Thursday, January 28, 2010
I’m back from travels and taken time to reflect on the 727 Dameron Drive project, where it came from, and where I am going with it.
As the project nears a completion point, I am doing a lot of soul searching, and planning another project.
To put this project in perspective of what we accomplished and what we can do, I wrote this short list.
· We started with an overgrown property in 2006. The idea was to build a community space, permaculture site, and an example of urban agriculture—that’s exactly what we did.
· We recycled an 80 year old house
· Built compost bins, soil, and a solar shower
· Built gardens and grow food
· Brought in chickens, and have eggs and meat
· Built a cottage, a kiln, and acquired lots of tools
· We built an addition, bedroom, and bathroom
· Fencing, a chicken coop, and an animal run
· We built gardens on my neighbor’s property
· Helped lots children, students, and others
· We provided tours, community dinners, and made this place open to all
· We removed the balance of the 80 year old house and made room for more growing
· We worked with the City, friends, and family to complete this wonderful project
· We also built a lot of wonderful relationships
3 more Projects:
1. We are completing a workshop and tool shed
2. Planning an entryway made of granite stones from the foundation of the original house.
3. We are repairing and putting a new face on the outside living area or as I still call it, The Carport.
· I am working on a new nonprofit start up project called Skull Valley Gardens, located 15 miles down from Prescott in Skull Valley, AZ.
Three things I am interested in:
1. hearing people’s thoughts, ideas, and input on the project
2. someone interested in grant writing
3. someone to manage the 727 Dameron Drive property as I move on
Please understand this new project and notes are in the preliminary stages. I am writing a business plan, collecting data, and nothing is set in stone.
Skull Valley Gardens aims to meet the needs of children and students in Yavapai County learn about self-worth, personal growth and the benefits of sustainable living by expanding the 727 Dameron Drive project to a 30 acre property in Skull Valley, AZ.
The need for social change and personal development is clear and present. Delivering an educational experience is necessary to shape and develop new thoughts and ideas.
Less money is being allocated to support services at the governmental level and in private industry. More and more families can not afford to pay for private services that help their children. This is why we need more organizations focused on children to help them develop. It is imperative in these times of limiting resources and economic times.
This experience enables the student to develop healthy relationships and fosters a desire to learn about them. Students come to learn they can make a difference.
Key elements include: a learning space that teaches children and students of all ages that they too can make a difference in their lives and in the lives of others. Activities include: growing organic food, raising animals, composting, recycling, water-conservation, enjoying a higher quality of life and having fun.
· “My vision is to reach children through a learning experience that will positively influence and potentially change their lives and the lives of many; in doing so, create social change through subsistence farming and show children that they are part of this change.”
· To aide in the development of new ideas and ways of living through an educational experience including growing food, raising animals, and enjoying the qualities of sustainability…to positively influence and potentially change the lives on many; in doing so, create a social change and show children that they are part of this change.
· “to help children find their way”
· I am in the process of writing the second draft of the nonprofit business plan. Next, I will send it out to a few friends and professionals for comment. If the project feels feasible, I will go ahead and secure the property, create the organization, file the federal and state paperwork and look for grant money to expand the project.
· To help children
· To grow food, raise animals, and live sustainably
· To fulfill a lifetime goal to give back part of the wonderful experience I have received.
· A lifetime commitment on my part
· Passionate people to help
· Close friends
· Skilled labor, and
· Lots of money
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Fall ’09 /
Alright everyone, this newsletter will be mostly pictures. I hope you enjoy them cause I’m going to Ireland and hopefully, taking a bunch of time off this winter…after the next two projects I have planned. :/
• Transitions Magazine published an article titled:
Dameron Drive: An Evolving Oasis
• The main house is down, recycled, and the remains removed from the property.
• The Ecosa Institute of Sustainable Design Education keeps coming by for tours on sustainable systems, recycling, and natural building methods and materials.
• Chef Molly’s Kids Cooking Camp came by this summer to learn about urban agriculture, food systems, compost, and raising chickens in the city.
• The addition is finished. We finished the exterior in lime plaster. We installed a brick paver floor in the bathroom.
• Urban Agriculture: I saved corn, beans, squash, potatoes, tomatoes, beets, and melon…not as much as I would expect. Overall, I found a difficult year reaping a fraction of what I planted.
I still do tours so just give me a heads up if you’re coming by.
