Green Acres Permaculture Village is a small, retrofit, intergenerational intentional community in Bloomington, Indiana that integrates self-knowledge and expression with a shared culture among humans and the living Earth to encourage abundance on every level.
Green Acres Permaculture Village is a small, retrofit intergenerational intentional community carved from within an existing suburban neighborhood in a college town that offers itself as a template for transformation of suburban life. We seek to express our values from the inside out: beginning with the individual (know thyself) to the human and animal commons (communication, sharing and compassion), to our sacred communion with the living Earth, we encourage the expression of Nature’s abundance on every level: food for thought, food for people, food for planet.
Are you looking for community and interested in living more sustainably? Do you want to eat produce, wild edibles, and chicken eggs from right outside your door? Do you want a home with close-knit, supportive friends? Do you long for an environment that fosters your creativity and individuality?
Green Acres is looking for a new resident with an interest in permaculture and helping us to build a more self-sustaining ecovillage. While Green Acres has been established for several years, we are rounding the corner into a more intentional community.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or talk to us at our community dinners!
Join us at Green Acres every Thursday evening at 7pm for dinner with friends and neighbors. The dinners are not potlucks, but giftings. However, you are welcome to bring food, drink or a donation, if that works for you. In any case, not necessary! Or maybe your guitar or banjo? In any case, come.
Plus, we have now introduced "offerings" after dinner on occasion. So far, these have included a Feldenkrais class, a talk about the astrology of Donald Trump and the U.S.A., a knife sharpening skills, and salsa dancing lessons.
The garden is now in full array . .
We can even play hide ‘n seek . . .
This is to announce the upcoming workshop, an all-day affair, when you will learn A LOT! If you want to join us for all or part of this day, please let me know. 334-1987 or email@example.com. If you decide that very day, it’s okay, but would prefer to know in advance. Also, please car pool or bike or walk or bus, if possible. Donations for teachers gratefully accepted. If you want to harvest some of the veggies, bring a sack!
Summer Assessment, Seed Saving, and Planting the Fall Garden
Sunday, August 7, 9 am – 5 p.m
Led by Nathan Harman and Rhonda Baird. Just as summer crops are planted in spring, fall crops are planted in summer. This workshop will focus on caring for the garden in the high heat of summer, planting the foods that will be harvested through the coming cool, and seed-saving techniques.
This is the hay-day of the garden and we will hopefully have yields galore. But, the weeds and insects and drying sun are also trying to make their way, so mulch, shade cloth, row cover and other techniques will be employed as we keep the summer crops vibrant and give our fall crops a running start. BYO lunch. Snacks and beverages provided.
This morning I went out into the cool grey morning and took some shots of the GANG garden now, after two weeks of heat and a bit of rain. Whew! The cob oven is no longer visible. Instead, corn, squash, chard, beans, berries, onions, kale, broccoli, greens, beets, cabbage, herbs, radishes, okra, peppers, tomatoes (finally greening), basil basil basil . . .
Four or five of us meet on Thursday evenings for a workparty. Jill brings her daughter Ceclia, who calls it a “magic garden.” Her job is to keep clearing out lotuses from the edge of the pond so that the fishies will swim over to check her out. They do! She’s delighted.
She delights us with her presence.
The pond, with its fish and frogs, adds immeasurably to the feeling of tranquility in the garden. It also helps me as I continue to move through the deep grief attending the loss of my soul companion, Emma, only one week ago.
Chard (actually planted fall 2010):
Squash blossom: still don’t have that many zucchinis. Surprised. Huge, prolific greenery. Too much nitrogen?
This year, we’re growing more flowers, for the bees, and for their profligate beauty. Here’s hollyhocks.
We dragged one of my son Colin’s Garden Towers out into the garden and planted it with seedlings less than two weeks ago. With worm composting down the center tube, it really cooks. Incredibly fast growth. Here’s the website. He has yet to widely publicize it, but will soon. 50 plants in one recycled food-grade 55-gallon drum . . . Yum.
Now, here’s a silly story that shows my own learning curve.
I was out watering one morning, when I noticed that there were hundreds of little tiny long white things on the squash leaves. (Here’s a photo from today, though not nearly as many on the leaves.)
Freaked, thinking it some kind of pest, I washed off every leaf. Then I noticed there were thousands of these things at the tops of some of the corn stalks. Yeeks! Did whatever this pest is infest the corn too?
So I went inside and googled: “tiny long white thingies and corn” and of course, learned that this is the corn pollen! And that it drops off suddenly, usually mid-morning or late afternoon, to fertilize itself. Some of course, landed on the squash as well.
