Permaculture Keeps Giving

By Sally Miller

When the North Universalist Chapel Garden was first established in 2014 the purpose was to expand permaculture gardening into the heart of the Village of Woodstock. The intention was for the garden to serve as a model for educating residents of Woodstock about permaculture, food security and community food systems with a goal to inspire people to transform their lawns into Edible Forest Gardens. They saw permaculture as a way to “both mitigate and adapt to climate change and to raise consciousness about the real threats of climate change and how we can, working together in communities, creatively (and quickly) transition to a new systems and a new way of living on this planet.”
EE Permaculture

Edible forest gardening is the art and science of putting plants together in woodland-like patterns that forge mutually beneficial relationships, creating a perennial garden ecosystem that is more than the sum of its parts.

One of the initial planners of the North Universalist Chapel Garden, Anne Dean says that “since the permaculture garden was first planted, it has spread like wildfire. The soil is very rich and everything has flourished, so we have been dividing the plants from the very beginning. This time of year is especially challenging as gardeners need to keep up with plants as they pop up.”

Anne continues to oversee the garden which is divided into 11 sections. They have a buddy system where two people are responsible for a section, so they currently have 22 volunteers taking care of the garden. The garden is open to the public and the North Universalist Chapel Society encourages people to walk through and take a look. Most plants have labels so people can see what is there.

This year the NUCS is sharing their plants with the Taftsville Chapel Mennonite Fellowship. The Taftsville Chapel started their garden planning last summer and mulched over a lawn in October to prepare for this year. In April they invited Karen Ganey of Permaculture Solutions to come for a consultation about their vision and priorities for the garden. Karen then prepared plans which incorporated plants from a list that Anne Dean prepared indicating which plants would be available from the North Chapel garden this spring.

Garden organizer, Heather Wolfe, says that “it was the North Chapel’s YouTube video on ‘How to transform your church lawn into the Garden of Eden’ that started us on this whole journey into permaculture gardening.”

The Taftsville garden has three zones: shade garden, sun/tea garden, apple guild. They put in a row of blueberries and got discounted shrubs and donated perennials from Riverbend Gardens last fall. The “seed” money to establish the garden space was from a voluntary offering taken during the month of May 2017. People were invited to self-impose a tax on their fossil fuel consumption for the month, recognizing the subsidized and hidden cost of fossil fuels and that money was set aside for creation care gardens. They have also set up a composter so that they will have materials available on site.

Another local permaculture garden was planted this year is at the East End Park. Volunteers helped prepare the soil last fall and the gardens were planted this month with blueberry bushes from Northern Nursery, raspberry plants from Marsha Holt and Leslie LaCroix, rhubarb plants from Kathy and Rick Fiske and Kerry Rosenthal, and strawberry plants from Ben Pauly of Kelly Way Gardens. A big thanks goes out to Marsha, Leslie, Kathy, Rick, Kerry and Ben for not only donating some of their healthy plants, but for helping us dig them up. As Barbara Barry says, “It is going to be fun watching the plants grow and bear fruit for all to enjoy!”

Do Just One Thing: Visit a Woodstock permaculture garden

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