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Posts: 371
Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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I'm still pretty new to Permies.com, and I've searched for a thread or threads where people shared stories about their experience with work parties, barn raisings, etc. I may have somehow missed what's already on P.C. In any case, I thought I'd try starting a thread here, as In my mind it relates to "homesteading". (I was suprised the the Community grouping of subforums didn't seem to have a slot for placing such a thread - at least, to me it didn't seem to. Such as a forum on purely rural but 'non-intentional' communities.)

One thing that's happened in our valley is that neighbors have formed work-party circles. For instance, families from five or six households might determine projects on their places, prepare by doing necessary planning and getting the materials on-site, then the whole group assembles on one family's property for a Saturday. The people work from morning until noon, have a nice potluck lunch, work after lunch to evening, then have an amazing potluck feast. Childcare for smaller kids can be handled by one or two of the women. The "multiplier effect" of eight or ten adults (plus the older, more able kids) working on a project together, in a coordinated way, is tremendous.

I've seen big projects accomplished this way (and participated in them), like the building of a house addition, the cutting and stacking of a year's-worth of firewood, the terracing of a modest-size hillside. In this format, the group then goes to another household's place the following Saturday. And around the circle, with possibly two complete orbits (IOW, ten or a dozen sessions in as many weeks). One such circle that I was involved with was active for a couple summers in a row.

There's another circle that my wife participates in: some of the women who know one another in our valley have been using the same idea for the last couple years. They formed a women's weed-pulling circle, helping each other with reclaiming patches of ground and dealing with particularly nasty weedy areas around perennial food (e.g., berries) or decorative plantings of shrubs and flowers. My wife loves it, and the women have become closer, personally, through doing this.

Anybody else had these experiences?
 
Posts: 33
Location: Sacramento
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Great topic!


I stole this idea from someone who ran a meetup.com group and it ran on the same principle. People got together at each others houses and helped complete projects. I took over a meetup group here in Sacramento and am starting to do the same thing. I am having a potluck this weekend with about 30 plus people to map out some potential projects and get this going.
 
Joel Bercardin
Posts: 371
Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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Michael Bush wrote:Great topic!


I stole this idea from someone who ran a meetup.com group and it ran on the same principle. People got together at each others houses and helped complete projects. I took over a meetup group here in Sacramento and am starting to do the same thing. I am having a potluck this weekend with about 30 plus people to map out some potential projects and get this going.


Good to hear, Michael. The Canadians are well represented at the start of this thread!

So am I right then in understanding that the meetup group you've taken over had already accomplished some things for one another? or was their focus, up to now, something a little different?
 
Michael Bush
Posts: 33
Location: Sacramento
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Joel Russ wrote:

So am I right then in understanding that the meetup group you've taken over had already accomplished some things for one another? or was their focus, up to now, something a little different?



It was mainly focused on supporting a lecture series that the founder spun off into a non profit focused on big business, solar, bmw electric cars and that ilk and lost interest in the meetup group. Since the title is Sacramento Sustainability Group I took it over and re purposed it. My goal is to create some community with common goals, with my farm being a supportive element rather than the focus.
 
Joel Bercardin
Posts: 371
Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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Why not keep us posted on what comes out of your meetings, in terms of collaborative efforts and accomplishments?

I think this is a very important component of any sustainable culture conception.
 
Posts: 6546
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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We had work days with two other families during the eighties when our children were young...it was a lot of fun and we got some stuff accomplished that might not have otherwise. The day always included potluck meals, sometimes some beer and homegrown music.
 
Joel Bercardin
Posts: 371
Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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This topic seems to me to get to the core of "culture" - if "permaculture" is something that goes beyond the individual homestead, yard, or farm.

I appreciate the replies so far. Since not too many have posted on the thread yet, I assume most other members of the Permies forum are either accomplishing their big projects within their family, or hiring help when needed, or maybe simply exchanging energy with one or two close friends. ??
 
Posts: 228
Location: New Hampshire
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This spring we had a weekend long garden building project. My husband and I installed a large front yard garden with swales, hugleculture beds, and a tiny pond.
We rented an excavator for the weekend and invited a bunch of friends and some of our high school students from the FIRST Robotics team we mentor to come and help out.
Our friend Jon brought us several truck loads of wood for the huglebeds. My mother in law made us all lunch while my father in law and some of the students started building a chicken tractor. Lunch was pulled pork from a pig from Bardo farm our friends own. 2 of them came down from Bardo Farm to help out and learn about hugleculture. They put in several huglculture beds a couple of weeks later.
2 friends broke out the chain saws and cleared a bunch of badly placed shrubs and small trees. My husband, our friend Jon and several of the high school students took turns using the excavator to build the 3 swales, 8 huglebeds an the tiny garden pond. The dozen or so other friends helped fill the beds with wood, leaves, clods of grass and soil. After we smoothed out the swales we planted cover crops and wildflower seeds. A good time was had by all and the high school students loved the concept and the garden.

Here are some pictures of the garden building party.


The before photo


This is our big swale. It is 224' long and is on the western side of the property.


Here are the other 2 swales.



Building the huglebeds


My hugle beds.


This is what the garden looks like now.


I am slowly working on helping these friends with their projects.

 
Joel Bercardin
Posts: 371
Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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Great story (and end results), Kate. Thanks.

Yeah, that's the way it can be with successful work parties.

As an aside from the topic of the OP, I was intrigued when you said this...

Kate Muller wrote:invited a bunch of friends and some of our high school students from the FIRST Robotics team we mentor to come and help out.


I've pondered why, apparently, so few kids who are interested in robotics have connected their enthusiasm for digital stuff, electronics, and mechanisms with application concepts for food rasing (and homesteading in general). Someone like you and your partner might be able to point some of them toward real-world applications.

