Fall has arrived in Montana and even though we’re still enjoying warm days, the evenings are getting cooler, the leaves are changing color and harvest season is upon us. We’ve already had our first hard frost but luckily, with frost cloth and blankets, most of my garden survived!
This past weekend, I processed all of our grapes into juice and jam. I’ve picked the apples from one of our trees but am still waiting on the pears and the rest of our apples to mature. The pumpkins are starting to turn orange and I’m crossing my fingers that the rest of my winter squash will mature before our next hard frost. Homemade salsa, apple and beet salad, basil pesto, zucchini muffins, garden stir-fries, roasted beets, and veggie soup have all been on the menu lately. This is a time of abundance in the garden and I’m so grateful.
Though I’m enjoying the garden bounty, the backdrop of these times has left my heart heavy. I feel like every time I’ve sat down to write a newsletter over the past few months, we’re marking an unprecedented moment in history. And this time, it’s the wildfires raging in the west.
For those of us in the Bozeman area, we had our own experience with wildfire just a couple of weeks ago. During the weekend of September 4th, the Bridger Foothills Fire burned 8,200 acres and 28 homes were lost. As I watched the fire from our backyard on Friday and Saturday, my heart sank. Though I understand that fire is an integral part of a forest ecosystem, it doesn’t make it any easier to experience the loss that comes with it. And, of course, the scale of the fires along the west coast is not normal. A warming climate and years of drought have led to an unprecedented fire season.
My heart and thoughts are with the families, the firefighters, and the forest ecosystem of plants and animals that are suffering through this crisis. To say that we are living through uncertain times is an understatement.
If there was ever a time to plant more trees, grow more food, and become more self-reliant, it is now. I am feeling this urgency more and more every day.
It’s time for action. Taking what small steps you can to build your resilience, to increase your skills, to connect with your community, and to grow our local food system is what is needed at this moment in history.
And don’t get me wrong, this call to action doesn’t come from a place of fear, it comes from one of hope, renewal, and a belief in a regenerative future.
That’s why I’m excited to share my video with you today. In it, I not only give you a tour of our 7 year-old food forest, but I offer some design advice if you want to plant one of your own.
If you have the land and the space, planting a food forest is an act of resilience. As I describe in the video, food forests have several yields: food and medicine for your family, pollinator habitat, soil-building, and the opportunity for connection and community. And as the forest matures, the yields only increase, creating a web of relationships that is strengthened year after year.
As always, if you have any questions or comments about planting a food forest, please share them in the comments below.
“I do not allow myself to be overcome by hopelessness, no matter how tough the situation. I believe that if you just do your little bit without thinking of the bigness of what you stand against, if you turn to the enlargement of your own capacities, just that itself creates new potential. I think what we owe each other is a celebration of life and to replace fear and hopelessness with fearlessness and joy.” - Vandana Shiva
Resilience is designing for wellness through time.
Resilience. If I were to choose a word for 2020, that would be it. In these challenging times, we are constantly being reminded about the need for resilience, on a personal, community-wide, and global scale. Our current reality has exposed the fragility of our systems. Whether it’s our food system, our economic system, or our healthcare or justice system, cracks are appearing.
Now is the time to reimagine another world. Now is the time to cultivate the practices that will get us through this transition.
That’s why I’m so thankful to Lorca Smetana for agreeing to do this interview with me a couple of months ago. In the midst of our stay at home order, Lorca and I discussed the intersection of permaculture with her experience in teaching resilient life practices. As always, natural systems become our teacher, time and time again.
If you don’t know Lorca, I highly recommend checking out her work here. Lorca is an innovative resilience and leadership educator, consultant and speaker. At the age of sixteen she was a survivor of the Mt. Hood climbing tragedy that took the lives of nine students and teachers. Needless to say, Lorca knows a lot about coming back stronger after living through crisis and tragedy. She is one of the many voices that we need to hear during these unprecedented times. On the faculty of the Human Leadership Development Program at Montana State University, Lorca is also a regenerative farmer in Montana.
We cover a lot of ground in this interview and Lorca shares so many nuggets of wisdom with me.
So give our discussion a listen and let me know what you think. What practices have you adopted in your life that cultivate resilience? Please share them in the comments below!
Here's a link to the podcast episode that Lorca mentions in our interview.