Beck Family Backcountry Adventure

Written by Sarah Beck, mom, guest blogger & long time Earthroots participant.

When my husband suggested a backpacking trip with our two and four year old kids this summer I was hesitant. I love camping and being outside with my family; but car camping is an endeavor to say the least. The amount of work, gear, and planning it takes to simply get out the door can be incredibly overwhelming. And now my husband was proposing that we pack both kids and all of our gear up a mountain for an overnighter? I honestly wondered if it was possible.

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Beck Family geared up for the big hike. Photo by Erin Lutrick 

Layla, our four year old daughter is moving into her second year of the Forest Kindergarten program through Earthroots Field School. We LOVE it. Oddly enough, even though my husband is an outdoor enthusiast, he has questioned my choice to enroll our kids in Forest Kindergarten. “It is too expensive” and “It takes too much time” are some of his basic arguments for why we should maybe not do it. I agree. It does cost money and it is almost a full days commitment. And much like his proposed backpacking trip, Forest Kindergarten requires forethought, gear and planning. The thing is, I wouldn’t provide my kids with 5-6 hours of weekly consecutive outdoor time if it were not for Earthroots. I wouldn’t teach them about our local ecology or how to take the time to really enjoy being out in the wild on a regular basis. If not for Forest Kindergarten, connection to wilderness would be something my kids would see a few times a year versus once a week. There is huge value in this.
So, there we were, my husband hesitant about Earthroots and me hesitant about backpacking. Jodi’s blog post about backpacking came at the perfect time. I was incredibly nervous about packing our kids up a mountain and there it was, 5 Tips to Backpacking with Children.

I read it to my husband after our kids went to sleep one evening.  It created a platform for discussing how best to plan our adventure.

Tip one: Keep the mileage short. We both took this to heart. We determined that I would likely be carrying my 2-year-old son on my back, my husband would carry the majority of our gear and our 4-year-old daughter would hike on her own. We both wondered if she could really do it. We decided that 2 miles should be our maximum hiking distance.

Tip two: Allow plenty of time for exploring in the woods. This was amazing advice. We live in such a busy world where we are constantly rushing and ushering our children to the next event or errand. Kids like to take their time to observe and wonder about the world and it is so rare that we allow them the opportunity to go at their pace. We agreed that in order for the trip to be a success for our kids that we had to allow them to take the lead.

Snack time on the trail! Photo Jesse Beck

Tip three: Bring food that is varied, nutrient-dense, and fun.  My husband and I really struggled with this one. What food should we bring? What would we make for dinner? What kind of snacks would be best? So this tip was incredibly helpful for us as we packed and picked foods for the kids. While we did pack nutrient-dense snacks we also packed a few surprise treats that we don’t normally eat as a fun surprise to keep the kids motivated. This worked great!

Tip five: Positivity is key. This was easy advice to follow. We were away from our regular life, outside in the mountains, and away from the stress of our normal life. We worked really hard to encourage our daughter so that she felt confident about her ability to hike 2 miles up a mountain.

So we packed our things, headed up to the Eastern Sierras, met up with our friends who have a 20 month old and an almost 6 year old and started hiking up the mountain.  I think perhaps a 6th tip would be to: Be prepared for the unexpected.  There are some major fires happening in the Western Sierras right now and air quality was incredibly smoky.  We had to choose a new location further south for our hike to avoid the smoke.

11951944_10205955285655906_4621070751974330540_nSarah’s 4 year old crossing her first creek by herself. Photo Sarah & Jesse Beck

The minute we hit the trail it was evident how much Earthroots has impacted our kids, particularly four year old Layla. My husband noticed and immediately commented on how natural our daughter appeared on the trail. She was tuned in to the plants and talked about them; she looked for scat from animals and informed us. She asked questions about what animals lived in the area. She noted the creek and trail and discussed our destination. The trail was about 2 miles long, rocky, and steep. We heeded Jodi’s advice and stopped a lot. We followed the lead of the children allowing them to determine the pace. Our daughter insisted that she carry her own backpack with her own water and snacks. It took just over four hours to make it to our destination, but the destination was a huge reward. We found a beautiful campsite next to a lake, caught fish for breakfast and dinner, built a fire, used the outdoors as our bathroom, enjoyed “camp food”, and experienced the richness of the wilderness through our children’s eyes. We enjoyed a morning adventure where we explored the lake and the area around it and did more fishing. (The fishing and cooking of the fish was Layla’s favorite part of the adventure). Our hike home was downhill and steep, the kids led the pace and rocked! My husband mentioned many times during the trip that he now saw the value of Earthroots and the lessons that Forest Kindergarten conveys. Our children’s natural understanding and comfort outdoors is directly influenced by Earthroots.

