Permablitz Madness

Our permablitz on Father’s Day weekend was AWESOME!

It was the most fun we’d had with our earthship journey since the days of hosting volunteers in 2009 and 2010.  We had 23 workshop participants (and a handful of family and friends) join us for a two day install of our cold climate food production and edible landscape design.

We have been working with Javan Bernakevitch of Permaculture BC since last summer (we met Javan at O.U.R. Ecovillage in 2009 on Vancouver Island.  I just knew then that we’d be seeing him again!). Javan brought Gord Hiebert of Element Eco-Design on board in January 2014. We couldn’t have been happier to be introduced to Gord, who, along with his wife, Jana, are located in Vernon, just a few hours from Darfield.

Here’s the design that the two guys came up with and that we tweaked a bit for our site.

This is an overview of our permaculture design...there's a few years of work here!

Last weekend we concentrated on the area just in front of the earthship!  Here are some pictures of the weekend!

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More pathway installation.
More pathway installation.
This meandering pathway with side beds was a last minute re-design by Javan and Gord. Inspired!  It's a nice walk between the two high beds.
This meandering pathway with side beds was a last minute re-design by Javan and Gord. Inspired! It’s a nice walk between the two high beds.

Plants

Getting ready to lay out the perennials in their final spots.
Getting ready to lay out the perennials in their final spots.
Saturday evening Ninja...the weekend was a bit rainy but that didn't stop this crowd from some after dinner fun.
Saturday evening Ninja…the weekend was a bit rainy but that didn’t stop this crowd from some after dinner fun.
More activity on the hugel.
More activity on the hugel.
Last step is placing straw as mulch for the hugelkulture. This will protect the topsoil and seeds, most of which are broadcast Sepp Holzer style.
Last step is placing straw as mulch for the hugelkulture. This will protect the topsoil and seeds, most of which are broadcast Sepp Holzer style.
The roof of the earthship gives a great overview of the Sepp Holzer high beds and hugelkulture bed. We think we may be the first installation of these high beds in Canada!
The roof of the earthship gives a great overview of the Sepp Holzer high beds and hugelkulture bed. We think we may be the first installation of these high beds in Canada!
The most groomed hugelkulture ever!  It is filled with wood and extends 3 feet below ground!
The most groomed hugelkulture ever! It is filled with wood and extends 3 feet below ground!

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A wee bit rainy.
A wee bit rainy.
Planting the herbs along the south face of the earthship.
Planting the herbs along the south face of the earthship.
Lunch time!
Lunch time!

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We built the raised garden beds with roof rafter and floor joists we recovered from the Nutshell. It was a labour of love but cost us nothing but our time.
We built the raised garden beds with roof rafter and floor joists we recovered from the Nutshell. It was a labour of love but cost us nothing but our time.

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From March to June we concentrated on getting ready.  This involved gathering a lot of materials. We had fill on site (to build up the high beds) but didn’t have a fast way to move it. Fortunately our friends Mike and Linda Casey graciously offered the use of their big dump truck. Our little tractor/backhoe was definitely not up to the task so we asked Alvin to help us out. Alvin has done most of excavation work over the last 10 years. Unfortunately Alvin decided that it was time to pass the reins to somebody younger, so we asked Dustin Rainer, our neighbour to help us with the earthworks part of the project.  Here’s some pictures of him moving dirt around and generally making our front yard look spectacularly different!

Earthworks 2 Earthworks 3 Earthworks 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s what it looked like before we started!

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We didn’t have any topsoil on site in the quantities or quality we needed, so we went to Mitchell’s ranch and purchased 72 yards from them.  I also had to find horse manure. This was probably the most difficult thing I had to do. I could find a lot of it free but there was usually no way to load my own truck and the free manure was usually a few hours away from us, meaning very high trucking costs. At one point I thought I had some local, free manure lined up but the wet spring conspired against us and I was not able to get a truck into this farm’s yard to load. In the end my manure purchase was last minute and with trucking cost me $950 for 12 yards. If I did this again I would definitely start earlier and find local free manure I could load myself and bring back in our pick up truck.

Other materials we needed for the permablitz included shavings (we had oodles of this from our log home operation), cardboard for laying down in the pathways under wood chips (keeps the weeds down), straw for the hugelkulture and raised garden beds, 6 pre-fabricated raised beds (built by us from Nutshell wood), a whiteboard, tons of wood for the bottom of the hugelkulture and in the bottom of the raised garden beds, plants (organized and purchased by us from a detailed list provided by Gord). Thanks to Art Knapps in Kamloops…they gave us a really great bulk discount and the plants look great!

