also educate people on how to

  • Create their own edible landscapes;
    • Learn how to grow small green businesses;
      • Practice natural building skills; and
        • Earn their PDC (Permaculture Design Certificate).

In order to make our classes accessible to as many as possible and still cover costs, we are building a scholarship fund–one which will be available for partial scholarships to any of our classes.

While we encourage anyone wishing to attend one of our workshops to create their own “CSD” campaign, there are those who have limited computer access and/or skills, therefore we wish to be able to offer the option of doing a partial scholarship/worktrade, which is what this fund will be used for.

The amount is based on the number of students inquiring about scholarships and worktrade openings for our two current offerings:  The Cob Building Series, and  ‘Design Your Own Foodscape‘ PDC course.  We hope to build this fund into an ongoing pool of funds to make our courses available to anyone in the community!

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The Home of Serenity

It’s 4:24 AM, and I’ve been awake since before 3AM, pondering life, the nearly full moon, and the phenomenon of the mouthguard which refuses to stay in my mouth while I sleep.  Mostly, only on nights such as this one, when, try as I might, I cannot meditate away the monkeys chattering in my brain, sleep eludes me and knashing of teeth disturbs what little rest I find.  My teachers tell me that this is all an illusion, the ‘problems’, the conflicts which seem to manifest as physical realities are, in fact, a reflection of my own mind, and I believe them—I do.  I pray for peace, knowing that when my mind is still, the world is not such a bad place.  And yet, I fret.

Yesterday, (which is now last week, since I failed to finish this post until now), I found myself thrown into chaos by the receipt of three pieces of paper.  These innocuous forms, printed in triplicate, state that I am, according to the County in which I reside, the county that I am the fourth generation of my family to own property, work and pay taxes in, a criminal.  My great-grandparents would be proud, would they not?

Alfred and Maggie moved to the County of Pinellas in 1962, a year after I was born, right around the same time that we were returning from Germany, where my father was stationed and where I was born on an Army base.  Alfred and Maggie were modest people, shopkeepers from upstate New York who moved South, as many did and still do, to enjoy their golden years in sunshine.  They had grapefruit trees, which Maggie would climb a ladder to tend into her nineties.

Maggie had one son, and he and his wife, retired schoolteachers, built their home in the then-new neighborhood in which I have lived longer than any other place in over fifty years—in 1972, theirs was one of 29 homes built, to add to the 135 built since 1958.  In 1977, they helped my mother purchase a house one block over, when her marriage and the transient life of the military, ended.  This house is the one which is now known as ‘Casa Seranita’:  the home of elusive serenity–for my mother Anita, until her early demise in 2001.  This is the property which the County has deemed inappropriate for use as a teaching facility or a demonstration garden.  This is the home of two citations for misconduct earning me an appearance in court next month.  The criminal courthouse, where I have been only once in over thirty years to serve for jury duty, is seven miles from where the prior three generations of my family are all buried.  I am as close to a Florida ‘Native’ as most white folks can be—my daughter was even born in Tampa.

Why so much detail on local family history?  Because, for nearly as long as I have lived, at least one family member has been paying property and sales taxes in Pinellas County.  That’s over fifty years and thousands of dollars per year.  I personally have owned and paid taxes on not just one, but five properties in the past ten years alone.  That is quite a sum, all told.  Certainly more than I have paid for anything else, other than mortgages–and it has bought me, not appreciation, but criminal justice.

I could spend a lot of time pondering the ‘why’s of this situation, and I have—questions like “Why is it necessary to make citizens feel like criminals, or to treat them as if they are, when the infraction is pretty much a difference in opinion about what a yard should look like?” Here, we live in a state where the water tables are in such peril that a dry spell causes sinkholes to swallow homes, and where the contingency plan for salt water intrusion is, well, that it will—intrude, that is.  And yet, those of us who choose to educate not only ourselves, but others as well, on such “Florida Friendly” practices as rain water catchment, conservative water usage, and Xeriscaping are often labeled as some kind of pariah?

