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About the Wood for Food Garden

These flowers are loving the hugelkultur, and the pollinator is loving the flowers. I am loving it all!

Read a newspaper article published in the Gazette-Tribune newspaper (Oroville, WA) about the Wood for Food garden.

When I set out to create a garden, I had a knapweed patch with yarrow growing in it, and houndstongue -- a noxious weed with sticky seeds. I love yarrow, but I was after food, and I knew we were in for a major overhaul. My daughter "Fawn" has been a big part of building this garden from Day 1. She was three when we started, and now she is eight. (I have no idea how that happened!) Her enthusiastic involvement has brought a special kind of magic that I will always appreciate.

In 2011, armed with only a shovel, my daughter's wagon, and a sledding saucer, we set out to work the soil. What we discovered, more than soil, were rocks. After several weeks of working rocks out with the shovel and hauling them away in the saucer atop the wagon, a couple of friends loaned me their spud bar (breaker bar). What an improvement! Eventually I was able to buy a wheelbarrow from a local thrift store, another major improvement. More of this story can be found in the post, "From Knapweed to Veggies."

Early on, another friend recommended the book, "Gaia's Garden," by Toby Hemenway. This book was to gardening as Gordon Lightfoot was to my music during some formative years. Ideas clicked and new possibilities opened. Soon my path led to reading Sepp Holzer's Permaculture book, and the garden became a place where anything could happen. 

Why wood? This garden has been dug out an average of five feet deep and massive amounts of large wood have been buried in the soil, along with manure, leaves, and other organic matter. There are four main reasons: 
  1. The idea is that the wood acts as a water battery, storing and providing moisture over time. 
  2. The decomposition of wood and manure may give off heat and offer an extension to the growing season. 
  3. As the wood breaks down, it creates air pockets and is self-tilling. 
  4. Lastly, the wood transforms into rich nutrients slowly over time. 

Over time, the Wood for Food garden has become not only a source of excellent 
food and pretty flowers, but also a place to relax and contemplate life.

We are accustomed to the idea of wood burning in contact with oxygen in open combustion. Underground, the wood "burns" much more slowly, with very different by-products, some of which end up on the dinner table.  :-)

Helping Hands and Hearts

During the first year, an adjacent neighbor asked if I wanted to pull out a series of enclosures they had installed on their property, in which the trees had all died. They said it would be great if I'd keep the materials and get them out of the way. They may not have known just how much I needed fencing materials to help protect against the wide variety of hungry wildlife on our property, but their offer meant the world to me. The chicken wire and steel posts were exactly what I needed to get started. This experience taught me early on that the garden could come together if I envisioned having what was needed. Hope turned into faith, and I made a conscious choice to trust that whatever materials were needed would surface. 

There has been a lot of water under the bridge since the beginning of this journey, but the have-faith approach has grown strong and has proven effective. My neighbors and friends -- and sometimes total strangers -- have come through at the most opportune times, which for me creates a depth of richness in the garden that money simply can't buy. Everywhere I look in the garden I see the effects of people who care, and I swear that the strawberries taste better because of it! Both the garden and my heart are bursting at the seams with gratefulness for the sharing of manure, sand, wood chips, large wood, plant starts, seeds, floodplain soil, compost tumblers, hay, leaves, and good old-fashioned love. Thank you!

Feel free to explore around this blog for glimpses into some of the sub-stories from the Wood for Food Garden. Leave comments whenever you feel inspired; it's always neat to hear people's thoughts.

Fawn working in the buckwheat cover crop with her rainbow rake

*          *          *

Starting from the beginning of the adventure and working toward the present, I'd like to extend special thanks to:
  • Jackie Chambers ~ Excellent suggestions at just the right time
  • Lerita and Dick ~ Steel posts and chicken wire
  • Ellie Braman ~ Compost tumbler
  • Stacey ~ Strawberry, comfrey, raspberry and other starts
  • Bart Trubeck ~ Cardboard and spent grains
  • Lenore and Paul Bouchard ~ Leaves, compost, and a handmade compost tumbler
  • Joseph Enzensperger ~ Connections for many loads of leaves
  • Brianne Rowe Smith ~ Leaves
  • Bill Pritchard ~ Transporting wood chips and manure
  • Kathy and Chuck Mowry ~ Al Paca manure
  • Weyerhaeuser Oroville ~ lots of wood chips
  • Amy ~ Horse manure and some great starts
  • Prince's Warehouse and Dept Store ~ Cardboard
  • Lee Frank's ~ Cardboard
  • Betty ~ Horse manure and then more and then more and then more horse manure, plus lots of aspen and plant starts (couldn't have gotten this far without your help)
  • Ron Tiffany ~ Sand, wood and hay
  • Lloyd ~ Horse manure
  • Bob Ashmore ~ My hubby who can operate a backhoe with the finesse needed to work in the close quarters of a garden with multiple beds (you saved my back a thousand times)
  • Lee Johnson ~ Wood and then more and then more and then more wood for the hugelkultur! If only we'd counted the loads! (Never could have filled this garden without your help)
  • Dan H ~ Horse Manure
  • Ying ~ Many starts, an incredible range of different plants
  • Janine ~ Rhubarb, lavender, and other starts
  • Barbara ~ Raspberry and other starts
  • Lisa Eversgerd and Jason Llewellyn ~ REAL soil (the best birthday present a person could ask for, and I didn't even ask)
  • Oroville Seed Library
And many others whom I only met briefly but who shared rotten hay, old leaves and other wonderful things. 

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