10.26.2009

Rainwater & Greywater Catchment Workshop Update

Our rainwater & greywater catchment workshop scheduled for November 6th and 7th has been changed to a one-day workshop on the 7th only. Please update your calendars. See you there!

10.01.2009

Two Teachers Awarded Sustainability Scholarships

Congratulations to Paula Hayes, Woodfin Elementary, and Dacia Harris, Asheville High School, who have each been awarded a $200 Sustainability Education Scholarship (SES) to attend a sustainability workshop with Ashevillage Institute (AVI). Hayes is developing and sponsoring a group of 5th grade students as the Woodfin GO GREEN Club. Not only will her students be responsible for campus recycling, GREEN projects will be topics for classroom research, science fair, and writing assignments throughout the year. The Backyard Sustainability workshop will support her efforts at the school. Harris, Earth and Environmental studies co-teacher, is a new teacher and is working toward her environmental educator certification from the State of North Carolina. She will participate in the Rainwater Catchment workshop and work with her Earth & Environmental Science teammate to develop hands-on curricula. The SESs support a registration fee to AVI's Backyard Sustainability workshop on October 3 & 4 or AVI’s Rainwater/Greywater Catchment workshop on November 6 & 7, 2009. Each teacher is encouraged to bring one student to the workshop with them, if they choose, at no charge. Additional Scholarships Needed In the last two weeks, ten amazing teachers were nominated for two SESs. Pollinate Consulting and AVI have donated the first two and encourage community members, parents, friends of teachers, and businesses to consider making a tax deductible contribution to the SESs for additional area teachers. One 2-day scholarship is equal to $200. To support a scholarship, please call 828-989-8361 or email pollinateconsulting@gmail.com as soon as possible. Checks can be made out to Ashevillage Institute, SES in memo line, and mailed to 82 Buchanan Ave., Asheville, NC 28801.

9.21.2009

5 Days Left to Nominate for the Sustainability Education Scholarships!!

Pam Bunch from WNCW interviews Janell Kapoor and Shawn Jadrnicek (Yad-na-check) from Ashevillage Institute about their sustainability workshops, permaculture and the teacher Sustainability Education Scholarships. Nominations for two, two-day sustainability workshops for teachers in the region are being taken through this Friday, Sept. 25. How to nominte a teacher or yourself!

9.09.2009

Janell to present at Asheville Green Drinks this Friday

Come hear how we're going to grow talapia, bass, mussels and prawns in our backyard. Find out what's happening with permaculture in the schools and around town. Learn how you can get involved with WNC's premiere eco-education center, workshops and more.
Friday, September 11th, 6pm at BoBo Gallery 22 Lexington Avenue in downtown Asheville

8.29.2009

BEES!!!!! (are cool!) Bee Stewarding update

We're actually right in the middle of the bee-keeping workshop right now. I sneaked away at lunch to post this real quick. More to come later. We spent the morning looking into the hive. Instructor Cailen Campbell is really in tune with the bees and is teaching us a lot about the various methods of keeping and managing bees: "traditional-modern" and his approach, "new paradigm" bee-stewarding. We passed the frames around to see the inner workings of the hives up close. No bees got squished, no one got stung, we made minimal disturbances for the bees. Gotta get back to class now!

8.23.2009

Raising Day ~ Timber Framing Workshop

Day 3 of our Timber Framing Workshop. This morning we really found our groove. Teams just seemed to form on their own and everyone worked industriously. We improved our techniques and gained confidence with tools.
Here's a pretty swell example of a tenon.
Bobby checks the fit of the tenon with the super high-tech Tenon Checker 5000. Not sure, but I suspect Ira has a patent pending on this. Useful for checking the width of the tenon to see where it may need to be shaved down to fit in the mortise. Better to find that out while the timber is on the trestle.
Brace mortise
There are a lot of different angles and lengths of cuts and lots of tools to choose from for the job. Here, we've used an electric saw as far as we could and then Meesh uses a handsaw to finish off where an electric blade could not go. Many goofy moments throughout this workshop! During a short afternoon rain we all crowded under a tarp and continued to work elbow to elbow. Steveo kept the silliness alive on the worksite - while also guiding us and keeping it safe. A fine combo. Beginning to assemble the frame. Lloyd and Keri fit a post - with tenon - into the mortise on the beam. The whole crew with the frame temporarily raised and secured! Job well done! We were all very excited to see our work go up. This project will continue to be featured in our Natural Building Workshops where we'll incorporate adobe, cob, slipstraw, wattle & daub and many more techniques. Come join us, we've got 5-, 3-, & 2-day natural building workshops in September and October with some of the most talented and inspirational instructors in the field. And speaking of exceptional instructors... mad props to Ira Friedrichs and Steveo Brodmerkel for their most generous tutelage. Thanks to Jason Boyer for his superb teaching assistance! And thanks to all the participants, what a fun crew!

