research & experiments

 

Here are some things I am looking into…

Baskets:
I am gradually learning how to make baskets. I have made novice attempts at a West African sweetgrass breadbasket and a round and square Mashantucket Pequot ash basket. They are all the most humble “first tries”, made with help from patient and skilled teachers. I don’t know exactly where my interest in basket weaving will take me. I am following a hunch and learning about something I simply find beautiful and inspiring. The light colored splint baskets are the ones I have made, the dark ones are baskets I live with and use, made by people who really knew the craft.  The in-progress weaving photos are from a workshop I took at the Mashuntucket Pequot Nation in Connecticut.  The sweet grass basket is one I made at Kokrobitey Institute in Ghana.

The Transition Initiative:
Another focus of ongoing research is my investigation of The Transition Initiative. This civic movement started in the UK as community groups began to meet to discuss the realities of climate change, peak oil production, and what might be done to adapt to these changing realities on a local level. I have been reading about the Transition movement and am now beginning to reach out to others in my community who are also studying these possibilities. The Transition Network is a world wide movement now. It is truly inspiring to see people make changes at a local level in order to build a more balanced and equitable future. I admire the sense of adventure and creativity in the Transition Initiative. It gives me hope. Learn more here. These photos are from the Transition Initiative.

Dirt:
My biggest challenge in the vegetable garden is building good, living dirt. Once the dirt is in good balance, the garden insect pests and plant diseases will decrease dramatically, I am told. This spring my husband built a compost bin in a corner of the garden. I’m researching the science of soil, and learning about the ecosystem of organisms and creatures that contribute to good soil. I picked up a copy of a small, paperback book this spring called Healthy Soils for Sustainable Gardens (Niall Dunne, Editor. Published by the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, 2009.) It is a really good primer on the basic science of dirt and practical applications of soil ecology for beginning gardeners. Learning how to best rotate crops and plan companion planting is also part of this research.

Permaculture:

Permaculture is a design system based on how nature is structured for maximum efficiency and elegance.  During the summer of 2013 I studied permaculture at the Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute where I received permaculture design certification. This was a life changing experience. The opportunity to live in a setting where the daily work is done within an ecologically sound infrastructure was a gift.  To be with a community of people ready to make the necessary changes to help the world adjust towards ecological balance was inspiring. I see many ways that art and permaculture can go together. I attended the Women in Permaculture Conference at the Omega Institute in fall 2013, and that allowed me to learn more. I am a beginner in permaculture, but it has already given me many practical tools, new theories, and much hope.