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Okanogan Permaculture Study Group

 
Erica Wisner
gardener
Posts: 1132
Location: Okanogan Highlands, Washington
183
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This is an open invitation to folks living in the Okanogan - valley, highlands, USA or Canada - who want to share info and learn more about appropriate design for our challenging climate.

For those who only know the Puget Sound part of Washington, the Okanogan is a semi-arid inland valley with steep mountains, glacial till benches and valleys, lots of sagebrush scrub-steppe, and some pockets of grassland and conifer forest. In some ways we are more similar to Kazakhstan or Mongolia than to anywhere in our home state and province.


We experience intense winter cold (where I live at 3200 feet elevation, it is roughly Zone 4, but that doesn't account for the stress of drought, dry winds, and rapidly-draining silty soils).
The valley around Tonasket gets about 12 inches of rain per year, much of it as winter snow. The hills get a little more moisture from cloud effects, but basically, it's high, dry, and cold.
We experience intense summer dryness - the heat is not extreme, being up around 100 F to maybe 110 in a really bad hot spell (40s C), but it gets down to 50 at night (10 C), and it can be less than 10% humidity in the daytime for months on end. 4% humidity is not uncommon for spells of several days - raising to 20-30% at night, then dropping back down in the daytime.
This means we also experience intense wild-fire seasons, and wild fire mitigation is a big topic for appropriate and durable site design.


And like everywhere, there are those glorious sunny days that make it all worth while.
Apples thrive in the valley and up onto the glacial-beach stepped foothills; wild berries and apricots naturalize in the hills, and in the summer heat there are shady pine forests and lost kettle lakes to explore in the higher elevations.
We have some hard-working organic farmers, 5th-generation ranching families raising hardy cattle, and some enterprising buffalo, sheep, goat, and llama here and there.
Heart of the Highlands grows local heirloom seeds.


Many small farmers do good work as caretakers, selling through the Thursday farmer's market, or through our local grocers and co-ops and farm stands.


There is a lot we can learn from the Okanogan-Colville tribes, and from other high, dry, and cold-climate farming communities, like inland Eurasia, and other parts of the Rockies and Basin and Range.


For those who are local, we try to meet up every month or so, for either a pot-luck and discussion, a hands-on demonstration or work party, or all of the above.


Our next meeting is February 15th (Monday), 2016, at Bob & Jane's just outside of Tonasket. Ton from Leaping Sheep Farm will be sharing grafting methods (he's very good, and a patient teacher).
If you're interested in coming, or have some trees you might want to prune and donate the twigs for grafting, please let us know.
IMG_1495-Grafted-600px.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_1495-Grafted-600px.JPG]
Modified Crown Graft (before sealing)
IMG_1485-Graft-Scion-600px.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_1485-Graft-Scion-600px.JPG]
Exposing scion cambium (sharp knife work!)
 
Erica Wisner
gardener
Posts: 1132
Location: Okanogan Highlands, Washington
183
books cat dog food preservation hugelkultur
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OK, I have found a few other posts regarding meetings of our group, and thought I'd link them from here.

If you'd like to get on the email list (and get updates a few times a week, regarding the next meeting of our group and other relevant local events), please PM or email Barbara Greene.
It appears she posted her email here when announcing a couple different meetings in 2012.
So unless she edits it out of those posts and makes you PM her to get on the list, you can find her contact info here:
Okanogan-Permaculture-Study-Group-Meeting
or here:
Okanogan-Permaculture-Study-Group-Work-Bee

We also had some other folks, some of whom are now members of this group, discussing relevant topics like:
Is the Okanogan a good climate for cob? Relocating-Okanogan-Highlands-general-questions
Anybody know good ways to work with local authorities on surveying, composting toilets, other getting-onto-your-land resources? natural-building/Okanogan-Highlands
What are some good perennial plants for growing in the high, dry, and cold Okanogan highlands? High-Dry-Cold-Climate-perennials
Are they considered invasive? siberian-pea-tree-shrub-tree
What are some good mulch plants for " " " " " " "? Okanogan-Highlands-good-groundcovers-mulch
What plants might indicate different conditions in our highlands landscape? Montane-Indicators

How do we reconcile permaculture land design and dealing with wild fires?
http://www.permies.com/t/24169/permaculture/WILDFIRES-PERMACULTURE
http://www.permies.com/t/50790/permaculture/Permaculture-fire-suppression
http://www.permies.com/t/41915//PEP-Firefighting-fire-saftey
http://www.firewise.org/wildfire-preparedness.aspx (Outside source, conventional fire-wise design)

Our northerly neighbors who spell Okanagan with so many A's are also welcome to join us, of course. North-Okanagan-BC-Permies


If any other Okanogan Permaculture Study Group folks, or long-time residents of any kind, have some good resources to share, please reply with a link.
I can keep looking up the good stuff like Julie's hugelkultur blog and the OHA lectures, but I feel a little like I'm writing to my imaginary friends at the moment.
 
