Posts tagged permaculture

Iowa City Environmental Film Festival

    Fred Meyer, director of Backyard Abundance, sent information on the following event. Fred noted that the group’s activities are presented in the context of understanding how our well-being is directly affected by the health of the land and wildlife – that caring for our local environment is equivalent to caring for our family and community.

 

Here is more about this weekend’s event:

 

    As part of the Iowa City Environmental Film Festival,  “Farming with Nature: A Case Study of Temperate Permaculture,” will be shown at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 15, 2009, in Room A of the Iowa City Public Library, 123 S. Linn St.  Host is Backyard Abundance, with speaker Fred Meyer.

 

    The Iowa City Environmental Film Festival,  modeled on the successful Cedar Rapids Film Festival, coordinates screenings of feature length and short movies on environmental topics for the public.

 

    Film overview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bw7mQZHfFVE

 

   This film shows how Sepp Holzer uses permaculture techniques to grow everything from apricots to eucalyptus, figs to kiwi fruit, peaches to wheat at an altitude of over 3,300 feet, in average annual temperature of only 40 degrees.  A pioneer in permaculture techniques, Holzer turned a fir tree dessert into a farm producing a healthy surplus of food for the community, water and energy for the farm and an environment that sustains animals, plants and soils.

After the film, ways these techniques can be used in our climate will be discussed. The event runs to 5 p.m.

 

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What is permaculture?

Backyard Abundance and Field to Family are sponsoring a free “What is Permaculture?” event to show residents how they can use Permaculture principles to help our environment in their own backyard.

 

Two yards will be visited: one is undergoing a complete ecological landscape design makeover and the other features an established vegetable and herb garden. At each yard, experts in our community will provide an overview of how to:

  • design an environmentally friendly landscape
  • choose the correct plants
  • design a rain garden
  • install a rain barrel
  • start a new garden bed
  • create compost
  • grow mushrooms

 

Both yards and the features within them are designed based on Permaculture principles and patterns. Permaculture (permanent agriculture) provides a framework and methodology for consciously designing and maintaining urban ecosystems that have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people, providing food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable and ethical way.

 

The event is Sunday, September 7 from 1-4:00 pm. Carpools will be taken from New Pioneer Food Co-Op, 22 S. Van Buren St., Iowa City. People can also drive individually.

 

For arrival times at each yard, directions, and more information, visit the Backyard Abundance web site at http://www.BackyardAbundance.org or contact Fred Meyer at 319-358-7665.

 

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Big Green Summer

Permaculture students take notes during a workshop this weekend at the Cedar Rapids home of Frank Cicela (walking in foreground.)

Half a picture-perfect weekend is better than none at all. Many gardeners undoubtedly took advantage of this weekend’s better half to work in their yards and gardens.

About 15 hardy souls spent the whole weekend at an urban permaculture workshop hosted by Frank Cicela at his Cedar Rapids home. Instructors from Big Green Summer in Fairfield taught about composting and other aspects of the sustainable system. In light of record crude oil prices and global food shortages, the workshop is one way Cicela hoped to make a difference at the local level.

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Urban permaculture in Cedar Rapids

A job at Clipper Wind brought Frank Cicela and his family to Cedar Rapids recently from Indiana. Wanting to meet some “kindred spirits,” Cicela decided to bring in a few experts to conduct a permaculture workshop at his new home in Cedar Rapids.

The workshop will be Saturday, May 3, and Sunday, May 4, at 3409 Seminole Valley Rd. NE.

Permaculture is the design of human habitats that have the stability, diversity and resilience of natural ecosystems. The multi-disciplinary approach integrates renewable energy systems, energy efficiency, agriculture and food systems, natural building, rainwater harvesting and urban planning, along with the economic, political and social policies that make sustainable living possible and practical.

This sustainability  allows people to begin taking food security and energy security into their own hands and into the hands of their community.

