HOMEGROWN

Celebrate the culture of agriculture & share skills (Growing! Cooking! Eating!)

   When I was about four or five, my parents and I moved out to the country.  Dad got to know all the old folks at the feed store, questioned my grandfathers (who were both farmers) constantly, and subscribed to periodicals about farming and gardening, ordering farm equipment and seeds and books from the little ads in the back. Somehow we ended up with a book called The Homesteader's Handbook, by Rich Israel and Reny Slay.  It was typewritten, loaded with cute, hippie line drawings and included a wealth of info for the 70's "back to the land" set.  I remember learning to read with that book, thumbing through it on visits with my dad, and when I finally moved to a place with a little patch of green, I received that very copy as a gift.   It's just as amazing as when I was five.

    What brought me here (the immediate "what brought me here" - not the long scenic journey) is my orchard project.  After watching my annuals wither and die in the Texas heat year after year, I decided to research permaculture - specifically fruit tree planting and chicken keeping as a way to build and shade the soil (and produce tasty fruit and nuts!).  I will install a drip line to keep the trees watered.  I've sheet mulched several areas with cardboard, compost, and oak leaves.  I'm pre-ordering trees from the Arbor Day Foundation.  All systems sort of on the way to go, eventually.  I guess if I'm documenting this, I need to replace my dead camera:).

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Tags: arbor, day, dry, handbook, homesteader's, orchard, texas

Comment by Joy on September 14, 2012 at 12:38pm

Hi, Laurie. If you haven't already, you may want to get in touch with Scott Kellogg and Staci Pettigrew, of the Radix Center in Albany. They used to run a permaculture center in Austin (The Rhizome Collective), and did a lot of clean-up of contaminated areas, as well as raising chickens, solar cooking and everything else.  Since they are already well-familiar with your climate and regional soils, they may be a good contact to have. And they're super-nice folks! You may have also heard about their book, "Toolbox for Sustainable City Living", which is quickly becoming a classic urban permaculture read.  Just a thought. :)

Comment by Laurie Power on September 14, 2012 at 7:22pm

I love their book so much - there's really great info in there.  Geniuses!  I heard rumors that the Rhizome Collective was starting up again down here - not sure if that means they moved back to ATX or if it's a different incarnation.    Right now there's a group called Community Cultivators here - I think they have origins in Rhizome too.  They host potlucks and have permaculture design courses.  At the moment I'm a solo operation - mainly because school, work, and kids sort of dictate a particularly set schedule for me (night gardening, anyone?).  Excellent recommendation - thanks, Joy. 

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