At its core, we envision a community built on permaculture principles and centered around sustainability, regeneration and restoration, and using technology responsibly. There is currently an orchard with a large number of mature fruit trees, a fenced-in garden area and chicken coop. Future plans include community-scale aquaponics, small livestock, earth-sheltered greenhouses, and a mycology lab. Creating an abundant food production system that is climate-resilient, energy-independent, and as closed-loop as possibly is one of our biggest priorities.
Aquaponics (and then some)
Aquaponics is a food production system that combines aquaculture (raising fish or other aquatic animals) with hydroponics (growing plants in water). The short explanation is that the fish waste provides nutrients for the plants, which provide food for humans and other livestock. The plant waste is used to enrich soil in the traditional gardens, as well as feeding black soldier fly larvae – which are used to feed the fish and also quail and chickens being raised for eggs and meat, as well as providing a valuable source of nutrients to further enrich garden soil.
Mycology is the study of fungi! Mushrooms are fantastic and amazing creatures, useful for so many things – food, medicine, entheogens, building materials, tinder, plastic and leather substitutes, yeast-making, soil remediation… Fungi can grow in places traditional plants cannot, and they utilize different things for food, including what we often consider to be waste products. They are also a financially lucrative crop that can be grown in a relatively small space.
- Observe and Interact: We shift our perspective on “What I need from the land” to “What the land needs from me.” To know this, we take the time to watch and listen, to observe patterns and changes before making decisions about how or what to alter.
- Catch and Store Energy: Making use of the renewable energy sources in our area means we are creating a sustainable and resilient community. We rely less on resources from outside our area and can respond more appropriately to hard times, even providing an oasis for those without essential resources or systems for capturing what exists.
- Obtain a Yield: We become abundant through our caring for land. Through accepting the gifts of the land and the energetic forces we connect with (sun, wind, water, good vibes), we sustain ourselves. We celebrate and give thanks for such a partnership. We are sustained as much as we help sustain.
- Apply Self-Regulation and Feedback: We understand that we are a constant work in progress and that in order to truly grow, we must evaluate and reevaluate ourselves and our ways. We must be able to accept feedback and make changes to move forward.
- Use and Value Renewables: When choosing materials or resources for use in our community, we consider the full lifecycle of the materials and if there are any potentially harmful consequences of its use. Whenever possible, we use materials that will eventually degrade into soil without any harmful consequences and resources that are locally sourced.
- Produce No Waste: This begins with redefining “waste.” By valuing and making use of all the resources that are available to us, nothing goes to waste. Recognizing the many challenges this goal poses, we consistently work to close the loop.
- Design from Patterns to Details: We approach all designs with a holistic perspective, moving from the larger picture first then working progressively toward more specific details. By working this way, we can foresee and prevent—or work around—systemic problems that may arise before things are put in place.
- Integrate—Don’t Segregate: By putting several elements together, relationships develop between them and they support each other. This principle is about systems as a whole and how different elements work together. The practice of stacking functions—each element in a design having more than one function—well represents this concept; as does the concept of guilds—the grouping of plants that serve different functions in a system. For example, planting the three sisters (corn, bean, squash) together allows each to help the others, as they vary in leaf shape, growing pattern, nutritional needs, and root structure vs. monoculture crops that deplete soil by using up the same resources and space, and fall prey to pests and other natural challenges. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
- Use Small and Slow Solutions: Small and slow solutions are easier to implement and maintain, and allow for simpler adjustments to be made as needed. They also tend to rely on materials that are readily available.
- Use and Value Diversity: Diversity = Health. We see this in thriving ecosystems and healthy communities. In practice, this may look like planting a wide range of food crops with different varieties for different potential weather circumstances. Or it may be removing invasive plants in our wild spaces to make room for natives. We also work in a social context to invite differing perspectives, abilities, opinions, cultural backgrounds, preferences, styles of communication, etc. The more we can accept each other and make space for each other, the more we can grow, increase our resilience, and join heads, hearts and hands to make amazing things happen.
- Use Edges and Value the Marginal: All ecotones—spaces where two biological communities meet—are zones offering the combined richness and diversity of at least two systems, and therefore offer incredible opportunities. Humans have most commonly settled at edges for this reason. Fencelines, the edges of society, transitions between water and land, and the drip lines of trees are opportunities. We recognize that there is value in the fringes, the edges, and the neglected, and we work to make use of and include these.
- Creatively Use and Respond to Change: Change is constant and inevitable. We design for change, responding in each circumstance by combining our ideas, skills, and experience to make the best decisions we can.