Urban Leaves: Free, Plentiful, and Laced with Lead

City leaves often contain heavy metals, so compost with care.

A few years ago, I heard Maine farmer Will Bonsall “go off” in praise of leaves as a natural and free form of compost, better, he claims, than almost anything else you can buy in a bag. But he was talking about leaves acquired on or near his rural farm, not the ones raked off of city lawns.

Mixed Blessing. Although rich with nutrients, urban leaves can also be high in lead and aluminum. Source: Chemical Composition of Municipal Leaf Waste and Hand-Collected Urban Leaf Litter

I’ve been using about 100 bags of leaves as compost every season, collected from curbsides around Portland, where the locals conveniently rake it up and stuff it into paper, biodegradable bags.

What could be wrong with free, easy to access (often pre-shredded) leaves? Unfortunately, there’s a catch. (Isn’t there always?)

While reading an obscure book written in 1870 praising the use of “muck” by southern farmers (their term for half-rotted leaf mold), it ocurred to me that use of leaves in rural and urban settings shouldn’t be assumed to be equally virtuous.

The Lead Problem

In many areas of Portland, for example lead levels in soils are hundreds of times higher than “safe” levels, as determined by the EPA. I know this from samples I have had tested. Certain areas are worse than others, of course. Prior to 1978, most homes were painted repeatedly with lead-based coatings. Any house in Portland older than that likely STILL has lead content in the paint, the plumbing or elsewhere.

Lead doesn’t dissipate much on its own, so our soils are heavily afflicted with it. The older and denser the region of town, the higher the likely lead (Pb) content.

Back to my point about using leaves as mulch. Are they safe? Do they pick up heavy metals such as lead?

The answer, according to a study done in New Jersey on municipal leaf mulch, is yes, (unfortunately).

Researchers  found numerous metals in curbside leaves, including lead,  iron and aluminum. They suggest that this occurs because the fallen leaves “become contaminated with urban soil and dust from the road surface through various processes (raking, lawnmower pickup and vacuum) used for litter collection in the yard and at curbside.”

Of the various contaminants, lead is arguably the most concerning. How bad is the potential pollution in city leaves? They apply a standard of 45 Mg/ha, based on tests of sewage sludge–which equates–by my calculation, to about 45 tons of leaf matter spread on 2.5 acres of land.

Break that down to the garden plot level.  An acre is 43,560 sq. ft. If you were only adding this much material to your beds, you would add about 1.21 lbs/sq. ft  of leaf compost per year (108,900 sq. ft, divided by 45 tons/90,000 lbs.=1.21 lbs. per square foot).

Given this level of application, lead levels in your garden would not exceed the EPA rules for “annual pollutant loading rate”–at least for a few years.  In the worst case scenario, with the highest level of lead contamination the researchers found in leaves, an application of this much leaf matter would take 16 years of repeated use to exceed EPA levels.

Don’t get too relaxed, however. If you’re like me, you add significantly more leaf mulch than that to your beds.

Let’s say you have a 4 ft. x 20 ft. garden bed. At the intensity of leaf mulching suggested by the researchers, you would only add 96.8 lbs. of material to the bed (80 ft. x 1.21 lbs/sq. ft.). But I’ve often added many times that much free leaf mulch to my beds at the end of a season, haven’t you? A yard of compost weighs between 1,000 and 1,600 lbs., depending on water content. That means that if I happen to apply what amounts to a yard of highly contaminated (at the worse end of the scale) curbside leaves to my annual beds, I could exceed EPA safety levels for lead in my garden in less than two years. And this assumes that we can trust the EPA guidelines are strict enough, which is a matter of some debate.

What to Do Now?

All of this is incredibly frustrating of course. Human beings somehow seem to turn the most benign sources of natural abundance into new forms of poison. We’re encouraged to buy our way out of the problem, paying exhorbitant amounts for “clean” compost products in 80 lb. bags. What a racket! It’s not unlike what’s happening with our water supplies. We’re forced to either buy bottled water or install an expensive filter if we want to drink clean water.

So let’s not give up on urban leaf compost. We just have to be more strategic in where we obtain it. And also, here’s one caveat: If the leaves will be used in a garden that is strictly ornamental, you’re probably safe to use as much urban leaf material as you like. The lead levels are probably too low to be of concern for pets or casual contact. I would mainly be concerned with gardens used for food production. The details matter. Certain plants, such as berries and fruit trees, for example, are unlikely to draw lead contamination into the fruit. But other plants absorb lead like crazy, especially in their roots. Brassica nigra, or Black Mustard, is a good example. Mustards seem especially good at extracting lead from soils. So are sunflowers.

Where I would take special precautions, however, is with the introduction of urban leaves to  annual gardens where cabbages and leafy greens are grown for consumption.

Here are my suggestions for reducing the risk to your health and your soils, while still using urban leaf compost:

  • Avoid gleaning from the old City. In Portland, for example, I would not use leaves gathered on the West End or Munjoy Hill, nor in Bayside, for that matter. A lot of the debris from the great fire of 1866, for example is buried in Bayside, and these “historic” areas are often toxic wastelands in terms of the lead contamination of the soils.
  • Look for natural lawns. Much as we’d like to see all lawns replaced with permaculture gardens, that’s a long way off. In the meantime, gather leaves from homes with heavy grass cover that doesn’t look like herbicides have been applied. The grass reduces direct contact between leaves and soil.
  • Favor new developments. Scout out new developments  on the urban fringe, where homes were built after 1978. I suspect someone has a map of Portland with an overlay based on the age of the neighborhood. If so, post it here in the comments please.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings about urban leaves. I wouldn’t take them off your list of permaculture resources. Simply be more selective in where you acquire them. Head for the outer suburbs, and be careful about buying your mulch from organizations that use urban leaf compost as a major component of their mix.