Somebody said that they didn’t think we had enough corn plants growing to actually get any corn. But she was wrong. There are at least 30 ears growing already. Question: is this ear of corn (leaning, off to the right) ready? I guess I’d better google to find out.
It was supposed to be centered around the cob oven.
We had already held one cob oven pizza party event, and the oven proved a very magnetic attractor. We were excited to show it off, and to eat from it, be warmed communally by it, for a second time. Two days prior to the event, however, the cob oven part of the party was nixed. All I can say now is that there is a neighborhood issue with smoke.
The neighborhood issue has, in turn, propelled the GANG garden itself into the limelight of both Planning Department and City Council. This is either fortunate or not, depending on your point of view. At the end of August, I will go before the Board of Zoning Appeals in an effort to render the garden, and as many of its current and future activities as possible, fully on board “legal” with the city of Bloomington. (BTW: the cob oven is legal, as are neighborhood gardens. As usual, the devil is in the details.)
I will need help. Help writing the proposal, help with statements of support, help from neighbors and others who love the GANG garden showing up at the meeting and speaking for it.
The head of the Planning Department told me, “What you’re doing will be commonplace in ten or fifteen years. You’re the pioneer. So you get the flack.”
“Yes,” I responded, “that’s the role I’m playing, and I understand yours as well. I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes!”
This drama is one small local scenario that typifies the kinds of “conflicts” that arise during this, the final act of our post-industrial civilization that has, without anyone really understanding the consequences, put us on a me-first collision course and led us to forget about our heart and soul connections as neighbors on this one small planet in this one small solar system in this one small Milky Way galaxy — and so on, and on out to infinity. (See my exopermaculture site for more on exploring the larger context of our efforts here below . . .)
“Okay,” I told the planner, “So this meeting is to be the next educational activity of the GANG garden!”
Meanwhile, back to the party.
As usual, we had no idea how many people would actually show up. We had sent a notice to the neighborhood email list, and to those who’ve been students or teachers in garden workshops. We made up flyers for all three events (Children’s Workshop, Earthen Workshop) and my son Colin dropped placed them carefully in the doorways to every house on nearby streets (about 50 altogether). Click Garden Party flyer. But there were no guarantees.
Two years ago, we made up a flyer for a GANG Harvest Party in November and six neighbors fanned out to cover the entire neighborhood (ca. 440 homes) . . . and only one person came because he had seen the flyer.
My son Colin, who had just moved here from Massachusetts, was bitterly disappointed. Now he knows better. What’s important is the process, how we go about doing whatever we do. The results of our efforts vary over time. Let go of expectations, and you’ll not be disappointed!
I told him to view the flyers themselves as educational materials. Almost as if giving a flyer to someone is its own event. It puts the idea in the person’s mind of having a neighborhood gathering. Maybe they won’t come to our gathering, and they’ll most likely move away within a year or two from this highly transient university community. But someday, maybe years from now, something might joggle their minds — they won’t even remember what — and they will say, “Hey, how about having a neighborhood get-together”?
In fact, when we sent those flyers around, I had warned everybody, “This probably won’t get much of a response. Don’t worry about it. The flyer plants seeds.”
So, imagine my surprise when this time, at least 35 people showed up, with about 2/3 from the neighborhood itself. I was especially surprised to see two older people whom I’ve not met before, and a number of IU students new to me from streets in the hood that are not so nearby.
We spent less energy than two years ago, and we got more return. How’s that for evolution? Clearly, the seeds of community are sprouting.
I especially like this little photo series. First, neighbor Kathy walks up.
Then, her husband Al.
Then, their neighbor Abby from across the street joins them — Abby remembers Kathy and Al from when she was a little girl.
Now Abby’s back in the hood, and she and her partner Mary are making a beautiful little flower garden on the corner of their property that is also graced by a gorgeous, giant rock pulled up from underground and placed there by Vectren workers during street repairs.
Mary is one of the GANG garden regulars, and brings not only her labor, but her skill and certification as an organic gardener. Here she is, with two of “the cutters” (no, not of the movie “Breaking Away,” but of the pizzas, which, in lieu of the cob oven, were coming out of the oven in my house next door), my niece Megan’s boyfriend Brian and my son Colin.
Brian, my son Colin, with Mary
BTW: the young man below, whose name escapes me, but he is a single dad neighbor and a Tom Cruise lookalike! —
had no idea that twenty minutes later he would be sent back home to fetch his pizza cutter (the thingamajig that rolls).
Two days before the party, a neighbor whom I have not seen or heard from for at least a year, walked up onto my porch, where I was eating dinner, and asked me how she could help. I was both surprised and thrilled.
