Permaculture Class!

Our Permaculture class spent the weekend camping up at Earthaven Ecovillage where our teacher, Miss Patricia Allison lives. We built some fires, shared some stories, made some mead, dug out a pond and went on plant walks..... in between all this fun Miss Patricia taught us a couple of things too.
Miss Patricia is explaining a classic permaculture design called the "herb spiral".
This is one of the many bees that are workin' it in Miss Patricia's garden.
Hey, Greg... What is this?...saw him cruisin along while we were on our plant walk.
Gwennie is playing hookie from class and I caught her red-handed at the playground!
Saturday night we had a talent show and boy was I blown away at the talent. Kelly (first pic) started a fire with handmade tools that she made herself and Grant picked his banjo for us (lower pic). Dylan shared two poems that he wrote while hitchhiking and exploring. Also there was a presentation on hydrogen power by Damon (who has a hydrogen cell on his car), stand-up comedy and a tear jerking, appalachian-inspired tune written and performed by Cassie. Steve screamed some rock, Claudia brought some seaweed that she harvested herself in Maine, Jeremy played and sung a song he wrote himself, and Greg did some crazy harmonizing thing with his throat called"Tuvan Throat Singing ".....These are just a couple of the highlights....Annie and I did an impromptu version of "Puff the Magic Dragon" with Jeremy's accompaniment but I was so bad that everyone in the class started singing along to cover up my tone deafness. Talent shows are the way to go! Much more fun to watch than TV.


Volunteer fabulousness!

Julie's creations

We had a beet, basil, and peach platter; OUR garden salad; and a mixed green salad!

New AVI residents

Garrett is the funny blue alien who came all the way from hawaii to hang with us....and he likes it!
This is Julie.....she's awesome and a fabulous cook.


Some Great Folks

Sandor Ellix Katz was one of two presenters who came and taught our Wild Foods and Fermentation workshop. What an inspiring and cool thing to have been involved in! We were so lucky to have him and Frank Cook spend so much time with us. They answered our questions, and empowered us to take a second glance at things like weeds and microrganisms! Sandor is the author of Wild Fermentation and The Future Will Not Be Microwaved. He made tempeh, meade,villi, kombucha, and kefir just for us! All these things are super good for us because of active enzymes, beneficial bacteria, and partially digested proteins that our bodies love us for. Check Sandor's skills out here.
Frank Cook was the other presenter at our Wild Foods and Fermentation workshop. What an amazing human being he is. Frank took our class on plant walks both Thursday and Friday. He, along with Mary and Angelina, (Thank ya'll!) made a fabulous South Indian meal for us consisting of Idlis (fermented lentil and rice flour) and Sambar. He talked to us and the plants about what an important part they play in our well being. Lots of plants that we consider "weeds" are so exceptional in many ways and we just don't know it. His mantra at the moment is "eat something wild everyday." Take a look at Frank's website, www.plantsandhealers.com/ for more info about the genius things he's dedicated his life to.

morning tea

Frank made a great tea for the students in our workshop before class started....all the leaves were from our yard and have various medicinal properties.
1. Kudzu
2. couldn't figure this one out...looks like an oversized red raspberry leaf....Hey Frank,you out there? let me know what this one is.
3. Dandelion
4. Mint
5. Sumac
6. Rose of Sharon
7. Sorrel
8. Violet
pretty genius huh? anyway...take a look at Plants For A Future to see which weeds are good for you in your yard.


How eatin' should be

So above is the fabulous gourmet meal we devoured on Friday during our Wild Foods and Fermentation Workshop. The menu was (starting clockwise from upper left)
-A dressing made from homemade miso, a Sandor-made villi (cultured dairy goodness),organic lemon juice, and tahini.
-wild greens pesto
-coleslaw with wild greens from the yard and edible flowers
-pan-fried Tempeh we made the day before
- miso soup
-russian raisin bread baked locally from Farm and Sparrow
-wild greens salad that included lettuces,lamb's quarter, broccoli, basil, tomato, daikon, althea, nasturtium, calendula, arugula, walnuts, thyme, strawberry leaves, lavender, yarrow, rosemary, & mint!....did ya get that?
-homemade sauerkraut with a plethora of veggies including cabbage..of course...burdock root, red onions, garlic, carrots and some different types of seaweeds.
- last but certainly not least a dandy honey wine (meade) made with mangoes and pineapples


Where does our stuff come from?

We go shopping for things, we use bags from the store, we buy a bunch of reusable bags but forget to use those and shop for more things and more bags. Where does it all come from and where does it go? PLEASE watch the video called "The Story of Stuff" I can't really say or write how necessary and appropriate this video is. See for yourself.

ode to the latin ladies

So, Ben can sing some songs in Spanish and it's AWESOME! He's our entertainment alot when we get some down time.


just another garden day...