8.22.2009

Timber Framing ~ Day 2!

Tools! Lots of cool tools to get the job done. Here, Keri drills a peg hole with a hand drill and Aimee keeps her in line.
Lovely flower of shavings.
Above, Aimee uses an old boring tool from the late 1800's. One sits on it and arm 'pedals' the crank to drive the bit. Below, our first completed project - a trestle sawhorse. We cut our practice mortise and tenons on this. Good thing, they were kinda rough :) but we got it down now I think and we were pretty stoked that it actually assembled and is dang sturdy. From left to right: Ian, Bobby, Ira, Aimee and Joe. Steveo demonstrates the sturdiness of the trestle horse. Hand tools feel good to use, they're quiet, you really feel like you're 'doing it' but it is hard and slow. We use a lot of power tools too like the one Aimee is using here with Keri and Garret observing (we check and double check measurements and watch for safety). This tool is a chain saw-circular saw combo.

8.21.2009

Timber Framing!

Day one of our three day timber framing workshop! Wow, pretty exciting and we've learned so much already. The day started with a great slide show presentation by Ira of the many projects he's worked on. It really gave us a foundation (shall we say "plinth") to understanding the many types of joinery and ways to timber frame and build. The method to successful joints is all in the layout - measuring! And then sequencing your cuts - doing them in the most efficient order. Today we learned mortise and tenon joinery. Above, Meesh uses the chain mortiser. Below, Steveo shows us where to chisel to make a custom fit. Above, the tenon fits into the mortise and is secured with a peg. Below, Garret shows our work. Looking forward to two more days!

8.10.2009

What a Great Two Days of Wild Foods and Fermenting!