Valerie is one of my favorite people, ever since I asked her, when I found out that she lives with a husband and seven children in a house not much bigger than mine, how she does it, and she answered, simply, “We like each other”!
I did have something for her to do. I had promised to provide all the pizza dough, and the tomato sauce and the cheese, suggesting others bring pizza toppings as their contribution to the meal. Of course, I could always buy the dough, but my instinct was to make the pizza dough from scratch! However I had never done it.
Wouldn’t you know! Valerie used to make all her pizza dough from scratch. She would help me. I would get the flour and oil and sugar and salt and yeast, and she would come over Friday at 2 p.m., and stay for two hours. We would make it together then.
So, what had been causing me stress, the anticipation of having to make the pizza dough, turned into its own kind of fun as the two of us, plus one of her daughters, Noura, sat and stood around the kitchen table kneading and punching dough for the next day’s party.
At the party, Valerie turned out to be the chief dough roller as well. I doubt she had planned on that.
Valerie, with Todd in the background, and the "cutters" beyond
We ended up making about twelve pizzas. This size:
Lots of toppings, e.g.
And even one vegetarian, after student Katrina (on the right) shyly asked if that was possible . . .
At different points in the evening — it went on for four hours— people were lined up for another piece of pizza. So glad it was not one of our hot days . . .
People sat on my porch to eat.
Or, they wandered out to the garden, passing the day lilies . . .
and entering the gate to the wonderful mellow music by neighbor Jelene and her partner David (who, BTW, will be playing at the Farmers’ Market with their band tomorrow morning!).
Jessica and John, who until very recently, walked the neighborhood together every single day, sat in the garden with John and Susan, a workshop student, and Mary. Some took an opportunity to wander the garden with their children (notice cob oven in background) . . .
And I, of course, took the opportunity, whenever possible, to recruit new student blood into the garden . .
Wish I could remember this beautiful young man’s name! And I forgot to get his email. But I did get Taylor’s email (the guy with the hat below). When I got it wrong, he corrected it at the party . . .
There’s Valerie, rolling yet another one . . .
Lots more pictures, lots more people, don’t have them all here; a few, including Stephanie from the Children’s Workshop, arrived too late for pizzas! The party finally wound down to about ten of us sitting around the table in the garden until the sun went down and I announced it was my bedtime.
Looking back, I think that what made this evening’s event so easy and comfortable, even among people of widely differing ages and interests, was the atmosphere set by the music; Jelene and David’s sweet, slow harmonies harmonized us, made it fun and simple just to be sharing food and talk on an absolutely gorgeous summer evening in and around the GANG garden.
We didn’t forget about the cob oven. My son Colin said that a number of people looked crestfallen when they walked up and he told them we were not going to be cooking the pizza there.
But we did fine without it. In the end it’s we, the people, who count, not our various props.
About six months ago, my friend and fellow Transition Bloomington core group member Scott Routen accidentally ran over the cast-iron bench that I had cemented into the ground out by the street of my house. Here it is, back in 2009.
The bench is in the foreground, right next to the street.
(Looking at that photo I’m amazed at how fast things grow in Indiana (I come from Wyoming, a colder clime). The trunk of that tulip tree to the right of the bench is now, two years later, three times as thick.)
I placed the bench, surrounded by plantings, as a place of respite for those who walk by. At the time I put it in several neighbors looked on, saying that I was placing the bench in the wrong direction. And why did I have it by the street?
Over the years, I’ve only seen a few people actually sit on the bench. But even when they don’t, having the bench there communicates friendliness and adds interest to the streetscape. I was inspired to put the bench there by a talk in Bloomington given by one of the founders of the wonderfully inventive City Repair group, in Portland. Check it out! I viewed the bench as an experiment in community-building, and I swear, within even the first year, more people were walking my street.
About six months ago, after a Transition meeting at my house, Scott had gone out with a friend, having asked if he could leave his truck parked in front until he got back.
The next morning, when I went out to walk the dog, the bench was wrecked! Bent back and caved in. Of course, my heart sank, thinking it vandalism of some kind. But my son Colin wondered about Scott’s truck, since it had been parked so near it. “That truck is so huge and loud,” Colin said, “that if he hit it he wouldn’t have known.”
So I called Scott. Sure enough, he had felt some kind of slight ping when he rolled out of there late that night, but so slight that he just thought it one of the weird noises his truck makes.
We agreed that come spring, he’d replace the bench.
By the way, the same man who thought I was crazy to place a bench facing the street got hopping mad when he looked out the window that morning and saw the smashed bench. It had become part of his streetscape, too.
About a month ago, Scott came over and said he wanted to do a workshop around the project of making the bench. An “Earthen workshop,” he called it, on the flyer he designed for it. Click on earthworkshop.
