Wendy Fisher

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since Mar 11, 2016
Wendy likes ...
forest garden fungi
I direct choirs and am raising my young son in the San Francisco Bay Area. I live in the suburbs and am a homeowner, so I get to play in my yard at will. I've a huge fan of food forests and for many years that has been my focus. I am developing an idea for a type of gardening called "Karma Gardening" and that needs testers, so if you're interested in learning more about that you can message me to get details.
Livermore, CA
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Recent posts by Wendy Fisher

I enjoy using permaculture principles as a design lens in my everyday life, particularly when I'm designing music programs for work or trying to figure out my lifestyle. Responding to your question about how to use permaculture principles in everyday life, I think it would be fun to brainstorm about how to use the permaculture design process with regard to a random everyday-life-idea. For now, let's try "How to make friends as an adult," just because.

I've heard that the best way to make friends is to have a series of unplanned spontaneous encounters (which is why life on college campuses fosters friendship formation so easily). I'm no expert -- on either permaculture or friendship -- but I'm feeling playful and designy, so let's give this a whack.


Observe and Interact – Go to different spaces and check them out for "regular hang-out-ability." Agreeable church nearby? Club? Charming bar or coffee house? Game store with community gaming tables? Something else? Maybe go out and try hanging out in these spaces and find a few that seem right for you. Check out who's there. Say hi. Return a few times to see how the mood, population, or agreeableness shift over time.

Catch and Store Energy – Gather e-mail addresses and phone numbers from people you like. Notice if there's interest in creating a regular activity, such as a regular gardening group, a D&D night, a choir, a movie night, what-have-you.

Obtain a yield – Enjoy spending time with people at these locations, maybe leverage those phone numbers and e-mails into a dinner party or a Facebook group or a community e-mail list or into a series of planned social encounters

Apply Self Regulation and Accept Feedback – Notice if you're burning out, notice if you need to wear deodorant, notice which people you enjoy and which people enjoy you, figure out which people seem supportive and enjoyable v. the reverse, cut the crap and refine your process accordingly

Use and Value Renewable Resources and Services – Hang out in places you can afford given your income, find easy ways to make hanging out with people convenient and sustainable, don't be a mooch...

Produce No Waste – Don't be a jerk, don't participate in drama, cause no harm, don't let anyone abuse you or use you, have good boundaries and be kind, and keep things local to you so you don't waste a lot of time or gas getting to these unplanned spontaneous social encounters.

Design From Patterns to Details – If a Friday night movie night works, maybe a Tuesday night board game night will also work. Or if a book club works, maybe a gardening club will also work. If regular meeting times work, set up more meetings. If a spontaneous flow in and out of the door works, foster the flow and don't block it by trying to control times in and out

Integrate Rather Than Segregate – If you've been having fun at the book club, the coffee shop, and the gardening group, try bringing people from these populations to the charming bar, or invite representatives from each group to your home for a gathering, or bring a friend from the coffee shop to the gardening group, etc.

Use Small and Slow Solutions – Start with a visit to the coffee shop once a week. If that weeks, maybe build in a regular stop at the library's continuing adult educations classes. If a dinner party with your integrated friends group works, maybe the next thing is to organize a camping trip -- if that works out, maybe it can be an annual event.

Use and Value Diversity – Maybe interact with people who are much older or younger than you, from a different culture, or who have a different religious or political value system.

Use Edges and Value the Marginal – Challenge yourself out of your comfort zone. Go somewhere new. Hang out with someone who seems lonely. Volunteer.

Creatively Use and Respond to Change – If one of your new friends moves out of state, maybe you can arrange a yearly visit at their new home, bringing you sweeping views of New Jersey or whatever. If a friend discovers a passionate interest in rock concerts, maybe go with her and help her with the driving. If a friend goes through a tragedy, support him with food, conversation, or dish washing as seems right to you. If your charming bar closes, see if you can divert your bar friends over to the coffee shop.

Anyway. That was all totally random. Maybe it's hogwash, I don't know. But it's some hazy 5am brainstorming about how to use the principles of permaculture applied to an actual design problem. Whether or not I did it well is an entirely different story.
2 years ago
My four-year-old gardens with me in our front yard garden. He enjoys planting and harvesting (and feeding leaves to the soil) as much as I do. It's one of the highlights of my life when I see him squatting in front of the grape vine to have a snack or to see him hunting for blueberries or pears when they come ripe. Several times a day, he'll pull me from the computer and ask me to "come see the garden," and it's so good for me.
2 years ago
I love this whole idea. Not only is this a good activity for me to do with my four-year-old, I love how the playful action of egg-breaking will distribute the seeds in ways that I would never intentionally design--leading to opportunities for plant growth that I might never think of.
2 years ago
I've been teaching piano and voice lessons for fifteen years, and right now I'm the director of music at a church. Here are my suggestions:

