I just returned from my first permaculture convergence in Turner Valley in Southern Alberta! A “convergence” is a conference with workshops surrounding different permaculture topics, tours of permaculture sites and other permacultural activities. I find “conference” is too sterile a word to describe a permie gathering. There was an emphasis on the sharing of food, connecting with eachother, building community, and other hippy-dippy things we all need a little bit more of in our fast-paced lives. It was a wonderful experience.
I participated in a workshop about plant propagation and took home a black currant cutting. I went on a wild crafting walk and learned to identify some wild edible and medicinal plants. I got tips on how to take the most interesting and beautiful photos of a permaculture site. I learned about the many technical details that go into setting up a rainwater catchment system. On the last day, I went to an intensive papermaking workshop where I made paper by hand from rhubarb and day lilies from the host’s garden! There was also a pool party, a big potluck, tours, a talent show (I dusted off the old ukulele for that one!), a “World Cafe” or structured open discussion time, yoga, and lots of bonfire socializing time. Many of the convergence attendees camped at the campsite next to the convergence facility, so the whole area became a little village of like-minded friendly awesomeness. I met some wonderful new people and became closer with some past acquaintances, and am still riding on the high of a very fulfilling weekend!
After the Convergence and a much needed good night’s sleep in my own bed, I woke up and realized I had no fresh groceries. Lately, I’ve been trying to avoid the grocery stores and stick to farmers markets. So far the only thing I am buying regularly from the store is milk, and flour from bulk barn. Unfortunately, my next local farmer’s market was still a few days out. I was trying to plan my day around a grocery run, even though all I really wanted to do was stay home, have some quality dog time, and catch up on chores and computer work. I didn’t want to have to use my car or deal with big box stores and be assaulted by advertisements. Then I took the pup outside and made a fantastic discovery: I didn’t have to go to the store because I had all the food I needed growing in my yard. This is where it comes full circle and you bring the energy of your PDC or Permaculture Convergence into your home. It all makes sense when plants that you have nurtured are there when you need them, not just to provide nourishment, but also to relieve some of the stresses of modern life. The raspberries, saskatoon berries, and even some currants have just gotten ripe enough to eat, and the many haskaps (also known as June berries) have appeared since last months intensive harvest. Buckets and buckets of garlic scapes where harvested last week and sit in storage, and the nettles have come back since I cut them down for pesto this spring. Several varieties of lettuce and parsley I planted are begging to be harvested. It might not be the same staples or diversity available at the grocery store, but it’s certainly enough to satisfy me. I acknowledge I didn’t plant and care for the the fruit trees I’m benefiting from at my house here, but I see that as just another beautiful thing about these systems: they’re not only feeding individuals, they’re feeding the community. It all comes full circle when you put the effort in and connect yourself to good people.
That’s enough of my happy permaculture ramblings. See a few pictures below of a couple of the workshops and my yard.