Jul 252015
 

Sitting on top the hills of southwest Devon overlooking the sea, Village Farm is a living example of regenerative agriculture.

Produced by Permaculture People in cooperation with Permaculture Magazine. I’ve been in touch with Lauren and Phil of Permaculture People for several years and really enjoy their work.

I’ll continue to post these videos as the series develops. You can also find the full archives on the Living with the Land webpage.

 Posted by at 12:00
Jul 232015
 

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An image from the entrance of the food forest showing the dense canopy of trees, a brick path from the human impacts, and rustic structures built by Charm City Farms staff and volunteers

 

Click here to download the episode.

My guests for this episode are Eric and Victoria of Charm City Farms, a permaculture based urban agriculture initiative that focuses on educating and supporting individuals and communities in and around Baltimore, Maryland.

During the conversation today we open by talking about the development of a quarter acre food forest in Clifton Park, and the requirement for grant funding and organizing volunteers in order to be successful with the project, and the permaculture and primitives skills classes they offer. The second half we dig into one of those courses in detail, The Forager’s Apprentice program Victoria is running, which leads to a discussion about the role of blending academic rigour with hands on experiences. Throughout this conversation we move between the practical and the philosophical and how both play an important role in practicing permaculture and creating deep experiences.

You can find out more about what they are doing, including the Food Forest Journal at CharmCityFarms.org.

The logo for Charm City Farms, LLC.

If you are in the area I recommend getting in touch with Eric and Victoria and going to visit the food forest when they are having one of the regularly Friday field days. If you can take a class with them, including The Forager’s Apprentice when it re–opens next year, I highly recommend it. You’ll find a complete listing of the different kinds of classes they offer in the show notes. If the course you are interested in isn’t listed on their website get in touch and let them know. Also sign up for their newsletter so you can see what is happening when.

I’ve known Eric for sometime through email exchanges and following his work through the Charm City Farms website. Knowing that he had a viable project going was why I wanted to sit down and interview him in person. After going down and spending a day with Victoria and Eric I was left with a positive impression of both Victoria and Eric, as well as what it is they are doing and the authenticity of their work.

The food forest is in really good shape and as we walked through they were naming the various plants using both the common name and latin binomial. They also pointed out not only the successes, but also the failures. They raised questions about why one plant did well as an outlier, but then did not thrive in what should be, by all accounts, the ideal space for that same species and cultivar.

When questioned about community engagement, it came with a humility and understanding of the difficulties of coming in as an apparent outsider and the need to integrate into a place to find out who the real leaders in a given neighborhood are in order to get the right buy-in. I asked about population and demographics and Eric was able to answer them immediately and in great detail. We talked about organizations and people and various initiatives in the city that went well beyond what you heard in the interview and what Victoria and Eric could bring to bear while we were casually walking around and discussing the two sites they are working with was encyclopedic. They’ve done the groundwork and really integrated themselves into what they are doing and taken on the roles they’ve decided for themselves and continue to look for ways to make the changes necessary to be more effective, including considering buying and renovating a home in the community near the second site they are looking to develop, where the red brick barn is located so they can be close to the space and also members of the community.

We all find inspiration in different places for the work we do. I know Ethan Hughes is an inspiration for many as he and his community are able to live within the gift economy, without gas or electricity. In conversations I’ve had with Ethan off the air he knows, however, that the Possibility Alliance model isn’t something that most people can do. It is too radical of a shift to accomplish in one lifetime. What Eric and Victoria are doing in the city, in place, is a path many many more can follow. I’m reminded of Bob Theis and his comment, which I’ll paraphrase, that there are plenty of good places we can repair and restore that already exist, rather than inflicting ourselves on some place that doesn’t need us. Now that worldwide the majority of people live in cities and metropolitan areas, urban permaculture practitioners are more vital than ever.

If you are in a place that needs you and we can work together to build the place you want to live, let me know. Get in touch.