Matt Power is a West End resident and board member of The Resilience Hub (resiliencehub.org), a Portland-based organization that brings permaculture and community together. He is also the author of “The Tiny House Tactical Guide,” and Editor-In-Chief of Green Builder Magazine.

Edible Abundance Next to the 7-11 Parking Lot

Three years of strategic planting and coaxing demonstrate that urban food gardens can grow almost anywhere.

If you happened to walk by the 7-11 parking lot at the corner of Dow St. and Congress St. in Portland this fall, you may have seen the evolution of an eye-catching urban garden.

About three years, my partner Melissa and I decided to tackle the only open piece of ground near our house on Dow Street. With permission from the 7-11 owners, we began to systematically apply permaculture strategies to bring life back into soil that looked more like fireplace ashes than dirt. Three previous trees on the spot died long ago, leaving only stumps, and scrub grass and weeds struggled to survive.

This narrow strip of land (mostly hidden by snow at this writing) now includes two healthy apple trees, a pear tree, a blueberry plant, strawberries, along with ample comfrey, several herbs and medicinal plants including yarrow, oregano, thyme, sage and chives. You’ll also find speedwell, daylillies, clover, salvia, and Creeping Charlie as a groundcover.

This garden showcases the power of “permaculture.” We’ve noticed many small pieces of land in the City where harsh chemicals, dog droppings, trash and neglect have damaged soils. We wanted to show that even the worst land may be rejuvenated, if you apply the right techniques and patience.

The process requires a lot of heavy mulching, along with careful planting of different species of plants that assist the trees as they take root. For example, the leafy comfrey plants around the trees are called nitrogen fixers (forgive me if you know all this stuff already). They extract nitrogen from the air and deposit it into the soil, especially if you trim them and let the leaves rot around the trees. Other plants, such as the clover and Creeping Charlie groundcover, keep the soil cooler and allow plants to better respond to drought.

Each year, the amount of work we volunteer in the garden has decreased. We water only about one third as much as we did the first year, and the groundcover is gradually replacing the old scrub grass that was there. We’ve planted sunflowers in the areas that still need work, because they extract heavy metals from the soils, and provide food for birds and squirrels. Later, we’ll replace them with perennial plants like the upper half of the garden. The area is now alive with bees and sparrows again by mid-summer.

We believe a place of peace, beauty and food brings many intangibles to the city. So many cool things have happened since we started the project. Less trash is thrown into the area. People with mental illness sometimes sit among the birds and bees and find a moment’s solace. Older neighbors stop by and ask about the plants and thank us for creating a place they enjoy as they walk home. Someone has put many beautiful painted stones around the trees. We have even had some of the regular alcoholics in the area offer to “guard” the garden and “kill anyone who goes near those trees!” We thanked them for their kind offer and told them that was probably a bit excessive …

This year, our hard work really produced in a tangible way, when the two apple trees actually sprang forth with a couple of hundred delicious apples. Next on the agenda, to identify other properties in the area where magical food forest gardens could appear in coming years, and interest other neighbors in “adopting” a patch of neglected ground.

Matt Power is a West End resident and board member of The Resilience Hub (resiliencehub.org), a Portland-based organization that brings permaculture and community together. He is also the author of “The Tiny House Tactical Guide,” and Editor-In-Chief of Green Builder Magazine.

Fedco Trees Group Order

Why participate in a Group Order? Get a discount, order great stuff, have your plants delivered to Portland, and support the work of permaculture education here in Maine.

  1. For all inquiries regarding orders, email at kate@resiliencehub.com.
  2. You can use the paper Fedco Tree catalog if you have one or the online catalog to put together your wish list. Order early, as popular items tend to sell out.
  3. Log into Fedco Trees using your email address and follow the directions given here. When you review your order prior to checking out, click the “Part of a Group” button as your shipping option. Then go to “Checkout Securely” and type in our group order number: 49801.
  4. You will not pay on the Fedco site, but you will click here to send your total amountto The Resilience Hub. We collect the money and make one big payment to Fedco in order to qualify for the discount.
  5. You need to place your order with Fedco and make your payment to us by the ORDER DEADLINE OF JANUARY 11, 2019.
  6. PIckup up your order in Portland at the end of April. Depending on how much of a discount we receive, we will process a refund* back to you via PayPal.

 

We will be organizing 2 or 3 members with trucks to drive up and get all our stuff on Friday April 26th. Your order will be available for pickup in Portland on the afternoon of April 26th and over the course of the 27th and 28th weekend. More details about the specific location and times for pickup will be shared closer to the date.

Kate will be available to help out with any order problems or shortages after the fact.

Here’s to more perennial food in the landscape!

* Depending on the size of our order, Fedco will issue a discount of between 10% and 20%. Then sales tax will be added back in, we will put a bit of money toward fuel for the volunteers who drive to Fedco and bring the order back down to Portland, and a bit of money toward a stipend for the order coordinator. You will get at least 10% back, support the Hub and contribute to a reduced number of vehicles driving up and back for pickup!

Thoughts About The Resilience Hub’s Next Iteration?

We’ve been having some really fruitful and lovely conversations this summer about how to move into the next version of The Resilience Hub & the Portland Maine Permaculture meetup group that it organizes.

Everyone from absolute newcomers to participants who were around back in the beginning (2005, over 800 meetups ago!) have come together to noodle on what we love best, what’s needed now and what could serve our communities into the future.

If you would like to share your thoughts about the Hub and its next direction(s), please contact us.

Changes at The Resilience Hub!