11949420_10205955295056141_6984540389028449791_nFresh fish with Jesse & the kids. Photo by Sarah Beck

I think we underestimate the ability of children and as parents often opt out of experiences simply because the idea of doing things out of the ordinary with children can be overwhelming. While I was initially hesitant, our first backpacking experience was an amazing. Through our experience my husband and I both learned lessons and changed perspectives. I opened up to the idea of overnight backpacking as a family and my husband saw first hand the value and impact of the Earthroots experience.

Earthroots is offering a Family Backpacking Training series that begins in September. Check out the program and experience the awesome combination of family backpacking and Earthroots Field School!

Maybe we’ll see you there, we intend to do a lot more backpacking in the future!!

-The Becks

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5 Tips to Backpacking with Children

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Earthroots founding director Jodi Levine-Wright with her daughter in the Sierra Nevada Mountains

A lot has happened since my last blog update… Earthroots purchased 39-acre Big Oak Canyon, I had a baby, our program offerings have expanded and our staff has grown.

Having now graduated two years of
participants in Earthroots Family Backpacking Training Series, it is a proven success.  Yes, we are taking kids of all ages (with their parents) into the wild to experience being fully plugged into nature! The outcomes are incredible.

Just returning home from my first backcountry trip with my family (including my one year old daughter) I can tell you that it was one of the most challenging things we have done together, and also one of the most rewarding. I give a huge thumbs up to everyone who takes their kids backpacking, it is a big undertaking.

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Gone fishing! Photo by Jeannie Lee

So why rough it?
One of the most satisfying elements of spending time in the backcountry is connecting with oneself, family and travel companions without the distraction of cell phones, computers and cars. Where we live, fully unplugging from technology is nearly impossible, yet completely enjoyable! Being fully present with those around us is what life is all about, right? Additional rewards of plugging into the wild include being surrounded by mind blowing landscapes, pristine lakes to swim in, new sights and sounds, fresh air and moments of deep relaxation. Totally worth everything it takes to get there. Read on for an inside scoop to make your next backpacking trip a success.

 

 

 

5 Tips for Backpacking with Children
by Jeannie Lee and Jodi Levine-Wright

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Earthroots Family Backpacking Training Series                 Photo by Shelly Mead

1. Keep the mileage low (2-3 miles per day) and plan on an hour per mile. Hiking at elevation and with weight is much more strenuous than hiking around your local hills. Before hitting the trail, we planned on hiking 5 miles that first day. After a few steps with a weighted pack (the toddler, a bear canister full of food, water, rain gear, diapers!! and miscellaneous gear), it was pretty clear we would be stopping at the alternative site just 2 miles in. Thank goodness for planning ahead with options! We ended up keeping that site as our basecamp for three nights and going on day excursions from there. It was a total departure from our plans, but was exactly what we needed.

2. Allow plenty of time for exploring in the woods. That’s why we make the effort to get into the woods in the first place! Kids need downtime and playtime. They will also make incredible discoveries with their innate curiosity and keen eyes.

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Taking it all in, Cottonwood Lakes.                        Photo by Jeannie Lee

3. Keep children’s backpack weights low (if you want them to want to do it again). Jeannie’s 7-year old carried 2.5 liters of water, snacks, raincoat, warm hat, down vest, whistle and whatever rocks and sticks he’d collected along the way. Yes, the grown-up gets to carry everything else.

4. Bring food that is varied, nutrient-dense, and fun.  Cheese, carrots and shredded cabbage pack well, as do seeds, nuts and dried fruit. But no need to stick to “trail food”, Pita Pizzas were a massive hit! (We will share that recipe soon!)

5. Positivity is key. Expect the unexpected and go with what is. Between weather, elevation, weighted packs, and new challenges, your itinerary may not unfold the way you had originally planned. Keeping a positive attitude will go a long way to making the trip enjoyable and encourage interest in future backcountry excursions for the whole family.

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Earthroots Family Backpacking Training Series

Want to know more? Join  Earthroots Family Backpacking Training series starting September 19 – you’ll learn everything else you need to know and taste a backpacking meal every hike! This series meets once a month for 8 months and includes 2 backcountry trips to get you and your family ready for adventures to come.

