This winter, I decided to take a permaculture certification course to help me organize and expand Lunar Hollow. I have taken a class online via U of Oregon, and a free permaculture year class in the past, and wanted to move it up a level, and possibly even host educational events here to teach about what we do in addition to growing herbs.
One of the first projects is making a base map, so I spent awhile drawing and re-drawing our property. I have a few base maps, and then layers with terrain mapping, zone mapping, water and wind mapping, wildlife and external forces mapping, and more. I love this process, and working through what we have now, and then adding future plans and upgrades into that system. What I love about the good permaculture classes, is that is isn’t just about plants and soil. It is about using everything in your home and environment to better live in harmony with our environment, and also optimize and conserve energy and resources while doing so. The course I am in also looks to social currency and social permaculture, which if you know of my day to day work and life, is pretty much me. So, finding ways to also utilize resources and assets to contribute to the greater whole and community, is wonderful. I can’t wait to work through this and consciously review all of our big dreams like solar, rain irrigation systems, the bog garden, food and community herbalism, education, and sustainability (along with self-sufficiency).
This course also includes a permaculture mentor, and I selected a woman in the UP, who shares much of my regional climate. I plan to also include our dream plan in addition to the realistic plan, and see which I want to present for my final project. Some of our dream plan includes purchasing the two acres behind us (already zoned and plotted on their own) for additional land to grow more bulk herbs and have more animals, and of course to go fully solar. A solar powered herb drying shed is a dream, as is a commercial kitchen and outbuilding office/guest tiny house. Some are not likely to ever happen, some maybe we will see.
‘’it is a good time of year to start this, as I am planning the gardens for 2021, the seed starting schedule, and mapping where we are expanding.
So, these two sketches are my first two styles of base map. One is a rough sketchy style the other more saturated. These include primarily zones 0-4, with zone 5 outside of the main area here. I’m working on another master plan using the Permaculture template art so it will also have one version with the classic look for some of the future plans and versions as I work through them. I feel like I am off to a good start.
Spending so much time on this land and in this place this year has made us realize it is really perfect for us. We could use a few more acres, but the place, the view, the air, the trees, the animals, the privacy, the dead end road - it has really made this pandemic tolerable even in our lockdown.
We all are grateful that we have this space, and, our original pre-COVID plan was to also use this for Herbalists Without Borders based education and events. Of course this property is still used for Herbalists Without Borders - over 1,000 square feet of this house is a dedicated donation storage and community apothecary space. Throughout the entire pandemic I have been intaking donations here, and then packing up donations and shipping to free clinics and for community outreach throughout the entire US and Puerto Rico. I have shipped something like $85,000 of donation value from my house in the past 3 months. Pretty amazing. But, we have had to do all this alone. The long-term goal is having training days and farm work days, planting days, plant walks, and distill hydrosols and all of that ... with people. The other part of the goal is to create other opportunities for my teens to work with other teens learning about plant conservation, habitats, natives, and how there is food and medicine all around us if you just know where to look.
This is the time of year where the plan means looking to the next growing season. This year we didn't have the ability to expand as much as we hoped due to covid, but we did add the greenhouse and then enforce it all summer and insulate for winter. We expanded the orchard, the fruit canes, the perennial medicinals, and ground fruit. We added more mushroom logs (both blue oyster and turkey tail), woodland bushes, woodland medicinals, and started the native plant nursery for trees and medicinals that will take up to 2 years before they can be planted out.
For 2021, we have a lot of goals, Including expanding on some flat areas, adding a forest permaculture format into the existing greenhouse, expanding around the greenhouse to have integrated plantings, create a seating area with a firepit in the greenhouse area, and then continue to expand the woodland and shade medicinals.
One plan I didn't get to try this year was the bog garden using native Wisconsin tamarack bog plants, so I have seeds and will be growing plants from seed for that fun project. I completed an environmental and garden education program to get some more ideas for bringing kids into the mix, and have an open source plant walk app/wiki/platform in progress, so that is all great.
We are also looking at significantly expanding our seed saving and seed grants. I manage a large seed library and seed grant program with Herbalists Without Borders where we share seeds out to communities to get gardens growing. By growing more seeds to save and sharing them out, we can increase the use of native plants and the use of plant medicine that is from our bioregion, and, that grow in this climate.
So we are working on sketching out, planning, plotting, outlining, expanding and listing. I will be sharing the 2021 plan here soon, but until then, I wanted to share the photos of our beautiful view, the night sky, and this land we call home.
Living in a pandemic is a unique experience for us all, I am sure. And for us, with multiple high risk folks in the house, we are in long-term lockdown, and are still not going into buildings that are not home. This means we have spent the last 8 months living in our rural bubble. It has been interesting, hard, easy, wonderful, panic-inducing, and just something that I know we will look back on some day and tell stories of that year (or years) when the world stopped.
We have always homeschooled (unschooled) and we already worked from home. We had a garden, we had chickens, and we have been a one car family focused on spending these years before our sons are adults as a tight family that enjoys spending time together and focusing on the important things. We already put work away at 5 and eat dinner and spend time together every night. We already take walks together in the evenings, and have conversations as the sun goes down. We already look forward to weekends so we can play board games, spend more time together, and bake together in the kitchen while we listen to music.
We already make sure to take time for the good things. We spend time reading books and talking about them, programming a new chicken coop door, walking the garden at night as the twinkly lights turn on and the cicadas and frogs sing. We already have games we play together and laugh loudly, sing goofily, and lose track of time as we talk sitting in the kitchen at night.
We already spend time planning what to do next summer in the garden, save seeds, harvest food, can tomatoes, make pickles, dry and blend our own teas, and stock up a whole community apothecary to be prepared if we need to be for the unforeseen. We already have a seed library and seed bank in our home, we have an orchard, we wild forage, and we have our favorite stands of nettles, curly dock, cleavers, chickweed, wild grapes, and elderberry.
We already live our lives like our home is our vacation. We already have a home that we all love, that makes us feel good, and that we enjoy spending time in. We already have routines in our life, and rituals that make each day something to mark and remember. We already celebrate life fully where we are, rooted deeply, and committed to being under-scheduled and focusing on our relationships with each other. We already don't take the privilege we have to live this life for granted.
We already listen in wonder to the frogs singing each night, look up to the moon and the stars and breathe in the fresh air. We already look at the clouds and the sky, and enjoy the turkey, squirrel, bird, fox, coyote, deer, racoon, opossum, groundhog, and others that pass through this beautiful place. We already watch the amazing sunsets and sit at the window as the sun sets and the bats swoop through the sky and around the house finding their dinner.
While none of this is easy - which is for another post - and we have times where we long for connection that isn't zoom or discord, or we wish things might be different, we are also so grateful that we have this time together, we have this land and this place, and we have this time with each other. One day when I am old and gray (ok, I'm already old and gray), and my children are adults and we are spread across the world, we will remember this time and how lucky we were to have this time at the cusp of adulthood. That we could pause this moment and find happiness, comfort, and connection even in one single place. That this world and this life as it is is enough, and that we can enjoy what we have where we are.
As summer winds to a close and we look to fall and winter under our lockdown in our little world, we are looking forward to the change of seasons, autumn leaves, first snow, early darkness, a cozy fireplace, cold crisp air, and the moonlight reflecting off the snow. And, each month is one month closer to the end of this when we can resume our place in the outside world, even closer as a family, and, most importantly, still healthy and alive and together.
I am a certified aromatherapist, clinical herbalist, organic gardener, plant conservationist, photographer, writer, designer, artist, nature lover, whole foods maker, and mother of two unschooled boys in south central Wisconsin.