From founder and director Lisa Fernandes:

To all Resilience Hub Friends, Members & Participants,

I am excited to announce that I have accepted a position at the UNH Sustainability Institute as Communication Director for Food Solutions New England starting in March. More details to come but this work will allow me to leverage my experience & skills in service to our entire region. If you don’t already know about Food Solutions New England, check out the link below. http://www.foodsolutionsne.org/

I will shift into an active board member role for The Resilience Hub, supporting my current co-workers and other members of the local permaculture community to develop the next iteration of what the Hub might want to be.  I will still teach Permaculture Design Course weekends through the summer as well, so no change there for the moment. I continue to love the work that has evolved at The Resilience Hub and, no matter what happens, will always be proud of it and the lifelong friends I’ve made there.

It’s amazing to think back on all the developments that came out of the Portland Permaculture Group and, after that, The Resilience Hub over the past thirteen years!  More than 800 events organized, nearly 2900 members, more than 20 permaculture courses with hundreds of graduates, hundreds of design clients, dozens of permablitzes…. plus so much more that we can only guess at.  I am so proud of the work of our community as catalyzed by The Resilience Hub.

So, in summary, I’m not disappearing and I’m still thrilled to be part of The Resilience Hub community as it evolves, but my day-to-day efforts will shift to regional food system work with Food Solutions New England.  Wish me luck and stay in touch as the Hub moves into its next phase!

Warmly,
Lisa

Share Office Space in Portland with Resilience Hub & Tool Library

Updated August 2018

The Resilience Hub, based in the East Bayside Neighborhood of Portland, is looking for a person/organization that would like to have a really nice space to work in Portland for the next 6-12 months (negotiable).  We are not using all of our space to its fullest right now while we are in a redesign phase and one of the rooms (the “cave”) is ideal for getting work done, meeting with clients, having a basecamp in Portland, etc.

Details:

  1. Workstation area (approx 24sf) and attached small meeting space (approx 200sf)* (all locked away from the common area when not being used)
  2. Ceiling-mount for projector if needed.
  3. 24h access to the “cave” and common spaces.
  4. Includes heat, internet, trash/recycling/compost pickup.
  5. Common area (shared with Resilience Hub & Maine Tool Library) with bathroom, “kitchenette” area for coffee/tea service, refrigerator.
  6. Off-street parking outside front door included; additional street parking if needed.
  7. No-stairs – suitable for a person with mobility differences.
  8. Evening and weekend use possible based on a shared calendar system with other users of the space.
  9. We all share in some light cleaning & keeping the door free of snow when applicable.

*Meeting space is directly attached and open to the workstation desk area.  Suitable for client meetings or for groups of up to 5-6 people.  Photos are shown with our current furnishings. We can move those out or you can borrow them for your own use.

Requested contribution (we can write up a memo with agreements) is $300/month.

The Resilience Hub & Maine Coast Waldorf School receive grant to support the bees!

Maine Coast Waldorf School in Freeport, in collaboration with The Resilience Hub, has received a $1500 grant from Whole Kids Foundation to take its beehive educational programming to a whole new level. In addition to all the wonderful items that just arrived (see photo), the $1500 check will be used to purchase beekeeping equipment and supplies – including beekeeper’s suits! Now it will be possible for older students to work directly with the beehives under the direction of Brian Kessler, our caretaker, certified beekeeper, permaculture certificate-holder, and owner of the beehives on our campus.

Combined with the design and teaching support from Heather Foran and The Resilience Hub, this grant will enable us to offer workshops and other learning opportunities for both our students and the greater community.

###

The Resilience Hub and Maine Coast Waldorf School are in the third year of an experimental collaboration, bringing permaculture design thinking, biodynamic approaches and Waldorf education together on in one place.  The collaboration seeks to further enliven the 80-acre campus and support the school’s educational mission while also becoming another node of permaculture and biodynamics activity in service to the broader community in Maine.

2017 Maine Permaculture Day Directory

Welcome to the 2017 Maine Permaculture Day Events!

Click here for a printable PDF version of the Directory!

This is a decentralized and distributed event, with open houses and events offered by volunteers and permaculture practitioners from across the state.  Remember that there is no one “version” of permaculture expression and every site is different, both in approach as well as in aesthetics.  There is something to learn at every site, especially if you can speak with the host(s) and find out about their permaculture journey.  

IMPORTANT FOR VISITORS:

  1. Please know that this is not a “manicured garden tour” type of event! These are often working landscapes and works-in-progress.  Your hosts may be only a year or two into implementing a 5 or 10-year (or longer!) plan for their site.  The idea here is to stimulate connection and conversation.  What are the goals of the site? What elements are supporting that?  What has worked well?  What was challenging?  What was surprising?
  2. In some cases, event hosts and organizers have given parking guidance for you to follow (in the directory listings if applicable).
  3. The open house hosts may or may not have their bathrooms available for use so the best approach would be to attend to those needs prior to arriving at someone’s place.
DIRECTORY (SORTED BY ZIP CODE, ROUGHLY SOUTH TO NORTH)

Click here for a printable PDF version of the Directory!

Eden Acres Organic Orchard Open House

Early Season Apple Tastings

Rural

Bryan Quincannon

Organic Heirloom Apple Orchard

www.EdenAcresFarm.com

10:00 AM to 2:00 PM

255 Ossipee Hill Road

East Waterboro  04030

207-200-7473

Educational orchard tours and early season apple tastings offered at the farm store.

Tree Crops, Livestock, Beekeeping, Composting (any kind), Annual Veg Production, Compost Tea Making, Crops Grown for Market

Farm store is accessible. Orchard property is located alongside a mountain with uneven/rocky terrain.

We will show how to brew compost tea at 12 noon. Orchard tours will be conducted as necessary. Apple tastings will be on-going.


