On Saturday the Sustainable Living Arts School hosted the “Garden Now for Fresh Food Year Round: A Winter Garden Course”. Heather Johnstone was the teacher.
I’ve organized a couple of learning parties with Heather over the last few months- one on starting seeds, one transforming a patio into an edible garden- and we’re hoping to do one on home brewing soon. She organizes the annual permaculture meet-up on Cortes Island which in just two years has become the highlight of my winter months. She was at Abundant Food in the City: An Urban Permaculture Workshop with Gregoire. She also hired me to do a strategic plan for the Edible Garden Project, which she coordinates on the North Shore. (They’re a fabulous, smart and incredibly productive organization that grows and collects home-grown produce and distributes it those in need.) So I guess it’s safe to say we’re colleagues, and that alone makes me proud of this last year’s work.
What’s really thrilling about this organizing work with the Sustainable Living Arts School is that I get to organize learning parties for what I want to learn, with teachers that I want to learn from. Heather repeatedly joked on Saturday about her “lazy gardening” or her refusal to buy supplies. Why collect kale seeds when you can let them dry on the plant and then shake them around the garden? Why can vegetables when you can ferment them in some salt-water for 1/4 the work? Why slave over jam when you can freeze some strawberries on trays and dump them in bags for treats all winter long? Why buy lumber when you can salvage wood from the old fence being torn down across the street?
There’s an awful lot of productivity in this laziness of course. But what there isn’t at all is any of that manic Martha perfectionism which paralyzes me. There’s also almost no shopping involved which is delightful and rare. The emphasis with Heather is on the joy of growing and figuring stuff out, on hacking your way through, and on eating, drinking and celebrating what you make.