Below is a brief account of our September 1 tour. (Thank you to Lucill Ashlie for the photos!)
The first ever Calgary Permaculture Tour kicked off at Wildwood Garden in the afternoon of September 1, with some introductions of all in attndance and a brief lesson on Permaculture followed by a tour of the garden itself and how the principles of permaculture have been integrated in its design.
Guests were then given a demonstration on how to assemble a “global bucket” (a home-made self-watering planter) with Sara Haney of Puzzle Permaculture. Each guest was given one of these creations to take home.
We were then surprised with snacks donated by Tim and Carolyn of nearby Cabin Cafe for our enjoyment before embarking on the next leg of our journey. While en route to Verge Permaculture, Sara brought to light the city’s current landscaping practices as seen out the windows of our vehicle, inquiring what could be changed in order to build more resilient system, as well as pointing out some useful, food-bearing plants along the way.
Upon arriving at Verge Permaculture headquarters, home of Rob and Michelle Avis, the skies were beginning to look a little ominous. After touring the ever-expanding front yard food forest, we made our way to the back to listen to Rob and Michelle provide lessons on their solar greenhouse, worm compost, mass rocket stove, solar array, and countless other devices built for energy saving and self-reliance—with much more to be constructed.
That is when the hail hit! Everyone ducked for cover under the back yard awning by the “turtle” cob oven while the tarps were frantically rolled out over the veggie beds. The marble-to-quarter-sized hail lasted about half an hour, but Rob and Michelle were still able to speak above the deafening thrash of frozen shrapnel, providing the tour group with insights into their permaculture trials, tribulations and successes.
When the hail finally subsided, we hit the road for our next destination, The AREA. From the street, one would never guess this was a major gathering spot for shows, education, and some of the best musical talents of the city. This is where permaculture reveals its cultural side and connection to the community.
The group was led by Kym Chi, the designer and curator of the stunning mandala garden on an educational tour of the site, the century school house, and event centre. Shortly thereafter, all were treated to a slice of home-made local pizza fresh out of the cob oven. Guests were then given a demonstration on creating their herbal vinegar led by Sara, in which all tour members participated. Once again each had another take-home gift of their own creation. Thus began the fourth stretch of our journey which involved a tour of the Leaf Ninjas’ S.P.I.N. farming plots throughout the neighbourhood of Ramsay, led by Luke Kimmel. This part of the tour differed in that we remained seated in our vehicle while snaking through the maze of back alleyways and side streets while Luke engaged listeners with a visual journey through this revolutionary way of producing and marketing food crops. (Continued below slideshow...)
Finally, we ventured 25 minutes to the southwest of Calgary to our final destination in the foothills, the flourishing Patterson Springs Farm. We were guided by Louise Bruns to sample tasty greens and herbs from the veggie gardens, and then directed throughout this century farm to observe everything from greenhouse to livestock to a triple mandala garden overlooking the lush valley. Dinner hour was upon us, so everyone brought their appetites back to the yurt for a home-grown, multiple-course, organic dinner. In case you are curious, below is the menu from the evening (Sorry I don't have photos of the food yet!)...
A special thanks goes out to everyone who helped to make the 2012 a reality, as well as to to all who attended as we look forward to the tours of 2013!!!
Reviews of the 2012 Tour...
"Saturday's tour was quite possibly the most inspiring and motivating tour I've ever attended, and it really made me re-think how I view Calgary.
I've often thought that I'd need to move to BC to really be able to put some of my goals/beliefs into action, but now I can see that there is a vibrant permie community taking shape right here in Calgary. And these people are coming up with countless creative ways in which we can change the way we live and eat. Thanks for helping open my eyes to what is happening in my own city! … [T]he permaculture tour is already having a big impact in my quality of life. Thanks again and I hope you continue providing these tours to others! "
“This was, by far, one of the most impressive and interesting tours I have ever taken. I know I will be talking about it for days. All of the leaders were very knowledgeable and answered every question we threw at them. I never knew how much Calgary had to offer, or all of the things that could be done in a city to live a more eco-friendly life. I would definitely recommend this to anyone and everyone. Faith in humanity restored thanks to Ted and Sara!”
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Ted Bahr is the founder of Prairie Sage Permaculture