Monday, June 22, 2009
…people want a newsletter update…here it goes:
• The addition: nearly complete…we have left, install the bathroom fixtures and exterior lime finish.
• Agriculture: we have corn, beans, squash, potatoes, peas, lettuce, tomatoes, beets, carrots, cantaloupe, and cucumbers growing. With the gardens 10-times larger this year, it’s been challenging.
• Construction: we started finishing the exterior in lime plaster. We covered the gable ends in wood pine board and baton. We also need to install a brick floor from recycled bricks I saved from the old chimney I removed three years ago.
• Tomorrow: we start the demolition on the main house. As some of you know, three years ago I started recycling the main house. I removed as much wood, metal, wire, screws, hinges, glass, and fixtures as I possibly could. Now, all we have left is the four standing walls, lathe and stucco, gable ends, a floor and foundation to remove.
After the addition and demolition, I plan to take a two-week break to focus on farming: providing local food to local people. After that, I want to complete our design and start building a 1000 square-foot greenhouse.
• rainwater collection
• solar hot water & electric
Happenings in Prescott:
• Local Food: You can get a lot of local food around the neighborhood this summer. We have several food stands offering locally grown vegetables, eggs, milk, cheese, teas, and other fresh stuff.
• Community Dinners and tours still happen here each Wednesday: tours at 6pm, dinner at 6:30. We may change dates to accommodate a summer vegetable stand…stay tuned, e-mail me, or stop by and read the board for more info.
• Karma Farm: to create and run subsistence urban farms, lead by volunteers, for the growth and free distribution of vegetables to the community…yes folks, free, barter, or trade.
You can look at the pictures on the web and/or see these notes:
• poured floors with earth and straw
• watched a hailstorm, bugs, and chickens tear-up young plants
• finished a board & baton gable end finish
• placed wood pine trunks & elm tree branches as window and door trim
• built squash mounds
• weeded beds constantly
• planted 440 corn & 40 squash plants
• Kelly planted and moved tons of plants
• Mark helped with electric and plumbing
• Cassandra and others worked on earth plastering the walls and floor
• Gregory and Sean worked on framing and roofing
…why do I do this, because it feels right. In the people, place, and endless work, I find peace…and in this peace I try to give an example of sustainability…how we can operate within a larger group while providing for ourselves, our families, and the community we live in.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
May 7, 2009
With the spirit of spring, we have beets, carrots, flowers, garlic, grapes, lettuce, onion, peas, peppers, potatoes, rosemary, Swiss chard, and tomatoes growing. Basil, beans, corn, cowpeas, herbs, more flowers, more peppers, more potatoes, spinach, and squash shall follow fast.
Irrigation and Water Conservation:
· We built a drip irrigation system to water 1200 feet of vegetable beds and 700 feet of perennial garden space.
· We built a French drain around the addition foundation to divert and capture water. This water and the existing water already diverted from the front of the property will end up and potentially flood the well. I am installing a 1,500-gallon water tank above the well to capture the excess water. We’ll build a platform above the well and run a solar pump to lift the water as the well level rises. This water will help reduce my environmental impact and dependence on using processed city water. Also, water from the sky has more nutrients and minerals that help plants grow better.
CSA—we still have a few spots open in our CSA to receive fresh local vegetables and eggs this summer. Our season begins late May/early June and will continue until our fall crops mature, and our dry foods are processed. If you wanna join us, let me or Kelly know ASAP.
As everyone probably knows, I am selling eggs on a daily bases, so come on by.
We have 25 baby chicks in the brooder and 25 more coming June 10th…if you want chicks or fresh chicken meat, let me know.
Community Dinner/potluck & Tours:
Wednesday from 6-8 pm, I open this place up for tours and a community meal. Bring some food, something to eat with, and something to share (music, stories, or yourself) and join us for community dinner.
Methods, materials, and a way to work…the construction seems to always happen. If you look at the photos ( http://www.flickr.com/photos/hippiegypsy/sets/72157617737900421/ ) you can see all the progress on the addition and all the neat things happening on the property…pictures speak a thousand words.
· An old rusty porcelainized wash basin from the outhouse will become a bathroom sink.
· An old copper water spigot will become a sink faucet.
· An old watering can rose will become a showerhead.
· Old chimney bricks from the main-house will pave the shower floor and rear entrance landing.
· Old wood pieces from around the property make the attic vents.
· Dirt, clay, and sand from this site will coat the walls, floor, and ceiling.
