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291 - Beacon Food Forest  RSS feed

 
Adrien Lapointe
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Summary



Credits: Julia Winter and Kevin Murphy

Paul and Jocelyn are recording a podcast at the Beacon food forest in Seattle. They sorta snuck out there to visit a friend in the hospital, but took some time to visit this permaculture project and record a podcast. First, Paul talks about a visit he made months ago to a Dave Jacke workshop in Montana, where everybody's plans for the less than 2 acre site left it pretty much flat, and Paul wanted to put in 15' tall berms, with paths and tunnels, to shield the site from its surroundings. He always wanted to make a podcast with jack spirko about it (Jack was also at the workshop) but it never happened. Paul felt like the folks were looking for “landscaping” and calling it “permaculture.” For Paul, art is done by an independent visionary, not by committee.

Then they spend some time talking about the Beacon food forest project in Seattle. A lot of money has been spent, apparently on plumbing. There are communal places, and lots of little individual sites that people are renting. (Interesting fact: those are called “P-patches” in Seattle, instead of community gardens.) There are some things here that Paul hasn't seen before and thinks are cool.

Jocelyn points out that in an urban situation where real estate is expensive, the only way a large scale project could occur is within a pretty large community. Here in Seattle, the whole site is 7 acres and they've got between one and two acres planted up thus far. Paul likes how they have created informational signage for the food forest: embedded in ceramic tiles, with images and multiple languages. He notes that although some of them say “food forest” he hasn't seen the word “permaculture” on a tile. They do describe how the idea for this project came up during a PDC, which is pretty cool. Jocelyn says you will see the word permaculture at their website: beaconfoodforest.org

Paul looks around, and (of course) he would prefer to have more earthworks. They have some nice terraces, he'd like them bigger and wider. He'd like some berms, ideally hugelkultur berms. He'd like curving, non symmetrical hugelkultur beds arranged in pleasing patterns that have frost alleys to move the cold air down to that street there.

Urbanite is broken up concrete - this has been used for the terraces at the Beacon food forest. Paul remembers his dad saying that growies don't like cement, he has some reservations about using concrete. He'd rather not use a bunch of things that other folks use, like cardboard, or municipal compost, or municipal wood chips. Still, although Paul would do this differently, he sees how in four or five years this site is going to be spectacular. Jocelyn sees some nice examples of guilding, of re-use of material, and the whole thing is so pleasing to the eye it will really do a good job of introducing people to permaculture. Even their “bone yard” (storage area for excess materials) is neat and tidy.

Paul thinks that in a few years there will be a lot of food coming out of this spot, although pests like raccoons might come to be a problem. He notes the honey bee hives are being kept safe from the public by a woven wire fence. The fence has been enhanced with branches woven into the fence, looking fun and making the fence so much nicer to look at. Paul likes the idea of people saying “Hey, you know what would be cool?” and then doing cool stuff. He's looking forward to that sort of thing happening at the laboratory.

Paul would really like to see them put in a lemon tree site, something bending the climate. Seattle can get down to 10 degrees in the winter, but Paul figures that with the right earthworks it could be done. Also, growing red tomatoes (hard to do in cool, cloudy Seattle). Paul did that when he lived in Seattle.

Mulch in the Pacific northwest: toby hemenway says that sometimes it causes too many problems with snails and slugs. Paul thinks you could pull it back for the spring, to let the soil warm up. Then, around the summer solstice you should put the mulch back down. This would be for a small, intensely managed piece of ground. Paul's preference is for larger plantings that are less intensively managed, acres per person, not little garden plots. He's a fan of letting plants fend for themselves, just planting enough and enough diversity that "enough" makes it.

The Beacon food forest has a mason bee home: it's got holes drilled in wood (which you don't want to have) but they have paper straws in the holes, so that makes it better. Also, they have chicken wire in front to keep woodpeckers away from the hibernating bees. Good news! they have a little wetland near the mason bee spot so the bees will be able to get mud to seal up their nests.

Paul thinks this public food forest will end up being a template for other cities all over the world. These guys must have been working through a mountain of red tape and regulation (although Seattle must be better than many other cities) but they have a really good start here. It doesn't take much imagination to see that five years into the future this will be magnificent. This is going to be epic (even if they don't plant a lemon tree here).

Slugs: are a major problem for gardeners in the Seattle area. Having a lot of brush piles is a good thing for slug control. There's a beetle that lives in the brush pile that loves to eat slug eggs. Garter snakes live in brush piles and like to eat slugs. Rock piles are also good.

Art: Paul likes that there is so much art here, particularly in the P-patches, where people are decorating their little spot. There are lots of keyhole beds and people are artistically paving their paths.

Back at the laboratory, there are some massive, 12 foot tall berms/hugelkultur beds that have been built. (Ed: pictures! we want pictures!)