Social Permaculture Fireside Chat

Rural

Rachel Lyn Rumson

George Perley House

6:00 PM to  9:00 PM

8 George Perley House

Gray, Maine  04039

Guests at this event will gather for a light pot luck meal, roam gardens and circle up for a fireside chat about relationship and place as it pertains to social permaculture design, strategy and application. Rachel Lyn Rumson will facilitate the conversation.

The location is at George Perley House B&B where Rachel Lyn and her family are running an established bed and breakfast in a colonial farmhouse. The B&B serves a full, locally raised and farmed country breakfast. They are expanding on-site food and fuel production, and adding classes in in cooking, gardening, fermentation, and canning to their community offerings.

This location features permaculture food gardens that are three years in the making, a mature orchard and flower gardens, chickens and ducks, a small greenhouse, composting, rain catchment and sit spots are emerging throughout.

Tree Crops, Perennial Vegetables, No-Dig Methods, Season Extension Methods, Rainwater Collection, Livestock, Beekeeping, Plant Propagation / Nursery Techniques, Forest Gardening / Food Forest Techniques, Composting (any kind), Annual Veg Production, Compost Tea Making, A Drawn Design for the Property (or some of the property), Shrub Crops, Vertical Growing

Lots of parking on site. Landscape is mostly flat.

There will be a grounds tour at 6:00pm. Fireside chat at 7:00pm.

Bring your favorite camp chair and beverage, a dish to share. We are booked that weekend for rooms come back another time to enjoy the waking hours.


Forest Keep Open House

Rural

Michael Dunn

8:00 AM to  3:00 PM

352 Bolsters Mills Rd

Harrison 04040

207-583-6746

A few thousand square feet of two year old permaculture planting plus fruit orchard (15+trees, year 6) plus nut orchard (15+ trees, year 3)

Tree Crops, Renewable Energy, Livestock, Forest Gardening / Food Forest Techniques, Hugelkultur, Composting (any kind), Annual Veg Production, A Drawn Design for the Property (or some of the property), Shrub Crops

Drive down 400 foot driveway and park. Wheelchair will be so-so on grassy paths in youngest area. Other areas very difficult.

Tours scheduled ad-hoc

We said “livestock” but that means four chickens right now! PV grid-tie system, radiant heat powered by woodstove.  Young pawpaw trees!


Click here for a printable PDF version of the Directory!


Open House

Urban / Suburban

Jesse McAvoy

9:00 AM to 2:00 PM

35 Libby Ave, Westbrook 04092

207-228-4444

Basically an open tour of the .49 acre project in progress.  This is its fourth year.  See the awesome, huge herb spiral, a hazelnut hedge, tons of new fruit trees (11) added in the past couple years), a pond we dug 4 years ago with beach plums and highbush cranberry surrounding it, as well as fish and lilies.  Probably more we’re not remembering!

Tree Crops, Perennial Vegetables, No-Dig Methods, Rainwater Collection, Water Features, Mushroom Production, Livestock, Forest Gardening / Food Forest Techniques, Hugelkultur, Composting (any kind), Annual Veg Production, Shrub Crops, Raingarden or other stormwater re-use

Plenty of street parking.  Its pretty rough terrain, so I’d keep that in mind if you have a mobility issue (wheels definitely wouldn’t work, except what you could see from the driveway!)


Street Family Residence Open House

Open House

Suburban

JoAn Street

2:00 PM to 6:00 PM

435 Bayview St., Yarmouth  04096

207-939-0103

We are in the first year of implementing a permaculture design done by Shana Hostetter of the Resilience Hub. The residence includes an orchard, berry and nut groves, a kitchen garden and a chicken coop. In the future we will have cultivated shiitake mushrooms, solar power and water catchment on the house.

Tree Crops, Perennial Vegetables, No-Dig Methods, Season Extension Methods, Rainwater Collection, Mushroom Production, Forest Gardening / Food Forest Techniques, Composting (any kind), Annual Veg Production, De-Paving Techniques, Compost Tea Making, A Drawn Design for the Property (or some of the property), Shrub Crops


Bancroft Street Permaculture

Open House

Urban / Suburban

Ian Johnson

Signature Sustainability

www.signaturesustainability.com

9:00 AM to 2:00 PM

79 Bancroft Street, Portland, 04102

201-788-7963

The house had no landscaping upon purchasing the home in December 2016. In a matter of weeks we installed raised beds, cut a swale, added 10 yards of compost and sheet mulched much of the front yard. Early this spring, the beds were sheet mulched and we planted: Apples (3 varieties), blue berries(3), raspberry bushes(5), chokeberries, elderberries(2), asparagus, strawberries, grapes (2), hardy kiwis (3) and many bee and insect friendly flowers. There is still a lot to be done, but already many neighbors have stopped to comment on the incredible progress they see already!

Tree Crops, Perennial Vegetables, No-Dig Methods, Rainwater Collection, Composting (any kind), Swales and/or Other Earthworks, Annual Veg Production, De-Paving Techniques, Vertical Growing

You are welcome to park on the street. Please be mindful of neighbors.

I’ll be around to talk about the process and discuss the design. There may be potential for a specific workshop.

Click here for a printable PDF version of the Directory!


Open House

Urban / Suburban

Carol Karlsen

10:00 AM to 2:00 PM

26 Caleb St., Portland  04102

207 899 0686

This is a self-directed walk through the front, back, and side areas of a property that has been taking shape as a permaculture garden since 2012. Carol Karlsen, who is a PDC graduate and the property’s owner, and David Homa of Post Carbon Designs, who is largely responsible for the garden’s design and implementation, will be on hand for questions and conversation about how the garden has grown and changed over the past five years.  Handouts, plant markers, drawings and detailed posters show the garden’s evolution from the initial pre-permaculture site through a 2013 community permablitz and more recent transformations into a food forest in an urban, off-peninsula Portland neighborhood.

