Dear Brothers and Sisters:
Greetings from Barking Frogs Permaculture Center. We again send our
annual report of permaculture activities.
The main news continues to be the weather. Following extreme flooding
three years ago, we now experience our third year of drought. We put two big
mowers into the shop this spring trying to knock down vegetation due to
nearby fires. The fires were finally brought into control about 1/4 mile from
our place. Since conditions will probably be worse in spring 2002, we will
put more emphasis on winter mowing. We expect to have some interns who can
help us take up the organic matter and turn it from potential fuel to compost.
Meanwhile, in February we received 200 bald cypress trees that we ordered
from the state and more than 500 from The National Tree Trust, which gave us
the trees to plant here as a grant. We did not count the latter batch, but
they were many more than we requested, perhaps 700-800 trees. That kept us
busy. After starting a nursery from some of the state trees, we decided that
it would be impossible to keep up watering if we planted all the trees that
way. So we potted up the remaining trees, probably 700 or so in all. These
we have placed in kiddy swimming pools that hold water around their roots.
Unfortunately, about midsummer we were hit by a series of raids from
feral pigs. For some reason, they could not abide the trees standing upright
in the pools and tossed them about. We did not discover this right away and
some trees that had been strewn were dead on discovery. I finally shot one
of the pigs, a huge animal easily weighing more than half a ton, in our
chicken yard. The other was around for a few nights then left and has not
returned. We also had our usual problems with dogs and feral cats and I
suspect that our chickens have kept some of the native predators happy as
well. However, the chickens that remain continue to do well and we have added
a small flock of seven very well adapted Guinea fowl.
Our chinampas project has picked up a little after a hiatus of a few
years. We use the chinampa bed that we built a few years ago for the small
bald cypress nursery, and we have started a new chinampa closer to our
house. At the moment, it is growing some healthy-looking potato plants.
Last winter was pretty cold for this area. With no water in the
“swamp,” we did not get our usual protection and temperatures dipped to
about 12 F. This killed our bananas and our Oldhamii bamboo to the ground,
killed some citrus entirely, and damaged some other woody plants. A major
disappointment was the loss of most of our strawberry guava, which are rated
to take colder climates than ours.
Also in the spring, we continued our experimental project of grafting
blueberry bushes onto wild farkleberries. Many of the grafts of the previous
year had failed due to drought, so we mulched the farkleberries this year.
Though we did not have enough blueberry scion wood to graft all the shrubs we
would have liked, those grafts that we did complete have done very well, with
a very high percentage of “takes.” Dan has written this up for his
permaculture column in Pomona, the journal of the North American Fruit
Explorers. Growth on some of the farkleberry grafts has been so good that we
will be able to harvest scion wood from them when we start grafting again in
We bought three varieties of plums this year that we will grow for scion
wood to graft the native Chickasaw plums so abundant around here and a half
dozen or so varieties of locally adapted blueberry varieties, all planted in
the garden. We will grow annual crops around the trees and shrubs. This
will save space that is protected by fence and also give the plums and
blueberries more irrigation than they would otherwise get. The blueberries
will provide scion wood eventually, too, so we have more types for cross
pollination. The garden also had a good crop of peach seedlings that we
planted from stones. Since peaches are an early bearing but short lived
tree, we will plant them between other tree crops to be removed when the
other trees need the space.
Work on the permaculture center was pretty much at a standstill.
Outdoors, we did open some more land for eventual use as agroforestry.
Dan’s annual Permaculture Design Course Online is in its sixth year.
This year the course is about filled. We have set a limit of 10 new students
per course cycle because of the time required to review the student design
projects. Now that we have the course mentioned on a couple of internet web
sites, we get a great deal of interest. Dan is trying to design alternative
approaches that will enable us to take on additional certificate students to
meet the growing demand. Cynthia added a new section to the course, Design
for Health, since our last annual letter. Cycle 7 of the course will begin
Sept. 15, 2002. The annual deadline for scholarship applications has been
fixed as Aug. 1 each year.
Tim Packer has taken over our main web page,
http://barkingfrogspc.tripod.com/frames.html. We have a great deal more
information on the page now, and are featuring one permaculture design
pamphlet at a time for free download by any and all. We will change the
pamphlet once or twice a year. This has developed a great deal of interest in
the pamphlets. We also have a web pate at the EPTA (Eastern Permaculture
Teachers Association) site, http://www.permaculture.net/~EPTA/Hemenway.htm.
This site is maintained by Keith Johnson of the Permaculture Activist.
In addition to his work on the web site, Tim, one of our continuing
online students, also is developing a CD-ROM for the online design course.
This will contain all the course “lectures”, the Permaculture Design Course
pamphlet series, and some other documents. We do not have a prognosis for
when the CD will be ready for distribution, but it will probably be sometime
in 2002. This will help get more benefit from the work we have done
developing the online course and our live course before it, representing
about 20 years of intensive work.
January 16-30, we will lead a permaculture design intensive in Sarasota,
Florida, not a bad place to be in January. This is an extended version of
the 10-day program described on our web site. The program has been pulled
together by the students themselves, so we feel that the motivation is really
strong. The workshop is open to anyone. For details, contact Jessica at
(941) 360-9054 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you received
this letter in the mail, you probably got a workshop flyer too. Limited
scholarships are available and child care can be arranged in advance.
Again, we progressed on only one serial publication, TRIP (The Resources
of International Permaculture), our directory. We continue to send out
updates, and we expect to publish Vol. IX in 2002. TRIP is now available in
electronic form as an email attachment as a pdf document. We hope to have it
on CD-ROM as soon as Dan figures out the equipment and software we bought for
the purpose. TRIP seems to have stabilized at about 2,000 organizations
Our lives continue to be blessed. Cynthia continues to do both
administrative and clinical work at the Obstetrics Department at Shands
Hospital, Gainesville FL. Our children and grandchildren are hale and
healthy, one being 4 years old and the others 3 and 2. We had a wonderful
family gathering this year in Sarasota where we got to revel in the
grandchildren a bit.
One advantage of mailing our letter late this year is that we can invite
you to consider giving our publications or perhaps a scholarship in our
course as a gift during the holiday season. The gift can be to yourself of
course. In addition to the meaning of a gift from you to the recipient, you
also give back to the Earth by providing information for more sustainable
living, and of course supporting us in our effort to make such information
widely available. If you lose your order form, you can download the current
version from our web page.
We know that most of you are also working hard for Mother Earth in many
ways. We thank you for your efforts and look to join forces when appropriate.
For Mother Earth, Dan Hemenway