For nearly twenty years Kris Holstrom and family have played host for a high altitude research and education farm. I acted as their farm manager through the seasons of 2011 and 2012 and continued as special projects coordinator in 2013.
During my years at the farm we invested heavily in rebuilding soil fertility for annual crops. We re-designed greenhouse spaces to facilitate production and education. We addressed a water shortage by building water catchment into every layer of the farm. We also continued the planning and implementation of perennial cropping systems. One of my favorite projects was creating a wild lands management plan for the regenerative harvesting of medicinal osha (Ligusticum porteri) from the farm's oak, choke cherry, and aspen forests.
The Montrose Library District invited Greenhouse DBE to reconceive an institutional landscape for the Naturita Library in 2009. The strawbale building had recently opened its doors and was quickly becoming a hub of resources in the community. We wanted the landscape to have a similar tangible benefit to the patrons. Greenhouse and the Library district collaborated for 6 months in imagining, refining, and fundraising and for another two years in a multi-phased installation.
The design specified terraces constructed of native stone, manure sourced from a family farm, and a hybrid landscape of high desert and edible plantings mimicking the orchards of the early settlers. We developed topsoil on site by nurturing a soil ecosystem. The summer youth program seeded rye, oat, and field pea cover crops and spread mycorrhizal teas we made together. We sourced regional subcontractors to keep the local economy in the loop. The final plantings involved the same team effort with library director Susan Rice joining us on planting day. A children's garden now compliments the perennial design. Only two years after opening, the library was chosen as "The Best Small Library in America" by the Library Journal and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Russell Evans created Transition Lab out of a decade long process as a public school teacher, gardener, Buddhist, and artist. "Transition Lab is where ordinary people create small scale solutions designed to address the biggest challenges of our time." In 2013 Transition Lab proved it’s pragmatic approach to CO2 reduction when it won MIT’s Climate CoLab Local Solutions contest.
In 2011 I helped Russell and family lay the groundwork for his urban residence and campus by collaborating on a classic ‘Lawn to Garden‘ project wherein we established a tree and shrub planting for each microclimate, integrated food, soil building, chickens, relaxation space, and room for future adaptive management. The landscape continues to evolve as a productive ecological system and Transition Lab is in its fourth year developing models for urban resiliency.
Permaculture is a design methodology that mimics the functions of natural systems to design human settlements that maximize the health of people and planet. Permaculture employs technology both ancient and modern and is by necessity cross-disciplinary. It is founded in three ethics – care of earth, care of people, care for the future.
As a movement, Permaculture has expanded world wide through a grassroots model of the Design Certificate Course, practitioner training, and peer to peer education. I have been a student of many leaders in the field including Jerome Osentowski, Brad Lancaster, Peter Bane, Eric Toensmeier, Kat Steele, and Ben Fahrer. Now I teach Design Certificate Courses and integrate the design methodology into professional design work. My commitment to the field is to integrate new science and ecological restoration practices with the traditional Permaculture curriculum.