The Farm Education and Sustainability for Teens (FEAST) students are having a most excellent summer. They’ve explored the sustainable agricultural concepts of mushroom cultivation, guerrilla gardening, animal husbandry, beekeeping, and rocket stoves.
FEAST students spent two days working with Kyler Townsend, who shared his knowledge of mushroom cultivation and the use of fungi for mycoremediation. Multiple techniques were used to propagate the mushrooms, including one method that creates a barrier of mycelium to catch and break down pollutants coming off a roadway. Wedges were cut into alder logs packed with inoculated King Stropharia mushroom substrate and placed in trenches filled with woodchips along North Beach Road in the FEAST garden.
The students then learned all about a unique natural farming and guerrilla gardening technique in a seed ball workshop taught by Owen Cheevers and Learner Limbach. Clay, soil and different combinations of seeds were combined to create microhabitats that protect the seeds and make them easily transportable. Several FEAST students then lead their own workshop, open to the public through the Orcas Rec Program the next day. At the Saturday Farmers Market, members of the crew answered questions about permaculture design, mycoremediation and both sold and answered questions about seed balls.
The FEAST crew then visited Coffelts Farm and Black Dog Farm, where they learned all about animal husbandry, farmland preservation and our unique food system here in the islands. At the Coffelts Farm the students helped pack wool into a giant bag and cleared a field of thistles in exchange for Ruthy Dougherty’s time. Dougherty led the students on a tour of Coffelts Farm and facilitated a discussion about the islands’ food system, the local Island Grown Farmers Co-op, mobile slaughter unit and the role of farmland preservation for insuring future food security in the islands.
Rhonda Barbieri taught a day-long beekeeping workshop, also offered to the public through the Orcas Island Rec program. Rhonda explained that “It is important for us all to be participants in the active ecology that we are all apart of,” and that “as flowers are the ultimate expression of the plant world honey is the essence of the season and the current ecology.” She encouraged the group to consider tending hives, stating “The more pollinators we have on the island the better” and that “a hive can double or quadruple a yield!” FEAST student Serena Sanders said it the best: “If we don’t have bees we won’t have food.”
Eric Youngren, of Island Energy Systems, and FEAST coordinator Rusty Diggs discussed appropriate technology in their rocket stove workshop. Rocket stoves can be made of salvaged materials and fueled with small twigs and branches. They use a small amount of fuel to generate a maximum amount of heat.
Natural Building project comes next
Orcas Rec Coordinator Didier Gincig says, “Come and be wowed by the awesome potential of natural building techniques and consideration for local environment” at a slideshow at The Funhouse on Thursday, July 17, from 7 to 9 p.m. “If you’re inspired by the slide show and want to join in the natural building process, join the FEAST program to build a community structure,” he adds.
The planned community structure is an entranceway and a bench for the Funhouse. Using both wood and cob (an adobe-like building material combined of straw or other fiber with clay and sand) and peeled logs. Those in the FEAST program will build the structures without power tools, says Owen Cheevers, organizer of the FEAST program. “It is definitely a community building project – the idea is it takes a lot of hands and intention, people will take their shoes off and stomp around and get dirty – and with that it becomes everybody’s project and an opportunity to build community.” Building days will be from July 22 through the 24, and July 29 through the 31, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day.
For the slide show at The Funhouse, the suggested donation is $10. All ages are welcome, including families. For further information, call the Orcas Island Recreation Program at 376-5339 or email email@example.com.
Funded in part by an Orcas Island Community Foundation grant, and private donations, the project has brought in about half of the budget needed to conduct the 180-hour, three times weekly program.
The program also offers apprenticeships, an additional 30 hours of training in specific areas such as farming, blacksmithing, natural building, and permaculture landscaping. The Funhouse is also collaborating to provide the FEAST program.
Donations to support FEAST can be made through Orcas Rec, PO Box 1644, Eastsound WA 98245, 360-376-5339, or www.orcasrec.org.</ga Suggested donation is $10. All ages are welcome, including families.