1. Play songs that you love, early and often.
2. Play regularly; nothing beats hands-on practice.
3. Be prepared for the jumps in your abilities after a good night of sleep; your brain will often work things out while you're snoring.
4. There's nothing linear about learning to play an instrument; expect cycles, plateaus, and sudden spikes in your abilities.
5. Listen to music you love from a variety of genres and discover new musicians who inspire you.
6. Definitely look for a teacher who tickles you, intrigues you, inspires you, and supports you.
7. It's better to practice a little bit every day (for even five minutes) than it is to ignore your music all week and then binge for four hours on Saturday--that's a recipe for burn-out.
8. Figure out which parts of mandolin playing really light you up. Do you like strumming? Finger picking? Classical guitar-like things? Gnarly jazz solos? Pay special attention to what you love to do and do more of that. (Once you're there--I realize that you're just starting.)
9. If you like permaculture, you might love the structures in music theory. Once you get beyond key signatures, sharps and flats, and note names, you can learn wonderful forms and patterns in music that are wonderfully synergistic and puzzle-y.
10. Don't put too much pressure on yourself to be perfect. Be light in your being and try not to stress out over missed notes or rhythms.
11. You can have the most fun when you're playing music when you're playing it with other people, and to that end, being able to play the right chord at the right time is a golden skill. If you learn how to play along with recordings and keep up, neither drifting too slowly or rushing too quickly, you become an asset to a group. To this end, YouTube can be very useful. It can also be useful to start playing with other (supportive, kind) people as soon as you can in duos or trios. Just friendly living-room musical puttering.
12. If it hurts you physically, first rest --- and then adjust your ergonomics, your posture, or your hand position until it doesn't hurt.
13. Consistently showing up to play the mandolin, year in and year out, will yield more consistent success than having talent without follow-through. Show up and try, show up and try, show up and try, show up and try, show up and try, show up and try...
14. Get familiar with the basic routine of caring for your instrument and know how to tune it and restring it as necessary.

I'm pretty excited that you're starting this musical journey. Keep us posted about how it's going for you, if you'd like!

**edited to be talking about the correct instrument. =P
3 years ago
Exciting! Thanks for the link. I'm going to start watching the first video right now!
3 years ago
I live in California in Zone 9B and I've had good luck with blueberries. I've also had wonderful success with rosemary and sage. Although not exactly a shrub, my artichokes got to be about eight feet tall last summer and then they subsided to four feet over the winter. They fill out space much like a shrub would.
3 years ago


This is in California, Zone 9B. The front module is the newest, planted about nine months ago. It's mostly spinach and beets, but I've also got a wee new apple tree in there, along with some wildflowers, some thyme, and a hibiscus plant. The second module deep is the part that's blooming with irises. It also has blueberry bushes, naked ladies, garlic, daffodils, crocuses, geranium, Mexican primrose, an Asian Pear Tree, and plenty of other random little things. The back module is the oldest, and is full of four gargantuan artichoke plants, sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, a Bartlett pear tree, more geranium, English lavender, chocolate mint, chickweed, rose bushes, and miscellaneous other stuff.

These are the garden beds that I'm planting, module by module, to take over my front lawn. I practice daily planting, so I'm always sticking something new into the mix.
3 years ago
art
Hey Roman, how's this project going for you? I started a food forest about four years ago, and I also found it really overwhelming. I live in zone 9 in California. I started with a patch of ground ten feet deep by twenty feet wide, planted a couple of fruit trees, and went from there. What I've found is that my best laid plans didn't shape up, but the stuff that succeeded was more than satisfying enough. At this point, I mostly garden by sticking seeds in the ground, calling them "experiments" and then walking away.

I plant annuals in among my perennials freely; as the perennials are growing up, I have less and less space for the annuals, but I'm cool with that.

Don't get caught up in rules or systems; do what works well for you and your space. What I've found is that I get the best results when I work less and observe more.

If you're looking for a garden that will produce enough food to feed you and your wife, I suggest planting plenty of "staples" -- calorie rich vegetables such as tubers and squashes. With your four acres, I'm sure you've got tons of little micro-climates to check out, and with observation, each nook and cranny might offer you an option for a different kind of edible plant. A shady, moist area might be nice for mushrooms, and a sunny spot might be lovely for a tomato.

You might also enjoy making structures so that you can grow your food "up," in trellises, poles, arbors, and hanging pots; increasing the density of food plants per square foot both vertically as well as horizontally might help you maximize your food production.
3 years ago
Congratulations on your new house! I hope that you love it. I had a similar question when I purchased a house on a suburban lot that came with twenty-something rose bushes on it. I've found that the way permaculture practices improve the soil and other conditions in the yard is super rose-friendly, and they're thriving without pesticides or other maintenance. I just leave them alone and let them do their thing. I've made rose petal cordials and enjoyed them, along with rose petal teas. You can layer the petals in jars of sugar and make rose-infused sugar. I found that they're an arresting spot of colorful beauty in a yard that can be very green-on-green. Plus, I love seeing the bees and hummingbirds dancing with them. They're edible perennials that attract insects and please the neighbors.

Oh, plus also, I figured out that I can't kill them. I have tried mighty full-on rose massacres. They just come back. So I've learned to appreciate them.
3 years ago
Joseph Lofthouse said more than I ever could (*wild applause*) but I just want to throw it out there that carrot flowers are, to me, amazingly pretty. Does anyone know if carrots will self-sow if you just leave the flowers in place and let them die off at their own pace? It seems to me that they would.
3 years ago