margaretha haughwout

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Nov 072010
 

On our inner city permaculture farm we find heroin needles in between the broccoli plants. We have a barbed wire fence that wraps around the entire 2.5 acres of our “freeway food forest” — a food forest that is rising from the ruins of a freeway that collapsed and then lay dormant for 20 years. At night there is a pregnant cat that makes the place her own (all the sheet mulching has stirred up the mice and rats). Other folks crawl through the fence at night too. With perhaps one exception, the people that come at night aren’t the same people that come during the day. Often “fresh” needles appear in the morning. The stories we write about here all have to do with the chain link and barbed wire fence that was on site when we arrived. The forces it is meant to keep out, the forces it is meant to contain, the edge it creates around our site, the fact that it is there at all.

please join the chapter fourteen email list to read the rest of the post and the ensuing dialog. join the conversation!

/m

Oct 132010
 

Hey all,

I’m writing from San Francisco, my home these days. San Francisco is at the forefront of an amazing urban gardening movement, and it is very exciting! I’ve been working very closely with one urban farm in particular, called Hayes Valley Farm. It’s a 2.3 acre food forest rising from a freeway that collapsed during the ’89 earthquake. I hold the title of Lead Researcher on the Biodiversity Team. Most recently for 350.org’s 10-10-10 global day of action to prevent climate change, we began an effort to research and steward what edible and medicinal plants do well in the multiple microclimates within the city. We gave away 150 permaculture kits to initiate healthy ecosystems in folks’ backyards, front yards, planter pots, or vertical wall gardens (we get creative in the city). Our ultimate question is “how many people can you feed on how little urban land?” I like to think it is possible to have sustainable cities, but I wonder too if they stay cities or become something new…. This teeters on an artistic and pedagogical piece I recently did for Mary Walling Blackburn’s Radical Citizenship: the Tutorials, called Root, City, Thorn.

Anyway, I’m also very involved in thinking about the human organizational models that encourage healthy ecosystems and healthy people. We are facing some very juicy challenges on the farm and are seeking answers from lots of different sources. To this end, and in the spirit of exchanging insight, I’ve just launched an email list called Chapter Fourteen. I hope all you UMaine alumns involved in permaculture and/or participatory models of communication will join this list and share what you’ve learned from your own communities, as well as stories about where you’re stuck.

Please join! http://lists.beforebefore.net/listinfo.cgi/chapter_fourteen-beforebefore.net Beginning on the new moon November 5th we’ll have roughly 2 week discussions around the topic a moderator initiates. Please let me know if you’re interested in facilitating a discussion, and I’ll sign you up!

Thanks Jon for getting NMDnet going!

xoxo