During our garden day, we worked on the cob bench that was started during the natural building workshop. Jen (left) and Janell are smoothing out and designing shape of it.
Our garden is beautiful AND edible.
Ben (foreground) and Jeremy are making a mulch bed.Adding leaf mulch adds carbon to the topsoil and builds it up. We use mulch beds instead of tilling up the soil for multiple reasons. "No-till" gardening includes increase of soil quality (soil function),preservation, and protecting the soil from erosion. Another benefit is not disturbing the microbes and organisms that make our soil alive. Some hot friends came over to help us burnish the earthen plaster on the house and remove sand particles.


Natural Building

Sienna gettin' dirty...
Meka's dirty toes...
muddin it up....
(left) making adobe bricks
(middle) plastering over concrete
(right) Josh is plastering our window
everybody's doing the mud stomp.
Our Natural Building workshop went smoothly and it was alot of fun for everybody. Above is pretty much everyone who took the workshop over Thursday and Friday. Our Permaculture class did some earthen plastering on Saturday and Sunday. We built that really cool arch on Janell's front porch.


Summer Solstice

We attended The Summer Solstice celebration at The Botanical Gardens here in Asheville. What a spectacle. Drama! Singing!Dancing!Kazoos! this celebration had it all and there was a potluck feast afterwards.
We went to the Ashevillage town meeting. Thank you Mark Lakeman and Lydia Dolman from Portland, Oregon for such a moving presentation.

getting plastered on earth

Friends, families, and priceless volunteers came out to AVI during the First Annual Ashevillage Building Convergence. Our house was a project site along with others around town that hosted super cool awsome stuff like construction of rainwater catchment systems,cob garden shed and living roof at a couple of local elementary schools. Other projects included building a living garden trellis out of willow, huge mural under the 240 overpass, urban plant walk at the Edible Garden, and earthen plaster at our house!
(upper left) Sean is a massage therapist and he is working his magic on our wall. (upper middle) A mini volunteer gettting his hands dirty. (upper right) Somebody got fresh with Ben and by that smile I think he liked it. (lower left) Our new buddy Noah who swept into town and hit the ground running. Thanks for all your help, Noah! (lower middle) Trapper and Leah are having a heated discussion about dirt. (lower right) Matthew is another of our priceless volunteers.

(upper left) Mountane is awesome. (mid left) Gwen has a beautiful smile. (lower left) earthen plaster detail being finished on our window. (upper right) Jeremy is an angel when he's asleep. (mid right) another angel. (lower right) Molly is a phenomenal natural builder and she facilitated our site... Ben and Trapper are working that mud.


Are we?

Gwen's momma called her and said," you are at the epicenter of the environmental counterculture...are we?


Beekeeping 101

The bees in our backyard...We got two hives. The queen is in there somewhere, can you find her? Hint: I couldn't.
They are not astronauts...they are future beekeepers. This is Chris Mathis. He is a beekeeping ninja who is very passionate about caring for bees and beekeeping them happy. Since 1985, Over half of our bees have disappeared. They leave their homes and no one really knows why. Bees are a priority. What happens when they are not around to pollinate our flowers anymore...So long and thanks for all the food? One of my fellow students is studying a bee frame. Chris is using a smoker to calm the bees before entering the hive.

#1 or #2?

compost toilets anyone? thoughts?


soft focus

tony took a picture with my camera......so, anyway, i am diligently working on this blog and our workshop flyers....next up is our natural building workshop and our wild fermentation workshop...can't wait!


just another day in the garden...

That beautiful plant in the foreground is the Burdock plant. Burdock root is extremely medicinal. These plants grow wonderfully around here, are very useful and the roots are great in soup! Half-naked Ben is watering the strawberries and Kim is planting some onions in the greenhouse. Our mustard greens are shooting up! Add to grocery list: ham hocks, pepper sauce.

Earthaven Ecovillage

(l-r. some lady, The Fabulous Ms. Mountain Woman Patricia Allison, Gwendolyn, Trapper)
Ms. Patricia is not only a dear friend but she also happens to be our permaculture teacher. She is a plethora of useful information and extremely funny.... I love her. She invited us up to her home and took us on a tour of Earthhaven Ecovillage. She also had us over for dinner. We had great fun and no-bake chocolate peanut butter oatmeal cookies. Clay woodstove to keep mountain folks nice and warm in the winter. The structure with the mirror hanging on the back is Ms. Patricia's compost toilet. Kim just came out! This old Uhaul truck belongs to some carpenters that live up at Earthaven. All of their equipment is hooked up into the back and run off of the solar panels attached to the top.
(Trapper in foreground) This is where alot of the kids that live at Earthaven and some kids from surrounding farms are homeschooled. Isn't this school beautiful. This is yurt style construction, All the wood in this interior was taken from the site, and the outside is cob.
Gwen is checking out Ms. Patricia's sauna. She heats it up with the woodburning stove pictured.
These are a couple of pics of a cob house being built up at Earthhaven.....really beautiful spaces....these pics don't do it justice. Earthaven is a really amazing place with interesting things going for it. They are totoally off grid using solar and hydropower. This is the second ecovillage I've been to and the people here were nice, knowledgable, and made us feel right at home. I'll be back to visit.