Tree Crops, Perennial Vegetables, No-Dig Methods, Season Extension Methods, Rainwater Collection, Water Features, Plant Propagation / Nursery Techniques, Forest Gardening / Food Forest Techniques, Composting (any kind), Annual Veg Production, A Drawn Design for the Property (or some of the property), Shrub Crops, Raingarden or other stormwater re-use, Permeable Pavers, Vertical Growing

Plenty of street parking; driveway is available for anyone with mobility challenges


Bramblewood Urban Homestead Open House

Suburban

Mihku Paul

Bramblewood Urban Homestead

8:30 AM to 1:30 PM

1603 Westbrook St, Portland, 04102

207 899 5192

I have established a small urban homestead in Portland, with integrated fruit trees, berry brambles, perennial vegetables and aesthetic landscaping.  I have a composting operation, greenhouse and box beds for annual veggie production.  I also have a small flock of laying hens, and have raised organic meat birds.  There are at least 15 fruit trees at Bramblewood.  Apples, plums and peaches are now fruiting.  Site is less than 5 years old.

Tree Crops, Perennial Vegetables, Season Extension Methods, Livestock, Plant Propagation / Nursery Techniques, Composting (any kind), Annual Veg Production, Shrub Crops

My driveway will fit up to 5 cars.  There is also off street parking in front of the house.

At 10:00 I will give a short talk on how I grow vegetables right through the winter in an unheated greenhouse.

I will have some berry plants to share for early arrivals.  Cultivated, virus-free raspberries and thornless blackberries.  All grown organically.  


Ecosystem Demonstration Site Since 2007

Open House

Suburban

Elaine McGillicuddy

www.elainemcgillicuddy.com

10:30 AM to 2:00 PM

62 Avalon Road, Portland, 04103

207.653.7004

My 8,000 sq ft lot includes varieties of fruits incl. grapes, berries, a mature Paw Paw Tree, an Air Potato Cinnamon Vine, a chicken coop and solar hot air and hot water systems.

Tree Crops, Perennial Vegetables, No-Dig Methods, Water Features, Renewable Energy, Forest Gardening / Food Forest Techniques, Composting (any kind), Swales and/or Other Earthworks, Annual Veg Production, A Drawn Design for the Property (or some of the property), Shrub Crops

No sidewalks on this street. Park where you can.

I will be waiting at the rear of my house – sitting under the grape vine – to give visitors a tour.

To view photos of past work parties held here since 2006, go to the “Permaculture” section of my website – 1/3 of the way down where a photo of my late husband Francis has been posted. And use the hyperlinks I created there:  http://www.elainemcgillicuddy.com/about/about-us/  

Click here for a printable PDF version of the Directory!


Open House

Urban

Liz Newman

Elizabeth Newman Architect

9:00 AM to 2:00 PM

32 Sawyer Street, Portland, ME, 04103

207.615.6564

This is a .2-acre urban single-family property four years after we hosted the first permablitz of 2013.  In not very much space, we have peach, pear, apple and cherry trees, blueberry bushes, a strawberry barrel, elderberries, hazelnuts, a grape arbor, and a growing number of raised (and non-raised) beds, while having left the dog run alone and keeping a grassy area for our son.  We are overwhelmed with an abundance of fruits, herbs, and vegetables, including many perennials, and have also been adding in pollinator attractors and companion planting, comfrey, etc.  Compost bins from recycled fence parts, worm bin.  An example of how much can be done on a smallish amount of land on an urban site with only moderate sun exposure, and because the garden is exposed to the street on two sides, it offers dog-resistant decorative plantings outside the fence and is designed to look nice.

Tree Crops, Perennial Vegetables, No-Dig Methods, Rainwater Collection, Composting (any kind), Green or Natural Building Techniques, Annual Veg Production, A Drawn Design for the Property (or some of the property), Shrub Crops

Park on Sawyer and come into our garden from Bryant Street.  The driveway on Sawyer is not ours!  Doorbells are useless; if nobody is outside,  yell in the back door (from deck)!

well-behaved dogs welcome


Rain Garden Open House

Urban

Sally Moon

9:00 AM to 2:00 PM

98 Wellington Rd., Portland  04103

207-233-6578

If we are around we can answer questions and chat. If not, feel free to come take a look anyway.

No-Dig Methods, Season Extension Methods, Rainwater Collection, Water Features, Composting (any kind), Swales and/or Other Earthworks, Annual Veg Production, A Drawn Design for the Property (or some of the property), Shrub Crops, Raingarden or other stormwater re-use

Parking on the side of the road is fine.


Winslow Farm- Permaculture Food Forest tour

Open House

Rural

max boudreau

Winslow Farm

www.winslow-farm.com

9:00 AM to 5:00 PM

291 Gray Road

Falmouth  04105

207-807-0000

A walk around our farm property with highlights on permaculture elements

Tree Crops, Perennial Vegetables, No-Dig Methods, Season Extension Methods, Water Features, Mushroom Production, Livestock, Plant Propagation / Nursery Techniques, Forest Gardening / Food Forest Techniques, Composting (any kind), Annual Veg Production, Shrub Crops, Crops Grown for Market, Foraging Systems

Please try to arrive at these times for a thorough tour and discussion: 1:00pm and 3:00pm

Thank you:)


Edgewood Nursery Open House and Tour

Open House

Suburban / Rural

Aaron Parker

Edgewood Nursery

http://www.edgewood-nursery.com

9:00 AM to 1:00 PM

4 Cruston Way, Falmouth, 04105

207-65-32065

Come check out our forest garden, nursery and homestead. Open house from 9-1, with a guided tour of the garden starting at 10:30.