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Julia Winter
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can't wait to see pictures!

hint, hint. . . .
 
Jay Peters
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Location: Montreal, QC mostly. Developing in Southern New Brunswick, Canada.
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Initially read this thread title as BACON FOOD FOREST before linking over from the daily-ish email.. I was very excited.

This is maybe a hair less awesome, but I still ABSOLUTELY look forward to listening !

Some day I will have a BACON producing food forest...and to call it just that

j
 
Bill Crim
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I too misread the daily-ish email. My hopes of sky-bacon have been dashed.
 
Patrick Mann
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Location: Seattle, WA, USA
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Adrien Lapointe wrote:Interesting fact: those are called “P-patches” in Seattle, instead of community gardens


They are called P-Patches because the first community garden was established on the old Picardo Farm site in Seattle. The name stuck and is now applied to all of the community gardens across Seattle - even if most of the gardeners don't know how the name came about. The Picardo site is still in use and going strong by the way.

Incidentally, it's not that hard to grow tomatoes in Seattle and many people do. Typically they aren't planted out until Memorial Day though, so Paul may have just been here to early.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Ha! You bacon lovers, you!

I just tried to add pics, and I crashed my browser.

I'll do less per post and will make multiple replies to get some added here.
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the view that underwhelmed us at first
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tile sign
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Hopefully the pics will get more interesting as I keep posting.
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community area
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artful entry to community area
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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I think building the community area last year was one of the very early projects - perhaps the earliest (?).
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Jocelyn Campbell
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Mushrooms in lots of places!
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Jocelyn Campbell
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They had HUGE lupines (a nitrogen fixer and pollinator habitat) with lots of bumblebees!

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Jocelyn Campbell
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Here are some shots of what serves as a mini-wetland (though looks a bit like it was/is a ditch).
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Jocelyn Campbell
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The trail up from the colorful wetland bridge was nicely out-lined with branches. More branch art adorns the fence around the bee hives which are across the gravel road from the mini-wetland.

(The bff in each picture name is, of course, for Beacon Food Forest.)
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Jocelyn Campbell
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Between the wetland and the community area is the birdhouse we admired.

Second pic: one more view from the gravel road that runs through the middle of Beacon Food Forest down toward the road you can hear in the podcast. If I had a wide angle ability, the bee enclosure would be in the far left.
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Jocelyn Campbell
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We have the birds and the bees - this time, mason bees! Here is the set up we saw at Beacon Food Forest. In my last pic, the one named "view across," again, if I had wide angle ability, the mason bee house would be in the far right.
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Jocelyn Campbell
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The plantings nearest the road, near the bottom of the slope. I should have written down what plants they were since this pic doesn't show that so much.

Plus an example of a plant guild, goumi, in this case, with a broken piece of terra cotta as the i.d. marker.
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Jocelyn Campbell
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As we mentioned in the podcast, I think these pictures also show how new the plantings look at the Beacon Food Forest.

Here are two worm bins on the property. (Take note base camp vermicomposters - they are both wood!) Though here at wheaton labs we do/would not use paper in ours. It looks like they are working with the local community for the second one.
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Jocelyn Campbell
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Have I tortured you all enough yet with my mediocre photography?

Here's is the terracing we attempting to describe, and one p-patch (oops - I should correct my pea-patch to p-patch!) using branches for trellises.

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Jocelyn Campbell
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In the pic above, you can see the compost bins and the red worm bin. The picture of the sign on the compost bins shows that at Beacon Food Forest, they chose to have just a few manage their compost. (One solution for broader community members not always following directions.)

The cold frames also have signs asking the general community to not take the plants.
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Jocelyn Campbell
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Last but not least, is the boneyard behind the tool shed. This picture doesn't show how tucked away in the corner this was. (I have more pics, but I think I've harassed this thread enough.)

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Jocelyn Campbell
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One last raspberry for you all - the kind that goes PLLBBBTTSSTT!
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Julia Winter
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Thanks, those are great!!
 
Patrick Mann
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Jocelyn Campbell wrote:We have the birds and the bees - this time, mason bees! Here is the set up we saw at Beacon Food Forest. In my last pic, the one named "view across," again, if I had wide angle ability, the mason bee house would be in the far right.


These are not just for Mason Bees, but other native pollinators as well. Note the difference in hole diameter.
 
Matt Powers
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I misread this numerous times and thought it said BACON FOOD FOREST... needless to say I now have pork on the brain...
 
Richard Gorny
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Awesome pictures

I wonder, why don't you use paper in your vermicomposting bins?
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Richard Gorny wrote:Awesome pictures

I wonder, why don't you use paper in your vermicomposting bins?


Papers are made with glues and other chemicals that we'd rather not have in our soil.
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