Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Comings and Goings in the Garden

Hello Gardeners!

I'm back for a last blast after a very busy July which ended in surgery. I've been down for the last few weeks in recovery. The operation was a success, returning a good stitch of motor function to my lower right leg, something I've been missing for six years. I didn't get a blog up in July, but I got a pile of work done in the garden; I built a new Kiwi Trellis, rebuilt the irrigation, and re-arranged several garden beds to allow for deeper soils and more access to disabled folks – as a moderately disabled veteran this is something I think about quite a bit. Ill be back in the garden through the end of August tidying up.

The Kiwi Trellis (no Kiwi yet!), a new addition to the garden.
In addition the work I've done at SMU, I also work with veterans; We have a little non profit called VETS_CAFE, and we get together and build ecological design projects. Nature is perhaps the greatest teacher, most worthy ally, and harshest critic. Agriculture requires studies of botany, the many branched natural sciences, genetics, biochemistry, forestry, structural engineering and design, statistical modeling and applied mathematics, architecture, social sciences, therapy and counseling, poetry, and art; the roots and blossoms of most studies are found in nature, and by extension, may be designed into gardens.  

Ill be transitioning out of the Garden Manager position to focus on working with VETS_CAFE as we secure a few new projects around the South Sound over the Fall, Winter and Spring. Ill assist with getting the new Garden Manager up to speed, providing support to smooth the transition.There are many things I'd like to add to the garden, and beyond into the SMU grounds- a few hints can be found in structures like this which I help build in 2002-2003.

A teachers sanctuary built for New Day Children's School in 2002
by volunteers with the Village Building Convergence.
The beginning of a Hugelkulture- Or 'hill garden'. This will be a giant raised 
bed when its finished, covered with edible and native species.
Perhaps one day VETS_CAFE will work with the SMU on projects such as milling a set of picnic benches from on-site timber; construction of wheel-chair accessible raised beds; terraced gardens replacing the ivy slope and supplying the food bank with fresh produce; textile applications of native plants in construction such as use of hazel in wattle walls and boweries; and helping Brother Edmund rebuild the chicken coop for ease of cleaning and maintenance. If any of these seem intriguing, please drop a line- we're excited to demonstrate sustainable, low intensity eco-friendly technologies which have local character and universal appeal.

VETS_CAFE helps veterans develop job skills and develop careers in conservation, agriculture, forestry and ecological design. We also provide or network resources for certification, entrepreneurship training and employment to veterans interested in these fields. I'll continue talking with folks at SMU to develop a clearer understanding of my opportunities as an Adjunct Faculty, and if its possible, hope to offer a permaculture course for credit through the college. 

Its been a great summer helping out at the SMU Learning Garden, and I've really enjoyed the time I got to spend with folks in the garden- Thank You's: Irina Gendelman, Brother Edmund, David Martin, Phillip Cheek, Ken and Jesse with Grounds, and the great teams in HR and Campus Security. And thanks to the many students form the LGBTQA Club who came and enjoyed the garden, and Hasan, Fahad, and Taki who helped get the ivy under some control early on. And a special shout out to Carole Ann Beckwith and Nicole Ellison with Bon Appetite, it was fun talking food with you!

Thank you, and Best, 
Deston Denniston MSA CPI, 
Director VETS_CAFE