See you out there!
Jodi Levine-Wright

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Birds of Big Oak Canyon

On December 19, 2011, a group of Earthroots mentors noticed an owl kill site with evidence of two owls. There were feathers from an owl not often seen in our region, the Long Eared Owl. Nearby, a pellet from a Great Horned Owl was found. One of the Long Eared Owl’s talon was found inside a Great Horned Owl pellet.

This story excites birders.

Evan recently shared this story with Stephen Shunk (Author, Peterson’s Guide to Woodpeckers) and Gillian Martin (Southern California Bluebird Club) who were on a tour of Big Oak Canyon with focused interest on cavities as bird habitat. Cavities are holes in dead standing trees, also known as snags or wildlife trees. Big Oak has many wildlife trees with cavities in use by birds, reptiles, mammals and insects.

One gift that came out of our walk was learning the importance of cavities as habitat. The second gift was making progress on Big Oak Canyon’s Bird List. Third gift was their suggestion to have volunteer birders come once a month to contribute to our bird list by having regular Bird Counts. This documentation will be used to help Earthroots monitor  the birds and their important habitat at Big Oak Canyon. There were many other gifts!

This is what Stephen heard or saw during our walk October 14, 2012.

Vaux’s Swift
Acorn Woodpecker
Nuttall’s Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Black Phoebe
Hutton’s Vireo
Western Scrub-Jay
Common Raven
Wrentit
Bushtit
Oak Titmouse
Tree Swallow
Cedar Waxwing
Yellow-rumped Warbler
California Thrasher
California Towhee
Spotted Towhee
Dark-eyed Junco
Lesser Goldfinch

And from the photos, we can now add:
Long Eared Owl
Great Horned Owl

Previously recorded birds include:
Red Shoulder Hawk
Red Tail Hawk
Western Screech Owl

Interested birders are welcome to sign up for a monthly bird count starting Spring 2013!

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Stories from the Kalahari Part 5: Springhare for Breakfast

Guma & Xigao making rope. Some of you may know this plant as “Mother-in-law’s Tongue”. It grows wild in the Kalahari and is ideal for making rope. Back at home, I often see it as an indoor ornamental. Do you have some growing in your home?

Part 1: Stories from the Kalahari
Part 2: Language
Part 3: Living Locally
Part 4: Fashion & Function

 

One day we had to make a lot of rope in hopes to catch a Springhare. We made enough rope for 6 traps which we set around an area with many active Springhare burrows.  To make enough rope, we sat on the sand and used sticks to strip the green fleshy parts of a freshly harvested long pointed leaf until the long fibers were exposed and separated. Xigao and Guma were turning the fibers into cordage by twisting and rolling it on their thighs with their legs stretched out straight. This technique of rolling your hand on your thighs with the fibers folded in half and pushing two forward, pulling one back makes strong rope relatively quickly, and works for many plant fibers, even our southern California Yucca.

I was handing Xigao the fibers our group had worked while sitting next to him. Our feet were touching while we worked. I looked over and smiled to see that the outline of our feet were the same size. For those of you reading this who know me, you know I am small. I wear a women’s size 6 shoe and am 4’10”. Xigao is in his 40’s and the only difference in our feet that stood out to me was that his soles are thicker. Years of walking barefoot on desert sand may even do that to mine. Only one way to find out.

Setting the trap: Xigao ties a simple noose on a long stick laid across the top of an active Springhare burrow.

Once the trap is set and sticks are place to hold the rope in place, grass is used to camouflage it.

Once we had enough rope, we spread out searching for active Springhare burrows.  The sun was setting and we needed to set the traps before nightfall. We were looking for burrows that had been used recently, and whose freshest tracks went in, and not out. The underground maze of a Springhare has many entrances and exits and in order to catch one with limited rope, site selection is key. We set 6 traps on 6 active burrows, hoping that by the next morning we would have at least one Springhare to share as a meal.