Tree Crops, Perennial Vegetables, No-Dig Methods, Plant Propagation / Nursery Techniques, Forest Gardening / Food Forest Techniques, Hugelkultur, Composting (any kind), Annual Veg Production, Shrub Crops

Please park at the end of the driveway or along the right hand side.

Garden Tour at 10:30


Open house at October 2014 Permablitz Site

Open House

Suburban

Toxtli Melloh

Flow Acupuncture

9:00 AM to 2:00 PM

47 Sprague St

South Portland 04106

207-754-0635

See what can be done on a tiny 1/10th  acre lot with lead in the soil.  Learn how some things might have been done differently with 2 1/2 year hindsight, including lessons around building a small pond. Future plans on burner, including a de-pave. Your suggestions welcome.

Tree Crops, No-Dig Methods, Rainwater Collection, Water Features, Hugelkultur, Composting (any kind), Annual Veg Production, A Drawn Design for the Property (or some of the property), Vertical Growing

On street parking – avoiding parking right in front of the lot will give better access for all. Tiny lot with small passageways, but much can be seen from the street, sidewalk and driveway.

Will be available to answer questions and give tours as desired. Handout available with summary of design wishes and challenges, lessons learned, and future steps.

THANKS  TO ALL  WHO HELPED AT MY BLITZ!  Hope you can come by to see the results of your work.  Will have some refreshments for all.


Food Forest Exploration

Open House

Suburban

Rocky Crockett

Alan Day Community Garden

alandaygarden@wordpress.com

9:00 AM to 2:00 PM

26 Whitman Street

Norway  04268

346-0708

We will spend a day in the Community Garden Food Forest giving tours, tending the plants, learning about perennial polycultures, and discussing best-practices moving forward.

Tree Crops, Perennial Vegetables, No-Dig Methods, Rainwater Collection, Renewable Energy, Forest Gardening / Food Forest Techniques, Composting (any kind), Annual Veg Production, Natural Play Spaces, A Drawn Design for the Property (or some of the property), Crops Grown for Market, We plan to get some scything done that day, so there can be demos

We generally request that the majority of people park on the street, so that people who need to park inside the garden can drive in.  However, not all areas of the garden are accessible to wheelchairs or other mobility devices.


Pennywood Acres Open House

Rural

Travis Sparks

Pennywood Acres

9:00 AM to 2:00 PM

36 Penny Lane

Bowdoin  04287

207-666-3109

Rural homestead with: annual and perennial vegetable and flower gardens; early establishment (year 2) forest garden project; small shiitake yard; natural garden ponds (hopefully with water this year!); sheet mulching

Tree Crops, Perennial Vegetables, No-Dig Methods, Rainwater Collection, Water Features, Mushroom Production, Forest Gardening / Food Forest Techniques, Annual Veg Production, A Drawn Design for the Property (or some of the property), Shrub Crops

Parking for a handful of cars in the driveway.  Much of the site is easily accessible, though 100 yards or so from the parking area.

No dogs please


“This is an opportunity to share ideas, talk shop and cross-pollinate”

Rural

Randy Smith

Rocky Hill Farm & Adventures LLC

www.rockyhillfarmadventures.com

9:00 AM to 2:00 PM

Novelty Dr. , Carmel  04419

207-233-5338

randy@rockyhillfarmadventures.com

Rocky Hill Farm & Adventures is a professional guide service inspired by Permaculture and Ecopreneurship. We are off the grid, no running water, or electricity. This year marks our third in the development of our permaculture project and we are excited to see where the future will bring our site. Our primary goal for guiding adventures and expeditions is creatively develop active appreciation for the land with an emphasis on health, enjoyment, and the environment. We invite everyone to  join us for a unique and healthy Maine adventure, and now we invite you to join us for an “opportunity to share ideas, talk shop and cross-pollinate”. The past three years have been mostly learning about soil fertility, what will grow for us, and water. At this time we are considering projects such as a pond, swales,and some Hugelkultur. Our site is unique, and non traditional. I see this as a chance to share experiences, ideas, and knowledge while getting out to meet people you would not have met otherwise.

No-Dig Methods, Renewable Energy, Green or Natural Building Techniques, Annual Veg Production, Natural Play Spaces, A Drawn Design for the Property (or some of the property)

To get to the site you drive to the end of Novelty Dr. past the last house until you find a distinct marker I will set out. From her you will walk a short distance through a wooded path to the site. If there are very serious mobility issues it can be arranged to drive the visitor in. Otherwise we ask you to walk in.

It would be wonderful if people could contact me ahead of time if they are interested. This way I am not up in the air rather I will have visitors or not. I do live a couple hours north of this Portland based group.


Foxgreen Farm, jiovi® brand Permaculture Nursery Open House

Rural

Thomas

Foxgreen Farm

www.jiovi.com

9:00 AM to 4:00 PM

527 N HOWLAND RD

HOWLAND 04448

508-212-2468

We have established  a thriving permaculture nursery with nation-wide recognition.  Please stop by and visit.  Potted plants available. On August 19th you can join us constructing our first 30×100 foot High Tunnel!  

Tree Crops, Perennial Vegetables, No-Dig Methods, Season Extension Methods, Mushroom Production, Livestock, Plant Propagation / Nursery Techniques, Forest Gardening / Food Forest Techniques, Hugelkultur, Composting (any kind), Swales and/or Other Earthworks, Annual Veg Production, Shrub Crops, Raingarden or other stormwater re-use, Crops Grown for Market, Foraging Systems

Parking available.  