This past Wed & Thurs, August 5 & 6, we had our 2-day Wild Foods & Fermentation workshop with Sandor Katz and Frank Cook. Very inspiring and fascinating! Sandor started off by mentioning that many people have some "fear" about making themselves and others sick with food gone bad - when has food gone bad and when it is fermenting? I had the same question. Well, this workshop demystified it all. With very simple manipulation and awareness of the microbial changes going on, it's super easy to ferment. And the health benefits are huge, from making food more easily digestible and nutrients more bio-available to removing toxins and producing strong, gourmet, sought-after flavors. We started each day with wild tea made by Frank. All these plants were picked from the AVI backyard and garden. Some plants are considered weeds and grow wild, probably in your yard too, and others are medicinal and culinary plants that we've intentionally planted. I heard many participants comment that they were going to start making teas from the plants and weeds in their garden. Who needs to buy pre-packaged commercial tea when a lot of us have all the plants we need wild and free in our gardens?!?! Some class time was spent on the stone patio under the shade of the apple tree. Other times we were on plant walks with Frank and sometimes we were hands-on in the kitchen. Here, Sandor's talking about kefir, a fermented milk drink (sooo easy once you procure the starter grains), you can see a few jars on the table. We learned how to make mead (honey wine) and started a tomato mead. Yep, tomato mead. Janell, the Mead-Making Queen, had plenty of samples of various aged meads to pass around. Here's workshop participant Peggy checking one out. We learned that alcohol is the most ancient and universally practiced form of fermentation which has been used as herbal elixirs, medicinal tinctures, in ceremony, and for celebration and merriment. Tempeh was a fave. I have to admit that I've never been a fan of store-bought tempeh. But the tempeh we made was so delicious! On day one we started it and had it for lunch on day two. Tempeh is a great protein source of rice, beans and spores incubated under specific temperature and humidity conditions. Here it goes into the pan... ... it incubates over night and has formed a nutritious mold that binds it all together into a form you can cook and eat. (Looks like birthday cake with frosting, no?) We cooked it in a cast iron pan with coconut oil and Braggs. Super tasty, nice texture! It was a hit all around. I know for a lot of us in this culture, the thought of eating mold, or sometimes the taste of fermented foods, is a little strange and disagreeable at first but when we open our minds to the social and cultural forces that construct these perspectives, and we see how another cultural may view this mold as a highly valued delicacy, then we can begin to broaden our own perspective, which can create change - from improved personal health to global human and environmental respect. It really is all interconnected and it all really is revolutionary! Idli is another version of fermented beans and rice. It's mild in flavor and eaten in India with strong flavored curries and chutneys. We had it steamed (above in a special steamer one can find in Indian markets) and fried - which are called dosa. Below you can see our day-one lunch spread. In the foreground, salad with edible flowers and wild greens, then the steamed idli and dosas. Above, workshop participant Susanne Hackett of local blog Pollinating Asheville, enjoys a selection of krauts at lunch. Lunches were amazing and flavorful examples of all we were learning to make. Recipes and much of the actual cooking were prepared by Sandor and Frank, with the help of Mary Morgaine and Janell. Lunches were a highlight of the day. Both afternoons included talks and plant walks with Frank Cook. Yeah, I'm blown away by the realization that so many of the "weeds" and plants right there in the yard, on the street, in the parks, are edible! Dandelion, plantain, mugwort, lambsquarters, to name a few. And often more nutritious than the usual greens available in the store like spinach, and certainly fresher. Frank emphasized that food is medicine and that by simply eating conscientiously, hydrating, sleeping, de-stressing by having fun and receiving healing touch like massage, then we won't have the need for doctors' medicines. Frank also gave a great talk on the 5 Pillars of Abundant Living which I'm not going to give away here, you're going to have to attend one of his talks, but basically it's so simple and accessible and smart, but involves the unlearning of so much that we have been told or sold and relearning so much about how things used to be done, how peoples used to eat - from as recent as our grandparents to as long ago as ancient cultures and cross-culturally spanning those times. And then we made fermented veggies! Known as sauerkraut or kimchi, all ya do is submerge veggies in their own liquid, or water, wait a few days or a few weeks (to taste) and that's it. What could be easier? This method has been used in many cultures in the days before refrigeration for preserving food during abundant times - like spring, summer and fall - for good eatin' in the wintertime. We chopped lots of veggies - cabbage, green beans, squash, carrots... there's no veggie you can't use. You can even add potatoes but cook'em first. Then we tossed them in a large bucket to squeeze and bruise them allowing the cells to release their juices. We made kraut for 30 participants but you can make smaller portions for home use. The general rule is one pound of veggies makes a pint, 4 lbs make a quart and 8 lbs make a gallon. Each workshop participant went home with at least a pint to enjoy.

8.02.2009

AVI on the TV!

Janell will be on Live MY40 This Morning tomorrow talking about the upcoming Wild Food & Fermentation Workshop with Sandor Katz and Frank Cook. Set your alarms!

7.29.2009

Vote us Best Local Blog

Vote for us! Vote for us!
If you enjoy this here blog why not click on over to MountainXpress and vote Ashevillage Institute as Best Local Blog And if you like the work we do you might consider voting Ashevillage Institute as Best Local Do-Gooder Group 'cuz we do try to be oh so good!

7.27.2009

PdC UpdAtE... WaTcH tHe vIdEo

We completed the 2nd weekend of our 6-weekend Permaculture Design Course this month and have organized into 5 design teams. Each team selected a challenging design project to tackle. It's exciting that even though these are student design projects they aren't just hypothetical. The design site hosts are all very actively interested in implementing the designs! We have a nice selection of projects - everything from public to personal and urban to rural. Permaculture design techniques can be applied everywhere and permaculture ethics can be applied to everything. So cool. Design projects include: Randolph Learning Center, a school for middle and highschool aged kids; a model site on AB-Tech campus; a Burton St. community project of Asheville GO; a single mom's Habitat for Humanity home, and a 7-acre horse farm. Here's one of our visionary PDC participants, Asheville City Councilmember Robin Cape, talking about Permaculture. video

