Why "Growing Edge?"

Earth Hey! Life is amazing and if you aren't paying attention, it just may be passing you by. Slow down! Observe what is around you. Plant a garden. Make your own food. Create Beauty.

Welcome to our blog. We love discovering what Earth has to teach anyone willing to be on the Growing Edge of life.

--Denise Rushing, New Story Center
--Loretta McCarthy aka EarthWalker, Soulwork Adventures

Friday, October 28, 2016

How to "Allow": Create Optimal Conditions and then Trust

When I was nine years old, my fourth grade science teacher had us plant pumpkin seeds in half-cut waxed milk cartons.  I eagerly anticipated the sprouting of the seeds and once they started to grow, I and my classmates measured our plant’s progress each day and recorded it in our scientific lab books.
Once the plants were between six and eight inches tall, the teacher concluded our lesson and sent the plants home with us.  I beamed with pride.  My three plants were among the tallest in the class and I couldn’t wait to show them to my parents and our next door neighbor who was an avid gardener.
Our neighbor told me that he would help me transplant my pumpkin seedlings into the ground, something  I thought we would do it together.  But unbeknownst to me, his plan was to transplant the plants while I was at school.

My first reaction at seeing my three pumpkin plants in the ground was one of disappointment.  They looked so small —much shorter than they were before.  So … when no one was looking, I pulled one of the plants up a bit to make it taller.  I heard a little “snap” in the stem.


I quickly shoved it back where it was.  Had I killed it?  I had a terrible feeling that I had.

The next morning my fears were realized.  When I saw the injured pumpkin seedling, my heart sank. The plant was on its side, wilted on the ground, dead and  I knew that I was responsible.  In my impatience to have it be the tallest plant,  now I had no plant at all.    

But that is not the end of the story.  (Remember, there were two other pumpkin plants.)  Together, my gardener neighbor and I mixed a really smelly concoction he called fish fertilizer with water.   How could my plants like this awful stuff?  We watered the two remaining plants with this pungent water.

We also surrounded them with compost.  I learned that compost was made mostly of dead plants, which oddly gave me some comfort that my dead pumpkin seedling would someday help other plants too.

In a few short weeks, my two remaining pumpkin plants were huge.

The lessons for my nine year old self was twofold:
First, you cannot force growing things.  You cannot make them grow by pulling on them.  If you force a living thing to your will before its time, it dies.
Second:  from death springs life.

I realized that the best way for pumpkins to grow was to create conditions they like, give them what they need (and it may not be what I prefer) and allow them to be.  

Allow rather than force.   Create optimal conditions and then trust.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Beneficial Connections...

This is a story about the power of connection.

When I first bought what is now Dancing TreePeople Farm, I imagined that I was going to create a fully sustainable life... all by myself.

I would grow my own food, make my own energy, put in place a permaculture oasis and would create everything I need on the farm.

Along the way, I learned that this is utter folly.
I learned that it is impossible to create a sustainable life by myself.  Yes, I could spend all my time and treasure to create a Shangrila --and end up broke and exhausted.  In fact, I came close, all the way to putting a "for sale" sign out in front of the farm.

Fortunately, friends convinced me that there was something we could do together... we could create a community and help each other.

Here is my aha:

The most joy, the most abundance, and the most sustainable life increases with the number of beneficial connections.  Relationships.  People. Community.

Today, we receive amazing organic vegetables from nearby farms by our farm mates helping others out. We receive seedlings from those who appreciate our eggs.  We dream big creams and play-- we share what we have and receive.  It is fun and beautiful.  Our farm is stable financially and we are alive and loving life.

The permaculture principle: Stability through Beneficial Connections.  It's simple.  The most stable systems have the most beneficial and diverse connections.

From Tending the Soul's Garden:
Stability is achieved through beneficial connections between diverse beings.  Thus, diversity is related to stability. It is not, however, the number of diverse elements you can pack into a system, but rather the useful or beneficial relationships you can create between these elements. 
Stable systems are created through beneficial connections.  This suggests that for those who worry about the stability of their household or local economy, or any other significant outer problem for that matter, time might be best spent creating and cultivating beneficial relationships.  With these relationships, comes less volatility and greater stability.

Permaculture Principle: Edge Effect

Growth and new life, as well as innovation, comes from the edges where different systems meet.  "Edge Effect" celebrates one of the thirteen permaculture principles.

