After a university trip to Thailand to work with students from Uruguai to Burma on addressing climate change adaptation with a focus on farmers, I flew back to Japan, climbed the Japanese Alps with my dad the following day, spent two nights there, descended, and flew to the US the following day. What a strange life-style I've adopted. Fast pace and energy intensive.
I visited Dave (Bullocks intern for 7 years, permaculture teacher and designer) in Seattle and got my first dose of a permy nerd-out session since I left the Bullocks last year. He told me about his trips to Costa Rica (design project), Nicaragua (teach a PDC at Finca Bona Fide), and Peru (another design project). He's also working on a new permaculture designer's manual which has been long overdue. On the topic of writing, I'm contributing to a book called Sustainable (R)evolution: Permaculture in practice around the world which I just happened across online. It's quite an interesting project, check out their website.
FYI, Dave's design business is called Terra Pheonix and it includes Paul (former intern) and Doug Bullock. They do some cool fancy permaculture designs. Below is an example of their design for a site in Costa Rica (good educational material).Costa Rica Center for Natural Living
....and from Seattle I head to the magical world of the Bullocks.
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The first dinner was Yuriko's signature temaki sushi night!
A beautiful spread full of color, flavor, kyupi mayonaise,
and homegrown homemade fruit wine (I don't drink but its still exciting).
Let the overeating begin.
After the dinner I was invited to a good ol' contra dance at nearby Maple Rock farm, an organic market farm. Despite my tiredness, I reasoned with myself that I need to dance and enjoy life that Tokyo cannot offer. Just so happens that the band playing at the dance was on the same ferry that I came on and I saw them playing as we travelled toward Orcas. What a treat. I had such a great time at the contra dance that I forgot to take pictures so below is a googled picture, but it communicates the vibe. If you ever have a chance to go to a contra dance in a barn, I highly recommend it.
The following day I joined Jane (Bullocks skill-builder) on a tour for a tour group organized by a transition town group and Paul from Permies.com. Here they enter the zone 2 (or 3) hoop houses full of exotic plants and potential. To the right you can see myoga/hardy ginger, yacon (behind), and to the left is a passion flower plant. There is also a pot of a happy wasabi plant. Wasabi leaves also contain the wasabi-nose-clearing hotness and are tasty if cooked skillfully.
Jane talking about the solar water pump system. It's really quite an impressive design since it requires no batteries, materials were scavenged and found, and it's easy to understand. If these pumps do fail though, we have a gas pump as back up, and 12 interns as an extra back up
Permaculture principle: Redundancy
I decided to take the kids on a fairy habitat and animal tour.
These kids new their stuff.
This girl found a few chicks that escaped the coop and skillfully grabbed one.
She had helped raise chickens in her home and was impressively knowledgeable about them.
After the fruit tour I was led on a fruit grazing tour with two skill-builders.
This led me to the far far field where there is an experimental apricot seedling orchard.
The production was limited but the flavor was exceptional.
These are being replaced for grapes which will probably produce more abundantly.
There is a lot of experimenting and adjustments happening at the Bullocks,
a good practice to take home.
After eating plums, apricots, and raspberries, Jane and Jimmy hit the aronia patch.
Aronia (aka chokeberry) is high in antioxidents but is astringent raw.
They are a forest understory plant and birds like them.
Aronia is known to be drought, insect, pollution, and disease resistant.
Below Jane is fuki, an edible Japanese plant which is also astringent. An ash or baking soda solution can remove the astringency. The stalks and flower shoots are eaten in Japan.
I came across a beautiful crab apple tree that penetrated the cloudy grey day with vibrant red fruit.
Crab apple (malus fusca) grows like a weed all over the Bullocks property.
The Bullocks have utilized this resource and grafted several dozen apple varieties on crab apple root stock.
Yuriko and Jane lobbied for a new set of fowl friends to add to the chicken and duck collection.
Keets are known to eat ticks (lime disease vector), snakes, and act as an alarm system. Unfortunately for the Bullocks who love snakes, these guys might do some damage to the snake population. The Bullocks primarily have garter snakes who eat slugs among other pests. Hmmm...how to design co-existence.
Keets are fun to play with too. Jimmy and Yuriko give the Keets flying lessons.
Keets move in pacts so they are quite easy to corner and catch.
Yuriko braiding an onion bunch as third year skill-builder C8 takes a bite of freshly picked fennel.
Third year skill-builder James shows off his fava harvest as he snacks on a fennel plant. He harvested a mix of green and purple favas.
Everybody helpingwith the shelling. Farm group activities like this are a great way to work, socialize, and have fun. Pictured are two visitors, two skill-builders, and Yuriko.
On the third night, there was a birthday party at a nearby woodcarver's house. The night started with fresh farm appetizers and homemade local salmon ceviche, followed by moose meat and soft lamb ribs. Dessert was red washington plums and juicy shiro plums, and the grand finale was blackberry topped chocolate mousse. It's nice to be in an environment where harvesting locally, eating seasonally, and cooking things is the norm. These people really love food. From soil to plate to poop.
The delightful evening ended with a dance party hosted by DJ Alef. In contrast to the old-school contra dance two days ago, this was an excellent blend of electronica (house?) and we danced past midnight.
My life in Tokyo feels like a sci-fi dystopia techno-fantasy...
...and Orcas feels like a utopian permaculture fantasy world.
I love it