“Scott Routen invites you to explore Earth itself as a material for timeless building. The ground beneath our feet holds a building material so advanced, so sustainable, and so healthy, that modern people might not believe it could be dirt cheap. The gentle power and beauty of Earth rises from the holistic integration of its many positive qualities. We will explore these qualities in the hands-on construction of an earthen loveseat or ‘neighborhood repair’ miniproject. An afternoon screening of the film “First Earth” offers a sweeping overview of the movement towards a paradigm shift for shelter in locations around the world.”
“First Earth” film website: www.davidsheen.com/firstearth
Well, it didn’t turn out quite as we expected. We didn’t have time to screen the film, for one thing. Also, though a number of people had expressed interest in the workshop, most of them were otherwise engaged on this very busy first Saturday after the Summer Solstice when just about every consciousness and/or progressive group in town had some kind of an event planned.
Three women pre-registered. Only one of them, Gloria, who drove down from Indianapolis, actually appeared. And she was a trooper.
Scott, I found out later, had stayed up all night the night before constructing the form for the earthen bench, which he decided to design in the shape of a vesica pisces! Very beautiful. And it makes up for the statue of the goddess that I decided not to put on the stump of a dying tree that I had to cut down in my front yard (thinking it too tempting for college students not to steal it).
So, Scott (on no sleep), and Gloria (a little slip of a thing), started to work, at around 10 am, Saturday morning, and finally stopped at around 4 p.m, both exhausted. Here are three shots to give you the flavor of what they were up to. BTW: you can’t see it, but the bench sits on a cement and rock foundation that goes down two feet below ground.
I was surprised at how long it took to get only part way done. But Gloria told me that she was not surprised, since she had worked with a large group of women over many weekends to build some kind of a (more elaborate) earthen structure.
Scott says that a number of people stopped their vehicles as they drove by, asking about the bench. So the educational process continues.
Scott thinks one or two more days of his labor should do it. We’ll show you the bench when it’s done.
At the party that evening (the third event of the day), an old man came up to me and said he was glad the bench was going to be replaced, since he’s used to sitting on it when he walks by! (I’ve never seen him sitting there.)
Unlike the Earthen Workshop, the Children’s Workshop was planned in advance as one of the six workshops for this year’s GANG growing season. A wonderful young Indiana University student, Stephanie Partridge, had dreamed it up, with this title and description:
Children’s Workshop: Inviting the Little People into the Garden
Saturday, June 25, 2-4 p.m.
“Led by Stephanie Partridge and Emily Ginzberg. Tribes all over the world have stories of little people (elves, leprechauns, fairies, spirits, sprites, gnomes, borrowers) and many times they are associated with gardens. Some believe they are peaceful keepers of the plants and help them grow and flourish. Others believe they are tricksters and you must pay homage to them or else they will play with your plants. I believe the little garden spirits, in whatever manifestation, are good in nature and are here to help and have fun. Who better to help invite them to play than children? (We will talk about the fairies, and hand out supplies to paint rocks, bowls, shards. After done we will encourage them to make altars with twigs, leaves, etc.”
Unfortunately, fellow student and co-teacher Emily Ginzburg, had double-scheduled herself, and ended up out of town. However, Stephanie was fine on her own, and having heard part of her story afterwards, I can see why. She told me she grew up in the woods of Indiana with no children around, just she and her Mom. And that the animals and plants, and fairies were her companions.
Like the Earthen Workshop, this one didn’t go quite as expected either. Rather than making altars, the five children who participated spent all their time painting the pottery shards that Stephanie provided —
Cora, daughter of Melissa and Chris Clark. Melissa is the SPEA professor whose undergraduate class in sustainability partners with the GANG garden to design and build projects.
with great focus and concentration —
and blowing bubbles.
This is Maya Baird, daughter of Rhonda and Corbin Baird. Rhonda is one of our permaculture teachers in the GANG garden.
Stephanie encouraged this shy one, sat him on her lap to get started . . .
There were also quite a few parents and other adults hovering nearby, and some little ones, including year-old Max, here with my dog, Emma, about to lick his toes.
Max, an unusally friendly child, even climbed on my lap (I’m not usually perceived as cuddly.)
Charlotte, from the other end of the hood, joined us for a little while, hung out with Cora’s dad Chris.
A few of the kids had to leave before all the chards were painted. So it was up to Cora and Maya to place them around the garden. The fish art, said Maya, belongs on the edge of the pond . . .
A few others here and there . . .
Cora's shard is on the little table; Maya's at bottom right, leaning into the pear tree. Anothe
Thanks to Stephanie and the children, the GANG garden has begun to sparkle with fairy dust! Thanks to all!