From Tending the Soul's Garden:

"Edge Effect refers to that which occurs in a system along its edges.  The principle recognizes the use of natural patterns as the basis of design. In nature, the creation of greater edge provides us with a greater surface area, therefore giving us greater production, increased positive relationship opportunities, more places for nature to create and work and evolve, and a greater edge between microclimates.
In invisible structures, such as a societal culture, the edges or margins tend to foster a greater creativity.  In our personal inner world, the edges are the places of greatest discomfort and often can be that “creative edge” where we experience the most personal growth.  
It helps to observe and notice the “edges” both in our community and in our lives and cultivate a deeper awareness of the gifts present in these areas."

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Permaculture Principle: Start Small then Expand.

"S" in the the Reclaiming Tuesday series, this painting highlights the permaculture principle: start small then expand.

The entire series is a celebration of the wonder and awe at the heart of the Universe.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

New World View

Here is the poster announcing the opening of my Art Show at the Lake County Wine Studio on August 5th and 6th, 2016.  Attendance to view the art is FREE.  $15 if you want to sample the wine and food pairings.

The painting depicted on the poster is called "View from the Sun" from the New World View series.


Friday, May 06, 2016

Averting a Desecration

2200 acres of sacred land on the James River. land that has been entrusted to the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, is at risk for sale under the rationale "money is needed to do our work".  This land represents the true legacy of this congregation and the most important work of our time--preservation of wild places so Earth can heal.  

Photos here include the Slave Cemetery on site, the Granary which was to become a Thomas Berry Earth literacy center, the grounds that converted a former southern plantation into transformative education for future african-american leaders.

I find it so ironic that SBS is considering selling Belmead in order to "continue the work of the congregation", when Belmead and its surrounding estate is THE most significant legacy and represents SBS’s greatest work at this moment in time.  Thomas Berry (mystic, theologian, seer and widsom figure for our age) himself shared the following message with this congregation at their Motherhouse:

“”The primary role of religious congregations of women at present might well be to preserve Earth from future devastation”   “…. the extensive properties owned by religious communities, properties that are still in a relatively undisturbed state, where wildlife is often abundant, where human predation is limited, where the primordial impress of the divine can still be felt, and where a sense of the sacred is available.  Preservation of such lands is one of the greatest urgencies of the moment.”

The preservation of this sacred gift entrusted to you (on behalf of all humans and the living systems of the planet) would be remembered for generations, if not millennia.  To squander the gift is a desecration and  a huge mistake -- one that will reverberate for all time.

A desecration.

Sisters, I urge you to consider the following:

Your greatest shrine was never at your Motherhouse… it was the 2200 acres of sacred lands entrusted to you at Belmead along the James River.  Your greatest legacy is contained in these sacred lands.

We sit at the foot of the cross.  The crucifixion of the sacred incarnation is underway and we weep, horrified, as lots are cast.  

Please reconsider your decision to sell your property on the James River.  Earth and her People Need You to preserve this place.

More here:  www.richmond.com/news/local/central-virginia/powhatan/powhatan-today/article_005dc56a-1313-11e6-8696-93316f58ff8d.html

Fed Up?

The Movie Trailer is out and the topic is more than a little bit horrifying.. and well worth watching:

Michael Pollan is featured in Fed Up .  He is the author of : "Food Rules"--a wonderful little guide  that's essentially a really really short version of his book "In Defense of Food"  It has easy to implement "rules" like: "Don't eat anything that comes in through the window of your car" and "Eat Your Colors."  (except blue perhaps).  In fact, his book is easy enough to follow that I've actually followed it.  I feel healthier and more energetic now that I did in my thirties.

The last frontier for me was sugar in all its refined forms.  About four months ago, I gave up eating sugar and its truly evil cousin: high fructose corn syrup.   It was a difficult habit to kick.  After seeing the movie trailer, now I know why.


Friday, March 25, 2016

DIY Walnut Milk Recipe

If you are following Permaculture Soul, you know that our associated eco-farm -- Dancing TreePeople -- is offering a new product that can help you make tasty walnut milk (or other nut milk) at home.  Here is a video that shows you how to make it. 
Dancing TreePeople organic walnuts play a starring role in this production!

And the milk is VERY tasty.  give it a try  -- you can get yours on Amazon.  (Reviews please)

Monday, February 15, 2016

A (near) zero waste lifestyle

I thought I was doing great to have only a tiny bag of trash each week.  Lauren's choice is inspiring:

What is Permaculture?

Permaculture (permanent agriculture) is an ecological design framework inspired by living systems. The ethics, root practices and principles in permaculture can be applied to the garden, the farm, and indeed any living system including human structures.