Preparedness Fair @ the Village – Permaculture

Permaculture Design Class 2010I’m excited to announce one of the presenters at this year’s preparedness fair at the Village on Sewanee Creek.  Kevin Guenther is a renowned sustainable landscape architect from Nashville.  He will be presenting on the Permaculture ethic, how it is both a community building mind-set “PERMAnent CULTURE” and a method of low impact, productive agriculture, “PERMAnent agriCULTURE”.    I’m attaching a flyer for one of Kevin’s paid courses on the same topic.  Permaculture Design Class 2010

Segueing from Kevin’s presentation, we plan to do a walkabout tour of some of the 500 acres in our Nature preserve to discover naturally occuring “permanent” food and med’s. 

Finally, what to do with those natural treasures?  We will prepare some of these into edible dishes, topical ointments, or other medical remedies.  Practical, hands-on information you can take home and use.

For more information about this year’s Preparedness fair go to https://1stvillager.wordpress.com/2010/05/21/preparedness-fair-at-the-village-on-sewanee-creek/.

A time for Conservation

As we helplessly watch the destruction of the Gulf of Mexico and surrounding shoreline communities I am reminded of how important it is for each of us to be good stewards of the earth God gave us.

In the ecology of the earth, there is a delicate balance between species, filling each niche precisely. But change is constant and natural. Not to worry. Thankfully, as changes in climate or habitat occur, and any given niche is vacated, it is usually rapidly filled by other plants and animals, maintaining a delicate balance. But when massive destruction of habitat occurs we are the losers. The beauty of our earth can become a wasteland.

In times like this it is easy and tempting to point fingers at BP and government or business in general, blaming all our ills on others. But there is plenty of blame to go around. These are times when we should ask, “what am I doing to be a good steward of this earth?   Am I blameless? ”

One of the ways you can support the conservation of the earth is by keeping large tracts of land and eco-systems in their natural state. That’s not economically possible for most folks, but in the Village on Sewanee Creek, we are offering a way to economically contribute, own and enjoy. By setting aside 500 acres of rugged country as a nature preserve, we not only conserve the earth, we are saving a place for the enjoyment of ourselves and our children.

I often wonder if people truly appreciate the value of this space we are preserving.  The Cumberland Plateau is some of the most bio-diverse land in North America.  Of course, everyone wants things at the lowest possible price. So, when I get comments that Village land is too expensive, I wonder if they are connecting the dots. I wonder if they understand that by purchasing a piece of ground here, whether it’s an acre or ten acres or more, they are sharing in the benefit of 500 acres of pristine woods, waterfalls and creeks. They are acquiring and protecting these things not only for themselves but for the health of this earth. When one considers value in this context, land in the Village is a tremendous bargain.

A Life Transformed – Part 1

My lovely daugther just graduated from St. Andrews Sewanee School (SAS), valedictorian of her senior class.  Her experience at this outstanding school was transformational, but that’s not what this is about.   She just shared with me her final paper for her Environmental Studies Class.  Submitted May 20, 2010, it is still pretty fresh.  To me, it is timeless.  . . .  and wonderful!

Here is the introduction and part one of two parts.  I’ll post the other part later.  Enjoy!

            One last orange streak is still visible in the lightening sky, and the chilly air feels clean as it enters my lungs. The only sounds that break the morning stillness are the calls of birds and the gentle rhythm of my flip-flops along the trail. I swing open the large wooden doors of the greenhouse and set down the baskets I’m carrying. I walk slowly down each aisle of raised beds, trailing my hand through the lush potato leaves, plucking out a weed here and there. We should be eating tomatoes within the next week. I hope I didn’t trim the leaves too far back.  I’m definitely going to have to find some other way to use all these cucumbers. The spinach is going to seed – sad, I’ve really enjoyed that this year. Mmmm, cilantro. I’m so glad Mom decided we should try out more fresh herbs. That strawberry looks especially juicy. I pop it in my mouth. Yep. Delicious.  I come to the end of the first row – a bed full of green beans – and I have to stop and smile. This is my favorite part of the garden. More briskly now, I retrieve my baskets from where I set them down and begin to rustle through the rough velvet of the leaves to find each hidden pod.

            I’m not part of any unbroken family chain of gardening wisdom. My ancestors left the farm for the suburbs in my grandparents’ generation or before. My own connection with the land is relatively recent. As I walk here in my garden, I’m often unsure what to do for it. I don’t hear the soil and the sun and the plants speaking to me. Not yet, anyway. But I feel their importance, their peace, their simple joy. And I’m learning to listen.