Vera Stewart
Posts: 217
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
19
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I'm here and I'm not imaginary!

I doubt I'll ever be able to attend meetings, but then again some time the stars might align...so, who knows? Anyway, I've been reading your messages!
 
Erica Wisner
gardener
Posts: 1132
Location: Okanogan Highlands, Washington
183
books cat dog food preservation hugelkultur
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Vera Stewart wrote:I'm here and I'm not imaginary!

I doubt I'll ever be able to attend meetings, but then again some time the stars might align...so, who knows? Anyway, I've been reading your messages!


Yay!
Do you have a standing date conflict, or is it just one of those things that never seems to work out?
I just found out the co-op meetings are the same day as we've been using (third Monday evening); of course, none of the people who have the conflict are at the current meeting to object when we plan the next meeting dates. But we do often have weekend work-bees or other things too.

I watched the Okanogan Highlands Alliance event notices, drooling with anticipation, for like 2 years before I managed to attend one. Totally worth it. I've only been to two or three, despite my best intentions, but Julie seems to like me anyway.

So feel free to drop in, or participate online, whenever it works for you. Thanks for saying Hi!


For prospective new members:
It's not uncommon for permaculture-minded folks to explore buying land in the Okanogan, or to buy land and then start exploring how to do something with it.
Land is pretty cheap, comparatively, but often there's a reason for that. (And the more expensive plots don't necessarily have a reason beyond their owner's fond imaginings, either.)
I started this as a separate thread:
"So you want to buy land in the Okanogan?"

I'd very much welcome other's thoughts on that thread, too, from any point in the process. Whether you're an old-timer with local knowledge, or a prospective buyer who's done some research and would like to swap notes with others in the same position, or just getting started on your land with some initial discoveries to report.

Yours,
Erica
 
Vera Stewart
Posts: 217
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
19
bike books dog food preservation greening the desert
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Erica Wisner wrote:
Vera Stewart wrote:I'm here and I'm not imaginary!

I doubt I'll ever be able to attend meetings, but then again some time the stars might align...so, who knows? Anyway, I've been reading your messages!


Yay!
Do you have a standing date conflict, or is it just one of those things that never seems to work out?


Its one of those things where my philosophy of not driving anywhere to far unless it's vital gets in the way I'm not fast enough on my bike to visit you yet!

I might go to this event put on by the Osoyoos Desert Society on Feb. 20th - http://desert.org/index.php/news-events.html

FIRE ECOLOGY - Movie & An Expert

February 20, 2016 ~ 2 - 4 pm
at the Watermark Beach Resort (Osoyoos, B.C.)
Admission by Donation

Learn more about the complexity of fire management and fire ecology. In the documentary 'Disturbance,' hear from biologists, fire managers, politicians, and citizens as they discuss fire issues in the Northern Rockies. Following the film, join ecologist and noted author Don Gayton for a look at local fire ecology research and management strategies. A book signing, with a selection of Mr. Gayton's books, will be held following his talk. More information at www.dongayton.ca

On February 27th, they are putting on:

February 27, 2016 ~ 2 - 4 pm
at the Watermark Beach Resort
Admission by Donation

Join us for 'What Plants Talk About,' a documentary integrating hard core science with a light-hearted look at plant behavior and the surprisingly intricate and busy lives plants lead. After the film, Richard Walker will talk about food forest gardening, a way to grow food and medicine plants in a sustainable way, using less water and trapping carbon. In his words, how to "garden for 1000 years." This is based on nature's systems as well as successful indigenous systems used over the ages. A book signing will follow the talk.

I would really try to go to the one on the 27th, but it looks like I'm already committed to be somewhere else later that day...

And then their next documentary screening is about bats! that's on March 12th.

Probably the information provided at these screenings is more for the general public then for committed permaculturalist who already have some idea of what they're doing, but I just thought I'd share some more possibilities.

For those that aren't familiar, Osoyoos is literally a two minute stroll (or swim) across the US/Canada border, if there weren't, you know, border controls.
 
Erica Wisner
gardener
Posts: 1132
Location: Okanogan Highlands, Washington
183
books cat dog food preservation hugelkultur
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I'm resigned to driving for now, but it's an active question how to move our lives toward less fuel-intensive. Most of what I need to do on a regular basis is a 2000-foot elevation drop/gain for the round trip. I try to combine errands. Haven't tried bicycling down the face yet; pickups and potholes and disabled drivers, oh my!
(Not everyone up here is a bad driver, it's a huge spectrum, but we've had some close calls with the my-car-is-bigger, driving faster-than-I-can-see school of locomotion, and blind corners don't help.
 
