When you manage so many different systems and ventures, it’s the tiny steps that indeed count most. After all, giant leaps can only happen after a thousand little steps. So I walk these 60 acres (24 HA) of Treasure Lake with tiny steps because it’s how one works with nature, not against it. My forest garden extends 45 acres (18 HA) through my active forest enhancement program and is dynamic in its seasonal management. It’s non-stop on all fronts and the summer gives a great time for reflection while weeding. And it’s a lot of weeding, mostly shrub layer nonnatives, with chop and drop, but turning that problem into the solution is the backbone of my work here. No direct income from these tasks. The true profit is that the long-term health of the forest and the wealth that will come in tiny ways along the journey of growth.
Teaching remains one of my passions and every chance I get I try to maximize it fully since my schedule isn’t what it once was. I do love to inspire and transmit info. Thus besides building out further the TreeYo EDU platform, I have had the honor of teaching once again in the format of a partnership with the living legend Abby Artemisia and her Wander School. We long have been collaborating and she is indeed a solid teaching partner. As foraging and botany are her main jams, we gel well together as teacher partners. Blending her strengths with my deep love and thorough knowledge of the land of Treasure Lake, we find unique ways to offer Permaculture knowledge to many in the tristate area. Our last offering of Planting Abundance once again featured Abby leading the plant walks with me supporting and feeding the participants through local foods. In the afternoon it was my time to shine and Abby supporting while we did our short plant walks and then plantings. In the space I call zone 3, it has gone through many iterations and went through a big push with all these helping hands of the beautiful group that joined us. Since it is an outer zone, well-developed guilds were not the motif, rather building off of native ecology and previous plantings. We added a riparian hedgerow of elderberry and hazelnut after the demonstration planting of russian hawthorn. Already in that zone over the years we have planted chestnut, grafted paw paw, jujube, serviceberry and black capped raspberry cultivar Jewel. We have also added terraces and applied the pioneering program of active forest enhancement that really is my life work besides this online platform to increase natural stands of paw paw. Anyhow, the students that attend this class continue to form a tight knit community and I am delighted to be apart of it as well as furthering my connection with Abby. Now I study Abby’s book, The Herbal Handbook for Homesteaders, to learn more from her and prepare further for our next class in late August. Since I have been so hard at work with the paw paws over the years, I will offer my next lessons of paw paw propagation. Click below for more info on our next course.
I will also be at Whippoorwill Festival in Kentucky speaking on both active forest enhancement and the unique tips for tree planting fair share program I have been facilitating here at the lake/bar. In short, tips from our bar go to tree planting in my local community. They could simply go in my pocket but it stimulates community sharing and rural development.
Speaking of paw paws, the nursery work I have done for my own personal nursery beyond the Cincinnati Permaculture Insititute’s Growing Value Nursery that I work for, has been a huge success. While not my top priority, it is a growing element within the design and management of Treasure Lake and my more rooted lifestyle. From saving the seeds 10 months ago, to cold stratification for months, to sprouting them inside, to sowing them outside, to waiting for them to pop up their first leaves, well that moment of seeing them finally photosynthesizing is a proud papa moment. They are mostly from my trees at my parents house which are seedlings of grafted varieties and are fantastic producers, weight, and flavour. I also have sown seeds from selected ones from the wilds at Treasure Lake that are big and bountiful. I look forward to saving more seeds this year and scaling my personal nursery up. I intend to teach more of this including to the upcoming class and in the TreeYo EDU platform. I also am still selling plants here at the lake through the CPI nursery so get your designs in order for fall planting and come see me.
Observation is such a key to Permaculture and through my readings on the psychology of long term success, I have come to identify that our deliberate daily practivce that forms grit, is indeed observation. It is here patterns illuminate through the protracted and thoughtful observation that frames permaculture design process and its systems management. So as summer has begun, the rains have been intense, and now the heat builds. Growth is remarkable and to notice the little changes necessary to keep the system going is vital. I notice when moles or deer do crop damage, when disease or pests invade, I see when growth rates are dizzying, when fruits are born from flowers and ripen into food. I see when insects provide services of pollination, I see an ever evolving mosaic of plants responding to my active forest enhancement treatment. with a caring eye, I watch carefully over the trees and vines that have been planted this year and beyond. I watch rain both create and destroy. I observe as the newly created clay pool seals. I notice the beehive evolve and respond. And then there is the observation of community and self growth with all of its ups and downs, turns and twists.
Oh and by the way, I moved into a tiny house this last month as well. I have been looking at getting a tiny house for the last six months as my living situation at Treasure Lake has been less than ideal but also great in some ways. Me and rent don’t get along so it’s been good in that way. But after looking at tiny houses on tinyhouselistings.com for six months, I always came back to the the petite cabin built by the Collins family in Northeastern, Indiana, about 3.5 hours from Treasure Lake (Collins Custom Tiny Homes). Online I loved the smaller size, good craftsmanship, unique touches, and homely feel, and the price. I am not a builder of much to be honest, a skill I intend to learn more of in this lifetime. And upon going and seeing the cabin after dealing with bouts of fear, well it was an easy choice to buy this as all that was online was even better in person and the builders top notch folks. Built with chemical sensitivity in mind, sturdiness, functionality, and beauty, I am very happy with the choice as I slowly move in and make the necessary steps to live in a tiny house. It already has generated a buzz of others wanting to build out the community here at Treasure Lake with similar dwellings. I am very thankful to the builders and to my folks who are supporting since I steward a major asset in the family, 60 acres, 15 minutes from the airport and 30 minutes to downtown Cincinnati/ Covington.
I also continue to do work on the design front with the infusion of Permaculture in a park at the old Lesourdsville site in Monroe, Ohio. A blend of treasure Lake and an amusement park is what it was and a dynamic new public park to be. Below are some fo the powerpoint design drawings that are still being built out. But with the scope being focused and our objectives determined after meetings and protracted and thoughtful observation, I am enjoying designing this memorial garden with several stakeholders. And honestly its a lot easier to do this kinda work within the tiny house.
Furthermore, I have a few more clients waiting in the wings as we move forward with design/ consulting services in the initial phase. I go forward with managing all the unique specific spaces and managing the 60 acres here. It’s evolving at Treasure Lake and so am I. The community around continues to be dynamic and supportive and I see some travels in the future. The TreeYo platform is being built out with long time TreeYo collaborator and past student Matt Gillespie. Along the way we debate many philosophical underpinnings of society that can create sustained succession of consciousness and I have the feeling you will love his stuff and we intend to share it widely. So happy summer growing!