Permaculture Inn AirBnB Open House

In-Town

Claudia Lowd

10:00 AM to 10:00 PM

42 Mill Street

ORONO 04473

2079495106

We will fire up the pizza oven at 5 pm, drinks on the porch as needed, Very easy to wander thru twelve year fruit forest compact yet abundant, Charles and Julia Yelton designed pond system, Goddess pizza oven made at an early permablitz, ten year Biodynamics flower garden and kick-ass lounging porch where you can lounge to view said garden in full bloom in Maine in August. If you schedule it correctly you can sip some Tree Spirit Maine made libations, this is a replicable business idea throughout the state, glad to share what I know :)

Tree Crops, Perennial Vegetables, No-Dig Methods, Season Extension Methods, Rainwater Collection, Water Features, Renewable Energy, Mushroom Production, Forest Gardening / Food Forest Techniques, Hugelkultur, Composting (any kind), Annual Veg Production, Natural Play Spaces, Compost Tea Making, A Drawn Design for the Property (or some of the property), Raingarden or other stormwater re-use, Vertical Growing

Free street parking, more parking in the back, garden has some wheelchair accessibility

Self guided 10am- dark, Cob Goddess Pizza oven started 5 pm, Screening permie videos throughout August, ask for updated  schedule,Permaculture Inn closes its season August 28, 2017. Garden tours and libation sipping throughout early fall call Claudia 207-949-5106 for private tours

This Permaculture location housed multiple Charles and Julia Yelton early permaculture classes. Anyone reading this email will do themselves a favor to come to Orono to witness what twelve years later can be brought out with permaculture: abundant food and beauty, healing gardens and any space is a sacred place. I welcome drop by any permaculture visitors this August, tent at will and all housing is donation based from now till August 28, 2017. It feels like everything blooms in August in Maine, true beauty abounds


“Tomorrow” Movie Screening

barbara russell

MID MAINE PERMACULTURE Film Screening

Railroad Square Cinema

12:00 Noon

17 Railroad Square   

Waterville04901

207 397-2007

We will share in watching the movie “Tomorrow” which addresses ways in which we can change the dire direction of some of the activities man has got himself caught up in. There is a typical movie ticket charge at the door.  Afterwards, we will meet in groups to discuss some of the ways we can initiate the changes needed in our communities.

social and community actions for neighbors to take part in to reverse some of the ‘not so great’ directions our society has been moving in.  Topics cover environmental. economical, educational, agricultural.

ample parking available

Movie from 12 -2pm discussions 2-3ish.

We also have a permaculture demonstration garden in place outside of the theater for people to tour.


Maine Apple Camp

A workshop or other educational event

Anna Mueller

Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA)

Registration required for this special event:  http://mofga.org/Events/MaineAppleCamp/tabid/3325/Default.aspx

9:00 AM to 6:00 PM

219 Trotting Park Rd., Montville

04941

(207) 568-4142

This first-ever event will bring together folks who are excited about the future of heirloom fruit varieties: How to save them, what to do with them, how to make great cider, and who to work with. Held at a traditional Maine lakeside camp in Liberty, participants will check in for 2-1/2 days and 2 nights of immersive learning and community building. All participants will stay in cabins (or camp), eat in the cafeteria and have lots of time to swim and reflect on how to take what they learned home.

Tree Crops, Hugelkultur, Composting (any kind), Swales and/or Other Earthworks, Compost Tea Making, Crops Grown for Market

A schedule of events will be listed on our website.


Open House

Rural

Nick Jackson

Jackson Regenerational Farm

https://m.facebook.com/jacksonregenerational/

9:00 AM to 2:00 PM

881 Lincolnville rd

Belmont  04952

207-702-1705

Farm open house.  Come see our farm in its beginning stages. We have 200 pastured chickens fertilizing our hilltop pastures, 12 American guinea hogs renovating our woods and our silvopastured egg layers and family cow.  See our fruit and nut tree nursery beds and hear about our plans for all the trees we plan on planting.   We will give guided tours as needed.

Tree Crops, Perennial Vegetables, No-Dig Methods, Water Features, Livestock, Forest Gardening / Food Forest Techniques, Composting (any kind), Swales and/or Other Earthworks, Crops Grown for Market, Foraging Systems

Park by garage at 881 lincolnville rd.  Look for signs for further information.


Many Hands Farm Open House Tour

Open House

Rural

Nyla Bravesnow

Many Hands Farm

manyhandsfarm.weebly.com

9:00 AM to 2:00 PM

269 Files Hill Rd. Thorndike  04986

207-568-3261

Visitors will be welcome to walk around our gardens and visit our animals. We will be around to answer questions! We LOVE questions!

Tree Crops, Perennial Vegetables, No-Dig Methods, Season Extension Methods, Rainwater Collection, Livestock, Forest Gardening / Food Forest Techniques, Hugelkultur, Composting (any kind), Green or Natural Building Techniques, Swales and/or Other Earthworks, Annual Veg Production, Natural Play Spaces, Shrub Crops, Raingarden or other stormwater re-use, Crops Grown for Market, Foraging Systems

Our farm is not very accessible for people who are using canes, walkers, and wheelchairs. The terrain is steep and bumpy. We apologize for this inconvenience. Please park in our lot to the left halfway down the long driveway.


Maine Axe & Saw Day

A workshop or other educational event

Rural

Anna Mueller

Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA)

http://mofga.org/Events/MaineAxeandSawDay/tabid/3192/Default.aspx

10:00 AM to 3:00 PM

294 Crosby Brook Rd.

Unity  04988

(207)568-4142

Connecting people to our tool manufacturing heritage and passing down skills for the proper use and care of traditional forestry hand tools.

Tree Crops, Forest Gardening / Food Forest Techniques, Learn to effectively use hand tools in your woodlot and have the opportunity to buy some vintage axes, saws and more!