Part I: Return

            I was born into a family of America’s corporate elite. For most of my life my dad was a top executive whose salary supported our living in large houses in affluent areas with excellent schools. Though I grew up in many different regions of the country – including Dallas, Texas; Los Angeles, California; Atlanta, Georgia; and Louisville, Kentucky – the areas where my family lived were fairly similar, as were the thought processes of the people who lived there. It’s no great wonder that I grew up ignorant of anything beyond culs-de-sac, strip malls, traffic, and processed food. I was taught at a young age, not by my family, but by the whisperings of “Mother Culture” that the only respectable jobs required business suits and graduate degrees.

            I was shocked, therefore, and more than a little upset, when my dad informed me that after my freshman year of high school we would be moving to a large plot of land in Middle-of-Nowheresville, Tennessee. I’ve never been spoiled enough to object loudly, but internally I was dreading this move more than most. After the packing was done my mom and I joined my dad, who had come in advance to start work on the new project: sustainable land development. At that time our house was only a foundation, and the three of us lived in a tiny camper next to the construction site. I spent that summer hiding out in the trailer with a book or on the computer. My dad was in love with our new land, and he often tried to get me interested with hikes to the waterfalls, the bluff views, and the beautiful greenery. My attitude was always the same: “Yeah. It’s beautiful. Can I go home now?”

            A year passed. I was hardly ever home because of all my school activities and commitments. I spent a few months in Costa Rica, which planted the seeds of simplicity in my head and in my heart. Though my neighborhood in Costa Rica wasn’t very close to any open land, I became accustomed to walking to every destination, enjoying beautiful rainforest views as I crested each hill, and smelling in my clothes the sunshine we used to dry them. Those seeds were just the beginning of my return to the land.

            Most people would guess that the deep change in me came mostly because of my time in another country. Perhaps, but I don’t think so. I can trace the transformation in my thoughts and dreams to one summer spent in our family garden. OnRaised Bed Gardene week, really. I had just come back from a fun but stressful month at Tennessee Governor’s School for the Humanities. I was feeling hurt and frustrated by school friends and looking for a place of cleansing and healing isolation. I began to work with my mom every day in our family garden. It took me only a few days to recognize the peace and significance that I felt in the mornings I spent working there. The way I talked began to change. I started to dream out loud of a small house where I could live simply with my family and a large garden. I gave thanks openly for the simple things, and I expressed frustration that I couldn’t express adequately to my friends just how I had changed and how much this new connection meant to me. I often lamented to others and in my journal, “How do I explain the feeling of waking up, putting on shorts and a t-shirt, walking out to the garden, picking green beans that I grew myself, snapping them, throwing them in a pot with a little sugar and salt and pepper, eating them, and not needing anything else in the world?

            A trip to my old neighborhood in Atlanta reconfirmed that I had changed deeply and dramatically. The suburban life that once seemed to me the only way to live now repulsed me. I felt like I was drowning in a huge sea of pavement. Traffic seemed unreasonable – where was everyone going? Parking lots made me squirm. Strip malls appalled me – why in the world should a town need an entire store devoted solely to makeup? I regularly ranted to my mom about the stupidity of such a lifestyle. She reminded me that this was the way the majority of Americans live, that most didn’t know any different, and that not too long ago I was one of them. As I walk through my garden, through the trees between the garden and my house, and through any open space, I often reflect on that trip and on Gerard Bentryn’s statement, “If you cannot see where your food comes from, you are doomed to live in ugliness.” As I do, I am overcome with gratitude to God for guiding me and my family to this place and giving me the opportunity to learn to see.

Preparedness Fair at the Village on Sewanee Creek

It’s official.  Our first annual preparedness fair will be held at the Village on Sewanee Creek Commons, villager homes and gardens and our nature preserve on July 23-24, 2010.  Call in advance to reserve a campsite or exhibitor space.

See the attached printable

flyer for details.  Preparedness Fair Flyer

See you here!

Prepper’s Top Ten Necessities for Life in Troubled Times

  1. Relationships: Positive, mutually supportive with capable, skilled people
  2. Spiritual & Mental Health: The foundation for all positive action.
  3. Physical Health: Sustainable, natural health care to supplement a healthy lifestyle.
  4. Water: Reliable, secure source of pure water
  5. Food: Natural food from a source you trust and control (yourself)
  6. Shelter: An energy efficient dwelling
  7. Energy: Redundant, reliable, private sources of storable energy.
  8. Reserve: Store and rotate a backup supply of everything you use (water, food, medicine, tools, fuel, clothing & other consumables)
  9. Trade: Prepare to trade for everything else (Cash, Non-Depreciating Assets, Barter-Valuable Supplies, Practical, marketable Skills)
  10. Knowledge & Skills: True self-sufficiency comes from experience – knowing how to do it yourself.

