Ben Falk, World Renowned Vermont Permaculture Designer is Visiting Northeast Ohio!

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Credit: Whole Systems Design

Internationally renowned ecological designer and award-winning author Ben Falk will visit Cleveland October 21-24. Falk’s Vermont-based landscape design firm Whole Systems Design utilizes permaculture techniques and systems thinking to design for ecological regeneration, resilience and abundance. Falk will hold consultations with six small farms across northeast Ohio during his tour, which will also include a public lecture and a meet-the-author dinner.

Ben Falk’s award-winning 2013 book The Resilient Farm and Homestead (Chelsea Green), an indispensible manual for small-scale farmers, is based on Falk’s experience developing his own largely self-sufficient homestead on a degraded site in Vermont. Falk’s book provides guidance on a wide range of topics, including water management and earthworks, fertility harvesting and cycling, tools, social systems, species composition, health and preparedness considerations, and leaving a positive legacy.

Falk has studied architecture and landscape architecture at the graduate level and holds a Master’s degree in land-use planning and design. His book was honored with an award from the American Horticultural Society and is described by Chelsea Green as “an inspiration in what can be done by imitating natural systems, and making the most of what we have by re-imagining what’s possible. A gorgeous case study for the homestead of the future.”

The Whole Systems Design client list includes The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University; Cape Eleuthera Island School, Bahamas; Vermont State Prison Farm; and a significant installation at Teal Farm/LivingFuture in Vermont. Falk has been a featured speaker at ecological food and farm association conferences and given a TED lecture; appeared in Mother Earth News, FastCompany and the Utne Reader and in the recent film Inhabit.

Falk will give a public lecture on Friday, October 23 at the First Unitarian Church of Cleveland in Shaker Heights; an author dinner at Spice Kitchen + Bar featuring the restaurant’s signature local cuisine on Wednesday, October 21; and a Forum for Farmers at The University of Akron Field Station in Bath, Ohio on Thursday, October 22. For more information, and to purchase tickets for any of these events, visit: http://bit.ly/1PJmqOq

Ben Falk Tour Event Schedule

Author Dinner at Spice Kitchen + Bar

Wednesday, October 21, 7:00 – 9:00 PM

5800 Detroit Ave, Cleveland, OH 44102

Plated dinner of venison or vegetarian option; includes wine and dessert.

Limit 20 guests.  Tickets $120.  Includes a signed copy of Ben’s book.

This event has been cancelled.  We will be having an informal evening around a cob pizza oven at Kelly’s Working Well Farm.  Join us from 7:00 – 9:00!

Forum for Farmers and Designers

Thursday, October 22, 7:00 – 9:00 PM

University of Akron Field Station at Bath Nature Preserve

3864 W Bath Rd., Akron, OH

Limit 40 guests.  Tickets $40.  Includes heavy hors d’oeuvres.

Public Lecture & Book Signing

Friday, October 23, 7:00-8:30

First Unitarian Church of Cleveland

21600 Shaker Heights Blvd, Shaker Hts., Oh 44122

Tickets $10 suggested donation.  Ben’s book will be available for purchase.

While in Northeast Ohio, Falk will consult with Thorn Valley Farm in Newbury Township, Kelly’s Working Well Farm in Chagrin Falls, Spice Acres Farm in the Countryside Conservancy in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Light Footsteps Herb Farm and Learning Center in Chardon, Hershey Montessori School’s Adolescent Program on the Farm in Huntsburg and Terra Firma Farm in Walton Hills.

First Cob of the Season

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There’s nothing quite like sinking your toes into cob for the first time in the summer (or the first time in your life!).

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There’s something about cob that draws people to it like insects to glowing lamp lights.  We hover around it, watch it with amazement, and can’t help ourselves but to dive right in. Continue reading

Back to the Garden (+ the Littlest Permaculturist)

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Today was the first day I really dug my hands into the soil for quite some time.  I’ve been putting it off for a few reasons — mostly because of the weather, but also because I’ve felt conflicted about whether or not I should invest the time when we will hopefully be moving in the next couple of months.

However, the soil still calls asking me to dip my hands in, refresh my immune system, and connect with the Earthly energies.  I couldn’t resist.

A lot of today was just clean-up.  I was very pregnant last fall and didn’t get the beds taken care of the way that I should have.