Xigao used his walking stick for yet another tool: Springhare Trap. He laid it down across the top of the hole and used it to stablize the trap. For the other 5 traps, we used branches found laying on the ground nearby. When we ran out of rope, we were done.
After setting the traps, we headed back to get some sleep. In the morning, we came out at first light to check the traps. At each trap, I could feel the adrenaline building as Xigao and Guma knelt down to gently pull on the rope. With each of the first five burrows, the rope came up without any resistance, empty.  On the 6th trap, you could see once approaching the burrow, that the rope was taut against the branch. Xigao stood behind the trap and gently lifted up. There was movement and we could see the Springhare. Xigao used body language and pointed at it’s tracks in the sand to show us how the Springhare tried to leave it’s burrow in the early morning and got caught with the rope around it’s neck. Sensing danger, it turned around quickly and raced back into it’s burrow,   but was trapped.  It rested there until we came, not able to move more than the length of it’s rope.

This next section describes how the Springhare was killed and prepared for eating. Read at your own discretion.

Xigao & John Michael Musselman with the Springhare, walking to prepare the cooking fire.

Xigao slowly reached for the rope, pulled up the Springhare and firmly held it by the fur behind it’s neck, like a cat holds her kittens. We admired it’s beautiful fur, long tail and big feet.  Xigao held his walking stick firmly in one hand, the Springhare in the other and with a quick and solid blow between the eyes and nose, the Springhare went limp.  A quiet gratitude was said for the life that would soon give us nourishment.

We then set out to gather dried branches and grasses nearby to start a cooking fire. The Springhare was pit roasted on the spot and shared amongst us all. It was tender and delicious. I am so grateful for that opportunity, as it really helped me appreciate the connections between plant, animal, human, fire and community.

As Xigao & Guma cooked the Springhare we watched and helped keep the fire going by gathering small sticks & branches. John Michael Musselman, of the Human Nature School in red, to the right, Matt Kirk of Kauai Nature School, standing behind Matt is Tom Kelleher of Work Fit Play Fit.

Being able to learn a new tool and put it into practice for survival is an empowering experience. Guma and Xigao are living wisdom keepers, practicing their traditional knowledge and teaching others for the benefit of us all.

Part 6: Coming Soon

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Stories from the Kalahari Part 4: Fashion & Function

Part 1: Stories from the Kalahari
Part 2: Language
Part 3: Living Locally
Part 5: Springhare for Breakfast

On a walk through the Kalahari. We were joined by men, women elders, teens and children.

I really like the outfits the women wear in the Kalahari. Reallylike them. I asked one of the women there 3 times if she would trade clothes with me.  I wanted to bring home her leather skirt with ostrich egg shell beads. Each day I wore a different, increasingly special shirt that I brought from home or pair of pants to up the anti, showing her what I was willing to trade on the spot.

Her response every day  was translated by Neeltjie the same way, “I like the colors, but the fabric is too thin and will tear”.  My cotton shirts & pants would not hold up walking through the sharp branches and thorns of the Kalahari for very long.  After going to visit the village, one women’s outfit was given to our group to pass along to a friend of hers living where we were headed next.  I was holding it, I couldn’t resist.  I tried it on.  It fit perfectly!  It felt amazing. The heavy leather was protective yet soft. It had a unique smell that fit with the place we were, and immediately made me feel like I blended into the landscape of the Kalahari. I felt the courage of the antelope who wore the skin before, running through the desert, hoofs on sand. I imagined the taste of dry aromatic leaves it ate, I thought about the hunt, the tanning process, and the elements that went into making this time tested functional fashion. I thought about the ostrich egg being shaped into beads, the fiber used to string each one onto the skirt and the hands that created the pattern. Everything came from walking distance of this very spot I was standing in.

Jodi Levine wearing functional fashion in the Kalahari Desert.

I am determined to get a skirt like that one day even if I have to make it myself, from start to finish. The sage scrub of our local wilderness would be a perfect trial grounds for a leather skirt of this style. The skirt was two “apron-like” panels that tied around the waist. One tied in front, covering the back, the other tied in back, covering the front. The top tied around the neck and back, like a string bikini. Some of the women also wore cape-like pieces that they used to shade their upper bodies and some women carried babies on their backs with pieces of hide as well. The top had been mended several times, patched tears and extensions added to the leather ties. I wonder how many women had worn this, and for how many years?

Don’t be surprised if next time you see me, I’m wearing something like this.

Coming soon: Part 5

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Stories from the Kalahari Part 3: Living Locally

Part 1: Stories from the Kalahari
Part 2: Language
Part 4: Fashion & Function
Part 5: Springhare for Breakfast

I was born, raised and am living in Orange County California, home to over 3 million people spread out over 800 square miles with almost 4000 people living per square mile. The Kalahari Desert is over 350,000 square miles with less than 10 people per square mile. For this reason alone, my time in the Kalahari was literally, a “breath of fresh air”.

