Kerry Rodgers

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since Oct 31, 2011
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forest garden purity
North Texas, Dallas area suburbs, US zone 8
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Recent posts by Kerry Rodgers

There are some people who are doing everything Permaculture advocates, yet are uncomfortable with the word "permaculture", or the Permaculture Movement, or both.  I suspect there are black community leaders with this perspective who are doing a lot to reconnect people with land, healthy food, community, etc.

One such leader I happened across on the internet some months ago is Leah Penniman.  Her writing is challenging to me, as I don't have much exposure to Social Justice writing or work in my daily life.  Nevertheless, I think it is important to listen to many perspectives, especially from people doing good work. 

Here is a random selection of Leah Penniman's web presence:
* Her farm: Soul Fire Farm does CSA and education retreats.  Her writings also linked.  She has a book coming out later this year.
* A sample of her writing: After a Century In Decline, Black Farmers Are Back And On the Rise 
Geoff Lawton told a story (I'm sorry I cannot remember where/when I saw it) about a project he did, where a school had been built on a huge mountain of beach sand.  Geoff's team was to add a permaculture landscape.  In spite of all the world-class soil building they did, including bringing in carbon and heavy planting, it just didn't work.  After a few years, they went back, dug up the trees, and mixed in purchased clay.  After replanting, the site became successful.   So there may be limits on how much sand can be handled with just planting, mulching, and animals. 

The experts on here (not me!) may be more able to address your site with a few more details:  You say the sand is "deep", but do you know how deep?  So deep that tree roots cannot reach it?  Is there ever water in that former river, even underground?  Are there currently any live trees growing there?  Are all the junipers dead?  Why did they die?

PS having your wood chips "super finely chipped" is probably not optimal.  You would prefer a variety of textures that do not mat together to exclude water and air, the way the commercial bagged stuff does.
2 months ago
If you add "Brazil", I'll put all my apples on it.

This thread reminds me how many of the best known I haven't seen (and how many of the B list I have!). 
7 months ago
Here's the only update I saw this morning:
I thought the paper did a pretty good job staying neutral and brief, yet capturing the most salient points.

Two quotes that caught my eye:

Supervisors received over 150 emails and phone calls — including some that were rude or disparaging — ...


The larger issue, Schultz said, is not about Versaland specifically, but land use planning that allows for more nontraditional farms.

"This is not about me and this farm," Schultz said. "This is about a big thing that affects everyone in the county, and (that's) antiquated land use planning that doesn’t properly accommodate people outside of nuclear families or the uber-wealthy."

10 months ago
In the email newsletter for, Raleigh Latham shared this advice about communicating with the Johnson County Board of Supervisors, emphasizing respect.  I thought it was worth passing on, in case anyone here wants to write or call:

3) WRITE AN EMAIL to the Supervisors. Contact list at bottom of page here.  Share why you support the rezoning to AR, and how affordable farmworker housing, agritourism, and ecological businesses matter to you. Explain your connection to Versaland - as customer, student, or admirer - perhaps you've purchased plants, pastured meat, or engaged in the social fabric with a workshop or field day. If you're presently an admirer - share why you'd visit and how you'd benefit Johnson County while here. Share your unique perspective and engage respectfully, we're all humans.

4) CALL IN PERSON Engage with a personal phone call and talk through why you value Versaland, how it adds to the quality of Johnson County, Iowa, and the social, economic, and ecological benefits it brings via land access, organic food, improved water quality, and climate and flood resilience.  Please be respectful though.

Caveat:  I don't know any of these people, except from their public internet presence.  I'm just passing this on because I think it is good advice in general for dealing with local councils.
10 months ago
I post this reluctantly, because there is so much negativity in this sad situation.  I watched the video to the end, and you need to do that to understand the documents that are linked below.  Because in the video, Grant says that some of the documents linked below are making false statements.

If you want to go through it yourself, here's a brief blog article that links to Grant's video, the newspaper article that Dan quoted, and rebuttals from the County staff and from the current owner.  Of course, as in any dispute, each person involved has their own point of view, with the lawyers and bureaucrats adding their hyperbole. I take it all with a grain of salt, but it is still very bitter. 

Xisca asked for a resumé of the situation.  Here's my attempt, with some speculation thrown in to fill gaps, based on what I've seen of Planning and Zoning government processes. 