· The old gable ends from the main-house will become a new board and baton finish on the addition gable end.
· A recycled window/planter box will fill a 5-foot south facing window space.
· Recycled tile and grout will finish the shower walls.
The interior earthen finish should begin during the first week of June. Again, we will use the earth from this property to sculpt the walls, floor, and ceiling. We will make our own paints, pigments, glue, trim, and everything possible out of local and/or recycled materials.
…short and sweet and no poetry this time…perhaps next time.
I will leave you with this:
with gratitude, grace, and soiled skin, I found peace in this place.
Friday, April 17, 2009
727 Dameron Drive Update
Well, lets see; during the last few weeks, we have several people interested in a CSA, many people buying eggs, seedlings are up, cold-frames filled, more chicks on order, a class making cheese & butter, community dinners, property tours, an interview for publication, and lots of progress on the addition.
- I have several people interested in a CSA, and I’m open to more folks coming on board. A small group of us may combine several properties into a CSA and running a vegetable stand…let me know if you are interested and I’ll keep you posted.
- Since I placed a sign on top of a manure pile at the end of the property, people keep asking for eggs…I guess people would rather eat local, fresh, cage-free, eggs from healthy, happy well-fed chickens than purchase factory farmed, caged, flat, and tasteless eggs…go figure.
- Peas, carrots, peppers, tomatoes, onion, and lots of flower seedlings are up and growing.
- The cold-frames are filled with mature beets and chard, and lots of seed starts.
- We have another 50 chicks on order and may have some extras for sale…if interested, let me know.
- This week, we had a cheese and butter making class on the property and they tasted awesome.
- …as always, community dinners and tours continue on Wednesday at 6:30pm. Bring food to share, a bowl and spoon to eat with, and music if you’d like to share in a community meal…tours happen at 6pm to see an active urban agriculture and permaculture project.
- Molly Beverly is writing an article on urban chickens for publication in Pop Rocket.
- I don’t know how much you want to hear about the construction, so I’ll add pics to the website and only mention some highlights: we dug, measured, mixed, and poured, the foundation and stem-wall. We moved several tons of materials, built a wall, and installed plumbing, next up, more walls, trusses, and a roof…
The Take Back The Night event is coming up on the courthouse square on April 23, at 6pm…it’s a place for you to become part of a solution to end to sexual violence.
Skull Valley—if anyone has any ties to Skull Valley, I am interested in land, farming, and building community there too.
Also, is anyone wants to speak on the economics of sustainability, I am interested developing ways to economic sustainability as it relates to urban & small-scale agriculture, community development, Prescott, and farming in general.
727 Dameron Drive is a community resource for sustainable urban food production and small-scale community development.
Thanks, enjoy, and more to come.
…as part of the Prescott Food Revolution, I include the resource e-mail list to the 727 Dameron Drive Update newsletter.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
727 Dameron Drive Update
Growing season—with plants and an addition
Things around here are growing (exceptionally) well.
Working on the addition, growing food, and keeping the property organized top my list.
Since last update:
· We completed building plans, had them approved by the City, and completed a timeline & budget.
· We added 2,500 square feet of growing space, prepared soil, raised beds, and purchased all my seed and supplies.
· We reorganize the property—fenced in all beds & gardens, organized materials, and prepared the space for healthy living, construction, and food production.
I feel grateful for all the help I receive from my family and friends, especially Gregory, Dana, Jeff, Mark, and Liberty.
· We had a work party where people came to work the soil, raise beds, and share a community meal.
· We ordered a commercial irrigation system to improve water distribution, conserve energy, and conserve water.
· I went to community meeting organized by Nick Mahmood and Food Revolution where people gathered at The Raven to speak about urban agriculture. I think we had about 75 people attend and many contributed with personal stories, from small gardens to urban agriculture projects; school projects, from middle school growing projects to graduate level studies; community projects, from karma farming to selling food to restaurants and Farmer’s Markets
· Everything is ready to plant the cold frames with seed.
· The addition groundbreaking is next Wednesday.
· Liberty’s space is clean and organized for food production.
· The perennial garden is protected from human and animal traffic.
· I have to admit, many days during the planning process for construction, I felt overwhelmed in all the numbers, calculations, and choices in methods, materials, and ways; I look forward to the physical aspect beginning soon with construction and growing food.