The only place on the web where I've consistently found these things coming together is Farm Hack, where tinkerers, ag students, young farmers and others are posting experiments and prototypes along these lines: http://farmhack.net/home/
Have a look at that vid on their home page. This is a no-BS site. And if you're interested in the write-ups, illustrations and prototypes of what they're designing and building, go to: http://farmhack.net/tools

They're dedicated to assisting the lower-capital-intensive farming or horticultural operation. (Send me a 'purple mooseage' if you want to discuss this sort of stuff more.)
 
Kate Muller
Posts: 228
Location: New Hampshire
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Joel Russ wrote:Great story (and end results), Kate. Thanks.

Yeah, that's the way it can be with successful work parties.

As an aside from the topic of the OP, I was intrigued when you said this...

Kate Muller wrote:invited a bunch of friends and some of our high school students from the FIRST Robotics team we mentor to come and help out.


I've pondered why, apparently, so few kids who are interested in robotics have connected their enthusiasm for digital stuff, electronics, and mechanisms with application concepts for food rasing (and homesteading in general). Someone like you and your partner might be able to point some of them toward real-world applications.



The kids that I know fall into 2 groups. The first are kids that have no idea how food is grown. They come from households that are urban/suburban and food comes from a store. I know one student who would like to study environmental science but his parents will pay for an engineering degree. I told this student he should figure out what kind of engineering would help him create real solutions. I encouraged him to learn how to design and build things because that is useful in any situation. The other kids tend to be families that garden or at least get much of their food from a CSA. These kids tend to be home schooled and have a wide interest in many different subjects. At least one household gardens and keep bees. I am working on getting them to stretch their creativity and introducing permaculture design concepts when I am not cat herding.

My husband and I are lucky. We work with a great RFC robotics team. The team is made up of mostly home school and charter school students. We run the team based on everything being done by the students. We make the students do everything from recruiting, all the team communications, training new students, designing and building everything and anything the team needs. If the kids don't do it it doesn't happen. As a result they learn so much and graduate as very capable young adults. Quite a few of the students are interested in gardening and I gave away dozens of tomato seedlings this spring. I have been getting reports and photos on how the plants did. One student wants to put a huglebed garden in her backyard but her parents won't let her. She is still trying to talk them into it and has brought them to my garden to show them. They like the idea but want to move first.

I also teach art at a small private school. The students wanted to grow some food this year. We have a bunch of fall crop seedlings started that will be on the deck till it gets too cold. We are also working setting up a hydroponic set up. This all being done as an after school project and not a required class. The are looking forward to growing some salads.

So I am working on it. I know bunch of the kids will want to help build our green house when the time comes.


 
Joel Bercardin
Posts: 371
Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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Thought I’d post about an experience we had here last fall. A woman who has lived on her own homestead in our valley for many years was hospitalized for ten days with a pancreas issue (and after that, a five-day or so home recovery).

Weather is a critical factor here, as we get a true winter. Mid to late fall is the window of opportunity for getting the last firewood tasks finished, and for cleaning up garden areas & building compost, tidying up yards before snowfall, etc. This woman (Ms. L) has always been an outgoing and extremely generous and community-active person, so she’s made a lot of friends through the years. A few of us contacted Ms. L’s friends, using email and phone calls (there’s no cell-phone service in our valley). We set a date and start time to converge and work together on Ms. L’s place.

Cars and pickups transporting 15 people started arriving around 10:00AM. People brought shovels, rakes, hoes, trowels, chainsaws, weed-whackers, favourite axes, etc. A small crew of women went into the house to do an extremely thorough straightening and cleaning (even laying-up a fire in the wood heater). I worked at weed whacking in various areas that needed it, plus worked with another guy at splitting and stacking firewood. Several other guys did a clean-out on the water-supply system, and managed a scrap burn pile. Some women and men harvested remaining food from the large garden, put the garden to bed (including some mulching), and contributed to compost piles.

Snacks, juice, etc were provided. People spent between two and five hours on-site, with most spending longer rather than shorter. By the end, something like a two-week’s or month’s-worth of work had been accomplished. When Ms, L returned, she was amazed and overjoyed. She contacted everyone individually to thank us… and she had not one complaint about what was done!
 
Joel Bercardin
Posts: 371
Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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Another example of this spirit and practice has cropped-up in my home area, and I thought I’d post about it - partly to ‘bump’ the thread.  I hope people reading this may have other stories to contribute.

There is a couple living about a 25-minute bike ride or 5-minute truck drive down the road, and they’re in their 50s.  They’ve got a little homestead and run a business on their land, in a building separate from their house.  Their two boys are grown up and have moved away to support themselves and establish careers.

The woman, Ruby, had reluctantly chosen to have a knee-replacement, after trying various sorts of alternative practices and methods over a couple years to reduce extreme pain in her knee.  She’s back at home and can rest in bed or sit up in a chair, but the recovery time before she’s really up and around will be a month or so.  Meanwhile, her husband is spending long hours running the family business, as normally the two of them run it.

Friends have organized to provide a couple natural-food meals each day, much of this food being made from home-grown ingredients.  They’re also providing transportation (physiotherapist, etc) whenever Ruby requires it, and some of the women help Ruby to bathe.  The couple both feel that their situation would be next to impossible without the circle of friends providing this support.  Their expressions of gratitude are frequent and deeply felt.
 
Joel Bercardin
Posts: 371
Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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I thought I'd bump this, as for most people it's pretty relevant—especially when living on land long-term.  I'm guessing there're probably some pretty interesting stories from group work done at Paul Wheaton's permie land.

Anybody have some shared-work/work-party type experiences to share about?
 
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