Call: 717-827-6266
Email: show@thepermaculturepodcast.com
Send me a letter:

The Permaculture Podcast
P.O. Box 16
Dauphin, PA 17018

Up next week is Adam Brock to discuss the role of a guest editor with Permaculture Design Magazine.

Until then, take care of Earth, yourself, and each other.

Charm City Farms Classes and Workshops

Permaculture Design Certification Course (72 Hours)
Wild Plant Food & Medicine (30 Hours)

Wild Edibles Workshops
Forage Report
Forage Plant ID
Botany for Foragers
Mushroom ID 101
Wild Edibles Cooking Demo
Wild Tea Party

Woodscraft
Friction Fire I – Bow Drill
Friction Fire II – Hand Drill
Tracking 101
Working With Bone
Utility Plant Walk
Cordage from Plant Fiber
Fresh Materials Vine Basket
Mugwort: Craft, Medicine, Food, Smoke
Cooking + Poison: Milkweed, Pokeweed, and Bamboo
Traditional Bow Making

Kids Programs
Primitive Skills & Nature Studies
Hunter Gatherer Summer
Wild Ones Nature Exploration

Farm and/or Homestead
Tree Grafting
Holistic Orchard Management
Integrated Forest Garden Design
Cubic Inch Food Garden Intensive
Mushroom Log Inoculation

Homeskills
Herb, Fruit and Flower Wines
Fathers Day Ale Making
Cheese Making Class Round One
Cheese Making Class Round Two
Bread Making
Soap Making
Personal Care Products
Make Your Own Cleaning Supplies
Salves, Syrups, and Tinctures
Canning Demystified
Knife Sharpening 101
Rabbit Processing
Basic Vehicle Repair

Resources
Foragers of Baltimore (Meetup Group)
Baltimore Orchard Project
Charm City Farms (Meetup Group)
Baltimore Green Space
Olivia Fite (Clinical Herbalist)

Jul 182015
 

From clay and cob, to straw bale and timber framing, learn how using natural and local materials is not only economical, but creates a unique home that is strong and durable.

Produced by Permaculture People in cooperation with Permaculture Magazine. I’ve been in touch with Lauren and Phil of Permaculture People for several years and really enjoy their work.

I’ll continue to post these videos as the series develops. You can also find the full archives on the Living with the Land webpage.

 Posted by at 12:00
Jul 162015
 

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An infant supported in a circle of hands

 

Click here to download the episode.

My guests for this episode are David Blumenkrantz and Jen Mendez. They share with us the idea of youth and community development through rites of passage. This is a conversation that encompasses education, teaching children permaculture, community development, what it means to grow up, and four of the major life experiences shared by most cultures. Those include birth, adolescence, marriage, and death.

This is something that David has worked on for 50 years in various forms before coming to examine how rites of passage and initiatory experiences influence education and community, and how reintroducing these ideas paired with indigenous wisdom and ways of knowing and scientific understanding can create a new narrative. Jen has been adapting these ideas and applying them to education design through her work and how to use them to develop new models for raising children in a way that includes care for the earth, care for ourselves, and care for others.

If you enjoy this episode or any others in the archives stretching back to 2010, I need your support to keep things going. I can’t do this without the help of each and every listener, and that includes you. Take two minutes and go over to Patreon.com/permaculturepodcast and sign up to become an ongoing listener-patron. Depending on the level you select you can receive a number of unique benefits including early access to episodes, patron only podcasts, and a discounts to different vendors. The latest providing a discount is Chelsea Green press, who are offering 25% off your order.

Should you prefer to make a one time contribution you can do so via the Donate button on the right hand side of this page.

You can find more of David and his work at Rope.org, and Jen is at Permiekids.com. I also recommend checking out the recent video I posted that provides an overview of this work on rites of passage and what David and Jen are collaborating on. This is a great way to share this idea with people you know interested in children, education, and community building to help spread the word about their project to return rite of passage and initiatory experiences to education, living, and growing up in community.

