Friday, October 9, 2015

Mulch Party at Kellogg Park!

Last month in September on Saturday the 26th from 9AM to 11AM, over 30 residents of Ventura came together to spread mulch at the city's latest park at Kellogg Street and Ventura Avenue.

Mulch is especially important before the rainy season to keep rainfall from evaporating too fast. With thick enough mulch (at least 3 inches) water has time to percolate down through the soil into our water table. Mulch is also important because it protects the soil food web from sun exposure. Exposed soil becomes baked and compacted into lifeless DIRT that only the hardiest weeds can grow in.

15 tons of mulch!

Thanks to our friends at RESTORE VENTURA, local landscapers and AERA Energy have been depositing mulch on site during the weeks prior, and during the event knocked piles over with tractors. The kids were STOKED on those tractors!

Thanks to the Ventura Chapter Surfrider Foundation for providing volunteers, tools, waivers, and for being passionate about Ocean-Friendly Gardens :)

Thanks to the Trust for Public Land, City of Ventura staff and local volunteers who make this possible.
Resident volunteers (not all pictured here), County Supervisor Steve Bennett, Mayor Cheryl Heitman, and me on the right. Photo from the official Kellogg Park Facebook page.

DON'T MISS NEXT WEDNESDAY Oct 14 at Bell Arts Factory!

Come show your support Wednesday night by choosing the kids' play equipment, adult exercise equipment, and request an edible forest at Kellogg Park!

Connect here with Kellogg Park on Facebook. Stay tuned for the next mulching event at the end of November!

Cheers, your dancing gardener,

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Cooperative Development: housing, property, farms, festivals!

Happy October! Here in Southern California the weather has finally gone cool. We've had some random heat waves every week or two that have split my nascent pumpkins and baked to death some of the bushes I planted for a client. We had highs in the low 100s a few times but usually in the 90s. We likely won't spend much time above 80 until next year. Now I can safely plant my winter greens!

Yesterday I went with a founder of the Ventura Food Cooperative to visit the Santa Barbara Student Housing Cooperative. The tour was insightful with lots of great conversation on the walks between their 5 houses. Some buildings were multi-apartment style and others were large houses with private and shared rooms. All had shared common areas, like kitchens, gardens, and study halls for students to enjoy in community. The SBSHC has been around for decades and owns all their buildings. Members' rent and dues cover the costs of property taxes, repairs, two staff positions, and with the largest portion being the repayment of loans used to purchase properties.

Almost everyone I speak with is interested in cooperative housing and property ownership. Some folks dream of forming a rural intentional farming community, others a shared house for social activist-entrepreneurs, urban farmworker housing, and some an interfaith community like a kibbutz. Depending on the needs of the group, either a partnership of residents would own the property, a nonprofit (as in SBSHC) might own it, or the property is simply owned by locals.

My own dream is to found a farm and retreat center for service-members transitioning out of the military and chronically homeless veterans who want to learn to make and market value-added products and to be regenerative land stewards. I'm calling this project the Warrior Scholar Agroforestry Academy.

I've learned a lot in the last few months about community-financed bonds & investment, such as those by the Centre for Social Innovation, who arranged 100s of supporters to raise $1.4 million in 4 months to finance the purchase of a multi-use building in Toronto. That means locals own the building and reap the benefits of property ownership and giving a home to social-good organizations.

There's talk in our permaculture circles to similarly finance the development of agrihoods - sustainable human settlements. More on this as it becomes available!

Coming up: Lompoc Cooperative Development Project's Santa Barbara County Cooperative Development Festival (October 10th) and Ventura's Really Really Free Market (third annual! November 8th at Kellogg Park). Come celebrate the gift economy with us (we need more coordinators! that's you!)!

For more information on these topics, check out the following links, thanks to the staff at the SBSHC:

Lots of resources at the North American Students of Cooperation and registration for their Cooperative Education & Training Institute just opened. The event is from October 30th to November 1st in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

October is Co-op Month! Watch the video about what a Cooperative is at the Cooperative Network.

Thanks for reading and for growing with us!
Robert Barnett
Permaculture Designer at Ventura Coop since Dec 2014