...oh, and if I had more time, I’d write you a poem about sewers and sinks, meters and traps, electric to light switches, footers to roofing screws, termite shields to hurricane ties, and something about questions and pondered ways of methods and materials…
Thanks for all the love and support I feel; I will talk to ya’ll real soon.
PS, I still think this is one of the The Greatest Place on Earth!!
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
The Greatest Place on Earth
Winter ‘08 & ‘09
Ok, so I might not have been forthcoming in writing the newsletter in December and January but…I can tell you a lot has happened. I’ll keep it brief, pictures on my website, and I’ll leave it open to questions and comments for you.
The delay includes a large amount of work we are accomplishing physically, my positive mental engagement in things, and the cooperation of many other people.
Through our efforts, we seem to have crossed some bridge along the way to a place of confidence, skilled work, and working well, especially between Gregory and me. I recognize and appreciate how we get along and work through many challenging steps. Nearly everything we choose, take on, or plan, seems to move forward…and not that everything works out perfectly, but working through steps seems much easier these days.
Most currently, we are working on architectural plans for building an extension to the cottage. Meetings, work, and plans with Jeff, Mark, Gregory, and others seem near completion. Our goals are to complete the plans and submit them to the City this week.
In doing so, we will be ready to break ground on our foundation and let our hard work in planning develop.
Prior to working on these plans, we completed a fence surrounding the animal and compost area. A forestry clearing effort made possible the fence posts for our project and saved us a lot of money and the environment a lot of energy through the production of new steel. For the steel we needed, we found it locally and recycled. A welder donated by Dana made it possible to create gates and supports for the project.
Going back a few months, we designed and completed a modern day Dutch Colonial barn/chicken coop, pictures of which are on my website. The chicks born in July are grown, hens are laying, and the roosters have made several community meals delicious.
The construction of the chicken coop is a combination of straw bale, wood, cob, and lime plaster built on a foundation of urbanite and gravel. Gregory, Cassandra, Josephine, and others played a large part in making it possible. The esthetic appeal includes a gambrel style roof and the finish of an old Irish cottage. In the spring, we plan to have kids paint a tractor on the side. We also plan to catch rainwater off the roof to feed the chickens. The rainwater catchment barrels will pose as mock-grain silos as an added aesthetic touch. The barn also has a storage loft on top.
· In our cold frames, we have plenty of greens growing and tomatoes growing inside the cottage.
· All of our compost bins, we have redesigned, reinforced, and in some cases, moved.
· As we completed the animal/compost area and we are thinking of raising pigs, turkeys, sheep, or more chickens…we’ll see.
· Going back to Thanksgiving, I cleaned the corn I help to grow, ground it down to meal, mixed it with local cow milk, baked it into cornbread, and shared it at our community meal.
· Try to eat what’s in season in your area.
· Read labels--if you don’t know what it is or can’t say it, it’s probably not healthy for you.
· Shop around the perimeter of your grocery store--you’ll find healthier alive-type foods as opposed to the middle of the store where you’ll find nonperishable, or less lively foods.
In my lyrical style, I write:
To the glory of sight, sound, taste, touch, and the scent of what I sense
the morning sits still
as I am still in it
darkness doles its way to daylight
my silence staves shattered
the city slowly stirs
the rooster starts his crows
my coffee tastes to start my day
the fire rolls to roar
as cold is culled to comfort
the cottage covers clam me
beeswax fills the air
on this day this morning time,
I contemplate what is.
This land, my heart, and my future path are all that I can be.
The warmth on my back from this wood burning stove
The sound of two dogs snoring
a timber-raised loft
a bed of wool, organic cotton, and feathers.
Fresh clean clothes hung by the fire, hand-washed in two tin basins
the same two tins I use for bathing.
Outside, the chicks asleep, in their new barn coop, made of local raised woods, straw, and clay.
Greens grow in cold-frame beds, beets, carrots, and kale
Art is all around me and this is surely real.
Walls, floor, and ceiling,
the sun rising across this land in pale sky blues, and purple orange hues,
alive as the leafless trees paint my views.
The soil here is alive with life, my health, hands, and those that help me.
The People here in Preskitt town, my family, friends, and place
Plants, animals, and all we eat, always some to share
Prescott College, The Farmer’s Market, Food Revolution, Whipstone Farm, Burning Daylight, New Frontier’s, and many more.
This Place, of murals, parks, and creeks, Catalyst, Roaster’s, rocks, and more make this place for me.
This is my place, our space, a farm, urban agriculture, and 727 Dameron Drive!