A schedule is posted on our website with specific workshop times.

Click here for a printable PDF version of the Directory!

Shaping Powerful Questions by Kathy Jourdain

This guest post by Kathy Jourdain is one of a series leading up to our 2017 Maine Art of Collaborative Leadership training program coming up in November. Watch this space for more from Kathy and her partner Jerry Nagel, both of whom will be joining us for the training.


One of the most asked questions at, and after, any Art of Hosting training is about the questions.  Developing powerful questions is a crucial element to creating the conversational space we are seeking.  People are hungry for greater understanding of how to create questions, especially after they’ve tried a check-in, check-out or cafe experience that didn’t quite have the intended result or impact.

Sometimes powerful questions appear, almost like magic.  We know they are powerful because we feel them.  But usually they are developed and shaped with great care – and often co-created with others.  It is not unusual for a whole planning meeting (and sometimes more) to focus just on question development for a process – which may seem a bit crazy until you’ve had the experience of well formulated questions in comparison to sessions where questions have not been shaped with the same care.

This post contains general thoughts on the shaping of powerful questions.  Later posts will focus on specific processes where questions are used, like check-in and check-outWorld CafeOpen SpaceAppreciative Inquiry, Dyad and Triad Conversations and Deep Sensing Interviews.

Three Dimensions of Questions

In an Art of Hosting training in South Dakota this past July, was the first time I heard the three dimensions of powerful questions, coming from World Cafe work and community of practice.  The three dimensions are: scope or scale of the questions, assumptions in the questions and construction of the questions.

What is the scope of the question you want to ask?  If the scope is too big it may shut down conversation (how do we create world peace?) but you might want your question inspirational enough to allow people to gaze higher than they might otherwise (how have you created peaceful moments for yourself/your team/work/family? How could you do that more often or in a different setting?)

People tend to rise to the assumptions made in the questions so it is good to both notice the assumptions being made in the question and also to be intentional about them so the work is more appreciative and aspirational in service of purpose and intention and the greater work being tended to.

In considering how we construct questions, there is a continuum that flows from less powerful to more powerful.  The less powerful questions are ones that can be answered with a yes or no.  Moving along the continuum, more powerful questions begin with when or who.  The next level are questions that begin with how or what and even more powerful questions sometimes begin with why. I say sometimes, because sometimes the why questions also entrench people in their point of view if asked in such a way they invoke defensiveness.  Ask why questions in ways they evoke curiosity and then you’re onto something.

There is a timeliness we generate when we put the word “now” in our question.  “What you noticing now?”  “What has your attention now?”

Purpose and Intention

A key factor in question development is what is the purpose and intention – of your gathering, your meeting, the particular process the question is intended to shape or provide context for, the question itself?  What is the work you want the question to do and then what is the simplist way to ask the question? Purpose and intention is so central to question development that we go back to it again and again.

Language and Shaping

I like to use as much present and active language as possible.  Instead of asking, “What did you learn from that experience?” you might ask, “What are you learning from that experience?”  There is a supposition built into the question – that the learning is active and ongoing. If that fits the purpose and intention of the space you are wanting to create that’s great.  If not, a question targeted to the learning and conversation you want to encourage would be better.

If you are wanting to move in a certain direction, then create questions that presume in the direction you want to go.  “What is the shift you imagine will happen once you leave here and begin to apply what you’ve learned?” This question presume you want a shift and that you will put something into practice post the training.  For some it will inspire their imagination. When it doesn’t inspire someone, they will usually say so without detrimentally affecting the responses of others who are feeling inspired.

It is also okay to take a pulse of what’s happening in a group or process without assuming a direction.  This is particularly helpful when you want to sense into where a group is at, what you need to pay attention to or what might be simmering under the surface.  It is good to have people in a group name their experience sometimes without trying to shift into a particular direction.  The information that surfaces is then helpful in shaping design or process informed by what is present in the room or group, tracking always toward the purpose or intention of why you are in this conversation or work.  Sometimes diversions are necessary to ensure we get to where we ultimately want to go. You could ask a question like “What’s sitting with you now?”, “What question’s are percolating?”  Sometimes I might even ask, “What tension is arising in you at the moment?” but only if I am really sensing tension in the room, wanting to surface what’s there but not create it if it isn’t there to begin with.

Nuances in Question Development

Slight nuances in a question can lead to very different conversations. This is why we often sit with the questions we have drafted and imagine the kinds of responses a question might evoke, noticing how changing the question slightly could generate a different conversation.  Some examples: “What are you noticing in your environment right now?” compared to “What are you noticing in your environment that relates to this project?”  or “How have you been since we last gathered?” compared to ” How has the last gathering impacted you and your work?”  The first version of these questions is far more open ended while the second version is more targeted to purpose and intention.

Co-Creating Questions

It is hard to create really powerful questions all by yourself.  It is much more fun and generative to co-create with others what the questions could be.  Then when a nuance is discovered that makes the question more powerful, the whole group feels it, not just one person.  Collectively we know we’ve gone to a new level of depth.  When we co-create the questions we can start in the ball park of what we want to do and, through the conversation, discover what those nuances are that increase the capacity of the conversations we are inviting to be meaningful and relevant to the participants we have engaged and the purpose for which we have engaged them.

Powerful questions can shift the shape of an individual and their pattern of thought, a team and its dynamics, an organization and its usual ways of thinking about things.  Imagining they can even shift the shape of the world…


This guest post by Kathy Jourdain is one of a series leading up to our 2017 Maine Art of Collaborative Leadership training program coming up in November. Watch this space for more from Kathy and her partner Jerry Nagel, both of whom will be joining us for the training.