Matt Leger

pollinator
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since Oct 31, 2018
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hugelkultur forest garden trees foraging medical herbs homestead
A few years ago, we bought my grandparents property in Eastern Ontario with the intention of building a homestead for our family. My grandparents lived on this property for almost 30 years and they did a lot of amazing things here. Now it's our turn to pick up the torch and, naturally, permaculture was the perfect fit for the type of homesteading we wanted to do.

We're still learning, and that will never stop, but we've made significant progress in the short time that we've lived at Maple Grove Farm. So far, using reclaimed materials, we've set up several zone 1 raised bed gardens, a 3-stage compost bin and constructed many hugel mounds with wood chip pathways and swales. We hand-craft gallons of our own maple syrup every spring, we make our own mulch from forest litter and we’re slowly transforming our front yard into a food forest while replacing the grass with productive ground covers. This is all being done using 'whole systems design' principles as much as possible. We try our best to stay in tune with nature, protect our environment and have fun doing it!

Permaculture is a very enchanting concept to us and we find it quite rewarding. That's what pushes us to go further and there's always something new to learn.

Check out what we're up to on social media and drop us a line. We'd love to hear from you! Thank you for reading my bio and for your ongoing support. Best of luck in all your growing and homesteading adventures, my friends! Take care and be safe out there!

Matt Leger, Executive Producer
Maple Grove Productions
St. Andrews West, Ontario, Canada (Zone 5b)
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Recent posts by Matt Leger

Kate,

Looks beautiful, Kate! Having had the privilege to visit your homestead, and see it up close, I can say with great enthusiasm that it's every bit as wonderful as you could imagine, and then some. So inspiring! We left with more than a few tips and tricks to apply to our own homestead and permaculture applications.

Looks like since I was last over there, things have become even more magical. I love that pond and your rain barrel catchment system. That outdoor kitchen is really coming along too. While the work you guys put in definitely shows in the pics, I'm sure it's even more awe-inspiring in person.

Would love to set up another visit with you, perhaps some time in the spring when things are kicking off again?

Say Hi to the crew for me. Talk soon!

Matt + Family & Friends
1 week ago
Gardening and permaculture should be part of every child's curriculum. And what a different world it would be if that were the case...

"Nature can teach a child what teachers and parents cannot."




3 weeks ago
Milestone update here. Just wanted to share a bit of good news and haven't had time to post anything until now.

The battle has been won, my friends! After almost 2 years of hell, our perseverance has paid off and the BAD neighbors have moved away!!! They are back on the run, as is their pattern. Eventually the people that they burn and treat like the trash that surrounded them over the years tracked them down. It's actually quite ironic. For people who claimed to be so likable, they sure amassed a lot of enemies over the years... That combined with our MANY calls to OPP, bylaw and animal/child welfare, plus our refusal to back down, was enough to evoke change. There was obviously much more to it than that but let's just say this is the abridged version.

It was not easy by any means. Civil disputes of this nature are rare and certainly not for the faint of heart. But it's DONE, at long last. I am thrilled to report that the once calm and peaceful nature of our property has returned. πŸ₯° The other residents are relieved and thanked us for all our efforts. While I would have preferred their support instead of their thanks, I'll accept the gratitude.

A line has now been drawn in the dirt. We've made a clear statement that these sorts of people, such as the BAD neighbors and their activities will not be tolerated in our neighborhood. It also serves as fair warning to any other low lives or other such opportunists that try to pull the same sh*t. I doubt it would ever happen again, but if it does, we'll be ready for them this time.

I have a lot of people to thank: my parents, my in-laws, my extended family and friends, the permies community for your amazing advice, The Heir (you know who you are), and so many others, for all the heartfelt support. But most of all, we have ourselves to thank for not giving up or giving in, and seeing this thing through until the end. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do and at times I thought the depression and anger would consume me whole. I don't share this with anyone lightly, but my wife and I almost got divorced as this was all playing out. The stress levels were incredibly high at times. We also almost sold our house just to get away from them and the general situation. It was VERY close!  We didn't feel at ease in our own home or in our own yard anymore. It was terrible, and no way to live! Thankfully, the universe, God, nature, Gaia, whatever you want to call it, was looking out for us and giving us regular, consistent signs. We are so lucky to have been able to see and understand those signs or this could have played out much differently. I could easily have been writing this post from a jail cell, with a completely different outcome and ending to the story. Over the last few months, it came extremely close to getting violent. I feel very fortunate that no one got hurt. But I would not roll those dice again if I had to. It was all way too close for comfort.