Take a good look at this list.  If this were a report card, what would your grade be on each of these important subjects? For the past 50 years, the developed world has lived in a pampered, complex, yet socially dysfunctional style that values:

  • Entertainment & Entitlement over productive Work
  • Self-Indulgence over Selfless Service
  • Pleasure over Moral Integrity
  • Intellectual Prowess over Practical Skills
  • Dependence on complex systems over Independent Self-Sufficiency
  • Conspicuous Consumption over Provident Preparation.

Is it any surprise that most people lack the skills, preparation, and resources to confidently face a troubled future? Is it any wonder that people feel helpless and out of control? Is there any way you can become confidently competent and provisioned for these ten essential items all by yourself? It’s a daunting task.  But, with help, you CAN do it.

That’s why relationships are at the top of the list. That’s why we are building a community of self-sufficient people at the beautiful Village on Sewanee Creek. If your values are the inverse of the above list, If you want to become more confident, more self-sufficient, and more at peace with your neighbors and in harmony with nature, If you desire close, trusting relationships in a like-minded community, but aren’t ready for a religious or hippie commune, give us a call.

We have fun learning from each other

At the Village, we encourage intelligent, open interaction about things that matter in life.  We encourage a diversity of opinions, seasoned with a good measure of humility as we seek to learn from one another.  We have a private website called “friends of Sewanee Creek”  where Villagers, prospective villagers and other like-minded people exchange information on many topics and build relationships.  Here is a sampling of a recent exchange.
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Study Links GM Corn to Organ Damage
Not to jump on the food scare band wagon, but I coincidentally just ran across this article. It says studies are now linking Monsanto genetically modified corn to organ damage in rats (liver, kidney, heart, adrenal, spleen and blood cells).
Naturally, Monsanto claims the studies are bogus. Given the pervasive use of GM seeds in the US, I suspect it will be a long time before conclusive evidence comes to light or anything major is done about it. I’m thinking how long did it take for tobacco usage to be effectively challenged?
Read the article in Food Safety News at http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2010/01/study-links-gm-corn-to-organ-damage/?CFID=1479691&CFTOKEN=49241182

Digging a little deeper on this site I also found an article reporting that Monsanto has withdrawn its application for approval of GM corn in Europe. http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2009/11/gm-corn-pulled-due-to-food-safety-concerns/

Right now I’m feeling good that we drink 100% chemical free water from the sky and have a freezer full of home grown GMO free corn.


Added By:   Grant Miller On Mon, 01/25/2010 04:49:23 am

Villager 1 – 01/25/2010 08:22:54 am
While I wouldn’t doubt that GM foods have their own problems, I also believe that humanity in general has chosen to go down food paths that are not appropriate to our body chemistry for millenia now.
In fact, all grains (corn, wheat, etc.) cause mild to severe inflammation in the bodies of ALL people. In other words, our bodies are not intended to consume grains in large quantities, let alone as dietary staples. In fact, there is a growing consensus that a grain based diet is the leading culprit behind heart disease and several common cancers.
This problem is magnified by various myths propagated within our culture. The idea that all fats are bad. The idea that body fat is caused by consuming animal fats. The idea that a vegetarian diet (which almost always includes grains) is healthier than a more primitive meat and *true* vegetable diet.
At the end of the day, once a society has sacrificed its allegiances to the alter of convenience and cheapness, its food supply is going to go to hell. GM foods are just one step along the path of a food supply that’s divorced from a natural and optimized state.

Grant Miller – 01/26/2010 11:03:22 am
Politics and Religion are the taboo subjects we are warned never to discuss openly. Ahhh, but then there’s food. Nothing strikes closer to the stomach or the taste buds.  So, I thought I would have a little fun with this one. Here’s my best shot for now.
I think it would be fun to hear your ideas about food in the form of a fun limerick.

“We are what we eat” they all say
and make such political hay.
We debate about diet
till we wish they’d be quiet
and leave us quite out of the fray

Some choose to only have meat
While others claim life’s staff is wheat.
Empty carbs make me draggy
my spare tire gets saggy
but then, without bread where will I put my butter?!!!

Now meat, when taken to excess
puts my bowels in utter distress
A constipated grouch,
I lie on the couch
But good meat is simply the best!

No dairy? that’s out of my loop
Ice Cream’s my favorite food group
But milk makes me swollen
down deep in my colon
with gas, but I’ll have one more scoop!