7.21.2009

Natural Plaster Finish goes up in AVI Bathroom

AVI residents can now primp in natural beautiful style! We recently finished the walls & ceiling in the AVI bathroom with a natural plaster. Our recipe: 1x Clay 1x Wheat paste 3x Aggregate (marble dust, mica, sand) Water & colored mineral pigment to taste ...Plus 1/4 cup powdered milk per gallon of paint Steveo, Lloyd and natural building intern, John, got a download on how to make and apply the plaster by our in-house expert, Janell. The plaster turned out beautifully - light yellow with sparkly mica flecks. It looks great with the dark slate tile. But here's the thing, exposed earthen walls where wet towels might rest on them wouldn't hold up very well in the long run. Our solution: watered down Elmer's Glue...seriously! Janell had seen this successfully used as protection on an earthen floor and exterior wall at Pun Pun in Thailand. Last year, we experimented with this recipe as the final coat on AVI's exterior, over earthen plaster, and it's held up amazingly well -- even through torrential downpours. So, that's what we finished our clay-painted bathroom walls with. The recipe? 4 parts water x 1 part Elmer's. We added extra pigment, taking our walls from a soft yellow to gorgeous Mediterranean ochre. If you want to learn more about this, we have a 2-Day Natural Finishes Workshop November 13 & 14. Check out our Calendar of Events over there on the right. Right over there --> Go ahead, click it. You know you want to. :)

7.05.2009

Wild Food & Fermentation Workshop - Aug 5 & 6

Wild Food & Fermentation Workshop with Sandor Katz and Frank Cook coming to Ashevillage Institute next month. Sign up now 'cuz it's a super popular course that always sells out and ya don't wanna miss this! For information and registration: www.ashevillage.org, info@ashevillage.org, 828.225.8820

6.27.2009

** the AVI crew goes on a Permaculture-Hotspots-of-Asheville Tour **

Once upon a time, on a pleasant spring day, the Ashevillage Institute crew and friends went on a tour of permaculture hotspots in Asheville. We visited private residences as well as community gardens and schools to check out what inspiring things our fellow sustainability devotees were up to. Our first stop was the site of Bill Whipple. (Check our earlier post where Bill grafts onto our apple tree)
Here's what Janell had to say about our tour: "I love that Asheville has more and more permaculture hot spots. Thanks to the smarties who are creating their lil' urban paradises and for letting us tour 'em: Monica Williams, Bill & Ely Whipple, Steve Arpin, Sunny Keach, Turtle & the Pearson Garden, Issac Dickson & Vance Elementary Schools and Jim Bixby. (We'll have to do round II to catch all the ones we missed.) I'm particularly inspired by the goomi berries, the bio-methane digester, the Bradford pear tree with 30 varieties of grafts, the grass embanked couch and the hot house full o' figs - yummm!" Ely showed us how he's making fuel out of compost. Hooked one of these tanks up to a camp stove and made us tea. Well, no, not really, we didn't have time for tea but the fuel did fire the stove. Impressive! Then we were off to Hillside Urban Farm where Sunny Keach showed us his abundant gardens where all sorts of delights are cultivated right here in the city on an urban lot 5 minutes from downtown... including figs, tomatoes, a pond, culinary and medicinal herbs, gorgeous poppies and asparagus. Sunny's garden incorporates many permaculture elements like edible landscaping, aquaculture, season extension and rainwater catchment.
Terraced beds make use of sloped terrain and hugelkultur beds make use of debris. Hugelkultur is kind of like planting in a decomposed compost pile and it can be done on any scale. Basically, pile woody yard waste, tree trimmings, brush, etc. in a long row, the base of which is usually more carbon stuffs. Then add your more nitrogen 'wastes' - green stuffs, kitchen scraps, etc. Eventually it all breaks down into a nice rich bed. Soil can be added on top to plant in if the mound isn't completely decomposed.
Isaac Dickson School gets kids into the garden and connects them with where our food comes from. The day we visited they were making pizzas in the cob oven with ingredients from their own garden.
Pearson Garden is the Bountiful Cities Project's model garden. It produces edibles for the community including greens, peas, and tomatoes, to name a few, as well as perennials like the Jerusalem artichoke.
Pearson Garden also has several natural building structues like this lovely cob composting toilet with living roof.
Keri checks out the living roof up close and personal.
Lloyd summed up the day perfectly: "Seeing some of the inspirational permaculture sites around Asheville was food for thought as Ashevillage develops its own site this summer. Having such a kind, caring, and knowledgeable community in Asheville really makes me feel that sustainability here is attainable, with our continued collaborative efforts and exchange of ideas."