It looks like the current owner and Grant made some legal contracts 4 years ago, then had some disputes last year, sued each other, went through mediation, and agreed in January 2017 that Grant would buy the property by 31 Dec 2017.  Grant will have to get the money in time, presumably through financing, or he loses the property. 

It will be much easier to get financing if Grant shows many legal business opportunities on the property.  For this, he has to work with the county government, whose job it is to slow things down and make them more expensive.  And more complicated, by trying to fit what a permaculture innovator wants to do into their predetermined categories.  In my experience it is normal for a purchaser to see whether he can get zoning approval before he closes a sale (at least, here in suburban Texas).  Normally the owner/seller is very supportive, because they want the sale to go through, but here the owner is not supportive.  Grant's current proposal does not have the support of the county staff, nor of their Planning and Zoning Commission--who are probably appointed by the county Board of Supervisors.  Probably the best Grant can hope for is that the Supervisors would give some guidance and vague conceptual support, and send it back to Grant and the staff to create something different that they would maybe accept.  In my experience, a more likely outcome is that they would "table" the issue, meaning delay the vote until a future meeting.

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors will consider the rezoning request Thursday September 14, 2017.  If you want to write them in support of Grant, your letter will probably have the best effect if they get it before Thursday.  I think I will probably write to them.

And this is why I don't have acreage yet.  I don't deal with this much conflict well, at all.
10 months ago
Hi Dan and Moderators,

I also noticed that Grant's situation is complicated, but from what I know, such situations are not unique in the lives of people trying to do permie projects on land.  I think there is great value in discussing the situation on this thread as it unfolds.  Maybe we can help each other digest the complexity, and learn for our own future.  I urge you not to delete the thread.  Dan, if you worry that people starting now will read only the first post, you could always edit it.  The etiquette that I'm most comfortable with is to leave the original content as is, but add to the top or bottom something like: "Edit: please read the discussion below to more fully understand the situation before you decide what to do."

I will probably still try to help, but I want to know more first.  Grant alleges that the owners contracted with him for an option to buy, and also contracted certain terms in the lease that (I think) they originally supported, but later changed their minds.  I admit that I haven't seen the vid all the way to the end, as Grant requested, and haven't read all the resources on his support page.  I'm planning to do that when I get time, and may post again if I think I have any thoughts that might be useful to the community.

As for land ownership, there are some leaders in the community who advocate *not* owning the land, but having good lease contracts with willing owners.  So ownership shouldn't really be an acid test, I don't think.

Don't give up too soon! 
10 months ago

Wes Hunter wrote:Sunflowers supposedly will show effects of water stress sooner than other plants.  So if it's been dry and your sunflowers start to droop, it's time to water the garden (or at least the plants that don't handle drought).

I don't have that experience with sunflowers, here.

I actually use comfrey for this.  Even though comfrey is deep rooted, it needs more water than most things I grow, so it wilts before the other things die.  It is dry enough here that the (bocking 14) comfrey doesn't spread too much.

I love the idea about the weeds, but I read lots of conflicting advice about it on the Internet.  Does anyone have actual experience with any of these books listed here?
10 months ago
Oh, never mind--the US gov't says there's nothing to worry about:  link.  Ha!

Congrats on the fair, R.  I'm always amazed at fibre arts demos, myself.  I know lots of people ranging from moderately skilled to highly skilled at sewing, knitting, etc.--my wife for one.  And I know a few people who raise or have raised fibre animals.  But I only see those amazing people who can bridge that gap in the supply chain at fairs, it seems.  Too time consuming, too tedious, too many expensive+rare tools--you know the excuses. 

On a family road trip in 2012 we stopped at the Settler's Museum in SW Virginia.  They had an intriguing exhibit showing the steps to grow flax and make it into cloth.  They made it sound easy (at least, easier than I had imagined).

I definitely think there is a need for people like you to bring fibre more into the mainstream.  Book, online-course, I don't know...  But like someone said above:  Hint, hint!

10 months ago
Raven, Deb, and others,

please hurry with those clothes you are making for me from your beyond-organic gardens.  This morning I found the following fine print inside my new shirt, sewn in with the care tags.  (Ok, it's mostly my fault--I knew I was buying a poly shirt.)

P.S.  this is the Being-angry-at-bad-guys Anonymous thread, right?
10 months ago