On the other end of the action/reaction spectrum, those few that deserve absolutely NO THANKS, did absolutely nothing to help us and made the whole situation much more difficult than it needed to be are:

1. The landlord and property manager. We tried to reach out to them several times to help us resolve the matter with their tenants like civilized people. But every time we tried, they did nothing but defend their tenants and basically call us liars. Like we had nothing better to do than destroy our own property, make up stories about people and dogs constantly trespassing, harrassed and stalked ourselves around town and strung up barbed wire across our own trail in hopes of clotheslining or decapitating someone. In the end, they got what they deserved and karma caught up with them just like it did their tenants. The house they rented out to those losers got completely trashed! We warned them too but they wouldn't listen. They have been trying to fix it up for 2 months now and won't be able to rent it out or sell it until they've invested thousands of dollars on materials and contractors. Cosmic justice at its finest.

2. The bylaw and township. I have one word for them: useless! Actually, I take it back. They are really good at two things: lying to you and taking your money. That's about it. We called them dozens of times, every time there was an incident. We had no choice but to call and waste our time and theirs in order to document everything and get it on record. Yet all they ever did was pass the buck to OPP (who would pass it back to bylaw), tell us COVID-19 was sheltering the neighbors from taking down their operation and issue "warnings" to them. What a joke! It was complete and utter bureaucratic BS. I believe there was only one occasion when bylaw actually did something and fined the neighbors for $75 because of repeated complaints about dogs at large. That's great and all but when you're selling husky puppies at $3,000 a pop and breeding the females 3 or 4 times a year with their siblings or other relatives, a $75 fine is a slap on the wrist. The neighbors vile and disgusting behavior was basically tolerated, accepted and even encouraged at times, and lasted far longer than it should have. Which takes me to the next group of useless tax money consumers...

3. OPP. I've never been so frustrated with law enforcement in my life! If trespassing and criminal harassment were not enough to do something, repeatedly creepily staring at our kids from a truck with tinted windows, obvious child/animal abuse going on or attempting to kill someone should be enough, but it wasn't. Every time we, the victims of criminal behavior, had the burden of proof. And even when we produced more than adequate proof in the forms of indisputable pictures or video footage, it was never enough to charge them with anything. Our BAD neighbors never got anything more than a warning. Their behavior was basically justified by them which only reinforced it and made matters worse. This is exactly why people end up taking matters into their own hands when police refuse to do their jobs. OPP even lied to us many times about what they did or what they were supposedly going to do but nothing was done. They just played both sides hoping that someone would be dumb enough to freely admit their offense. I'll tell you, I didn't have a lot of faith in politics or law enforcement to begin with, but now my faith and trust levels are in the negatives. I now have a deep disdain for cops and all the mounting police brutality cases are definitely not helping. Unfortunately, cops are not really there to help us. I see through the charade now. Law enforcement is nothing more than a money-making sham of a system that punishes the law-abiding citizen and forgives/absolves the criminals. Police are there to merely offer a false sense of security and will only get involved AFTER the fact, when someone is already hurt, or worse, dead. Don't trust law enforcement. Trust yourself. Protect yourself and your family BEFORE something happens. Sometimes it's worth being a little more proactive and a little less reactive, especially when there's so much at stake.

I want to end this by saying, if anyone out there is going through something similar, please don't give up! You're not alone! Lots of people have dealt with bad neighbors to all kinds of varying degrees and it's never easy. But you CAN win. If you try your best to be a good person, you care about the Earth and its inhabitants and you are decent, respectful and law-abiding citizen, trust that the universe will take care of you. I'm not a big bible reader or religious per se, but there's one passage that always stuck with me throughout this ordeal:

"Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?"
Matthew 6:26, King James Version

With that passage and the help of good old Taoism, which I now believe to be the natural evolution of Anarchism, got us through it. Have faith in the law of attraction, that is, in a non-materialistic sort of way. We stuck to it until the end and it paid off. We did nothing to these people that we are ashamed of, nor did we ever put their family in harm's way. Despite our furiousness and rage at times over the injustice we were facing, we stayed true to our morals, ethics and good judgement, which is a lot more than they can say. We didn't let them get the best of us, and that's so important! What's a victory if it was attained by compromising your standards? This was a clean win, with no shots below the belt from our side, and I'm proud of us for that. Although, that's not to say we didn't have dark fantasies at times. But I think that's normal and somehow therapeutic. πŸ˜‰

Thank you again for reading and for all the support as we went through this ugly chapter of our homesteading journey.

In conclusion, to answer the question of: How to Deal with BAD Neighbors? The answer is simple: Keep on fighting and don't give up! Do whatever it takes to protect yourself and your family from harm. Don't rely on anyone else to do it. Stand up for yourself. Don't back down! Don't take no for an answer. Be direct and unwavering in your stance but also be respectful to those that might help.