Justice, indeed.  We shall see whether there is any such thing, on August 8th, 2014.  Please, do come along, and let your voice be heard—I certainly intend to share my feelings, along with graphs, charts, petitions, photos…perhaps an example or an attorney or two!

jailbird

 


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“It’s About Time”

What an amazing weekend for Tampa Bay permaculturists! For me, being fortunate enough to share a weekend with so many creative, inspired, and truly conscious people was incredibly uplifting. Over and over, the thought came to me that “this is a world I can be in”. As simple as that—tiny change in perception, and there it is:

Be the Change You Wish to See In the World.

Saturday was “Spring into Sustainability” at Tricia Gaitan Medina’s Wheat Berries Homestead in Brooksville. Such a lovely drive out there, even US 19 has a different feel once you get into Hernando County, or maybe it was just the “lookout for bear” signs along the road. Ara McLeod, who was there to speak about Morningstar Farms aquaponics, said she took the scenic route through Dade City, which is a drive I also highly recommend. The land there is rolling hills and the city itself a step back in time to the Old Florida many of us may recall—a more relaxed, southern pace.

When I reached the farm in the afternoon, many of the talks had been presented already, but there was John Starnes, leading a herd of children with paper airplane in hand, much like the Pied Piper. There were tents set up with selected handmade items for sale—soaps, salves, elderberry syrup…and a woman with angora rabbits who earlier had demonstrated knitting right off the bunny! Now I may have a reason to get bunnies—I would not eat them, but their poop is great, and I do love angora sweaters.

Tricia’s daughter Corryn gave a wonderful talk on kombucha and kefirs, and thanks to her I’ve now adopted my very own kombucha ‘mother’ or SCOBY, which I now know is an acronym for “symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast”. Sounds yummy, doesn’t it? This is great stuff—as I’m learning on my wee journey of discovery about all things digestive and bacterial and fungus—fermentation is a very, very good thing! Remember “Pre-chewed Charley’s” on Saturday Night Live? (You just dated yourself if you answered “yes”…just sayen.) All fermented foods are like that, and not only do they benefit those of us with compromised digestive systems, but anyone can use a few more probiotics and enzymes in their diets—the health advantages have been proven. If you do have sensitivities to various different food groups, such as milk (lactose), or wheat (gluten), which are the common or popular ones, eating fermented foods and/or drinking kefir or kombucha is like paying a visit to good ol’ Pre-chewed Charley’s—the bacteria colonies in the food or beverage have already processed, or digested, the sugars (lactose or glucose) which can wreak havoc with your gut.

A brief aside—I just inspired myself to brew up some tea, while writing this, so that I can start my first batch of Kombucha today! The ‘standard’ formula seems to be 2 bags of green tea and 2 bags of black tea, plus 2 cups of sugar per 2 quart batch, (2, 2, 2, 2: how convenient!), but I seem to be out of green tea at the moment, so mine will be one gallon (I’m using an old restaurant-sized pickled pepper jar—glass only is the rule—no plastic or metal), 3 bags of Ayurvedic black tea, which contains some spices such as cardamom and clove, and five bags of Earl Grey. Check back in a week to ten days and I’ll update on how it comes out!

The next presentation was one that I did not think I’d be particularly interested, and was I pleasantly surprised! A young woman by the name of Emily told a story of her personal journey back to wellness, involving a car accident and subsequent chronic pain—something I and many others I know are quite well-versed in. She had my attention, so when she began speaking of removing toxins from her environment, all of her environment, included personal care products, I was really hooked. I realized some time last year that I had removed chemicals from all of my cleaning products, but had yet to tackle those closest to ‘home’, so to speak—my shower, bath, and hair products. Well, dang—what do you know? Emily spoke of the very culprit I have had my suspicions may be at the root of my remaining issues—the evil, insidious Sodium Laurel Sulfate. SLS is in everything, literally every shampoo, shower gel, hand soap, you name it—the personal care industry adds it to make soapy stuff have bubbles. Suds is apparently the equivalent of ‘clean’ to modern Americans—so much so that, when I had family visiting over the holidays and ran out of dish soap, the batch of the homemade variety I brewed was not good enough, so a bottle of Dawn appeared the very next day. Here’s the real rub: the person who insisted on having this brand-name product, “with active suds”, has chronic pain issues herself. It might behoove the general public to raise their awareness of the kinds of things the FDA approves of—particularly those which other countries do not allow, such as these common detergents, derived from palm and coconut oils.