Devin Lavign
pollinator
Posts: 405
Location: Pac Northwest
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Well I am happy to say I put in a bid on a 40 acre property, so hoping to be moving into the Okanogan soonish if the bid is accepted or I can negotiate a decent price. Which would also mean I will be looking forward to meeting the group and coming to some of the meetings. Keeping my fingers crossed on this property as it seems to be about perfect for what I want to do.
 
Devin Lavign
pollinator
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Location: Pac Northwest
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Update. I got the property, and have been doing a little work on it. Hopefully I will be doing a bit more soon, and I hope to be living there permanently in a travel trailer before the end of July. then I can start thinking about building a home and building the infrastructure for starting a garden and planting trees for next year.

I am looking forward to actually moving over to the land full time and not having the 6hr drive back and forth from Western WA to Eastern WA.

My progress can be found here in this thread http://www.permies.com/t/56342/rockies/Moving-Okanogan-homestead-land-pics
 
Elisa Breland
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Hello, I have 40 acres in the Okanogan highlands and am really interested in attending these meetings.  Can someone tell me if there are still going on?  And if they are, when?
 
Devin Lavign
pollinator
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Elisa Breland wrote:Hello, I have 40 acres in the Okanogan highlands and am really interested in attending these meetings.  Can someone tell me if there are still going on?  And if they are, when?


You want to get on the mailing list by contacting Barbra Greene mentioned in the 2nd post. I haven't gotten to any meetings yet, but hope to make it to one soon. There hasn't been any announcements of meetings recently but I am guessing that is due to it being a busy time for most folks. Hard to schedule much when everyone is busy with the care of their crops.
 
Barbara Greene
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Location: Tonasket, WA
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Hi Devin and Elisa:

You are right that we don't meet much during the growing season. Everyone is just too darned busy!  Below is the announcement I sent out to the group a few days ago. If you are interested in attending feel free to call me to get contact info for Isaac who can give you specific directions, I can give you general directions. 509-560-3613

Also, I think maybe Erica did mention you (Devin) as being interested in attending our meetings. Both you and Elisa, can send me your email info, if you wish me to add you to the group email listing that we announce meetings and other info relating to permaculture and organic type farming and gardening.

Mostly, our meetings happen in the general Tonasket area, but because there are also members who live closer to Omak and Okanogan, I try to have meetings in that area once-in-a-while, and this meeting is going to be one of those.

Don't worry if you can't make it to the Dec. one, I will be scheduling others during the winter.

Glad you are in the area and have an interest in Permaculture!

I look forward to meeting you both sometime soon.

Barbara Greene


Hi Everyone,

Isaac and Kirstie Bickford have kindly offered to host our Permaculture pot luck meeting at their house.  The address is 2170 Burton Ave. Okanogan, WA. You may remember it is the previous home of the Darleys.

It will be Monday, Dec. 5th, 2016, at 6pm, a pot luck, and we will talk about low tech but effective ways of irrigating tree plantings and gardens.

I can also talk about my recent visit to Jerome Osentowski's place high in the Rocky Mountains (7200 feet) and his Forest Garden Greenhouses, aka climate battery greenhouses.

Feel free to bring a friend or pass this message along to anyone who you think might be interested to attend.

Also, if you no longer wish to be on this email list, please just let me know.

Thanks and see you in December!

Barbara Greene
barbarashortgreene@gmail.com

 
Barbara Greene
Posts: 50
Location: Tonasket, WA
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Okanogan Permaculture Study Group is having a pot luck gathering on Feb. 13, Monday, 6pm at Peter James' house just North of Tonasket, White House with red trim.
Art Heinemann a local organic farmer will be attending and this past year he built a climate battery greenhouse from plans he purchased from CRMPI's Jerome Osentowski. He will be able to answer questions.
I can add my two cents from my recent visit to Jerome's place last fall where he took my group on a 3 hour tour of his greenhouses and forest gardens.
And for those of us who have yet to build any type of greenhouse, I'll cover Winter Sowing of seeds in recycled plastic milk jugs as " mini greenhouses" for outdoor plant starts, with a big nod to Julie Ashmore who taught me about this technique!
So even tho the sun was out today and our temps got above freezing for a few hours so we're all running around outside without hats and coats---I still think you'll enjoy our meeting and gathering around with fellow local permaculture enthusiasts-- hope to see you at Peter's. Just email me if you need directions:
barbarashortgreene@gmail.com
Stay warm and happy,
Barbara
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/email
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