And remember...

Do no harm. Take no sh*t.

That's the moral of the story.

The End
3 weeks ago

Annette Jones wrote:So happy permies.com decided this was the post for the day...



Thank you so much, Annette! I had no idea I got post of the day. My day job had been crazy so I haven't been online very much this summer and fall.

But I wanted to say that I greatly appreciate your kind words and encouragement. It really means a lot to me and I could not agree with you more. It's so nice to hear from folks like yourself who have a lens for these types of things. It's a pretty lonely place for a permie around these parts sometimes, especially during this blasted pandemic. So thank you so much for taking the time to reply and share your morning with me. πŸ™‚

All the best! Stay safe and healthy out there.
3 weeks ago
Chris got it right. It's a skunkbush. I love the smell of cannabis as well but this is described as having an unpleasant odor. It's an annual, native to Western North America and naturalized elsewhere in the world. Hardy to zones 6-9. It has no known medicinal use that I can find but the seeds can be ground up and used as an edible powder of some sort.

Makes me wonder if cannabis also evolved its scent as a defense mechanism, and if so, how did humans come to actually enjoy the so-called unpleasant odor? By association? Either way, very interesting plant. Thanks for sharing, OP! (All those years ago lol)
1 month ago
Canning & Pickling Basics | How to Make CRUNCHY Pickled Cucumbers, Hot Peppers & Beans [Extended]

Learn how to make CRUNCHY pickles using this easy recipe!

[Extended Version]

Have you ever wondered how the heck people make crunchy pickles? Do your pickles always turn out soggy and gross? Well, fret not, my friend. Maple Grove Productions in here to share their secret recipe with you for CRUNCHY pickled cucumbers, hot peppers and beans. In fact, you could use this recipe for just about any pickled vegetable.



Remember that pickling and fermentation are similar but different in many ways. The process varies significantly. Stay tuned to MGP in later 2019, early 2020 for fermentation videos. We plan to make our own sauerkraut and kimchi very soon and you can count on the fact that we will document our experience every step of the way. Hopefully by then we can pass along some valuable tips and tricks to all the viewers.

If you have any questions or comments, please let us know. We try our best to respond to all comments in a timely manner. Thank you for watching and happy pickling!

Click the link below to watch the condensed version of this video.



3 months ago
Making Ramp Butter (aka Wild Leak or Wild Garlic Butter)



A simple recipe for ramp butter consisting of ramp leaves, ramp bulbs, ramp stems, butter, lemon juice, lime juice, salt and pepper. That's it! It's so easy anyone can do it. I promise! Give it a shot and you'll see for yourself. The hardest part is just finding a cheap and ethical source for the ramps. Provided you're good at foraging or you know someone who has them on their land, this a very easy and very tasty treat. Split the batch up into single servings and freeze it to enjoy a little bit here and there all year long until next season rolls around.

Foods that come from the Allium family (onion, garlic, scallion, shallot, leek, chives, ramps, etc.) are immunostimulants, meaning they boost your immune system which helps you fight off infections. With all these novel viruses floating about, there's no better time to add more Alliums to your diet! Ramp butter is an easy and delicious way to do that.

If you enjoyed this video, please show your support by giving us a like, a comment and a sub. We would greatly appreciate it! Hit the bell notification icon too so you don't miss any of our new videos. Your support ensures that we will keep making high quality content for years to come.

Thank you for watching! Stay safe and healthy out there, my friends! :)
3 months ago
If you live or work on a farm or homestead, you probably know about turning compost. Nobody wants to do it but it has to be done. Let's just be honest here: it's a B*TCH to do! That said, with a few simple tweaks, you can take some of the back-breaking stress out of it.



For example, having a multi-tiered compost bin helps tremendously! The idea here is that you start with the first tier, let's call it Compost Bin #1, and you put your fresh scraps in there, then cover it with plenty of dry carbon materials like straw, yellowed grass, dry leaves or wood chips. All the while, you're making sure not to let it go anaerobic. We always want to produce aerobic compost - that is, compost that breathes. We never want to produce anaerobic soil that gets stagnant and smells gross. If you made something slimy that smells disgusting, you probably made anaerobic compost and you will need to start over. Regular aerobic compost rarely smells like anything other than soil and any smell that may come off it gets trapped in the carbon layer.

