Transition, the word that defines 2017 for me probably most accurately. After having a great start to the year in Spain and Portugal doing positive work at reforestation, teaching and consulting/design, it ends in the states focused on a familiar project: Treasure Lake. Each year over the last 12 years of the travel Permaculture lifestyle I spend a certain amount of months there at the lake, my families property for the last 34 years. Having passed from my grandparents to the next generation I still infuse lots of energy into the place, help run the business, design its future, and implement its necessary changes. I plug into the Cincinnati Permaculture scene while I am there as well as the yoga scene. Now I am focused on dealing with the constant desire to travel and instead stay put there at the lake as that was my intention when I made the decision in June to start to disconnect my life from Europe, my main stay over the last eight years. So I work on those things that pull me away in this time of reflection and remember also my core. I love to teach, I love to live in community, I love to work hard and creatively in the field. With that, I recall all I and others have done since July, the last time I wrote about my journey at this place.
(photos below from the PDC in Slovakia in Aug 2017)
At the end of July just before my epic trip to Europe and Slovakia to teach a PDC once more there, myself and long time friend Alex Ryberg were able to successfully pull of a Yoga Retreat Weekend, camping and roots style, but a great event nonetheless. We had about 20 people all in all with the
crew and participants and despite my stress from not being totally prepared for the endeavour, it went really well. I even got to give an ecology/ permaculture tour, which I really love to do at the lake. I know so many of the trees and spots there really personally so its great to have that space to communicate my passion for biodiversity. Additionally, Annie and Chris of Dark Wood Farm, the resident farmers at the lake, were also quite successful in pulling off several events. First was their fair share potluck for their CSA members. That got people’s appetite wet to the place, Annie and Chris’s great hosting, and their mate Dave’s culinary prowess of transforming their farm produce along with other local ingredients into fine cuisine. It was all farm to table style, each unique, the CSA picnic first, then a numerous course sit down dinner, and then a pre thanksgiving brunch/ market stand. I helped in the ways I could here and there but mainly enjoyed the crowds that congregated out there.
Promptly after my return from Europe, I did get another chance to teach fairly straight away. This time it was again just a tour, only with a small amount of people but the connections from it are what counts. It was at Treasure Fest, our annual Fest at the lake since 2015. Back again was Leon
Elam, a Northern Kentucky native who plays in the band Canyon Collected. This time he was there with just one more band member and guests, making their performance under the name The Pickin’ Pear. He used to play with my mate Brian here in town, Petersburg, before he left for the mountains out west and with Brian being my closest neighbour who is one the same vibe, it was great to work with him once again on this festival production. At the festival was also Positive Reaction as my community at the lake of people who stop through quite often on the weekends also includes that reggae bands front man, Emmanuel. He is actually in the back playing drums and singing, a very difficult thing to do musically. They played another night later in the season and we hope to continue to host the band since I love reggae music and Emmanuel has been a customer since the beginning of my grandparents owning the place. We also had a DJ set with another group of friends making the places offerings of music and camping even more diverse.
Just this past week I was also able to give a free talk at Fab Ferments tap-room on the TreeYo Permaculture Holistic Development Model. I have had a chance to present it in a few different forms but it grew from its infancy into a new presentation since I announced it a couple of weeks ago. Putting the presentation together also gave me a bit more of a framework for my chapter 14 writings of my TreeYo EDU site. The talk went well I felt, I mean it’s a free talk so I guess people got their value and I did receive nice feedback. But they did support Fab Ferments with their komboucha purchases and other ferments purchases for some holiday gifts. The crowd of around 20 seemed engaged and sparked some good conversation afterward. It was nice to get the permaculture crowd together and with it being the holiday time, people from out-of-town were there as well making it even more of a dynamic and diverse crowd. I love to teach so anything helps and thankful everyone came.
This fall I got the great pleasure of enacting my hashtag, #letsplantsometreesyo! It truly is great to get some friends together and just crack on with planting. I had already done the clearing and terracing that I teach and a couple of past students came out to help do the planting, guilding, and mulching with compost. It’s the start to a diverse hedgerow along the northern edge of Dark Wood Farm. I had to clear some edge brush but was able to put in a block of blueberries, each in its own nuclei, as you have to do Blueberries in a block format so you can cover for birds. That was in the middle but on the eastern edge was a food forest style planting with smaller shrubs and bushes in the front, the south side, and bigger trees on the northern side. We got some pears, plums, and korean dogwood in the back and chokeberry, serviceberry, honey berry, and Siberian pea shrub in the front. I protected them best I could for now but something I will make more robust over the winter as the deer have done damage to other plantings. I bought the trees and shrubs from the Cincinnati Permaculture Institute nursery, which I was happy to give back to as it helps fund our non profit (CPI). I am working more and more with them anyway so why not.
Meanwhile around the property I keep going with general clean up and the never-ending process of increasing biodiversity through forestry chop and drop. This builds on the work i have been doing for 16 years of this exact technique and the feedback loops are great. In one such area I managed to get some help again, this time with chopping non native bush honeysuckle in a valley where I had seen a few small paw paw sprouts just a few weeks before. I have been noticing on the south face that the paw paw’s like these lakeside valleys and produce well there. So I wandered into this valley with this pattern recognition in mind and voila, they were small yet waiting to emerge from a canopy break. The honeysuckle had been cut a tiny bit in this valley before, just a very beginning of a thinning and maybe that little bit of light is even what helped spur the germination of these few paw paw. And after the honeysuckle was cut and stacked appropriately in brush piles, some in random spots, some in valley floors to slow water, there was planting of even more Paw Paws. I got these trees from my mate Ande Schewe of Wake the Farm Up and big contributor to CPI. They were a mix of seeds from wild and selected varieties so I am curious what comes to be. It was really easy to dig in this valley because all the good soil was there, helped out by a few big downed trees of the past being silt traps and the sandy and silty nature of the soil there. Plus with the rampant bush honeysuckle growth nothing was growing below. It’s nice to continue on this mission of paw paw paradise through chop and drop and this time planting, which I have never done before. I have always just let the paw paw and spicebush come in naturally but I am pushing the principle of accelerating succession and evolution through this pattern recognition.
The market garden at the lake, Dark Wood Farm, had a stellar year and it was fun to plug-in from time to time. I even got some frozen hands and toes moments of harvesting just before the first frost and the first big freeze especially. A big hats off to Annie and Chris as a team and their larger and inner network to really make it a community effort. It’s the start of community, which I really hope to expand upon next year. Calling my network from all around the world, please come join us for a while next year. A few have already been asking. And along the way I have been teaming back up with Braden, Chris and Ande to jumpstart more and more in the Cincinnati Permaculture Institute, with Ryan, Lucas, Jacob, Tobias and others in the general Cincy tristate Permaculture scene, cooking things up with Courtney and Zev for things down at Earthhaven, networking for involvement with Permaculture Action Network with my friends in Berea, Kentucky that I actually know from Portugal (Michael and Joanna Beck) and in general with the SE PINA hub, with yoga teachers, builders for redoing the bar, and on and on. It doesn’t stop. And sometimes I just want to travel but for now I stay put. I look forward to teaching again, Weekend PDC and Plant Walkers are the next big ones with some more talks and maybe even braving the winter cold for some outdoor winter forestry permablitz.
Weekend Winter PDC: Feb/Mar 2018: Cincinnati Tri-state Area
Plant walkers Spring Gathering 2018: March 31st: Treasure Lake