Back at home, the weather is amazing, it is a food grower’s paradise… but because of the tight quarters and vast expanse of impermeable surfaces, most of our food, clothing, tools and building materials travel thousands of miles before they reach us.  The  impact of this long distance lifestyle takes its toll by creating pollution, destroying ecosystems and threatening native cultures around the world.

We learned that everything you need is in walking distance.

For the Bushmen who have been living the old way in their territorial homeland for 70,000 years or more (interesting article on ancient Kalahari Ritual Site), cars are not necessary. Grocery stores are not necessary, produce is not flown in from around the world, there are no plastic packages keeping processed food fresh on the refrigerated shelves, no disposable bags with carryout lunch, no electronic music, and no need for the latest style of name brand clothing made by people on the other side of the world. For those living the old ways, their ecological impact is regenerated each year as seasonal rains and growth patterns repeat. Food is gathered and hunted. What cannot be eaten is used for tools, clothing, or goes back to the earth. Musical instruments are made out of what grows nearby. Huts are traditionally built with grass harvested within walking distance. Clothing is made from the skins of the animals and dyed with plants that were once food for those very animals. Water falls from the sky and is gathered from water holes and carried in empty ostrich egg shells. Children are cared for by their parents, grandparents, siblings, aunties & uncles. Everyone is responsible for teaching the next generation how to survive, how to take care of themselves and the earth, how to live in community and how to care for each other in their traditional ways.  This is community resiliency at it’s finest. The Bushmen have been doing this for a very long time.  Only successful strategies are continued, practices that do not use energy in it’s most efficient manner are forgotten over time.  Their collective wisdom is something to be sought after.

Kalahari Wild Cucumber

Kalahari Cucumber: tastes like a cucumber, has spiky skin! We harvested this delicious & juicy wild snack on a walk through the desert.

Back at home, there is a growing trend to support locally grown food, locally sourced non-toxic building materials, rain water harvesting, water reuse practices and backyard gardens.  How would it be to spend just one day only consuming things that were grown in walking distance? Where would our food come from? How would we get to work? What work would be meaningful? What would it be like to do that for a week? A month? A year? A lifetime? We have a long way to go before we reach the level of sustainability and community resiliency as the Bushmen, but I see a pathway emerging that balances the best of modern and ancient.

In the Kalahari, I saw a group of people living in a way that I had, until now, only imagined. It was not perfect and untouched by the complexities of modern life, but it was beautiful and gives me hope that we, too, can learn how to live more deeply connected to what gives us life.

Live Local Challenge
Is it possible in the modern world to “live locally”?
For 3 days last year, I ate only what grew in my backyard garden, what I harvested locally from the wild or traded with friends who did the same.  It was delicious, nutritious and entertaining! I really needed my friends to help me make it happen.  My bounty of lemons, parsley, eggs and chard got old after the third meal : )  This year I want to do it again, for longer.
Once Big Oak Canyon is established as a home base for Earthroots, food and water systems will be in place to support many people living locally and we hope to demonstrate how empowering it can be to live locally. The people I met in the Kalahari are partially responsible for that inspiration.
Will you join us in the experiment of living locally?

Want to give it a try? If your gardens are not yet producing, you may decide to plant your food now, and in 3-4 months start the challenge. If you don’t know your local wild edibles, find someone who does! Sign up for a local wild edibles class or reach out to an elder in your community who carries local plant wisdom.

How long can you eat only what you and others in your neighborhood harvest within walking distance? What about water? Will you decide to start during the rainy season so that you can drink what falls from the sky? Keep us posted on your experiences by replying here.

Part 4: Fashion & Function

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Stories from the Kalahari: Jodi’s Blog Part 2, Language

Our guide through the Kalahari Desert, Xigao, drinking stored water with a hollow stick out of an ostrich egg

Stories From the Kalahari: Part 1

We were welcomed warmly by our hosts, guides and new friends from the Kalahari. Everyone spoke different languages and we were fortunate to be accompanied by Niljke, a translator who grew up with the Bushmen and speaks Naro & Afrikaans in addition to English. The Bushmen we spent time with speak Naro, a language with clicks. Niljke translated our conversations when she was around, but even without our translator, we could sense their warmth & desire to connect through body movements, gestures and song!  It was so fun to practice clicking. The man in this photo is Xigao. Jon Young taught me a trick to pronounce his name. Try this: say the word of the chocolate bean, “cacao”, but  instead of pronouncing the first C, make a click. Try it, it’s fun. Start by making a click with the tongue on the roof of your mouth, then add the sound “a-cow”.