You can find more information about the course David and Jen are offering this fall from the link below. If I’m able to, with everything else going on, I am planning to participate in that course as I am able in order to examine and apply these ideas to secondary education.

https://www.permiekids.com/oursharedstory/

A diagram showing the 20 elements of a rite of passage

With all that written, one of the things that really stood out to me is when David said that this work is “the confluence of the sacred and the profane” and the blending of traditional indigenous wisdom and ways of knowing with the scientific way in order to create a new narrative and educational system for children that come together to develop our communities.

Part of that is because it touches on the need for informal, yet rigorous, education. To begin telling stories that weave together more than just the facts, that include the emotions and cultural touchstones of the things we and others around us connect with.

I like this approach because it provides a big picture for a number of related though disparate parts I’ve been mulling over and working on the past few months when it comes to my own work of establishing a sense of place for myself and my children, and how that influences my understanding of self and my permaculture practices, teaching, and creating a community.

One of the biggest influences on my perspective when it comes to permaculture and the other parts comes from the environmental education field and the writings of David Orr and David Sobel. Both work heavily around the idea of establishing a Sense of Place that roots each of us into a given biome. This is then used as both the classroom and as a teaching tool by connecting students with resources that further integrate them into the community by using examples that are close at hand to discuss various disciplines from math to science to history to language.

Once a certain core proficiency is established, such as being able to read, write, and do basic math, students progress in a non-homogenized way through their further studies by integrating things such as the local biota, climate, and geology into history classes about biology or earth science. History includes conversations about how the place where one lives fits within the greater context of national or world events. An example of that might be how during WWII the Enola Yard, a local rail yard, was receiving shipments from all over the allied territories, including the USSR, because of the risk of transport via ships to Europe. We can use examples from sports played in the area to teach math and physics. Around here most children play soccer, baseball, or softball. It makes more sense to ask them, “If Monique runs at 30 feet per second, how long does it take her to round the bases of a baseball field, a total distance of 360 ft.?” Yes it is a word problem and what is being asked for is abstract, but it’s something that can be seen. Then during recess or a gym class children can go run the bases and be timed, seeing if they can beat Monique’s time, or find out that she runs fast.

As adults this sense of place provides a community for us to get involved in. To be active in politics and be on planning commissions or various advisory boards. We can go and have our voices heard. We can work with business owners, people we can get to know, to bring permaculture into their lives, or contract with a landscape design firm if we are designers, or teach after school programs through local organizations such as the boy and girl scouts or a boys and girls club, or if one is so inclined through a church, mosque, or synagogue.

Taking this back to what David and Jen shared here, this also allows us to begin to recreate those rites of passage and initatory experiences as a community that help children and the people they call their friends and neighbors to develop the connections needed to increase the yields of all kinds to create the world we want to live in.

Together we can look beyond the immediacy of the now and the fear and separation that is fed to us every day and cast off that wrong story and have the space to create the right one. The beautiful this is that we don’t have to do this alone. We can do this in community. Start with the virtual camp fires and those people near you. Get to know people who are your allies, wherever they are, and use what you learn through these processes to start applying it where you live. Create conversations and dialogs to change the narrative, provide space for others to self-empower and find productive rites of passage and initiatory experiences, including and especially for children.

David Blumenkrantz, PhD, and Jen Mendez

Throughout your journey if I can assist you in your efforts, let me know.

Give me a call: 717-827-6266 or email: show@thepermaculturepodcast.com

You can also follow in the conversations at facebook.com/thepermaculturepodcast, or see what I’m up to with short form updates via twitter where I am @permaculturecst. With all these shout-outs and ways to connect, I’ve begun moving the podcast to soundcloud as part of a move to a new website and server later this year. Soundcloud.com/permaculturepodcast.

Next week is an interview with Victoria and Eric of Charm City Farms about their work establishing an urban food forest in the city of Baltimore, Maryland, and after that is Adam Brock talking about the role of a guest editor with Permaculture Design Magazine in case anyone listening here would like to assist John Wages by doing so in the future.

Until the next time do something each day to create the world you want to live in by taking care of Earth, yourself, and each other.

 Posted by at 09:00