The focus of next weekend’s permaculture workshop will be on gardening. Part of the discussion will be how to garden in a three-dimensional zone, that is, using the space above, as well as the traditional design of a garden.

Quite a bit of work goes into starting such a garden, but once established, Cicela likened it to a “food forest,” that maintains itself. “Once it’s created, you just walk through and eat,” he said.  

The course – an intensive classroom and hands-on event – will be taught by three staff members of “Big Green Summer” from Fairfield.

Cicela said the workshop normally costs almost $200, plus a drive to Fairfield. This two-day course is $55 per person.

To see the schedule and register, go to: http://www.myearthwatchexperience.com/pcw/ or call (319) 832-1025.

 

 Michael Richards of Cedar Rapids, founder of  SUSTAINABLE ECOLOGICAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (S.E.E.D.) noted the following to take into consideration on the importance of urban permaculture:

 

– 95 percent of  the food on the shelves of Iowa grocery stores travels an average of 1000 miles to get to your table.

 

– A few decades ago, Iowa was close to total self-sufficiency in food supply.  Over the years, local creameries, canneries and meat processors all over Iowa have gone out of business in the “bigger is better” world of cheap energy.   

 – The opposite economic structure is now our present reality;  Energy is no longer cheap.

 So now what?      

 It is time to re-build Iowa’s local food production and local food distribution infrastructure.

 It makes no sense for the state that has the most fertile soil on earth to lack the ability to feed ourselves with local sources.

 Start in your own backyard with urban permaculture.

 We can all plant “Iowa Victory Gardens” to supply 10 to 20 percent of our household food needs in our own backyard or in neighborhood community gardens.   We can then gradually build back up the local food production and infrastructure throughout the State of Iowa to reclaim the economic foundation of a safe, healthy and abundant local food system.

 

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Backyard gardens

For anyone who missed this weekend’s session on backyard gardening, the Indian Creek Nature Center in Cedar Rapids sent along this synopsis, with further resources worth checking out:

Fred Meyer (fred.meyer@backyardabundance.org) is with Backyard Abundance (www.backyardabundance.org) This group helps residents understand how to make ecological improvements to their yards. The group gives yard tours throughout the community and shows what others can do in their yard to benefit the environment. Upcoming tour is Sat., May 10 from 2-4 PM at 38 Quincent Court in Iowa City. 


Fred is a master gardener, master conservationist and studies permaculture. This is permanent agriculture – observing how the environment works and using these clues to create environmentally beneficial yards – build community.
One interesting thing from his talk was the timeline of the American lawn. The idea of a lawn was brought to the U.S. from England in 1850’s. The USDA and Golf association developed turf grass in early 1900’s. It didn’t take off right away due to the many wars and depression; folks were  more concerned with putting food on the table. In 1945 when war ended the country was left with all of these chemical factories and decided to market this lawn concept. So esentially it is a very new concept that people bought into right away. Turfgrass has no real benefit to the environment and many negative effects….
We need to rethink this yard concept!
 Sarah West (sjwestie@gmail.com) is with Iowa City Food Not Lawns (icgrows.wikispaces.com) Iowa City Food Not Lawns is an active group designed to provide networking and resources for the communities in and around Iowa City that seek to establish regenerative living systems within the urban setting. This includes the integration of neighborhood food production, edible landscaping, water collection, beneficial use of waste, resource sharing, and a commitment to increase local dialogue, education, and social justice by raising awareness of these basic components of living.

 Sarah is also a student of permaculture. She studied in Fairfield last summer in their self-sustaining eco village community – solar and wind power and community gardens. She spoke on the many benfits of growing your own food, including health, money savings and mental benefits.

Both emphasized getting out and observing and listening to nature. Also, talking with others about these concepts and trying things out. One tool they suggetsed was  a broad fork. Apparently tilling isn’t good as it upsets the structure of the soil and “weeds” usually benefit from tilling (by seeds being brought up from underground). This tool breaks up soil and aerates soil enough to plant things, but not destroy the healthy natural layering.

 

 

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