When Nijlke was translating for us, we exchanged more facts and information about plant names, how they are used for food & medicine, what family life is like, how children are cared for at birth, what part of the tree is harvested for digging sticks, how the ostrich egg was cleaned before using it as a water storage container and many of the other questions we carried to the Kalahari. But even when she was not there, we experienced each other quietly and with laughter. One day, 8 of us travelers were dropped off in the village without a translater. We were spending time with about 20 or more Bushmen and not really saying much. Matt Kirk, from Kauai Nature School, John Michael from Michigan and I started playing games with the kids – taking sticks bending them to make hoops and tossing them, practicing our best animal forms, playing clapping games and laughing. It was fun! When Nijlke returned, the grown up conversations began and the kids shifted back near the grass huts.

I have since learned that many of the Bushmen we met in the village were from different regions and have learned Naro to share a common language, but were raised speaking many different languages.

To read Part 3 of Jodi’s Kalahari Blog click here: Kalahari Journal Part 3: Living Locally

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Permaculture Course at Fairview Gardens

Permaculture Flyer

Instructor: Toby Hemenway  Director of The Center for Pattern Literacy Learn to create sustainable living In Urban and Suburban Environment The Center for Urban Agriculture at Fairview Gardens

 PERMACULTURE Urban Sustainablilty  

72 hour certification course + lectures + tours + films + guest speakers + workshops + lunches

Six Weekends Six Months  

Starts May 26 & 27, 2012 

Fairview Gardens, 598 N. Fairview Ave  Goleta, Ca 93117

www.fairviewgardens.org 1-805-967-7369 

PRESENTERS Toby Hemenway  Special Guests: Warren Brush, Larry Santoyo, Brock Dolman, John Valenzuela and Michael Becker

The Instructor Toby Hemenway:  the author of Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, which for the last seven years has been the best-selling permaculture book in the world. He has been an adjunct professor at Portland State University, Schol- ar-in-Residence at Pacific University, and is currently a field director at the Permaculture Institute (USA). Toby has presented lectures and workshops at major sustainability conferences such as Bioneers, SolFest, and EcoFarm, and at Duke University, Tufts University, University of Minnesota, University of Delaware and many other educational venues. His writing has appeared in magazines such as Whole Earth Review, Natural Home, and Kitchen Gardener. He has contributed book chapters for WorldWatch Institute and to several publications on ecological design programs.

Course Will Cover
* Plant Guilds, Polycultures and Succession Planting *Aquaculture and Micro Livestock
*Urban Animal Husbandry
*Water Use & Reuse, Swales, Ponds, Rainwater Collection *Pattern Understanding and Observation
*Climatic Factors and Climate and Microclimates
*Sustainable Building & Retrofitting Energy Conservation *Trees and their Energy Transactions
*Guilds, Polycultures, Succession
*Various Climatic Factors: Focus on the Temperate Climate *Practical Work on Design
*Permaculture Ethics, Principles
*The Business of Permaculture: creating an urban livelihood

During the course we will have site work and visit urban farms, Community Supported Agricultural (CSA) farms, Green and natural building sites and eco-homesteads.

What is Permaculture? Permaculture co-founder, Bill Mollison states: “Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted & thoughtful  observation rather than protracted & thoughtless action; of looking at systems in all their functions rather than asking only one yield of them & of allowing systems to demonstrate their own evolutions.” Derived from Permanent and Culture, as follows: Permanent: From the Latin permanens, to remain to  the end, to persist throughout (per = through, manere = to continue) – Culture: From the Latin cultura –  cultivation of land, or the intellect. Now generalized to mean all those habits, beliefs, or activities than  sustain human societies.

Permaculture is applied observation of nature and a  design process for creating sustainable living  systems on your land.  It matters not if your land happens to be a suburban home in Santa Barbara, Ca, a rural farm in the Imo State of Nigeria or the second story of a three-flat on the south side of  Chicago.

Permaculture is sustainability by design before sustainability by device.   Observing patterns in nature is  really no more than common sense.  If we apply this common sense to our post modern lives we will save time and money and be better informed on which appropriate technologies we really need.

