Friday, February 3, 2012

First the seed catalogs piled up, and then the orders came in the mail. Now we're busy planning out who is going to go where and when. We're writing up a formal business plan after taking a business of farming class. We have 5 interns helping us in the garden this coming year. They will each work around 12 hours per week in exchange a CSA share and a Permaculture Design Certificate. Meanwhile, the big edible forest garden project is getting closer and closer to becoming a reality. I'm presently working on the proposal for that. It look like it's going to be a slow but incredible project, and all in all good for Detroit! This is a very exciting year!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Think we'll try to use this during the 2012 growing season. Were goig to have extra help, which will be nice!

Sunday, February 13, 2011


A warm-ish winter day, but I'm sitting inside on the computer. This is mostly because I am not feeling too well. I've placed my Johnny's order and Fedco order and I'm pretty excited for spring. We have a huge year planned at the garden this year. The biggest, is getting married this coming May. As of right now, the plan is to get married in the garden, but we're having all sorts of scheduling issues.

We're going to have work days almost every friday, so stay tuned for schedule and update about that.
Some of this years projects include:
-Building a large series of sheet mulched beds and cover cropping
-Finishing our hugelkultur berm along the sidewalk
-A street water run off catchment
-Using old Christmas trees and other acidic mulch items to attempt to create a soil suitable for blueberries, lingonberries, and other acid loving plants
-Planting out a polyculture orchard of more standard fruits (apples, pears, plums, peaches etc)
-Planting forest garden edges of Paw Paws, persimmons, hazels, elderberries, serviceberries and various ground covers
-creating a large compost section for compost piles and vermicompost bins...and storage areas for mulch materials like leaves, grass clippings, hay, straw, and whatever else.
-Chickens, ducks, and a goat may be new additions as well.

And we are in the process of designing a hoophouse made from old fence poles and a glass add-on green house on the south side of the house. We're also exploring the appropriateness of a rocket mass heater to be our primary heat source. Its hard to say if these projects will come into fruition this year. We already have the glass for the green house and quite a few fence poles for the hoop house. The main rocket heater issue is finding the right way to reinforce the floor from the basement to be able to hold up the 5 tons of thermal mass needed for the heater. Any input welcome.

There is also a plan in the works for a larger forest garden. More info on that at another post, when it looks more like it might actually happen. An exciting year to be in Detroit and specifically Brightmoor!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

permaculture intensive

I’m posting this to see if there is any interest for a gathering at my house in Brightmoor, Detroit, MI that would be a permaculture intensive for a week and/or for a weekend this coming fall. I have a few projects that I think would make great learning opportunities for people interested. A lot of people have heard of permaculture, but haven’t got a great deal of experience yet. We could spend part of each day in an informal classroom setting, part doing work projects, and the rest of the time eating together, playing nature awareness/tracking games, hanging out, and going to different projects around the city. The topics and skills that I would like cover include:

-What is permaculture design
-Design Basics
-Soils (increasing fertility and beneficial microbes, remediation, which type for which plants)
-Compost (hot, cold, vermi, sheet)
-Water (storage:tanks, soil, earthworks; I’ll explain the greywater system that I hope to put in next year)
-Mushroom cultivation
-Natural Building (houses, ovens, benches)
-Plant Propagation
-Market gardening and CSAs
-Wild edibles

Here are some hands on tasks and projects that we could do during the week depending how many people show up:

-Sheet mulch/create a large mandala garden
-Build an earthen oven mostly from materials in the neighborhood
-Construct a kiwi arbor from felled logs
-Making and using compost tea
-Propagate plants from cuttings
-Building and using chicken tractors
-Plant fruit/nut trees
-Fall Mushroom hunt

There’s more we could do, but I don’t think we will have the time. We’ll see.

It would be nice to have some discussion about things like race and privilege, the question of domestication, exotics and ‘invasive species’, is urban sustainability possible or desirable and other topics that people are interested in.

I have a fairly large backyard we can camp out in and two small houses people could stay in if that doesnt work for you. We have a fire pit in the neighborhood or we can make one at my place for night time music and story telling.

Generally permaculture trainings are expensive, from hundreds to over a thousand dollars. I’m not into the commodification of knowledge or skills. The cost of courses have also been fundraisers to keep initiatives going or to start new initiatives around the world. That said, this is not a formal training and contributing financially is completely on a voluntary basis. The more money people donate, the more we can spend on trees, mushroom spawn and other projects. Bringing food to share with others is a great way to contribute as well. The energy of having friends around and your help getting things done is really the most important thing to us.

Logistics and details will have to be figured out, but this is mostly to see if anyone is interested. The time frame I had in mind was Sept 11-19 and people could come either for the weekend(s) or the whole thing. I also could do another one in november if this time is no good for you. Please please please let me know if this sounds like something that you’d be interested in being a part of. Also, none of us are experts and welcome you to share your knowledge and skills with us all. Let me know if you’d either like to lead a workshop/skill share or any other feedback of what you’d like to see this look like. thanks

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Jess and I went out today for a little forage. we found a few chanterelles, some wild gooseberries, and some sumac for sumac lemonade. I miss being in the woods. It was great to find chanterreles even though they were a touch buggy and there was only like 5. Hopefully we can get out a bit next weekend too.

Chanterelles are a yellow/orange funnel shaped mushroom that grows in association with the roots of white oak trees(rhizomorphic). They grow as single mushrooms but are often close together and have a very nice apricot smell to them. There is a toxic look alike called a jack-o-lantern which grow off of stumps usually and are in clumps or tufts. make sure you look at some field guides and/or google images for both types to make sure you have the right type!


summer time in the city. I love summer, but its going by so fast. so much is happening in life, but I like it that way.

The garden has been going mostly well. I havent had the energy to put put the time and work I would like to see happen, but its still pretty god for a first year garden. I've done a good chunk of the work myself, though I have had a few very helpful workdays with friends helping out with stuff I never would have got done on my own. I'm running out to get to work as soon as I'm done with this post. I haven't got any of my more "permaculture" stuff worked on yet, but hopefully I will be doing a lot of that this fall. I'd like to have a work weekend or something this fall and invite friends to come out to my house to learn about permaculture theory and techniques in exchange for helping us establish the no dig beds for next year. I'd like to work with the food forest and mushroom stuff as well. we'll see. I would love to have someone or a couple people come live out here for a month or two as well, so if you're interested, let me know.

There's lot of great things happening all over the place right now as well. The church that I grew up has started a huge community garden. I hope that it can have an internal transformational effect in the suburbs similar to the internal/external transformation that is taking place all over Detroit. Freash food and connectivity to the land for all!

I'm thinking about asking around to see if I anyone is interested in doing a zine with me. I miss it. I think we might put it in PDF format though, that way we wont have to shell out hundreds of dollars for printing and shipping. Each issue has cost about $300 after receiving what people donate, which is not something that I can afford right now. I'm too busy to worry about writing for a zine right now though.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Just found at that the title little house on the urban prairie was already taken for a in Detroit. that simply won't do so I'm going back to the original name of sitten' in the mitten. bummer.

We got compost dropped of yesterday and Nate and Ralph came over to help fill beds. We got all the beds that we removed sod from filled. We have 17 of the 28 beds filled with compost. Two of them are already planted in black raspberries. We'll start planting lettuce and brassicas tomorrow. It will be nice to finally get a jump on growing.

In other news, I was passed a great and thought provoking article on the idea of urban homesteading. Its very critical about what the word homestead actually implies. These are crucial things to be thinking about in light of what's happening here in Detroit. Check it out if you have the time. I may post more thoughts on this later. Urban Farm Hub