by Amy Hurlburt
This past spring, Lee and June Davies embarked on landscaping project that was more than your typical spring clean-up. It involved a rather noticeable lifestyle change: their yard, previously a rolling hill of green grass with a small flower garden, was overhauled, redesigned, and planted. Now it overflows with squash, beans, corn, and many other organic vegetables. The seed for this change was planted in their minds earlier on in the year, through a flyer they received in the mail.
“We met Phil Collins - not the musician! - of Foggy River Farm at the orchard workshop, and met with him a few weeks later,” commented June.
Their property, now known as Tycoed Restorative Farm, is a little over 20 acres of property on Lake ridge Road that they plan to fill with gardens and a variety of produce over the next few phases of development. Their gardens use the principles of permaculture: a creative design process based upon ethical and aesthetic design that mimics the patterns found naturally in nature, and applying them to human habitation.
The passion Lee and June Davies have for environmentally responsible, sustainable living is contagious, and admirably consistent: from the cars they drive, to the “recycled” log homes dating back to the 1840s that they've combined to create their living space. They also have a commitment to using wind and solar energy, two elements that are abundant on their property. While neither of them were heavy gardeners earlier - Lee dabbled some - they've both found the experience to be enriching.
“You develop relationships with the plants as you walk through the garden and watch them grow,” notes June.
While both June and Lee agree that they certainly expect that the first year is going to be the biggest investment financially, the gardens take time to tend, as well as preserving the produce once it's been harvested is another time commitment. While their commitment is to, in the long term, have a variety of perennials, they've only just begun and the majority of their current crop is composed of annuals. Some of the trees they intend on planting will take about 15 years to produce any sort of crop. “Some of these may be for the grandkids to take on,” says Lee.
Besides the cold, late spring that the region experienced, they've run into several other bumps along the way, including drainage issues and tomato blight. The work involved is also heavier than they expected initially. However, they both find it to be well worth the effort.
“There's something very different about eating food you've grown yourself,” says June. “When you buy your produce in a grocery store, being shipped from California-maybe in a refrigerated truck, but sprayed with all kinds of chemicals…it's not the same.”
The gardens are really only part of the process: the interests of the Davies' family are interconnected: their commitment to the values of kindness, sustainability, bioregional living; physical, mental, and spiritual health; community collaboration, and education-to name a few. They plan to share their abundant crops with diverse groups, and to encourage a community sharing lifestyle. They've also committed to taking advantage of the opportunities of the farm by doing workshops through various stages of the process. They are inviting others to share and learn with them, in hopes that the sustainable lifestyle they support will catch on and inspire others as well. The importance of the watershed and understanding bioregional divides is a passion of June's as well, and plays into the long-term vision for Tycoed.
“Wherever you live, there are opportunities. Even if it's in an apartment in town, there are ways to start to grow your own food” explains Lee. “We want to encourage people to do the little bit they can.”
The H.O.P.E Permaculture Tour (Homesteading Organically to Produce Ecosystems) will be taking place over the weekend of October 18-19, with tours around six different locations that have applied permaculture principles to their properties. For further details or to register, use this link: http://permaculturetour.eventbrite.com/?aff=Tycoed. To keep up with the farm's progress, you can also check them out on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tycoedrestorativefarm.
Meanwhile, Back at the Manse by Barb Pratt
A Special Moment
What a moment we had at last Saturday's presentation of Maud of Leaskdale! Present in the audience for the performance were L.M. Montgomery's granddaughter and great-granddaughter. It was the first time they had seen the play, and there were hugs, and a few tears, from audience members. Tonight (Thursday, August 28) is the last of this season's performances of the wonderful play, so brilliantly conceived and put together by Conrad Boyce. What a season Jennifer Carroll, as Maud, has had: the enthusiastic audience in St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in downtown Toronto; the rave reviews from Charlottetown's performance; and more and more raves from those who saw the play at the Historic Leaskdale Church, the venue for which it was written. Tonight we'll say a fond farewell to Jen as Maud, if only for the time being.
Come and bring your friends to “Maud's Garden of Quilts”, which runs this Saturday and Sunday, August 30 and 31. The doors open at 10 a.m. A beautiful variety of quilts will be on display, some old, some recently created, some hand quilted, some machine stitched. Some will be for sale. What we can count on is a profusion of eye-popping colour and design. There will be special exhibits for quilters and would-be quilters, and a feature quilter will be on hand to give demonstrations and answer questions. All this takes place both upstairs and downstairs in the church; the pews are being moved aside to make room for the huge display quilt racks upstairs; in the downstairs will be more quilts, demos, displays, and a tea room that will be open for lunches and snacks all day. The hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. Admission is $5, but - by popular demand - men are free!
Please mark October 25 on your calendar. That is the date of our annual “Lucy Maud Montgomery Day”, an annual event that has been running for at least 20 years. This year's program will be outstanding, with four very respected academics and authors as speakers. Laura Robinson, assistant professor and head of English Literature at the Royal Military College of Canada, will address the effect of the First World War on Montgomery's life and writing. The theme “Maud the Storyteller” will occupy the three other speakers, as they will delve into Montgomery's methods and construction of her fiction and short stories. We will give more details about the day in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, plan to attend part or all of the day.
The Wednesday luncheons were more popular than ever this summer. Three of the eight were absolutely sold out. Average attendance was around 40 to 50 each Wednesday, spiking to 60 at times. The Downton Abbey Tea was most popular of all. Everyone appreciated the fabulous Edwardian food and decorations, the staff in their black uniforms and frilly white aprons, and the Dowager's commentary, prepared and presented by our “dowager”, Kathy Wasylenky.
We will be brainstorming themes and programs for the 2015 season; it will be hard to top 2014.