It may not cause cancer—that seems to be in the realm of urban myth, but according to one article I read, 16,000 studies show that SLS does link to irritation of the skin and eyes, organ toxicity, developmental/reproductive toxicity, and neurotoxicity. Doesn’t that sound a lot like “toxic” to you? As one who has spent years trying to detox from environmental contaminants, I think this may just be a good thing to remove from my body care products—after all, our skin is our largest organ, so even beyond “irritation”, overloading any compromised system with more toxins—not such a great idea, right?

The rest of Emily’s presentation had to do with makeup, which didn’t really apply to me, since I pretty much gave up cosmetics a long time ago, but I did feel it was worth sharing with others, such as my daughter, who still has years of the self-esteem caulking, which cosmetics seem to provide to women in our society, ahead of her. According to my friend Franko, there are traditions elsewhere which also point to unhealthy practices, not only for women, but men as well—such as applying Arsenic to achieve that ever-so attractive ghostly pallor popular in bygone days (and by Goths).

I was up next, with a timebanking talk, which lead to a lively discussion and lots of interest from our Northern neighbors in Hernando, as well as participation by some Southern cousins already involved in the Sarasota area. Andy Firk shared that they had a very active timebank of over 200 members going, without even the virtue of any computer-based tracking system! This one is now joining with the Sarasota group, which should lead to even greater growth down there very quickly.

The final two presentations were a step-by-step tutorial on soap making with goat milk, by I believe her name was Chris, and a wonderful finish by Keith Lopez, all the way from Broward County, wherein he managed to tie up all of the holistic wellness thinking of the day into a beautiful bundle with a loving bow.

I was so charged up after this day I was concerned about running the ‘repeat’ show again the next day, but Sunday dawned as another gorgeous Florida spring morning. Not even the realization, before I’d even left the yoga mat, that I’d lost an hour to the archaic practice of “Daylight Savings” (certainly never saved me any time!), was enough to unbalance me. The day went smoothly, but not without its hiccups—I don’t think I was alone in the time change dilemma—most of the guests arrived sometime after 2PM, but once they started rolling in we had a full house, which rotated several times throughout the day.

Figure 1: Ara McLeod

                                     Bees!

Figure 2: Worms!

We gave ‘garden tours’ (more like work-in-progress intros), Ara again spoke about Morningstar, we had a good TBT ‘share’, and then we released Jacob, Sabrina, and their bees—an awesome and well-attended and attuned talk! We lost a few speakers, either to time crunches or other engagements, but even so, Justin Marlin’s worm talk also went very well, and quite suddenly it was not just six, but seven o’clock. Many, many thanks to everyone who attended, those who had a turn ‘onstage’, and those who just came to enjoy the day—We could not have done it without you, and I, and Casa Seranita are most grateful for your presence! This will be a monthly thing, along with regularly scheduled volunteer workdays, so please don’t keep us a secret—share with your friends—”Mi Casa es Su Casa“.


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We Grow From Here

A Community Garden Project

Begun as both Karma Yoga and a Landmark Education Leadership project, the goal is to attain 75% personal food independence in 2012, as well as ‘produce’ing a steady stream of fresh, healthy abundance to local food banks, homeless shelters, and soup kitchens.
From this, we will inspire the creation of many more gardens, where hearts and hands fill bellies, create community, and teach self-reliance.
Thus far, we have three participating private gardens in Palm Harbor, Dunedin, and Clearwater, and one of our Founding Trinity has just taken on the management of the Dunedin Community Garden!  We are growing by leaps and bounds already…
Coming up next:
  • Whinot Garden is hosting our first workshop Feb. 12, 2012 Noon-2PM

Please join our group on Facebook for updates!  http://www.facebook.com/groups/wegrowfromhere/