There were also little surprise tasks like baby garlic plants ready to be separated and begin life anew.  Hopefully somebody will be able to harvest these culinary delights in the fall!

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Permaculture for Urban Homes and Small Spaces

Image source: permaculturesunshinecoast.com

One of the best things about blogging is discovering a new community of people with shared interests and goals.  One such kindred spirit is Mari of the blog Gather and Grow.  She is a fellow lover of permaculture and has graciously shared some great tips and inspiration for many of us who are interested in being more self-sufficient but feel limited by the space constraints of the urban environment.

Whether you live in an urban environment, or on many acres of land – I think you’ll find something useful here!

Permaculture Strategies for Urban Homes and Small Spaces

Permaculture designers love challenges. After all, permaculture is not just a set of organic gardening techniques, but a toolkit, a decision-making process, for designing sustainable human settlements. And one of its fundamental principles is: “The problem is the solution.”

What if we apply this principle to a challenge that many of us are all too familiar with: living in small urban spaces with little or no access to actual soil on which to grow food? Permaculture and gardening books present pictures of lovely, lush farm landscapes and large suburban lots overflowing with greenery, fruit trees, and vegetable gardens, perhaps even with small livestock. But what do you do if you live in an apartment, or have only a postage-stamp-sized bit of yard by your front door?

The permaculture answer: you can still do a lot. In this case, seeing the problem as the solution means turning the seeming constraints of an urban environment – the density of buildings, people, and resources – to your advantage, and doing things like intensive planting, vertical growing, and maximizing solar exposure in- and outdoors. Here I present ideas and strategies first for the apartment dweller, and then for those who do have yard space but it’s limited. Continue reading

Simple Summer Living

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Summer is in full swing.

My breakfasts are full of local berries,

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and my little urban yard brings a plethora of goodies. It’s pretty amazing what can fit in a small space when you fill it to the brim!   It’s certainly not a garden of perfect little rows, but it is producing a lot and no space is lost.

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Farm to Table Through the Year – Free Ebook!

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Today I’m happy to announce the debut of a new ebook, Farm to Table Through the Year: 12 Months of Fresh Food From the Garden.  This helpful book is a collection of growing tips, recipes, and inspiration for each of the 12 months of the year.  Continue reading

An Avian Visitor + Wormville Update

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Nearly every day for the past week, I will suddenly hear raucous alarm calls coming from the flock of sparrows that hang out in the backyard.

It appears that we have attracted a regular visitor who showed up on two separate occasions today. An adorable, killing machine – a Cooper’s hawk. Continue reading

A Night in the Dark & Echinacea Tincture

A candlelit night.

Hello Light Footsteppers!

I think today is another hodgepodge of a post for me.  It seems that I have been busy, busy lately.  All good things — friends visiting the states from South America, a conference, event planning, trying to continue a regular habit of eating well and taking walks in nature.  It’s all left me with a lot of ideas for what I imagine to be profound posts, but time slips away quickly and then I wonder if it’s all still relevant.  Continue reading

Simply Homemade: Broth Powder and Face Wash

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Last weekend, I was at the Chicago Bioneers conference.  It was extremely empowering to be in the presence of so many inspirational figures who are leading the way toward a new future  — one that is less dependent on oil, better at following the patterns found in nature, and is resilient to the inevitable fluctuations that happen in life. (My favorite presenters included Vandana Shiva, Richard Heinberg, and Starhawk.)

One of the themes that continually appeared was the need to focus on creating community and living simpler, more regionally-based lives.  However, people often asked, “How? What can I do to help us transition?”

I believe one of the primary answers is, in fact, embarrassingly simple: we need to consume less and produce more.  This cuts our carbon footprint, decreases our exposure to toxic chemicals, reduces the need to extract far away resources, supports local (and often home-based) economies, gives us meaning and purpose, reduces costs, produces less pollution, and on and on….

And so in case you haven’t noticed, that is one of the main things that I am attempting to do with this blog — get you excited about these simple-living changes!  It’s one of the easiest ways to walk the talk of being environmentally friendly, socially just, and a participant in a new Earth-centered way of life.

Today, I’m sharing two new homemade products that I’ve been meaning to write about (although on different ends of the homemade spectrum) — broth powder and face wash. I know…totally unrelated to one another, but they are both about producing more ourselves and consuming less!   Continue reading