** 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."

AVI is Cross Pollinatin'!

AVI friend and collaborator, Susanne Hackett, did an excellent job promoting last year's Ashevillage Building Convergence. Look what she's up to now...
New Blog to Highlight Area "Pollinators"
Pollinating Asheville is dedicated to raising awareness, spreading the word, and showcasing those individuals, businesses, non-profits, groups and government projects that truly do pollinate our community. Our growth and diversity as a community is based on cross-fertilization and collaboration. And, if you live here, you know that there is no shortage of cool stuff happening. Check it out www.pollinatingasheville.com Pollinating Asheville is maintained by AVI friend and colleague Susanne Hackett of Pollinate Consulting: Innovative, Community-minded Outreach. Thanks Susanne, for helping get the AVI seeds spread!


Our Permaculture Design Course begins!

Today was the first day of our 14-day permaculture design course.
We headed into the woods to our outdoor classroom and were blessed with beautiful weather all day long. After instructors Patricia Allison and Chuck Marsh lead us through an introduction circle and welcoming of the directions, we got down to the business of what is permaculture. Permaculture is many things and you can take a course and read a lot of material about what it is, but basically, it's an ethical design system for ecological living that observes and integrates natural patterns and solutions to sustain and regenerate our lives and communities. Yeah, that's a mouthful. What I like a lot is that permaculture is a positive, solution-oriented movement that focuses on 4 primary ethics: 1. Care of Earth, 2. Care of humans, 3. Share the surplus and 4. Respect the intrinsic value of all living Beings. Juicy stuff! Again, you really gotta take a course or do some reading to get all the juicy tidbits of each of these principles. After a morning of Evidence, Ethics & Empowerment, we enjoyed a potluck feast. In the afternoon, Shawn taught us about sheet mulching and we did a hands-on project. Here, Robin and Lloyd collect compost which will fill the holes in the mulch and into which we'll be planting. Healthy soil is da bomb! Can't be livin' and lovin' without it! Katie and Travis collect grass clippings which a neighbor had generously dumped in our woods. Thanks! A lot of people think grass clippings are "yard waste" but we learned that they're a valuable resource of nitrogen and can be composted or mulched to be turned back into healthy soil. Like a lasagne, we layered cardboard and mulch over the lawn in front, dug holes which were filled with compost and potting soil and then day lillies were planted. Sheet mulching is great for getting rid of lawns which aren't very useful and being able to plant useful plants right away. We planted day lillies which are medicinal, edible and ornamental. Here, Janell defines the keyhole path in the day lilly bed.
All in all, a very inspiring day!


PDC starts in two days!

Getting very excited here.
The place is a-buzz with final preparations to host the 2009 Permaculture Design Certification Course.
We have a full class of exciting folks from the community and region. Check back for photos and updates about what we're learning.


Grafting with Bill Whipple

Bill blogs: Today, my fruit nut buddy, Cake Smith, and I took some liberties with AVI 's prize Yellow Transparent apple tree centrally located in their courtyard. Pulling from our bag of 40 varieties of heirloom apples we grafted on 7 varieties. Its a little late in the season but we thought we'd give it a try. Esopus Spitzenburg, Fallawater, William's Pride, Mrs Bayer, Dula Beauty, and something else I cant remember, are part of the diverse grafts put on the tree. Since the tree is such a featured showcase plant on the site we did a little arbor sculpting by taping two new growth branches together to form a circle. These, we hope will grow out in a pinwheel shape on which we can graft several more varieties. If the grafts live, AVI can expect to have apples ripen on their tree from the first of July through October.


New Workshops Added - Check out our Calendar of Events

14-Day Permaculture Certification Course – 3rd wkend every month, Jun–Nov 2-Day Bee-Keeping – August 1 & 2 2-Day Wild Food & Fermentation – August 5 & 6 3-Day Timber Framing – August 21-23 5-Day Natural Building – September 9-13 3-Day Natural Building – September 24-26 2-Day Backyard Sustainability – October 3 & 4 2-Day Urban Aquaculture – October 12 & 13 2-Day Natural Building – October 14 & 15 2-Day Rainwater & Greywater Catchment – November 6 & 7 2-Day Natural Finishes: Earthen Plasters & Clay Paints – Nov 13 & 14 2-Day Transition Town Training – December TBA


Natural Building Workshop in Boone, NC with AVI Volunteer Doug Sharkey

AVI volunteer, Doug Sharkey, is hosting cob workshops in Boone, NC. Building with Cob $40 June 6th, 9am-5pm Come get creative while transforming clay, sand, and straw into a functional work of art! This hands-on workshop will teach the basics of cob design and construction. Participants will get a chance to help build the cob greenhouse for ASU’s Edible Schoolyard. How to Build an Earthen Oven $35 June 13th, 9am-5pm Learn to build a wood-fired oven from clay, sand, and stone! Workshop covers design, construction, and use. We will build a complete oven from the ground up! To register or for more information, contact Doug Sharkey: dougcsharkey@gmail.com (828) 297 1559 Sign up for both workshops and receive a 10% discount.