We decided that because we were 15kms from either a cafe or grocery store, that we would include meals in the workshop price (which ranged from $242 or early bird registration and $300 for regular registration.

My friend Maureen (fellow journalism graduate from our Carleton U days) came out to cook and feed everyone.  She has lived in Canmore Alberta for the last three or four years and cooked for us during our plastering workshop in 2011. The food was amazing. Truly topped the experience to come in from working in the rain and have delicious meals in the earthship.

 

Maureen hard at work. I love this woman...we are better friends now than we ever were in school. Funny how that can happen, eh, Mau??
Maureen hard at work. I love this woman…we are better friends now than we ever were in school. Funny how that can happen, eh, Mau??

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The weekend was a mix of hands-on and lecture type instruction (although lecture is pushing it as there was a lot of discussion during the sit down portions).  Here’s the agenda for the weekend!

AGenda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many thanks to Javan Bernakevitch, Gord Hiebert, Jack Elliman, Sarah Clark, Shauna McGovern, Daniel Liedl, Renea Real,  Steve Richards, Patricia Spencer, Jim Summerhays and Amber Summerhays, Kristi Iverson, Karin Svec, Karin Wilds, Joanne Giffin, Nick Khattar, Kandice Mueller, Odin Lewis, Oli Martens, Ben Garratt, Steve Monk, Rob Mercereau, Lisa Sterritt, Zach Jones, Thomas Burkholder, Maureen Scott and Stephanie Lee.  Because pictures speak louder than words…more images from an awesome weekend!

 

Pathway cardboard earthship and herb garden Gord teaching javan jumping Pathway permablitz sign workshop folks!

Permablitz 2014 – Cold Climate Food Production and Edible Landscaping

Bring your Dad to our permablitz at The Darfield Eartshhip on June 14-15, 2014, Father’s Day weekend!

After nine months of planning we are getting closer and closer to our permabltiz. A month or so ago Javan Bernakevitch and Gord Heibert came up with the following initial design for several zones around the earthship.

This is an overview of our permaculture design...there's a few years of work here!
This is an overview of our permaculture design…there’s a few years of work here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Father’s Day weekend we will be welcoming only 20 registrants to learn how to install fruit trees, hedgerows, high beds, and if we are lucky, we will install one hugelkulture bed in anticipation of a whole bunch this fall!

Because we are considered a “cold climate” there should be some interesting questions and solutions to some of the challenges of food production in our region.

We’ve been acquainted with Javan since 2009 when we visited the OUR EcoVillage near Shawnigan Lake on Vancouver Island. He was there teaching and learning and was the person who gave us a tour of the grounds. I euphemistically refer to Javan (here at home) as Mr. Permaculture BC.  After first meeting Javan he went on to form Permaculture BC and has been around the world learning permie techniques from Sepp Holzer, Richard Walker and others. He recently took some Canadians to both Cuba and Kenya to oversee permaculture installations in some very challenging locales.

We met Gord (all online so far) when Javan pulled him in this winter to help with the design.  Although Javan and Gord collaborated on the initial design, I believe Gord and his wife, Jana (Elements Eco-Design in Vernon, BC) were responsible for creating the visual with all the lovely colour.

Here is a photo of Zone One, taken today.

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Registration should be open by May 3rd. We are meeting with Javan and Gord on May 2nd (online) to iron out details and talk about what the cost for the two-day even will be.  By taking only 20 people, Javan and Gord will be able to make sure each person gets maximum benefit out of the weekend.

Information will also be posted on our FB page, The Darfield Earthship.  If you  have any questions you can email me at sandra@darfieldearthship.com

Carleton Alumni magazine article

In September my alma mater, Carleton University, sent a photographer to chronicle the earthship and a writer followed up a few weeks later to fill in the blanks.

Ironically, I didn’t get a copy. I’m not sure why as I’ve been receiving the magazine for years now. I suspect that the magazine is released in waves since there are so many almni to mail it to.  The editor supplied a PDF of the article and I post it here for those Carleton alumni (and others) to enjoy.

The earthship was one of many projects showcased in this article.

 

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