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Derrick Gunther
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Just putting out feelers for fellow permies in the Salt Lake area. I see there are lots of Utahns on here contributing good information. I'd like to get involved with anyone doing permaculture, urban agriculture or is involved in the sustainability movement. I guess I'd just like to get some good things going with good people.
 
Andrew Jackman
Posts: 28
Location: Salt Lake City, UT
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I'm here!

My name is Andrew Jackman, and I'm Sandy. I'm currently in the small-scale experimenting stage, but I am ambitious about seeing larger scale things happen.
 
Derrick Gunther
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Hi Andrew!
Great to hear from you. I think the majority of us are in the small scale experimenting stage, especially those of us in cities. I'm currently living in an apartment, so I'm severely limited, though I have some friends with property who may be interested in trying some stuff out this spring. We'll see. It's always a delicate balance trying to open people's eyes to the permaculture paradigm; some of it is just far enough out of the norm that it triggers the "what will the neighbors think?" response.
Anyway, it sounds like we have some common goals. I grew up in Utah but recently returned from a 2.5 year hiatus, during which time I discovered permaculture, so I've been spending a bit of time online trying to find people and/or organizations here that are involved. It does appear that Wasatch Community Gardens is privy to and perhaps involved in permaculture projects, and Tree Utah has a food forest of sorts over in Rose Park (just found it on googlemaps, looks legit. I'll go check it out in the next couple days, I currently live not too far away). Are you mostly making a go of things on your own or have to connected with others or any organizations? It looks like there is enough local interest that we could get involved in some good things and generate more interest. I was impressed with how fast the "Xeric Landscaping" idea took off ten or so years ago in SLC, and I know backyard "homesteading" gardens, chickens, etc. have been gaining popularity in the area, so the mindset of many people seems conducive to the next steps. As is always the case, finding the right people (networking, in business parlance) tends to be how things get done. I'll start sending some emails out and see what I can find, many of the website info I can find is several years old, so who knows what's still going on.
I'd love to hear about what projects you've got going and any ideas you have for scaling up. If you're interested, maybe we could meet up at some point and chat, as it's easier to cover more ground quickly. And forgive me if I seem overanxious. I've spent long periods of time being depressed and doing nothing, so I feel I have to be proactive and make stuff happen at this point, for my own sanity. But please don't feel like I'm pressuring you, we haven't even met!
 
Andrew Jackman
Posts: 28
Location: Salt Lake City, UT
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I live on about 1/8th of an acre in Sandy with my grandmother. Right now, my neighbors concern me much less than the city itself. Sandy is one of those cities that puts priority on how pretty the lawn looks and does a great deal to restrict non-decorative use of the property.

I'm bringing in some straw this week to insulate, feed, and cover the garden beds we have right now. I'll be removing the old shed that's being used to store firewood in about a month to make room for more growing beds.

Because of my grandmother's age (101 in February), she can't get into the garden like she would like. Consequently, I am also planning on installing raised beds (as in wooden boxes) to bring a portion of the garden up to her level.

I'll also be seeding comfrey and clover as permanent cover crops wherever I can where it's appropriate.

Planned crops for this year include grapes, pre-GMO wheat, mullet, sorghum, Peruvian purple corn, sweet corn, green beans, squash, sweet potatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, carrots, cabbage, strawberries, raspberries, onions, tomatoes, and peppers. We also have apricot and apple trees, but they are yet immature. If I can make room in the carport, I may also try mushrooms, as well, in the straw.

We did really well last year with squash, grapes, beans, onions, and raspberries. The tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes grew, but they were mostly experimental.

The hope is to install a lot more support for the climbing plants and cater to temperature preferences by staggering the raised beds. We used a lot of water last year, and strategic planting should help mitigate that. I also hope to apply for and use a rainwater collection permit.
 
Derrick Gunther
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Very nice! Sounds like you've got a lot going on in a small space. I got a year of growing under my belt in my yard in Klamath Falls, OR last year, which has a climate not entirely different than here. I'd say the major differences are in the diurnal temperature swing there is greater, and the summers are cooler. I had great success with potatoes, brassicas, chard/beets, arugula, leafy greens in general, tomatillos, wonderberry, etc. I had limited success with mellons/winter squash, corn, and tomatoes, as there just isn't enough heat up there in the summer for long enough for the truly heat loving plants. I think that would be different here (Most years. Remember the summer of 2005? it was cold and rainy until the end of June).
I also started an edible forest garden, which was doing well, though it's hard to say while only being on the land for one year. The old sleep, creep, leap seemed to be in effect, as most woody perennials I planted just sort of sat there most of the summer. A few put on some new growth in the fall though. One species that took off and grew significantly throughout the summer was gogi, which I found interesting and would definitely try here.
Is the rainwater collection permit a city thing? I know one must register their property with the state if they have over 200 gallons of storage capacity (2500 gallons max), but it sounds like it's free and guaranteed, they just want to have record of it. http://waterrights.utah.gov/forms/rainwater.asp Definitely worth doing though. We do get enough summer rain (most years) that even somewhat minor storage capacity would be worth it. I cringe every time a summer thundershower hits and the gutters all overflow with water that could be used in peoples yards. And often times, those people have sprinklers running in their yards during the thunderstorm! Anyway, the optimist would say that just shows how much opportunity there is for improvement. One thing I would like to see getting implemented around town asap is just the rain garden idea. Everyone seems to mound the earth in their yards so heavy rain and snow melt just flows off into the gutters instead of infiltrating into the soil. Of course, everyone has the right to do what they'd like in their yards, but it would be nice to see some voluntarily make positive changes, and it would be really great to see the cities do such things on public land.
 
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