Gardening classes starting

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It may be snowy right now, but it’s time to start thinking about summer gardening. Classes are available every other Wednesday from 6-8 beginning March 29th.


First light

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First light: Remember yesterday, when you wrote down the first thought you had this morning? Great. Now write a post about it. (prompt from DailyPost)

Maybe not first light so much (it’s coming soon and I promise to take a picture) as much as first notions.

It must be spring because my head is filled with more ideas and new life for old ideas than I can handle. It’s almost completely overwhelming. I have been keeping notes on my phone, on scraps of paper, in a little spiral journal I uncovered while cleaning off my desk. 

I think I’m going to take over this blog and get into the habit of writing every day. I love to write. I’ve written a novel. I teach writing. I love to read and read and read. So I’m going to write using these handy prompts a few times a week and then write more about permaculture principles and how they apply to how we parent our children or, in some cases, how we could parent our children a little bit better and more intentionally than how we do right now. When I began studying permaculture I realized that much of what I’ve done as a parent, and as a person too, has always gone along with the principles of permaculture.

I’m also going to apply to begin earning my EdD in transformational leadership. My intent is to focus on applying the permaculture principles (yes, again) to educational institutional change. 

So, this blog has a newer look to it and I may change and tweak it some more before the sun’s first light has even come up over the mountains. 

Gazing and grazing on Williams St

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On Thursday evenings, Saskia Esslinger of Williams St Farmhouse has been hosting tours of her yard, explaining the systems and the principles of permaculture.
It was a treat last night to go with my parents – the sun popped back out just for us! There was a big crowd, with lots if kids and lots of food questions.
For a suggested donation of $25 this is an educational and beautiful two hours. As always, Saskia’s home is inspirational and fun.
















Permaculture public garden tour

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On Sunday the Anchorage Permaculture Guild held a tour of public gardens on the east side of town. Two of the gardens, the first and last, followed permaculture principles while the others, while not exactly permaculture gardens, definitely were interesting. Full disclosure: I didn’t take good notes, I missed one whole stop, and my pictures don’t really do anything justice.


First stop! College Alps Condo Association’s garden at Bryn Mawr Court as hosted (check out the spread!) by Seija and Sarah.20130806-191315.jpg














Second stop! St Anthony’s Church Garden (825 Klevin St). Located adjacent to Catholic Social Services, this garden also serves refugees.20130806-191628.jpg





Stop four! (see what happened there? we missed the Bragaw Community Garden in Mountain View) McPhee Community Garden in Mountain View. The rule is “no permanent structures” but it seems vandalism and theft are an issue so the makeshift fences and gates are fascinating. This is the oldest garden, at 30-40 years.










And the newest garden, Methodist Church Garden at 1660 Patterson, was the next-to-last stop.








Cormac’s favorite was the third grade garden at Anchorage Waldorf School. I love the fence and greenhouse and the way it is perched on top of the hill.20130806-191931.jpg




Grey water

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Here is an interesting post from a tiny house blog on grey water use.

Greywater Systems

Small worm bin

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I have a large worm bin at my house, but I wanted to make a bin that I can keep safely at school, under my desk. This would also work underneath a kitchen sink or another small space.

My worms are mostly eating coffee grounds and shredded paper, but they also get some leftover vegetables from lunch and from home.

I used two smaller bins that fit under my desk.

After drilling holes for aeration, I covered the boxes with paper (to keep the worms in the dark), added food, soil and dampened paper for the worms to dig in, and put the boxes together.


clear boxes need to be covered


adding in organic matter after it is chopped up


I use a Keurig at work. This kind is easier to add the grounds and filters to the worm bin.



But with scissors and a little effort it is possible to use the regular K cups.


Poke a hole, dump the grounds, and peel the filter out.


I drilled aeration holes and then covered the bin with paper. I poked holes through the paper too.


Here’s my worm bin, expertly covered in leftover scrapbooking paper.


And here’s the bin, tucked away under my desk.

Emergency water filter

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Following the instructions in the video below I made an emergency water filter in front of my AP Language class this morning. Students in AP Lang have been working on a year-long project called CRAVE, during which they investigate an issue they are passionate about and work to answer a research question. My research question has been “How can my family live more lightly on the earth?” and in order to answer it I am taking permaculture classes through the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

I purchased most of my components from the garden section of Lowe’s but one eluded me: large to medium size gravel. I resorted to taking some from around the foundation of my house and though I rinsed it a few times, I did not wash it. Upon completing my water filter the dirty water did not come out clean. So, what happened? My theory is that the gravel from the house wasn’t clean enough. We ran clean water through the filter and it still came out dirty, though sediment sank to the bottom of the lower half of the filter.

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A few weeks ago I was completely fascinated by scientists putting UV threads in window panes in order to prevent birds from crashing into window panes and dying. They’d noticed that birds don’t “see” glass but are able to avoid spiderwebs when flying quickly through a forest. Spiderwebs have, you guessed it, ultraviolet light that birds can see, and know to avoid. So I’ve been talking about these ideas and biomimicry with Cormac, because it’s cool.

This afternoon on NPR we heard a story about hagfish; the slime they create to fight off sharks and other sea creatures has threads in it that are strong, like silk. The hope is that the thread can be used to replaces fibers like spandex, which are created from oil, a non-renewable resource. Hagfish threads are made from proteins which can be created in a lab rather than directly from the hagfish, creatures that are difficult to raise in captivity. ”

“Proteins are a renewable resource because we can get organisms to make them,” says Douglas Fudge the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.

Here’s a link to the NPR story:

And a cool video of hagfish being attacked by sharks! Biomimicry is cool for kids.