Spring Beekeeping Workshop

Spring Beekeeping Workshop
Demonstration Hive

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Building The Earth Oven

A beautiful baking oven emerged out of mundane materials this past weekend. An enthusiastic group of workshop participants, guided by our teacher, Mark Krawcek, got their hands in the muck (literally) and learned first hand how to use simple materials to create the oven that is gorgeous to look at and functional too.

This type of construction is known as Cobb and can be used to build any kind of structure, including beautiful houses.

Materials included: native rock, stone, wine bottles (!), perlite, horse manure, straw and sand. Fire bricks and cement block were purchased too. I won't say it's easy to build one of these stoves. However, anyone can do it with very little prior training. It's a bit messy, at times, but if you don't mind getting mucky, it would be a lot of fun to do.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Earth Oven Workshop

A great time was had by all who participated in the earth oven building workshop at our Center for Sustainable Living this past weekend. Here are just a few of the photos of the event, showing the early preparations for the final stages of the construction. More details later.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

"Why Permaculture?"

"Permaculture is one of the only ways home for humanity. If one believes in modernism, industrial agriculture and better living through chemistry, read no further. However, if you feel something is not right about the way we live, read on.

I have come to realize that it is because we have been taught from birth to be dependent on THE SYSTEM or CIVILIZATION that we have lost our connection to our home - the land, nature and its cultivars. Simply, because we have no connection to the land, we have no reason to take care of it or limit our numbers. The skills and relationships with even the most common plants is not given to us as children."

The above quote was part of an essay by Chuck Burr entitled "Why Learn Permaculture? For the Children and for Ourselves" which appears on the website www.sopermaculture.org where you can read the entire piece.

Mr. Burr's essay captures a lot of my own feelings and understandings. I would go even further than homestead Permaculture, however. We need COMMUNITY PERMACULTURE. We need it NOW!

What does that mean? Community Permaculture is a term I coined to reflect the use of Permaculture principles in designing and developing our communities to become resilient and thriving places from now on.

What we see where I live, in rural Connecticut, and I suspect all over the United States except in a few progressive-minded places that have already started transitioning to the new reality (more about that later)are bedroom-style rural towns. My town, Bethlehem,is generally considered to be a "nice rural town, lovely people, beautiful scenery" and all that sort of thing. In reality, it is those things but with a disappointing every-household-for-itself mentality. Yes, of course, there are charitable organizations and churches that look out for the unfortunate. I'm referring to the structure of the local economy, however. This local economy reflects the economy of the entire nation. It is linear not cyclical. There is barely a local economy at all. Everything is controlled from outside - the banks, the jobs, and most importantly, the food supply.

This situation is not unique to Bethlehem, as I've said - it is national, and more and more, it is global. Their is no resilience in Bethlehem for a stoppage in outside deliveries of food, fuel and fiber. We need to change this and through applying Permaculture principles - those of looking at nature and seeing how it works - we can change our communities to transition to resilient, healthy communities with healthy economies and healthy water and land.

When are we going to start? Some places have already. Check out the Transition Town Network and better yet, watch its movie on the Transition Town website. It is eye-opening, a little scary, but full of wonderful ideas.

People in my town are starting to take control of their basic needs by getting together to make things more resilient. A new community garden completed its first year of hugely successful food growing with a terrific harvest pot-luck meal at the garden last weekend. Seniors, children and middle-year adults all came together to make this garden happen.