For the past two years, Groundswell Network Society has been forging some interesting and productive alliances with leading organizations in the development of the sustainability programs it offers locally and throughout Western Canada.
Verge Permaculture, based in Calgary and headed up by Rob and Michelle Avis, specializes in a systems-design approach to sustainable human habitat and a focus on interconnected elements: low energy buildings, water management, waste re-use, renewable energy and food production systems. Verge’s courses and consultancy are in demand across North America.
With such closely aligned objectives, it was a match made in heaven when Groundswell and Verge began working together in 2013 on continued development of the 12,000 square foot Permaculture Garden outside the Community Greenhouse.
Verge and their energetic Verge Design Graduates have, together with Groundswell leaders, invested well over 3,000 hours of volunteer labour and expertise in the Permaculture Garden that now features a food forest, mulch basins, community production beds, a built wetland, rainwater harvesting systems, and a central teaching area that features a cob pizza oven.
“Almost everywhere I go to speak or work in professional and informal networks, I hear about and talk about the Groundswell Community Greenhouse. It is an outstanding facility in your community that is a tangible, living project that has walked the talk, providing people with hands-on experience with the principles and practices of community sustainability,” says Avis. “Verge is excited about developing and working with this garden and Groundswell in the years ahead as we bring students from around the region and the world to learn here.”
“Working with Verge has been an outstanding alliance,” says Alison Candy of Groundswell. “Their knowledge, passion and commitment have brought so much to the Permaculture Garden project and ultimately our community.”
LUSH Canada Onboard
The collaborative approach has been a hallmark at Groundswell for the past fourteen years and has resulted in both local and outside organizations investing in our community. This month saw another alliance confirmed and an investor commit to the vision when LUSH Canada announced $25,000 in financial support for the Groundswell Permaculture Garden and Renewable Energy Education Programs at the Community Greenhouse. LUSH Canada is committed to sustainability, and permaculture and renewable energy are currently two focal program priorities for the LUSH Charity Pot Program. Groundswell’s work popped right off the page when they saw what Groundswell is advancing and there’s excitement around a possible visit here by LUSH staff. As part of their support, LUSH works directly with projects by involving their staff in site visits and work bees.
Just what the heck is Permaculture?
On Saturday, June 14th from 3 to 5 p.m., you are invited to find out at Groundswell’s Permaculture Garden Open House and Tours. Verge Permaculture, their design graduates and Groundswell leaders will be on hand to provide you with guided tours of the Permaculture Garden. Come see the work achieved thus far and what the long-term development of the site holds. Attendance is free of charge and refreshments will be served. Kids are welcome and we’ll have doggie water bowls in the shade outside the garden fence.
The collaboration continues this summer
As part of their Distinguished Speakers Series, Groundswell will be hosting three visiting experts during June and July who will deliver hands-on workshops that are sure to inspire and energize you. Don’t pass up these opportunities — these folks are in-demand and hard to book!
First up on Tuesday (June 17th) evening, is Greg Fisher of Top Crops Garden, Farm and Pet. With more than thirty years experience, Greg will be here to share his know-how on timed irrigation systems for use in gardens and greenhouses. Learn how to save water and boost your horticultural production.s.
M.P. M. Nair worked for thirty plus years in advanced computer science, but just ask him about his love of lemon trees and orchids! What’s more amazing is his almost forty years experience growing and breeding these plants in his home and at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. Join Nair in the morning and afternoon on Saturday, June 21st for two workshops — Orchids and Indoor Air Quality and Indoor Food Production including Micro Lemon Trees and Window Ledge Food Systems.
Charlie Schultz and his team from Lethbridge University are considered the go-to regional experts on aquaculture and aquaponics — indoor systems for combining fish and production of vegetable crops you can construct and operate using off-the-shelf supplies. In this two-day course (July 25th to 26th), you’ll learn by building and running these systems for year-round food production right at home.
Visit groundswellnetwork.ca/events-calendar/for more detailed information and to register online for these great courses.
Bill Swan is the Executive Director at Groundswell Network Society and also operates Greenman Sustainable Solutions specializing in renewable energy.