The second tier, Compost Bin #2, would be for compost that's approximately 40-75% complete. Once your first tier has had a chance to heat up and break down for a few weeks, it will almost be ready for the third bin. You'll know it's time to turn your second tier when the compost begins to break down and heat up to the point of almost looking like soil, but still has big chunks in it. It may also still have certain foods and other matter that have not fully broken down yet. This is normal. You can wait until you feel like it has broken down enough and then turn it into the third bin. It's really a subjective decision so trust your gut.

The third bin, Compost Bin #3, is for stuff that's almost done but needs a little bit more time. On our homestead, we rarely wait until compost is 100% done. We need our compost before it's had a chance to finish and, so far, that's worked out for us. But please do your own testing before you try our methods. For us, 90% is good enough and we'll throw that directly on the top soil of our trees and plants and then cover it back up with mulch. At 90% completion, it has the consistency of good, rich, black soil but still has a few twigs and chunks in it that are not quite done. That's fine for us. We figure the rest will happen naturally on top of the soil and below the mulch, until they all amalgamate and become one anyway. That's up to you to decide. Think of what works best for your own environment and individual applications.

If you need to leave your compost in the third bin, that's totally fine. You can leave it there indefinitely. I would recommend putting a tarp below it if you plan to leave it there long term though or else it will just work its way back into the soil below your compost bin. But that's OK too! The soil beneath our compost bins is so healthy that we have used it for compost on a few occasions. In a pinch, when you don't have anything else, it works great as a temporary alternative!

However you decide to compost it is up to you. Just know that it doesn't have to be complicated. You're just making the inside of each pile the outside of the next one. That's all turning compost is. Inside to outside and repeat, while cover it all up with dry carbon material. Over time, you end up with rich soil with not that much effort.

Lastly, keeping your compost pile moist is important. If you live in a dry area, you may want to consider spraying your compost pile before it dries out and also covering it with a tarp. Compost piles need to be moist (not wet, moist) in order to achieve the right temperatures. If you really want to get technical with it, buy a thermometer and stick it in there from time to time to make sure that your compost is still heating up to the appropriate temperatures. Look up what those are. Even during the winter, your compost should be spewing steam. You can even use some of its residual energy to heat your greenhouse! There are a lot of surprising uses for a compost pile other than building material for soil amendments. A few Google searches should generate some interesting ideas for you.

Have fun with it! It doesn't have to be a chore. It can be an important time to reflect and think about new, creative ways to work with nature's cycles.

Thanks for watching! :)
4 months ago
Sometimes as homesteaders and permaculturists, it may seem like all we do is add layers. Layers of income streams. Layers to our security. Layers to our soil. Layers, layers, layers.... ALWAYS MORE LAYERS!



But that's all part of building good soil. We need that carbon to accumulate otherwise our soil would have no real substance. Things have to die and release their nutrients and components back into the soil so future life can exist and ultimately repeat the cycle. We as humans are part of this cycle, only we merely replicate its processes and attempt to speed it up.

Nature, however, will not be rushed. It can be coaxed and encouraged but not rushed. It needs some time to do its thing. Luckily, there are a multitude of different ways that we can promote good soil health as we wait. Not only do carbon sources like mulch help, but so does compost, from both animal and vegetation sources. We can ensure that our soil is properly hydrated and holds on to its moisture as long as possible. We can also ensure that our soil is rich with biodiversity and nutrients by encouraging these things to accumulate. And one of the most important things we can do for our soil is to ensure it has the right elements in its composition.

Now, I understand that the Goldilocks zone of silt vs. sand. vs clay can vary from plant to plant, but generally speaking, we want a balance of them all. It should be soil that offers good drainage while also clumping up nicely. With good soil, you should be able to make a ball with your hand about the size of a tennis ball and it should keep its shape. When you squeeze the ball, it should easily fall apart.

It's a tricky thing to pin down, but in reality, it's not nearly that complicated. Take a walk to your nearest forest, move the sticks and leaves aside and dig. There you will almost surely find "the perfect soil". Why? Because nature has had the TIME to work on it all by itself. The soil should be exactly as described above: firms up nicely but fall apart easily. Not too wet or muddy, but also not too dry or hard. It will also be brimming over with bacterial and fungal life. You will know you have found/made the perfect soil when plants favor it more than other soils. You can then use that, as a template of sorts, to build more soil just like it and the natural cycle repeats.

Hugelkultur is a great example of harnessing this process and one of the best ways to build soil. Replicating nature can typically yield great result. Soil building and soil amendments are no different. We're just doing what nature does, to a lesser degree. That's an important lesson in homesteading with permaculture principles. When in doubt, just do what nature does and you can usually be assured a successful run at it.
4 months ago

Douglas Alpenstock wrote: it's a "metric shit-tonne."



Haha! I stand corrected.
4 months ago