Then come the social elite
when choosing a diet to eat,
say, “let them eat cake”
Oh!, goodness sake
Few things are as good as a sweet.

Others say fruits, nuts and sprouts
will make you most healthy, no doubt
But, Some get quite edgy
while touting their veggies
and leaving the meats fully out

And when it comes down to fat,
I’ll testify, “that’s where it’s at.”
For if you want flavors
that everyone savors
Nothing even comes close to that.

But, as for me and my house,
we mostly just try not to grouse
at the food placed before us
cause Dad always warned us
to clean up our plates or get out.

So, after it’s all said and done
There are few foods I’m likely to shun.
Without rhyme or reason
In any old season,
Moderation is rule number one.

Except for Ice Cream, Butter, fat of all kinds, fresh home baked bread, fresh strawberries or raspberries or peaches right out of the garden, a thick, juicy grilled steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, buttered yams with brown sugar and pecans, corn pudding, fresh steamed, buttered broccoli or pretty much anything that makes my mouth feel exquisitely happy and reveals no immediately discernable cataclysmic side effects.       smile

Villager #2 – 01/26/2010 09:14:04 pm
..Love your poem, Grant. Right on!!

Friend #1 – 01/26/2010 10:13:03 pm
I am no expert, but I think we need to remember that almost all the food we eat today has been “genetically modified” in some way. Even non-hybrid seeds are the result of centuries of genetically crossing to emphasize desirable characteristics. One can argue that this is different than the modern GM process; but how much really?
And whether corn, wheat, rice, oats, rye, etc is best eaten fermented, I think there is much biased research out there to stake too much in it. You can find a study that supports just about any point of view.
Inuits can survive on mostly meat, fat, and fish. But, they have many many generations of adaptation. Not sure we could do the same. Does that really mean that grains are bad for us? Like so many foods today, perhaps grains are misunderstood. Perhaps it’s not the grain, but the refining that gives it less-desirable qualities. Breaking a grain apart, throwing away the germ, bran, or other components, destroys the complex interactive ‘wholeness.’
I’ve done research on raw milk. Milk has a bad reputation–many people are stricken with significant stomach ailments after consuming milk products. Raw milk is illegal to sell in most states. In some of those states, a person can arrange with a dairy farm to become a part owner of a cow (cow shares) and consume raw milk from ‘their’ cow. So what is wrong with raw milk? The US Government says it killed people and made many sick at the turn of the 20th Century. Further study, many years later, suggest that most if not all of these incidents were due to improperly stored raw milk. However, the ban on raw milk stands. So what is the big deal? Studies (yep, those darned studies) suggest that lactose intolerance and it’s accompaning stomach ailments in many people, comes from the pasteurization of milk; it kills the good bacteria that aid digestion;It breaks apart the whole, and destroys the interactive complexities. As with meat, if milk is not properly handled, it will make you sick, but most food is that way!
So perhaps the same type of issue exists with grains; breaking them down and refining them takes away the good compounds. Food is wonderfully complex. It’s probably why we can’t duplicate the health benefits of an apple, orange, or broccoli. There exist many supplements on the market, claiming to give the benefits, but they all seem to fall short; they can’t duplicate the complexity of the raw or whole food they derive from.

Grant Miller – 01/27/2010 06:47:15 am
I like your take on this, Clayton. One thing I know for sure is that I don’t know much. In my short life I couldn’t possibly count the number of fad diets, supposedly well-founded on studies, that were quickly superceded by an opposing view. That’s not to say that we should throw all the babies out with the bathwater. Rather, take a long-term, skeptical view. Live carefully, eating moderately, the foods you perceive to be natural, as the gifts from God that they are, and enjoying food to its fullest.
As we explore and test what works well for each of us, share it. I love xxxx‘s conviction about a diet that obviously works well for him and I am grateful to learn this perspective. I’m not quite ready to go there for my own reasons, some of which may be peculiar to my own body or belief systems. Yet, I am enriched to learn more of another perspective and encouraged to trust that more meat could be a healthy way to re-balance what I consume now. Thank you, xxxx, for having the courage to share your beliefs and experience with conviction, yet with the humility that accepts other’s experience and beliefs.

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If you like this kind of sharing with like-minded people, you can request an invitation to the Friends of Sewanee Creek at info@sewaneecreek.com.  Please note the reasons for your interest.

How One Top Executive Left the Rat Race for a Self-Sufficient Community in the Mountains

How One Top Executive..

How One Top Executive Left the Rat Race for a Self-Sufficient Community in the Mountains

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