 

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Forest Kindergarten: Caroline’s Blog Part 2

Linkto Forest Kindergarten Caroline’s Blog: Part 1 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012, O’Neill Regional Park
The sky was filled with warm sunshine, busy winged creatures and colorful flying foxes whizzing by. We made an end of the year toy out of my old jeans, extra fabric, rice, and ribbons. Whoosh! Our story characters learned a little bit about human hands and a little bit about how to treat their friends. Them we concluded the year with an appreciation circle. I appreciate your taking the time to read my blog. Thanks for a great first year of Forest Kindergarten.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012, O’Neill Regional Park, Trabuco, CA
The sun was shining bright and the kids were running like a pack of playful young squirrels. The profusion of caterpillars has given way to a profusion of butterflies and I heard tiny symphonies of hungry baby birds from the canopies of several trees. Our story characters heard Grandpa’s tale of lost children using the daily four directions chant to find their way back to their village. The characters we know used their knowledge of the four directions to find buried treasure in the yard. After that we used blindfolds to play hug a tree. We were so pleased to see how the children have grown in their sensory and directional knowledge, demonstrating a marked improvement from playing the game last fall. It’s working! The day closed with a golden eagle being chased away by a mob of crows. No crow babies on the menu this afternoon…


Wednesday May 23, 2012, Holy Jim Trail, Trabuco Canyon

What a treat, what a trek, and it was worth it. We started deep in the Trabuco Canyon headed for Holy Jim Falls, we glimpsed Saddleback Mountain and wound our way through dense foliage, much of it poison oak. Stately Oaks, Sycamores, and Fig Trees (planted by Holy Jim himself) provided ample shade and my personal obsession to remember to return midsummer for a fig feast. Our story characters learned again the old rhyme, “Leaves of three- let them be!”, though poison oak is a tricky plant and we know we can react to it without touching it directly. The pools and waterfalls were beautiful, and filled with laughing shouts and wild splashing as long as we were there. And we were there extra long!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012, San Juan Loop Trail, Cleveland National Forest  
What a great day for a hike. The sun was boisterous and warm. We found our greatest hazard of the day being slippery sandy trails.  We all took a turn slipping. Rock outcroppings showed us layers of lichen, moss, ferns, and vascular plants. Primary succession at play before our very eyes! Our story characters, after creating a rain and grey water garden, learned that trees haze xylem to transport water and nutrients to the leaves and other parts. In quiet sit time we found a heavily laden grainery left by some Acorn Woodpeckers who had stored away tightly packed acorns for the spring and summer.
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8th Grader to install Rainwater Garden at School!

Earthroots is honored to be providing on campus ecological education at the Journey School in Aliso Viejo as one of their Green Partners.

OC Register Article
Aliso Viejo Patch Article
CBS 2 News Clip

8th Grade Student, Cyriene Adams inspired to design and install 

Rainwater harvesting demonstration Site
at Journey School a Public Charter Elementary School in Aliso Viejo, CA
Installation date: March 26th and 27th

Journey Parents and community Volunteers are invited to help  . . . 

Inspired by Brad Lancaster’s, (Author of Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond) presentation last year, one 8th Grade Journey Student, Cyriene Adams, has decided to create a rainwater harvesting installation on her elementary school campus. She’s currently receiving weekly one-on-one support with her Rainwater Harvesting project by Jodi Levine, director of Earthroots.
Cyriene measured and calculated how much rainwater falls on the school’s office that is currently being ineffectively washed down the drain. The goal of her project is to get as much water as possible absorbed into the soil to hydrate local native plants which will beautify the school entrance while offering habitat and food to local bees, butterflies, lizards and other creatures.

The installation of Cyriene’s design will be March 26 & 27 by 5th grade Journey School students, parent and community volunteers to include SOKA interns and Earthroots staff.  The group will dig a mulch basin to accommodate overflow rainwater from two roofs at the front of the school. 

“This project is changing lives and improving the environment around campus,”
 says Jodi Levine. Hundreds of people each day walk through this area of campus. It has not been effectively irrigated for years and needs more water. Instead of bringing in water from the city – one brilliant student, with support from Michelle Spieker, her 8th grade teacher Mr. Martin and Journey School administration & her mentor, Jodi Levine – Cyriene is demonstrating how we can all live in better balance with natural water flow. She is an incredible inspiration to her peers and elders alike
.

Parents and Community Volunteers welcome.  Please go to www.journeyschool.net for more information. 

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