It was an itinerant permaculture teaching and project installation company, a brand identified with being on the move. I made the conscious choice to not go on with this lifestyle for many reasons. Rather rooting into community and long term intensive site development is the goal. This holistic vision has kept me put in Northern Kentucky since 2017 September other than a working holiday this past fall/ winter to my familiar Iberian roots.
What once was my staple, teaching, has now dwindled down consciously and due to lack of interest in my local market for current offerings. I tried to run a weekend PDC this again winter but that didn’t work here in the Cincinnati tristate region. I did get to teach here at the lake on the topics of food forest and forestry in the Year Long PDC run by Braden Truth and the Cincinnati Permaculture Institute. It really is a
passion of mine to teach and always nice to show off the work you have been doing for nearly two decades in the forest (more on that below). It was a great group and we did get some work done in a zone 3 area I have been developing including last falls earthworks. The space has been evolving since 2014 and will take its next evolution in the upcoming day class with Abby Artemisia in our event called Planting Abundance on May 18th. Unique offerings like this is what I will try as I work my way into other avenues of teaching, rather than the globetrotting PDC circuit.
Abby did interview me for a podcast as well and I got to talk about my passion of Paw Paw’s.
I will also be offering workshops at the Whippoorwill Festival in July in Kentucky and rumor is I might be starting to teach at University of Cincinnati’s horticulture department for Permaculture.
The fall last year, 2018, was brutal with the continued heat and non stop event planning and all the work and maintenance that comes with that. I then left for Europe as soon as we closed for the season and finally took a breath to work on another passion; writing. After spending three months in Iberia I cracked on with my beloved winter forestry work that I among calling Active Forest Management and launching a new movement around that. The cutting of non natives and natives to make way for the understory paw paw and spicebush, the continuing to plug up streams with rock dams and woody debris, small and large diameter, and felling trees for mushroom innoculation. This year I worked with one of my closest neighbors who has a shining example of 1/2 acre permaculture, Daniel Biedenbender, on the mushroom inoculation. We removed quite a few box elders in the aforementioned zone 3 space that we are developing. The logs this time are at his fathers house down the road by a few miles as resources are starting to not be so boundary centric in the building of community here in Petersburg, KY. This winter work is great prep for getting the physical body back in shape for the looming busyness of spring. Much of that spring time has been devoted to nursery work again with the Cincinnati Permaculture Insititues Growing Value Nursery having a spillover/ secondary location here at the lake. It’s fun work, but tough on the body indeed and honestly I am glad it has just a few more hours of work to be done to resettled for the season. Alongside of that I have been sprouting hundreds of Paw Paw seed from selected fruits from last years harvest. Fun stuff as I put together elements of my own nursery as well.
Speaking of mushrooms, our King Stropharia beds that were inoculated in May and June of 2018 came thumping along with honestly more mushrooms than we could handle (and now a second flush is happening). Emphatically by the bag full we have been harvesting them! I had never grown them before and will be better prepared for selling next flush. For now we have all been eating lots of mushrooms around here since again the morel season hasn’t been great and these mushrooms keep us satisfied. Part of those beds are also part of a western hedgerow on the edge of Annie Woods Dark Wood Farm market garden. All the plants are super thriving which is a great sign to know that these mushrooms can be cultivated along with perennials like fruit trees, berrybushes, and perennial veg. I definitely did have to pull the wood chips and fall leaves away from the trunks of the plants as the wine cap mycelium is indeed very aggressive. I have planted in more currants, Jostaberry, and gooseberry to finish filling out the space.
The other hedgerow, on the north end of the market garden, originally planted in fall 2017, continues to expand. Everything is looking great, even the pear I had to whack back just above the graft after the deer rub got it as there was a miscommunicationabotu fencing when I left to Europe in the fall. oops. These nuclei are great to see displaying the small scale intensive principle for sure. And being full on growth during this warm and wet spring it is chop and drop time of course as well. Furthermore, I am now dropping in a few more layers of the food forests hedgerow as I developed the anchors and guild herbaceous plants and now adding more fruiting bushes like currants, Aronia, and more. I have also expanded both east and west with more fruit tree nuclei, Japanese plum and Asian Pear, which meets up against a back stop that my grandfather had built for his dreams of having a softball diamond here. It had become junk pile over the years but some hard work has it ready for vines, I do believe hardy kiwi it is. Maybe Akebia, decision has to be made today, ha. Oh and some hoops too!
The businesses of Treasure Lake have also been a backdrop ongoing conversation and evolution with the owners, my father and my two aunties. So we decided to shut the pay fishing lake, campground, and the bar other than our Tuesday Night Ping Pong and Friday night Open Jam (now turning into Sunday afternoon instead of Friday), which are quite communal events. The culture of camping and the pay lake and the event production of music shows honestly had become toxic with people simply over doing it and not respecting the land (not everyone but a few rotten apples do spoil the bunch). Unfortunately people live in excess, I once was there and am no saint, although quite sober these days. Anyway this allows me to have more time and space to dedicate to projects here on the land and elsewhere and build community further.
The biggest journey of living in this economically depressed rural area during tough times in the states other than for the wealthy is indeed building community. There is a small group of us, but it is expanding as the roots are put down further. Running a bar at the lake does generate tips and rather than take it all for myself, i simply use it as a tree planting fund. So both the local Biedenbender homesteads, Daniel and Colleen and Josh and Maddy, have received big donations of plants to make their homesteads more robust and our community more resilient. Our network extends beyond this but these are the folks I work with the most in my local area. I also am working with my longtime event production co manager, Bryan Schaffer and we will soon get his pear trees in the ground that were also donated through the tips for tree planting program. Furthermore, I of course work with Annie Woods and her Dark Wood Farm market garden that is still on the land as well. There are still next steps and people are constantly asking about moving to this area since it is only 30 minutes from downtown Cincinnati, Covington, and Newport, our tri-cities on the river. Also I continue to make my trips two hours south to continue building community with the Berea crews it is my respite.
Another exciting opportunity I am working on is turning a normal park design into a permaculture landscape. More on that one in the next blog as we are moving from vision and assessment phase into the conceptual design in this moment.
There is a lot going on in life these days and big next steps are occurring in rooting, even if they are tiny. Hint that was foreshadowing.